Joi Ito: Chinese Anti-Japan Protests
As a Japanese who has a great deal of sympathy and empathy for China, what I find difficult is trying to understand the various threads and how Japanese people can try to make a difference. In particular, the hateful and extreme actions of some of the Chinese make it difficult, if not scary to even try to open a dialog. At the same time, the extremes in China are fueling the nationalists in Japan and not helping the cause for the more moderate voices. I believe hate will never help communications.
One of the biggest problems is that most Japanese don’t understand the issues. Another point is that most Japanese are not great supporters of the military. When I think about the military in Japan, I don’t think dirty nationalist thoughts. Rather, I think about May 15, 1932 when Prime Minister Inukai was assassinated by the military which ended party-based politics in Japan until after WWII. I think about the Japanese military taking over the government and sending Japan into one of the worst periods in its history. I think about the small children being sent off to war as Kamikaze or human torpedos and I think about the letters homes from them that are enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine. There are letters from terrified little boys writing about how scared they are about going to war. Most Japanese do not trust the military and most Japanese believe that the military run government of the 30’s was an illegitimate government as a result of a coup. Many Japanese believe that the Japanese people were victims of the military.