History has a way of creating awkward situations for future generations. I can’t think of how many times I’ve attempted friendly conversation by asking a Japanese local where they’re from and been blindsided by the answer, “Hiroshima.” I, with my American perspective, will then fall into this comically long pause as I wonder how appropriate it would be to apologize on behalf of my country for turning their city to dust, but the fact of the matter is that most Japanese people bear absolutely no grudge towards America for the atomic bombings of World War II.
Apparently this is difficult for some Internet users in China to comprehend, as there was recently a thread on one of the country’s most popular bulletin board sites asking “Why doesn’t Japan hate the USA for bombing them with two atomic weapons?” Interestingly, the answers that the thread received probably say more about Chinese people’s lingering disdain for the Japanese than Japan’s view of America.
In August of 1945, America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan — one in the city of Hiroshima and the other in Nagasaki — resulting in the deaths of more than 200,000 Japanese citizens. However, in spite of receiving such a terrible blow at the hands of the Americans, Japan is now on friendly terms with the United States both politically and socially.
When compared to the Chinese and the great number of civilians who still detest Japan for the Nanking Massacre that took place in 1937, this happy alliance between relatively recent enemies might seem quite bewildering, and so the question was asked: why doesn’t Japan hate the USA? In response, many Chinese responded with doubt toward the entire situation. “Who says that the Japanese don’t detest Americans?” “Maybe they do hate Americans and just don’t have the balls to say anything?” Such answers would imply that Japan does harbor a grudge for what happened during the war but that the countrymen are either too passive or too weak to say such.
Many other responders made remarks belittling Japan for showing deference to the U.S. with comments such as, “A dog does not hate its master,” and, “It is in Japan’s nature to admire those stronger than it.” Many other speculations were borderline nonsense.
In reality, it is not weak, nor is it rare to show forgiveness and kindness toward those who once wronged you, especially over the course of generations on a global scale. There were at least some Chinese responders who showed reason, reminding other users of the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, the historical name given to the northeast region of China. “Where I live, we don’t resent people from the former Soviet Union for acting according to their reasons,” one such person pointed out.
But perhaps that previous example does not count now that the Soviet Union has dissolved. So, let’s not forget that China has begun playing nice with a number of other former foes, like Britain, following the Opium Wars. British exports of opium into China during the Qing Dynasty around 1840 led to large-scale addiction and enormous deterioration for the country, driving the Chinese to war with the Western world. And yet now, China is on good terms with Great Britain and holds little to no resentment.
The same is obviously not true for relations between China and Japan, where racial discrimination occurs on both sides. Back around the year 1972, diplomatic relations between the two countries normalized and for many years China acted favorably towards Japan, encouraging the importation of Japanese goods, TV, and music. However, things seemed to have turned sour once again following the rise of Jian Zemin as head of state. Jian grew up in a time of Japanese occupation and has imposed an anti-Japan sentiment upon the state, pushing for anti-Japanese education and otherwise.
Chinese bloggers wanted to know why it is that Japan does not hate America, but perhaps an even greater question might be why it is that Japan and China cannot seem to get along. How long will it take before these two Asian countries are once again on good terms?
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