Anti-Japan protests in China
April 16, 2005 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Reports of recent Anti-Japanese demonstrations in China lack any details about the content in the disputed history text books. Is it related to the Nanjing Massacre, which Iris Chang wrote about in her much contested book "The Rape of Nanking"? The Chinese government is certainly not acting as a shining example of upholding human rights by any means, but does that deprive its people from the right to have part of their history at least adequately remembered ? And is the Chinese Government using this collective wound to further its own national interests such as keeping Japan from joining the UNSC?
posted by threehundredandsixty (52 comments total)
but does that deprive its people from the right to have part of their history at least adequately remembered ?

I can tell you right now, no. No it doesn't.

Also, China isn't the only country opposing Japan's efforts to join the UNSC. And Japan's going to be doing a little drilling.
posted by Jimbob at 5:29 PM on April 16, 2005

As a current resident of Japan, I know enough about the culture to know that, as a society, Japan doesn't really have the ability to admit to the depravities in China.

One reason is education, and this is what the Chinese govt. is using to rally their countrymen (and make no mistake, the Chinese govt. is either behind these demonstrations or plays a secondary supporting role) Japanese school textbooks make no mention of the atrocities in China, or at least they're sanitized. Many Japanese I've known actively believe stories like Nanking to be at least an exaggeration and maybe a flat-out lie. And there's no public discussion of this type of thing, which IMHO is where Japan's weakness lies: they don't really have a system for airing out dirty laundry like this.

And that's because of the taboo in Japanese culture to speak bad about your ancestors. Admit there atrocities in China, and your great-grandpa will be mighty pissed off in the afterworld. Hence no mention in the schoolbooks.

China knows Japan can't deal with this very well and is using that weakness to leverage their own power.
posted by zardoz at 5:39 PM on April 16, 2005

What is the deal with what seems like a general Japanese (or at least official Japanese) reluctance to acknowledge things that were done during World War II? It makes me think of an exhibition I saw a while back -- I can't remember who produced it, I think it was the Hiroshima Peace Museum -- and there was (deservedly) so much there about the effects of the atomic bomb on civilians, but only a tiny, out-of-the-way plaque mentioned what Japanese soldiers did in Nanking and elsewhere. And that was in very equivocal, he said-she said knowledge.

I understand that a complete review of wartime grievances was not the purpose of the exhibit, but it did leave a sour taste behind. And sometimes -- just to get off-topic for a moment -- I think it's ridiculous that so much attention is paid to the effects of the atomic bombs, and so little to atrocities committed elsewhere by all sides.
posted by Coherence Panda at 5:43 PM on April 16, 2005

Ooops . . . I think Zardoz posted part of an answer to my question while I typed.
posted by Coherence Panda at 5:43 PM on April 16, 2005

I don't believe the Chinese government is directly "behind" these demonstrations. They certainly tolerate them, and even encourage them, but they aren't "staged" - ordinary Chinese citizens have deep feelings about this and other issues. The Chinese government supports the protests because, as Communism dies out, it needs to be replaced with some other binding force; nationalism. And what better way to encourage nationalism than with a single focused enemy.

Indeed, zardoz - you can contrast Japan's attitude to WWII with Germany's - a country still deep in embarrassment and self-loathing over their part, but (apart from some skinheads) never denial. My German friend does not find "Hitler Jokes" funniest in the slighest.

Coherence Panda - Japanese do feel they have legitimate complaints about the atomic bombs and the firebombing of Tokyo, and can use them to justify downplaying their own atrocities.
posted by Jimbob at 5:52 PM on April 16, 2005

A good, long article in the Guardian about the demonstrations. Gives context and background.
posted by Kattullus at 5:54 PM on April 16, 2005

Thanks for the insight, zardoz!

And the article, kattullus!
posted by threehundredandsixty at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2005

Oh zardoz, attributing Japan's faillure to fess up to a superstitious fear of The Ancestors is just too simplistic. Besides, as with almost everything else about pre-modern Japanese culture, they got that ancestor-worship stuff from China in the first place.

If getting stuck in old national grievances is legitimate then the Chinese have every right to rant about the "Rape of Nanking", as the "Five Civilized Tribes" do about the "Trail of Tears", and as the USofA does about "9/11". It's all the kind of thing -- and it all gets played up for the same reasons.
posted by davy at 6:30 PM on April 16, 2005

davy, you're right, I should've said that was just one reason. Maybe the main reason is the general lack of public discourse in Japan, something that is a cornerstone of Western cultures. Speaking directly and bluntly about these things is just not done. Also, another reason China is pissed is from Prime Minister Koizumi's annual visit to Yaskuni Shrine, Japan's Veteran's Memorial. China views these visits as an acceptance of the China occupation--a slap in the face.
posted by zardoz at 6:46 PM on April 16, 2005

It would be very surprising to find that an authoritarian government like China's would allow such violent demonstrations to take place, if it did not at least tacitly endorse them. We're talking about a country which has killed more than a handful because they liked to meditate a certain way, they don't have a huge history of tolerating any sort of uprisings that aren't party-approved.
posted by clevershark at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2005

One of the recent bestsellers in Japan--on a book that attempts to disprove the Nanjing massacre.

After I found this out, I attempted to learn more of the context, more of the public discourse (is this just a book some crank put out, elevated to besteller status by a relatively small, coordinated number of followers?), but found that really impossible. I didn't feel as if I could get a handle on it.

Part of it, I think, is lingering bitterness that in the immediate post-war, Japan's war crimes had been emphasized so much in textbooks and such. You often hear the right-wing protesting the "masochistic" or "self-loathing" view of history found in Japanese textbooks--and I don't really have any idea how justified that is. It seems hard to reconcile denial of the Nanjing massacre, or the recruitment of comfort women, with a "self-loathing view of history." But perhaps it's justified to feel that England's brutal imperialism, or America's, aren't held up under the microscope as closely as Japan's. The new textbooks are supposed to be a little more "whitewashed," but I don't know how much has really changed. I'm still very disturbed by the trend to say "The Nanjing massacre never happened," or "It wasn't nearly as bad as people said, it was exaggerated by the Chinese."
But I think I have more sympathy for what a few of the rightwingers are saying, though I deeply disagree.

In some ways, this isn't all that different from the conservatives in the US you sometimes hear saying that the current educational system is unpatriotic and teaches that Columbus was a murderer--except that the history is so much more recent, and so much more bitter.
posted by Jeanne at 7:33 PM on April 16, 2005

Which country does deal with its history honestly? This isn't simple cynicism, I would like to know if there is a good example. I can't imagine China textbooks acknowledge the evils of Mao, or the Tianemen Square massacre.
The US does acknowledge some of the massacre of Indians, but do our textbooks talk about the overthrow of the Shah or our many incursions into Central and South America. Do we talk about the bombing of Cambodia or the multitude of civilians that have died in our campaigns?
Is Japan worse? Or is it just our denail that makes it necessary to point to someone else?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:49 PM on April 16, 2005

but does that deprive its people from the right to have part of their history at least adequately remembered ?

No, but its a pity the Chinese government isn't in any hurry to acknowledge its own atrocities in Tiananmen Square or occupied Tibet.
posted by homunculus at 7:57 PM on April 16, 2005

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Japan faces storm over textbooks, but China's history lessons also flawed [AFP]
Yet historical truth is often conspicuously absent in Chinese schools too, as it is in Japan and other East Asian nations such as North and South Korea.

While learning materials in Chinese high schools take special pains to outline Japanese aggression beginning with the 1874 invasion of Taiwan, China's involvement in the 1950-53 Korea war is dismissed in one sentence.

At the same time such are the holes in modern Chinese history that the average mainland college graduate still believes China is a "peaceful country" which has fought wars only in self-defense.

Completely absent from textbooks is China's 1951 invasion and subsequent colonisation of an independent Tibet. Erased too is the 1962 attack on India and the ill-fated 1979 incursion into Vietnam.
posted by gen at 8:13 PM on April 16, 2005

A few years ago (winter 1996) I met a young Japanese woman (21 IIRC) who said that Japanese history textbooks went on about how wrong the Japanese were in the 1930s-40s. I told her that the Japanese didn't do anything the Spanish, Russians, English, and other empire-building colonialists didn't do, and here in the USofA such behavior by Anglo-Saxons gets called "the onward march of Freedom".

The Chinese also did to their own people what they criticized the Japanese for doing: the long Civil War, the Great Leap Famine, the Cultural Revolution.... Now the mainlanders want to forcibly reannex Taiwan, home of millions more Chinese.

Hypocrisy abounds. "For none are righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10, KJV, a favorite quote of my Grandma's.) "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3, one of my Dad's favorites.)

