Friday, April 22, 2005

Japan - China : Yoshi's Commentary

In Response to some of the criticism of Japan's role in the recent China-Japan crisis, Yoshi Ishida has addresses a few of these issues:

-Level A War Criminals contaminates the Yasukuni Shrine

The Tokyo Tribunal that criminalized several Japanese leaders in WWII was in its entirety a Kangaroo court, which was, and still is, not legitimate. US dropped two atomic bombs in 1945 and killed many civilians, but US Presidents are still buried at the Arlington cemetery. Like the US president, Japanese PMs must visit to Yasukuni shrine every year to commemorate dead soldiers. If Yasukuni was contaminated, you have to accept that Arlington is contaminated, as well. That this means, is that the Chinese can go to their cemeteries, Americans can use their own cemeteries, and Japanese can utilize the Yasukuni shrine.

- Japan should apologize to China, once more

Japan has already apologized too much-- too many times so far. Japanese media and the government tried to be friendly with China, but China escalated anti-Japan education with its own crazy textbook. China does it because the China gov't feels at ease while people protest at going on against Japan. Chinese people are not allowed to criticise their own gov't no matter how the corrupt it may be. Thus the Chinese gov't needs anti-J sentiment.

- China and Japan are both wrong.

Cookiesap used to suuport China 100% when I met him in the first time. Now he says both are wrong. It is a good progress. Likewise, the international society began to blame China. For example, EU postponed selling weapons to China. Good progress. The world witnessed the injustice within China; a communist country.

I think the anti-Japan terror is not a crisis, but a very good chance to wake up Japanese people and alarm business people all over the world. Anti-Japan terrors will not stop. I know it will happen again. Japan should seek friendship with pro-Japan countries like Taiwan, India, and ASEAN countries.

Do you agree with Yoshi?


Anonymous said...

While I make no excuses for the method of teaching history in Japan, I think that the protests are completely absurd. I seriously doubt that any Chinese history textbook has anything other than a completely skewed view. What do Chinese students learn about Tibet and Taiwan? Few of the younger generation even know the first thing about the cultural revolution, something that happened far more recently and had an extreme impact on thier country. It would be refreshing if they were to address their own shortcomings before criticising those of other nations.

Furthermore, I can't imagine that this issue is solely about the Japanese history textbooks. There must be an undercurrent of extreme rage against Japan, presumably fed by the government in an effort to increase nationalism.

Just my opinion.

cookiesap on-line said...

Although China has no excuse for its lack of historically inaccurate textbooks, does that justify Japan forgetting about their own history?

Although people in Japan today should not be pursecuted or hated for the sins of their fathers, it is still important to embrace and respect history. If you make a poll in Japan on people awareness about their country's acts during WW2, how many would know the truth?

tekanji said...

If you make a poll in Japan on people awareness about their country's acts during WW2, how many would know the truth?

But that's the fault of the government not the people! The whole problem with anti-CountryOtherThanOurs sentiment is that it targets people instead of the issues. It leads to xenophobia and racism, neither of which are useful tools in interacting with or improving the world. I agree with the anonymouse that the textbook crap is just a convenient excuse to increase nationalism by using Japan as a scapegoat.

Yes, it is reprehensible that Japan refuses to acknowledge the mistakes, on both sides, of its history. But it is just as reprehensible for China to use revisionist history. For America as well. And, believe me, American high school text books are just as apt to paint America as The Country That Can Do No Wrong as any other nation is. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if all nations were horribly guilty of brainwashing their children via textbooks.

I think these issues need to be discussed, addressed, and corrected. I think that China has a right to be distressed over the textbook issue (I know I am). However, their response is 1) hypocritical and 2) exacerbates, rather than alleviates, the issues. Hatred is not a solution, it's a problem.

Anonymous said...

Taiwan is not a country. It's a province of China. Even the local Taiwan governement recognizes this.

As for the previous comment about undercurrent of extreme rage against Japan, this is true for half of Asia. I wonder why the Japanese are hated so much...

tekanji said...

Taiwan is not a country. It's a province of China. Even the local Taiwan governement recognizes this.

Uh, where are you getting that information from?

Taiwan declares itself to be the "Republic of China" which is separate from mainland China's "People's Republic of China." It has a separate passport, separate citizenship, and a separate government. This isn't my area of expertise, but I have enough Taiwanese friends to know that not only do they consider Taiwan to be its own country, but they would be offended if someone said that it was "just a province of China". It is different to recognize one's roots with the mainland than to pretend that one is a "province" of another country that has a separate government.

I wonder why the Japanese are hated so much...

Perhaps you should read my above post. It is directed at China, but it can apply to any nation. Xenophobia and racism, on both sides of the equation, which exacerbate the horrible things that happened during WWII. It's easier to hate a person from a nation instead of taking up a critique over the offending discourse.

Japan is no better or worse than China, Korea, America, or any other nation in the West or East. They have problems that need to be looked at and addressed, but that is not unique. Fight the problem, not the people. Talk about how history is taught in high school. Talk about the dangers of erasing one's past. Talk about Japan, but also acknowledge that the phenomenon is by no means confined to Japan.

So, anonymouse, are you willing to step away from the discourse of hatred? Are you willing to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

cookiesap on-line said...

I think you all have some really good points and this process of looking at the fundamentals and laying down the cards, is a good start to building bridges, not walls, between the nations of Asia.

First of all, I would like to address the problem of hatred and xenophobia in East Asia. One of the problems with the political systems in East Asia is that these nations have historically lacked philosophies of freedom, democracy and civil rights-- which were evolving in Europe especially after the enlightenment and the French revolution. The Far East is much more rooted in more conservative (and sometimes even controlling) ideas; with the Confucian ethos as the prevailing one in North East Asia.

Since such a step in the history of East Asia has not occurred, the problems of hatred and nationalism over the freedoms of individuals has not been discussed to its fullest extent. The economic boom since the 60s in East Asia has put trade higher on the list of priorities than the discussions of "fraternity, equality and liberty", despite the political reforms in Korea and Taiwan over the past 10-15 years.

On the question of whether Taiwan is a country or not (Chin Fu, please comment on this): it depends. For all practical purposes, Taiwan is a "country". It has a flag, passport, its own color on many maps, etc. etc. Legally, however, very few countries (incl. the Vatican) have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and do not recognize the country. Taiwan is not an official member of the United Nations and many other international organizations. All in all, there are arguments for and against whether Taiwan is a 'country' but the Taiwan leadership has yet to officially declare independence.

tekanji said...

Cookiesap, do you know the citizenship policies of China, Taiwan, and Korea?

I think that another problem, for Japan at least, with the whole xenophobia/racisim deal is that becoming a citizen is a huge ordeal. To my knowledge, having a Japanese parent will allow Japanese citizenship, but being born there doesn't qualify you alone and obtaining citizenship if you were born in another country is next to impossible.

In America, being "American" isn't tied explicity to one's race or origins. My father, born in Canada, came to America, obtained citizenship, and therefore he is now an American. My friend whose family comes from South America is an American. There are European Americans, Asian Americans, Middle Eastern Americans - any ethnicity can lay claim to being an American as long as one has citizenship.

You can't say that about Japan. I don't know if there is an East Asian country that you can say that about. When you have such a strong discourse of Otherness then how can you expect to even begin moving away from xenophobia and racisim?

Chin-fu Hung said...

I'd like to quote a few sentences from a BBC report which appeared on 23rd April 2005, under the title of "China suffers memory lapses too" by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

"Young Chinese are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II. They are not however taught about the 17 official apologies that Japan has made to China over the last 30 years, including one from the Japanese emperor when he visited Beijing.

Nor are they told of the $30bn in aid that Japan has given to China since ties were re-established in 1972, aid that has helped build Beijing's international airport and the city's new subway system. You'll search in vain for a plaque on either acknowledging where the money came from."

