Ja­panese jour­nal­ist fo­cuses on wartime atroc­i­ties of Ja­pan

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By ZHANG YUNBI at zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.

Takuya Kobayashi, Beijing bureau chief of the Ja­panese Com­mu­nist Party’s of­fi­cial news­pa­per Shim­bun Aka­hata, has paid sev­eral vis­its to the same Chi­nese county to re­port on a slaugh­ter more than 70 years ago by the Ja­panese im­pe­rial army.

“I have been to Nan county in Hu­nan prov­ince,’’ he said. “This act of Ja­panese ag­gres­sion is lit­tle known even to the Chi­nese in other parts of the coun­try and more than 30,000 peo­ple were slaugh­tered,” Kobayashi told China Daily.

His party has con­sis­tently said that Ja­pan should own up to its wartime ag­gres­sion and ad­mit to the atroc­i­ties it com­mit­ted, and the party has also strongly ob­jected to re­vi­sion­ism in Ja­pan to bet­ter un­der­stand what Ja­pan did.

Kobayashi has spent great deal of time vis­it­ing places and peo­ple who wit­ness­ing the events.

When he went to Jiaochang Town­ship in the county in May last year for in­ter­views, he even paid a pil­grim­age to the ceme­tery where some of the vic­tims were buried.

Ear­lier this year, his party’s cen­tral com­mit­tee com­piled a book on Ja­pan’s ag­gres­sion and colo­nial­ism, and his re­port on the slaugh­ter runs for seven pages, fea­tur­ing de­tailed quotes, a picture and a map.

The stun­ning de­tails of the slaugh­ter in­clude a scene where a Ja­panese sol­dier ripped open the belly of a preg­nant woman, took the in­fant out and bay­o­neted it.

“We need to face squarely up to Ja­pan’s his­tory of ag­gres­sion, ex­pose more peo­ple in Ja­pan to that part of our his­tory and get them to know more,” he said.

When asked about the un­der­stand­ing and depth of knowl­edge among the younger generation in Ja­pan, Kobayashi sighed: “The lead­ing Ja­panese me­dia out­lets rarely re­port on such themes”.

Af­ter he ar­rived in China in June, 2012, as Beijing bureau chief, Kobayashi trav­elled to most provinces and au­ton­o­mous re­gions in China for a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the coun­try.

“I have not yet trav­elled to the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, Qing­hai, Guizhou or Guang­dong provinces,” he said.

The 35-year-old writer has ob­served some of China’s grow­ing pains, that Ja­pan shares, like an aging pop­u­la­tion and wealth dis­par­ity.

“China has a huge pop­u­la­tion, but it is faced with both a drop­ping birthrate and an aging pop­u­la­tion. It is ac­tu­ally aging for be­com­ing a more de­vel­oped econ­omy,” he said.

Many Chi­nese have said Ja­pan has set a good ex­am­ple in some ar­eas to fol­low but, Kobayashi does not agree. “The na­tional con­di­tions are dif­fer­ent, so are their pop­u­la­tions … Ja­pan also has some weak links, such as so­cial se­cu­rity, med­i­cal se­cu­rity and pen­sions.”

He added that China should shape a sys­tem that “en­joys Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics and brings the great­est hap­pi­ness to the peo­ple”.

He has a wide brief in China and has found his own way to col­lect in­for­ma­tion through cy­berspace and so­cial net­works.

“I of­ten have a look at Sina.com,” he said of the lead­ing In­ter­net por­tal.

Like many Chi­nese, he uses of WeChat, now the most pop­u­lar in­stant mes­sag­ing app in­China, and he said he could learn a lot by brows­ing the post­ings of his friends in “Mo­ments”, aWechat func­tion sim­i­lar to the home­page of a Face­book ac­count.

“Be­fore com­ing to China, I thought there was no free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the coun­try … but by be­ing here, I have seen peo­ple ex­press­ing their views freely and they can chat eas­ily,” he said of his cy­berspace ex­pe­ri­ence in China.

As a mem­ber of the Ja­panese Com­mu­nist Party, Kobayashi found­manyChi­nese schol­ars he talked with are mem­bers of the Com­mu­nist Party of China.

“They are friendly tome­and callme‘com­rade’,” he said.

Kobayashi seems to have a good un­der­stand­ing of the Chi­nese party.

“There are quite a lot of neg­a­tive re­ports about the CPC by for­eign me­dia. But it now has more than 80 mil­lion mem­bers, and those re­ports are about just some of the mem­bers,” he said. “Many mem­bers are still ful­fill­ing the Party’s pur­pose of serv­ing the peo­ple. They have great faith. In­this re­spect, I ad­mire the CPC mem­bers.”

As for the or­di­nary Chi­nese, Kobayashi said they al­ways seem to be in a hurry.

“It seems that every­body is in a rush to catch up a sub­way,” he said of Beijing’s metro sys­tem.

Not­ing that China has be­come the sec­ond-largest econ­omy in the world, Kobayashi ob­served that peo­ple’s liveli­hoods are im­prov­ing and the Party and the gov­ern­ment should con­tinue “lis­ten­ing to the ideas of the pub­lic”.

But China is also faced with the neg­a­tive fac­tors, such as cor­rup­tion and pol­lu­tion, he said. “Wit­ness­ing the heavy air pol­lu­tion in Jan­uary, 2013, I felt the neg­a­tive byprod­uct of China’s de­vel­op­ment.”

“And I ob­served the ef­forts by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment. Well, the work is okay,” he smiled, adding that coun­tries such as Ja­pan and theUnited States share the same prob­lem. Con­tact the reporter

ZHANG YUNBI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Kobayashi has trav­elled to most provinces and au­ton­o­mous re­gions in China for a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the coun­try.

Qin Kun, A Guilin artist

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