Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chinese may forgive, but not forget

Apr 11, 2011

I SUPPORT greater rapport and cooperation between China and Japan ("Give credit where it's due"; March 28). However, the crux of the matter is that until today, the Japanese government has never openly admitted to nor fully apologised or expressed sincere remorse for the atrocities or inhumane war crimes it committed during World War II.

In contrast to Germany, whose leaders have sincerely apologised for and admitted to WWII crimes, the Japanese government rewrote their school history textbooks and described the invasion of China as an 'in and out' military manoeuvre, and they have even denied that the Nanjing Massacre happened despite the historical evidence.

Historically, China and Japan's relationship has been wrought with events that have left deep wounds on China's psyche that cannot be easily erased. Such incidents include the Japanese invasion prior to and during WWII which caused millions of Chinese casualties, the infamous Nanjing Massacre, biological and chemical warfare and experiments conducted on the Chinese people by the Japanese Army (for example, by their notorious Unit 731) and lesser known events such as the Jinan incident.

This occurred in 1928, when Japanese troops attacked, killed and injured thousands of Chinese civilians, including diplomats, just five years after China had rendered generous aid to Japan following the Great Kanto earthquake. This was then a show of ingratitude and treachery by Japan towards China.

China bureau chief Peh Shing Huei's suggestion to China seems to be that instead of reminding its younger generations of the facts of the Japanese atrocities of WWII, it should educate its people on being grateful to the Japanese for its loans and grants since 1979.

This seems to endorse the thinking that giving such loans is considered enough to redeem whatever crimes committed by Japan.

Japan's loans are merely payments in lieu of monetary wartime reparations, as Mr Peh has pointed out.

Although China's government has reached out diplomatically to Japan, short of a proper apology and admission of guilt, the Chinese people may forgive, but not forget, Japan's WWII atrocities and crimes.

Chiang Kwee Seng

[I do not intend to defend Japan, or to explain culture, context, or history. But this is history. For the writer to be alive at the time of the Nanking Massacre, he would have to be at least 83 yrs old. For him to be aware of the brutality about him if he was indeed in Nanking, he would have to at least 2 yrs old, so he would be 85 today. For him to be elsewhere and to hear and to understand the horrors of war, he probably need to be at least 5 years old then, and 88 today, and I would wonder what kind of adults would tell horror stories to a 5 year old.

My point is, I do not believe the writer is an 83+ year old survivor of Nanking. I believe if he was he would have stated that up front.

What drives a person to bear an 83 year old grudge for things that happen to a group of people ethnically the same as the person, but with no other explicit connection?

The Japanese may not have apologise for the atrocities to the satisfaction of some, many, or most Chinese. If some, many or most Chinese feel the need for the Japanese to apologise and would die unhappy if they do not hear that apology, then I am very sad to inform them that they will die unhappy.

But understand, that the Japanese are not holding you back to those days in 1928. The people who personally carried out those atrocities are in all likelihood dead. The people to whom those atrocities were done, died then or soon after, or if they survived those years, have since passed on either peacefully, or with great disgruntlement in their hearts. And the people who resurrect and relive the horrors of those days, even tho they were not there, are re-victimising themselves, it seems to me, to no good purpose.

I do not understand these people.]

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