Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is obviously not the most popular person in China. But his recent criticism of China’s system of patriotic education has won him some support - amid angry responses - from Chinese netizens. They say Abe is right.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Abe accused China of teaching anti-Japanese views in its schools.
“In the case of China, teaching patriotism is also teaching anti-Japanese sentiment,” he said.
Abe argued that the Chinese government needed to have territorial disputes with Japan in order to win domestic support.
His comments triggered heated debate online after they were picked up by major mainland news outlets.
“Encouraging anti-Japanese sentiment helps distract the Chinese from the country's real problems”, commented a blogger on news website Netease, “ Now it’s an open secret, its time [for the government] to use a new trick. “
This single comment was ‘'liked' 6,635 times by Netease readers on Friday.
“I agree with Abe,” commented another netizen on Weibo, China’s twitter-like service. “Even my four-year-old son told me Japan was evil - according to his grandfather.”
“How many Chinese did the Japanese kill? And how many Chinese were killed in political upheaval in China? And who should pay for their deaths?” asked one blogger, in a reference to 20th century Sino-Japanese history.
Despite netizens agreeing with Abe, an overwhelming number lashed out at his remarks.
“Abe, please tell me has Japan ever apologised for its war crimes committed in China?,” said a blogger.
“China’s anti-Japanese education is far from adequate,” said another.
Abe became Japan’s prime minister for a second time in December. He has promised a tougher diplomatic stance against Beijing.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated during the past months following territorial disputes over the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus, in Japan.