TOKYO (AP) – Pal or foe? Or each? On the roads of Tokyo and Beijing, the connections between Japan and China 50 years after the normalization of relations between the 2 Asian international locations, they continue to be difficult and infrequently contradictory as a part of the method that introduced communist China into the worldwide group.
Official Chinese language media and textbooks commemorate the victims of Japan’s brutal invasion throughout World Struggle II, whereas younger urbanites slurp “ramen” vermicelli in a two-story row of eating places designed to resemble Tokyo’s slim streets.
In actual Tokyo, Japanese flocked to a competition final weekend to pattern Chinese language dumplings, regardless of considerations about their a lot bigger neighbor’s rising navy prowess and designs on the self-governing island of Taiwan – which occurs to be a former Japanese colony.
“Politics is politics, it has nothing to do with exchanges between us individuals,” Zheng Bin stated whereas baking a Chinese language leek cake on the competition in Yoyogi Park. Having lived in Japan half his life, he got here right here as a pupil 30 years in the past and now runs six Chinese language eating places within the Tokyo space.
However politics is influencing individuals, and significant views are rising as the 2 international locations on Thursday mark the 50th anniversary of the settlement to ascertain diplomatic relations, which adopted US President Richard Nixon’s landmark go to to China in early 1972.
A survey by Japanese suppose tank Genron NPO final yr discovered that 90% of Japanese individuals have a detrimental view of China and 66% of Chinese language really feel the identical manner about Japan, up from 53% a yr in the past.
“It is regular for the 50th anniversary to have issues,” stated Li Tingjiang, director of a middle for Japanese research at Tsinghua College in Beijing. He cited geopolitics and the social and financial variations between the 2 international locations. “However we should not deny the long-term optimistic influence of mutual understanding and cultural trade over the previous 50 years.”
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Japanese faculty pupil Momoe Unou went to the Tokyo competition to discover the meals – she needs to promote Chinese language dumplings and buns at an upcoming occasion with trade college students from China.
Till a highschool journey to China, her view of the nation was based mostly solely on textbooks and TV information — and it wasn’t a optimistic one. As soon as there, she was impressed by the communication abilities of her Chinese language colleagues, which prompted her to review Asian Research.
“I might have thought China a scary nation if TV information was my solely supply of details about it,” she stated.
The Japan-China Change Competition returned final weekend after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers hope that it’ll assist revitalize cultural exchanges regardless of strained political relations as Japan will get sucked in a rising rivalry between the US and China.
Competition adviser Yasuo Fukuda, a former prime minister who’s actively selling higher relations with China, stated the pandemic has restricted communications between the 2 nations.
“Lack of dialogue will increase the chance of misunderstandings … and issues that do not occur below regular circumstances may occur,” he stated in an interview with AP.
“I hope this competition offers you a chance to replicate on that day 50 years in the past and discover our path for the longer term,” he stated on the opening of the two-day occasion.
Competition-goer Masaki Makita, who has studied and labored in Shanghai for nearly a decade, has issues with China’s coverage in direction of Taiwan and its crackdown on Hong Kong dissenters. He thinks media protection has influenced individuals’s views in each international locations, most likely extra so due to isolation from the pandemic.
“I believe information about China that we see in Japanese media could be a bit biased, whereas I additionally do not suppose China is true,” he stated. “However I’ve numerous Chinese language buddies and it has nothing to do with politics.”
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A greasy, garlic-like scent greets guests to Yume Wo Katare restaurant within the Chinese language capital. They usually additionally come and typically queue for the 90 or so bowls of Jiro-style ramen served each day within the retailer’s Japanese restaurant row.
Proprietor Shi Xin, who has lived in Japan, expressed his sense of accomplishment in bringing again the hearty soup with thick noodles and profitable followers amongst each Chinese language and Japanese dwelling in Beijing.
“Although it is nothing large, by small issues like meals, I hope to advertise China-Japan friendship and contribute to cultural trade,” he stated earlier than speeding to dinner at his 6-year-old restaurant.
Beijing residents expressed their friendliness in direction of Japan and fondness for Japanese tradition, though some added that the wartime previous can’t be forgotten, particularly forward of Saturday’s Chinese language Nationwide Day.
“When it is a time just like the Nationwide Day, I believe there are expectations that our era and the youthful generations can nonetheless keep in mind the historical past of the struggle in opposition to Japanese aggression,” stated Su Mengtong, 35, who was ready that buddies acquired COVID-19. 19 checks at a sales space close to the Museum of the Chinese language Individuals’s Struggle of Resistance Towards Japanese Aggression.
“In spite of everything, the invasion is a superb trauma for our nation,” he stated.
The previous few a long time have spawned Japanese meals and popular culture, together with films, TV exhibits and “manga” comics, stated Li, who’s at present a visiting scholar in Tokyo.
Ramen, a Japanese export fashionable in lots of international locations immediately, truly has Chinese language roots relationship again to the 19th century when noodle soup was delivered to Japan, based on the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in Japan.
However Japan’s comfortable energy is not proof against its wartime historical past. Chinese language police arrested a girl posing for images in a kimono at a Japanese-style industrial park within the metropolis of Suzhou in August, simply earlier than the anniversary of Japan’s give up on the finish of World Struggle II.
The incident sparked heated dialogue on-line, with some saying that love of Japanese tradition doesn’t make an individual unpatriotic and others accusing the girl of injuring Chinese language individuals’s emotions simply earlier than a conflict anniversary.
Social media has been the principle platform for dissatisfaction with Japan. Tens of 1000’s of individuals left detrimental feedback about former Japanese chief Shinzo Abe after his assassination in July for his ties to nationalists who deny or downplay atrocities dedicated by the Japanese navy in China.
Liu Wei, who’s in his 50s, stated China should stand agency on territorial points — Japan and China have competing claims to islands within the East China Sea — however usually prefers to look ahead somewhat than backward.
“That point has already handed,” stated Liu, who was strolling close to the Struggle Museum. “In case you persist with that, it would not have an excessive amount of optimistic influence going ahead.”
Related Press video producer Caroline Chen and author Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report.