politics

China, Japan open German front in diplomatic war

26 Comments
By Kelly Olsen

One hundred years after the outbreak of World War I, China and Japan are ripping selected pages from Germany's history -- including the Nazi period -- as they seek to demonise each other in their modern-day diplomatic battles.

Beijing's state-controlled media have compared Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Adolf Hitler, using shrill rhetoric that analysts say exploits Tokyo's mixed messages about its past aggression in China and elsewhere.

At the same time, they urge him to emulate Germany's postwar contrition for the evils of Nazism.

Abe, for his part, has raised the specter of 1914, saying at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that relations between Japan and China resemble those of Britain and Germany as they stumbled toward war.

Tokyo and Beijing are locked in an increasingly acrimonious row over small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that Japan controls but China regards as its territory, with their militaries warily eying each other.

Commentators have likened China, a rising power, to Germany in the early 20th century and portrayed the islands as Sarajevo, site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggered the Great War.

In Davos, Abe pointed out that war broke out in 1914 despite strong economic relations between Germany and Britain.

"I think we are in a similar situation. We don't want an inadvertent conflict arising between these two countries," he told reporters.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang roundly rejected the simile Thursday. "Actually in history China was already a major country in the Tang and Song dynasties (from the seventh to the 13th centuries), so there is no so-called 'China is becoming a major country'," he said.

"There is no need to make an issue of the Britain-Germany relationship."

Chinese officials have lashed out at Abe since his Dec 26 visit to the hugely controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 senior war criminals described by Qin as "the Nazis of the East".

The shrine is seen in China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan's 20th century military and colonial aggression which saw the country occupy a large swathe of East Asia, often to brutal effect on civilians and prisoners of war.

In what analysts see as crude propaganda, the overseas edition of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily headlined an article "Hitler's DNA in Abe", illustrated with a mock-up of Japan's leader gazing up at the Fuhrer.

The Global Times tabloid, in its English edition, this week carried a cartoon of Japan's national flag with the sun symbol in the center dripping blood and a swastika imposed.

"You could say it's propaganda," Torsten Weber, an expert in modern East Asian history at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo, told AFP.

"It is a way to distort history and it's also a way to distract attention from more pressing problems that, for example, China faces."

Chinese media have also tried to compare Abe unfavorably with how Germany faced up to Nazi atrocities.

The official Xinhua news agency urged him to follow the example of West German chancellor Willy Brandt, who fell to his knees at a monument to victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising -- a brutally crushed 1943 revolt by Jews in the Polish capital facing deportation to the Nazi death camps.

But Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University Japan in Tokyo, said Beijing had ulterior motives.

Abe's course of action "makes Japan look bad, damages ties between Tokyo and Washington, makes Koreans anti-Japanese and therefore serves Chinese interests", he said.

"Beijing calls on Japanese leaders to act like German leaders because it knows they won't, and therefore uses this analogy to damage Japan's image."

In 1995 Japan's then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama made a "clear apology" for the country's previous aggression, said Yoshiaki Yoshimi, professor of history at Tokyo's Chuo University.

"Administrations should stand by that statement, but the problem is that Abe is acting as if he does not," he said.

Abe's shrine visit met with as much opprobrium as approval in Japan. However, a minority of Japanese believe Japan's wartime deeds have been vastly exaggerated and emphasize its own suffering, especially through the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japanese invasion and occupation undoubtedly inflicted vast sufferings on China -- according to Beijing, 20.6 million died as a direct result including in the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese troops went on a two-month rampage from December 1937.

But Weber cautioned against equating atrocities such as the Nanjing Massacre with the Nazi genocide against the Jews, saying: "There was no Japanese Holocaust. There was no Japanese Hitler."

He added: "As a German I feel obliged to say that Germany is given too much credit for its assumed positive or effective overcoming of the past."

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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There's really nothing wrong with German history,. The real problem is that having been humiliated by other nations in WWI, Germany carrying a huge inferiority complex and a desire for revenge embarked first on a massive military build up. Then it embarked on a massive territorial expansion. The country became a fascist state and It's people were filled with propaganda and drunk on nationalism. Now does that sound like Japan today? Or China today? Hence these arguments about Japan and Nazis, are utterly ridiculous coming from the world's largest and most powerful neo-fascist state that is considered the greatest threat to Asia. China continues to harp on Japan's 70 year old past while acting like Imperial Japan itself today. Perhaps the Chinese masses buy it but the rest of the world is too educated.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Sorry China, you're going to lose on this round as long as we all can bring up repeatedly a one word rebuke. "Tibet".

