China Daily (Tokyo) – While nearly 80% of Japanese say they are patriotic, most of that majority say their country should own up to, and reflect on, its record of aggression in Asia, according to a poll published in a newspaper yesterday.
The Asahi Shimbun said 78% of 1,805 respondents to the December 2-3 poll felt at least some degree of patriotism. The figure was slightly lower than the 80% recorded in a similar poll conducted in April 2005, the daily said.
At the same time, 88% of those claiming to be patriots said Japanese must consider their country’s militaristic past and brutal colonial rule in Asia, the Asahi said.
The results reflect public concerns about Japanese friction with China and South Korea over their shared history, the Asahi said.
Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors have often been poor because of Tokyo’s lack of contrition for its aggression and harsh colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century.
Repeated visits by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors war criminals from World War II have further strained those ties.
The Shinzo Abe government has pursued a policy agenda aimed at bolstering Japan’s international military role, building up national pride and distancing the country from its war guilt, leading some critics to question whether Japan’s postwar pacifist stance is under threat.
However, Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have improved after Abe took power in September last year. His first overseas trips as prime minister were to Beijing and Seoul and there have been several initiatives in recent months to thaw ties.
There is indeed a disconnect between the government and the people of Japan. Other than a vocal minority that reflects the government’s sentiments on the Internet, forums, and SNS, it looks like people do have a rough idea of past transgressions and want to bring some reconciliation and closure to those issues. I really want to believe that there is progress and the government ruling Japan only reflects the sentiments of a few elites, right-wingers, and business interests instead of the Japanese people. I really do.
In response to the growing number of documentaries and films about the Nanjing Massacre, a Japanese filmmaker decided to make a film claiming the entire massacre was just Chinese wartime propaganda designed to promote anti-Japanese sentiment. Note that right-wingers and ultra-nationalists in Japan will often dismiss anything that comes critical to Japan or past Japanese history as just anti-Japanese sentiment or even go out of their way to claim victimhood as the first and only country to suffer a nuclear attack.
About 40 people, including Diet members, university professors and critics, rallied Wednesday behind a Japanese director’s plan to shoot a film putting his spin on the Nanjing Massacre in which he claims the butchery of Chinese by the Japanese Imperial Army is nothing more than political propaganda.
In a news conference held to “strike back against an erroneous understanding of history,” people including Upper House members Hirofumi Ryu and Jin Matsubara gathered to support Satoru Mizushima, director and producer of “Nanking No Shinjitsu” (“The Truth About Nanjing”), which will depict the filmmaker’s account of what took place in 1937.
Though not present at the news conference held at a hotel in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, supporters of the film also include Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and well-known journalist Yoshiko Sakurai.
“Gov. Ishihara has shown his keen support and I am very thankful,” said Mizushima, 57, who has taken part in the production of more than 300 films and documentaries, including the 1995 war epic “Minami No Shima Ni Yuki Ga Furu.”
He said he feels obliged to counter that film by making his own, which he said will tell the world what really happened.
“The anti-Japan propaganda will spread all over the world and become an established fact. That would not only put shame on the Japanese people but also disgrace those who fought in the war, which is unacceptable,” Mizushima said.
Upper House member Ryu of the Democratic Party of Japan agreed, claiming “many people show no concern regarding the issue, but correct history and the truth must be brought out.”
Right. The people of Japan are just victims of anti-Japanese war propaganda proliferated by the KMT. All photos documenting any killings were simply wartime propaganda with images severely taken out of context since Japanese newspapers had the same images for different reports and Japan was known to never produce any propaganda whatsoever. All testimony from survivors is just scripted to incite anti-Japanese sentiment and there is no evidence backing the victims’ claims. Also, I would like to note that Japan was forced to invade China to stop local Chinese terrorists and racists from bombing valuable railway lines in Chosen colony and to finally bring justice and order to the wild Chinese. Japan was also forced to attack America at Pearl Harbour because they would not export much needed raw materials to help Japan liberate Asians from colonial rule and to stop local terrorism against Japanese businesses. All Japan received in return for their kindnesses were violent atomic attacks from America and generations of shame under falsehoods perpetuated by racist victors…
What I have just written is a rough portrayal of the revisionist ideas that are held by the right-wing in Japan, which appear to be gaining popularity among segments of Japanese society. They appear to gain appeal among conservatives, who question the current nature of their society in light of drastic changes in the past two decades and because they see their country as a continuation of the country formed in the Meiji era. Additionally, another group embracing these ideas are NEETs, individuals who are not in education, employment or training, that are disillusioned with the current changes that deprived them of the benefits enjoyed by previous generations and still adjusting to globalisation. I would like to point out that the NEETs are not necessarily maladjusted individuals who are stereotyped as “Otaku” that regularly spew nonsense on forums such as 2ch, but rather they are the future generations of Japanese who have spent time overseas, eager to question the status quo, and are developing patriotic attitudes in response to their neighbours.
I really want to believe Abe will be smart enough to put Japanese economic interests and North Korea as his first priority. I want to believe that he will not promote further tension by allowing his subordinates to spew nonsense or making visits to the Yasukuni Shrine and the museum. It seems other leaders in China and South Korea have also taken a leap of faith by making moves to embrace Abe and in return Abe is willing to work with them to hammer out these lingering regional issues. The right-wingers have finally regained a position of influence after being on the fringes for so many years during the Cold War and from the LDP power structure. Whatever happens, they must always make sure they actually reflect the true will of their taxpaying citizens.