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DoDo: Incidentally, how do you see popular views on Japan in China? Is it as strong as often reported? Was it enhanced propagandistically in recent times, or all the continuing memory of Japanese occupation?

Needless to say, this topic deserves (at least) a diary of its own, but I'm afraid the situation is still quite bad.  I can only speak anecdotally, but in addition to coming across the usual 憤青 fènqīng hyper-xenophobic, anti-Japanese comments online, I've seen/heard a troublingly high number of comments about Japan that indicted a deep and lasting ("積重難返 jīzhòngnánfǎn") antipathy towards Japan and the Japanese.  The most recent occurrence was particularly disturbing:  In Beijing I hung out with some Italian friends who were also friends with a young woman from Nanjing.  This Nanjinger is brilliant, open, cultivated, fun.  After we had become relatively casual with one another, one evening, lubricated by a glass of wine too many, I stupidly dared to ask her for her opinion about whether I should declare my Japanese background if I were ever asked in Nanjing.  She gave the same advice that a friend of mine from Tianjin did: don't bother, avoid the question, avoid the topic.  But the really disturbing part of the conversation was when she later recounted how  a Japanese tourist was beaten up in a McDonald's in Beijing and though the police came to intervene, when they found out the nationality of the victim, they waited outside until it was over.  As she told the story, I sensed it was a urban legend (I could not find any evidence of it online, at least in English).  But regardless of its veracity, you could tell that she could hardly suppress the grim satisfaction she felt at the image of a Japanese getting beaten up by a group of Nanjingers in a McDonald's while not only customers and other staff, but even the police, looked on doing nothing.  But beneath that rage, I sensed an extreme anguish, since she had just told us some horrible stories that her grandmother had witnessed in person (e.g. a Japanese soldier running a young neighbor through and tossing her away  with his bayonet).  She did not actually weep, but she was obviously on the brink of it.  And this feeling is generalized to the entire (at least Han) Chinese population, through education, television shows, news (or news suppression), movies, and so on.

I have a similar take on the Chinese-Japanese antipathy that I do on the Chinese-non-Chinese debate about Tibet:  On the Chinese side, the primary instigator is the government, through its tacit approval if not active encouragement of negative portrayals of Japan in education, media, etc.  But on the Japanese side, I have, with utter regret, the feeling that it is Japanese people, not the Japanese government, who are the source of most anti-Chinese sentiment and portrayals in China.  And as the U.S. media is the conduit and expression of "pro-Tibet" anti-PRC opinion among the public in the U.S., the Japanese media is the conduit and expression of anti-China popular opinion in Japan.  How many times did I hear, the last time I was in Japan in late 2008, the phrase "中国怖い!China is scary/I'm afraid of China!".  From cab drivers, friends, relatives, relatives of friends, whoever.  Though I have to admit that such statements usually came from people in their 30s and older.  And of course, as always, popular opinion feeds the media and the media in turns feeds it back into popular opinion.  That's why I am a fan of Watanabe Tsuneo.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 08:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
marco: beaten up in a McDonald's in Beijing

That should be:

   beaten up in a McDonald's in Nanjing

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 08:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or even Burgerjing ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 08:31:26 AM EST
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There seems to be some indication that the new government in Japan is interested in moving toward closer relations with China and being less cozy with the US.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 09:45:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed.  But my feeling is that a lot of the sinophobia in Japan is "grass roots", not government-led.  While a more China-positive government in Japan will hopefully help, a significant change in popular perceptions of China will probably have to be ground-up.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 10:16:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I recently saw an article about cash flush middle class Chinese going on shopping binges in Tokyo. Closer economic ties might be a means of burring the past.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 10:27:53 AM EST
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Actually, shopping-binges by Chinese "nouveaux riches" in Tokyo are probably not the sort of "closer economic ties" that will improve things.  Ironically, back in 1986, I remember hearing locals grumble about cash-flush middle class Japanese going on shopping binges ... in Paris!

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 11:10:02 AM EST
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Indeed, the elites are not the people.

I wonder if the cross-Chinese-Sea popularity of manga/manhua and anime has a small but wider positive effect, though.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 01:10:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Elites do have a disproportionate ability to influence public opinion in a direction that supports their interest.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 01:15:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also in the opposite way...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 01:50:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be nice if there would be Chinese and Japanese leaders at the same time who would see the Franco-German rappochement as an example to follow. (Of course, it could not be followed 1:1, given the much stronger economic and size differences between the partners.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 01:14:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There some early stirrings for the creation of an AU.
by Richard Lyon (rllyon@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 22nd, 2010 at 01:16:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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