Sunday, August 6

China, Japan youth key to conflict or conciliation

By Linda Sieg | July 29, 2006

BEIJING (Reuters) - When Jia Xiaopeng was born, the Sino-Japanese war had been over for nearly 40 years.Still, the Chinese youth thinks it's too soon for painful memories of Japan's 1937-1945 invasion and occupation of parts of his homeland to fade.

"We cannot easily resolve issues relating to the war," said Jia, 23, a recent graduate of Tsinghua University in Beijing who is an avid fan of Japanese "manga" comics and has studied the Japanese language for four years.

"History is something that we cannot forget."

Japanese student Akimitsu Shioya sees things differently.

"Japan gave aid to China after the war, so the problem ought to be settled," said the 20-year-old freshman, who has just begun studying Chinese at Hosei University near Tokyo.

Such differing views -- and the mutual antipathy that often accompanies them -- are fueling concerns that the current chill in relations between China and Japan will worsen as the younger generations in the two neighboring Asian nations grow up.

"Among Japanese youth, many don't have good feelings toward China. And it's the same in China," said Akihiro Oshima, an ethnic Chinese who has taken the unusual step of acquiring Japanese citizenship and who does business in both countries.

"The question for the future is, how can the younger generation get along?" Oshima said in an interview at his computer graphics company's office in Beijing.

Ties between the two countries, never easy, grew frigid after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took office in 2001 and began visiting Toyko's Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese World War Two leaders convicted as war criminals are honored along with war dead.The tensions erupted in April 2005, when tens of thousands of Chinese protested against Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and approval of a Japanese school history text that critics say whitewashes Tokyo's wartime atrocities.Those sometimes violent protests, like Chinese fans' harsh booing and violence after Japan beat host China to win the Asian Cup soccer tournament in 2004, shocked many Japanese.

"At that time, I really didn't like the Chinese," Shioya said of his feelings after the soccer tournament.

"It wasn't sportsmanlike and I had a very bad image."

Like many of his fellow Japanese, Shioya blames China for fostering anti-Japanese sentiment through its "patriotic education" to help legitimize the Communist Party's rule.

"I think anti-Japanese education has a big impact," he said.

The rest of article can be seen here.