5 ( +10 / -5 )

We cite Godwin's Law.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Kelly Olsen: Not once I heard any negative comments made by the Chinese President toward Japan. All I heard is Abe this and Abe that. Chinese media may have said anything, but it doesn't represent the official view. It is unfair and unethical journalism to make up stories based on personal favoritism.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Sorry Japan, you're going to lose.

-5 ( +2 / -6 )

soon the Germans will be asked to apoligise for this too.

3 ( +4 / -2 )

In 1995 Japan’s then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama made a “clear apology” for the country’s previous aggression, said Yoshiaki Yoshimi, professor of history at Tokyo’s Chuo University.

Yes, that much is true. An apology which has been nullified by denials from Ishihara, Hashimoto, Abe. Even the new head of NHK is denying sex slaves were coerced. Abe is a loathsome, repellent individual. Those of the Japanese electorate that actually bothered to vote in December 2012 made a huge mistake in returning the LDP to power

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Will these two SHUT UP already?

Sheesh, arguing like couples already.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The shutting up part can be arranged after Japan fully and unequivocally comes to terms with its past

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Sorry aussie-musashi, Japan has comes to term with its past, numerous times.

Despite what the anti Japan crowd such as yourself claim, the Japanese government has repeatedly apologized and compensated for its past actions. What has the government of your country done to come to terms fully with its past.

And I notice that people like you always hold Japan to a rather weird higher and double standard. What one politician says hardly 'nullifies' what the government has repeatedly stated on record in the past.

4 ( +6 / -3 )

Not only is China's actions ruthless, so is there hatred totally out of control. Can China be seen as a sane nation with sane leaders? That should be debated among world powers.

Also .. what is wrong with China today when trying to convince others of a Japan today, as the same as 70 years ago. Japan is not a country of 70 years ago and the world knows this. China is the country with the mind set of 70 years ago, and the world is seeing this. Worse still is these dam leaders of China have conformed the minds of 1.3 billion people as still living 70 years in the past and the people can not even understand this in China, but of course that is no surprise when they can not even understand the forced rule over them. so go figure!

Also Germany is brought into the picture mainly because of the strong trade between Germany and China today, Germany of course will appease China, same as South Korea with its trading with China today, but not one of these countries have stated any support for China's actions in the East China Sea or South China Sea. In fact , NO ONE supports China's actions.

I am hoping the relations with India is just a piece of the larger puzzle with the US, Japan, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, maybe S. Korea, etc. etc. etc. all of the nations confronting China, come together and overwhelm the South China Sea and East China Sea with ships to where China just can not use its ships to converge on one particular area and show any force. Everyone in the region are acquiring ships by purchasing or building ships at this time, that could be an answer to all of what China has been instigating recently, and we see no one in the world supporting what they are doing. Maybe a combined effort by everyone to overwhelm China's dominate posture on the seas would be the answer to totally strike down China's aggressive actions upon everyone.

What would cost everyone a lot less money would be a combined effort on TRADE! The world did well in the past without China and could again, it has already been proven and a fact of history!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

China has a completely WHITE view of history. That is why they can only compare Japan to a no longer existing Nazi Germany. The correct comparison is between Japanese Imperialism and European Imperialism, but since they accept WHITE history, they cannot make this proper comparison. It is too bad that the suffering of their Chinese brothers and sisters under European Imperialism to be WHITEWASHED away.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Sorry oldman_13, Japan has not come to terms with its past. Can you truly say that the average Japanese on the street knows what happened in Nanking? About the forced labour of allied POWS? About the forced recruitment of sex slaves? (About what goes on in Taiji?) If you can truly answer yes to all of the above, you can claim that Japan has come to terms with its past. Sure, apologies have been made at official level. Then idiots like Ishihara, Hashimoto, Abe, Togami etc deny everything. That is not coming to terms with your past.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

aussie-musashi. I read your posts here and just cannot understand your remarks that make no sense what so ever.

In 1995 Japan’s then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama made a “clear apology” for the country’s previous aggression, said Yoshiaki Yoshimi, professor of history at Tokyo’s Chuo University.

aussie-musashi>>>>Yes, that much is true. An apology which has been nullified by denials from Ishihara, Hashimoto, Abe.

Your statement is totally wrong. You are saying that apology was accepted by China????? The apology given in 1995 was never acceptable by China, so to be nullified by those you list above does not make any sense what so ever and actually a deceitful remark! Your statements just continually contradict them selves. From acceptance to never unequivocally come to terms with the past.. So you are back and forth, on the wall and off the wall..,,you need to settle down!

next... aussie-musashi>>>>> Can you truly say that the average Japanese on the street knows what happened in Nanking?

Now can you truly say the Chinese people know what happened in Nanking in regards to what was taught by your censored deceitful teaching by your authoritarian leaders that rule by... deceit and censorship? I know the numbers are exaggerated by your leaders, just for pure instigation of hatred for the leaders to use for nationalism and their own positioning of staying in power over the people, as for demonizing to extremes, the Japanese issue when they need it. That need has always been cementing their power over the 1.3 billion people of China. But again you mentioned something as ... truly understood.... and that is not a description of the leaders of China and that has been a well established fact and still is a fact of today when it comes to censorship and blocking and filtering the internet and it still works because there is no uproar among China's society of these wrongs imposed upon the people!

Also you wish to over look, the differences in China's society and Japan's society. China's of being held to censorship and of forced silence, when Japanese are free to access any information available from any where, they are not a confined society held hostage to their leaders grip upon them insulating them from outside sources of information or social networks.

I really get tired of all the ignorant propaganda coming out of China and from the propaganda feed minds and mouths of its people!

Also it is know the mouth piece of the leaders, is its state run news networks and any private news networks are all self censored, or else!!!!!!! That is fact and that is what the people of Taiwan is worried about with inward movements by China networks into their country! I know that word country may cause instant hatred..lol

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I read your posts here and just cannot understand your remarks that make no sense what so ever.

I can say the same about yours. Are you trying to make this personal? You seem to have mistaken this page for a China-bashing page. This blog is not about Chinas domestic policy, but about Japans distortions about history. 300,000 people may not have been killed at Nanking, as China claims, but the number was still in the hundreds of thousands, as confirmed by numerous independent eye-witnesses, and even the same soldiers who comitted the atrocity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Nice one aussie-musashi

@tyvtgo1US I really get tired of all the ignorant propaganda coming out >of China and from the propaganda feed minds and >mouths of its people!

Yeah, well some of us are getting tired of all the recent propaganda crap coming out of Japan and its propaganda fed people & japanphiles. Nice balance don't you think? Or do you want this to just be some cheer leading site for Japan like in a communist country? Don't answer that.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Communist Chinese leaders should understand we are in digital age and not paper age. You can find everything you want to know on Internet but I can't say Chinese Citizens can be used Internet freely for to find information they want to know like the rest of the world.

Well Communist Chinese leaders need to stop wasting times. World society is very much educated in every corners of history. Grow up and do something for your own peoples.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

People complain about Japanese lack of knowledge of WWII. Last August, Nikkei published an article showing that among almost 80% of American young people (25 and under) who know that atom bombs have actually been used, almost 70% believed that they were used on Korea, confusing Korean war. I was more surprised that more than 20% don't even know atom bombs have actually been used. And this is the WINNER!!! Not just Japanese, but Americans are not interested in history. It is just booring. Japanese history is an elective subject in Japanese HS. But leftist HS teachers would supplement shallow history texts with "supplementary materials", even having graphic images.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Gokai, I agree. Your pointing to a much more disturbing problem all over the world. The general interest for history is declining. Maybe it is fiction that is taking over. Extreme left and right-wingers are getting more organized, ready to re-write history in their own favor. In this context the issue about the japanese people knowing of and understanding their own history from ww2 could actually give a perfectly opposite result. Maybe Japan would score the highest on a scale of understanding history.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Best to get away from such debates. The more you argue about it, the more people get to know about the Asian past. So far the westerns don't know much the Asian past. They only know a lot about Europe. Getting them to know more about WW2 in Asia is only bad for Japan. Pretty soon they will make computer games of shooting Japanese soldiers like what they have in shooting the SS. Is that what you want?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Getting them to know more about WW2 in Asia is only bad for Japan. Pretty soon they will make computer games of shooting Japanese soldiers like what they have in shooting the SS. Is that what you want?

It would be quite amusing to be honest.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Last August, Nikkei published an article showing that among almost 80% of American young people (25 and under) who know that atom bombs have actually been used, almost 70% believed that they were used on Korea,

Hmm, lack of knowledge about world affairs in the US is nothing new. You could say that Japan and the US definitely have something in common here. Historical ignorance and amnesia

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yes, well in Japan at least part of this was the work of McArthur (who I greatly respect) who wanted Japan to rapidly more forward. He forbade talking about the war, and pictures of the aftermath in Japan were all confiscated and sent to Washington. McArthur and Dodge: the best thing that happened to post-war Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, well in Japan at least part of this was the work of MacArthur

Yes, he also exempted the emperor from war-guilt, weakening the feeling of responsibility among many Japanese, and wanted to use nukes on China. (That worked out well for his career)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The translation was wrong for what Abe said. According to the explanation of Japanese government.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

China might be stumbling into war but Japan is not - we are ready. If they come here we will kick them back into the 19th century.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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