More Empty Propaganda From China
Kuni Miyake's Tenor of Tokyo #79
February 27, 2015
Another propaganda campaign targeting Tokyo appears to have started. An open debate was held at the United Nations Security Council on February 23,officially to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. But why was it not held in March at the General Assembly? Simply because China holds the rotational UNSC presidency in the month of February.
According to a Kyodo news report from New York City, the Foreign Minister of China warned against attempts to "whitewash past crimes of aggression" in the open debate he presided over. While the silent majority of Japanese are puzzled, some in Tokyo believe that Beijing has resumed its infamous anti-Japanese propaganda in the name of war on fascism at the United Nations.
The top Chinese diplomat reportedly told the meeting that, "Although the historical facts have long been made clear on the war against fascism, there are still some who are reluctant to recognize the truth and even attempt to overturn the verdict and whitewash past crimes of aggression." Great! I have no objection to such a generic statement as long as he does not have Japan in mind.
The silent majority of Japanese, however, may wonder: who are the "some" that the Chinese Foreign Minister referred to? Beijing said that he was not referring to Japan. That's fine! It would be very undiplomatic for a top ranking diplomat to single out a specific nation in that way! The problem however, is not the correctness, but rather the intellectual fairness of such behaviour.
In the world of modern societies, if one requests others to do or not to do a specific action, one should be able to reciprocate with the same. This is the global standard of intellectual fairness. If China asks others not to whitewash the history of 80 years ago, Beijing should be able to also face the modern history of China in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and, of course, in 1989.
How many tens of millions of Chinese starved to death during the era of the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s? How many remaining capitalists and ideological revisionists were purged and killed during the decade of the Cultural Revolution? How many students were killed in the heart of China's capital in 1989? So far, there are no history museums in China that face such history.
What the silent majority of Japanese wish from China is this kind of intellectual honesty. We are not concerned about Japan's whitewashing history because we have enough democratic means to check and balance the various conflicting views on history. What concerns us most is the lack of fairness on the part of China in recognizing the peace-loving record of post-World War II Japan.
As Japan's permanent representative at the United Nations stated, Tokyo "has, based on feelings of deep remorse regarding the Second World War ... walked the path of peace-loving nation that contributes to the peace and security of the world." This is the attitude which the overwhelming majority of Japanese have supported and tried to embody for the past 70 years.
Having said that, however, the silent majority of Japanese must also understand that such intellectual honesty must be reciprocated by Japan. If you wish to evaluate and make a judgment on history with values from the past, don't be a diplomat—go back to collage to take a history class.
We are competing on the level playing field of international politics. This is where universal values prevail, not the value systems of the past. Universal values include freedom, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and humanitarianism. We should be able to defend ourselves with those universal values rather than by explaining the past with the values of the past.
The Japanese ambassador to the U.N. embodied this kind of intellectual fairness when he stated the following at the above-mentioned open debate at the United Nations Security Council on February 23:
" ... [T]he world is facing unprecedented crises posed by the expansion of extremism and terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global warming and infectious disease. This reminds us there is an even greater need to be united in order to tackle threats common to us all ... I therefore welcome the holding of today's open debate."
The author spent over 25 years working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as Minister at the Embassy of Japan in China and Iraq. When he retired in 2005, he was Deputy Director-General of the Middle East Bureau. Since then, he has taken on the roles of president of the Foreign Policy Institute, Visiting Professor at Ritsumeikan University and Research Director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies.