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Don't rewrite history if you want healthy relationship
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-11 08:31

Recent remarks by the Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura over China's education on Japan-related history have exposed nothing but his lack of respect for history.

During a session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee last Thursday, Machimura requested China "improve" its education on history.

"I have the very worrying feeling that differences in national sentiment (between the two countries) may gradually be worsening," he said.

He also said China should remove "exhibits that do not represent facts" from the Beijing-based Memorial Hall of The War of Resistance Against Japan.

What part of history Machimura was talking about is clear. It is the part which had something to do with his country's actions in the 1930s and 40s.

Machimura's suggestion is an arrogant erasure of a dark history, especially the part which means a lot to survivors.

There is no doubt that as the Japanese foreign minister, Machimura's remarks were the manifestation of the inner voice of the Japanese Government.

Lifting Sino-Japanese relations out of the current chill needs the wisdom and insight of politicians and people in both countries. Deliberately ignoring the dark side of history cannot work.

It is a worrying fact that the feelings of the people in the two countries towards each other is worsening. Machimura has noticed it, too.

This phenomenon is not the consequence of China's "anti-Japanese" education among its people, as Machimura said, but has been brought about by ceaseless provocative words and acts from senior Japanese officials on historical issues in recent years.

Although the Chinese suffered untold pain under Japanese aggression in the 1930s and 40s, our country's leaders tell us every so often that the two nations should be friendly to each other.

We still clearly remember our late Premier Zhou Enlai's and late Chairman Mao Zedong's words when they decided to renounce the demand of war compensation from the Japanese Government.

They told us that it was a handful of Japanese militarists who caused huge damage to the Chinese people, and most ordinary Japanese people were also victims of the war they waged.

"We decided to give up compensation claims because we do not want an enormous sum of compensation to become a heavy burden on the Japanese people," they said.

Now, when the Japanese rightists conduct a series of provocative activities, our government tells the nation to remain calm and bear in mind developing a friendly relationship with our neighbour.

These words from the Chinese Government are not "education" and do not seem to catch the ear of Japanese politicians.

Japanese compilers of history textbooks have been busy removing the parts on barbarous acts the Japanese soldiers did to the Chinese and other Asian peoples during World War II.

Moreover, in his term of office, the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has paid four visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism where several of its war criminals are honoured among the dead. Some Japanese politicians stand up to deny the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, an infamous event during the Japanese invasion of China.

All these instances have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and damaged Japan's ties with China.

It is true that China and Japan should reverse any adverse trends in bilateral ties without delay. But it is the Japanese side, not the Chinese side, that should treat the historical issue properly if Japan does not want it to drag the relationship down even further.

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