On preview, in short, "Yeah to what dances_with_sneetches and gen said."
posted by davy at 8:55 PM on April 16, 2005

The Chinese also did to their own people what they criticized the Japanese for doing: the long Civil War, the Great Leap Famine, the Cultural Revolution...

This seems tangentially related to the earlier discussion about domestic vs. foreign terrorism.

It's always easier to stir up large numbers of people to protest against foreigners, than to have a country take a long hard look at itself.
posted by clevershark at 9:25 PM on April 16, 2005

At first I didn't pay much attention to these protests because there were similar ones a few years ago and it just seemed understandable because of the animosity between the Chinese and Japanese

However, recently a Japanese friend told me that a good friend of his who is japanese and is studying in Peking had been pushed to the ground and beaten. Their apartment was also broken into and trashed.

Another friend, a mainland chinese, offered to get in touch with friends she has in Peeking to offer assistance to this women.

It was very interesting to see these two friends, one Japanese and the other Chinese, discuss the current situation. The japanese friend is positive that the Chinese government is fueling the protests against the Japanese because it gives the student protestors a target to focus on besides the communist government.

The mainland Chinese friend is skeptical that Japanese people in China are being targeted and harassed. She says the people she has been in contact with don't believe that Japanese students have been beaten because there are no police reports. She told my Japanese friend that his friend should file a police report.

His reply was that his friend did approach the campus police (of the university in Peking) and they told her not to go to the real police and file a report because it would make the university look bad. She has since decided to go back to Japan till things cool off.

Needless to say, things seem to be getting pretty ugly. Who knows, this might just blow over in a couple of weeks but the idea that the Chinese communist government is manipulating its own people to protest the Japanese in an effort to avoid something like another Tiananmen Square sounds like they've taken a lesson straight out of '1984'.
posted by toftflin at 10:00 PM on April 16, 2005

Just because the pot is calling the kettle black doesn't mean the pot is anymore or less wrong in doing so. Whether something is moral or not does not change based on the moral standing of the person advocating it. Someone who makes people blind can advocate accessibility for the blind, it doesn't make accessibility for the blind more less morally right or wrong.

Get off your moral superiority high horse and recognize the pot is black and so is the kettle.
posted by abez at 10:14 PM on April 16, 2005

I know I'm gonna get bashed for this, but is there any sort of scale we can rank genocides with, besides number killed.

I mean, dead is dead, and god knows no civilization has a clean record.

What differentiates the Nanjing Massacre from a majority of previous tragedies is the sheer calculating cruelty of it.

Most of history's horrors were done out of sheer indifference. People B were in the way of People A (either for war, colonization, commerce, etc)

But, the Japanese seemed to be enjoying themselves. This wasn't just an invade, bomb, rape, pillage thing. I mean, they got creative with that stuff.

Once again, I know none of our hands are clean. Humans are red in tooth and claw. But, somehow this seems different enough that it deserves a special remembrance.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 10:25 PM on April 16, 2005

When I first heard about the anti-Japanese demonstrations, I thought that they are supposed to serve as an outlet of pent-up anger among the Chinese populace -- like the Guardian article said, better let the populace protest the Japanese than the Communist party. But actually, I don't think that this is the primary reason the Chinese government allowed them to happen, because it turns out that they are not reported in the Chinese media (newspaper, TV etc.) at all, and most of the coordination is happening on the internet (to which less than 10% of the population have access) and by cellphone.

I believe that what we are essentially looking at is a scheme to thwart Japan's shot at a permanent seat in the UN security council, which would seriously diminish China's influence in the region.
In a sense, of course, Japan has left China this open flank due to its stubborn refusal to offer a sincere apology. Also, zardoz, I don't think this has anything to do with ancestor worship, but more with the fact that in Japan you don't apologize to anyone you don't consider at least your equal.

davy: The Chinese also did to their own people what they criticized the Japanese for doing: the long Civil War, the Great Leap Famine, the Cultural Revolution.... Now the mainlanders want to forcibly reannex Taiwan, home of millions more Chinese.

Ah yes, but you see this is an internal issue that concerns only the Chinese, and they don't appreciate foreigners meddling (or criticizing) them for these internal problems. This includes Taiwan, which is after all an integral part of China. /official Chinese rhetoric

DWS: Which country does deal with its history honestly?

Umm ... Germany?
posted by sour cream at 10:56 PM on April 16, 2005

What differentiates the Nanjing Massacre from a majority of previous tragedies is the sheer calculating cruelty of it.

pissonyourparade: you've hit the nail on the head with respect to the Japanese penchant for cruelty. I'd pepper this with links to studies done on this, and perhaps will follow up this post, but growing up in Malaysia and then Singapore, both of whom were also occupied by the Japanese during WWII - we were taught that it was due to the Japanese homogeneity and their application of their code of "Bushido" that led to deliberate and inhuman cruelty on a scale that has yet to be repeated. Since they committed ritual suicide rather than be captured, they considered POW's has having no honor therefore displaying humanity towards their prisoners was not required. Which is also why this is one of the most famous images of Nanking - beheading was normal practice.

On a recent visit home to Singapore I went to the new "son et lumiere" show at Changi Prison and the recreated experience of being a PoW in that camp was terrifying. An excellent book on this prison is James Clavell's King Rat.

Some links to the infamous Burma Thailand railway which is considered more atrocious than Changi, and the Bataan Death March.
posted by infini at 11:11 PM on April 16, 2005

The Chinese education system cultivates racism and celebrates victimization. I think these protests are utterly ridiculous and indefensible.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:19 PM on April 16, 2005

And the fiscal irony of that Japanese occupation of China?

"Dalian becomes Bangalore to Japan" - outsourcing IT to existing japanese language speakers in this northern coastal city...
posted by infini at 11:24 PM on April 16, 2005

It's all about the oil!
posted by blacklite at 12:19 AM on April 17, 2005

An admission of guilt, flat-out, would have severely detrimental effects on Japan's economy, not just through having to make reparation payments to survivors of atrocities, but through political fallout.

Is it any wonder the government is keeping its mouth shut?

Accepting culpability for the wrong-doings of its predecessors could bring down the government.
posted by bwg at 12:24 AM on April 17, 2005

It's amusing that the western media has been picking up on the whole Chinese protest thing, and pretty much ignored the same, ongoing argument here in Korea. Which, even more amusingly, drives the Koreans to distraction because they hate nothing more than being ignored.

People are cutting off fingers, setting themselves on fire, all manner of tribal-ape behaviours, over this and the conflated-by-the-media-and-government issue of a tiny useless rocky shithole of an island called Dok-do (or Takeshima) that righties in Japan claim belongs to them.

The Korean government is milking it for all it's worth of course, having learned some lessons about inflaming the stupid and easily frightened from BushCo. Nationalism is about the last cheap trick they can fall back on for support these days. Noh Moo Hyun, like his predecessors, disappoints me more with each passing day.

Which is not to say that the Korean beefs aren't legitimate. They arguably suffered more at the hands of the Japanese than anyone else did, and they've got every right to be nervous when Koizumi starts visiting war shrines and such. This Japanese textbook issue has been ongoing for years here.

It's all too goddamn funny-sad, basically.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:30 AM on April 17, 2005

metafilter : the chicken or the egg?
posted by Satapher at 1:42 AM on April 17, 2005

stavrosthewonderchicken: People are cutting off fingers, setting themselves on fire, all manner of tribal-ape behaviours,

It really is kinda (tragically) funny, isn't it? The Koreans hate the Japanese's guts, whereas the Japanese, well, they don't really give a damn about what the Koreans think, since Korea is so ... insignificant (in Japanese eyes). Which makes the Koreans hate the Japanese even more.

I never really got the Korean self-mutilation and self-incineration part of it all. What is that supposed to accomplish? I realize that it might be a cry for attention, but maybe someone should tell them that it isn't working. Here in Japan, all it accomplishes is a brief footnote in the news and the Japanese shaking their heads in disbelief over "those wacky Koreans".
posted by sour cream at 2:46 AM on April 17, 2005

I'm surprised nobody here has mentioned the Yasakuni War Museum in Tokyo. Even the minimal English translations display some shocking whitewashing of Japan's colonial past - the Rape of Nanking becomes "The Nanking Incident" etc etc.
posted by runkelfinker at 5:27 AM on April 17, 2005

Dok-do is tiny and useless? I always thought Dok-do was a way to extend claims of fishing grounds and marine shipping routes made palatable to the Korean populace through nationalism -- much like the fights that Canada had with Denmark over Hans Island.
posted by sleslie at 7:09 AM on April 17, 2005

(oh, except in Canada no one lit themselves on fire over the island)
posted by sleslie at 7:14 AM on April 17, 2005

blacklite's link has got it nailed. It's about the oil, folks.

