chinese history community
Wed, Nov. 30th, 2005, 11:14 pm
dragonmasterkat: question about the japanese
Hi, i'm new to this community and just joined because I have a quick question and I want to get more than one view on this question. Last year my sister went to china for a year to teach english, and my sister's friend's student is near by at smith, and stayed with us for thanksgiving. One of the topics that came up was why the chinese hated the japanese so much. We went into a whole discussion about what the japanese did to the chinese in world war II, and this is the question/topic that came up.
How do you think the holocost relates to what the japanese did to the chinese in world war II? Was it worse or vise versa, or the same? And just general comments on the topic.
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 04:39 am (UTC)
I'm not going to say which was "worse" but I believe that there were more people killed by the Japanese than by the Germans overall. And there were some grave atrocities committed, such as work camps, forced prostitution and medical experimentation to name a few. After reasearching this topic I found myself very frusterated by the lack of responsibility Japan has taken, and at the fact that in the US we learn about the Holocost but not about japanese war crimes. And don't forget, the many Japanese hate the Chinese and Koreans still today. The whole situation is very disturbing and sad.
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 05:30 am (UTC)
i feel compelled to point out that the advent of photo documentation has allowed national memories of war crimes to manifest in whole new ways...
if only we had footage from the last several millenia, then we could really start comparing human attrocities.
i think most americans consider the holocaust to be the "worst" human tragedy, though statistically stalin killed more people than hitler...
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 05:49 am (UTC)
The disparity between the holocaust and the japanese occupation in china was the magnitude of raw, perverse cruelty committed in Asia. The hate and indignation originate from not just the innumerable counts of murder, but more importantly the inhuman humiliation on a people.
Read a book on the NanJing Massacre. You will see.
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 06:32 am (UTC)
couldn't have said it better myself
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 08:48 am (UTC)
Definitely. Also, the Japanese culture and aims were inherently different to the Nazis. The Nazis wanted to wipe out a race of people, the Japanese wanted to assert their racial/cultural superiority by taking over half the world and Japanese culture in itself has, for thousands of years, been extremely patriarchal and deeply set in tradition.
If you are interested, I suggest you read "The Rape of Nanking" by Iris Chang. It details more of the inhumanities and also believe it or not, bring a new perspective to the Nazis behaviour and attitudes in WWII that I think, really highlight the differences.
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC)
I second the recommendation to read Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking
What really gets to me is how little it's talked about in the U.S. and even Japan. At least Germany acknowledges the Holocaust and tries to deal with that part of the national history. I've heard Japanese textbooks downplay Japan's aggression and war crimes. I knew nothing about it until I started reading about it on my own. So often, the perception is that Japan was the victim in WWII since they got the atomic bomb twice and in the US, Japanese Americans were the unfair victims of that ridiculous internment. And I'll hear people talking about 'Oh zen...oh peaceful Asians..' and it reminds me that many people still see Asian countries in one undifferentiated mass and continue to know very little about the histories of those countries (and I count myself guilty of the same ignorance). Japan was a huge aggressor in WWII and I think that gets overlooked.
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 03:27 am (UTC)
i think that the real affect of the atomic bomb was on the japanese people, who were not a t fault, but the military and goverment stuff, i think that japanese citizens suffer more than they deserve because it is not their fault that the government and military went insane
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC)
The difference lies in the purpose: the Holocaust was aimed as getting the Reich and its colonial territories in eastern Europe free of "disruptive" elements that may "polute" the pure "Aryan" race, either racially (as the Jews and Poles) or ideologically (as the SUCP commissars).
The Japanese atrocities were aimed at obtaining abject obedience through terror and abuse, not to "conquer" China (or half the world!)
I'd rather not advice you to read Chang's book. First, it's full of innacuracies, due to her total confidence in the official Chinese account of what happened in Nanking during the Japanese conquest of the city. Besides, the "forgotten holocaust"? Is she serious? Spare me the outrage: they almost have a weekly show at the History Channel about Japanese atrocities before and during WWII.
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
You should do a national, or better yet, a worldwide survey to see just how many of our generation knows of the Japanese atrocities that you say is so overplayed on the History Channel. How many of our schools even have this in their history curriculum, beyond briefly describing the event in less than one paragraph? Or why not ask some the Japanese school children what they know about the crimes their grandfathers did in China? Let me spare you the trouble and just say that the knowledge is absolutely non-existent, thanks to Japanese Nationalists.
