Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

  • HOME
  • Speaking Out
  • 【#367】Japan Should Engage with Problems in Areas under Control in Past
Yang Haiying

【#367】Japan Should Engage with Problems in Areas under Control in Past

Yang Haiying / 2016.04.12 (Tue)

April 11, 2016

     How to deal with China has become an issue of vital importance for the entire western Pacific region as the future international development is uncertain. The issue is also how Japan should deal with its former colonies and other areas that had been within Japan’s sphere of influence. From the viewpoint of world history, I assert Japan should more proactively engage with problems in these areas.

China’s crackdown on Mongolians
     Firstly, after World War II, China exploited and suppressed areas that had been under Japanese control. In Manchuria (northeastern China at present) and Southern Mongolia (Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region at present) where modern infrastructure had been developed by Japan, China looted natural resources, destroyed facilities left over by Japan and failed to invest for sound local development.
     China has politically cracked down on intellectuals. In Southern Mongolia, particularly, China massacred Mongolians for the reason of their past “crime” of cooperating with Japan. As a result, serious ethnic problems remain in Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. Japan should criticize inhumane crimes committed by China. As China has failed to successfully rule areas that had been under Japanese control, the Inner Mongolian ethnic problem has become an international one. I believe the people of Japan should faithfully address the problem.
     Secondly, behind China’s assertion of the South China Sea as its sea is its intent to seize Taiwan and then grab the Senkaku Islands of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture. Taiwanese people have given high ratings to modernization under Japanese rule and rejected China’s autocratic control. Like the Communist Party of China, Taiwan’s Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) government has regarded frontier regions with Mongolians, Tibetans and Uighurs as part of “China” and legitimated its rule with its anti-Japan struggle. Taiwanese people who have experienced the February 28 massacre by the Kuomintang government in 1947 have international viewpoints to compare Japan with China. Japan must strongly support Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ingwen of the Democratic Progressive Party who has taken government from the Kuomintang. By doing so, Japan can maintain its own lifeline and contribute to the international community’s peace-building.
     Thirdly, the government for the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, which had been annexed by Japan, has really developed a feeling of dislike against China’s intervention. The peninsula has been divided because China historically promoted the policy of dividing the peninsula and established a puppet North Korean regime favoring Continental China.

Follow British and French approaches to former colonies
     There may be humble intellectuals in Japan who think that Japan cannot follow suit of Britain and France that have engaged with problems in their former colonies as Japan was defeated in World War II and Britain and France were winners. Even if such low-key approach is a Japanese virtue, it cannot be a seawall to deter China’s autocracy in the international community.
     While benefiting from Japan’s modernization, China has failed to give due ratings to what Japan did in the past and ingrained anti-Japan sentiment into citizens. Such political approach is not sound. In areas that had been under Japanese control, people have compared Japan with China over the past 70 years since the end of World War II. Japan should engage, from moral point of view as well, with these areas’ problems that have become international.

Yang Haiying, also known as Akira Ohno, is Professor at Shizuoka University. He is a naturalized Japanese citizen from Southern Mongolia.