Reuters (Beijing) recently reported about possibly the most hilarious use of a fictional character used as an insult in the political arena, with China and Japan calling each other Voldemort. China specifically referred to Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine as “a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest part of the nation’s soul.” While I commend Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming for his extensive knowledge of the Potter-verse, I would like to counter argue that if the Yasukuni Shrine is Japan’s horcrux, then Tibet is China’s.
China committed mass genocide in the Cultural Revolution that killed over a million of the Tibetan people. Also, where Japan had comfort women, China had Thamzing, which was the torture and/or killing of any “political dissenters” (i.e. anybody who the Red Guards didn’t like). There were labor camps, executions, and numerous human rights violations.
Yes, the Yasukuni Shrine visits are a very hot topic, but Abe basically gets little to no choice in the matter. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. While their are war criminals at the shrine, there are also war heroes there as well. Would it be fair to neglect the people at that shrine who died to defend their country from the American invasion and subsequent occupation? How could Abe defend his stance not to go when the daughters and sons of those brave soldiers beg him to not punish the memory of their family’s noble deeds because they share the same space with dishonored men?
China hounds Japan for an apology for all the horror it inflicted in the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, but how about China apologizes for the 2008 crackdown against Tibetan protestors? How about China apologizes to Tibet for still occupying it long after it’s been made abundantly clear that Tibet doesn’t want to be a part of China? How about apologizing to the Dalai Lama for trying to kill him more than a few times?
Now, Abe talking about revising the Japanese constitution to allow for militarization and the recent Senkaku Islands debacle looks suspicious. Abe wants the U.S. out of Okinawa to make way for Japan’s new military base, and that definitely makes China uncomfortable , too. China has every right to point out there’s some shady goings on over here in Japan. I would be suspicious too if my neighbor and I were having a land owners dispute and then suddenly my neighbor came back with a license to carry and a gun.
However, it’s not a black and white picture that China, as well as Korea, try to paint it to be. Both China and Japan are complex countries with complex cultural views, and each considers their part in World War II with different sets of eyes. What’s obvious is that both China wants the world to view Japan in a negative light, and Japan wants the same for China.
At the end of the day, neither China nor Japan are Voldemort, but each definitely have the characteristics that reflect an alignment with Slytherin house. Yet, as many fans on Pottermore will attest, Slytherin doesn’t equal evil. Wanting to attain power isn’t a bad thing, because power can give a country the ability to take care of its people. Both China and Japan are ambitious countries that want to be taken seriously on the international front, but unfortunately this recent news makes them both look a little ridiculous.
And it’s a rotten shame, because the issues are far from trivial.