Thu, Dec. 1st, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)
How many of our schools even have this in their history curriculum, beyond briefly describing the event in less than one paragraph?
How many know about the Armenian Genocide of 1915?
How many know about the elimination of a quarter of the population of Ukraine during 1932 and 1933?
How many about the extermination of the Don Cossacks in the 1920s or the Volga Germans in 1941 by the communists?
Not even one paragraph in most history books, except the very specialized ones.
Yes, there are real forgotten genocides. Some more forgotten than others. Who decides? Why are the 6 millions Jews murdered by the Nazis more "valuable," more "worthy to be know about"?
We still hunt Nazi killers, but not Communist or Japanese killers. Have you seen photos of the Ukraine genocide? No. Have you seen any interview to any survivor? Hardly. Stalin left very few survivors: dead men tell no tales.
How can such historical amnesia afflict so many? Why academia, the media and Hollywood rightly keep attention focused on the European Holocaust, and rarely mention any other?
Geopolitics and the Cold War can be blame for that.Or why not ask some the Japanese school children what they know about the crimes their grandfathers did in China?
They know nothing: somehow, the Japanese, ironically and for their own cynical and self-serving reasons, have reached the point were they can ignore the racialist approach to history: the idea that each member of the race is responsible for and can be blamed for the actions of every other member, that we are all just interchangeable cells of the racial collective. This approach proclaims that an injustice committed against any past or present member of your racial group entitles you to retaliate against any past or present member of the perpetrator's racial group. Individual justice is thrown out, replaced by racial vendettas.
I wonder how many Chinese kids know about the 2 million `bourgeois’ executed by communists, millions jailed in China’s gulag, or the tens of millions that perished in Mao’s demented Great Leap Forward.
Hmmm, how many of them know about Chiang's "suppression expeditions" that killed around 10 million people during his consolidation of power before 1937.
Let me spare you the trouble and just say that the knowledge is absolutely non-existent, thanks to Chinese Nationalists.
You know? Add Chiang and Mao, and throw in millions more from China’s 20-year civil war between Nationalists and Communists, Chinese appear to have killed far more of their own people than did the hated Japanese! Wonderful!
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 02:24 am (UTC)
"I wonder how many Chinese kids know about the 2 million `bourgeois’ executed by communists, millions jailed in China’s gulag, or the tens of millions that perished in Mao’s demented Great Leap Forward."
FYI - A lot of Chinese kids do
know about what happened during the Culture Revolution. I know that because I am one.
People do resent what happened during the Great Leap Forward. It is common folk opinion that Mao was not as competent a leader in his older years. Nevertheless, he was still held in high regard. His leadership of the liberation army was viewed as invaluable. The Liberation meant more than just freedom to the Chinese peasants, who lived through unspeakable poverty, hardship and constant humiliation under the rampant Japanese in China.
Sure, today - decades after the fact - you can point your fingers and say what he did wrong as the national leader after 1949. But the point is, Mao was no tyrant. He was stubborn and perhaps narrowly opinionated - but I do not believe that he had malicious intent.
As far as racial vendettas, I'd say that it is about as relevant as popular North American stances on homosexuality and racism. Older folks might care about it. The younger generation generally don't. I have had a number of Japanese friends in high school. I never had any problems with them; neither did my Chinese buddies.
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC)
FYI - A lot of Chinese kids do know about what happened during the Culture Revolution. I know that because I am one.... Sure, today - decades after the fact - you can point your fingers and say what he did wrong as the national leader after 1949. But the point is, Mao was no tyrant. He was stubborn and perhaps narrowly opinionated - but I do not believe that he had malicious intent.
Yes, I do
point my fingers: "Great Helmsman" Mao and his sycophants had 2 million `class enemies' shot when the communists took power. Later, a demented Mao and the Gang of Four's Red Guards rampaged across China, destroying anything `old:' art treasures, temples, books. Birds, dogs, and cats were exterminated, `capitalist roaders' hunted down. Mao ordered Chinese to make steel in back yard furnaces while 30 million starved to death during his Great Leap Forward. Another million Tibetans and Turkestani Muslims were `liquidated' from 1950-1975, while another two million are said to have been died in Mao's Cultural Revolution.
I think everybody (or at least, any intellectually honest person) should point some finger to such Mao-made hecatombe. No, not malicious intent, just complete, utter, disregard for that people's life. Worse than malicious intent, if you ask me.
And congratulations: not every day you see somebody (in this case, you) whitewash genocide and the worst example of cultural vandalism in modern history with such freshness and conviction. No, not sheer evil, just stubborness, right?
I am glad Nazi apologists are not having such freedom, oherwise we would be hearing about "Himmler's stubborness" into carrying on the Final Solution.
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
I'm only trying to explain why some Chinese folks hold an old hatred toward the Japanese (as opposed to Mao), as questioned by the OP.
I'm not trying to compare which crime committed in Asia was worse in magnitude. Neither am I trying to pinpoint who is responsible for what happened - to tell you the truth, I am not an expert and I do not qualify for it. For that matter, a lot of it is in the gray - nobody knows for sure.
and "whitewash"? now I am offended. You are imposing your conviction on me as a concluded fact that Mao is responsible for all the deaths resulted in the Cultural Revolution.
I have no personal interest in defending / justifying Mao's actions - but I will not bash him as a criminal either, simply because I do not have the concrete facts. There were many political influences / pressures at the time. If it was evidentially proved or otherwise universally agreed that he was guilty of the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution, I'd treat him as such - so would many people in China. But again, it's a controversy not everyone agrees on.
That is why I'm willing go as far as agreeing with the popular Chinese opinion of Mao being a really bad leader in his later years. I'm reserving my judgement on him having "complete, utter, disregard for that people's life" - Why on earth do you think he lead the liberation army if he did no care about the people? Glory, power and to look pretty?
on a slightly unrelated note,
--"...Worse than malicious intent, if you ask me."
So by your ideology, a drunk, careless driver is worse than a murderous driver who is behind the wheel with the sole intent to run someone over to achieve whatever ends? The latter is definitely not better than the former. In my book, they are the same thing.
Sun, Dec. 4th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
and "whitewash"? now I am offended.
I am glad: I have not lost my touch as a equal opportunity offender.
I am imposing nothing: the guy was in power -absolute power!- he ordered the Great Leap Backward and other demented schemes. We was in charge, he was responsible.
All the facts? Like, how many really died? Who pulled the trigger? That was Lin Biao the guy blamed -after his mysterious dead- for all what went wrong? What's the difference? Genocide is genocide, no matter if it killed one million or one hundred million.
Ater all, who's counting?Why on earth do you think he lead the liberation army if he did no care about the people? Glory, power and to look pretty?
Yes, you got it: power. That's why he died "at the helm," remember? That is what power does to people: he was completely corrupted by it. The idea that he had the "good of the masses" foremost in his mind and just happened to break a few too many eggs to make their utopian omelette is a travesty of history.
A mass murderer transformed into a funny looking bald guy in a ridiculous suit.by your ideology (sic), a drunk, careless driver is worse than a murderous driver who is behind the wheel with the sole intent to run someone over to achieve whatever ends?
I do not now how you reached such conclusion about my "ideology" (whatever you mean with that): that doesn't change an iota of whether or not his rule destroyed millions of lifes and costed China not only its economic health but an awful numer of its cultural treasures.
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 03:32 am (UTC)
like i said before, the us is corrupt
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)
I used to think like you, but not anymore. Just like any other country, the US is a nation of individuals, not a hive-minded collective. There live people I not only respect, but love; and people I despise with all my heart. I must keep remembering myself about the former when the latter become so obnoxious they cannot be ignored, like Cheney & Co.
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
i will admit that i didn't know much about it until this person told me about it, and i think that the curriculum of schools is pvery corrupt in not only history, i mean look at whats going on in the south with science text books "this is a theory not a fact" and the whole new science on the way the world was created and that humans are too complex to have evolved, give me a break, the whol country is corrupt
Fri, Dec. 9th, 2005 11:26 am (UTC)
School districts, like many US governing bodies, are local. It would be very difficult for the US to be "corrupt" in the way you're thinking because power is not that centralized here. Local bodies can do loony things and people who don't like it can move out and people who like it can move in. There's also tremendous freedom in the US to start publically funded charter schools, as well as send your child to a private school or to homeschool. It's not like there is some kind cabal of fundamentalists trying to take over the schools - for one thing, because of the lack of centralization it wouldn't work, and for another, those people homeschool.
Fri, Dec. 2nd, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC)
I agree with what b_zerq said, and to add to that, Chinese people acknowledge the cultural revolution happened and people died, most Germans acknowledge WWII happened and people died. Japan rewrites its history books, paints itself the victim of a tyrannous US and the younger generation is sheltered from a darker past.
