Sino-Japanese Contrasts

Bifurcated views of Japan within the PRC (and the global Chinese diaspora) are nothing new, but two new Huanqiu photo galleries are particularly striking in this regard.

The first shows some hideously gruesome corpse pictures of what are said to be Chinese victims of Japanese chemical weapons attacks, presumably in Changde in 1940.   If such in-your-face evidence isn’t your thing, try this photograph of some museum claymation of Japanese Kwantung Army soldiers doing frostbite experiments on Chinese civilians in Manchuria.  It’s certainly an interesting question: does the internet reduce or expand the field of possiblity for anti-Japanese commemoration, or, to put it more bluntly, does the internet render such museum displays obsolete?  Museum science in China is developing fast, and, although I won’t have a chance to review in person the giant consortium of anti-Japanese museums in Chengdu until September, I would imagine that these kind of clay models will be out the door within in a generation.  Which still gives them 15 years or so to gum up museum floors.

The second features photos of a new bd, or bande desinee/manga sensation in China, the precocious artist Xia Da (夏达), a Chinese phenom who is apparently making big waves in Tokyo.  The author’s blog isn’t very updated, but it should give you a sense of the kind of typical style in which she works.  Frankly, it’s hard to tell what’s so special about it, but if it’s good enough for the Japanese market, maybe Xinhua should be promoting her work even more.

There is certainly much more to the Sino-Japanese relationship than war crimes memories and Hello Kitty, but it is hard to conceive of a country which is more vilified in China than is Japan, both weighted by historical depictions and simultaneously uplifted by the cultural preferences of Chinese youth.


  1. Adam,

    I’d argue that in terms of “the cultural preferences of Chinese youth”, Japan has not been vilified at all. Xia Da is a perfect example of millions of Chinese youth embracing/indulging in Japanese pop culture such as cosplay and manga. Whther that is good or not is a discussion for a different day.

    1. Well, it’s dichotomous — and I don’t know that you can on the one hand read school textbooks which themselves are often based on KangRi Zhanzheng Yanjiu-type articles about Japan’s “cultural imperialism” and “slave education” in the colonial period and then imagine that Xinhua or the CCP has completely opened the floodgates to contemporary Japanese culture. I also recall a few other blog entries here about similar topics such as the one about depictions of poverty and social contradictions in Japan. I think it is important as you imply, however, to keep an open mind and be aware that changes to the narrative can and do take place.

      1. I actually don’t know anything about Japanese “cultural imperalism” or “slave education”. Perhaps you have mistaken China with Korea? Of course I am here to learn, so anything on this subject from Kangri Zhanzheng Yanjiu is appreciated.

        To be sure, today they still teach the Chinese kids about the terrble things the Japanese did during WWII (not without a point), yet millions of Chinese kids have no problem accepting silly stuff like cosplay and manga (you don’t think Xia Da received the same “anti-Japanese” education everyone else got?).

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