Video of Far-Right Japanese Kindergarten Recital Sparks Controversy in China

A video of a Japanese kindergarten recital has sparked controversy on Chinese social media, as children are heard saying that the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands belong to Japan and that China should not “spread lies” about Japan in its history books. The school already made headlines earlier this month when it was accused of promoting anti-Chinese and anti-Korean sentiment.

A right-wing kindergarten in Osaka, Japan, has triggered controversy on Chinese social media after a video of children swearing a nationalistic oath was published by Japanese and Chinese media.

According to Chinese state news outlet Global Times, the children’s oath was filmed at the Moritomo school in Osaka, that runs the Tsukamoto Kindergarten.

The same kindergarten made headlines earlier this month when it was accused of promoting bigotry against Chinese and Koreans. The school also drew attention in 2016 for its nationalist curriculum that aims to instil a sense of patriotism in its 3- to 5-year-old students.

The matter is especially sensitive because Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is linked to the school. His wife previously visited the school, and Abe reportedly once said that the ideology of Mr. Kagoike, chairman of the school, was similar to his.


The video: “Japan will not be outdone by other countries, we will protect the Senkaku Islands,(..) China and South Korea and others (..) should not teach lies in their history books. Prime Minister Abe do your best to maintain legality in the Diet.”

The video shows how in an oath before a sport’s competition, the children say that Japan cannot be outdone by other countries, and that Japan rules the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. “We hope that the Chinese and South Korean and others who view Japan as an evil country can change their stance instead of teaching lies in history books,” the children say.

On February 28, the topic “Japanese Right-Wing Kindergarten Make a Vow” (#日本右翼幼儿园宣誓#) became top trending on Sina Weibo.

The video sparked debate on Weibo: “These students don’t have a correct understanding of the problems in history, which is a worrying thing. Since Abe has risen to power there has been a concerning trend towards right-wing politics (..). Saying that the Diaoyu islands are theirs is just an act of stealing, and I strongly denounce it,” one person commented.

“I am not saying Japan is an evil country,” another person writes: “Every country has its own problems. But if children are in kindergartens like these, it will actually turn into an evil country.”

But there are also many netizens who take this topic as a chance to reflect on China’s own schools, and mention that there are also “abnormal practices” occurring there. “China has kindergartens where they show bloody films about the Anti-Japanese War,” one commenter says. Others remark that anti-Japanese war dramas or films are also a form of “brainwashing.” “Isn’t China exactly the same?”, one person wonders.

But not everyone agrees: “Those war films only show how the Japanese invaded China and murdered Chinese, can you deny this?”, another person responds.

Overall, most netizens seem to agree that the children are not to be blamed in this matter: “These kids don’t even know what they are saying, they are only being used by the adults who are behind this.”

According to the Washington Post, prime minister Abe and his wife have now distanced themselves from the school. But it has not silenced discussions on Weibo. “Poor children,” some say: “How sad they have to live in a shameless country like that.”

– By Manya Koetse

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Author

About the author: Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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