World / Lessons from history

China and Japan: Between love and hate

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-09-02 18:49

BEIJING -- After hearing that Iwao Tsuyoshi, his Japanese friend, would be visiting China, Yang Haihui, 35, booked some time off work.

"I will take him to the Forbidden City," Yang, who works for Japanese semiconductor manufacturer Renesas Electronics, said.

Back in 2002, Yang was sent to Japan for training, and Iwao was his supervisor. "He took me out in his spare time and showed me around," Yang recalled. Before he left, Iwao gave his Chinese colleague gifts.

Yang grew up listening to his grandfather's stories about his time as a soldier during China's War against Japanese Aggression. This colored his opinion of the country.

"Had I been told that Renesas was a Japanese company, I might not have accepted the job," he admitted. Gradually, however, he discovered that the Japanese people were not as he had imagined. "I have visited Japan more than ten times," he said. "I found the people to be mostly polite, friendly and diligent."


China and Japan, although sharing many similarities, have a fractious relationship. Confucianism and Buddhism travelled to Japan from China, and even the characters used in Japanese are derived from the Chinese script.

Although these shared cultural characteristics have led to many Chinese having an affinity toward their eastern neighbor, the eight-year Sino-Japanese war has left a scar in the hearts of Chinese.

Ma Jiangang's uncle died fighting the Japanese Imperialist Army in the 1940s. Ma, 58, however, does not hate Japan because of this.

On the contrary, he has great memories of watching the Japanese movies and TV dramas of the 1980s, the honeymoon period between China and Japan following the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1972.

He also liked Japanese electronic appliances. "Everyone wanted a Japanese color television," he recalled. His first TV was Hitachi.

In the 1990s, however, Ma's feelings changed due to the rise of the Diaoyu Islands dispute. His daughter Huixin went through a similar change.

"I hate their leaders' visiting the Yasukuni Shrine [where war criminals are worshipped] and the denial of the Nanjing Massacre," said the 34-year-old civil servant.

A joint poll by "China Daily" and the Japanese non-profit think tank Genron NPO last year showed that 86.8 percent of the Chinese viewed Japan unfavorably, while 93 percent of Japanese had a negative impression of China, the worst since 2005.

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