Monday, April 11, 2005

Comparing the Two Aggressors of WWII

There is a fascinating opinion over the "collective nonsense" of China and Korea re Japan war aggression and colonisation. (found via The Marmot). However, I beg to differ on the main premise of the argument.The Coming Anarchy appears to be asserting that because worse things have happened in this world the Chinese and Koreans should consider themselves relatively lucky. (He notes some big world tragedies although I felt that the Chinese famine triggered by the policies of Mao during during the Great Leap Forward was an obvious omission.)

Certainly worse things in this world have happened and almost every example of colonisation contains horror stories of death, murder, and tales of human rights abuses that are difficult to stomach. And Japan was as worse as anyone and it was the key aggressor in the War in the Pacific. While Hitler's Germany was systematically engaging in genocide more prisoners of war died in Japanese prison camps than any other - nobody got off relatively easy.

However rather than think that Korea and China are being unreasonable, I think that the argument given should prompt us to look more closely at how the other nations have reconciled their anger. Have they been beaten into submission (not a good thing) or have there been fruitful efforts to reconcile the past? Maybe that would be a more productive way to look at things. In other words, why aren't the countries that suffered worse than Korea and China not as angry (or more angry!) toward their nemisis as Korea and China and what lessons, if any can we get from that?

I'll reiterate that I think that part of the answer lies in finding a consensus on what to teach. As I think is universally agreed, teaching the next generation to hate Japan is as bad as Japan teaching their kids that their forefathers did no wrong. Resolving this issue should not be about arguing who is more right or more wrong or more reasonable. The fact is that Korea and China are angry and thinking that they are being unreasonable won't solve this issue. And letting them stew and continue to perpetuate such damaging opinions of each other is no answer either.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui