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Yomiuri and Asahi Editorials

Sayaka has some good commentary about some of the editorials in Yomiuri. Here are a few lines from recent editorials from Yomiuri and Asahi to give you a sense of their flavor. I have just skimmed them all so if I missed any important statements in them, feel free to email me.

I am not doing full translations of this so it is better to read the Japanese if you can, but for everyone’s benefit I quickly made some half-translations that often change the original wording and skips some material:

April 14th

日本の動きを牽制(けんせい)するための政治カードとして、歴史問題と反日デモを利用していることは明らかだ。…これは明白な国際法違反だ。「外交関係に関するウィーン条約」22条では、侵入や損壊からの大使館の保護、大使館の「安寧の妨害」や「威厳の侵害」の防止に、その国は「適切なすべての措置を執る特別の責務」を負う。

English Summary (not full translation): It is clear that the Chinese are using the history problem and protests as a “history card” to constrain Japan… [the attack on the consulate] is a violation of international law.

April 17th

中国政府は「デモは、歴史問題での日本の誤った態度に不満を持つ市民の自発的な行動だ。責任は中国側にない」との主張を繰り返している。こうした無責任な態度が、デモの暴徒化を助長している。…江沢民前政権以降、中国政府は徹底した愛国「反日」教育を行ってきた。いわば自業自得ではないか。町村外相は17日に訪中し、日中外相会談を行う。外相は、謝罪と補償を改めて迫るだけでなく、反日感情の政治利用ともとれる中国政府の姿勢を直接ただし、是正を求めるべきだ。

Summary: The Chinese claim the protests are a spontaneous reaction to Japan’s attitude to the history question and isn’t their fault. This is an irresponsible attitude and only contributing to the protests. China has supported nationalist policies in China since Jiang Zemin’s regime. Isn’t this a case of “you reap what you sow?” Not only should Japan ask for and apology and compensation but we should confront China about its political use of anti-Japanese sentiment.

April 18th

李肇星外相から、謝罪はなく、「歴史問題が中国人民の感情を傷つけている」と、事実上、デモを容認した。… 「歴史」認識の問題について、中国側は小泉首相の靖国神社参拝、歴史教科書などを問題視した。だが、いずれも、日本の内政問題である。…日本の歴史教科書は、中国のような国定教科書ではない。一党独裁の全体主義国家のように、歴史観、思想・信条の統一や、検閲はできない。…考えるべきは、歴史的事実としては疑問のある内容も多い「反日」愛国教育の問題ではないか。

Summary: The Chinese haven’t apologized but have essentially consented to the protests. They complain about Yasukuni and the textbook incident but in both cases this is a domestic issue. Japan’s textbooks are not government issued textbooks like China’s. We can’t censor them in the way a totalitarian dictatorship does. Shouldn’t we be focusing our attention on the anti-Japanese nationalist education in China with its historically dubious content?

Compare them to some selections from the Asahi (on average longer) editorials related to the protests:

April 12th

アジア、とりわけ中国との関係は、日本の外交にとって最重要の柱のひとつとなってきた。侵略戦争の過去をどう清算するかというだけではない。体制の違いを超えて隣の大国と安定した関係を築くことは、将来の日本の安全と繁栄のために欠かせないという判断があったからにほかならない。…90年代に強調された愛国教育が、若者たちの心に反日意識を植えつけた面も否めない。そうした点は、中国にも十分考えてもらわなければならない。わけても暴力の取り締まりについて、中国に強く注文をつけるのは当然である。 しかし、日本政府はそうした中国の問題点を見据えたうえで、効果的な外交をしてきただろうか。残念ながら逆だったと言わざるを得ない。その根底にあるのが小泉首相の靖国神社参拝だ。首相は「戦没者に追悼の誠をささげ、不戦を誓う」と説明する。だが、中国侵略の責めを負うA級戦犯を合祀(ごうし)した靖国神社である。参拝をやめてほしい、という中国側のたび重なる要請を聞き入れず、なお参拝に意欲を見せるという姿勢が、どれほど中国の人々の気持ちを逆なでし、「過去を反省しない日本」という印象を広げてきたか。…首相はことあるごとに「世界の中の日米同盟」を強調する。だが、アジアでの足元が定まらないままでは、結局、米国の力にすがるだけの国になってしまいかねない。

