In close proximity, with the narrow Strait of Korea and the East China Sea separating, relations between China and Japan have been like two siblings over several thousand years. The older and larger Chinese civilisation has both greatly influenced and intimidated its younger rival for much of their history, and only in recent centuries has the shoe been placed on the other’s foot, and Japan’s ascendency and aggression, though brief, was swift and cruel.
Japan maintained mixed and sometimes infrequent relations with China’s various Dynasties. However, in the first millennium AD China strongly influenced Japan with its writing system, architecture, culture, religion, philosophy and law. In the 13th Century China’s Mongol Dynasty attempted invasion without success, and forced Japan into isolation, and it wasn’t until Western nations forced Japan to open trading in the mid-19th century that Japan started to look outward with a policy of expansion. Japan’s Meiji Restoration and move towards modernization was a direct result of its horror at seeing the subjugation of China by these Western powers from the 1840s onward. It also spawned a level of contempt by Japan for China’s incredible weakness in the face of Western technology and lead to a long chain of invasions and war crimes by Japan in China between 1894 and 1945. This, in turn, has created very mixed feelings of remorse within modern Japan that still greatly affect current Shino-Japanese relations.
Getting to Know the Family
At the end of the Japan’s Jomon period1 from around 300 BC, Japan’s first foreign contact was in the form of migrants who began to arrive from continental Asia, primarily the Korean peninsula. Such migration was driven by war caused by Chinese expansion and between rival kingdoms in Korea. They brought with them bronze, iron, new forms of pottery and improved metalworking techniques which produced more efficient farming tools and better weaponry and armour.
At a political level, by the end of the Yayoi Period (300 BC to 300 AD) Japan was beginning its first attempt at international relations. The first tribute missions to China are recorded in 57 AD and 107 AD. Queen Himiko (189 – 248 AD), one of Japan’s most famous ancient figures, reigned over her country called Yamatai and is known to have sent embassies to Chinese territory in 238, 243 and 248 AD.
The Asuka Period (538 to 710 AD) saw a stepping up of cultural exchange with the introduction of laws and penal codes based on those in China, the creation of a permanent capital city and the state control of land. Sometime in the 6th century Buddhism was introduced to Japan and its tenets reinforced the idea of a layered society with different levels of social status and with the emperor at the society’s pinnacle. The adoption of Buddhism, it was hoped, would be looked on favourably by the more advanced Korea and China and enhance Japan’s reputation as a rising civilised nation in East Asia.
Prince Shotoku, who ruled as Regent on behalf of Empress Suiko from 594 until his death in 622 AD, was a great promoter of ties with China and was a keen advocate of all things Chinese from chopsticks to Buddhism. His famous Seventeen Articles Constitution of 604 AD was heavily influenced by Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist ideas. Throughout the Asuka Period Japanese literature and music followed Chinese forms. Similarly, architectural styles came from China. The architecture of the public buildings of Nara and its successor as capital Heiankyo (Kyoto) followed Chinese styles with most buildings for public administration having crimson columns supporting green tiled roofs. The Jomon Period is the earliest historical era of Japanese history which began around 14500 BC, coinciding with the Neolithic Period in Europe and Asia, and ended around 300 BC when the Yayoi Period began. The name Jomon, meaning ‘cord marked’ or ‘patterned’, comes from the style of pottery made during that time.
Little Brother Japan
Relations with Japan’s mainland neighbours were not always amicable. In 663 AD the Battle of Baekgang took place, the first Chinese-Japanese conflict in recorded history – fought by Tang China (618-907 AD) and Korea’s Silla kingdom against Korea’s Baekje kingdom and Yamato Japan. The background of that large battle involves Silla, one of the three Korean kingdoms who was trying to dominate the Korean Peninsula by forging an alliance with China’s Tang dynasty. Silla was trying to defeat Goguryeo, a rival Korean kingdom, and this conflict had been ongoing for nearly a century. Goguryeo was closely allied to Baekje, Korea’s third major kingdom and Yamato Japan supported Baekje earnestly with 30,000 troops and sent Abe no Hirafu, one of Japan’s seasoned generals, in support.
The battle itself was a catastrophic defeat for the Yamato forces, some 300 Yamato vessels were destroyed en route by a combined Silla-Tang fleet of half the number of ships, thus Yamato aid to Baekje never eventuated, it having been defeated at sea. In 663 AD, that same year, the Baekje Kingdom fell. After Silla united most of what is now modern Korea and subsequently repelled Tang China from what is now the Korean peninsula, Yamato Japan was left isolated for some time with its easy access through the Korean peninsula to mainland Asia now blocked by the Silla Kingdom.
