Knowing China through Taiwan

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China's Hollywood 'killed' nearly 1 billion Japanese last year

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2013-02-18
  • 10:31 (GMT+8)
A popular TV drama about the Second Sino-Japanese War. (Internet photo)

A popular TV drama about the Second Sino-Japanese War. (Internet photo)

Nearly one billion Japanese soldiers or enemies were killed off in TV productions filmed last year at Hengdian World Studios, the studio facilities known as the Hollywood of China, the Guangdong-based Yangcheng Evening News reports, suggesting that Chinese TV audiences like to achieve some degree of catharsis for their anti-Japanese sentiment with a high body count of enemy combatants in historical dramas.

As this figure breaks down as 2.7 million deaths per day for 365 days — a rate of over 30 per second — it seems reasonable to assume that most of these "deaths" occurred off-screen — or that this represents the cumulative total of every death in every series broadcast on myriad domestic networks. Put it this way: somewhere on Chinese television right now, Japanese people are being killed. And probably in large numbers.

In 2012, out of the more than 200 TV series broadcast on national networks, more than 70 of them had a wartime or anti-Japanese theme, more than any other "genre." The trend is definitely set to continue this year, said the newspaper.

The volume of shows where Japanese invaders get their comeuppance clearly reflects a general sentiment, but internet users have been criticizing the liberal use of historically inaccurate and exaggerated plots to get the nationalistic point across, the report said. TV shows have veered increasingly towards dehumanizing Japanese characters and imbuing Chinese characters with fantastic superpowers to satisfy the revenge fantasies of local viewers.

People who grow up in China are exposed from an early age to negative depictions of Japan and Japanese people, a reaction to what is seen as fifty years of national humiliation from the late 19th century to 1945, a period which saw two wars between the two countries with massive loss of life and territory, coupled with the perception that Japan has not shown sufficient remorse for the wartime atrocities committed by its troops in China.

The offspring of such resentment manifests itself in terms like "little Japan" or "Japanese devils" and is perpetuated by the media, teachers, parents and even textbooks.

Long-simmering anti-Japanese sentiment exploded again in September last year when protesters rallied in the streets in several major cities, objecting to Japan's nationalization of a group of islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu or Diaoyutai in Chinese. The islands were handed over to Japanese administration by the US along with Okinawa in 1972.

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