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This is Ian's piece of web. See it go. Go, weblog, go! Go travel in Asia. Go study in Tokyo. Go home to Portland. Nah, what the hell. Go, study in Beijing.

Stop. I am a student studying Chinese language in Beijing.

I started this weblog in the Summer of 2002. It keeps following me wherever I go. But, I'm glad to have the company.

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The Recent Demonstrations

There was a major anti-Japanese demonstration in Beijing this last weekend, it started close to where I live. But I missed it; damn. Having seen Yasukuni Shrine and the Uyoku in Japan, I'm really curious to experience the Chinese emotional reaction in person. These phenomenon represent extreme ends of a spectrum. The truth lies in the middle.

Going to the Unit 731 remembrance museum was an important experience for me. That was something real, and didn't smell so much of politics. It was an eerie, beautiful place, snow falling, one of the quietest places I have been to in China. It had a deep feeling, something very significant happened there.

I have not been to Nanjing yet, but I understand they are still using the 300,000 deaths numbers in the museum, although most peer-reviewed western publications are saying 80,000. So it goes.

What I find most ridiculous is the belief that any country's government can be "good" or "right". My own country damn well included. "Good for their own citizens", okay in rare cases, maybe. I hear some of those Scandinavian countries are quite forward thinking. But good or right in general sense? Any citizen action taken under this premise, while maybe retardedly sincere, is still fucking self-deluded.

Can we just call a spade a spade? Countries represent a culture of people. Cultures are by design an ingroup telling you the outgroup's rules are wrong. Countries are ethnocentric, in policy and action. This seems to be especially the case with ones who have much power.

How anyone from one of these powerful countries feel they can take morale high ground is beyond me. I feel nothing but deep humility for the actions of my country. I can criticize other countries, that's fine, but while I'm doing it I had damn well better be sure I continually acknowledge the atrocities my own country has done.

So, only action taken by people who have undergone critical thinking of what their culture has done to itself and others in the past is a meaingful kind of action to me.

Comments:

Cool Blog, took awhile find one talking about this from a Japanese point of view. I have few comments and questions on this case, been watching since hit the presses hard, atleast via internet.

When did this really start to heat up? Is it a class warfare type of protest? I'm trying to find out more of what actions the Japanese government can take. Is it money they want? How much would it take? I always thought as a Nation the losing of the war and 2 atomic bombs was plenty of damage. I don't get why the old wounds bleed again. I even read comments from the German Government that Japan needs to face it's dark history.

By Sonorandiaries, at 1:38 PM  


Thanks for your comment. Uh well I'm far from an expert in these things, but I definetly have my opinion based on what I've read, so I can give you that much.

I think things really started to "heat up" again when the current PM of Japan Kouizimi took office, he made it a point to annualy visit the Yasukuni shrine, where war dead are remembered -- the problem is a minority of the people enshrined there are considered notorious war criminals by the rest of asia.

There's nothing wrong with paying respect to those that have past on for your country, but if you go to the museum adjacent to the shrine you can get a sense of what other countries object to. There's an extremely conservative segment of the population in Japan (tend to be richer) that support a crazy revised version of history that skims over atrocities done to the rest of Asia -- and these people tend to have money. They made this museum and it's an extremely selective view of history (nothing there is technically inaccurate, they just include only specific things). Japan's past military greatness is glorified. The atrocities are not mentioned.

These latest protests in China are directly related to the new school textbooks that recently came out in Japan (all must be approved by Japan's ministry of education), that don't talk much about Japan's imperial past in east/southeast asia, and the consequences of it. This battle over textbooks has been going on since the 80's, and there are some very prominent news media personalities who fight for more progressive texts, but they haven't won much it seems.

Oh and also Japan wants to be on the UN security council, but I think really this is just viewed as a great chance to criticize Japan right now, because they are in a vulnerable spot, and China has the possibility to give them a punishment by denying them entry.

Japan has given a lot of ODA money to China over the years, it's like 150 billion a year for many many years. I think to the Chinese politicians, it's either just about the money, or to get the general political upper-hand. The Chinese people are more interested in actual apology from the Japanese government. (My main blog post spoke somewhat to my feeling of these kinds of proteters)

I've heard (though never read the apologies myself) that Japan has apologized many times for it's past. Many people who support Japan's position in this are quick to ask "how many times do we have to apologize?" I think both Japanese and Chinese culture show their meaning by less saying and more so doing. Even if Japan apologize a million times, the fact that they still allow a non self-reflecting history textbook to be produced, Kouizumi still goes to Yasukuni, big Japanese companies still make donations to the museum I mentioned, etc. -- this means everything to the Chinese.

Alright, that could be a blog post it's so long -_-; I'll stop there.

By Ian, at 7:28 PM  


It could also have to do with Japan's public statement of defending Taiwan with the US too. As far as the past every nation has a dark history, no matter which civ it is.

Cheers

By Sonorandiaries, at 7:40 AM  


I have great respect for China, even invested money in your economy. But there is one thing which realy borthers me and many others as I heard yesterday on a party.

First Chinese say that hatered will never go away and enemies stay forever!? I agree that Japan is ignoring its past and should tell ion books the right story.

But why so many anger and hatered and attacking Japanese buildings and firms? Why not the political way of soft pression!

And now you are demanding from Japan that they do not support Taiwan in their independency. This has nothing to do with their schoolbooks and the way the tell about the history! This is a way to isolate taiwan by using your history to put pression on Japan, it is cheap imperealism!

About war, terror etc. You chinese scream about the things happened many years ago by Japanese armies in Cina. But what are you doiing for may years in TIBET ?
This makes china a very unreliable country this way of politics and therefor I must say I cannot have any symphatie for China.

If I am wrong in my knowledge of the historie and these cases then I would like to learn from you, so please than inform me, because for the moment this is the way I and many others understand what is going on.

By ad, at 6:47 PM  


ad sed...

> I have great respect for China, even invested money in your economy

>And now you are demanding from Japan that they do not support Taiwan in their independency.

>You chinese scream about the things happened many years ago by Japanese armies in Cina.

Are you addressing me? For the record I am neither Chinese nor Japanese.

Anyway, both countries are victims of their own governments. Just try to remember that.

By Ian, at 5:28 PM  


Continued to ad said:
>If I am wrong in my knowledge of the historie and these cases then I would like to learn from you, so please than inform me, because for the moment this is the way I and many others understand what is going on.

I'm in no position to educate people because I may not know more than you despite the fact I'm Chinese. But I try to remind myself, aside of being Chinese, of keeping a critical point of view on what's happening before I jump to conclusion and try my best to understand both sides before throwing a hatred opinion or action. I have to admit that the current discussion on this issue and many that was related did expand my knowledge. If there's any help, you may want to read http://joi.ito.com/archives/2005/04/19/chinese_anti-japan_protests.html
when you get a chance. There's some good information which may answer your questions.

Also:
>I have great respect for China, even invested money in your economy.

I appreciate your investment and I believe it contributes to the great economic growth of China in the larger picture. I hope this also helps you financially, instead of being an act of patronizing China.

Also, I am a little suspcious of the logic between money and respect. Correct me if I'm wrong.

By XiaoWen, at 5:36 AM  


This is well worth the read. Not sure if I buy into but makes good conversation.

China paper sees 'evil plot' in anti-Japan protests
http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/26/news/beijing.php

Cheers

By Sonorandiaries, at 3:24 PM  


Sorry about that here's the full link broken down.

http://www.iht.com/articles
/2005/04/26/news/beijing.php

By Sonorandiaries, at 3:25 PM  


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Posted by Ian at 4/13/2005 11:32:00 PM    Permalink