Unaware of the outbreak of Silla-Tang War (670-676 AD), the Japanese would continue to build fortifications, such as Dazaifu in the south of Japan, until 701 in case of either Silla or Tang attack. Prior to and directly after the war the Tang kept cordial relations with Japan, as always, the dynasty was the Master of Diplomacy. There were numerous Imperial embassies to China from Japan, as Japan was eager to learn more from this sophisticated civilisation and Japan gained considerable cultural, social and scientific knowledge. The first mission to Tang authorized by the Japanese court departed in 630 AD and such diplomacy, numbering 15 missions, was not halted until 838 AD. By the end of the 9th century, the Japanese possessed at least 1,700 Chinese texts including Confucian treatises on government and social harmony, as well as works of history, poetry, divination, and medicine. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the Japanese did not borrow Chinese institutions or practices indiscriminately; rather, they attempted to assimilate what they found useful into their own society.
During Japan’s Heian Period (794 to 1185 AD) Japan went through a phrase of isolationism. Around 900 AD China’s great Tang Dynasty collapsed, and China became a disunity of competing states. With this lawlessness and the inherent danger of sailing to the continent, plus an increasing reaction against Chinese influence, diplomatic missions petered out between the two Japan and China. In addition, there were no threats since Japan’s various powerful clans believed there was no necessity to defend borders or embark on territorial conquest and thus external relations were unnecessary.
In the 13th century, at the very end of the ancient period, the Mongols overran China and then set their sights on Japan. When Japan refused to become a vassal state of the mighty Kublai Khan’s empire, a massive invasion force was assembled. Twice in 1274 and 1281 AD the Mongol fleets were blown back by typhoons(1) – what would become known as the divine winds or kamikaze, sent by the gods to protect Japan in the moment of its greatest danger. Japan survived the threat of invasion and was now ready to flourish in the Medieval period, pursuing its own independent and unique cultural destiny.
Japan Makes War on Big Brother
Though for centuries Japan was in a period of isolation, it was still acutely aware of China’s dominance within its region and perceived China as Big Brother or the Master in the East. As Western nations used trade as a political force from the 16th Century onwards, China was slowly but forcibly opened to the West and its social order and political hegemony threaten by these foreign nations. By the 18th Century the West’s superior technology, particularly in terms of warfare, culminated in colonisation of many parts of China and Asia as a whole. When the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 AD) attempted weak and ill-conceived revolts against their Western intruders during the mid-19th Century this resulted in humiliating defeat during what have been coined the Opium Wars of 1839-42 and 1856-60.
After the forcible opening of Japan by US Admiral Matthew Perry in 1853, Japan saw it had no other choice but to modernize or face the same humiliation as China. The Meiji Restoration was a direct result of China’s inability to modernise and deflect Western influence. There was a psychological need for Japan to fulfil a gap left by a weakened and humiliated China, a nation that was for millennia the strong man of Asia. At the same time Japan wished to emulate the West’s desire for colonisation and expansion, not simply for wealth creation but also as a form of jingoism.
In 1875 Japan developed a strategy to invade Korea so as to grab rich agricultural lands and other natural resources, this aggression lasted until 1894, with its strategy to control Korea’s sea lanes and cut trade. In 1880 Japan annexed the independent string of islands between Japan and Taiwan, then called Ryukyu Island, and now Okinawa (Liugiu in Chinese). The stand-off in Korea lasted until 1894, when Japan triggered the first Sino-Japanese War by intrusion into Chinese territory during this Korean conflict. After a decisive Chinese defeat an ignominious peace treaty was signed in 1895. Although Korea became an independent nation again, China lost Taiwan and the Liaoning Peninsula to Japan. Japan’s contempt for China’s weakness was fully expressed in the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95. The defeat of a once mighty China by the former ‘vassal’ state of Japan was more humiliating than defeat by European powers. On the other hand, Japan’s rapid rise demonstrated how an ancient Asian state could swiftly modernize. After years of war, intimidation and political machinations Japan added Korea to its Empire in 1910. As part of Japan Taiwan was pacified, prospered and modernized under Japanese rule, and this encouraged Japan to believe that further annexations in China would have the same result.
