China-Japan Relations: A Historical Perspective
   2014-02-27 08:13:58    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Lu Chang


 

To fully appreciate the worsening Sino-Japanese relations today, the last causal factor one can dismiss is their historical past. Japan's invasion of China and the ensuing brutal occupation of Chinese territories resulted in the killing of millions of Chinese civilians.

After Japan's defeat, Chinese and Japanese leaders decided to mend their relations and shelve differences that stood in the way for the two to normalize ties, including the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.

However, Japan's war-time past has become a constant irritant in bilateral relations ever since. Japan's right-wing politicians have made numerous attempts to whitewash and glorify Japan's war-time atrocities, including the denial of the Nanjing Massacre and visits by Japanese prime ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war criminals are enshrined.

Events like these have become even more frequent amid the flare-up of tension between the two sides over the Diaoyu Islands in the past two years.

On Tuesday, Chinese lawmakers started considering making December 13th a national memorial day to commemorate those killed by Japanese aggressors during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. They are also considering designating September 3 as the Victory Day of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

From a historian's point of view, what happened in Nanjing in December, 1937? How did the Diaoyu Islands become a hot-button issue in today's Sino-Japanese relations?

Ni hao, you're listening to People In the Know, bringing you insights into the headlines in China and around the world. I'm Zheng Chenguang in Beijing.

We speak to Hans van de Ven, professor of Modern Chinese History at the University of Cambridge in the UK, and Yang Xiyu, Senior Fellow with the China Institute for International Studies in Beijing.

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