Dear Chinese people: You suffered terribly during the Second World War with somewhere between 15-20 million of your kin being killed.
The brutal Imperial Japanese Army carried out many atrocities during the war which lasted from 1937 to 1945. Among it all, the viciousness of the Nanking massacre is something that can never be forgotten.
It’s is also something that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t want you to forget.
Switch on the TV and the Imperial Japanese Army will be there. Open a newspaper and it’ll be there as well. Go to class you’ll learn about it there too. To reinforce it even more, last year the Party announced there will be three new public holidays, two of which are pointedly anti-Japanese reported the South China Morning Post.
And it all has a point.
“Reviving war memories keeps the nation united against Japan, and behind the Party,” wrote Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo before he was jailed as a political prisoner according to TIME.
To see more on what the Imperial Japanese Army did to China and how that resentment has been manipulated by the Party see below:
But despite what you’ve been told at school, or through state-run media, Japan is no longer a country of ‘devils’. Modern Japan is a peaceful democratic nation with a parliamentary system of government like that of Britain and Australia. It’s also among the most pacifist nations on the planet.
Something that doesn’t fit the Party’s victim narrative which is aimed at making you think you have some unfinished business with Japan.
Like maybe a territorial dispute over an island or two.
Much of the Party’s version of the Second World War is full of falsities giving it center stage, often bordering on the absurd.
As for who fought the Japanese during the war the mass bulk of it was done by the Chinese Nationalist forces, not Mao’s communist fighters as the Party’s propaganda machine would try to tell you.
Partly in response to Beijing’s belligerent behavior in the East China and the South China Seas, Japan has moved towards improving it military with its Legislation for Peace and Security.
“China uses the legacy of World War II to justify its modern-day security concerns. In media reports, Japan’s return to militarism (as China calls the defense reforms) comes with dark predictions of history repeating itself,” wrote Shannon Tiezzi for the Diplomat.
Last year state-run Xinhua news agency called Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “the most dangerous man in Asia.”
Such talk and its territorial disputes are reasons why leaders from the West have shunned the Party’s politically charged parade in Beijing on Thursday that marks 70 years since Imperial Japan’s surrender.
Believe it or not it hasn’t always been like this. It’s only been the last couple of decades that the Party has fostered anti-Japanese sentiment.
In the wake of the awfulness of the Cultural Revolution and the crushing of the democracy movement of 1989, the Party needed something to distract you from the fact that it’s the worst thing to ever happen to China.
It was afraid that one day you’d see it for what it is, a political entity committed to an anti-human ideology that originated and failed in the West. It is afraid that you will discover – like much of the outside world kind of knows- that the Party has killed tens of millions of Chinese people and ruined much of your traditional culture plus your natural environment.
The Party is afraid you’ll discover that it has committed even more horrible crimes than what the Imperial Japanese Army* ever did. It’s afraid you’ll discover the truth.
For some of those hidden crimes see the below video about organ harvesting in China from prisoners of conscience:
*Unfortunately there are right wing elements in modern day Japan who deny that the Imperial Japanese military committed any atrocities in China or elsewhere during the Second World War. Modern Japan has long been criticized for not undergoing any real soul searching for its wartime behavior unlike as seen in post war Germany.