Japan: Uniting China and the Koreas Since 1909
Image Credit: wikipedia

Japan: Uniting China and the Koreas Since 1909


On October 26, 1909,  the Korean Ahn Jung-geun walked to the front of a crowd on the platform of Harbin’s railroad station, pulled a pistol out of his lunchbox, and began shooting. His targets were a group of Japanese officials who had just disembarked from a train. Ahn’s shots wounded four and killed one: Ito Hirobumi, who was then serving as Japan’s Resident-General of Korea.

Ahn was hanged for his act in March 1910, a few months before Japan formally annexed the Korean Peninsula. Ahn’s historical reputation — whether freedom fighter or terrorist, patriot or criminal — has been fiercely debated ever since. The argument gained renewed vigor this week when South Korean President Park Geun-hye let slip that China has agreed to work with Korea to build a memorial for Ahn in the Harbin railroad station. Japanese newspapers swiftly picked up the story, sparking a mini-crisis in the already shaky relationship between South Korea and Japan.

In reaction to the news, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that building a monument for Ahn “is not good for Japan-South Korea relations.” Ahn, he said, was a “criminal.” The South Korean Foreign Ministry begs to differ. According to a spokesperson, Ahn is a patriot who gave his life for Korean independence and peace in East Asia. If Japan would reflect on what it did to neighboring countries during that time, the spokesperson continued, it would become obvious that Suga’s statement is ridiculous.

China’s Foreign Ministry also weighed in on the debate, with spokesperson Hong Lei offering the following assessment: “Ahn Jung-geun is a famous anti-Japanese martyr in the history [sic], who is also respected by the Chinese.” Yang Xiyu, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, accused Japan of using the “most naked double standard in the world” to criticize the building of a monument for Ahn Jung-geun while supporting Japanese officials’ visits to Yasukuni shrine. Japan, Yang concluded, is “shameless.”

It’s not surprising that China would side with South Korea over Japan on this issue. The two countries often find common ground in criticizing what they see as Japan’s lack of contrition for its actions during the early 20th century.  Any Japanese actions that seem historically insensitive, from official visits to the Yasukuni shrine to insensitive remarks about the Koreans and Chinese who were forced to serve as “comfort women,” not only help isolate Japan from its neighbors, but also provide a bonding experience for China and South Korea.

This time, the whole point of erecting a statue in China honoring a Korean martyr is to send a message to Japan. China and South Korea are both wary of what they see as a return to Japanese militarism under Abe Shinzo. The announcement that the two countries are collaborating on a monument for Ahn sends a clear message to Japan: China and Korea are firmly united in denouncing Japan’s period of imperialist expansion.  According to Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi’s assessment of his meeting with Korean President Park Geun-hye, South Korea-China relations have begun a period of “new development.” It’s not a coincidence that Park’s remarks about a monument to Ahn Jung-geun came out during the same meeting.

Ironically, though news of the monument has appeared in newspapers in Japan, China, and South Korea, no one seems to have informed the local government in Harbin. According to China’s CNR, a  Harbin government official said they had no plans to erect a statue of Ahn, and they had not received any notices from higher authorities about the matter. Perhaps actual construction on the statue will begin later — the next time China and Korea agree that Japan needs a not-so-subtle reminder of its controversial history.

January 21, 2014 at 20:27

Ahn Jung-geun hall is a Korean version of Yasukuni Shrine.

February 14, 2014 at 14:57

Not really, because a Korean killing a Japanese politician at the time is akin to a Jew killing a Nazi in the 40s. That makes Ahn a hero, not a criminal.

December 2, 2013 at 23:40

There is only one thing I will say:
Japan needs to learn from Germany. It needs to acknowledge and apologizes its past brutalities and take action to restore what is just, and to make amends with neighbors. Even if and when China becomes democratic one day, the Chinese people and nation as a whole will still hold Japan accountable to the atrocities Japan has committed. This has nothing to do with politics, it’s about truth in history which the Japanese must face.

November 28, 2013 at 06:02

Japan needs to know its rightful place. They are now not the economically strongest in Asia and they are continuing to decline year by year.

Aside from that, there’s nothing wrong with China and Korea mutually agreeing on historical issues. This is what keeps their relationship strong and history CANNOT be changed. Japan is living in a fantasy world where they do not remain consistent with what they say and continue to act as if they had done nothing wrong. A country is doomed to fail if one does not acknowledge its past.

November 27, 2013 at 18:14

Whatever happened to the older posts?

November 27, 2013 at 03:03

Uniting is too strong a word but acting under mutual influence (more Korea due China) to Japan’s detriment is more correct. Japan’s situation is bleak if it does not wise up.

China’s more assertive stance, appropriate for its long term objective, has four groups of audience.

First, Japan-Japan has to really digest China’s serious determination in the long haul. Japan dares not settle on the islands with people. This will sink in. Japan changes PM several times every decade. Abe’s stance is ephemeral because Abe is.

Second, the international community has to understand China’s seriousness so it will never recognize Japan’s claim. The world fears war and will not abet it. The result is that China will continue to have plenty of time, decades, to gain on Japan. Given the great disparity in population, and the expiration of past conditions the had held China back, China’s road to domination over Japan is certain, if its economy holds up, even with markedly reduced growth rate, to say 5%. China will put 2-3% of growing GDP on defense.

Third, Korea—Korea will be emboldened by a powerful China against Japan. Animosity against Japan will be affordable politically and economically for Korea, fashionable even.

Fourth, the Chinese people—it is good for peace that China is not democratic, ruled by the majority.

Erosion of trade will hurt Japan far more than China. This is due to size and the degree of branding of products. Animosity per se will erode trade further. China can heighten animosity at will to whatever extent for whatever long. Comes 2035, how will Japan respond when boat loads of unarmed Chinese attempt to land on the islands? Televised fistfight per se will be the objective, as it erodes trade. The USA will do zilch, as the dreaded war has not happened. Japan will have no case at the WTO, as a business entity that wantonly produces bad PR has no ground to complain.

The slow decline of the USA is just another blow against Japan. And indeed, on the USA, Korea has major influence, as it is an ally. Korea will be a great diplomatic blow to Japan re the USA.

China has all the trump cards and will win this contest eventually.

November 26, 2013 at 03:21

India will help japan, ready to send naval squadren & IAF commandos (garud force)

November 26, 2013 at 20:44

India better help itself first :)

November 26, 2013 at 01:30

A great pity regarding the format now that everything’s so cramped up though! No paragraphs and no youtube video box…This format is gonna make reading the comments less appealing…Hope “thediplomat” can learn something about this from youtube.

November 26, 2013 at 16:49

I warned you but you didn’t listen. Another lesson you should have learnt from me.

November 26, 2013 at 20:50

Well, but no thanks :) I have my ways…It’s just the youtube box thingy but i understand they wanna save space…I can still paste the link and that’s fine…….Anyway, I believe a video speaks louder than words and it can’t be hidden……If anything, it will only reduce readership (due to the falling appeal) and affect the influence of “thediplomat”

November 27, 2013 at 14:42

@YiJiun. Yup. I too don’t like the new format. It’s not commentators’ friendly, especially paragraphing is not available.

November 27, 2013 at 18:17

Use dotted lines to separate between ‘paragraphs ………………………………………………………………………………………………. :)

November 25, 2013 at 16:13

Thumbs up for the good reform, how about thumbs up/down options like in Youtube? And perhaps an edit option as well? So that we don’t have to post a new comment for corrections…

Hope that I don’t have to put in my name and email everytime I want to make a comment now…

November 25, 2013 at 10:55

At 0:17:00, some Satanic guys here sounded exactly just like that and they even want to pull in the US to this fanaticism…I think the Red Sun is a Big Stain of Blood on the Japanese flag…

What they have shown, is a total indifference to the Satanic Japanese actions to the people of Japan and their victims during WW2. They represent anything but what we could call a human…

I have always quietly admired to a certain extent, the solidarity of the Japanese always, but this can be a double-edged sword that probably destroys more than create in the long term…

Under an imposed democracy, the maturity of thought that a democracy should have is not developed and thus, we see today the extreme right-wing militarism rearing its ugly head again…

The US should not underestimate this Pandora’s box that is trying to cover up itself as a music box…Once open, the evil coming out of it will be beyond control and everyone, including the US, will not be safe from it…In fact, the US would probably suffer the most from this big fallout and be unwelcome in the Asia-Pacific in the Asian Century…

All the major powers in this theater, Russia, North and South Koreas and China will not miss Japan…And the US is only using it as a military base to guard against Asia, but be warned that this dog will come around to bite its master one day…I am not feeling this way, I am positive…

The US need to train her dog to better follow command and should not release the leash on it, at least anytime soon…

November 26, 2013 at 16:48

Do you read back what you wrote here? You sound fanatic, almost like a fascist, calling people satanic and dog… The Chinese education seems to be tainting the mind of its people, and turning into what you have hated most: the exact image of the fascist Japanese of the 20th century.

