Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Japanese Defiance

The blog had covered incipient Sino-Japanese tensions in a previous post. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi had defied China on several issues.

Cabinet spokesman, Shinzo Abe is increasingly viewed as the front runner to succeed Koizumi in September this year. Mr. Abe accused China today of destabilizing Asia with its military expenditure. He reported that Chinese military budget had registered a two-digit annual growth in the past 18 years. He blamed China for having a democracy and human rights deficit and denied the existence of the rule of law in that country. This was a harsh attack on China. Mr. Abe urged that the foreign ministers of Australia, India, Japan and the United States convene each year given shared threat perceptions and democratic values.

Another candidate in the run-up to replace Koizumi is Taro Aso, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Not to be outdone, he reiterated that China's military build-up was a threat to Asia. The Japanese Defence Agency had released a study last month on Chinese military expenditure. It had expressed concern of the allegedly under-reported increases in Chinese defence expenditure estimated at US$ 28 billion by the World Bank in 2003.

A major point of contention between China and Japan has been Prime Minister Koizumi's symbolic visits to the Yasukuni Shinto Shrine that honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead each year. China had sharply reacted to such visits alleging that Japan had not renounced its history of aggression directed at China during World War 2.

13 comments:

doubtinggaurav said...

Jaffna,

Any improvement in Japan- India ties is a good news, even thought Japanese pigheadedness about Indian nuclearization sticks like a sore thumb.
I remain pessimistic about China despite rhetoric of "Chinindia".

Regards


PS. Not to mention that Japanese( Of Females variety) are adorable ;-)

Jaffna said...

Dear Gaurav,

I have had several male friends you would agree with you on the beauty of Japanese women. I am coming around to that view and am increasingly appreciative of the subtlety of Japanese culture - its food, its theater, its traditional painting, its architecture. China is loud, Japan is subtle.

I think that there is a convergence of interests between Japan and India. China is a common threat to both. Japan, India and China participate in the East Asia Summit with ASEAN and Australia. And then there is the issue of the reform of the United Nations.

Japan continues to aid India despite the nuclear issue. It has in effect increasingly turned a blind eye to that obviously extremely sensitive issue to it. I hope that India grasps this historical opportunity. Koizumi had visited India.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

"A major point of contention between China and Japan has been Prime Minister Koizumi's symbolic visits to the Yasukuni Shinto Shrine that honors Japan's 2.5 million war dead each year."

You have convinently left out the part about the Yasukuni Shrine housing convicted Class A war criminals from WWII. A fair comparison is that of the German Chancellor paying annual homage to German War Memorial which exhibits proudly the achievements of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi gang.

Do you think people of Israel and others of Jewish decent would not be aghast? The same feeling is that of Chinese people, who suffered 35 Million deaths at the hand of Japanese in WWII. The contention is about the victim demanding a whole hearted apology from the oppressor, and for the latter to stop glorifying the misdeed.

Jaffna said...

Anonymous

The Yasukuni shrine does include space for 14 convicted war criminals. But it intended to commemorate all 2.5 million of the Japanese war dead. Koizumi and many Japanese legislators see nothing wrong in praying for peace at what is evidentally a shrine for the departed. I have seen footage of Koizumi bowing down in genuine reverence in a memorial for Japan's war dead in Moscow.

The issue is larger i.e. the separation of religion and politics that certain Japanese legislators perhaps intend to incrementally eat into and also a rethink by some of Japan's post-war constitution drafted by General Mac Arthur.

You speak of 35 million Chinese killed by the Japanese in World War 2. Please give me the source of your statistic. I had thought that it was Russia that suffered the most in World War 2 with 20 million dead.

Certain estimates indicate that 30 million Chinese are reported to have perished in the famine under Mao's great leap forward. I had presumed that that was the largest recorded number of Chinese dead in recent years as well - not World War 2. So please provide me the convincing sources and I could revise my views.

Japan should apologize for its misdeeds in China. But China should do so for its genocide in Tibet. And Pakistan for its genocide in Bangladesh. No country has done so to date. Not even Turkey for the Armenian genocide. So let us not single Japan out.

I would even argue that the United States should apologize for Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

I think that the Chinese have been belligerent when it comes to Taiwan, Tibet and Japan - unnecessarily so.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Jaffna,

The topic I wanted to address was the reason for the contention between Chinese and Japanese over the Yasukuni Shrine. It was not over whether the Chinese have their right to cry foul over Japanese WWII slaughters or current smugness. That would be another post, and I defer that to those with more in depth knowledge.

Addressing your comment about my support for the number of Chinese killed in WWII. The number had ranged from 10 Million to 60 Million, depending how you factor in the number of killed - in combat or due to the war's other direct causes. Many historian left out the deaths of slave laborers, whom were made up of millions of Chinese and other Asians in the Japanese mines and factories. Please see the links below:

http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~jobrien/reference/ob62.html

and another source:

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004619.html

Getting back to the topic in contention - the reason that the Japanese had placed the convicted criminals in the highly esteemed shrine was a slap on the victims' face, let alone had the PM going there bowing to its spirits, be they rest in peace or stir with unease. If the Japanese shrine practitioners feel that 2.5 Million enshrined brave imperial Japanese soldiers did no wrong, then at least cast out the convicted ones. This is a very minor gesture on the moral side.