The bbc has more. This is really quite fascinating indeed when you look at the oil angle. Read blacklite's link....
posted by beth at 8:45 AM on April 17, 2005

Look, atrocities happen. Usually we commit them in some exotic locale to some "other" people. China is Japan's mother culture. America's atrocities would take on a much different flavor if we committed them in England.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:23 AM on April 17, 2005

When I visited the Yasikuni shrine museum, it really made me think hard about Japan's behavior in Asia up to the end of WW2. On one hand, the brutality with which they treated people in other Asian countries, especially China, does seem to belong in a special category, along with Nazi atrocities against European Jews, and many other less well-documented genocidal campaigns. When the Japanese publish stories in their own newspaper about contests to see which soldier can behead the most Chinese prisoners in one day, I think it would be difficult to find a parellel in any period of Western colonialism. It seems to me to be a whole different level of cruelty and inhumanity.
On the other hand, the Yasikuni shrine really attempts to portray Japanese colonialism/expansionism as similar to what Western nations were doing at the time, that is, attempting to secure raw materials for their industrial economies, while also controlling access to vast markets of consumers. In that way, Japan wasn:t really doing anything different than the other major powers of the day. And I do see some logic to the idea that if Japan hadn't tried to "get in on the action," it would have been at a severe disadvantage in global politics.
So at Yasikuni, Japan really makes a big deal of its defeat of the Russians in 1908(?) which was the first time in modern history that ANY non-Western country had defeated a Western country. This is a sort of "Asian pride" argument that I can somewhat grasp. The musuem goes on to say that Japan's example of defeating colonialist Western powers provided an inspiration for other non-European countries to throw off the yoke of colonialism, so there is even a map of Africa showing the year that each African country gained independence. That strikes me as a tenuous connection, but I have to admit, I had never thought about it before.
If nothing else, this kind of news might disabuse some Americans of the notion that China and Japan are basically interchangeable concepts. Almost every Chinese person I know, no matter what their education level, has some degree of resentment towards Japan and I don:t know if this will ever change.
posted by banishedimmortal at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2005

You know, now that I think about it. Japan also committed atrocities on American POWs. Some big Japanese companies that are still around actually used Americans as slave labor.

However, due to the treaty that the Japanese signed, American citizens can’t seek damages. That was there help the Japanese rebuild their economy. We got rid of the practice of punitive damages after war after what happened to Germany after the treaty of Versailles.

But does Japan really still need those protections? It’s my opinion that either we should allow our citizens to sue Japanese country over their own enslavement, or the US government should take responsibility for those claims itself. We agreed to pay back Japanese-American citizens that were interned here in the US, but what we did pales in comparison to what they did to our POWs.

The Japanese need to own up to what they did in WWII, I think.

Right now, the Japanese are constitutionally prohibited from going to war. But there’s no reason they can’t just redo their constitution. Right now, the Japanese second only to the United States in defense spending. I mean think about that. They have the second most expensive military in the world, just waiting. The Japanese did get somewhat involved in the Iraq war, which resulted in a physical riot in their parliament house.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Japanese are in the wrong here. They really should acknowledge realistically what happened the way the Germans have.


On the other hand, I like the Japanese government system much better then the Chinese. I’m sure it does have a lot to do with Japanese drilling and whatnot. And the Chinese really should acknowledge their shortcomings as well; But Chinese military adventurism isn’t really all that different from our own (speaking as an American). Hell, they invaded Vietnam after we left!

One final thing: You know why the Japanese decided to attack the US? Because we wouldn’t sell them Oil.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on April 17, 2005

... as Communism dies out, it needs to be replaced with some other binding force; nationalism. And what better way to encourage nationalism than with a single focused enemy.

Chinese nationalism is very much on the rise in general, and I think that nails it right on the head, Jimbob. This is a "safe" type of protest since it focuses on something outside China. Therefore it is tolerated - if not actively encouraged - by the government. Of course, the UNSC seat for Japan is a big deal too, since China has been trying to set itself up as the major power in the region - attempting to suppleant the US as the dominant player.

