Japan’s ‘Hate Comics’

JAPANESE troops did not massacre a single person in the Chinese city of Nanjing, a controversial comic book, or manga, here claims.
 
It was all a lie fabricated by China, insists the comic book that has become the latest best-seller in a growing market here for "hate manga" which pour vitriol on Japan’s neighbours.
 
The book, whose author is, interestingly, a Taiwanese, bears the innocuous yet titillating title An Introduction To China — A Study Of Our Annoying Neighbours.
 
But its contents are blatantly inflammatory and frequently gruesome in their depiction.
 
It says that every time there was a dynastic change in China, thousands of Nanjing residents were killed by invading soldiers.
 
Beijing, it says, conveniently used the bones of such victims as proof that Japanese troops had slaughtered 300,000 people in the city in the last war.
 
The manga, which has already sold 180,000 copies, also graphically describes how starving Chinese resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. It says that human meat was even sold in markets from the Tang Dynasty onwards as it was also considered a delicacy.
 
It is scripted by Taiwan-born Ko Bunyu (Huang Wenxiong in hanyu pinyin), a pro-Japan writer who has authored many anti-China books.
 
Mr Ko, 67, is clearly intent on blackening China’s image, saying for instance that its prostitution industry is the world’s largest.
 
A supporter of independence for Taiwan, he accuses China of distorting history, running crime syndicates in Japan and flooding it with "Aids – infested prostitutes".
 
According to Mr Hokuto Hata of publisher Asuka Shinsha, the manga was brought out to cash in on the sudden focus on China following anti-Japanese demonstrations in several Chinese cities in April.
 
"Reading conventional books about China is tiring. So we decided on a comic book, which is easier to absorb," he said.
 
Asked if his company can guarantee that the contents are factually correct, he replied: "That is the responsibility of the writer."
 
Mr Ko’s book comes on the heels of another manga called Hating the Korean Wave, whose title was considered so offensive that major Japanese newspapers declined to carry its advertisements.
 
This particular manga, which has sold 360,000 copies, claims that Japan annexed the Korean peninsula — seen as brutal subjugation in Korea — as it wanted to liberate it from China’s influence.
 
These books seem to resonate with young Japanese who resent the fact that their country has to continually apologise for its past history of aggression against its neighbours. They feel that it is time for change.
But the books’ appearance has officials worried as they come at a time of rising tensions between Tokyo and its neighbours.
 
Still, due to the guarantee of freedom of expression under Japanese law, there is nothing the government can do about such publications, which have carved a niche for themselves in recent years.
 
Earlier best-sellers include right-wing cartoonist Yoshinori Kobayashi’s incendiary works, one of which nearly got him permanently banned from entering Taiwan.
 
"Such books that bad-mouth Korea and China do not see the two countries as enemies, but make fun of them and call for relations to be reduced or cut. In these books, we begin to see a Japan that is becoming more isolated," said East Asian scholar Professor Kan Kimura of Kobe University.
 
~ by Kwan Weng Kin in Tokyo, The Straits Time, December 3, 2005 

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