- Posted September 18, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What’s your secret spot in Beijing?
Why does the US support Japan in the Diaoyu Islands conflict?
I was out late last night drinking with some friends, but I didn’t need an alarm to wake me up. At 10 am the roaring of the crowd of demonstrators in Jie Fang Bei could have roused me out of a coma.
Today’s crowd was much larger—I would say in the thousands. The reason for this illustrates clearly that the issue is not some rocks in the ocean, it’s the unresolved past.
Today was the anniversary of the Mukden Incident in 1931, called the Liutiaohu Incident or the September 18th Incident in China and the Manchurian Incident in Japan. This was a faked “hostile act” by the Chinese that was actually staged by the Japanese military as a pretext for their invasion. Some dynamite was set off proximal the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railway near what is now Shenyang (Mukden back then). Though the explosion did not stop the train and it was exposed to be a fabrication that was actually perpetrated by a Japanese officer named Lt. Kawamoto Suemori, the Japanese used it as an excuse to invade and transform Manchuria into a complete puppet country, a Japanese remake renamed Manchukuo. This was so blatant and so widely condemned by the international community that Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933.
Today, the crowd marched and chanted. There were a lot of police, but they were relaxed and unarmed and appeared to be there just to keep everyone cool. It was appropriate that the demonstration halted before the Memorial to the Japanese Bombing of Chongqing, which commenced on February 18th of 1938 and continued with more than 5,000 bombing runs, focused mostly on civilian targets, until August 23rd of 1943. BTW, survivors of this long-term campaign have recently filed a lawsuit for damages in Chinese court after being rebuked in Japan for many years.
The Imperial Japanese forces first took Shanghai, then Nanjing, and when the Nationalists moved deep into China to Chongqing, the Imperial Japanese forces took to bombing.
Inside the memorial, I was greatly moved by the horrific pictures of the thousands of corpses, many who suffocated when they took refuge in caves. A woman came in and laid flowers under one of the pictures. She gave me a little Chinese flag.
When I came outside holding the flag, I quickly was surrounded by demonstrators. They were not hostile at all. They clapped me on the back and shook my hand and took pictures like I was a celebrity. A man who could speak English translated their words for me.
The overwhelming question was “Why does America support Japan in this disagreement?” Many people said “We love America!” And they do. There are many “overseas Chinese” and “ABC” (American born Chinese) and the love of our freedom and economic opportunity is strong.
But what runs deeper is that we sacrificed our lives to help them against the relentlessly attacking Japanese. What we have no concept of is how long this went on, using every excuse to commit more atrocities—biological weapons, mass murder of civilians—all committed with a straight face that they were “helping.” We fought side-by-side with the Chinese. And they sacrificed for us as well.
The real issue is that the distorted version of Japan’s War Crimes and agressions continues in Japan. There is no remorse, no apology, no admission of any wrongdoing—in fact, after living in Japan for 8 years I can say that most older Japanese have an incredible hostility towards China and its people as if it were China that had attacked Japan and not the other way around. And yet Japan still thinks that China should buy its products! This is what is causing the demonstrations: the attitude of Japan and they way they teach history, not some rocks in the ocean. The seizing of the Diaoyu Islands is just salt rubbed into a very deep wound.