The conflict between China and Japan in the East China Sea has been brewing for a long time and most if it is Japan’s fault. To understand why this is happening, one should know China’s history with Japan.
It started when “Massive changes were unleashed in Japan by the Meiji restoration – a period of radical modernization – in 1868, and out of these emerged the desire for wealth, power and prestige as a way of redressing the imposition of unequal treaties that had been placed upon Japan by western powers in the past.”
The Japanese also thought they were racially and spiritually superior to the Chinese. After Japan’s invasion of China in 1937, movie houses were among the first establishments to be reopened, and a favorite topic of Japanese film makers for over a decade depicted them as superior both racially and morally.
Japan’s warrior culture dates back to the twelfth century, but Japan was no match for China where gunpowder was invented in 904 AD. The first true rockets were also invented in China and used in combat in the 13th century, more than a hundred years before they were first used in European warfare.
With Japan’s culturally superior attitude, it is also arguable that the Japanese were envious and jealous of China during the 1,500 years China was the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country in the world up until the 15th century.
That decline didn’t happen overnight. It took about four hundred years for China to become vulnerable, and in 1840, Japan joined the British, French and Americans to gang up on China during the Opium Wars.
In 1870, Japan once again took advantage of China’s growing weakness and annexed the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom that had also, like Korea and Tibet been one of China’s tributary states. A Ryukyuan envoy even begged England for help, but the British ruled that the islands should belong to Japan instead of China.
Like Tibet, Korea had been a tributary state of China for centuries, but Japan saw an opportunity and in 1884, Japanese and Chinese troops clashed in Korea, a conflict that ended in a lopsided stalemate in Japan’s favor.
A decade later, Japan tried against and fought their first war over Korea. China was defeated in 1895 losing Korea as a tributary and a large portion of Eastern Manchuria.
Then there’s World War II. On July 7, 1937, Japan invaded China and occupied most of that country for eight years. The Chinese estimate that that the Japanese military murdered more than 10,000,000 Chinese civilians during World War II. An additional 2.2 million deaths were Chinese troops. — Hawaii.edu
My own father-in-law lived in Shanghai and was 12 years old when he witnessed a Japanese officer behead his 12-year old cousin who had just reached the front yard on his way home from school. Thousands of Chinese of all ages and both sexes suffered the same fate when Japanese officers wanted to see how many heads they could chop off. Many more were gunned down for no other reason than they were Chinese.
Japan has never apologized for The Rape of Nanking and other atrocities that happened during World War II resulting in millions of Chinese deaths.
U.S. News & World Report says, The Chinese have resented the Japanese ever since Japan conquered and occupied China in the 1930s and 40s. The Japanese prime minister’s annual visits to a Tokyo shrine for Japanese war veterans always reminds the Chinese of Japan’s wartime brutality and continued lack of remorse.
After World War II, China asked for the islands in the East China Sea to be returned, but the United States rejected China’s request and gave the islands to Japan, the country that invaded China and bombed Pearl Harbor bringing China and the United States together as allies to fight Japan. Why did the United States stab China in the back?
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.
Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.