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The Japanese Military and China's Earthquake

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on May 28, 2008

Here’s a headline I never thought I would see. “China seeks Japanese military help after quake,” reports Reuters. The agency writes that the Chinese government is inviting the Japanese military into China to help with earthquake relief. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told reporters yesterday that the government had received a Chinese request for assistance from Japan’s Self Defense Force, aka the Japanese army, navy and air force. “It is not entirely clear, but I think they want SDF tents and blankets to be transported to a Chinese airport by SDF planes,” Machimura said.

Japan’s unwillingness to deal with the legacy of the country’s actions in World War Two has long angered many Chinese. A few years ago, there were big anti-Japanese demonstrations in Chinese cities after the government in Tokyo approved some school textbooks that allegedly whitewashed Japanese war crimes. But in other parts of the world, natural disasters sometimes have helped to ease tensions between countries. For instance, as Joshua Kurlantzick wrote a few weeks ago in the Boston Globe, the Greeks were first to offer help to the Turks after a devastating earthquake in Turkey in 1999. Maybe something similar is happening now between China and Japan.

Reader Comments


May 28, 2008 10:57 AM

Use your brain.

Any country will welcome military from another country to come for rescue? Let alone this is China and Japan. Sichuan is also the location of many military installations that were built in the massive "third frontier contruction" compain during 1960s-1070s.

Reconstruction is now the main task. For this China has a lot of people and engineering.

Ming-shunn Tsai

May 28, 2008 4:57 PM

I personally am quite happy to see Japan contribute aid to China’s earthquake disaster victims. This unexpected but welcome cooperation may very well improve the long-term relations between the two countries, and promote greater peace in East Asia.

A similar situation, but less remarked upon, has been Taiwan’s humanitarian relief efforts. Every time an international disaster occurs, one does not have to wait long before Taiwanese aid groups appear. According to China’s official information, Taiwanese enterprises have donated more towards the Sichuan earthquake relief efforts than any other multinational organizations; of the top five enterprises that have donated aid, four are Taiwanese companies, which also make five out of the top ten.

Taiwan is foremost not only in donations from foreign companies. As soon as the Sichuan earthquake happened, Taiwan immediately expressed its concern and was among the first countries to send search teams to the affected area. In this global village, when a terrible disaster occurs, no one can remain aloof. The Taiwanese believe that no matter which country is involved, helping others is helping oneself.


May 29, 2008 2:40 PM

It turned out to be a rumour again.

China is still studying if Japanese military planes are ALLOWED to be landed in China. During recent days, Chinese government is very open to the foreign military planes that carries assistance materials to China. But NONE is what Chinese asked. Russia could be exception since they have big helicopters that can be used to move heavey construction equipements in the mountanous areas.

The trick often used by some countries is:
1. Report a unreal thing in their own favour.
2. Put presure on Chinese government
3. Get what they want.

It is very likely that Japanese want to use their military planes to carry materials to China.


May 29, 2008 5:51 PM

Regarding the author: Surpising!?...Nothing is surprising especially in this situation. Japan and China should be united and cooperated in every aspects...We came from the same ancestor & culture. Western & western media always try to separate Asian contries in order to control.

Regarding Ming Shun Tsai: I am totally agreed with your comments. Taiwanese is Chinese.


May 30, 2008 12:07 PM

The fact proves what I said is correct.
1. China did not ask for any aid from Japanese military but from Japan gov. This is determined by Chinese feeling.
2. Japanese gov may want to make political gains from the disaster in China by using military airplanes. But it wisely decided to use civil planes. Sino-Japanese relationship is improving recently, but Japanese know what Chinese may feel by sending military airplanes.

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