The outcome of China's and Korea's bluff

[posted on May 5, 2005]

On March 16, 2005, the Shimane Prefectural Assembly designated Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day" in a bid to exert Japan's sovereignty over the South Korea-controlled group of islets.
And on April 5, 2005, Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology approved 103 textbooks for use in junior high schools from next April, including a revised version of a contentious history book criticized for glossing over Japan's wartime aggression. The history textbook by Fuso Publishing was compiled by members of the nationalist

Needless to say, both China and South Korea lashed out against Japan. They have usually insisted "Japanese Government must reflect on its responsibility for atrocities that inflicted an indignity on us during World War II, and NOT whitewash its history of colonization and aggression." Moreover it is reported that South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun blasted Japan in Germany, and China's Premier Wen Jiabao did it in India.
Mr. Roh criticized scathingly Japan as saying "It was a great misfortune that the entire world has to live with those who consider their past acts of aggression glorious. Japan's attitude doesn't accord with the universal values human society needs to seek." (The Chosun Ilbo - Roh Blasts Japan in German Press)
Mr. Wen also told "The strong responses from the Asian people should make the Japanese Government have deep and profound reflections. Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for its past, and wins over the trust of the people of Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibility in the international community." (China Daily - Japan told to face up to past)

China's and South Korea's insistence is deceptively right. But if Western countries of former imperialist Great Powers recognize it, their leaders must visit to Asian and African countries and apologize for their past year after year. Now Germany apologizes for Nazi's atrocities called the Holocaust and other crime against humanity, but cannot do for colonization on African countries. (Nazi Germany by Spartacus Educational)

So I heard India's freedom struggle was helped by that Japanese troops invaded Dutch, French, and British colonies in Asia during World War II. According to Timeline of India, Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose rightly felt that his presence in the East would help his countrymen in freedom struggle.

I think that one of Mr. Wen's words "the strong responses from the Asian people" is only his bluff for the Japanese. Perhaps he knows the Japanese extremely weak against the words "everyone do or don't." In fact, some of Taiwan's elderly people appreciate Japanese ruling era, and former President Lee Teng-hui also do it. Because during the colonial period, the Japanese built railroads, a sanitation system, and a public school system, among other things. Moreover former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told Japan's Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama during his visit to Southeast Asia in August 1994 that Japan should stop its "apology diplomacy" and play a leadership role to promote peace and prosperity in Asia.

Actually, Japan's government has repeatedly apologized to its neighbors for the offenses that occurred 60 and 70 years ago. But China and South Korea have responded grudgingly to such conciliatory gestures, they seem to have eagerly awaited when other Japanese VIPs' remarks offend them. If some VIP makes an improper remarks for them, he/she may be dismissed from his/her post by their virulent protests. Some of Japan's media and the opposition parties have helped their acts.

On April 13, 2005, Financial Times reported an article named "China's persistent Japan syndrome." The writer, Mr. Ian Buruma added "Sometimes, however, the Chinese and, to a lesser extent, the South Korean authorities deliberately inflame anti-Japanese passions to deflect attention from their own shortcomings. Nationalism, along with capitalist development, has become the only justification for the Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly on power, and when capitalism falters nationalism must be cranked up. Ever since Deng Xiaoping opened China’s door to foreign, especially Japanese, investment, and Marxist ideology faded into insignificance, "patriotic museums" have sprouted all over China - most of them dedicated to past Japanese atrocities."
I think even if Japan will have apologized to China and South Korea for its wartime actions, they will not stop deliberately inflame anti-Japanese passions.

Some Japanese, including Diet member, have doubts why the government has apologized for its wartime actions. So they say "The world in 19th century and early 20th century was the age of imperialism. Without winning the imperialistic war, Japan might have been colonized by some Western countries. Japan had ruled some colonies as a result of that. Though some of Taiwan's elderly people appreciate Japanese ruling era, many of Korean have criticized it. What is difference between ruling Taiwan and Koreas? Japan improved infrastructure in Koreas as well as Taiwan. Though many of former Western controlling countries haven't been developed nations yet, former Japanese controlling Taiwan and South Korea become ones."

