DEFENSE ON OFFENSE
To many in Asia, China has become isolated because of its territorial disputes with its neighbors. So Beijing has adopted a strategy to upend that isolation — by attacking Japan for its past imperial aggression, which few see any connection with Japanese society today.
The strategy was on display last week when Beijing launched a propaganda campaign against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a remark he made about the Chinese and Japanese defense budgets.
Asked to compare the countries’ defense budgets at a Sept. 25 meeting in New York, Mr. Abe noted that China has increased its military spending by double digits for more than two decades, and he criticized China’s defense spending for lacking transparency. He remarked that Japan had increased its defense budget for the first time in 11 years and by only 0.8 percent.
“So call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist,” Mr. Abe said, a remark meant to be humorous.
His attempt at humor sparked an explosion of temper in Beijing.
“It is unbelievable that such senseless and degenerating words, which defied human justice and showed contempt for the universally accepted moral principles, were made by the leader of a civilized nation,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.
“Compared to Germany, Japan has failed to substantially reflect on its aggression history and thus has little expression of remorse,” Xinhua said. “Neither has it bid farewell to militarism through school education, legislation and war indemnity, as Germany has pursued.”
“The leader of Japan must pay serious attention to the righteous appeals and international concerns,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
Eight history textbooks covering Japan’s World War II aggression are available for Japanese schools; only one reflects revisionist right-wing views defending Japan’s wartime actions.
Less than 1 percent of Japanese schools use the revisionist textbook, which has caused resentment in countries ravaged by the empire’s wartime atrocities.
Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @yu_miles.
Beijing has launched a propaganda campaign against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a remark he made about the Chinese and Japanese defense budgets.