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 Ben Thirlway

THE HATE THAT WON’T GO AWAY

In schools and art galleries, the Chinese learn to revile Japan

Ben Thirlway is a writer and teacher living and working in Wuhan, China

A recent photographic exhibition at a
university in China reminded me, yet again, of the deep animosity borne by many Chinese against Japan.

The exhibition featured graphic photographs of the Rape of Nanking in 1937, an episode of butchery by Japanese troops against Chinese civilians notable even in a campaign marked by savagery and atrocity. Of all the scars left on the Chinese psyche by the war, the Rape of Nanking remains the most prominent.

I heard many a university student walk away from the show muttering that they hate Japan. Encouraged by the government, this kind of xenophobic sentiment seems to be part of every Chinese person’s patriotic duty. What really tipped me to the fact that the exhibition was more about propaganda than education, though, were the photographs of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visiting the Yasukuni Shrine in 2002, and the numerous pictures of modern Japanese military capability. These irrelevant photographs served only to persuade the viewer of Japan’s heartlessness and as a warning that it could happen again.

Ask nearly any Chinese on the street about their Asian neighbor and you’ll hear the phrase “I hate Japan.” A look at the wild scenes of violence and protest in Beijing following Japan’s victory over China in a soccer match last summer is only further display of the country’s misdirected patriotism.

So, what are the root causes behind this amazingly strong hatred? Let’s look at China itself—a large, unruly, fractious country comprising around 200 distinct ethnic groups. Abandoning Communist ideology in its drive for material wealth and prosperity, China’s government has resorted to stirring up nationalism in a bid to maintain a sense of identity and purpose. Part of this is the program of “Patriotic Education,” where every student is taught not only about China’s glorious past, but also about how brutality and colonial exploitation by Japan and the Western powers prior to the Communist takeover in 1949 have held back China’s development. Hatred of Japan is fostered—indeed, encouraged—as the greatest manifestation of patriotism possible. Thus, when you hear “I hate Japan,” what you’re hearing is the Party line.

That aside, let’s not pretend that Japan is entirely blameless. The Rape of Nanking, and indeed most of the war, is whitewashed from its history textbooks, and students are taught little or nothing about Japan’s militaristic past. Reparations have been grudging at best. At times, there’s outright denial that the Rape of Nanking ever happened. The attitude from Tokyo seems to be, “Ignore it and it will go away.”

Yet it’s important to realize that Chinese hatred survives—even thrives—among the young because the government will not allow it to die. By making almost any interaction with the outside world a matter of national honor, China continues to nurture the us-and-them mentality. In one sense, China is right to keep the memory alive, for to consign these events to the dustbin of history is to hand a victory to those in Tokyo who would just as soon see the affair dead and buried to avoid any admission of guilt, let alone an apology.

Remembrance, not hate, is the way forward. China’s education system is little better than brainwashing, and is, unfortunately, largely successful. Every visit to the Yasukuni Shrine by Koizumi is howled down in China’s (state-run) media, which portrays them as calculated insults to the memories of China’s dead. I believe, personally, that the prime minister is merely paying his respects to Japan’s war dead, the vast majority of whom were conscripted soldiers brainwashed into notions of loyalty to the Emperor and sent out as cannon fodder to satisfy the imperial ambitions of a few power-hungry individuals. That the dead include a small number of war criminals should not detract from a leader rightfully respecting the memory of millions of young men who died for their country, albeit for a wrong and misguided cause.

Challenge a Chinese person about their feelings, and they will say that they only hate Japan, not individual Japanese people. For the sake of Northeast Asian relations, I hope that this is the beginning of a step forward and that they can shake off these shackles holding back the Sino-Japanese relationship. However, the examples set by the Chinese leadership, as well as by prominent Japanese (Governor Ishihara comes to mind), are not encouraging.

In these hierarchical societies, such hatred starts at the top—and from the top is the best way it can start to be undone. It would also help, however, if at the grassroots level we can all try to form constructive and friendly links, for the hatred borne by both sides is not set in stone.

 



Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

top