Ordinary life in Japan doesn't make headlines

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-11 21:53:01

As a media practitioner, my daily work includes browsing through Japan-related reports and analyzing every move of our neighbor. But the more I do, the less likely it is I can piece together an image of the country close to reality.

I can recall how worried my parents were when I paid a business trip to Japan in early 2014, when China and Japan were embroiled in disputes over the Diaoyu Islands and tensions were high. They feared that I may get attacked in Japan as they thought all Japanese are evil due to their knowledge of WWII. But their anxiety didn't seem to be alleviated even after I returned to China from Japan because I couldn't help advertising how I was impressed by Japan's rule-based society, craftsmanship and people's civility. They thought I may have been seduced by the wicked Japanese.

My parents learned about the neighbor through textbook about Japan's intrusion into China and frequent reports that mostly condemn Japan for its "malicious" political moves. Until now, I can think of no way to bridge our divergences other than taking them for a trip to the country.

Thus I was very interested in two recent articles carried by both the English and Chinese editions of your newspaper, in which two Chinese pundits reflected on a different Japan they saw with their own eyes during their recent trip to our neighbor. I'm pleased to read about their discovery of Japan without stereotyped skepticism and criticism.

What can be pieced together from the Japan-related reports that cram Chinese media is a country that compels you to worry about its future. It is a country with massive protests against the government's security policy, sluggish economy and severely aging society.

It is also a country that has worryingly failed to reflect upon its wartime atrocities and walked toward a militaristic path. A survey shows that the proportion of Chinese people that dislike Japan has risen from 40 percent to nearly 90 percent since 2007. Given the entangled history of the two countries, there is no other country that Chinese like and dislike so explicitly. This can be vividly indicated by what Japan-related reports in China concentrate on.

China has far transcended Japan in terms of economic strength and it now eyes the US more than Japan as a competitor. However, our neighbor takes us by surprise from time to time and warns that we can never neglect it. In fact, a thorough and in-depth look into the country is always necessary. As The Three-Body Problem, a science fiction novel by Chinese writer Liu Cixin, argues, what jeopardizes human's existence is not vulnerability or ignorance, but arrogance.

It's true that the Japanese government is leading the country to a dangerous path that may get it involved in wars. But apart from this, there should be a lot more to tell about our neighbor so that ordinary Chinese people who haven't been able to visit it can have a better understanding of the country. I hope I can read more articles on your newspaper like the recent two in the future.

Sarah Sun, a reporter and editor based in Beijing

Posted in: Viewpoint, Letters

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