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.