Japan Today

Author Murakami wades into Japan-China island row


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2012 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

I only wish more people with this influential mentality from both Japan and China would speak up. They have the respect of the people, something politicians never achieve.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Good for Murakami.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

No one has the nerve to speak up in either country. Too much to lose in political status, popularity, poll numbers, sales, whatever.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well said Muramaki. Shame that so many others on both sides don't feel the same way. I honestly think that most of the right wing supports are ill educated and have issues with pride and self esteem so they wrap their identity up on what their country is doing - again, on both sides.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

The metaphor doesn't quite work. Expensive liquor gets you just as smashed as the cheap stuff, although it's true that your hangover isn't as bad.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

China publicly proclaimed that the islands has been ceded to Japan in 1895 prior to Japan invasion of China and even World War II. Now they want it back because it has energy reserves.

But wait, these islands were not part of China neither. Taiwan, Mongolia, Tibet were not part of China neither. And yes, Alaska was not owned by America neither...

And yes Korea was a vassal of China and was part of chinese territory too until Japan step in and took over Korea....

If we follow this failed logic nobody owns anything then we will understand this logic. Ownership of private property is the root of capitalism and therefore contrary to communal property of communism. But then China is a communist...so being a communist, all property is a property of the government ...sucks then everything belongs to China. Good logic.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

@mikihouse: Compare to what Murakami said, your words is totally nonsense.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I know what you mean, mikihouse. Does anyone know a high-profile person in china who's called for calm? If they have, they're even braver than murukami.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So, "dividing humanity into countries" is the root of all our problems?

People get along fine with neighbors for the most part. And so do nations of people. The problem is not divisions based on race or tradition or geographic boundaries. The problem is a political class beholden to moneyed interests and populations who lack the ability to recognize that and are easily stirred into a nationalist frenzy.

The Sendakus is about oil and gas which is critical for both China and Japan because they have so little of it. Japan and China were once in negotiations to jointly develop the area and share the resources. Those negotiations fell through (both sides blame the other) and so this stand-off was inevitable. It is not a failure of the nation-state concept but of egotistic leaders who can not see life beyond their own noses or the next election and stand for their benefactors' interests instead of the nation's.

Murakami would seem to suggest that a world without borders, perhaps with one government, is the panacea for all the world's problems. He is blinded by visions of Utopia. Would he, as a Japanese, be comfortable if a German and a Swiss and maybe a Chinese bureaucrat set policies, enacted laws, and taxed the Japanese people, told them where to live and what job they should have? Would that be allowed in the US? What about China? To be sure, there is a way to peace, but guys like Murakami present no realistic answers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mr. Murakami, can you please consult with your fellow countryman, Mr. Kiyoshi Inoue, who wrote the book Senkaku Islands, so you can write a factional novel and make informed comments?

Why do we have boundaries and governments? Because the human raced rejected divine governance. They wanted to do whatever came to their minds and that is what we are doing today. But not for too long. It will be changed soon. Things will happen so quick that you will not even have time to react to them.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This man--and not the political leaders of China, Taiwan, and Japan--represents the hope for the future of East Asia. Nation-states are a failed idea from 19th century Europe. And as Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, another Asian, said some 80 years ago, the roots of conflict in the modern world stem from nationalism, racism, and communism. This conflict has elements of all three.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Murakami-san is one of an all to rare commodity in Japan, although I have yet to read any of his stuff if I come across him on TV I stop & watch, ditto for anything in the newspaper.

May not agree on all he says but clearly Japan is in dire need of people with his kind of intelligence if Japan is to have a hope of carrying on without heading towards the life styles of the third world

2 ( +2 / -0 )

saidani... has a point.

Whilst idealism and rational analysis does play a part in the world perspective, one must live in REALITY.

Ideally if every living person was just as idealistic, rational and well educated and well trained and experienced in behavior to be "wise", then we may not have a need for politicians and leaders. We may only need organizers and coordinators under one organizing group or institution.

The problem is everyone has "emotions" and "desires" and "greed" and... and.... which get in the way of it all. The problem is everyone develops differently. The problem is the earths is not the same all around.

And the FACT is what is being said is "wishful" thinking based on idealism.

