井底之蛙

10/20/2011

Those who keep remembering the past

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:53 pm Print

I just got an e-mail asking me to subscribe to The Current Digest of the Chinese Press. Given the prices I don’t think I will, but you might want to consider it, as the free sample issue is pretty good. I would not mind it if they included the Chinese text, or at least proper names, and a version I could download to my Kindle would be better than a big ol’ PDF, but they have lots of good stuff.

They have a couple articles on the attempts of Fangzheng County 方正县 (Harbin) in Heilongjiang to attract Japanese tourists. Apparently they built some sort of a monument to Japanese settlers. According to the article the monument cost 700,000 RMB and was in an area restricted to Japanese people. After ‘vandals struck the monument’ it was taken down by the government, but according to the paper (新京日報) the matter cannot be left there as the whole affair ‘infringed upon taxpayers right to know where their money goes.’ The settlers were of course the Japanese migrants brought to Manchukuo. While “many of the settlers were ordinary Japanese civilians….once they came to China they took on the role of invaders.” A follow-up article was written by a reporter sent to the county who found that local government was forcing local businesses to put up signs in Japanese and that “most young Chinese women here aspire to marry Japanese men” with many women even divorcing their husbands and abandoning their children to go abroad.

Although the articles are not always very explicit about the ‘appropriate’ way to view Japan and China’s history with it, they give a pretty good implicit view of the state of the paper’s attitudes, though obviously not those of all Chinese.

I rather wish the paper had managed to dig up a picture of this monument, since I would like to see it and what it says. The first article points out that “many countries, including China, view the erection of  monuments as a symbolic way to praise certain aspects of a country’s culture or history.” That’s not actually true, since in lots of countries monuments are intended to memorialize things, some good, some bad, and some mixed. The line about the settlers being ordinary Japanese gave me hope that the ‘mixed’ might apply in this case, but I can’t tell without seeing the monument.

 

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