Tom Bert
November 24, 2013 at 23:11

This video show how the Japanese public were lied to and hoodwinked by their bloodthirty government. I can see the current government lead by Abe doing the same thing.
The hurt will not stop till Japan shows genuine remorse.
Till then, don’t expect those who suffered to forgive and forget.

November 26, 2013 at 10:26

There is a big score to settle. The Emperor was never punished for his crimes. So the trend continues.

November 24, 2013 at 20:18

haha, i am starting to find RisingSun so ‘brilliant’ :)

Since Japanese schools are so afraid to teach about the ugly truth of WW2 with the right mindset , let me do the job for them and guys, this is the PEACEFUL CHINA video (some footages were never seen before) that RisingSun was talking about…

RisingSun, actually you should go into Japanese politics or have you already done so? I think you would have a mass market in Japan, but too bad, the US is still the master with the leash.They aren’t stupid, you know? :) Guys like you will help bring down Japan, no doubt, but don’t you ever dare think of bringing us down with you…

EPIC Documentary with some NEVER SEEN BEFORE Video footages and Diaries of Japanese during WW2…
Watch it and then read back the comments by some sick people here…

November 24, 2013 at 19:56

Really? Show that to the Japanese schools of today then if you will. And the peaceful Nanjing under Rape of Nanking? You deaf or something? Rape was peaceful? Did you hear that in the Documentary?

Abuse? I understand your fear, embarrassment and failure in leading people the wrong way.
Lies and lies…Actually, just contrast what pro-Japanese militarists here have been saying with this ..

More than 7 yrs of Stalemate of fighting in China was peaceful? The US and Britain were supplying arms to China and yes, just use your brain a little …It’s not that hard…

But, beware of the heartless lies here..These people didn’t mind their compatriots committing mass suicide as shown in the video…So, are they really peaceful or a sheep in wolf’s clothing? Can you let go off your leash on these wild packs? They thought we are Little Red Riding Hood, perhaps, haha…

They really are so cool talking about Japan’s atrocities and all the mass suicides there, just like Kamikaze…

November 24, 2013 at 16:22

YiJiun, stop abusing the rich contents, or it will be forbidden and many posters will not be able to use the function.

If you want reactions, I give you. Most of these footages came from Japan’s TV documentary aired 10 years ago. Some dialogues are selective but I have to say it’s very fair, thinking that the producers had to make a story out of the footages they have. Like I said, Shanghai and Nanjing in the beginning of the movie look very peaceful as I imagined before, nothing like a propaganda CCP loyalist are spreading. I thought how people in Tokyo looked happy although they must had been suffering from the residues of the Great Depression (Do you learn the Great Depression in China?). Japan and US are like two coolest kids in a school, they fought with fists until the body won’t move, and shake hands to be the best friends forever.

November 24, 2013 at 16:11

Cam at 05:58
Thanks for cheering, Cam.

I agree. When CCP is gone, the world would be a better place. Chinese people have to crash CCP and taking controls of their future with their own hands, otherwise, lies and deception will continue and they will not know how to be a patriot in a true sense.

petet holmed at 10:26
You watch this documentary and how to get a impression that “Japan is so hated by its neighbor”? Pretty much entire movie is made of scenes from Japan and US force archives. Shanghai and Nanjing in the beginning of the movie look very peaceful, soldiers smiling and locals walking by as usual. I agree though, South Korea and China is the best match and should mingle together. The rest of the world unites by love, and you two unite by hatred.

November 24, 2013 at 16:00

The problem is Japan tends to grossly overestimate itself and has the suicidal mentality which will give plenty of trouble to neighbors…

If you think 911 is the terrorism of the century, wait till Japan rears its head again…And it has the psychotic mentality (Kamikaze mentality) to bury everyone with itself if it is going down….Beware that its economy has been in doldrums for decades now…

Its leaders (typical examples are Koizumi and Abe) are still living in denial about Japanese horrific atrocities in WW2 (claiming they were wrongfully accused by the Allied nations) and the scary thing is these guys are hugely popular in Japan…

I can’t help but to say, LOOK at the EVIDENCE, not by the Chinese, not by the Koreans, but by yourself (though hidden from Japanese citizens by the Japanese authorities) and stop using China as an excuse like how the Nazis (staunch ally of Japan in WW2) used Anti-Communism as a pretext to forward their Satanic philosophy in Europe…

For concrete, sometimes never seen before video footages (in color) of Japanese atrocities and the mentality behind them which still thrives in today’s Japan, watch this
EPIC documentary:

petet holmed
November 24, 2013 at 10:26

Thank you yijiun for the video, it is really an eye opener!
Now I can understand why Japan is so hated by its neighbour.
The only difference is, Germany has truly repent but Japan is still possess by its satanic ambition and it’s again reigning it’s ugly head. Only thing is, its neighbors are no longer backward that they can be push around. S Korea has a lot to fear from Japan and China makes a natural ally.

