I didn’t mention too much about this topic, but the recent discussion on Fight Between Foreigners and Local led to heated discussion, and I was touched by the depth of the thinking. Then in response to some of the comments, I talked a little bit about my thoughts about war (especially the WWII), and the recent anti-Japanese movement (which I think is a little bit out of track).
Again, I am open to your continuous input. As I always believe, the more facts and perspective we collect, the more likely we are closer to completeness (although I don’t think we can reach it.)
About Japan Text Book
“However, I still cannot accept how the Japanese (most of them) can blatantly attempt to rewrite history and refuse to apologise.”
Where are your facts on how MOST Japanese blatantly attempt to rewrite history? If you’re talking about the revised textbooks, a vast majority of schools REFUSED to use them. Is that what you’re talking about? Also, no Japanese person who was not involved in the war of aggression (IE, basically all Japanese under the age of 65) owes ANYONE an apology. The disaster wrought upon Asia by the Japanese imperial army was a travesty, yes, but it was in the past. People shouldn’t have to apologize for crimes they didn’t commit.
Posted by: Steve on September 26, 2007 2:13 PM
@Steve, I agree with you on this part. I stood exactly the same side of the massive crowd in China before on the issue of text books in Japan, but recently, after really seeking for the truth, and I know more about the text book issue. Just as you said, it is one version out of many versions of textbook, and it is not government appointed text book (not like China). It is not widely accepted and it does not represent the majority. It is the local media itself twisted the fact and create something far from the fact.
Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang (external link) on September 26, 2007 3:40 PM
Who is Covering the History?
So just what are the Japanese are teaching their kids about the war ??
Is it glazed over by two sentences ? or nothing at all ?
Why are the youths always surprised when they visit sites around memorial sites around Asia regarding the war ? Why are they when told always expressed shock at what their country did ?
All I know is that when their minister commented that the bomb had to be dropped to end the war, it caused a huge uproar in their country. Why ?
Why is it that until today, more events were organised for the victims of the bomb than the people they slauthered in Asia ??
Just my 2 cents
Posted by: wonton on September 26, 2007 7:11 PM
@wonton, this is useful observation. By stating that the text book issue is not completely as many media reports, I am not saying that Japan is doing a good job. The situation you mentioned is true, since people in Japan don’t know too much about history, especially those younger generations, and about the WWII part. I think it is the right thing for other Asian countries to keep speaking loudly about what the truth of history is and showing the evidences. History makes future, and we have to be respectful to history, and let it reminds us all the way to the future.
However, I do think that we are doing a even worse job than Japan about history in China. If there are just few places mentioning wrong facts (or just ignoring the facts) in Japanese textbook, there are pages and pages of wrong facts and stories in Chinese textbook. I was also shocked (maybe even more shocked than people in Japan to see their history) to face the history of my OWN country. Talking about the China’s role in Korean war, China’s role in Anti-Vietnam War, do we know what we did outside China?
For what happened inside China in the last few decades, we know even less. Many history in China has already been burned into dust for many younger people, even the history is just as recent as 20 years. We are still using very inappropriate names to refer to our own part of the history.
Also, for the aggression of Japan into China, I believe we should focus on what is the structure of government in Japan at that time that leads to the war, what mentality leads to war, and what we can do to keep peace. We should also (both China and Japan) should re-examine what is in the current society that seems like the seeds for another war. That is the more important thing to think about.
Unfortunately, the current education about history is all about hate. The education is something like: “they killed many of our people. Let’s remind this hate forever, and never, never forgive them…” I don’t like this kind of attitude, since if this kind of hate spread widely enough, this may just leads to another war. We did exactly the opposite from what we should learn from the bloody history.
I am not thinking Japan has done enough, but that is not the excuse for us (China) to do the same thing.
Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang (external link) on September 26, 2007 7:33 PM
Who is the Victim?
Don’t believe everything you read.
The history of the opium war written in 1850s will be very different from the one written in 2007.
The view outside China may be different from within.
Perhaps, like you said, they are different parts of an elephant.
For example, Saddam Hussien is generally regarded as somekind of monster by many western countries. But he was able to provide peace to much of his country, and prevent sectarian bloodshed. Something the Americans were unable to do. Is the country better off now?? I’m sure from W. Bush’s point of view, I’s a great improvement. I am not saying that the killing of Kurds was an excusable crime. But whatever in Saddam’s reasons, we will never know. But it is interesting to note that even Iraq’s neighbour Turkey is afraid of them (Kurds). A hundred years from now the view might be quite different.
Stephen wrote : “Japanese Imperialism is to seek better livelihood for her nationals in the era of great depression.” Perhaps so, but it certainly does not include developing germ warfare and testing it on the vanquished, neither does it include mass killings of the Chinese throughout Asia. It would be so easy to just say ‘lets move on”
What I am concerned about the Japanese is that without an admission of responsibility and the absence of education, Imperialism will rise it’s ugly head again. Not possible ? happened twice in Germany. I don’t think there will be a third because the people did the right thing. Nazism is widely reject because of education.
I have no problems with the Japanese born either before or after the war. Most were not involved. And many responsible are dead or will be soon. But I am concerned about the tales that are spun in their popular culture turning disgrace into heroism. Celebrating the soldier’s samurai spirit, while continuing to wrap themselves as “victims” just like everyone else.
Can anyone blame China for building up it’s army and freak out everytime Japan flex it’s military might ?
Just WHO are the victims of the war ??
The bully who got slapped in return ???
@wonton, exactly. No one should fully believe in what he/she reads, no matter it is in China or outside China. However, different point of views (as stated in the book Mao or other English books by Chinese) does help me (at least) to re-think about history. That is why we need free flow of information.
I agree with the part you said about Japan. Education should be strengthen to prevent the war again. Peace is so precious. Everyone knows it, but it is harder than people’s imagination to keep it. If anyone say it is easy, look at the war everywhere, and the potential war by the inclining attitude toward war around us.
For your last question, “WHO are the victims of the war?”, my answer is (let me put disclaimer here: it may be controversial), both the Chinese people and the Japanese people are the victim of the war.
I want to say, the normal people in Japan or German are also victim of the crazy thing done by those people who control government or military. They also suffer a lot during the war. In this meaning, the people in China and Japan should stand firmly together, hand in hand, to fight against those attempt to break peace, no matter under what cause those attempt is.
I have no problem when people in Japan memorize the civilians killed in the bomb. They have the right, just as people in China have the right to hold events to memorize the our victim in the war. But I am completely offended when someone there show respect to those guys who planned and committed the aggression war! They are not only guilty to people in Asia, they are also guilty for their own people. It is those War Criminals who brought the world into war, and killed so many people in China, Korea, etc, and in Japan as well. I do want to protest if it happens.
In a war, no one is a winner. This is the fact of war. No one – both the aggressor, and the victim country – lose. It is the mentality that “war can solve all problems” that we (people in both Japan and China) are fighting against, not the people of Japan.
Just my 2 cents, and as always, I am open with more thoughts about this matter.
Posted by: Jian Shuo Wang (external link) on September 27, 2007 1:35 PM
Any one has more facts to support or reject the thoughts?