Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, April 14, 2005

This past weekend, there were a number of demonstrations in cities across China. The government insists that these demonstrations were completely spontaneous, and there is some merit to that argument, since the demonsrations immediately followed the release of new textbooks by the Japanese Mombusho (Ministry of Education). However, those demonstrations also serve a purpose for China, because China has been able to use the demonstrations to reiterate its call for Japan to own up to its history.

This morning I had breakfast with one of the Japanese teachers. (Students from the Japanese Software major need to take intensive Japanese language training in preparation for doing their internships in Japan.) I asked her how it was for her--how people here in China respond when she tells them she is from Japan. She said, "I tell them I am American."

I think she could just about pull it off; her English is pretty good. But the fact that she is that strongly motivated to employ such a ruse is telling. I asked her what her plans were. She said that she had stopped in Seoul, Korea on her way here, and was impressed with it. She is inclined to go to Korea. I think she is going to run into a good deal of the same type of animosity.

Japan needs to apologize. Germany set the example, and Germany has been spared the type of anger that is so often directed at Japan. But I also believe that China needs to learn some things about basic diplomacy. Over and over again, they manage to focus the world's attention on their beligerant response rather than the issue they are trying to address.

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