Like threehundredandsixty, I was also wondering why there were no real details on the debate over Japanese textbook changes in mainstream US media. Instead, they have chosen to focus on the UNSC seat as the primary driver behind the protests. Perhaps it's just too complex of an issue to cover? Or I guess covering it would mean they have to explain the Rape of Nanjing - which would be hard to do tastefully...
posted by gemmy at 3:02 PM on April 17, 2005

gemmy, I suspect the abundance of complexity in this particular instance being the reason for lack of in depth coverage.
it strikes me that, sadly, our culture is so groomed towards the good guy/bad guy mythology that there is very little room for contradiction or the coexistence of different, yet equally valid truths within the same incident, depending on the point of view.
posted by threehundredandsixty at 3:15 PM on April 17, 2005

The more I think about it, the more I think the Japanese are in the wrong here.

delmoi, I hereby sentence you to write on the blackboard 500 times: "I will not look at issues in stark black and white..." There's shades of gray in everything, and this issue is very, uh, gray. Yes, Japan has to own up to things much like Germany has, but has China owned up to their atrocities? The many things that Gen and others have mentioned?

It's not a matter of black-and-white "who's right and who's wrong". Both are wrong. Sort of like the England/Ireland, Israel/Palestine, various other conflicts around the world. Doesn't make for an easy answer, but...there you go.
posted by zardoz at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2005

sleslie - yes the practical fight over Dokdo is over the fishing rights and the ocean territory around the island. The island is a convenient symbol, but it's uninformed for anyone to say the debate is solely over a useless little rock.

sour cream - well many Koreans hate the Japanese for reasons close to their hearts... It's just too soon for a lot of people. They lost parents and grandparents and children under Japanese rule. I hope you can imagine their anger.

I agree that they could channel their anger in more practical manners than self-immolation. Some of them are so consumed by it and they end up protesting in traditional ways, which are self-destructive.

As for "what is burning yourself supposed to achieve, since the Japanese don't care if you do?" question: I think it's not designed solely to draw the attention of Japan. The protesters want to keep the story alive in Korean media and to keep pressure on the Korean government to maintain a strong anti-Japan stance.

I am kinda fuzzy on this, but former Korean administrations have made deals with Japan to put the lid on anti-Japan campaigns in return for better terms on commercial ties and economic benefits. (I think Park Chung-Hee did this, back when Korea was dirt poor and needed the cash.) So these protesters likely want to make sure that the gov't takes / keeps up a hardline stance.
posted by shortfuse at 9:34 PM on April 17, 2005

it's uninformed for anyone to say the debate is solely over a useless little rock.

Nice. You impugn my credibility by dropping in 'solely', a word I never used, and a reading of the situation I didn't imply. This is not a 'debate' in Korea, it's a jihad, and its roots feed on memory of blood and fire, and long-simmering resentment.

I've talked to hundreds of Korean adults about this over the past months, and not one has said anything about 'ocean territory' or fishing rights. Their reaction, to a man and a woman, is from the gut, and deeply wrapped up in the tragic history of this place, and that gut anger is being cynically exploited by media and politicians.

What's uniformed to believe that the surging rage is about fishing rights, and it's just plain foolish to assert that people are setting themselves on fire and cutting off fingers just to get media attention.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:59 PM on April 17, 2005


posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:15 PM on April 17, 2005

Credibility? The last time we went back and forth, you were sharing completely untrue info on Korea.

I realize it's your schtick to be the guy who cuts thru all the BS that exists in Korea. But maybe you can be a good curmudgeon without disseminating incorrect info about the country.

You say the population of Korea you've talked to won't tell you that they're angry about fishing rights. Duh. I said the island is a convenient symbol, a place to focus all the anger. But your post implies that the island is the issue, period, and thus the whole thing is silly. No it isn't.

I didn't assert that people are doing things to themselves "just to get media attention", but that it is part of their motives. Reread.
posted by shortfuse at 11:16 PM on April 17, 2005

zardoz: from a western perspective, perhaps, this conflict seems to be at the same level as the other conflicts that you've mentioned.

As it's been mentioned before, what Japan did to the rest of Asia in WWII is on the order of what the Nazis did to Jews in the same war. The other conflicts that you mention don't come close to the level of atrocities that Japan inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people.
posted by scalespace at 11:25 PM on April 17, 2005

scalespace--I'm not at all denying that the Nanking Massacre was one of the most atrocious war crimes in modern history. And I don't think that Japan has adequately apologized for the's a reflection of Japanese society that I truly don't like--an inability to discuss things openly.

