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How do most Japanese view WW2 today?

Discussion in 'All Things Japanese' started by sanblvd, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Hello, I just discovered this forum today in my attempt to learn more about Japanese culture and history, I have plenty experience of seeing things from American perspective of the war, but I never really talked to any Japanese about how do they think. Once I did some research online, it seems there is a bit controversy in this.

    I'm not here to judge people or make flame baits, I just want to know from the most modern Japanese people today, especially the younger generation born well after the war, how do they see WW2?

    Do they think that the war was the fault of Japanese militarism aggression? And they were wrong to invade other Asian nations?

    Or do they think it was a war of self defense in the liberation of Asia? And since they lost that's why they have to endure the suffering imposed onto by the victor?

    Please don't tell me how do you think, tell me how do you think what most Japanese people's thinking on this. Again, I'm not going to judge or seek to change people's opinion, just curious how they see things.
     
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  2. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    Most people don't think about it except to say it was bad.
     
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  3. Glenski

    Glenski Just me
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    There is no one feeling:
    The lack of patriotic passion in Japanese textbook treatment of the war should not surprise us. Japan, after all, lost the war. That limits opportunities to spin triumphalist war stories. What is striking about Japanese public memory of the war is the lack of consensus about its meaning. No single narrative seems to dominate. For the majority, it is remembered as a war that brought grief both to fighting men and the home front; for others, it is a war of liberation fought by brave soldiers whose struggles laid the groundwork for the postwar decolonization of Asia; and for still others, it was a cruel war of aggression for which the Japanese have not yet fully atoned.
    SPECIAL ON HISTORY TEXTBOOKS / Japan's teaching on war doesn't deserve bad press : Commentary : Columns : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

    You might also be interested in the internal debate over what is actually put in their own textbooks:
    http://homepage3.nifty.com/ronten/article-HistoryTextbook.pdf
    Rewriting History: Controversial Japanese Textbooks
    Divided Memories: History Textbooks and the Wars in Asia | Nippon.com

    And, if you believe these statements:
    Science-oriented high schools often don’t teach history. As requirements now stand, Japanese high school students are required to take two years of geography and history. One study found about 30 percent of students chose not to study Japanese history.
    SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN JAPAN - Japan | Facts and Details
     
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  4. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Thank you both for the response, for me, that was surprising to hear. I had the impression that they often taught a very different version of history, but I did't expect that most people didn't even know or cared about history at all.

    So that lead to my next question, how do the average Japanese feel when they see on the news that China/Korea constantly bring up WW2 and criticize Japan?

    Judging by my logic, it I were a Japanese and I didn't really know about WW2 because the school didn't teach it or I did't want to learn, I would think that China and Korea are just being unreasonable for bring up what happen so long ago, and when they criticize Japan today for their action in the past, I feel they are criticizing my nation right now, and I feel offended.

    Is this how most Japanese today feel? For the people that don't know much about WW2 or don't care to learn about WW2?
     
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  5. Uncle Frank

    Uncle Frank SECURITY-you SPAM/we BAN
    Staff Member Admin

    May 21, 2003
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    Turn it around .

    I assume you are part of the "younger" croud. How often do you think about the atrocities commited by the US military during WWII , Korean War , and the Vietnam war. If you think about them at all , it is probably after seeing something on TV or hearing about them in school. I'm pretty sure American schools didn't mention the evil done to Indians and slaves bought from Africa until the late 80's and early 90's. Between high school in the 60's and college in the 70's , I never heard a bad word said against the US by any teacher. You can probably pick any country you want and drag up some ugly history facts that the general public there has never heard about and could care less.
    My feeling is when someone like you joins a Japan type forum and drags the old WWII crap up , they are just a troll who hate Japanese and want to start trouble no matter how the protest they have good intentions posting it.

    Uncle Frank
     
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  6. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    I think it's a fair question he's asking, and not necessarily trolling. I myself was curious about it, having studied 20th century Pacific-Asian history before moving to Japan.

    In Canada, the government has repeatedly apologized for its crimes, so it was fascinating to see a country where they swept it under the carpet.

    As for the Japanese opinion on China and Korea today, and their anti-Japanese protests: they find it unreasonable, and a little scary. Why attack a living person for something dead people did?

    For the most part, the complaints of the countries are ridiculous. In Chinas case, it had a few hundred years of abuse by England, but there are no anti-England protests, ever. Japan has a few decades there, and China will never forget. Sounds a lot more like regional politicking than actual offense. And the Chinese citizenry fall for it. Both China and Korea are thrilled to take Japanese investment, and bash the country to give them a bogeyman to unite around.

    It really is unreasonable.
     
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  7. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Oh I very much agree with you... except that the part where you call me a troll. I am well aware of the crimes that American had made in the past, of how they genocides an entire race of people (Native Americans) and enslaved another race of people (Africans) to develop this land. This land which was stolen from the native settler and from Mexico. I know well of US's secret CIA action that overthrown many democratic government all over the world in the name of fighting communism and fighting for the interest of US corporations.

    And I am NOT defending my government's action at all, I think in the next 20 years we will very much feel the blow back of such action.

    Now.. please explain to me, why do you think that if I question Japanese's history that I somehow don't think other nation have it is bad past? I don't see the connection, please educate me.

    ---------- Post added at 16:02 ---------- Previous post was at 15:56 ----------

    Thanks, so you think this is what most Japanese think today about China/Korean protest towards Japan?

    1. It happen so long ago, China/Korea should forget about the past already, so it is unreasonable for them to keep bring it up.
    2. China have suffered from other people and their own actions as well, why don't they look at their own history or bother other people instead of keep picking on Japan?
    3. China/Korea is only doing this for political purposes, there is no logical reason for them to hate Japan for so long, so the fact they still do is their own fault.
    4. We the Japanese are a peaceful people, whatever was done by our grand fathers was their action, it have nothing to do with us, so we don't need to feel any guilt whatsoever

    Is this what most modern Japanese thinks in Japan?
     
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  8. Glenski

    Glenski Just me
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    There's a lot of bad blood between Japan and China. Poor products from China have not helped. Many Japanese won't buy foods from China because they don't trust the quality.

    So, when they hear Chinese complaining about Japan, I wouldn't know what they think.

    If they complain about a poorly written history book, they SHOULD complain.
    If they complain about the PM once again visiting Yasukuni shrine, they SHOULD complain.
    If they see a whitewash of Nanjing, they SHOULD complain.

    How the Japanese feel may depend a lot on age, education, and general nationalistic feeling. Hard to pin down, IMO. Just look at the Senkaku Islands thing.
     
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  9. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    I don't think any of that is correct. The best I could say is that the country has been peacefully working with its neighbors for decades, and those neighbors have been happy to work with them and take their money, but still support campaigns against them. They need to move on.
     
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  10. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Ah ok... so the feeling is we are working peacefully with the Asian nations, they are happy to take our money and our help, but in the end they still blame us for what we done so long ago, and this is not justified.
     
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  11. GaijinGolfer

    GaijinGolfer 先輩
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    Dec 10, 2012
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    You could also make the argument that China is just looking for a reason to bring WW2 up again. Japan has apologized several times (7 or 8, I think), yet China still claims that Japan has NEVER apologized.
    Yes, Japan did horrible things during WW2. Get over it. You dont see Jewish people constantly badmouthing Germany the way that China badmouths and protests Japan.
     
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  12. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Ah, let me summarize this.

    1. Japan had made official apologize many times, so it is China's fault that they keep asking for more apology, they are being unreasonable.
    2. Just as many other groups like Jewish have forgave Germany, China should do the same to Japan and get over it.

    So in the end it all come down to unreasonable China trying to pick on the innocent Japan all for political reasons related to today, which have nothing to do with the past.

    Is this the way many people feel in Japan today towards China?
     
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  13. Glenski

    Glenski Just me
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    I think Japan's "apologies" have not really been direct admissions of guilt. I think they have more or less simply stated that the incidents were "regrettable". I could be wrong, but if not, then they really need to come out and declare their role.

    You need to get off this kick of "many people in Japan" and pin down an age group, otherwise you aren't fairly representing things. We've already said that today's students don't learn that much if anything at all about WWII. What they hear about China is more hearsay, I think.

    Oh, and Japan was not "innocent".
     
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  14. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    Just for the record, I think China is unreasonable, but I'm not Japanese. Most Japanese simply want it to stop, but I rarely hear a Japanese (purposely) insult another country by saying something like that.
     
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  15. GaijinGolfer

    GaijinGolfer 先輩
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    Dec 10, 2012
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    Lets bring up a more recent news story: http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-commentary-questions-abes-sincerity
    Abe recently stated that he wants to work to improve relations with China, which China quickly came back and said they were highly skeptical that Abe was sincere in that statement. Really, China? Really?
    Is Japan innocent and could they have maybe done more? Perhaps. However, is China being unreasonable and bratty? Yup!
     
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  16. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Ok thanks, I think I got what I needed, I think the Japanese people overall are just kinda uninterested history and politics for whatever reasons (I'm very curious to find out). As oppose to some kind of grand conspiracy of denying/white wash history to their own liking.

    Whatever the case, from an outside observer, I think it would be in Japan's best interested to come to terms of their past and make pace with their neighbor.

    China is also responsible for never letting go of the past for current political situations. But in the end, I think it takes 2 to play that game. Because what happens if Japanese society truly apologize and atone for their past, if they have done that, and if China/Korea still insist on not dropping the issue that would make them looks pretty childish and pity. And it would be very hard for those government to keep playing this history card.

    However when every time when prominent Japanese politicians says stupid things, it directly play into the hands of Chinese/Korean leaderships to condemn Japan.

    I almost feel like the Chinese/Korean have infiltrated the highest level of Japanese government and make them take hardliner approach to history and make them say stupid things on purpose, so that Chinese/Korean government can play the history card.

    There is also anther kind of miscommunication, on the Chinese side they all think that Japanese are somewhat evil and denying history on purpose, but they really don't know that so many Japanese people don't care about politics/history. But in the end, ignorance on one side is not going to make the problem go away. I think Japan should also realize that even besides political purpose, Asian nations really did suffered much pain and anguish from the past, and it would be a good thing to people to understand what they truly went through.

    What we need is more understand on both sides, otherwise this cycle of ignorance/hatred will continue until it turn into a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge.

    I hate to see the sins of our grandfather generation to bloodstain the hands of our children in the future. That would be the true tragedy.

    And you can all prevent all of this from happen simply from words.

    ps....

    This brings up 2 new questions.

    1. Why are so many Japanese people so uninterested in politics and history? My guess for the history part is that they know that bad things happen in the past and they don't want to bring it up. But why are so many uninterested in politics?

    2. Is there any psychological barrier that would possible exist for Japanese society to come to term with the WW2 past? For example, would they feel so much shame that it would possibly destroy the fabric of society? Or is this tied deeper into other pillars of Japanese tradition such as the role of Emperor or something that is sacred? Or maybe in the end, there is no actual barrier for them to come around to their past, but the people in control of the nation have high jacked the process to prevent this on purpose?
     
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  17. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    SanBlvd, can you tell me where you're from? Your flag shows America, but your English doesn't look like a native speakers.
     
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  18. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    You are correct English is not my first language, I was born in Vietnam and I immigrated to US when I was very very young, my ethnicity is Chinese. Before you want to accuse me of anything, please know I have not receive any Chinese education that teaches hates towards Japan. I am however very proud of my Asian heritage, and wants to learn about it as much as possible. I hate seeing we Asians hate each other so much all over the world.

    So do you disagree with my position? If so can you please tell me why?
     
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  19. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    A lot of your posts seemed to jump to the conclusion that Japan doesn't like China. It was strange.

    People in America don't really care what happened 70 years ago, and neither do Japanese. They have a solid, stable society, and that makes them much less political. When there are big problems, people get political.

    Japan has come to terms with its past, but doesn't reiterate it, as some Western countries do. But the history is there, and most people don't deny it. Most countries have some sort of bad history, but they don't make it a part of daily life.
     
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  20. Glenski

    Glenski Just me
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    Aug 20, 2003
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    Well, let's see. When Abe was PM, he visited Yasukuni shrine in 2006, and brushed off China's complaints by saying it was a "domestic" concern. Huh?

    He was also in favor of the "controversial Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and the New History Textbook. He denies the abduction of comfort women by Japanese troops, claims that a history textbook must contribute to the formation of national consciousness, and cites South Korean criticism of the New History Textbook as foreign interference in Japanese domestic affairs" (see Wikipedia).

    Sounds like a really lovable person for the Chinese and Koreans alike. So, what has caused this major turnaround, then? Or is it that?
     
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  21. Toritoribe

    Toritoribe 松葉解禁
    Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 22, 2008
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    He did NOT visit Yasukuni Shrine when he was Prime Minister (Sep. 2006 ~ Sep. 2007). He said something similar BEFORE he became PM, and also expressed that he would never say to visit Yasukuni or not, but at the end he did not visit. He said that he felt deep remorse for that, though.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  22. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Well, one thing I know for sure China sure don't like Japan, and from recent survey, I think Japan don't like China all that well either, but I think Japan's reaction mostly have to do with the Chinese attitude towards Japan.

    And of course, Japan is very much part of US alliance which itself is hostile to China, and it seems Japan have no problem playing part of the US alliance which seeks to contain China, so I think this is the real reason why China don't like Japan. And of course, Japan have the feel that an powerful China will one day weaken the Japan-US alliance, which they have depended for their security for the past 70 years or so.

    So in the real sense, both China and Japan have the right to not seeing each other eye to eye, after all do have very different strategic interests.

    However from all the people I talk to, what is interesting is that China on the civilian level, a lot of them have genuine hates towards Japan, and most of this is due to history. I agree with you that the Chinese government is teaching this history on purpose, but like I have said before, Japan's action of not coming into term with their own past is partly responsible making this possible for China to do this in the first place.

    I know you think Japan have moved on, that they are no longer a hostile nation today etc... but still, you were the aggressor, the aggressor always have easier time to come to term with their past. It is the victim that are often suffering from memories.

    So I know what you are trying to say, you trying to say Japan is over it, why can't China/Korea? But what I'm trying to say it, please look at it from their perspective, if you have suffered just as much pain as they have and didn't get much closure, chances are you too will be remembering the past as well. And just because one side have totally gotten over the past, does not often mean the other side must also do what you have done.

    And lastly, with the rising of China, I don't know how long will US stay dominate in Asia. Chances are US will not able to sustain it is power projection all over world anymore in the next 20-50 years. When this happens if Japan stick by US all the way to their downfall, Japan will look very bad to other Asian powers. I think it will be far smarter for Japan revalue it is interest and truly make peace with China and Korea. They don't have to completely change side to China overnight, instead they can be like Thailand, playing China and US at the same time to competing for best deals, and for all this to happen they must done away with the history stuff once and for all, because there is just really too much emotions involved. That is why I think, it is really in Japan's interest to deal with the past.

    I hope you understand what I am trying to say, this is all from a long term strategic point of view.
     
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  23. nahadef

    nahadef Rendering orthography
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    I think you misunderstood something about me. I'm not Japanese, I've just lived here a long time. So "you" can't apply to me.

    About the past though, I think Japanese often understand. But after that, what do you do? I'm Canadian. I find it shocking that the Canadian government pushed natives out of all the valuable lands, but it was another time, another place. When I learned, I was angry, but it's not something with a simple solution. If such a thing occurs, it needs to be handled at that time in order for justice to be served.

    I had a run-in with a Chinese nationalist whose argument in defense of China's appalling actions in Tibet was always for the Europeans to leave the Americas first. I answered that both were inexcusable behaviours. At the same time, I'm learning to realize that freeing Tibet now would mean a destruction of life for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese born there in the past decades. Independence now would not make things okay or balanced.

