Monday, April 25, 2005

Refighting history 

Genocide is still proving a very contentious topic, even decades later. Yesterday, Armenians were remembering the first mass murder of civilians in the twentieth century:
"Hundreds of thousands of people clutching tulips, carnations and daffodils climbed a hill in Armenia's capital on Sunday to lay wreaths and remember the 1.5 million they say were killed 90 years ago in Ottoman Turkey.

"From the top, the crowds could see the heights of Mount Ararat, now in eastern Turkey, the region where Armenia says its people were slaughtered in a deliberate genocide during the chaos surrounding the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire."
Turkey, needless to say, doesn't see it that way:
"Turkey acknowledges that large numbers of Armenians died, but says Armenians were among many victims of a partisan war that also claimed Turkish lives. Ankara earlier this month called for the two countries to jointly research the killings."
And in Asia, the war of words between Japan and China over textbooks and history continues:
"Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura refuted Chinese claims that Japanese textbooks gloss over Tokyo's World War II-era atrocities, firing back in a TV talk show Sunday that China's schools indoctrinate their students with an unbalanced take on the past.

" 'There is a tendency toward this in any country, but the Chinese textbooks are extreme in the way they uniformly convey the "our country is correct" perspective,' Machimura said, echoing Sunday's editorial in Japan's largest newspaper accusing China of nationalistic education."
The bigger problem, of course, is what the Chinese textbooks don't say. As I wrote last week, "Japan still falsifies its history of relations with China; China still falsifies its history of relations with itself." Although, overall the Japanese authorities have done a much better job of facing up to World War Two than the Chinese authorities have in looking back at Mao's reign and the biggest mass-murder in history.


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