Home
Feature
The Small Print
Faces & Places
The Goods
Travel
Tech Know
Sports
Cars & Bikes
Arts & Entertainment
Music
Japan Beat
Clubbing
Art
Stage
Books
The Agenda
Listings
TV
Movies
Dining Out
Sake
Wine
Tastemaker
Table Talk
Local Flavors
International Dining
Restaurant Review
Bar Review
Classifieds
Jobfinder
Horoscope
Mailbox
The Last Word
Photo of the Week
Archive
About Us
Subscribe
Search
Distribution Points






 PAST ISSUES
775: The M-List
774: Compatriotic Spirit
773: The Naked Truth
770-71: It Ainít Easy Being Green
769: íTwas the Night Before Christmas in Japan
768: Japanese Lessons
766: Bad Credit
765: Chew on this
764: Red faced
763: Down and Out in Tokyo
761: Kicking the bucket
760: Thumbing It
759: Fixing the System
757: Smoke rings
756: Stalking the Predators
755: Banding Together
753: No Competition
752: Sex and This City
751: Letís Shogi
750: The Yasukuni Follies
748: Loud and Clear
747: Iíll be back
746: Raiders of the lost SMAP
744: Magical Mystery Tour
743: Murder in Lotus Land
742: Stereotypes íRí Us
740: The Mother of all Mothers
739: Crimes of Fashion
738: The Hafu Dad Brigade
737: The Green Team
736: Fight Club
735: The Paper Chase
734: The Wind-Up Writer Chronicle
733: Food For Thought?
732: Home and Away
731: The 2008 Nazi Olympics
730: The Two-Wheel Revolution
729: Gimme a Break
728: Power Play
727: Dying for a doctor
726: Footloose Revisited
725: Little Fish, Bigger Pond
724: Japanís Peace Monster
723: Language Abuse
722: Scumbusters ďRĒ Us
721: First Action Hiro
720: The Return of Asashoryu
718-719: A Time to Give
717: My Homelessness Dilemma
716: The 30 Percent Solution
715: Past Imperfect
714: Killing the Kimono
713: The trouble with Tibbets
712: Surfing the Shinto-net
711: Falling Stars
710: Macho Man
709: Bad Impressions
708: Bloodsport
707: Our Last Word
706: Anonymocracy
705: The Air Up There
704: Read the Signs
703: The sky should not be the limit
702: My Year Zero Proposal
701: The Joys of Freeganism
700: Prada for the People
699: The Parasite Country
698: Washed up in Tokyo
697: Birthingís Not for Babies
696: On the Handlebars of a Dilemma
695: My So-Called Poverty
694: Get Out the Vote
693: The Ishihara Mystery
691: Let it Flow
690: Cafť Culture
689: Oyaji Fashionistas
688: The Democracy of the Dysfunctional
687: Polite Disregard
686: Venting on Climate Change
685: Silent No Longer
684: To protect and serve?
683: Save the Sanshin building!
682: In the Realm of the Pond God
681: The Open Society and Its Enemies
680: Five-Ring Circus
679: Topic of Cancer
678: Pet Peeves
677: Why I am Banned in Japan
676: A long way to the top
675: Euro-vision
674: Childís play
673: Why I did it
672: I Love Japan
671: Running Crazy
670: Planet Apology
669: A peek behind the curtain
668: Opening Up
666: Pitching a fit
665: All wrapped up
664: Yule Rules
663: Field of Dreams
662: Save Lives, not Face
661: Why Do I Buy a Ticket?
660: Dying for a Nap
659: We, the jury
658: Grain of truth
657: Remembering The Maverick
656: A Rose by any Other Name
655: Heir today, gone tomorrow
654: Manhandled on the Metro
653: The bodyguards of the road
652: Separate but equal
651: Going for the gold
650: Being Audrey Hepburn
649: Not Sitting Pretty
648: Get Smart
647: Through foreign eyes
646: A failing grade in cute
644: Club Lands
643: Sayonara, Hide
642: The JET SET
641: What, me worry?
640: The Da Vinci Load
639: Making Waves
638: Final Cut
637: Resave the whales
636: Soccer Silliness
635: I, Smoker
634: The Ultimate Loss
633: Shoot the Messengers
632: The second sex
631: A Maverick Moves On
630: The curse of Baron Mitsui
629: Waiting for Heidi
628: Memoirs of a fake celebrant
627: Take it Outside
626: Wa? What wa?
625: A well-drawn life
624: St. Patrick the abducted
623: Bend over
622: The (Un)Late show
621: Oil spill
620: Ice Follies
619: Pride Goeth
618: Lost roles
617: Saying it with Cookies
616: Wrestling with foreigners
614-615: Blank Pages
613: Fretting Over Freeters
612: Farewell, Sensei
611: Sympathy for the wild ones
610: Back in Black
609: Out of many, one
608: Youth culture
607: The Russians are coming!
606: Meddle Detector
605: Tokyo, Mon amour
604: The Wailing Wall
603: Getting Abreast of Cancer
602: Willing Ally
601: New war,same story
600: The Big Chill
599: The Gray Zone
598: Jail break
597: Extremely Lost in Translation
596: Wounded Despot
595: History Lessons
594: Valhalla of the Imperial Army
592: Culture crash
591: Complaints Department
590: What lies beneath
589: Strange Games
588: Junk Science
587: The day the invaders came
586: The Test that Drove Me Crazy
585: Smile and say “lesbian”
584: Keep Article 9
583: The Great Divide
582: An ad for all seasons
581: Killing the Golden Goose
580: The other half
579: Give me back my bye-bye
578: Araki in Focus
577: Head out on the Highway
576: The hate that won't go away
575: Here's the beef
574: Yukking it up
573: Squatter’s rights and wrongs
572: The Trouble with Yokoso
571: Fire from the sky
570: Invasion of the gairaigo
569: Good company
568: Find Out What it Means To Me
567: Field of schemes
566: In the Name of Justice
565: Winner or Loser?
564: Staying Foreign
563: The Scare after Tomorrow
561-562: The Spirit of Things
560: War for remembrance
559: Storm damage
558: The Meaning of Godzilla
557: Who’s left to listen?
556: Paying respects
555: Gender Trouble
554: Coming clean at last
553: Go our own way
552: Hits of yesteryear
551: Heir apparel
550: Personal Reflections
549: Nuclear Reactions
548: Article of faith
547: Martyrs for the firm
546: A different anniversary
545: We, the jury
544: Wrongs & rights
543: Moore or less
542: Fair games
541: Developmentally challenged