Japan’s belief in its own superiority resulted from its victory in the territorial inflamed Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 and in Japan’s 1914 capture, in alliance with the British, of the German concession at Tsingritao (today Qingtao) on the Shandong Peninsula. These conquests established Japan as the dominant power in the region, a position confirmed by the decision at Versailles in 1919 to hand Japan the German holdings in China. The annexation of Tsingritao set off the May the Fourth Movement protests(2), which in turn spawned ideas of democracy, science and modernisation, and influenced many young Chinese including Mao Zedong.
As a result of the rise of Fascism in the West in the 1920s and 30s, in 1931 Japan was emboldened to grab Manchuria from the Nationalist regime in China, and then in 1937 launch a war to annex China into Japan’s Empire that lasted until 1945 (now known as the Second Sino-Japanese War). The war is the subject of a new book by Rana Mitter, who also wrote a history of the May the Fourth Movement. China’s War with Japan 1937-1945: The struggle for Survival is multi-faceted in describing the many currents that affected China. On the Chinese side there were the Nationalists, with their stronghold in Chongqing; the Collaborationist regime in Nanjing, where the worst single atrocity of the conflict had been committed by the advancing Japanese invaders; and the Communists in their base in the north of country, where they fought as little as possible, waiting for a civil war to follow. The Japanese controlled most of the major towns, ports and communication routes.
The 2013 British Museum exhibition, entitled The art of Influence: Asian Propaganda, was organised by propaganda academic Mary Ginsberg. The exhibition strikingly highlighted the periods before, during and after the 1937-45 War. It brought together images from the Nationalist, Communists, Collaborationist and Japanese-held regions of China, along with home front items from Japan. Traditional forms such as Japanese folk tales portrayed in ‘paper theatre’ are used to convey propaganda messages of racial superiority and Chinese children magazines of the Japanese devil. There is a kimono with patriotic inscriptions and a sake cup decorated with invocations of victory and daredevil pilots swooping from the skies, while Chinese posters depict the invaders as fearsome bringers of death and destruction. What the exhibition and Mitter’s book both bring home is the total nature of the Sino-Japanese war, not only in its death toll of between 14 and 20 million, but also in its effect on everyday life with its flood of refugees and societal destruction.
The war left a complex legacy. The War resulted a deeply divided and injured China, and after the war the many power divisions assisted greatly in the rise of the Communists. After the War the Mao’s Communists’ success against the democratic forces of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists saw China withdraw into isolation and attempt to remake itself as a Nation. Re-education of intellectuals and the uplifting of the masses was its communist aim, all the while a deep-seated hatred of Japan’s invasion festered in this wounded ‘dragon’. Even though diplomatic relations were re-established between China and Japan after WWII and financial involvement by Japan in re-construction and economic development was critical to its rise, anti-Japanese feelings have lingered for decades.
After the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 ‘patriotic education’ became the norm of Chinese schooling in the 1990s, refocussing the populations’ attention on Japan’s previous crimes and away from any democratic inspirations that had been championed by their intellectual youth and that had the potential of being a true threat to the Communist Party. Chinese government created a new target – a foreign enemy. A resurgence of the deep hostility towards Japan continues to see anti-Japanese demonstrations and boycotts break out regularly throughout China. Even though Japan continues to be a major trading partner with China, over the past thirty years Japan has done little to dispel such anti-Japanese sentiment. Japan continued to fuel the flames with insensitive yet non-intentional incidents such as the photographs of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sitting in a fighter plane with the same number 731(3) as the biological warfare plant where Chinese human ‘guinea pigs’ were experimented. Beijing and Tokyo are at loggerheads over a group of uninhabited islands called Senkaku (or Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea. Both sides have been stepping up the rhetoric against a backdrop of troubled regional relations – North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, China’s current maritime disputes in the South China Sea with its neighbours as well as China’s more emphatic claims of control over Taiwan.
Why the squabble between Japan and China Continues
While their politicians often discuss historical problems in the bilateral relationship between China and Japan, they normally only see history as a background issue for the current tensions, and thus refrain from taking any positive steps to solve it. Most people also believe that it would take a long time to see any result from changes to the historical narrative and history education. Therefore, they believe it is impractical to address historical issues as a part of the solution. This is an important reason why tensions and hostility between the two Asian neighbours have lasted so long. Without addressing the underlying roots of hostility, the two nations will be unable to build a normal lasting relationship.
The general public of both nations have large perception gaps on many issues, including history. China and Japan both view themselves as the victim and the other as the aggressor. Each party sees itself as peaceful while the other state is aggressive and revisionist. On each side, there are also conspiracy theories with regard to each other’s intentions. The divergent perceptions between the two neighbours can be explained as a clash of histories. One important reason for Chinese emotions in the relationship with Japan is that many people connect the current issues with historical grievances. The events of today reactivate the Chinese memory of the wars and invasions the country nearly 75 years ago. However, in Japan, many Japanese believe that the past wars belong to the ancestors of both countries and that they have no control over the historical issue; so the Japanese naturally do not connect the current issues with history.
On a deeper level, the different senses of history between the two sides are in fact the products of two very different approaches to and systems of history education. In the Chinese classroom, for example, the curriculum is heavily loaded with the contents of China’s traumatic national experience from the First Opium War (1839-1842) through the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945. State-run ‘patriotic education’ is conducted from kindergarten through to college. In many Chinese cities, there are numerous significant museums, monuments and historical sites that have been established in memory of this period. All these memory sources make forgetting impossible!
Without understanding this background, we cannot understand why, after three quarters of a century after the end of hostilities, the ghosts of war still haunt Sino-Japanese relationships. For the current generation who received an education in China, the war between China and Japan has never ended. From history textbooks, public media and popular culture, the “memory” of a war they never experienced is very fresh. Their attitude towards Japan can be easily reactivated by Japan’s current ‘aggressive’ behaviour, such as the act of nationalizing some of the disputed Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands[i] and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which houses the “souls” of more than 2 million dead Japanese soldiers, including 14 Class-A war criminals from World War II.
However, in Japan, history education contains very little information on World War II, so the younger generation do not know much about that part of history if they do not proactively seek more information themselves. Compared with the Chinese youth who received a top-down “patriotic education,” there are probably “generations of no history education” in Japan. For example, one of the most debated historical issues between China and Japan is the Nanjing Massacre. In China, the official middle school history textbook uses many photos, statistics tables, eyewitness accounts and personal anecdotes to recount this incident. It provides very detailed accounts of how people were executed on a massive scale at various execution sites and how their bodies were disposed of by the Japanese military. Numerous films, novels, historical books and newspaper articles about the “Rape of Nanjing” have been produced in China, especially in the 1990s after the patriotic education campaign began.
In contrast, according to research by Japanese scholar Takeshi Yoshida, only two of the seven middle school textbooks used in Japan in 2002 gave numbers for the controversial death toll of the Nanjing Massacre, while others used more ambiguous terms, such as “many” and “massive” to describe the casualties. When reading through a copy of the 2005 version of a junior high school textbook titled New History Textbook, published by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, you will find that there is no mention of the “Nanjing Massacre” or the “Nanjing Incident.” Indeed, there is only one sentence that refers to this event: the Japanese troops occupied that city in December.” In 2005 the Japanese Education Ministry’s approval of this version of the New History Textbook actually ignited immediate outrage and large-scale demonstrations in several Asian countries, especially in China and South Korea. When the same historical event receives such different treatment in the textbooks of the two countries, it is easy to understand why the contents of history textbooks could trigger massive protests.
Moreover, the main reasons many Japanese do not know the details of the massacre are that (1) teachers do not teach it in detail, (2) the mass media avoids extensive coverage of the atrocities, and (3) pro-imperial revisionists have waged successful campaigns alleging that the Nanjing Massacre was an illusion or fabrication. In an article entitled “Japanese views on Sino-Japanese sentiment,” Emiko Kakegawa, a Japanese scholar who studied in China, provided one take from another angle. The Japanese tend to view WWII more as the Pacific War and see themselves in equal parts as aggressors and victims, she wrote, while the Chinese mostly think of the war as the Sino-Japanese War and see themselves as victims exploited at the hands of Japan, capped by the Nanjing Massacre. The fact that they’re still surrounded in many places by rusting WWII detritus left by the Japanese army enhances this feeling by the Chinese. This tends to make them particularly angry when Japanese right-wing politicians say the Nanjing Massacre never happened.
Although textbooks masquerade as a neutral and legitimate source of information, political leaders as well as elites often have a vested interest in retaining simplistic narratives. However, when history textbooks are compiled based on the assumption that they should be about one’s ancestors, they are often imbued with ethnocentric views, stereotypes and prejudices, making it difficult to avoid the glorification or demonization of particular groups. For the people of China and Japan, the brutal war and this part of history have left many sensitive historical symbols that create barriers between the two countries. These symbols can be “reactivated” deliberately or unintentionally and can cause major tensions or even conflict between the two countries. This has been the fundamental reason why the bilateral relationship has always been fragile and dangerous.
Future reconciliation between the two countries will largely depend on whether their citizens, especially the policymakers and educators, can realize that history education is not just one of the normal subjects at school. Rather, it plays an important social role in constructing a nation’s identity and perceptions. Without addressing this deep source of conflict and tough obstacle to reconciliation it will be impossible for China and Japan to find a path to sustainable coexistence. At the same time, if textbooks and other narratives of history can become a source of conflict, then the reform of history education and the revision of textbooks should also be able to contribute to reconciliation and conflict resolution.
Familiarity breeds contempt
The Japanese were jealous of China’s rich resources and huge territory, but meanwhile they were contemptuous of Chinese’s weakness and relative backwardness. This kind of complex mindset has been bothering the Japanese for decades. The Japanese disbelief and the distrust towards the Chinese in past stem from the two nation’s overlap of an unfortunate recent past history, which is still very fresh in the memories of Chinese people, and from the drastic difference in how the two peoples choose to look at each other. Many Japanese tend to focus on the China of today, referencing food and air pollution, while most Chinese focus on the Japan of yesterday, citing the Nanjing Massacre and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. To be sure, some Japanese opinions are also influenced by the right winger’s propaganda as well as sensational books that are anti-Chinese and Korean, whilst Chinese opinions are often shaped by many state-controlled historical TV dramas about WWII, etc.
There is an underlining sense that ‘we are the best’ within the Japanese. This kind of superiority complex is also seen in the Chinese and in the Korean as well towards their neighbours. What is new though is the increasing frustration and envy of Japanese toward the China’s rising economy that affects Japan’s offshore influence, competition for natural resources and trade. Many Japanese are contemptuous of the Chinese, until recent years, when China GDP surpassed Japan in 2010, becoming the world’s 2nd largest economy. And then China’s GDP doubled Japan’s in early 2014. Hence So Japanese “disbelief” and “distrust” with the Chinese is now also mixed with large doze of fear and anxiety.
Some outsiders may ask why the Chinese never show similar resentments with Western powers. The British for example, forced young people to become addicts during China’s Opium Wars. Why only Japan is singled out for the harshest judgment? The same goes to the Japanese towards the US atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. One common fact is both China and Japan lost their war so that it is winner’s rule – “it will be justice if it wins, it will be wrong if it is loses”. However, there is an underlining racism deeply embedded between the two East Asia nations. One of the main reasons for the Japanese dislike of Chinese people tends to be the rude Chinese tourist behaviour. Japanese perceive that both Chinese and Westerners are rude and dismissive of their cultural and societal norms. Irrespective the Japanese seem to love to forgive any rudeness of the Westerners while putting a big lens on the Chinese’ negative behaviour. For some reason, Westerners, especially white people can get away with so many things in Japan just because they look different. Chinese on the other hand look much more similar to Japanese and thus are held to higher expectations. It’s called racism towards the Chinese and a servant inferiority complex mentality towards the Westerners.
Why Little Brother sees itself as bigger than Big Brother
Japan has been trying to distance herself from Asia, basically China, since the 19th Century. The adage that ‘we are not really Asian, but a separate race’ still holds sway in the Japanese identity. On 16 March 1885 an editorial entitled “Leaving Asia” was published in the Japanese newspaper Jiji Shimpo. Now widely believed to have been written by Yukichi Fukuzawa, the intellectual giant of the 19th Century Meiji Restoration, it argued that Japan could simply not afford to be held back by “feudalistic” China and Korea, and should therefore “leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with the civilized nations of the West.”
Japan’s break with China, a country it subsequently invaded and humiliated, is a story of significant relevance today. Tensions between the two nations are extremely high. Chinese and Japanese ships and planes circle the disputed Senkaku Islands(4) of the East China Sea, with the ever-present danger of an accident or wilful escalation. Leaders in both countries have started to compare the present with 1914 and 1939, when the world stood on the brink of war. More subtly, however, the resentment between the two countries goes back further, still to Japan’s intellectual break with China, when it threw itself into a headlong effort to modernize and westernize.
For Japan to break with China was a traumatic decision. Most of what it valued culturally had come from the Chinese mainland: wet rice cultivation, the written script, concepts of Confucian hierarchy and filial piety, and techniques in the use of both bronze and iron. Much of what we today consider quintessentially Japanese originated from this period before breaking with China. Ian Buruma, a brilliant scholar of China and Japan said: “As knowledge of the world grew, the Japanese began to realize that China was not the centre of world, and to recognize the weakness of China.” The Japanese believed that needed to reposition.