But the bigger fact is REALITY and WHAT IS HAPPENING. Being "laid back" and rational in Japan does not resolve the problem when other nations/peoples are being aggressive. If SURVIVAL is the issue and at stake... ONLY ACTION, the right kind of ACTION can determine the OUTCOME.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

santelli Sep. 29, 2012 - 11:52AM JST

Thanks for putting this into the proper perspective. Sadly, I can only give you one "Good" vote.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That said about reality...

Nationalism is NOT a "bad" word or a "bad" thought or a "bad" thing in itself. It is only a word used to describe the tendency of a group of similar people to "unite" under what is labeled a "nation" or a "country".

It is in the use of that tendency that can be beneficial or problem-some.

Could you think about that?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Good to hear a rational perspective from real writer rather than a second-rate smut novelist who has since changed career and has had a hand in this unpleasant business.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

kazetsukai Sep. 29, 2012 - 12:14PM JST

Of course, you are correct that there is nothing wrong with having pride in one's country. Unfortunately for Japan, "nationalism" has taken on the aura of Imperial Japan with all of its negative connotations. Foreigners and Japanese with an agenda use the word to demonize anyone who would suggest a Japan independent of the US or who advocates the abolishment of Article 9 (which, curiously, is something the US would like to happen).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Saidani The word 'Nationalism' carries with it a sense of extremes and of looking down on others and not just when apllied to countries such as Japan or Germany. To describe someone as 'patriotic' does not have such negative connotations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is one other key area which Murakami addressed, but not directly, since it changes the entire argument and the issues at hand.

It is NOT the problem with "nationalism", it is the problem with political leaders using it to further their own agendas.

He is addressing a problem for all groups and nations... the problem is with leaders, politicians and any person that has "power" over others regardless of level or size.

He also did not explain in the article, the One major reason why we have "laws" is for just that; to moderate and control the use of that power.

The major problem we face today, which Mr. Murakami forgot to address is that the international authority we recognize as UN, is incapable of the one thing needed in having any law; ITS ENFORCEMENT.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not at all surprising to see that the highly overrated Murakami is as mediocre a political thinker as he is a novelist. Alfred Nobel will do somersaults of regret in his grave if this charlatan ever wins the Big Prize.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

"...or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg..." that alone says a lot about Mr. Murakami.

If these islands are so important to the Chinese, the question must be asked why the Chinese did not raise concerns when the islands were returned to Japan by the US in 1972 along with Okinawa. One could interpret silence as concurrence or at least no issue.

The issue can be resolved by selecting five prominent historical scholars, one from five neutral countries, and have them research the issue and put forth a verdict on true ownership of the islands. Of course getting the two sides to agree on which countries and which scholars would be a comedy show in itself along with all the underhanded shenanigans to buy influence.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The major problem we face today, which Mr. Murakami forgot to address is that the international authority we recognize as UN, is incapable of the one thing needed in having any law; ITS ENFORCEMENT.

I, for one, do not want the UN to have enforcement powers. What about the UN's past record, corruption, and scandals would make you trust unelected UN bureaucrats to make decisions on the use of that power? Rwandans would like to know.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Jimizo Sep. 29, 2012 - 12:57PM JST

I bow to your expanded and clarified definition.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wise words from a very wise and intelligent man. Shame they always bracket him with "Norwegian Wood" which in my view was a depressing novel of teenage angst. Why not say, Murakami, writer of the classic and totally original "Wind-up bird chronicle"?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Murakami, who has been tipped as a future Nobel laureate, said disputes over land existed because of the unfortunate system of dividing humanity into countries with national borders.

The translation is misleading. He didn't suggest a Utopian idealism. He said, "Since borderlines exist, disputes over land are---unfortunately I should say---unavoidable issues. But they can be and should be settled through negotiations and working-level talks." Also he suggests that even if China bans Japanese books and Japan-related books in bookstores and other retail outlets, Japan should not retaliate. Retaliation will backfire on us eventually. If we can show a composed attitude that we never lose respect to the culture of other countries under any circumstances, it can be the opposite of cheap liquor that gets you easily drunk and hysterical.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is often an inverse correlation between the fervour of one's nationalism and how much one has contributed to the greatness of their country.

I never trust anybody who has too much pride in their country. It's usually accompanied by very undesirable traits.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@omikSep. 29, 2012 - 01:33PM JST

"why the Chinese did not raise concerns when the islands were returned to Japan by the US in 1972 along with Okinawa"?

