If everyone were completely honest about their actions in and leading up to wartime, most would come out looking more duplicitous and underhanded than they would like to admit. However, most are not as fixated on the subject as mainland China, Korea and Japan. In this part of the world, probably more than any other, World War II is not just an historical event but a political tool and the legacy of the war is used for political purposes, to one degree or another, by every side. This is certainly true for China and Japan. One can see it most clearly in the stark difference between how The People’s Republic of China, on the mainland, and the Republic of China, on Taiwan, deal with the Japanese. It was the Republic of China, after all, that fought the war against Japan and it was the Republic of China that suffered the most from Japanese occupation and acts of retaliation. Yet, Taiwan rarely makes much of a fuss about issues relating to World War II and generally has very good relations with Japan today. This is because Taiwan has been under constant threat and is anxious for friendship from any quarter. They are more concerned with today than yesterday.
|General Matsui reviewing troops in Nanking
It is also usually China that makes the most of World War II in general for propaganda purposes, though more frequently these days Russia is joining in as well in order to, as they call it, “defend the post-World War II world order”. China loves to bring up the war and the Nanking controversy because it sets the context to Axis vs. Allies and thus China=good guys and Japan=bad guys even though neither regime is what it was during the war. It is all about casting certain countries in general as villains or victims and both sides want to be the victims these days. Did the Japanese do some terrible things in China? Yes. Did the Chinese help start the war? Yes. Were war crimes committed at Nanking? Yes. Have the Chinese grossly exaggerated the crimes for political purposes? Yes. It is also true that even if one takes the most extreme Chinese accusations at face value, the Japanese still were not guilty of killing anywhere near as many Chinese people as the Chinese republican government itself has (either one in fact and certainly the communists by far). However, framing everything in relation to World War II is something China always does because it is always to their benefit, rather like how, in the west, advocates of military intervention always see every tin-pot dictator as the next Hitler and accuse everyone of being an “isolationist” or an “appeaser” or another Chamberlain who opposes military intervention. Everyone does it because Allies=good and Axis=evil often seems like the only thing that the vast majority of people on this planet actually agree on.
|Poster showing the Japanese saving China from the
communists who are puppets of the 'White' devil
If the communist bandits ruling in Peking really had no political agenda of their own in all of this, they could literally just withdraw from the entire argument and allow the Japanese radicals to make Japan look bad on their own. These types would win no small amount of hostility from the rest of the world by pointing to facts which they are quite proud of; that Japan conquered a greater surface area of the earth than Germany and Italy combined and that Japan was fighting with a more explicitly racist mentality than even Hitler had been. That’s not what the enemies of Japan say but what the Japanese apologists themselves claim. But the Chinese People’s Kleptocracy doesn’t do that because they really do not care in the least about history or who killed who or how many people was brutalized during the war. What they care about is trying to keep Japan as militarily weak and diplomatically isolated as possible in the present day. They must see no other viable option. How else can they have such expansionist policies and the largest military on earth and still try to make people alarmed by Japan, a country with a tiny self-defense force, only a single official ally and an aging, rapidly shrinking population? The only way they can cause alarm is by trying to convince the world that the Japan of today is always just one step away from being the Empire of Japan of the 1930’s and 40’s, right on the precipice of invading over a dozen countries.
|The Goliad Massacre
The same could be true for China and Japan if both sides wished it to be so. As far as Japan is concerned, in my experience, most people today do wish it were so but the Chinese do not. Likewise, there will be, for the foreseeable future, that element in Japan that will view any criticism of Japan in the past as unwarranted and totally unjustified no matter what it is. I have heard many people, both Japanese and foreigners sympathetic to Japan, who ask, in exasperation, when China will ever “get over it”. Will China ever “get over” Nanking? Probably not. China will “get over” Nanking perhaps when Japan decides to “get over” Hiroshima or the fire-bombing of Tokyo. In other words, not likely. People these days, the world over, like to view everything in the context of victims and victimizers and everyone wants to be a victim. China wants to be perceived as the victim of Japanese aggression and Japan wants to be perceived as the victim of Chinese deception and misinformation. And both of them want to be perceived as the victims of western imperialism. So, in the end, both the Chinese communists and the Japanese nationalists can at least agree on their shared hatred of “White” people. Perhaps there is hope for reconciliation after all.