If Japan really wants to make an apology China will accept, a full and detailed apology from His Majesty himself is the only thing I can imagine being satisfying to the feelings of many Chinese. Chinese know that whatever the constitutional legalities, His Majesty really does represent Japan in the deepest sense. I admired the Present Emperor's subtle way of differentiating his opinion from that of Mr. Abe in his remarks on the recent anniversary of the end of the War.
An apology is not primarily a means of helping the apologizer put his crimes behind him, but of making the victim feel that the apologizer is truly sorry, and repairing the shame of having been victimized. In my opinion, many Chinese feel more ashamed of their country's former weakness than many Japanese do of their country's aggression. Despite repeated apologies of various kinds from Japanese officials, many Chinese still feel that important people in Japan don't really feel remorse over anything other than losing the war. And neither the Present nor the Former Emperor has made an apology directly to China, as far as I can discover.
To clear the air, visits to the Toyokuni Shrine and historical revisionism (correct or not) are not the answer. They make it clear that many Japanese value their own pride over good relations with China. Now that China feels stronger, it will not let this go until it gets an apology on something approaching its own terms.
It is interesting to see posters calling the Chinese "childish." That sort of attitude is one of the reasons Chinese are not ready to forgive Japan. In Japanese popular culture, the image of Chinese people is not very positive, as far as I have seen. As a Chinese acquaintance told me, the reason there are hard feelings between China and Japan is "because we know each other so well."
Certainly the Chinese Communist Party has continually emphasized its image of having been the main force fighting against Imperial Japan during the invasion. Not all Chinese hate Japan, though. I'd say a majority of Chinese admire Japan's orderliness and industrial production and enjoy some of its popular culture. But it is fairly telling that the first reaction of one man in Tianjin when he heard the recent explosions was that Japan might be attacking.
By the way, I can't think of anything in the last hundred years that China needs to make this kind of apology for to people outside the country -- unless you think of Taiwan as not being China (2/28). Within the country, various crimes perpetrated under Mao are widely known and are criticized in official publications.
If we're talking about apologies, perhaps there should be an apology from the US for firebombing and dropping atomic bombs on cities in Japan. Have they ever made such an apology?
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I guess it's natural for a site about Japan to have such comments, but I take a different point of view: the islands in question were returned to Japan improperly in the early 1970s. There are, according to a columnist for the New York Times, Japanese documents from the time the islands were taken, showing clearly that the government of the day realized they were taking them from China. A glance at a map makes it obvious which country those islands naturally belong to. They are closer to Taiwan than Okinawa, and closer to Fujian than to Kyushu.
I am fairly familiar with Japanese media, and there is a subtle trend toward honoring the military and past military exploits. This is something you do not see in Germany. Now the government wants Japan to be able to attack other countries again. Of course China should be concerned, especially since it is hemmed in by US forces from Japan and its islands all down through Taiwan and the Philippines. China's trade routes east and south could be chopped by the US at any moment it chose.
In both Japan and the West, there is now a wave of anti-China propaganda that commenters here seem to be victims of. In Japan, people are even being told they are in danger of being invaded. This is balderdash. China has enough trouble defending the territory it has now. But of course we always see in others the faults we have in ourselves.
China cannot abandon North Korea (as it might like to) because it cannot allow US arms to be stationed right on its border. Political discussion in China is now far freer than it was a decade or two ago. Chinese in China are aware of the faults of their current and past governments. Popular opinion is putting pressure on the government to reform. I've been told on the streets of Beijing about the number of people who died as a result of Mao's policies. But in Japan, some people actually deny the horrors perpetrated by some units of the Imperial Japanese Army in China. Japanese "apologies" usually use the term "regrettable," as opposed to anything more direct.
The Chinese authorities are at fault for keeping the events of the past alive, but Japan is at fault for not having His Majesty go to China and publicly kneel to the Chinese people in apology for the horrors inflicted on them in the past. This is the only thing that might possibly satisfy the Chinese sense of continuing insult. When Mr. Abe boldly goes to Toyokuni, it is a direct and intentional insult to the Chinese people. This is not the way to solve a problem.
On a more positive note, I see that if you combined research spending in Japan with that in China, it would just about equal that of the US. Chinese R&D spending now much exceeds that in Japan. If the two countries were friends, and combined that spending, they would dominate the world's economy. Please think about that.
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