Tuesday, October 9, 2012

China: Japan writers react to national hysteria

number of famous Japanese novelists and intellectuals have called for an end to the vicious cycle of nationalistic hysteria in Japan and China regarding the disputed Diaoyu Islands (also known as the Senkaku Islands). On September 28, 2012, around 1270 intellectuals, including Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe, jointly signed a civic statement: “Put an end to the vicious cycle of territorial dispute!”.
Another prominent Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami described nationalism as “cheap liquor” which may destroy the East Asia cultural exchange. Yet in China, not only Japanese books were taken down from bookshelves in major bookstores, online video platforms also stopped showing Japanese soap TV shows and cartoons.
Nationalism is like cheap liquor, said Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami's comment on the Japan-China territorial dispute was put on the headline of Asahi Shimbun on September 28 2012.
Haruki Murakami commented on Asahi Shimbun on September 28 about the withdrawal of Japanese books in mainland Chinese bookstores. He pointed out that the East Asia cultural exchange among Japan, Korea and China has been a great achievement in the past decade as it brings about “an understanding that we are all human beings who share emotions and inspirations, even if we speak different languages”.
On the other hand, the territorial disputes that ignite nationalism,
… is like cheap liquor: Cheap liquor gets you drunk after only a few shots and makes you hysterical. It makes you speak loudly and act rudely. . . But after your drunken rampage you are left with nothing but an awful headache the next morning. We must be careful about politicians and polemicists who lavish us with this cheap liquor and fan this kind of rampage. (Translated by Japan Times)
National interest comes first, said the Chinese counterpart
Despite Murakami's sincere gesture, the mainland Chinese side seems to be suffering from the hang-over of “cheap liquor”. Murakami's novel translator in China Lin Shaohua believed national interest and pride was most important.
He wrote [zh] on October 1, the Chinese national day, in his micro-blog:
时有网友问我的态度。事关钓鱼岛,愤青也好知日派也好,其实已不重要。涉日图书的销量下降或暂缓出版,势必影响我的个人利 益,但相比之下,国家的利益和尊严显然重要得多。任何具有民族身份的人都只能首先考虑自己所属民族的利益——再友好和理智的日本人也不例外——这是民族大 义,其他都是次要的。
Some netizens asked my attitude on Diaoyu Island. The withdrawal of Japanese books fro bookstores would affect my personal interest. But national interest and respect is more important. Anyone with national identity should put their national interest as top priority. The same principle is applied to most rational and friendly Japanese. National attachment comes first, everything else is secondary.
He elaborated [zh] on his position on October 2:
文学无国界,文学家有祖国。村上先生不止一次说他是日本人,该考虑为日本这个国家负起责任来了。这也是他受到尊重的一个原 因。世界人并不存在。谩骂得不到尊重。昨天还说钓鱼岛不存在争议,绝不让步。再看部分网友留言,我一时无语。昨来青州小住,李清照曾客居青州:至今思项 羽,不肯过江东!
Literature may be without borders, but writers do have their homeland. Murakami also said that he is a Japanese and he should thus be responsible to Japan. This is the reason why he is respected. Global citizen does not exist. Curse will not be respected. Yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda insisted that there is no dispute regarding the islands. What else can I say. Yesterday I arrived at Qingzhou, Li Qingzhao [a Song Dynasty poet] once said: I still missed Han Yu and refused to cross over to the eastside of the river!
Where are the Chinese intellectuals?
Many literature lovers are disappointed about Lin's comment. Microblogger, Pretend in New York said [zh]:
Murakami's novel translator Lin Shaohua advocated for the ban of Japanese books and [echoed with Global Times' commentary] that Japan is an “Asian mob”. I feel so disappointed as if I ran into my first love but saw her turning into a hooker. The image of my old idols are collapsing.
Asia creative exhibition asked [zh] where is the Chinese Murakami?
Eventually people will wake up from the hangover of poor liquor. The exchange of souls cannot be stopped. Where is the Chinese Haruki Murakami? Why are we blocking cultural exchange? How come our knowledge of the Japanese is so lagging behind when compared with the Japanese sinologists? Don't blame each other emotionally, we need rational judgement to protect the east Asia cultural circle.
Japanese books, TV shows and cartoons disappeared
Yet, the cultural blockage has been extended from Japanese books to Japanese TV soaps and cartoon programs. Many netizens are complaining about the sudden disappearance of Japanese videos in major online video platforms since September 28. For example, Shi Ta complained [zh]:
到处都木有日剧看了,PPS木有,PPTV木有,优酷木有。。。甭说日剧,动画全成喜羊羊同乡了,新闻也都是CCTV的同伙,这是要搞哪样??文 化 大 革 命 吗?这样怎么深入敌人内部啊死蠢!
You can't find any Japanese soap programs, not in PPS, not in PPTV, not in Youku… all cartoons are replaced by relatives of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, news are echoing CCTV. What happened? Are we living in the Cultural Revolution? How are we going to penetrate into our enemy's inner side with such stupid policy?
The news about the 1270 Japanese intellectuals' joint civic statement has also reached China. There are some echoes in the social media platform, but have yet to see organized efforts among Chinese intellectuals. Below are some comments from ordinary netizens [zh]:
偏要叫serena:村上春树之后 又有大江健三郎… 中国的所谓著名文人领袖公知 是不敢发言呢 还是无言?
serena: After Haruki Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe also spoke out… the so-called intellectuals in China and opinion leaders, they are too scared to talk or they have nothing to say?
素面虎:除 了铁杆纳粹,谁都不会认为“任何具有民族身份的人都只能首先考虑自己所属民族的利益”。否则,村上春树、大江健三郎就不会那样发言、主张钓鱼岛属于中国的 两位日本教授就该被打成日奸;第三帝国就不会有反纳粹组织、托马斯曼就不会叛逃美国;旧日本就不会有数以万计反战志士,乃至参加八路。
Plain tiger: Apart from Nazis who else would say “anyone with national identity should consider national interest as their top priority?” If such expression stands, Haruki Murakami and Kenzaburo Oe could not have spoken out. The other two Japanese professors who support the Chinese territorial claim over Diaoyu Islands would be considered as Japanese traitors. There would not be any anti-Nazi organizations in the Third Reich. Thomas Mann would not have been exiled to the U.S. The old Japan would not have tens of thousands of anti-war fighters, with some even joining the Chinese communist red army.
Shanghai auntie: If someone in China talks like this, what kind of verbal attack they will be receiving? When can China accept dissents, criticisms or the so-called “traitor talk”? Such tolerance is the real progress of a country.
Written by Oiwan Lam  Global Voices

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