Summary: Japan’s foreign relations with China and Asia are very important. It isn’t just about dealing with the aggressive war of the past. Creating a stable relationship with our strong neighbors is important to the stability and prosperity of Japan. We can’t deny that the nationalistic education has increased the anti-Japanese sentiment amongst the young and we need to get China to realize this. Of course we need to complain to the Chinese about the violence but has the Japanese government really done effective diplomacy for dealing with this? No, on the contrary, we have things like Koizumi’s trips to Yasukuni. It is the same Yasukuni which has A-Level war criminal enshrined in it and we continually ignore the wishes of China and thus spread the idea that we are a Japan which doesn’t regret its past. The prime minister has emphasizeded a “US-Japan alliance situated in [the global environment] but as long as we don’t take care of our relations with Asia, we are ultimately forced to be a nation that clings to America.

April 13th

中国の報道 事実を伝えてほしい …われわれはデモの激しさに驚き、投石を制止しなかった当局の姿勢に怒りを感じている。日本政府の抗議に対し、非を認めようとしない中国外務省の態度には失望している。 同時に日本のメディアは、なぜこんなことが起きたのかをさまざまに分析し、歴史問題に対する真剣な対応を小泉首相に求めたりもしている。 ところが、当局によって報道が統制される中国の多くの人々には、それも知らされない。知っているのは、事件の直前まで中国のメディアが繰り返し報じた大量の日本批判だけではないか。…愛国教育などによって、多くの中国人は侵略当時の日本軍の写真や映像を繰り返し見ている。その半面、武力による紛争解決を禁じた憲法を持ち、核兵器は持たず、戦争に加わることのなかった日本の戦後史はほとんど知らされていない。靖国神社や一部の歴史教科書の問題ばかりが強調される現代日本への認識には、相当な偏りがあるのではないか。…今回の事件とともに、日本社会の多様性をありのままに知ってほしい。このメッセージが中国の多くの人々に届くよう願うばかりだ。

Summary: We want the Chinese Media to tell the truth. We are surprised at the aggresive nature of the protests and the rock throwing….the Japanese media has analyzed its causes and urged Koizumi to address the history problem. However, most of the Chinese people are simply unaware of our efforts. All they hear is the Chinese media’s repeated criticism of Japan…Because of their nationalist education most Chinese know see plenty of pictures of the Japanese military from the period of the war of aggression. And yet, they know nothing of the Japan in the postwar period which has adopted a peace constitution, abandoned violence, and which has no nuclear weapons. Isn’t it true that China’s perception of Japan is overly biased towards consideration of the Yasukuni and history textbooks issue? We want China to give its people the message that Japan is in fact a very diverse society.

April 16th

日中会談 まず投石事件に決着を…厳しいやりとりは避けられそうにないが、まず中国側が投石事件への責任を明確に認めることが会談を進める前提になる。一国の大使館が夕刻から深夜まで被害にさらされていながら、警官隊は制止しなかった。それにもかかわらず、中国外務省が「責任は中国側にない」としていることに日本国民は憤っている。…日中間において歴史問題が重要であることは私たちも訴えてきた。だが、たとえ反日デモの背景に歴史問題があったとしても、大使館が被害にあうのを黙認した責任は免れない。

Summary: We must engage in negotiations on the premise that China takes responsibility for the rock throwing incident….The police did not stop them. Not only that but the Chinese government claims they have no responsibility to take in this issue and have further angered the Japanese people. We have also admitted that the history problem is important for the Japanese to consider but even if that is the cause of the protests, they must accept responsibility for the damage to the consulate.

April 18th (This link will not be right after tomorrow)

 日中会談 「愛国無罪」の危うさ…中国側は、反日デモが度重なる破壊行為に及び、日本人のけが人さえ出ていることを軽く考えすぎていないか。…一連のデモで、参加者たちは「愛国無罪」と叫んでいる。愛国主義の行動に罪はない、という意味だ。そう叫べば、政府が手を緩めることをデモ参加者たちは知っている。共産党や政府自身が「愛国」を宣伝してきたからだ。

Summary: The danger of “Patriotism is Innocent”…Hasn’t the Chinese side taken the damage and injury to the Japanese too lightly? The protesters all yell that “Patriotism is innocent” Actions taken in the name of the nation are not crimes. The protesters know that if the cry this out the government will loosen its grip. This is because the Communist party and the government have themselves made the cry for “Patriotism”

It is obvious to see Asahi’s efforts to maintain a balance and some sympathy with China’s calls for Japan to confront its history better. But I also detect and increasing frustration in their editorials and articles as they turn their focus increasingly to the China side.

{ 16 } Comments

  1. jyc | 2005.4.19 at 6:43 | Permalink

    I think it’s ironic that Yomiuri uses the word “shazai” for “apology.”

  2. Matt | 2005.4.20 at 20:47 | Permalink

    Uh… why?

  3. Muninn | 2005.4.20 at 22:36 | Permalink

    Ya, I wondered that too, it isn’t as if Yomiuri is apologizing, right jyc?

  4. jyc | 2005.4.21 at 1:51 | Permalink

    “Shazai” is a completely unambiguous way of apologizing and taking responsibility, and is notably missing in the various statements that the prime ministers have made. If the Chinese want to save face, they could follow the Japanese example and say something like “we will reflect on the regrettable events that have occurred between our countries” though this would likely enrage the Yomiuri people even more.

    Since my Mandarin is still pretty basic, I’m not sure if this word is still used in modern Chinese (it’s still used in Korea), but I typed “Xiezui” in my computer and the same characters popped up.

  5. Zenith | 2005.4.23 at 12:26 | Permalink

    to JYC,

    shazai (xiezui) is not widely used in modern chinese, but it is commonly known. The worst is that chinese also knows concisely the difference between ‘shazai’ and ‘owabi’ simply because there are also various chinese words for magnitudes of ‘apology’.

    see:
    http://news.searchina.ne.jp/2005/0423/national_0423_002.shtml

  6. Muninn | 2005.4.23 at 13:01 | Permalink

    The word shazai is neither necessary nor even desirable for a genuinely sincere political apology. This is an unfortunate fact unknown to many of those who continually insist that the Japanese government hasn’t apologized.

  7. Muninn | 2005.4.23 at 13:03 | Permalink

    Part of the problem comes from the flawed assumption that words translate transparently from Chinese to Japanese and in reverse. This simply isn’t the case.

  8. jyc | 2005.4.24 at 9:18 | Permalink

    Yes, but it was quite obvious that the word shazai was carefully skirted, and people really noticed at the time. It’s clearly what Yomiuri wants, I doubt they would be satisfied with “reflection on regrettable incidents.”

    Shazai is quite widely used and well understood in Korea, and i think, like the Yomiuiri, that is what they would have preferred. I don’t see why such a conscious attempt was made to avoid it.

  9. Zenith | 2005.4.24 at 10:55 | Permalink

    Quite untrue. I think shazai is more formal compared to owabi, and more often found in formal apology document, possibly because it’s a hanji and frankly, it’s still taken as a formal way of expression. ‘Owabi’ may be only good for Microsoft’s delay in the launch of new version window platform, but ‘shazai’ will never be used in that way.

    The oddest in the apology issue is that, if shazai and owabi can be interchangable, the best strategic apology to China or British POWs is to say “Shazai”. It does not only undermine the excuse on chinese side, it can also help eliminate suspicions from the victims. After all, China hasn’t requested Seppuku of anybody. ‘Shazai’ pays off.

    When blaming the mistrust of China, there’s more issue in Japan to deal with. Japanese, unlike autocratic China, is the diversed society with different voices, but note that Germany, in which no diversed voice legally allowed on apology issue, wins the applause from the world and receives no controversy in joining UN Security council.

    Ironically, on the recent clash in Sino-Japan relation, amid the climate of China-threatening conspiracy theory, democratic Japan should win the sympathy from the world, but it’s rarely seen this time.

    Australia, rival to China, muted over the issue; Singapore, who muted over most regional political clashes, voiced the complaint on Japan’s approval of textbooks this time; UK media, like BBC, and The telegraph, would rather express no support to either sides. BBC even expressed doubts over the renaissance of militarism. I just screened several US media, some local papers say “China is promoting anti-Japanese sentiment, but………”
    Interestingly, La figaro, leftist french paper, wants China to forgive, but their government and EU itself have expressed strong support to China side. It’s unusual, especially after the bubble burst in 1990s that faded Japan-Threatening conspiracy.

    Now, what we are facing is the fact that —- we lose! “Japan’s hope in joining security council fades”, as said by US government-funded Voice of American’s headline. That’s the cost of Prime Minister’s failure to lead Japan to new post-war age, but he’s only eager to fulfill the self-satisfaction of Japanese ego.

    The choice is simple: to be a world society or not to be?

  10. Muninn | 2005.4.24 at 12:30 | Permalink

    Zenith, there is nothing light about “owabi” in an apology, it is a good and appropriate term. “Shazai” is not common in Japanese apologies. In fact, in most cases, it sounds downright weird. If the Japanese government used the word, which would sound kind of bizarre anyways, it wouldn’t “pay off” anyways.

    Part of the ridiculous nature of this apology issue:
    1) It assumes that some organic community called “Japan” or the “Japanese” are somehow still collectively “guilty” of the atrocities of some of its soldiers two generations ago. – when you overcome a nationalist perspective and deconstruct such organic communities this becomes somewhat ridiculous. Also, the guilt for such crimes can’t pass across generations, although a good argument (similar to that of Takahashi Tetsuya if I remember correctly) can be made to say that we all have a responsibility to “not forget” atrocities of the past (the dayuejin/great leap forward with its millions of dead or the many thousands killed by the guomindang in ’27 ranking right up there with the other atrocities of the 20th century such as the rampant killing and rape of non-combatants by Japanese soldiers in China) This bizarre idea that guilt crosses generations is partly why anti-semitism has often been justified, presumably because of their “crimes” during biblical days against the Christian messiah. Once you overcome this tired old category of the nation, there is no more (but also no less!) reason to dwell on the horrible crimes of Japanese soldiers, than of China’s government against its own people or of any other kind throughout history…

    2) This “apology” issue depends on an “official” statement of the government, of which there have been many differing (obviously) in tone depending on the political configuration at the time (which destroys the idea that some “static” “Japan” can make statements representing “itself” for all time), and yet every unofficial action (Diet members visiting Yasukuni, various politicians making revisionist claims, or textbooks making claims) is seen as “canceling out” an apology given. This silliness again shows that there is an essentializing nationalist assumption behind this issue. “Japan” is somehow expected to act as one “it” should “never” do “anything” again to “hurt the feelings of” the organic community “China” – a post-nationalist perspective finds this almost comical.

    Let the apology issue die a quiet death, it won’t solve anything and the demands for an apology have clearly been met. Let us shift our concern towards the real problems we must face on the Japan side: 1) increasing nationalism in historical narratives and the failure of the left to respond effectively 2) increasing hostility towards the rest of East Asia, often as a reaction its own hostility.

    On the China side, of course, little can be done until young Chinese students are allowed to learn about their own past both factually and with a greater diversity of narratives. Currently the majority of them have grown up on notions such as that the great leap forward was really “three years of natural disasters” etc. The list is endless. Not just factual problems, but different narratives need to be available. Much of this will resolve itself when China opens up to free speech, if and when that happens.

  11. Zenith | 2005.4.24 at 14:15 | Permalink

    Your suggestions would solve the problem, only in the eye of Japan. Comparing post-war Japan and Germany, Germany not only enjoyed a comparable economic achievement, they also earned huge reputation that Japan lacked. The difference between the two countries is obvious: In 1940s, Germany faced a powerful neighbours while Japan didn’t. Japan can ignore the angers in Korean, China or some other Asian countries because no one else could match glorious japanese achievement.

    The world, unforunate to Japan, is changing. China, for the first time in the past 200 hundreds, really struggles to be a powerful country; Korean enjoyed unprecedented economic and cultural achievement after asian crisis.