By Emily Kuo Kubo

Personal Reflections

Japan and China should move on— just like my family has done

When I brought my Japanese-American boyfriend, now husband, to meet my family two years ago, I was concerned that his ethnic background would be an issue with my family, who had always hoped that I would marry someone ethnically Chinese. For one, my grandfather had once belonged to the old Chinese Nationalist army that fought fiercely against Japanese occupation, then the Communists, before retreating to Taiwan. I made sure that before their meeting I mentioned the fact that Matt’s grandparents had spent WWII in internment camps in California and under no circumstances were involved in China. Luckily for me, my good-natured grandfather is especially enlightened for his generation, and holds no grudge against the enemies of his past. But getting past my father, I feared, would be a more worrisome undertaking.

Emily Kuo Kubo is a freelance writer living in Tokyo

In particular, my father was a very traditional Chinese man who habitually referred to the people of Japan as “the little Japanese people,” a term coined far back in history that reflects the stereotype of Japanese people being small in both stature and of the mind. However, my father could not help but like my soft-spoken, well-mannered boyfriend. In an effort to reconcile his own prejudice with the new reality, my father later told my mother, half-jokingly, that Matt must have descended from the “3,000 elite golden boys and girls from China” who accompanied Xu Fudong (a famous doctor who served under the Qin emperor) in search of the fountain of youth. Fudong was no fool, and he knew that the task at hand was more than any mortal can handle. Legend has it that in order to preserve his own head and appease the infamously demanding master, Fudong requested that a group of young boys and girls with unique talents assist his search for immortality. The group sailed eastward, and its members are believed by some to have reached and eventually settled in Japan, populating the islands. A tall, nice boy like Matt, my father argued, must have some Chinese blood in him.

I tell this story because recent incidents like the Chinese fan unrest at the 2004 Asia Cup posed a harsh reminder that the wounds of the Chinese people have not healed, that the strife between the two cultures, burdened by the painful history of a long Japanese military occupation from the 1930s to the 1940s, is as raw as ever. This is compounded by Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi’s yearly visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors both the ordinary Japanese war dead along with 14 Class A war criminals. Despite formal protests from both China and South Korea, Koizumi pledges that he will continue his annual tribute.

Learning how to move on has proved to be no easy task, as clearly demonstrated by the many gestures of grudge by some young Chinese youth, for whom being anti-Japanese is an expression of their nationalism. Surely, to the polite, formal Japanese whose daily life is governed by unspoken sets of rules, such untamed outbursts of passion during the Asia Cup must be regarded with fear, distrust, and perhaps secret disdain. To some Chinese, however, Koizumi’s continued visits to the shrine plays like a passive-aggressive way of expressing Japan’s rebellion and asserting power in a world where China represents the most obvious threat to its security and economic vitality. Japan’s decision to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq, and the ongoing debate within the current government to revise its pacifist constitution, echoes uncomfortably with its past imperialistic ambitions.

Nonetheless, I believe, as I must, that with time and effort old foes can indeed become close partners again. In my little story, learning how to move on and a willingness to tweak one’s perceptions has meant the joining of hands. However I may personally feel about the politics, it seems unfair for China’s new generation to harbor the past generation’s rage and pain and lash them out against the Japanese today.

Indeed, I believe that neither party should have to carry that kind of burden—just as I would never wish my children to bear the shame of my sins and the wrath of my vengeance.

This is not to say that I remain uncritical of the past (or the present, for that matter). It is still in my humble opinion that Japan should offer a formal apology as a noble gesture, and I am adamant that Koizumi should cease all visits to Yasukuni Shrine. (My own occasional outbursts against the Japanese government on such matters usually meet something of an awkward and feeble defense from my husband, and a quick changing of subjects, strangely reflective of official Japanese reaction when these sensitive subjects are raised). However, in those moments when Matt and I do engage in one of our heated debates about “my people” versus “your people,” Matt would gently but ever-so-smugly remind me that it is futile to draw such distinctions, for he traces his ancestry back to the original 3,000 Chinese golden boys and girls whose vessel, either by predestination or freak accident, landed in Japan.

top