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Two books on Sino-Japanese history and modern political relations have been pulled from shelves in China for undisclosed reasons, after selling about 50,000 copies apiece.

“Ambiguity’s Neighborhood” and “Iron and Plough,” both by author Yu Jie, disappeared from major bookstores in late December after four months of normal circulation, Yu said this week.

In the runup to the annual National People’s Congress plenary session that began March 5, independent booksellers were also told to stop selling it, Yu’s Beijing distributor said Wednesday.

Yu, 32, argues in “Ambiguity’s Neighborhood” that Chinese should learn more about modern Japan before saying they “hate” the people — common parlance for today’s younger generation influenced by anti-Japan media reports and school texts that discuss Japan’s 1931-1945 conquest of China.

“The two countries are so close, so this hate, this lack of understanding, doesn’t help at all,” Yu said, citing “arrogance” for the lack of more understanding. “Chinese people should understand the situation before they criticize it.”

Chinese do not know, for example, that Tokyo’s war-related Yasukuni Shrine has no war criminal memorials, Yu said.

Yu also contends that the Communist Party lost to the invading Imperial Japanese Army in the 1930s and 1940s because they were busy fighting the Kuomintang in a civil war, which ended in 1949.

His books recount moments in diplomatic history and question what the author considers the excesses of Japanese patriotism.

Yu did four years of independent research in Japan and China to gather material for the photo-illustrated books. His travels took him to a Tokyo court session for “comfort women” — mostly Asian women who were forced into frontline brothels for Japanese soldiers during the war– and to Yasukuni Shrine.

Government censors and his Chinese publishers, Wuhan-based Changjiang Literature and Arts Publishing House and Guangming Daily Publishing House of Beijing, edited out about 10 percent of the manuscripts before publication because of potentially antigovernment content, Yu said.

Most books on Japanese politics and history back the government line that Japan is unapologetic for its wartime aggression against China.

Yu said each of his books sold 50,000 legitimate copies and about 200,000 more pirated copies, and received a good reader response, especially from university students.

On Dec. 14, Beijing police detained Yu for 12 hours because of 100 articles, unrelated to the two books, he had published overseas. Yu said police emptied his computer of documents totaling 2 million words. After that incident and perhaps because of it, Yu said, the books were removed from major stores.

Today small stores near Chinese college campuses sell the book, sometimes on the street instead of the shelves, the Beijing distributor said. He said he did not know how many stores were carrying it.

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