    For Japan today, the history is there. Everything in English, and much of it in Japanese. People know. But it doesn't apply to daily life. After a long time, I understand the appreciation of war dead, even though I considered them the villains of WWII when I came here. They were young men who were willing to die for their country. I think the Iraq war is evil. But I still respect that they lay their life down for what they think they are protecting. The Japanese government lied to its citizens.

    My (Japanese) wife isn't political. She'd too busy being a mother and living her life. But a few years back, I was watching The Rape of Nanking, which is filled with devastating images. She came in in the middle. She was in tears within minutes. We didn't really discuss it. Maybe she thought I held her responsible in some way for being Japanese. Or maybe it was just upsetting to watch as a member of the human race. It nearly had me in tears.

    Large groups of people in China attack Japanese businesses. Not everyone, but a large number. What is the response for an average Japanese citizen, most concerned with paying the rent, and after that, cutting back on nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster last year, supposed to do? The current government not perpetually apologizing about China is not something people can get upset over.

    I think you're right about the victims carrying it longer, and that's fair. It explains why Chinese today are not angry about Tibet, but it doesn't explain why China is so angry about Japan, but not its treatment by England.
     
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  24. sanblvd

    sanblvd 後輩
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    Dec 18, 2012
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    Well, this is one argument that I often hear from one group that blames the other group and counter argument that goes back and forwards etc...

    - Group A blame group B
    - Group B names crimes that Group A done to Group C, or Group A done to themselves. Or Group D done to Group A
    - Group B uses above examples to justify/lessen what they did to group A

    But think about it, in the end, does it justify what Group A have done? Can one crime lessen the others? For example, if someone robbed you 5,000 dollars, and if that robber got caught, does that give him the excuse to say, you too have cheated on your tax to the government for over 10,000 dollars, therefore, you should not complain about me stealing money from you since you are not a saint in the first place.

    I don't think this logic is justified. Just as I cannot justify that US have invaded on Iraq base on lies and using CIA to overthrown governments all over the world, for the good they have done during WW2.

    One wrong is wrong by itself, no good deed or other wrongs can justify that wrong's action, unless you directly deal with the situation.

    So that goes for the logic of Europe's burning down of China's palace and force drug trade on them, or China's treatments towards Tibetans in Tibet. Also I like to point out that the damage that Japan done to China was far worse than Europe in both human and material destruction etc... not that I am pointing fingers to justify it in someway, because from history, actually Japanese invasion of China was NOT the most damage that was done to Chinese civilization, the invasion and conquest of the Mongols and Manchus was far worse.... but I am off topic

    And you are right about Canada's dealing with it is past or American's dealing with it is own past, but in the end, there is something very different in relationship between China and Japan vs Native Americans vs Americans today.

    That is the original Natives population in America/Canada have been completely defeated and broken, they can no longer posses any threat to the established order. China on the other hand... is the 500 lb gorilla that starts to remembering the past. They will be a force that is far from over, so from this perspective, I think it is wise for Japanese to deal with them NOW when China is not yet fully powerful.

    Thanks for the story with your wife, I mean that is what I am talking about, we all have a sense of morality today of right and wrong. Today's Japanese population is far different from their government 70 years ago, they are a peaceful and moral people and not going to repeat the past. But again, from China's point of view, they don't see things like this, every time when they hear Japanese politician that go visit the shrines or white wash history, it plays more into their anger constantly building up.

    And I don't think that if Japan decides to deal with this, there will be any direct connection of what they are today to them in the past, because they have already finish the job of transforming into a peaceful society, and they can make sure this is part of the message when they do decide to face history, so there is nothing to feel ashamed about. On the other hand not talking about it is only building up the bad karma waiting to be released into the future.
     
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  25. Glenski

    Glenski Just me
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    My mistake. Thanks.

    And, yes, the ***** Abe actually said in his election campaign that he WOULD visit, although hedged on various points in an interview later. *****.
    Incoming PM Abe vague on issues with China, Yasukuni Shrine visits - The Japan Daily Press


    "He also stated that visiting the shrine should not be a problem, despite the fact that China takes offense when Prime Ministers visit "

    Did I call him an ***** yet?
     
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