    Only Germany approach can work if Japan wants to live and spread real influence (not $) in the region. Now, Japan is still seen as the polticial puppet of American and has never enjoyed real ‘independence’ after American occupation in 1952. We can’t only dispatch the peace force to Iraq, with the support of America. We can declare ‘Taiwan strait’ as a strategic region only in a Japan-American joint statement.

    The underlying reason is that: we, except money, anime and sony, are not popular in Asia. While I can easily name sincere allies on Chinese sides, I can’t name any on Japanese sides. The foreign affair strategy must be changed.

  12. jyc | 2005.4.24 at 16:39 | Permalink

    Yamamura’s statement, irrespective of the precise wording, really was appreciated, and really the apology issue was on the way to dying out until “increasing nationalism in historical narratives” with Koizumi. Increasing hostility towards East Asia I think is more a function of feelings of vulnerability due to a declining economy, an aging population, and the strong performance of the Chinese economy, rather than hostility and provocations on the formerly colonized/occupied side.

    Anyway, Yomiuri demanded “shazai,” and not “owabi” in spite of it’s possibly sounding weird. Why? It’s not like the Chinese government ran over their dog, put their kids in a wheelchair, or especially, killed anybody, among the few situations where such strong language would be warranted. Why demand something you would in fact never consent to yourself?

  13. Muninn | 2005.4.24 at 17:03 | Permalink

    Ok, for the last time, I think you guys have a linguistic problem here. :-) When you speak in Japanese and you say “The government should apologize” or “there is a demand for an apology” or “apology diplomacy” then the word used for apology is “shazai” because you are talking about the thing – an apology.

    You can’t (or it would sound really strange) to say the “there is a demand for a government owabi” when talking about “an apology”

    When you ACTUALLY do the apology, say the apology, give the apology – you don’t usually every use the word “shazai” and other terms, like “owabi” are much more appropriate. You don’t usually ever say, “I give my shazai to you” which is possible, but kinda weird. You can say, “I offer my owabi” or “I have no wake to môshi to you”

    When Yomiuri demands an apology, the word used is “shazai” – but it is silly to think that Yomiuri wants the Chinese government to actually use the word “shazai” in the statement. That would be weird in Chinese too! Ok? Do we all understand now? Shazai has a particular kind of usage and it isn’t usually found (that I know of, I’m happy to be corrected) in any actual apologies. Search for yourself in the thousands of cases of company presidents apologizing for scandals and offering their deepest shazai and you won’t find them actually saying “shazai” in the apology itself… You will find descriptions saying, “There was a demand for a shazai” but when he actually speaks, it is not the word “shazai” he uses, ok?! Apology in English is actually multiple words in Japanese, and in Chinese! For example, just as apologize might be translated into Chinese as 道歉, in Chinese it is usually used as a verb, but not as often as a noun (if ever) – it is different from English where we use it often for both…ok? There are differences between usages in languages….

  14. jyc | 2005.4.24 at 19:02 | Permalink

    Ok, point taken, but there are maybe a dozen or more other words for apology. Do you really believe that a conservative paper like the Yomiuri didn’t intentionally select this particular word for its connotations of guilt/sin?

  15. Muninn | 2005.4.24 at 21:30 | Permalink

    no…look, I hate Yomiuri’s conservative line as much as the next anti-revisionist, but they used the word exactly as it should be used…

    謝罪 is the most common word you use to say that “Person X did not give an apology” in Japanese but not the word to say “I apologize”

    In other words, there is nothing strange in the Yomiuri article…except I am emphasizing that they are much different in emphasis than Asashi. Yomiuri is playing to the nationalist opinion by emphasizing China’s responsibility and the recent damage to the embassy, and Asahi is trying to take a more balanced approach by suggesting that the Japanese government is also at fault.

  16. Lihua | 2005.5.3 at 12:45 | Permalink

    Although I haven’t seen “shazai” in character(I think it is “xiezui”), I actually don’t think it is a rare word for appology. Or are you going back to the English wording game “regret” vs “appology” again?

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  1. Simon World | 2005.4.17 at 23:29 | Permalink

    Japan/China tensions (Updated April 18th)

    Note: I am adding to previous coverage, starting from the Update below. The previous coverage is below the fold, in chronological order. The Huanxi riots are covered in another post. Update April 17th/18th * China clamped down hard on activists in Beij…