Separation of Church and State is a legal matter, and I defer that to the best minds of Japan to come up with an answer suitable for their country.

China, Turkey, USA, Great Britain, and the list goes on all have misdeeds in their history.

Which nation has no blood over her hands. Is it India with her Kashmir Massacre? http://www.gendercide.org/case_kashmir_punjab.html

But having issues at home should not prevent people voicing out their indignities, and especially towards the most vicious ones committed in the 20th Century.

Regards

Jaffna said...

Anonymous,

You make good points. I respect that. The least the Japanese can do would be to expunge the 14 convicted war criminals from the Yasakuni shrine. Point well taken.

I tend to think the estimates of the Chinese war dead are exaggerated. You spoke of a margin of between 10 million and 60 million killed. That is a huge number. Nevertheless, I agree that millions of Chinese died in World War 2 - not to mention the tumult of that country in the 1800s (the Taiping rebellion being one case in point) and Mao's famine in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Numbers are always imprecise.

I disagree with the link you provided that appears to characterize Indian actions in Kashmir as constituting genocide. That is an insult to the concept of genocide. A genocide in my view is when a very significant proportion of the total population of a country has been wiped out by deliberate state policy. Kashmir does not qualify.

But I respect the gist of your overall argument on Sino-Japanese relations. Thanks for sharing.

Best regards

doubtinggaurav said...

Jaffna,

Yes there has been genocide in Kashmir, that of Kashmiri Pundits (two can play the game)

Regards

Anonymous said...

Jaffna,

I am no expert on the topic of genocide and certainly not on Indian history. I brought up the Kashimir link as an example to counter balance the many Chinese skeletons you had brought up. I trust the wisdom of Indian people to resolve their domestic issues.

I can't help but conjure up this image of battered victim bashing from your postings. It's like this: a woman gets raped by a neighbor. The neighbor was sentenced and did his time in jail, but refused to apologize or acknowledge that he had done anything wrong. Why? Becuase he can cite many examples of domestic violence at the victim's home, and thus he feels not morally obligated to his criminal action.

What do you think of that anology?

Jaffna said...

Anonymous,

This is a free world and you are entitled to your opinion. This said, I do not understand the analogy.

For one, I am not Indian. Two, I do not think that China had been a victim of Indian aggression. China is certainly not a battered victim!

So let us agree to disagree.

Best

Anonymous said...

Jaffna,

Your post is interesting in the context of new economic alliances fostering in the South East Asia. Slowly but reluctantly Japan is coming around the fact that India cannot be ignored. While the rest of the world thinks that India and China are emerging super powers, the problem is that while China is already acting like a mega power, the Indian psyche is still battering with Rot, Kapada and Makan... The constant battering of the Indian Communists on the modern globalizing India, may be invertantly helping the Chinese to reduce the Indian Advantage........is a vicious strategy. I do believe that the Indian Communists are playing the Chinese Card well. While we , even Indian intellectuals, Businessmen and Administrators are captivated by the China Model, we often ignore what price the chinese society is paying interms of freedom is paying for those isolated Chinese Urban Wonders....... The secular and Free India will not compromise freedom and democracy. Often my Communist friends ask me what we have acheived with the democracy. The answer is that their very existance in India explains that. Democracy is like air for me, not visible, but take it away I will choke to death. I donot trust the Chinese a bit...not even American Chinese studied with me....

It is in this context our relationship with Japan is important, even though, India has never figured in the Japanese imagination and never supported us on any international issues. The fact that India is considered as a Threat to the Japanese Economic Supremacy in the East is itself very refreshing. The question whether we can trust China or Japan is irrelevant, for we cannot trust either of them. They are nothing but selfish and egoistic. Instead of supporting either of them, we should sit aside and watch them battle to death. May be indirectly fuel those historical and cultural feud........Neither ChinaIndia nor JapanIndia is going to be reality, the cultural and mental distance between the Chinese and Japanese DNA and Indian DNA can never be bridged....... not in this century.

Regards
Visionary

Jaffna said...

Dear Visionary,

Thank you for the comments. This is food for thought, one that appeals to me in some measure although I am torn. I also value the balance of power theorists - hence Japan and India as a counter balance to the inevitable emergence of China.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Jaffna,

My analogy alluded to your resourceful digging of Chinese past and present wrongs, and neglecting to address the main issue of the post: the contention between Japanese and Chinese viewpoints on WWII.

The Analogy:

Victim - Chinese People

Criminal Neighbor - Japanese government and those Japanese people who refused to acknowledge or apologize for their country's wrong doings in WWII

Victim Basher - Jaffna


Thanks for the opportunity to post.

Jaffna said...

Anonymous

I now understand in light of your clarification. You have a point in the context of Sino-Japanese relations - but that alone!

Best regards

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