Of course things are glossed over in books or avoided, but generally not completely rewritten so as to obscure the complete truth. There are a lot of places in the world where one megalomaniac/incompetent dictator has caused the pain and suffering of generations and there are people who forget and forgive, there are also others who don't.
Wed, Dec. 14th, 2005 02:44 am (UTC)
It's amazing to me how well we've forgiven Genghis Khan...I apologize, I'm being facetious here. I will get serious now.
I'm going to add my $.02 by saying that it's hard to compare the Holocaust with Japanese atrocities because of the population scales people in Asia work on compared to Europe. The European Jews, compared to the Chinese, were a small population that was effectively decimated in many parts of Europe: look how many German Jews live now compared to 1935, for example. Can the same be said of the Chinese in terms of the scope of the atrocity, or in terms of how the culture survived or failed to? Even if the numbers were comparable...the devastation could not be. The Nazis destroyed entire cultures. The Japanese did not.
The Chinese, indeed most of east Asia, have made a habit out of devaluing people, and I would argue this is in part because of the sheer numbers of them compared to other parts of the world. Their attitudes toward their own peoples' lives tend to vary upon who is in power, and from a Western POV, they can seem incredibly callous. This forum has already mentioned Mao and how his policies and tactics killed millions...yet very few Chinese actually *complain* about this -- at best, most view it as "unprovable" or a "mistake" if you follow the party line. Some diehards see him as a savior even today, despite the incredible damage he did to China's culture, history, and population.
What did the Japanese do in comparison? Very little. I am not condoning it -- only saying that in comparing "atrocities" or "genocide" in this case requires a little more introspection.
Why are the Chinese so quick to complain about it, if this is so?
*Because the JAPANESE did it to them, that's why.*
As for the Japanese interpretation of that history? I don't disagree with it all. The US DID bomb the hell out of them. They were victims, but had been perpetrators first, and paid a very high price for their crimes compared to say, Germany. I attribute some of that to racism, and some to the fact that the Japanese were unwilling to quit and had to be defeated in a very harsh way.
Did the Japanese rape Nanjing? They sure did, and that should be acknowledged.
I have a feeling they'll do that when the Chinese admit to Mao.
How can China really expect anyone to apologize to them...if they cannot acknowledge their transgressions against their own...? It has to start somewhere. Most of eastern Asia (and I would also argue Russia) has a callous attitude towards people and their condition until someone of a rival culture takes advantage of that or shows aggression. It is the rivalry and its result that causes the pain...not the acknowledgment of suffering by itself. The serfdom (you can call it peasantry) of every country suffers in droves and waves...yet the nations who house them throw up their arms and say "mei banfa" until there is some way to use them to foment the incessant rivalry between nations and cultures.
Hey, it's only been recently that sort of thing stopped about Genghis Khan...and look how long *that* took.
Fire away -- I still contend it's something to think about.
Thu, Jan. 12th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
"How can China really expect anyone to apologize to them...if they cannot acknowledge their transgressions against their own...? It has to start somewhere ... I have a feeling they'll do that when the Chinese admit to Mao."
If the most advanced and industrialised (& possibly refined) nation in Asia has to wait for a Communist totalitarian regime to openly apologize for its' own mistakes that they inflicted on their own in order to "follow-up", the Japanese government, in my humble opinion, has already forsaken any resemblance of MORAL authority or suasion in Asia.
Postnote: It's not only the Chinese that are belligerent in their compliants, you may also consider the Koreans' as well.
Fri, Jan. 13th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
I don't think "advanced" and "industrial" mean "moral." I don't there's even been an Asian country or territory that's tried to claim moral superiority -- military, economic, political? Sure. Maybe some Tibetans try to claim moral superiority...but it's largely for political reasons, so there goes that possibilty.
I'm not defending Japan, nor any other Asian nation, for their actions. I think the complaints that China and Korean have against it are entirely legitimate. I think it's pointless, even if it's right, to EXPECT anything when each Asian country has its issues. When a moral issue trumps economics, then maybe it will be time to address said issue.
It'll be interesting if a day like that ever happens.
Wed, Jan. 18th, 2006 11:57 am (UTC)
That day of reconciliation came to fruition during the past decade in Europe.
Regrettably, the past half of century of economic progress and educational reform in Japan hasn't made any significant dent in the typical "denial", "whitewash" and/or "ignorance" of historical facts. I can scarely imagine how long other developing countries in that part of the world may take then.