Opinion / Chen Weihua

Abe should watch Jolie's Unbroken

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-05 09:05

Japan's invasion and occupation of its neighboring countries caused widespread suffering and loss during the war, but Abe has questioned whether Japan's actions constituted aggression.

And the Abe government's view that the Japanese government and its army were not involved in coercion of comfort women during the war is a major reason why China and South Korea refuse to further improve ties with Japan.

Right-wing Japanese, a core political base for Abe, have also consistently denied the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese invaders slaughtered 300,000 unarmed Chinese soldiers and civilians at the end of 1937.

The protests in Japan against the movie also reflect how difficult it is for some Japanese to recognize this heinous part of their history.

Time magazine published a story in September describing how American prisoners of war held by the Japanese during WWII demanded a formal apology from Japanese companies, which used them as slave laborers in violation of the Geneva Convention.

The article stated that of the 27,000 Americans taken prisoner by the Japanese, a shocking 40 percent died in captivity, according to the US Congressional Research Service. That compares with just 1 percent of American prisoners who died in German POW camps.

While WWII film and TV dramas about the atrocities of the Japanese army are many, perhaps too many, in China, Unbroken tells a story that may not be familiar to many Japanese.

Many Chinese have questioned why the Japanese refuse to act as the Germans have done in sincerely apologizing and atoning for their wartime atrocities. Their denials of this part of the country's history have been a source of frequent confrontation for Japan with its two main neighbors, China and South Korea.

There is no doubt that while some Japanese consider Jolie a persona non grata, she will be warmly welcomed in China.

The author, based in Washington, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.


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