- "I understand because of the war 60 years ago [that the Chinese] feel Japan is a threat. So, I understand that they want to contain Japan. I think to advance this perception of Japan as a rival and to create a sense of ‘anti-Japan’ in China would be advantageous to the Chinese leadership.”
- He then parrots Rummy, "We have to be careful about China’s military buildup, it has to be made more transparent than it is”, conveniently forgetting to mention Japan has been maxing its own defense budget at 1% GDP, or $45bn this year, compared with China's $30-45bn (official vs Rand's high end). Japan's number does not include its space program and it has a much smaller territory to defend. (See for yourself Yosukan's view of history in this picture (via Life After Jiangxi).
- China is obviously worried about a re-arming Japan. It is further pissed off by Japan's meddling with the Taiwan matter. It also oppose granting a permanent seat in the UNSC to a Japan which is still ambiguous about war of aggression in general
- Western media (I mean US mainly), mostly side with the Japanese, with different motivations, ranging from the generic distrust of China's current political system to those who prefer to enlist Japan into the front of containing China
China did conveniently leverage the popular discontent to support its decision to block Japan's bid to UNSC (and let some steam off the pressurized cooker). But its reaction to Koizumi's recent Yasukuni visit has become much more restrained (since that objective is already achieved - thanks 88s for the clarification). In fact, even the street protests this spring has led to only very limited damage. CCP is more worried about letting popular movement out of control. That is why the scale of protest you have seen in Korea in the past 60 years has not been observed in China until this spring.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that today's Japan is hardly the Japan in 1930s, nor is today's international environment which is dominated by globalization and commercial interests.
In fact, one key fact that is consistently missed in westerm reporting is that PRC had always been careful to distinguish the "majority of peace-loving Japanese people" from the "minority right wing revisionist". Your can discount this as party rhetoric, but that has been emphasized every single time domestically and internationally, from 1949 to 1972 to 2005.
Personally, I have no doubt the majority of the Japanese would not endorse any war of aggression, nor do the Chinese. We have all learned that it is easier to assure one's interests through trading and negotiating (than warring). I also believe that many of the Japanese soldiers killed in WWII are innocent and there is nothing wrong in honoring them. I actually was told by some old Chinese that some officers in the Japanese Army were very friendly to kids. Furthermore, I am sure we all agree that those who run Yasukuni and Yushukan represent only the minorities in Japan.
However, what has been troubling the Koreans and the Chinese are
- Is this minority right wing endorsed by some in the mainstream in Japan? if so, what is the extent?
- How many percent of the vote do they really represent?
- How likely will the support of the right grow, given the official endorsement such as the Yasukuni visit?
- What the Japanese school and Japanese society really teach their next generation?
These are important issues, given Japan is a 'democracy'. I do not have an answer. I will just share with you some anecdotes I found.
- The interviews by Japan Today in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, a random sample of personal views. Please read for yourself.
- Kyodo News Poll in MAy/2005 (via Japundit): 57.7% are of the opinion that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should not visit Yasukuni Shrine this year. BUT 34.3% said he sould (the rest probably won't care). A similar survey in Dec/2004 (before the Korea/China protests): 40.8% vs 51%, so there has already been dramatic change in 5 months.
- There is a movie call "Lorelei: Witch of the Pacific", which was a blockbuster in Japan this spring, viewed by 2M people in theatres, collecting Yen2,5Bn ($22.5M) in box office.
- For US comparison, Yen2.5M is about 8.3% that of all time high Howl's Moving Castule's Yen30Bn. 12% of all time high US Box Office (Titanic's $600M in 1997) would be $50M, i.e. comparable to the "Phantom of the Opera (2004)" or "Austin Power: IMM (1997)"
- This in important because its box office success and the popularity of the author of the original book, Harutoshi Fukui. I would talk about why this movie troubled me below
- For a review see this, for interview with the director here. Japundit called it 'ring winged and nationalistic".
I think Japan deserves to be treated as a normal nation, like Germany does. To require Japan do what Germany did is probably too demanding, but there is definitely more Japan could do. I would still want to believe the right wing will be contained at the minority status, but the trend is not entirely optimistic. While there is perhaps no clear reason to be worried about Japan today, I really hope US can take over the enormous Plutonium stockpile Japan owns. This would serve Asian people, including the Japanese people, a great favor.
Appendix: some comments about the movie Lorelei:
The film is entertaining by itself, except the the CGI is very primitive (even compared with computer games). It is basically a what-if scenario fantasy, telling a story of how a submarine, equipped with a human sonar, stopped the evil American's B-26 which planned to drop its 3rd A-bomb on Tokyo. Instead of going into the revisionist approach of "what-if" Japan acquired this secret weapon, and potentially changed the result of WWII, I will just list a few examples
- The background of the movie is told in 3 lines. "1) 1945 Summer, the world was full of pillage and discord; 2) it was the waning days of WWII; 3) people had lost all hope in life" (click screenshots in the right). Nothing more. It then shifts to the bombing of Hiroshima, and then Japanese Navy's heroic effort to stop further nukes
- It is adrenaline ride afterwards, until the sub accomplished its mission and disappeared into the sea in front of some 5 dozens of US destroyers. It ends with the aged US navy officers talking with admiration the "Witch of the Pacific" in Saipan years later. Maybe US surrendered unconditionally, maybe Japan did, choose your own preferred version.
- Throughout the movie, all Japanese soldiers and officers talked about how their family members were killed (presumably by US air raid). One of the main characters was so vengeful wanted to revenge the Kamikaze way.
- The movie talked about Nazi's eugenic experiments. But apparently the best gene comes from a Paula who is half Japanese and speak fluent Japanese
- The only anti-war dialogue is from the American naval officers, who said "I hate war"
- Norimitsu Onishi of NYT commented, 'Colonel Asakura, wants America to annihilate Tokyo with an atomic bomb so that Japan can be reborn; if Japan simply submits to America, Colonel Asakura says in one of the movie's most memorable lines: "Japan will degrade itself and become a slave to the United States. Does a country like that have any worth?".....Those sentiments, Mr. Fukui says, are the movies' most salient because they reflect widespread feelings among Japanese that their country is stumbling forward....Those extremists, though destroyed in his stories, are more attractive than the heroes. The good guys, in another commentary on today's Japan, ''have no strong vision,'' he said.....Mr. Fukui's stories reflect prevailing beliefs among the political class. But more than speeches or newspaper editorials, the big-budget movies based on his stories may go a long way toward influencing ordinary Japanese who, according to polls, have yet to be convinced that Japan needs a strong military.'