November 24, 2013 at 05:58

Admire you for fighting a bunch of Chinese 50center army, man. They Chinese can’t swallow the bitter past and still living with 20th century mindset. Funny enough, they blast imperial Japan all the way but they actually act like one in Tibet, Xingjian and inner Mongolia. Now they are trying to glorify the middle kingdom with the ridiculous 9 dotted line map and Senkakus thing. China under CCP is a real cancer in Asia-Pacific; the world can’t afford to ignore.

November 24, 2013 at 00:24

The repeated voices coming out of extremely popular right-wing hardline Japanese Prime Ministers like Koizumi and Abe aren’t pacifist at all…They want to rearm Japan to the fullest extent, just that the US would not allow to let go this leash on Japan…

But, it’s hard to say in the future…The rivalry between the US and China is opening up a gap that is growing larger by the day and Japanese extreme right-wing nationalists are capitalizing on this and exploiting the ever larger room and space to maneuver..

And important political figures in Japan today still insists that Japan’s WW2 was to liberate and bring good to Asia…Look at the Youtube documentary above, my fellow friends who want peace and not the doomsday mentality depicted by the Kamikaze spirit which still thrives in Japanese society today…

I paste the link here again…This is a good documentary that will send shivers down your spine, knowing that the Kamikaze, Bushido Japanese mentality still thrives in modern Japan..One’s life will be threatened if this documentary is shown to the public in Japan as the authorities don’t want Japanese citizens to learn about the really ugly truth about Japanese actions during WW2…

Epic documentary (in colors):

November 23, 2013 at 18:43


Don’t be so offended that I called you a Korean. I know you are Chinese because your name shows and you have no knowledge about the Annexation and the Joseon Kingdom.

> extreme right wing versions of history
And I’m hearing extreme left wing version of history now? Explain how Japan “extreme right wing” is. I’ve been only hearing this from Chinese or Korean, but I cannot picture it. The military spending is like a half of China’s and only increases 1% yearly. We only have 150,000 men/women on land and 45,000 on water. Unlike China, everyone in Japan enjoys freedom of speech, expression, press, belief, study, association, gathering, movement, choosing professions, and thought.

> History is always judged by the victors and sinners can only be forgiven by the victims.
What the… ??? You do sound like a Korean I know. Her name is Park Kun Hae, who said “Japan will never be forgiven for the next 1,000 years”. Crazy… But anyways, the actual quote is “History is written by the victors” (Churchill) and why did you change it? Are you judging history? “sinners can only be forgiven by the victims” can be true but what would you do when victims are lying ? Committing perjury is a sin too, correct?

> The US must realize that God will punish it if it side with Japan
I’m surprised that the person from China is using a word “God”, and surely you sound so hilarious like a street preacher I saw in the downtown LA, talking about spirits or punishment and all… But why do you think that Japan is ought to dominate the world this day? I know many Chinese are still living in the 20th century mindset, but Japan after the WW2 became so pacified, making very positive relationships worldwide except China and South Korea today. We don’t threat anyone by sending armed fishing boats to the foreign islands, by arresting and jailing minorities randomly as bomb suspects, or by cutting much needed rescue works like CCP does. We don’t make attacking weapons, or hold nuclear weapons.

> we do not only calculate with logic
So are you telling Americans to listen to your paranoia although logically you are wrong? Chinese civilizations have come and gone because of bad politics and treating people like slaves. Set Tibet, Uyghur and Taiwan free, and it’s a time for CCP to go away so China would renew itself, don’t you think?

> voiced out the ugly truth of Japan’s actions in WW2 will get threatened and even killed
You know, Yijiun, just because it works that way in the authoritarian China, doesn’t apply to other countries.

April 5, 2014 at 02:36

A picture paints a thousand words … A video paints billions of memories ….
Accept the truth n move on … It’s not only china or korea .. It’s everywhere including my country Malaysia …nothing u say will ever change the facts …

November 23, 2013 at 17:59

Japan is truely shameless.
Denying your war crimes will get you no where.
South Korea is right to honors An as a national hero and Japan deserves to be condemn as a pariah nation till there is a sea change in their thinking.

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