Poor relations with Japan started as far back as 1840, when Japan joined the British, French and Americans during the Opium Wars to gain concessions to sell opium to the Chinese.
In 1843, under the agreement of the Nanjing Treaty, Shanghai became one of five treaty ports to be turned into a colonial city that would be under control of foreign countries—Great Britain, France, America and Japan. McGill.ca
Until 1871, most Japanese had never had much contact with the Chinese. Then, getting to know the Chinese led to a Japanese opinion that the Chinese were ethnically inferior since they were different from the Japanese and most Japanese haven’t changed their minds to this day.
In 1884, Japanese and Chinese troops faced off in Korea, which ended in a lopsided stalemate in Japan’s favor.
In 1894, Japan and China fought their first war over Korea. Like Tibet, Korea had been a tributary state of China for centuries.
China was defeated in 1895 losing Korea as a tributary and a large portion of Eastern Manchuria.
Then in 1870, Japan annexed the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which had also been a tributary to China.
A Ryukyuan envoy even begged England for help, but the British ruled that the islands should belong to Japan instead of China.
On July 7, 1937, Japan launched a war to conquer China. Over the next 8 years, Japan would occupy most of China.
In fact, Japan has never apologized for The Rape of Nanking and other atrocities during World War II that resulted in millions of Chinese deaths. The Chinese estimate that they lost about 15-20 million in World War II and most of those deaths were civilians. An additional 2.2 million deaths were Chinese troops.
“The Chinese have resented the Japanese ever since Japan conquered and occupied China in the 1930s and 40s. The Japanese prime minister’s yearly visits to a Tokyo shrine for war veterans has always played in China as a reminder of Japan’s wartime brutality and continued lack of remorse.” U.S. News & World Report
Long memoires and hard feelings still smolder and sometimes ignite into flames. Since China has risen from the ashes, Japan should walk softly around the mighty reborn dragon.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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Traditionally Japanese have an inferiority complex towards the Chinese since the cultural interactions between the two people has been a one way street. Things changed when Japan became the first Asian country to industrialize. This makes Japan modern in contrast to China’s backwardness and the Japanese began to think that they were a better people than the Chinese. This superiority complex reach its peak in the early 90s before the bubble burst. At its peak the Japanese even openly advocating that they were a better people than the Americans as evidence in the book “The Japan that can say no”. As trend continues today, Japanese inferiority complex towards the Chinese will reassert itself, in other words, back to the normal historical mode.
Agreed, and I think this started with the Han Dynasty if not earlier.