Anti Japanese protests

Back in 1998 Emperor Akihito of Japan made a state visit to Britain. As the BBC reported, the trip was marred in protests:

PoWs [Prisoners of War] symbolically turned their backs on Emperor Akihito as he was taken by the Queen along The Mall in London to Buckingaham Palace.

The report goes on:

Former prisoners-of-war and civilian internees were demanding a full apology for their treatment in World War II, during which a third of all PoWs of the Japanese died.

Some fifty years on, and thousands of miles away, the appearance of the Japanese Head of State engendered such sentiments, and protest from a group that would probably not take to the streets for any other reason.

Today is the 81st anniversary of the Japanese invasion of China, the start of the Second World War in the far east. For the Chinese the surrender in 1945 by Japanese Imperial forces closed 14 years of war with Japan, during which time war atrocities were committed by the Japanese the most infamous of which is the Rape of Nanking.

The Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, publically states that the Rape of Nanking never happened. He’s not the only Japanese politician to do so. But it is not only right wing nationalists such as Ishihara that are the problem. To this day authorized Japanese school text books fail to mention war atrocities, and most Japanese, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of Japan’s wartime history in China and the rest of Asia. They certainly would not understand the context to the PoWs protest on the Mall. It’s a touchy matter for the Chinese – a very touchy matter. But then again, the Holocaust is a touchy matter for Israelis. It is its apparent failure to adequately recognize and accept its historical past which is at the root of anti-Japanese sentiment in China.

As for the PoWs? Well their demands faired no better than those coming from China, Korea or the Philippines, according to the Emperor’s press secretary, Kazuo Chiba,

constitutional restraints prevented the Emperor meeting the veterans’ demands for a full apology.

This entry was posted in History, International Relations, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *