Murakami’s Diaoyu Message Lost in Translation

Acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami voiced concern in the Asahi Shimbun last week at the storms of nationalist fervour surrounding the dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. “We must be careful,” he wrote, “about politicians and polemicists who lavish us with this cheap liquor and fan this kind of rampage.” His is not the only Japanese voice calling for calm: a statement issued last week, co-signed by 1,270 Japanese intellectuals, urged “an end to the vicious cycle of territorial dispute!” But while Murakami expressed shock at the withdrawal of his books from Chinese shelves, his Chinese translator feels differently, according to Global Voices’ Oiwan Lam:

Despite Murakami’s sincere gesture, the mainland Chinese side seems to be suffering from the hang-over of “cheap liquor”. Murakami’s novel translator in China Lin Shaohua believed national interest and pride was most important. He wrote on October 1, the Chinese national day, in his micro-blog:

Some netizens asked my attitude on Diaoyu Island. The withdrawal of Japanese books fro bookstores would affect my personal interest. But national interest and respect is more important. Anyone with national identity should put their national interest as top priority. The same principle is applied to most rational and friendly Japanese. National attachment comes first, everything else is secondary.

[…] Many literature lovers are disappointed about Lin’s comment. Microblogger, Pretend in New York said:

Murakami’s novel translator Lin Shaohua advocated for the ban of Japanese books and [echoed with Global Times’ commentary] that Japan is an “Asian mob”. I feel so disappointed as if I ran into my first love but saw her turning into a hooker. The image of my old idols are collapsing.


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