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China-Japan textbook dispute in 2005

This conflict between China and Japan arose from when a new edition of textbooks for Japanese schools nationwide was approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education. China and Korea accused the Japanese publisher of the textbook guilty of whitewashing Japans role in WWII as an aggressor nation. The textbook issue affects the relations among Japan and its neighboring countries, including China. Japans Education Ministry approved the textbook, written by nationalist scholars for junior high schools, in 2001 despite strong protests from China and South Korea. The idea being that young Japanese have no knowledge of their countrys true historical involvement in those WWII events. These textbooks, cleansed of ugly historical events, will shape the way young Japanese view the world and their country. The fear in China and Korea is that the cleansed textbooks may create a jingoistic generation of Japanese who might once again try to establish militaristic Japan in hegemonic role in Asia. The most heated response from the Japan side is that the textbook writers dont want young Japanese growing up to feel depressed or ashamed of their country. Japan and China are enormous trading partners. Japans largest export market is China. One in five investment dollars flowing into China is Japanese. This is a relationship of interdependence. Pretty much all of Japans growth, to the extent that it has had any over the last couple of years, is accounted for by the increase in exports to China. Not only do The Japaneses immediate economic interests argue for a stable political relationship, but they also understand that, in order to accomplish other regional goals, such as East Asian economic integration, and other, larger free-trade agreements, its necessary for the two big players to be on speaking terms.

Parties Involved

Stake/Issue Field

Hundreds of thousands of people have been arguing in recent days against Japan's bid on the Internet prior to the incident, demanding Japan heed its past atrocities first. A group of Chinese and South Koreans sued a Japanese regional government Wednesday over a textbook that critics say whitewashes Japans militaristic past at a time of frayed ties between Japan and its two neighbors. The lawsuit, filed at a district court in Ehime prefecture in western Japan, seeks Attitudes and damages over decisions in 2001 and 2002 by Ehimes board of Actions education to adopt the textbook for use at several junior high schools. The plantiffs are also seeking published apologies in Chinese and South Korean newspapers, saying the boards decision to adopt the textbook had caused them mental anguish. Critics have attacked the history text for downplaying the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China, the sexual slavery of women by the Japanese military, and for depicting World War Two as a war aimed at liberating other Asian countries.

Conflict Resolution (or lack of)

Hu and Koizumi had exchanged views on their relations during the closed door talks, which lasted 55 minutes. However, there is seemingly a lack of resolution as the commotion died down after the meeting. Although approved by the Education Ministry, less than one percent of state school districts in Japan decided to use the textbook, which Japan said did not represent the governments official view of history.

In China, obviously, there are now many more outlets for news, so when nationalists, even at the grassroots levelobserve some kind of behavior on Japans part that they disagree with, they can publicize it much more easily and put a lot of pressure on Beijing to at least make statements, if not do more. That has been on display over the last several years. In Japans case, even though its been a functioning democracy for many decades, structural political reform and also changes in the political culture have made it a much less bureaucratically dominated society, and politics have become much more popular. So the prime minister in Japan is no longer chosen behind closed doors between faction heads. And he can influence outcomes within the party, and within the parliamentary system, by appealing directly to his own Analysis & public base; weve seen Koizumi doing this in the past. Evaluation Both of these elements are having an effect, and the leaders in both (Own views) countries, unfortunately, have staked very tough positions on some of these historical issues. Theyre really playing, perhaps, to the nationalists in both cases. I think, in a way, Koizumi has played to the nationalists more than the Chinese have. In order to right the wrong and re-establish the China-Japan bond and trust, I feel that Japan has an obligation to rewrite its textbooks and show the truth to its people. China at the at the same time should also express forgiveness for what the Japanese have done in the past, and work towards the future in building better economies and infrastructure Thus I feel that the two countries should seek mutual understanding, looking at each other's grievances and which a common consensus, a compromise of sorts, for the Japanese cannot live forever with the metal chains around them when doing business with China or Korea, their closest neighbours.

References: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/World/20050423/JapanChina_meeting_050423/ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7605137/ns/world_news-asia-pacific/ http://www.orientexpat.com/forum/2766-japan-and-skorea-fail-to-agree-on-history/