On April 22, 2005, Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Asian African Summit in Bandung expressed an apology for its wartime atrocities.

Speech by H.E. Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan
In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force. Japan once again states its resolve to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world in the future as well, prizing the relationship of trust it enjoys with the nations of the world.

According to Mainichi Daily News, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's speech is in accordance with generally former P.M. Tomiichi Murayama's speech in 1995, and Japan's past prime ministers seldom express "remorse and apology" for its wartime actions in a multilateral forum. Japan have usually apologized one-on-one meeting between China or South Korea and Japan, not in a multilateral forum. Hence I guess many countries have been heard anti-Japanese propaganda from China and South Korea through the press in the world. It is shown by Associated Press writer, Mr. Joe McDonald's word "allegedly" in his sentence "Those demonstrations were prompted by new Japanese textbooks derided for allegedly whitewashing Tokyo's World War II-era abuses." (Guardian Unlimited - China Aims to Stop Anti-Japanese Violence) Whatever anything Japanese Society for Textbook Reform say without foreign language, foreign people would think China's and South Korea's opinion to be right.

Since Mr. Koizumi's speech is also reported by foreign media, tide is turning against China. The Washington Post criticized China in an editorial as saying, "It was Mr. Hu's government that chose to make an exaggerated fuss over the textbook issue, then allowed and even encouraged demonstrators to attack Japanese diplomatic missions and restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. The popular hostility toward Japan that erupted in the streets was real enough, but Mr. Hu's government made the dangerous and irresponsible decision to stoke it and employ it for its own ends."

The Nation, Thai English newspaper, said on April 23 as forrowing:
"China's President Hu Jintao said it was the first time that Japan has made the statement in a multilateral forum, the source said. The Thai delegation has taken the answer as a positive response to Koizumi's speech. It was the first time that China has made a positive reply to the Japanese government's inquiries over the anti-Japanese demonstration in Chinese cities. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan also said, regarding 60 years ago, the great damage it [Japan] has caused in Asian countries, including China, we welcome Koizumi's attitude." (WORLD WAR II STAND-OFF: Peace moves in Japan)

Therefore the Nation's article on the previous day, Thaksin to meet Hu Jintao mentioned that "Top of the agenda is the ongoing squabble between China and Japan over the content of a history textbook. The sources said that China would like to know Thailand's position on the issue. Thailand has backed Japan's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, while China strongly opposes it."
I felt China's feeling of frustration after Koizumi's speech.

Now China assumes to prevent anti-Japanese protests that were prompted by itself. China is often use the protests as diplomatic cards against Japan, and it has brought China unilateral diplomatic advantage; however, China is compelled to withdraw the card by criticism of foreign media. I believe it was just caused for fear of decrease in foreign investment, but not by Japan's apology at Asian African Summit in Bandung. Japanese freelance writer, Sakai Tanaka said USA is declining economic power, but I think China has not antagonized US economy yet. Indeed, China is increasing in criticism against Japan since announce an end to fresh yen loans by fiscal 2008, said Ms. Suzuka Yoshida. (Japan Times - Yen-loan deal should end on positive note) Chinese leaders may be really worried about possible damage to important economic ties with Tokyo by any chance.

Meanwhile, South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun get unpleasantly softened. The change of his remarks may be caused by the problem of Korea-Japan Treaty documents, but neither Koizumi's apology nor the pressure of foreign press against China.
In fact, The Chosun Ilbo on April 27 said that "Whether the full Korea-Japan Treaty documents are made public or not, Korea's government must involve itself in one form or another and assume its responsibility on unresolved tasks. But the government has thus far been insufficient in its efforts and hidden even historical facts that it can bear, said Roh. So far, only part of the 1965 Korea-Japan Treaty has been released."
Will he bring up issues of history as diplomatic cards against Japan?

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