It seems high time for you to learn Chinese if you can't find it in English or Japanese.:-)




-1 ( +0 / -1 )

*japan went into/invade, asian countries & did worse things than what german did to jews (they only want the jews out of their country - those that won't leave suffer). jews got reparation & german war criminals got punish - only 6m jews but 30m chinese (just civilians, not counting soldiers). they do medical experiments - amputate & remove organs without anesthesia - mass repeat gang raped until death - give little chinese children anthrax candies - torture of all kinds like punching & cutting sensitive parts until death, eat live humans when even food animals get to die first, bury alive ... jews, americans, got their revenge back - china, burma, korea, ... no asian got it back yet. It’ll never be forgotten. history repeats itself but, this time, the attrosities will be done to japanese by all asians not japanese do to all asians.

*for reparation - how about all the asian victim countries sliced up japan & each occupied a part, like china was sliced up & the west each occupied a part - been done before, to china who owe no one nothing - japan owe asia.

*help china extract oil from the area & we can buy it cheap at walmart, costco, …here – or we won’t vote for you – other countries can’t do cheap & fast like the chinese. without chinese we won’t have railroad or industrial revolution or greatness. their ingenuity & lives built usa not the cotton the afros picked or the fruits the latinos pick.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Murakami used to be a bartender. Pretty sure he still considers himself to be in nature. Not surprising he uses the liquor metaphor in this case - something he would preach to his customers over the bar counter.

"If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg,"

Can certainly relate to this, as with his many admirers and followers in the world. However, would also say this: if there is a writer A with an enormous talent for words and ways of expressing his humanitarian ideals that many can undoubtedly relate to but never acts on his ideals in a social sense and pretty much does nothing beyond preaching to bar customers, and a writer B who may be inferior in talent but nonetheless tries to do whatever possible to act on his ideals to actually change the society for the well being of all, I will always maintain a higher respect for writer B.

Then again, always find it har to trust any writers who can preach and stand on their wealth at the same time. Hope your novels start appearing on the storeshelves in Shanghai, Murakami-san.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's so important to hear the intellegenstia of these countries weighing into the debate. Bravo Mr Murukami.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Put a total media ban on this topic and the issue would disappear..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just as we debate over this... the key issue behind Mr. Murakami's comments.....Fox News indicated the following:

September 29, 2012 China's lines around islands on map could make more conflict with Japan

One of the hottest items in bookstores across China is a map for a place that is closed to visitors, home only to animals such as goats and crabs, and the reason China's relations with Japan are at their lowest point in years.

China actually published a map with the islands as being a part of China.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is much reflection in China about the recent red china government sponsored anti-Japan rampages, and one of the common conclusions is this: attacks on Japanese cars and "Japanese-interests" were really attacks on Chinese people with money, by Chinese people without money. Well you say, they didn't trash Mercedes, Audi, GM cars, etc., but this is merely a superficial momentary distinction.

The island row provided a one-time perfect excuse in the guise of patriotic fever, for the expression of class hatred. Make no mistake. Chinese people are not stupid, but they are fearful; not of Japan, but of their own government's habit of employing mob violence among China's exploited underclass for political expediency. This is why people in Hong Kong are vehemently opposed to red china's move it implement patriotism classes in Hong Kong schools. The cosmopolitan people of Hong Kong know where this will lead.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Then again, always find it har to trust any writers who can preach and stand on their wealth at the same time. Hope your novels start appearing on the storeshelves in Shanghai, Murakami-san.

Murakami's novels have always been translated into Chinese. He enjoys a huge loyal following in the Chinese youth market.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

maqing2, i guessing u r chinese... not all asians have that hatred to japanese. Its a sorry history, people who are responsible for the war are almost dead by now by old age, but it seems that new generations in korea and china are thought hatred to japanese at school while other asian countries e.g. all south east asia do not. I support which ever country who has the right, based on proof and not intimidation. Too bad china has shown to the world a bad imagine how it manipulates its own people and how aggressive or probably uncivilized way in dealings. May the land be with those who rightful owner.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

So, the mentality of Japanese is final: no matter how right Murakami-san is, call him the enemy of the country.

Japanese accepts no truth but cheap liquor hysteria. Come headaches you may not see the next morning sun.