But what China is doing is propoganda, and it's the same reason I detest the current US administration--they use the same tactics. They using the situation to keep Japan off the UNSC, to leverage power in the oil field dispute, to deter China's own people from rebelling against the myriad social problems present today in that country. In a way it's disrespectful to the memory of those Chinese killed and brutalized at Nanking--the incident is now just a pawn in a broader geopolitical game.

You won't find many Japanese people with a deep hatred of China (except maybe hardcore right-wingers); in fact, in recent years there's been an Asian culture "boom" in Japan, and people here are embracing everything Chinese and Korean...Japan's #1 show is a Korean drama, dubbed in Japanese.

Go to China, though, and virtually everyone has something nasty to say about Japan . That's from government propoganda, and I think it's reprehensible. And I won't even go into the atrocities that China has committed, that's been well documented already on this thread. They ain't very squeaky clean themselves, and you know what they say about glass houses...
posted by zardoz at 1:52 AM on April 18, 2005

my thinking exactly, zardoz
posted by threehundredandsixty at 7:30 AM on April 18, 2005

I realize it's your schtick to be the guy who cuts thru all the BS that exists in Korea.

Hardly my 'schtick', fuckhead. Someone says something about Korea, I am occasionally moved to add some information (or even dispute if the comment is as egregiously wrongheaded as yours), because it's a place I know well. No more, no less. Just the same way you'd be compelled to offer information on, say, being an ass.

Credibility? The last time we went back and forth, you were sharing completely untrue info on Korea.

The link you offer as somehow proving that I offer 'sharing completely untrue info on Korea' seems to me to be you going 'no nono no I can't hear you' with your fingers in your ears, in a comment in which you leapt into the conversation to insult me. Hardly a convincing refutation, and it's your schtick that's hanging out of your pants, I'd say. My information was hardly 'completely untrue', friend. You'll have to do better than unsupported declarations.

At least I am able to offer, if asked, some reason why my opinions exist -- that I've lived in this country for 7 of the last 10 years, for what little it's worth. I don't write about Korea on my website. I display very little negativity about Korea, at least in comparison to most of the other expats I've known here. I love the place and the people, but I'll be fucked sideways if I'm going to candy coat the massive faultlines that threaten to turn this place from merely borderline to full-blown psychotic.

I honestly don't know who the hell you are, or why you have a problem with me making comments about the place I live. Nor did I remember 'the last time we went back and forth' until you linked it. Rereading that short thread, I see you grew up in Korea. And left. Which would seem to the basis for you discounting everything I have to say about it.

So your schtick, it would seem, is playing the wise hanguk-in sonsaeng nim, who shakes his head with mirth and barely-disguised contempt that the foolish waeguk-in might presume to have opinions about your beloved daehan minguk, eh? Despite not having lived there for a decade.

Bite me. And, having been reminded that you make a habit of it, try a) arguing against what I actually say rather than what you would have liked me to have said and b) try it without leading off with an insult.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2005


posted by bwg at 5:05 PM on April 18, 2005

I display very little negativity about Korea, at least in comparison to most of the other expats I've known here.

Riiiiiiiight. You only come to MeFi to display that very little negativity.

Yes, I was born in Korea and left at young age. I keep in touch with my parents in Seoul and talk to them about what's going on, as well as reading Korean news sources. Which isn't "basis for discounting everything" you say about Korea. You'd like to paint me as a rabid, blindfolded-with-a-Taegukgi patriot who is disgusted by foreigners and who feels their opinions aren't worth a 100-won coin. Wouldn't you now? That would be nice and easy.

stav, Korea has lots of BS everywhere. And sharp critics and curmedgeons are good to have, foreign or domestic.

But you also share questionable and misinformed observations, delivered as sensationally possible. ("Jihad"?) And you hate it when "fuckheads" like me point this out. And you huff and puff about how I'm just being an "ass" - how you've lived in Korea for years and have talked to people ("hundreds" of them!) on the streets - how you're keeping it real and refusing to "candy coat".

Then you just end up sounding like a Geraldo Rivera or a Sean Hannity, reporting live from Korea. Entertaining in many ways. But not credible.
posted by shortfuse at 10:15 AM on April 19, 2005

If you say so, sonsaeng-nim.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:38 AM on April 22, 2005

Which is also to say, 'cause it popped into my mind today long after the flames here have died down, that I stand by everything I've written here, and in the other referenced thread, about Korea.

And if I'm Geraldo Rivera, my distinguished interlocuter is Syngman Freakin' Rhee.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:35 PM on April 25, 2005

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