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    Love’s got the world in motion / And I know what we can do

    In a comment to a previous post, someone mentioned a report about displays of anti-Chinese sentiment at Japanese soccer matches. Not surprisingly, two are doing this tango. From a story headlined Anti-Japan feeling evident at Asian Cup:

    After the game, a crowd of people surrounded a Japanese student wearing a Japan team jersey and began to verbally abuse him, telling him, “Go home, now!”

    He was then pelted with sunflower seeds the Chinese had brought with them for a snack.

    I’m glad they didn’t use rocks, trust me. But I have to say that throwing sunflower seeds sounds like something out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Let this shower of trace minerals, cholesterol-fighting lipids, and essential amino acids signify our unutterable contempt for you, you…archipelago-dweller!” And I think the complaint lodged with the Chinese government by the Japanese government sounds kind of silly as rendered by the Mainichi English edition, though the original makes it a little clearer that the goal was to get the PRC to prevent things from escalating into violence, not just to express pique at being booed.

    Sports fans are the same worldwide, of course. I’m not saying they’re all hooligans, just that there’s nothing particularly Chinese or Japanese about passions that run high at soccer matches. Whether this sort of thing helps to defuse hostilities or ratchets them up is an arguable point. It probably depends on the circumstances. In any case, both Chinese and Japanese nationalism have been known to be unpredictable forces in the past. Given the shifting balances of economic and military power here on the Pacific Rim, we can only hope the belligerence stops at fistfuls of salty snacks.

    Added at 19:45: I can’t imagine how I missed it, especially since he pointed the issue out earlier here, but Meaty Fly put up a link-rich post about this issue a few days ago, tying it to the developing Sino-Japanese competition for resources. His update today is also more detailed than what I wrote here. Finally, CNN has posted an article that summarizes the current soccer-related goings-on.

    BTW, I assume most of you know what angers Koreans, Taiwanese, and Chinese when some Japanese politician talks about how “regrettable” something that happened during the War was, but for those who’ve wondered: The specific word translated as “regret” varies from case to case, but 遺憾に思う is the favored expression. If memory serves, that’s the phrasing the mayor of Hiroshima used in his widely-protested speech on the 50th anniversary of the A-bombing of that city.

    The problem with the word is that it expresses free-floating, non-referential regret; it is not an apology. The tone of his speech was something like having someone who kidnapped and tortured your toddler to death tell you, “I’ve done some extreme and ill-advised things, and what happened to your child is a very deplorable thing indeed.” To add insult to injury, there’s still a voluble crew of hard-right Japanese who protest whenever a politician makes a move to apologize to Asia for Japan’s wartime actions, reasoning that Japan was liberating the rest of Asia from Euro-American hegemony. You can imagine how much the former comfort women love that. In any case, that’s how Japanese politicians who express “regret” generally make diplomatic incidents worse.

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