Posts Tagged ‘ China Japan Relations ’

A Quick Break from Bad Blood Between China & Japan.

I preface this by saying that before anyone gives me a hard time for  “not understanding the complexities and historical dimensions” of the China-Japan feud (attempted invasions, actual invasions, shocking atrocities, arrogance, real or feigned rage over historical events), please, I do get that.  I just want to do my infinitesimal part in creating more positive vibes . . .

Kobo Daishi, a/k/a Kukai

First, let’s go back 1200 years . . .

Since Esoteric Buddhism was relatively unknown in Japan, Kobo Daishi knew he must go to China in order to gain a better understanding of the Esoteric teachings.  Fortunately, Kobo Daishi was able to join a Japanese envoy in 804 that was traveling by boat to Xi’an (the capital of China at the time) to visit the Tang Dynasty. After spending some time in China, Kobo Daishi was given the opportunity to learn the essence of the esoteric teachings under a priest Huiguo, an authority on Esoteric Buddhism. Master Huiguo then initiated him into the Esoteric Buddhism tradition. It was truly remarkable that Kobo Daishi was able to master the complex esoteric teachings and be selected to be the eighth patriarch of Esoteric Buddhism in such a short period of time.

In spite of Kobo Daishi’s initial 20 year directive to study Buddhism in China, he returned to Japan after only two years with the mission from Master Huiguo to spread the teachings of Esoteric Buddhism throughout Japan.

Kobo Daishi returned to Japan in the province of Tsukushi (Fukuoka Prefecture), with a great number of religious textbooks and artworks. However, having disobeyed the 20 year directive from the government, he was not allowed to enter the capital city. After several years had passed, Kobo Daishi was finally permitted to enter the capital city. Immediately after being welcomed back into the capital city he proclaimed his devotion to propagating of the supreme doctrine of Esoteric Buddhism.

Kobo Daishi is also known as the father of Japanese culture. He is renown for his talents as a teacher, engineer, inventor, poet, calligrapher and creating the first public school in Japan. . . .

Read more here on the history and influence of China in Japan through Kobo Daishi

Bad relations between China and Japan suck.  I mean, they really rot (the bad relations, not the countries).  Makes me, and American, cringe.  I like both countries.  A lot.  But they’re both freaking out over each other now.  Here’s a recent piece on the latest Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands kerfuffle.  And today I just read where China’s refused to grant visas to three Japanese members of the Taiwanese National Symphony Orchestra on the eve of the Orchestra touring Mainland China.  Gad.

So, while it will do absolutely no good, I still feel compelled to offer-up this, an American tribute to both China and Japan, to Japan and China.  It may be silly, it may be naive, it may be superficial, but it’s still a really hep song, and it demonstrates that in other parts of the world lots of people think both countries are really cool and celebrate them both.

Bodhisattva – Steely Dan (1973)

Would you take me by the hand
Would you take me by the hand
Can you show me
The shine of your Japan
The sparkle of your china
Can you show me
Bodhisattva . . .



Prayers at the Temple of the Jade Buddha. Anshan, China. July 2008.


Over 1200 years ago Kobo Daishi — yes, the same guy who would go to China — founded To-ji Temple in Kyoto . . .

Prayers at Toji Temple. Kyoto, Japan. May 2008.

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Japan, China, the Senkaku Islands, & Ginned-up Rage.

Several of the Senkaku ・Diaoyu Islands

= 19 Sept 2012 Update:  as quickly as they began, China’s raging protests end. Beijing pulls the levers on both . . . =

= 25 Sept 2012 Update:  Now Taiwan, feeling ignored it seems, has gotten into the act. See photo below . . . =

So what’s going on between China and Japan and the Senkaku (Diaoyu to the Chinese) Islands?  Where are these islands and what’s behind all the rage and sabre-rattling?  This is no scholarly report, just a little update and primer for the casual reader who wants some background on this stormy  (and potentially very dangerous) controversy.  While looking at the information below, please keep the following things in mind:  1)  Virtually no protests — certainly not in front of foreign embassies — occur in China without government approval and, in matters such as this, organization; 2) China’s going through a Communist Party / National Government transfer-of-power drama which, if the populace were to pay a whole lot of attention to it, would no doubt showcase cronyism and ineptitude; 3) Japan has elections coming up, too, and no Japanese politician wants to be seen as “bowing” to Chinese demands.

From the Wiki:

The Senkaku Islands dispute concerns a territorial dispute on a group of uninhabited, the Senkaku Islands, which are also known as the Diaoyu by China or Tiaoyutai Islands by Taiwan.  The archipelago is administered by Japan, while also being claimed by both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China [Taiwan] (ROC).   [Following World War II] The United States occupied the islands from 1945 to 1972. . .

After China lost the [first Sino-Japanese] war [in 1895], both countries signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895 that stipulated, among other things, that China would cede to Japan “the island of Formosa together with all islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Formosa (Taiwan)”.

The treaty, however, was nullified after Japan lost the Second World War in 1945 by the Treaty of San Francisco, which was signed between Japan and part of the Allied Powers in 1951. The document nullifies prior treaties and lays down the framework for Japan’s current status of retaining a military that is purely defensive in nature. 

There is a disagreement between the Japanese, PRC and ROC governments as to whether the islands are implied to be part of the “islands appertaining or belonging to said island of Formosa” in the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

Map of the Disputed Islands.

Thousands of Chinese Protesters Besiege Japanese Embassy (Japan Today — September 15, 2012).  Excerpt:

“Return our islands! Japanese devils get out!” some shouted. One of them held up a sign reading: “For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan.”

Protester Liu Gang, a migrant worker from the southern region of Guangxi, said: “We hate Japan. We’ve always hated Japan. Japan invaded China and killed a lot of Chinese. We will never forget.”

Japan and China:  Ghosts of the Past (The Guardian — September 17, 2012).  Excerpt:

Left to their own devices, relations between Japan and China are bound to improve. Both economies need each other. China is Japan’s single largest trading partner and bilateral trade hit a record $345bn last year. But things in the East China Sea are rarely left to their own devices. A move by the Japanese government to defuse an attempt by nationalists to buy disputed islands in fish- and gas-rich seas, by buying them itself, has led to six days of demonstrations in China. Japanese cars and car dealerships have been attacked, factories have been torched or broken into. Hundreds of Japanese companies and offices have been forced to suspend operation.  And the biggest wave of protest since the two countries normalised relations in 1972 – there were demonstrations in 70 Chinese cities – is not over yet.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2012:

AP/Taiwan Central News Agency Photo [25 September 2012] — Japanese Coast Guard boats shoot water cannons at Taiwanese Coast Guard boats in the waters off the disputed islands. About 40 Taiwanese fishing vessels and 12 Taiwanese Coast Guard boats took part in the action, finally pulling away after the water cannonade.