When tragedy strikes, we should fall back on our compassion and not hatred

When tragedy strikes, we should fall back on our compassion and not hatred

People living in Japan today are not responsible for the nation’s second world war atrocities, and cheering their deaths is cruel


Anti-Japanese sentiment is strong in China and South Korea, and people often celebrate when Japan is struck by a disaster, and hold huge protests when Japanese leaders make official visits.
Photo: EPA

A 7.3 earthquake hit Japan on April 16, causing chaos on the streets of Kumamoto. It left 48 dead, two missing, 3,129 injured, and 200,000 people homeless, forcing them to take refuge in emergency shelters.

Japan deployed 25,000 troops to join in the rescue effort. The United States and many other countries have been providing humanitarian aid and supplies while also engaging in efforts to search for remaining survivors. It seems that to help Japan, the whole world is getting together – except for one country.

On 17th April, a company in southwest China offered discounts to “celebrate the great Japanese earthquake”, saying: “The promotion will go on as long as the aftershock continues. If the earthquake reaches magnitude 9, prices will be lowered again. If all Japanese perish, we will drop the prices drastically. If Japan sinks to the sea bottom, all of our products are yours!”.

It is despicable to take advantage over someone else’s mishap! Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg as a other companies from Zhejiang and Shaanxi provinces decided to offer similar discounts.

It is true that this may not reflect the whole situation of China but it does shows one thing: that if companies are hoping to achieve customer satisfaction then most likely their customers are pretty satisfied with these slogans. Certainly not all, but some, and that is already quite problematic as there are lives at stake as we celebrate.

This is actually not the first time incidents like this have happened in China. Back in 2011, when the Tohoku earthquake killed 15,894, hundreds if not thousands of netizens commented online, rejoicing that Japan was hit by an earthquake.

And this isn’t just celebrated by the Chinese, but also by the Koreans. In the same earthquake in 2011, during the Asians Champions League quarter final when the Korean team was against Japan’s Cerezo Osaka, Korean football fans hung a banner in the stadium saying “ Let’s celebrate Japan’s Big Earthquake”.

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It is easy to understand why Asian countries might hate Japan for its militarist past and it’s notorious actions during second world war. However, is all this cursing and hatred really rational? More than 60 years have passed since the end of that war, and the people now inhabiting Japan are in no way responsible for the war crimes of the past. Even if the Japanese government refuses to apologise for their ancestors’ actions, the innocent citizens are in no position to suffer from that. Citizens of Japan, after experiencing such destruction, hate war, and long for peace.

Truth be told, in 2008, when Sichuan was struck by the disastrous earthquake, Japan reached out to help China providing the monetary aid of US$9,600,000. In fact, the Japanese rescue team was the first group of foreign aid personnel to actually reach Sichuan. There is simply no reason why we should hold a grudge against Japan.

When we celebrate that Japan has suffered an earthquake, we are demeaning our own moral values, and showcasing how cold-blooded we are. To the narrow-minded “nationalists” in China, there is no better answer than quoting from Confucius, a patriotic, admirable Chinese philosopher. “Act with kindness, but do not expect gratitude.” For them, not expecting gratitude is too much to ask for, but at least act with kindness and show some compassion.

As innocent people’s lives are lost, it is only humane to set aside our differences and extend our help, because it is this virtue and the ability to show compassion that will make the world a better place. These radical and ignorant comments are ones that should not come from citizens of a country whose culture celebrates kindness.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
End the irrational anti-Japan sentiments


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