Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Keeping War with Japan Fresh in Chinese Minds

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Keeping War with Japan Fresh in Chinese Minds

Article excerpt

For most of the Allied and Axis powers, World War II ended more than a half century ago, but the conflict seems to have taken on a life of its own in China's state-run press and film factories. Chinese editors, television producers, and movie directors for decades have been enlisted in a drive to document or dramatize Japan's 1930s-era invasion of China. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on Thursday issued Japan's strongest statement yet of remorse for its invasion. But it's far from clear whether Beijing's battle of banter will cease. "Whether you read the Chinese newspapers or go to the cinema, it almost seems that the war just ended yesterday," says a Japanese official here. Chinese history books say the Japanese Imperial Army killed or injured tens of millions of civilians and soldiers here before Tokyo's defeat in 1945. The Japanese Army experimented with chemical and biological weapons on war prisoners, and virtually every Chinese schoolchild can recite gruesome details of Japan's invasion. A stream of state-funded films re-create dark tableaux of life during the war, along with the Chinese Red Army's heroic drives to repel the invaders. "It was largely the Nationalists {who ruled China} and American troops that defeated the Japanese invaders here, but the Communist Party always takes all the credit for the victory," says a scholar at Beijing University. Last week, the official China Daily reported that filmmakers recently began shooting a full-length documentary titled "Record of Japanese Invasions of China." Director Chen Jingliang said the montage of atrocities is aimed at giving "the Chinese a warning call, asking them to remember the humiliation of being trampled upon and to fight for the country's prosperity." "The {Chinese} Communist Party's legitimacy rests in part on its having fought the Japanese, so the party can never let the Chinese people forget the war," says the Japanese official, who declined to be identified. …

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