- Posted September 15, 2012 by
What's Up With China and Japan and Those Islands?
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
Protests erupted throughout China over Japan's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku in Japan). Today (September 15), a massive crowd marched down the central walking street of JieFengBei in Central Chongqing.
A lot more is going on than just a dispute over some rocks. The real story is the back story.
After Japan's defeat in WWII, in America's zeal to create a buffer against communism, she helped the Uyoku dan tai, the Japanese ultra right wing, integrate themselves into society. Even Jimmy Carter cozied up to them. They have used the language barrier to shield their ideology from the global press, an ideology that is an accepted part of mainstream Japanese society. For example, on Pearl Harbor day there was a movie special about the one Japanese soldier who was captured by the Americans during the attack. He was presented as a martyr who was "mistreated" by the Americans.
The architect of the "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands is Ishihara, the ultra right wing governor of Tokyo. He is despised throughout Asia (especially Korea) for his use of the term sangokujin, which literally translates as "3rd world person" (but has the connotation of "nigger") as part of his general tirade that crime in Japan is the result of Chinese and Korean immigrants. He is the co-author of a book which was called "The Japan that Can Say No" in the US, but has the complete title of "Proclamation of War, Economy of Japan That Can Say No -Release from American financial slavery" in Japan. He has also financed a film about the wonderful kamikaze of WWII and stated that they are good role models for young Japanese. He has also vigorously supported the effort to portray the Nanjing Massacre as "Chinese propaganda."
Politicians in Japan have been increasingly pandering to the ultra right wing and spewing forth related rhetoric (recall a few months ago, the Mayor of Nagoya denying Nanjing to the delegates of that city) because it plays well with older Japanese voters. The country is facing a shrinking, aging population and a government debt double the size of that of the US, which translates to hard choices: cutting government services and raising taxes. So politicians go back to the tried and true of bashing China and alluding to "Old Japan," which is code for Imperial Japan.
The big question of the Diaoyu Islands is whether or not they would be considered conquests during Japan's Imperial expansion. If they were, there would be no question that they should revert to China. The question is just when do you date the beginning of the Imperial expansion? Is it WWII or before? It was actually a series of conflicts that could be called Japan flexing its new Western-style military muscle in the Post Meiji era. Korean and China were the first victims of the Japanese war machine, hence both have territorial disputes over islands seized during Japan's Imperial expansion.
The photo was taken today, September 15 near my apartment in Chongqing. People I have talked to are generally puzzled by America's seeming support of Japan's position. They like America and want better relations and even those that are critical of their government don't see it as a threat to the US.