The post below was a report I wrote for the No Agenda Show. I didn’t want to keep it from you though, so I’m cross-posting it here.
First of all, the attitude towards Japan, is largely due to the Nanjing massacre, in which over a million Chinese were executed (conservative estimates). Part of this is of course the fact that Japan never apologized, but what’s worse is that they consistently try to deny it, saying it were just some uncoordinated incidents. Moreover, Japanese officials continue to visit the shrine build to memorialize the war criminals (who they call war heroes) to pay their respects. Finally the Japanese are actively trying to write the whole episode out of their own history books.
Try to imagine the German government actively denying the Holocaust, removing it from their history books, and every year visit a shrine built to memorialize the German WW2 high command.
As to the Diaoyu islands, historically they have been part of Taiwan the province. Somewhere in the mid 19th century they were annexed by the Japanese. Only around the turn of the 20th century does the name Senkaku first appear. After WW2, in the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan was forced by the Allies to return all illegally grabbed territories to their original states. The Diaoyu should have been returned to China, but never were. Since Taiwan broke away from the mainland, they now also hold a claim on these islands.
The Diaoyu islands have been privately “owned” by a Japanese family and the status quo has remained, since both countries didn’t care much about a few rocks in the ocean. What set off all the protests was the sale of these islands to the Japanese national government, who were effectively stating their claim with this move. Especially just days before the Mukden incident (a staged attack on a Japanese controlled railway in Manchuria that started the Japanese invasion in the 1930s) this was a slap in the face of many Chinese.
There are of course many different angles to the current events. One is the power struggle in Japan, between the mayer of Tokyo, who is known to be an ultra nationalist China basher and the national government. This is an interesting story that I should look in to further. I hear reports that this guy has become so powerful that he basically dictates Japanese foreign policy. Even the national government doesn’t know what to do about him. The story goes that he was about to buy these islands himself, and to prevent further controversy, the only thing the national government could do was to beat him to it.
With an election coming up in Japan, I guess they could use the distraction more than the Chinese. I find the fact that there is oil in the region to be a somewhat flimsy argument, since this has been known since the 70s, but can’t rule it out.
Finally the rumors that the protests here in China are staged. I don’t believe that. Obviously they are allowed by the Chinese government in an attempt to channel the raging nationalism here (China has always been very nationalistic). Some are claiming that protesters are being bused in. While this certainly is true, these busses are more likely to have been organized by factory bosses and the like, after all, it’s a great team building activity!
Posted from Beijing, Beijing, China.
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