The Chinese government seems to have learnt too well that when all else fails, it can always lean on ultranationalism to divert the attention of the Chinese populace from more pressing concerns at home.
BEIJING, March 31 - A grass-roots Chinese campaign to keep Japan out of the United Nations Security Council has gathered some 22 million signatures, increasing the chances that China will block Japan's bid to join the elite group, organizers and analysts said Thursday.
The petition effort, conducted through popular Chinese Web sites, enjoys tacit support from the government, which has allowed state-controlled media to cover the campaign prominently.
As usual when it comes to relations between the two countries (or between Korea and Japan, for that matter), the Japanese show a level of decorum and restraint which only makes Chinese rabble-rousing seem all the more distasteful.
In Tokyo, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "The Chinese government has said the U.N. needs reform, so we believe that the Chinese and Japanese governments both have the same type of feeling and thinking on this issue."
"The petition itself is being conducted by private citizens and, according to press reports, the same petitioners' names keep appearing," the spokesman, Hatsuhisa Takashima, said. "So we just don't know how valid this petition effort is."
And now for the "Soot covered pot calling the slightly used kettle black" section of the article:
Chinese officials have not explicitly endorsed the petition, but they have offered supportive comments.
Liu Jianchao, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said this week that the effort reflected growing alarm about Japan's treatment of history.
"Japan has to take a responsible attitude toward history to build trust among the people of Asia, including China," he said.
How utterly laughable from a government which wouldn't even allow the death of one of its former top officials to be covered by the media, for fear of stirring up pro-democracy sentiments. China is in absolutely no position to be lecturing the Japanese on taking "a responsible attitude toward history", not in terms of honoring disreputable figures - Mao was worse than Tojo by far, yet is still revered as a "great leader" who made a few "mistakes" - nor in terms of teaching the true facts of history: just try looking for an honest account of the many failings of the Communist Party in Chinese textbooks, whether it be The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the annexation of Tibet or the crushing of the Tiananmen student revolt we're talking about.
I say it's well past time the Chinese and the Koreans got over their ritualistic Japan-bashing; yes, Japan did terrible things to both countries during its imperialist period, but Japan was not the only or even the most recent imperialist power to do such things, and most other victims have managed to get over their sufferings in the meantime. It isn't even true that Japan has failed to apologize for its past crimes either, so that bullshit excuse for whipping out the "Evil Japan" card won't wash. It seems to me at least that the only reason people in Korea and China are so free to indulge in Japan-bashing is that they're well aware that post-war Japan has indeed changed very much for the better, and most Japanese are so pacifistic that their government routinely plays down or ignores barbs from abroad a more assertive country's leaders would rebut forcefully. If Japan were as much of a bully as its economic might gives it the potential to be, the Chinese and Korean super-patriots would be a lot less vocal than they currrently are.
PS: An interesting article on OhMyNews which, despite its failings when it comes to analyzing Japan's political leadership (which is hardly "belligerent"), supports my assertion that most Japanese people are basically pacifistic and don't give a damn about the trivial issues which animate Chinese and Korean nationalist passions. It's funny that people take it as a sign of latent Japanese extremism whenever a few fringe uyoku nutcases drive their sound trucks around Tokyo, but when Korean lawmakers walk on Japanese flags and elderly Korean ladies chop their fingers off in protests over uninhabited islands, or when Chinese football fans attempt to lynch Japanese players, it's all written off as some innocuous bit of anger. In truth, if there is one country that I'm certain will not start a conflagaration in East Asia, that country is Japan.