What Japanese history leaves out

Japanese people often fail to understand why neighbouring countries harbour a grudge over events that happened in the 1930s and 40s.

Read more in this fascinating BBC article here

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3 Responses to What Japanese history leaves out

  1. Christina Lau says:

    My grandparents were living in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded during WWII, so I’ve a lot from them and their views on the Japanese. I’ve also heard that the education system in Japan tones down their writings in books and textbooks on events like the Nanjing Massacre or deny it altogether. Although we been exposed to this side as we live in Hong Kong, a neighboring country, we can understand why there is hatred for the Japanese from the older generations because they’ve experienced what happened firsthand, but it is also important to understand that the newer Japanese generations will not know as much about what their ancestors did because they are not taught about it and some significant people even deny these events ever happened. There is often only one sentence on the war crimes committed for example the “comfort women”, a prostitution corps that the Imperial Army of Japan created, or the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Even if students want to delve further into these events and research more, they usually don’t have enough time to or lose interest because of the rigorous competition to go to the best university; Students have to memorize hundreds of other history dates on top of their other studies, their minds won’t dwell on it for long. Therefore, I feel that it is unfair to blame the newer generations for not knowing, or for the war crimes of the previous generations at these anti-Japanese riots and protests. I think that it is more appropriate to blame the education system government for not preparing the students for these encounters outside Japan and teaching them why some people might be discriminative towards them.

  2. Tiffanie Chan says:

    Living in Hong Kong, I have constantly been exposed to people who express their somewhat dislike for the Japanese because of our past history with their occupation. In particular, my grandmother constantly tells me stories about how the soldiers were incredibly rude towards her and brutal. Knowledge is affected by our culture. However, because I did not grow up experiencing that, it is hard for me to understand. Furthermore, I was always engaged in History lessons where we were taught a balanced view of the events and thus, was able to learn about both sides of the argument. This is why it is always important to read from multiple sources before drawing a conclusion about anything. To me, history is essentially interesting because there are so many different perspectives and we can therefore understand past events from various countries’ views.

  3. Leo Lee says:

    In this case the Japanese government has in a way manipulated the truth through the use of language. Language, a way of knowing, was used to modify or cover up the horrific events of WW2. Although the facts given of the number of women raped during the Nanjing massacre is not completely accurate, the data gives a rough estimate of the brutality of the Japanese army. However the focus is, is the new generation of Japanese people to blame for the fault of the older generation?
    In order to compensate for the horrendous acts, Japan paid compensation along with the treaty in 1951. For example, Japan paid US$200 million for Burma (former nation of Myanmar) with the treaty on November 5 1951. To Phillipines, Japan paid US$550 million along with the compensation agreement on May 9 1956. To Indonesia, Japan paid US$223 million along with the compensation agreement on January 20 1958. To Vietnam, Japan paid US$3.9 million along with the compensation agreement on May 13 1959. At the Treaty on relations between Japan and S.Korea in 1965, Japan paid $500 million, and also provided $300 million loans.

    Although Japan paid compensations for the acts of World War 2, does that mean giving a country a sum of money cover up the battle scars? Furthermore this implies that money is used as an accessory to cover up the pain crying from the defenseless victims. To what is extent can money be used to satisfy emotional wounds?

    On the other hand, the German Government fully pushes the citizens of Germany to acknowledge the horrors of Nazi Germany. This is shown through the constant sorrow speeches made by every German President. For instance the President of West Germany, Theodor Heuss, Speech at Dedication of the Memorial for the Victims of Bergen-Belsen, November 1952: “Anyone who speaks here as a German must trust in his inner freedom to recognize the full horror of the crimes committed here by Germans. Anyone who wanted to gloss over or trivialize these crimes… would simply be insolent… The Germans must never forget what was done by people of their nationality in these shameful years.”

    Although money can compensate the damages of the war, it cannot heal the open wounds of the emotional scars.

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