The Nanjing Judge

A friend posted a short video today about the beauty of “mindfulness of others”. Japan is amazing for countless reasons, but its society displays the rare value of social consideration. They are thoughtful of other people’s needs.

You could nap in a train or bus because people are quiet. You could leave your phone, laptop, bicycle, scooter anywhere, and they won’t be stolen. Life is better for everyone if you cultivate a society to care for everyone, or be mindful of others. The world was in awe of the Japanese during the recent World Cup in Russia. Their football fans did not hurriedly stream out of the stadiums after each match. They stayed back to pick up all the rubbish and left the place clean and litter-free!

It was only two nights ago at a party when I posed the question: Would China be a better country today had they lost the Sino-Japanese War in 1937-45? It was estimated that over 25 million Chinese died in that war, from violence or famine. A civil war then ensued during which 2 million troops died and 5 million residents perished. A big price to pay to herald in the reign of the Communists in 1949.

The Japanese lost the war, but I think China lost a great deal too. Apart from the loss of millions of lives, Communism wiped out the moral fabric of the Confucian society. There is still a moral crisis forty three years after the Cultural Revolution. Marxism is both a political and economic philosophy but it is void of any moral teachings. It was a system of destroying the upper class to free the poor from tyranny. It also saw the abolition of religion and with it, the moral teachings. An amoral society empty of civility and civic ethos is perhaps the biggest price paid.

In 2006, a young Nanjing man, Peng Yu helped a woman to hospital, she had fallen and injured herself on a street. Later the woman and her family sued the good samaritan for causing her the fall. The Nanjing judge decided in her favour, ruling that Peng must be at fault, otherwise why would he “act against common sense” and help her? Only money is king. The monkey king is dead.

Shaoguanshienshi. Leave it, this is not our business. Urghhlings.

A friend reminded me of the Nanjing massacre and how the Japanese looted the occupied land. I declared the Great Leap Forward was worse. The failed grandiose ideas of Mao resulted in the deaths of some eighteen to fifty six million Chinese ( depending on which data you rely on). Irrespective of the actual number, it is beyond my imagination and comprehension that so many lives were lost or destroyed in the pursuit of an ideal.

Would China be better off under Japanese rule? At least the Japanese observe the many valued Shinto and Buddhist tenets. They have a pleasant demeanour of being “mindful of others”. More recently, many stories of good samaritans have surfaced in modern China. Many heart-tugging stories of heroes helping the distressed especially in rescue efforts after natural disasters. It is no longer true that China is experiencing moral decay. We cannot use individual incidents such as The Nanjing Judge to tarnish the whole society. In every barrel, there will be a few rotten apples.

To quote Mohandras Gandhi, You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

2 thoughts on “The Nanjing Judge

  1. Your question is assuming the Japanese is already “mindful of others” during their occupation of China. That may be a popular belief. But is it really true at that time.

    I remember reading about the Japanese queuing and no looting after a tsunami I think in 2011, where the author says it was not always like that. I think this phenomenon is after WW2. Similarly, mindfulness of others may not be prevalent in 1927.

    If my suspicion is correct, then your will not arise. Taiwan and China have take different paths with different experience and therfore comparison may not be relevant. Not sure if Taiwan went through the same atrocity as China has.

    More research required


    1. Thanks for your comments, TC. No, I made no assumptions about Japanese civility prior to their colonisation of other Asian countries. Perhaps their civility changed after they woke up to their brutality during the war years. The Formosan forces were puny and offered token resistance when Taiwan was attacked, hence their casualties were light by comparison.


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