The crimes of an imperial power

It is clear from the front-page Feb. 25 article “Xi seeks WWII focus on German trip” that China has adopted a policy of drawing comparisons between German and Japanese contrition for World War II. This comparison is commonly made, but is characteristic of those with a less than complete understanding of the Asian war.

The war in Europe was a fight between sovereign states and was characterized by a genocide. The war in Asia was a battle between imperial powers over imperial possessions, the Chinese landmass included. It would, therefore, be far more appropriate for China to compare Japanese contrition against that made by other imperial powers who plundered the Asian region during the 19th and 20th centuries — an extensive list that includes Britain, America, France, Russia and Germany, just to name a few.

If Germany were still to be the basis for comparison, it would be relevant for China to publicize the degree to which Germany has apologized for the “Rape of Beijing” in 1900, when the German component of the international force that marched on the capital acted on their kaiser’s orders to behave “just as the Huns of old.” In the case of Asian-based atrocities carried out by nations other than Japan, however, the Chinese don’t seem to care.

There is much about their past for which the Japanese should feel contrite, but their crimes were those of an imperial power in an era of imperialism. Chinese complaints would carry far more weight if they owned up to that fact and ceased trying to link the imperialism of Japan with the genocide of the Nazis’ Third Reich.

paul de vries
kawaguchi, saitama

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • a z

    You are absolutely right. There is no
    comparison. The Japanese were much worse than the Nazis. Whereas the Nazis put
    the Jews in gas chambers, the Japanese took great joy in torturing its (not a
    typo) victims before it kill them. Your next article should be why slavery was good for the blacks.