BEIJING – The winner of a Japanese-language essay contest for Chinese students urged Japan and China to embrace peace and move away from the deep enmity rooted in their wartime past.
In her piece titled “Shiawasena Genzai” (“The Happy Present”), Li Xinchen, 22, writes about the tragic experience of her grandfather, a former soldier who fought in the Korean War, and the importance of preserving the peace that Japan and China managed to achieve after bitter struggles.
The two countries “have been caught in the shadow of the past, cursing each other and don’t notice the bright light beaming just above their heads,” she says in the essay that won the contest last December.
A native of Guizhou Province, Li had a negative impression of Japan in her childhood because of Chinese TV dramas about the 1937-45 war Japan waged on the mainland.
But she became interested in learning about Japan and its culture after reading the popular Japanese comic book “The Prince of Tennis” when she was a junior high school student.
Li, who is studying Japanese at Hubei University, was invited to visit Japan in late January as an extra perk from the award, which was organized by Duan Press, a Tokyo-based publisher that promotes exchanges between Japan and China.
She said she found Japan to be “very clean” and was amazed to see that even strangers would greet her when they passed by.
During the one-week trip, Li was given a chance to meet former Prime Ministers Yasuo Fukuda and Yukio Hatoyama through the assistance of Duan Yuezhong, chief editor of Duan Press.
She said her visit to Japan helped her rediscover the importance of direct interaction.
Without that, “we will never be able to understand each other,” she said. “I’d like to help straighten out our mutual misunderstandings.”
Li also said that Japan and China should not “pin bad labels on each other” and “it is important to continue their exchanges,” especially when tensions between the two countries are rising due to the Senkaku territorial dispute.