China vs. Japan: Will It Ever End?- Natasha Pickowicz

This article was written for China Digital Times: With the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII in Asia at hand, Japanese-Chinese relations are once again painfully tangled. Despite the massive strides made by both China and Japan in the last few decades, the dynamics of globalization have caused them to struggle again for the upper hand in Asia. The 60th anniversary has witnessed new tensions between two countries that are determined to construct their own versions of the past at a time of profound uncertainty about the future. China and Japan remain deeply divided over their shared wartime history. In recent months their nationalistic passions and memory wars have led to riots, demonstrations and expressions of deep hatred. Some of the action has spilled over into California. Upset by recent whitewashing in school textbooks in Japan, Chinese-Americans proposed Bill 684 in California state legislature, a bill that seeks to address omissions and distortions about World War II in Asia contained in California public school textbooks. As activists and lobbyists on both sides of the bill rally support for their cause, China-Japan tensions are being played out in the California legislative process.

With China seeking to become a major player in the global network, many Chinese insist on pressuring Japan to acknowledge its history of aggression in China. Some have accused China of using the past as leverage. For instance, China is constantly raising the issue of Japanese “whitewashing” of history textbooks. School texts may seem like a trivial issue, but it draws attention to larger disputes between China and Japan concerning oil rights, territorial claims, and the future of Taiwan and North Korea. As Professor Frederic Wakeman, a leading China scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a recent interview, China is using the issue to keep ...
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