Similarly, much of Japan’s supposed exceptionalism was a modern construct, said Buruma. “The reason the Japanese nativists describe their own culture as completely different from China was a form of defensiveness.” From the 1880s, after the overthrow of the shogun and the establishment of a modern state in the name of the emperor, history books were rewritten to begin not with the Stone Age, but with Japan’s own creation myth, tracing a supposedly unbroken imperial line from the sun goddess Amaterasu to the present day. Japanese Shintoism was elevated to a state religion with the divine Emperor at its centre. Much of Japan’s supposed uniqueness is a propaganda exercise in nation building to establish Japan’s credentials as a standalone culture distinct from China.
Tokyo used that propaganda to create support for Japan’s imperial ambitions, based on the supposed superiority of the Japanese, who were subjects of a divine emperor. Japan’s “civilizing” mission was elevated to an idea that was worth dying – and killing – for. After WWII things were certainly very different. In 1971 Henry Kissinger told then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai that Japan’s “tribal outlook” made it capable of rapid change. “Japan believes that their society is so different that they can adjust to anything and preserve their national essence,” he said. “Therefore, the Japanese are capable of sudden explosive changes. They went from feudalism to emperor worship in two to three years. They went from emperor worship to democracy in three months.”
Toshiaki Miura, commentator on the left-of-centre newspaper Asahi Shimbun, summed up Japan’s sense of geographical, even psychological isolation, coupled with its long-frustrated attempt to find a place in the hierarchy of nations. “Our psyche is very insular, but we always see ourselves reflected in the mirror outside,” said Miura of the twin impulses to be isolated and yet to be internationally respected. He states that “one of the tragedies of Japan’s position in international society is that we have no neighbours of the same size or the same level of industry.” “If Japan were placed in Europe,” he said, airing that 19th-century impulse to leave Asia, “it would have Germany, Italy and England to get along with, and we could learn how to coexist with countries of the same strength.”
The Germans have been religiously atoning for their war crimes whilst the Japanese have not. Many Germans are truly remorseful, and with a united Europe they are committed to not letting that kind of tragedy ever happen again. China and Japan however are divided in their stand concerning the atrocities. Add to this America’s to sweep the bulk of war crimes under the carpet so as to quickly convert a devastated Japan to their fold. The Cold War ensured Japan remained under the protection of the United States and that it maintained a belief in its own prowess, that in turn formed Japan’s attitudes to its war crimes(5).
The fact is however that Japan is not in Europe – it lies next door to China, the fount of much of its own civilization, and a country that Japan invaded when China was weak. It must now watch in alarm as China, which has neither forgotten nor forgiven, grows stronger. Big brother is back!
 Ancient History Encyclopedia — The Mongol Invations of Japan, 1274 & 1281 AD https://www.ancient.eu/article/1415/the-mongol-invasions-of-japan-1274–1281-ce/
 The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing on 4 May 1919. Students protested against the Chinese government’s weak response to the Treaty of Versailles especially allowing Japan to retain territories in Shandon that had been surrendered by German after the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914.
 The picture showed a smiling Abe giving a thumbs-up from the cockpit of an air force T-4 training jet numbered 731. The number evoked memories of Unit 731 — a Japanese biological and chemical warfare research facility that carried out lethal human experiments during the 1937–45 Shino-Japanese war and the second world war.
 After WWII, there is some ambiguity as to over which islands Japan has renounced sovereignty. This has led to both the Kuril Island dispute with Russia and the Senkaku Island dispute with China.
 Then-Prime minister Shigeru Yoshida (1946 to 1947 and from 1948 to 1954) concluded that the peace treaty (1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty — SFPT) was fair and generous to Japan. It did not exact heavy reparations nor did it impose any post-treaty supervision over Japan. Indeed, half a century later, the U.S. and Japanese governments continued fiercely to defend the treaty. Its supporters, including the U.S. and Japanese governments, did plan a major commemoration in San Francisco on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing. Since at least ten million people had died in wars in Asia in the past fifty years, including at least 55,000 Americans, the judicial/governmental proposition that Asia had been an oasis of peace and stability since the signing of the SFPT can only be ranked as one of the more abysmal moments of denial.
with the International Olympic Committee and Government of Japan tying each other into knots over the Tokyo Olympics, it would be helpful to hear your views on the Games.
Not least , in light of ongoing Covid issues in Japan ?
Hi Don, Now that vaccine rollout in Japan as well as the rest of the world is getting accelerated and once the games have started, the public sentiment may change. We will wait and see.
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