From WEEKLY MDS No.885, April 29, 2005 issue logo

Not "Anti-Japan" Demonstrations / Anger at Policy to Ease Troop Dispatch and Initiate Aggression

Abetment of xenophobia

Large scale demonstrations are taking place in China in protest at the Japanese government's policies aimed at allowing easier troop dispatch and possible war. Following the first 10,000-strong demonstration in Beijing on April 9, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Shanghai on April 16, 30,000 in Shenzhen and 2,000 in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, on the 17th, all united in protesting against the Japanese government's whitewashing of history and efforts to obtain a permanent UN Security Council seat. The protests are spreading across China. At a Japanese-affiliated company in Guangdong Province, migrant workers from farming villages (referred to as Mingong), staged a protest strike, in which they also demanded improvements in treatment.

The Japanese government and news media are intentionally abetting xenophobic sentiment as if there are exhibitions of antagonism between China and Japan by painting those actions as "anti-Japan demonstrations," "vandalism" or even as "anti-Japan riots" (Weekly POST) and depicting Japan as "their victim."

However, the protests by the Chinese people do not target Japan as a nation or the Japanese people at large. Their actions have been swelling in the wake of an Internet-based signature campaign targeting Japan's attempt to gain a permanent seat in the UNSC and gaining vigor in condemnation of the Japanese Prime Minister's annual visits to Yasukuni Shrine and approval of history textbooks glossing over Japan's past invasions. A posting on the message board is one representation of those voices; which says; "I would like to clarify that the series of demonstrations were not pointed toward Japanese people as a race. ... that we are agitated by the increasing right-wing behavior and attitudes of the Japanese government."

Responsible party: Japanese government

We should clarify the moves made by the Japanese government that are enraging the Chinese people and stirring a sense of crisis among them.

A series of moves aimed at justifying the war of aggression in the past triggered these protests. To name a few cases, Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where class-A war criminals are enshrined; the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's approval of history textbooks depicting the Pacific War as a "liberation" war in Asia; and courts dismissals of whatever appeals are placed before them by war victims including those who were forced into wartime sexual slavery. Not a single Chinese could be found who does not feel rage against the repeated glorification of the invasion of their country by the Japanese military. A survey conducted by the Social Survey Institute of China has found that 93% of respondents regard the recent result of Japan's official school textbook screening as a "distortion of history," and 81%, as "open provocation" and a "crime against world peace and harmony," Reuters reported on April 12.

The most serious problem is the Japanese government's current high-gear drive toward rebuilding a nation capable of war. By joining the occupation of Iraq, Japan has become a nation that uses the Self-Defense Forces, Japanese troops, to again invade and suppress other people. For the first time in history, the New National Defense Program Outline has defined China as a potential enemy. The Japan-US Security Consultative Committee has released a statement that refers to the "Strait of Taiwan" issue for the first time, declaring that the Japanese government will make a step forward into global military operations with the Bush administration, from the Korean Peninsula through to the Middle East. Acquisition of a permanent seat in the UNSC is positioned in their future design of troop dispatch and invasion policies. Anger at this war-oriented policy line is the element that is penetrating the protests of the Chinese people.

Blocking buildup of a warring nation - synonym for solidarity

Despite extensive efforts by the Japanese government and the news media, the Japanese public are not necessarily acting in a synchronized way with the campaign aimed to fuel anti-China xenophobia. Even today, the majority of the Japanese public recognizes the issue of the perception of history in the background of the present situation and admits that Japan's soul-searching and apology should be fulfilled, the News Station TV program reported on April 18. Japanese citizens are also saying "No" to vicious moves aimed at leveraging the anti-China campaign to enhance the buildup of a nation capable of war. What is needed is solidarity between the Chinese and Japanese peoples that provides no room for xenophobia.

The following challenges are now facing us.

First, we need to enhance our struggle to end the occupation in Iraq, to realize the immediate withdrawal of Japanese troops and to block efforts to transform Japan into a nation capable of war. That will be the greatest form of solidarity with the Chinese people we can demonstrate. Second, we must stand against the adoption of Japan's textbooks glorifying her past invasions and to fulfill Japan's responsibility to compensate war victims through the investigation of the war of aggression and damage incurred during the war. Let us strengthen joint grassroots actions among the Japanese, Chinese and Korean peoples. Only solidarity among peoples can stop war. (April 18)

Copyright Weekly MDS