REINEKE FORD   ||   NEWS UPDATES

Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension

Comment: Off

In this Feb. 11, 2014 photo, a visitor stands near sculptures at Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. The Tokyo shrine and the memorial hall in Nanjing, as Nanking is now called, are physical embodiments of divergent views of history that still strain China-Japan relations, 70 years after the war. They complicate America’s objective of maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific, as President Barack Obama starts a 4-country Asian tour in Japan this week. The implications are potentially serious, particularly over contested uninhabited islands called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

In this Feb. 11, 2014 photo, a visitor stands near sculptures at Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. The Tokyo shrine and the memorial hall in Nanjing, as Nanking is now called, are physical embodiments of divergent views of history that still strain China-Japan relations, 70 years after the war. They complicate America’s objective of maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific, as President Barack Obama starts a 4-country Asian tour in Japan this week. The implications are potentially serious, particularly over contested uninhabited islands called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

FILE- In this Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010 file photo, visitors in Japanese Imperial army and navy uniforms enter Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals, during a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Tokyo. The Tokyo shrine and the memorial hall in Nanjing, as Nanking is now called, are physical embodiments of divergent views of history that still strain China-Japan relations, 70 years after the war. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa, File)

In this Feb. 11, 2014 photo, visitors walk through a hall filled with yellow bulbs symbolizing massacre victims at Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. The Tokyo shrine and the memorial hall in Nanjing, as Nanking is now called, are physical embodiments of divergent views of history that still strain China-Japan relations, 70 years after the war. They complicate America’s objective of maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific, as President Barack Obama starts a 4-country Asian tour in Japan this week. The implications are potentially serious, particularly over contested uninhabited islands called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks on his way to meet a delegation of US representatives at the premier’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, April 21, 2014. Japan’s Prime Minister Abe has sent a religious offering to a Tokyo shrine that honors the dead including executed war criminals, a center of tension with Japan’s neighbors. Abe’s offering Monday at the Yasukuni Shrine marks the April 21-23 spring festival, one of the shrine’s key annual events. But the move suggests he will not visit Yasukuni ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit beginning Wednesday. (AP Photo/Franck Robicon, Pool)

In this Feb. 11, 2014 photo, a visitor takes photos at a burial site at Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. The Tokyo shrine and the memorial hall in Nanjing, as Nanking is now called, are physical embodiments of divergent views of history that still strain China-Japan relations, 70 years after the war. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

NANJING, China (AP) — Strolling through China’s sprawling memorial to a 1937 massacre by Japanese troops, a 64-year-old retired teacher said the incident remains an open wound.

“Japan is a country without credibility. They pretend to be friendly, but they can’t be trusted,” Qi Houjie said as a frigid wind swept the austere plaza of the Nanking Massacre Memorial Hall.

Across the waters, Japanese visiting a Shinto shrine in Tokyo that enshrines 14 convicted war criminals among 2.5 million war dead say they’re tired of Chinese harping, underscoring a gradual hardening of attitudes toward China. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a traditional offering to Yasukuni Shrine on Monday, the start of a 3-day spring festival, but didn’t visit. His visit to the shrine last December set off a diplomatic firestorm.

“The harsher they criticize, the more strongly I feel it’s not their business,” said Ayumi Shiraishi, a 28-year-old hotel employee who decided to see Yasukuni while on a recent trip to the Japanese capital. “It’s a matter of the prime minister’s belief, as he has said, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

The Tokyo shrine and the memorial hall in Nanjing, as Nanking is now called, are physical embodiments of divergent views of history that still strain China-Japan relations, 70 years after the war. They complicate America’s objective of maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific, as President Barack Obama starts a four-country Asian tour in Japan this week. The implications are potentially serious, particularly over contested uninhabited islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China.

Following Japan’s nationalization of the islands in September 2012, violent protests targeting Japanese businesses and brands broke out in many Chinese cities, inadvertently underscoring the vital economic relationship between the sides that continues to defy the political chill.

More recently, newly installed officials at public broadcaster NHK drew fire when one denied the Nanking massacre — in which China claims 300,000 civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered — happened and another downplayed the Imperial Army’s use of sex slaves, an issue that has chilled Japan’s relations with South Korea too.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida called those statements “regrettable” and said they don’t represent the government’s views. The government apologized to the former sex slaves in 1993 and more generally for its “colonial rule and aggression” on the 50th anniversary of the end of the World War II in 1995.

Such explanations carry little weight among a Chinese public raised on highly negative portrayals of Japan.

No perceived slight is too obscure to go unnoticed. When a smiling Abe

Comments

comments

About the Author