China is the only rightful landlord. From your view I see you strongly supports forgetting and denying history, is that the way you live your day.?

From the ways the governments of S.E.A countries not allowing Japanese culture to be shown freely on their TV channels you can see how welcoming the Japanese is. Who in the world can just rid away unfavorable slaughtering history just simplily? Do not under estimate if somebody bigger strike and S.E.A. get their bites too.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I love this guy for a lot of the same reasons I hate Japanese politics and the mainstream media here. The media insists that all Japanese super-stars sell-out, give into interviews, make commercials immediately upon their success, make muzak if musicians, and basically prostrate themselves to the system. But like a few other artists, also whom I respect for their integrity, this man is a person who does not only not sell out, but who stands for his ideals and does not budge. The media has shunned him at points when he became an international best-seller and then refused to do commercial ads and show up on variety shows and tried to make him out to be a pariah, but, and it's no coincidence, the man continues to excel in international circles, and so the media backs down and still wants to cash in on him and talk about how great it is that a Japanese person is so well known.

So when the man gets heaps of awards and appears in Israel to talk about not how great the nation is, but to talk about the fragility of peace and how throwing an egg at a wall won't accomplish much and what not, the J-media cashes in (but stands hesitantly back of approaching him). I have no doubt the wingers will come out and be angry about his books -- talk about how great Mishima Yukio was but how Murakami is a traitor for not blindly standing behind Japan (but instead he has an actual, helpful opinion). It's no wonder the man spends half his time in Boston and only comes back to live and visit once in a while -- this nation and its media want him to represent their personal interests, when the man just wants to do what he loves and goes by his heart. And his heart is right, here more than ever. Some won't accept that. And in that they are exactly the same as the things they claim to be against.

I've spoken to the man in person -- he is an amazing individual, and obviously an amazing writer. But watch this fall on deaf ears in Japan, and probably even the radicals will call him a traitor or some such nonsense.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The most recent one who spoke up with truth got fired, he was a business man with an ideal "~新たな出会い、心の絆~ Murakami san is a writer, he is more skillful with words, we can see :) shame he can't be the next ambassador.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

michikokakada: "shame he can't be the next ambassador."

Agreed 100%. But as with China and South Korea, Japan needs leaders who are unqualified, and unwilling to do any work by try to appeal to the ultra-nationalists; hence in Japan you have Agricultural ministers as defense ministers one step later, then run for PM and not get it so are 'relegated' to Education minister or something, then perhaps Health Minister before they can try again as PM to be turned down and selected as Minister of health and welfare, and the game of musical chairs continue. I mean, in what other nation can a former Judo athlete with no skills or qualifications in politics be elected into politics based solely on reputation?

Give it to Murakami? A man with actual experience, interaction, and wisdom with how things work on both a grass-roots level and with politics? Nah... might tip the balance in favour of the better good. :)

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Good question smith(what other nation.....)..try asking Arnold S. or Clint E. or Jessie the body,or etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sigh. China can keep saying whatever it wants..but it did not have soverignty over the islands, and it wont. They belong to Japan now, so lets move on and get on with life.

A novelist is hardly the person to advise nations ...he is one person, a nation is many, and many need to balance many concerns, not just the hopes and wishes of an individual. Sadly modern media thrives on trying to find stories and trying to elevate "stars" ....artists, writers and musicians, creative people of all kinds, are not helped by being made into stars above the others, if they are honest and care about their craft, they just do that thing that they do and they dont try to be spokespersons for issues. Hopefully this gentleman, no matter how gifted in his writing, will remember that he was not elected to office and he does not represent anyone other than himself.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I am afraid Murakami has a pretty naive and fuzzy-warm image of the world, completely disregarding hard realitiies (like the nature of a totalitarian government, and the desire to secure ressources).

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I like this guy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Haruki Murakami must be trying to sell books in China.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Loh Chee LeongSep. 29, 2012 - 11:48PM JST So, the mentality of Japanese is final: no matter how right Murakami-san is, call him the enemy of the country.

Correcttion it's not how right he is, it's how right "YOU" think he is.

He is dead wrong, so this mean I disagree with him.

But reality is Japan owns the Islands and China is on the outside looking in.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Saidani: Sadly, I can only give you one "Good" vote.

Er, depending on how you click on the icon, there are other options.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites