Seven decades of bitterness
A dispute over islands in the East China Sea has inflamed relations between Japan and China for the last two years but they were tense even before. The BBC’s Mariko Oi visited both countries with a Chinese journalist to find out why the wounds of World War Two refuse to heal.
"Do you feel guilty about what Japan did to China during the war?" It was a question that I had to translate more than once during a trip to Japan with Haining Liu, a former reporter for China’s state broadcaster, CCTV.
"But maybe my regret isn’t enough?" added one of them, a Japanese nationalist, who argues that most school textbooks exaggerate the abuses carried out by Japanese soldiers. "No," Haining responded. "It’s not enough."
There are some undisputed facts. Japan was the aggressor, occupying Manchuria in northern China in 1931. A wider war began in 1937, and by the time Japan surrendered in 1945, millions of Chinese had died.
A notorious massacre occurred in the city of Nanjing, which was the capital under the Kuomintang government. Atrocities were also carried out in other Asian countries.
But it made me feel uncomfortable every time I had to translate the word "guilt" into Japanese. And none of our Japanese interviewees would use it.
Mariko Oi is a BBC journalist who spent six years as a business reporter in Singapore she was brought up in Tokyo, but moved to Australia as a teenager
Haining Liu works as a media consultant but formerly reported for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV she was brought up in Zhengzhou, though her family comes from Nanjing
Both were born in 1981
Listen to Missing Histories China and Japan (BBC World Service, 15 February)
"I will keep asking the question while I’m here," she said. "Because that is how many Chinese people feel."
I personally became interested in the history of World War Two as a teenager. Over the years I have researched the topic quite thoroughly. Many of my holidays have included a trip to war museums across Asia, in an attempt to understand the damage and suffering Japan caused.
I have long felt that I was not taught enough at school, so last year I wrote an article about the shortcomings of Japan’s history education. It pointed out that the syllabus skims through more than a million years of Japan’s relations with the rest of the world in just one year of lessons. As a result, many Japanese people have a poor understanding of the geopolitical tensions with our neighbours.
My article made many people in my home country, including some of my own family, uncomfortable.
It was not a foreigner criticising Japan, it was a Japanese reporter openly criticising Japan in front of global audience.
"Traitor" and "foreign spy" are just two of the many names I was called. "Don’t you love your own country?" one person asked on Twitter. Of course I do.
When I confronted Japan’s past, it was like experiencing a bad breakup. I went through similar stages shock, denial, anger and sorrow. I eventually came to accept that I could not change what had happened.
This isn’t how Haining sees it. When she grew up in the 1980s and 90s, Japanese pop culture music, drama, and manga was popular with young Chinese people. She and her friends, she says, had a positive attitude towards Japan.
"But I cannot speak for every Chinese person, 1.3 billion of us, for China is a vast country, and people are entitled to have their personal feelings," she says.
"For example, among those who lost close family members because of Japan’s invasion, or among those who actually suffered a great deal during the war, hostility or even hatred might still remain. They shouldn’t be judged because of that."
Singapore, where I’ve lived since 2006, also suffered at the hands of Japanese soldiers, but there have not been anti Japanese protests there for decades.
Different sources cite different numbers of casualties, but 50,000 to 100,000 ethnically Chinese Singaporeans are believed to have been killed in what is known as the Sook Ching massacre. In a small city state of some 800,000 in 1942, that is a huge number.
I met a relative of one victim at the Civilian War Memorial on Beach Road.
"I don’t blame today’s generation," said Lau Kee Siong, to my surprise. I asked him why he was so much less angry than those Chinese protesters.
"We are a country of immigrants so our basic philosophy is that we must survive," he said.
"When we became independent from Malaysia in 1965, the general assumption was that we had about three years before we would have to crawl back into Malaysia. So when Japan came along and offered financial support and investments, the most logical thing was to accept them instead of criticising what they had done to us in the past."
"Many people including my great uncles and aunts were staying at De La Salle University during the war," she said.
cheap longchamp bags
cheap moncler uk
longchamp outlet uk
cheap michael kors
cheap michael kors uk
ray ban sunglasses uk
cheap longchamp uk
cheap the north face
cheap north face
ray ban outlet uk
cheap ray bans
cheap ray bans uk
moncler outlet uk
michael kors outlet uk
the north face outlet uk