I totally agree with what he argued in his report. The anti-Japanese protests should not target at Japanese people. Most of them are peace-loving people, just like the rest of people in the world. During the recent ani-Japanese protest, the PRC government, in my opinion, has skillfully manipulated the issue of the nationalism--a kind of state-led patriotism, to serve its own agendas and purposes. In a sense, it is attempting to divert public attentions and concerns from its own problems, such as official corruption, unbalance of economic development... etc., to other foreign issues like Japan's atrocities commited during the WWII to the Chinese people and the Taiwan issue. I believe once the PRC government mount the tiger, it is absolutely dangerous to dismount.

With regard to the Taiwan issue, it is no doubt that Taiwan is an independent country, whose people have never ruled by the central government in Beijing since 1949. To unite with the PRC is another issue that needs to be debated or even voted within Taiwan. Taiwan will never accept the political arrangements of the so-called "One country, Two Systems." It is nearly a consensus reached in Taiwan. In a word, Taiwanese people do NOT want to go back to live under the authoritarian regime from the PRC.

Yoshi said...

Someone said Taiwan is a part of China. But I also think Taiwan deserves an independent country. Taiwan should come back to UN as an independent country. Taiwan is a democratic and free country unlike China. Because most Taiwanese know China is an awful country. Look, many Chinese try to immigrate to other countries.

Also, somebody argued that East Asia lacks Western ideology such as freedom, civil rights, democracy. But Japan and Taiwan are at least democracies and comply with civil rights. People freely criticisse the govt. Taiwan, Japan should not be regarded same as China and North Korea. Likewise, South Korea lacks an academic freedom. People are too ethnocentric in South Korea so public opinion does not allow scholars to study objectively. It is a social suicide for Korean scholars to argue positive aspects of Japanese ccolonial time.

Finally, let me tell you one thing about the difference between Japanese and Chinese.

-Japanese: When Japanese saw good Western technology and products, Japanese respect them and tried to learn from West.

-Chinese: When Chinese see good Japanese products, they tried to destroy made-in-Japan things.


tekanji said...

Yoshi, I think you made some interesting points, but I am a bit surprised by this:

Finally, let me tell you one thing about the difference between Japanese and Chinese.

-Japanese: When Japanese saw good Western technology and products, Japanese respect them and tried to learn from West.

-Chinese: When Chinese see good Japanese products, they tried to destroy made-in-Japan things.

Not only have you oversimplified complex historical events, but you have also engaged the "us versus them" dichotomy. How is what you just said any better than the anti-Japanese protests in China?

cookiesap on-line said...

I think the problem with Y's argument, is that he is mixing the economic and political aspects of the J-C relationship. On the political side, there's much anger and hate -- on the economic side, however, the relationship has been very successful, and China is now Japan's biggest trading partner.. In other words, Japan and China see alot of benevolance' in each others' trading partnership. The product cycles, such as the flying geese theory, shows how Japan is helping China. Conversely, Japan is partially riding the coat-tails of a very successful Chinese economy. Summa Sumarum: I think it is important to seperate the political and economic aspects of their relationship, as they have been almost mutually exclusive for the past decade or so (just look at how popular J's culture is in China)-- in the future, however, this might change...

yoshi said...


yoshi said...

I may sound oversimplyfying the difference between China and Japan. But it does not deny what I said.

After the WWII, Americans laughed at Japanese technology. Japanese were surprised at much superior American economic power and techonology. But Japanese never tried to destroy American products. On the contrary, Japanese respected US products and learned from them.

China, however, never tries to learn from other countries. They keep stealing Jpnese/US technology. And they always blame Japan...this time, many Japanese firms were victimised in China.

I came across the opinion in the blog that Japanese history textbooks should teach children atrocities done by Japanese army in the WWII (while it did not mention about China's history textbook, which teaches nth about Communist Party's atrocities).

If such negative side of Japan's past is to be taught at school, then textbooks also have to include the fact that Japan improved Korea's economy before and after the occupation in 1910. Indonesian, Burma, Thai, India's political leaders appreciated Japan's actions in the WWII. Furthermore, Japan's victory in the Russo-Japan war encouraged many Asian political activists including Sun Yat Sen (Chinese).