We visited the infamous Yasukuni Shrine today. You know, the place that gets into the papers everytime a Japanese prime minister visits it. See pictures.
Well, it might seem like a weird place for a Chinese guy to visit, but it’s really a pretty normal tourist area. I’ve seen things like it in China before too and the displays are of course based on one’s intepretation of history… The center of propaganda in Yasukuni Shrine lies in the Yushukan, a museum of Japanese military history.
I watched a 50-minute propaganda video which concluded that Japan conducted a purely defensive war out of necessity due to the injustice done to it by the Western nations. The narrator tells the viewer that Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War gave the people of the colonies hope and led to the eventual crumbling of the colonial system. A display in the museum lists Gandhi as one of those anti-colonial revolutionary, just short of crediting Imperial Japan for India’s independence. Chiang Kai-shek is credited by the movie as a great man who wanted to work with Japan for a peaceful Asia and the Chinese Communist Party supposedly destroy any hopes for peace. The movie conveniently forgets to mention Generalissimo Chiang joining sides with anti-Japan forces later. Nanjing was supposedly a city in chaos after the Nationalist government retreated until the Japanese Imperial Army saved it from anarchy (by killing everyone I guess). Manchukuo, ruled by a puppet government loyal to Japan in Manchuria, was supposedly a peaceful nation built on the principles of racial harmony between the five races. Japan unselfishly sacrificed her men and ammunitions to protect East Asia from the cruel colonial powers in exchange for just a tiny token tribute of raw materials, land, labourers and sex slaves. Such pity to those countries that could not receive the blessings of the Imperial Army because America had to be a busybody and drop the atomic bombs. Such pity.
In the documentary (I use the term in a very loose sense), a young Japanese girl onscreen says that she had never learnt about WWII in elementary school and Yushukan was the first time she learnt about WWII. Any wonders why Japanese people have such a screwed up view of the “Greater East Asian War”? A huge percentage of Japanese school children do not even know which side won the war…