Following Japan's occupation of Nanjing in 1937, the Japanese army committed numerous atrocities, including rape, looting, killing of innocents, arson, torture etc. The aftermath saw Japan and China debating on the extent of the atrocities, and some even claim that the massacre never occurred. This has indeed become one of the central points of Chinese nationalism. Japan's continued denial of the "exaggerated figures" and their textbook controversy [link to textbook controversy] has also resulted in the aftermath of the Nanking massacre becoming a major source of contention in Sino-Japanese relations.
History textbooks in Japan are also under heavy scrutiny after a highly controversial textbook was released in 2000. The textbook whitens the atrocities committed during wartime Japan, plays down the extent of torture, murder and rape by the Japanese army during the Nanking Massacre, and also avoids contemporary issues such as Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Many critics of these textbooks appeared which then led to Japan's neighbors to pressure the Japanese government to issue more apologies, albeit having issued many apology statements in the past.
Eventually, the tensions reached breaking point and culminated in the 2005 anti-Japanese protests. March 2005 witnessed numerous states and provinces in China demonstrating, with some even damaging Japanese embassies, offices and restaurants. Observers claimed that the Chinese government may have even condoned the protests in order to further political goals as efforts to stop the demonstrations were strangely ineffective.
The Nanking Massacre has caused great controversy over the actual number of civilians killed, with China claiming over 300,000 died while Japan said the numbers were in the hundreds. Sino-Japanese relations have thus always been tense whenever the issue is brought up as both sides are unable to reach a consensus on the actual, legitimate figures of the Nanking Massacre.
The history textbook incident has also flared up similar emotions, with China again accusing Japan of not being remorseful over their wartime atrocities. The demonstrations that followed soon after incited a hasty move by the Japanese foreign minister and fellow leaders to apologise for Japan's wartime crimes and demand for reparations caused by the protests. However, China refused to accede to Japan's demands, further compromising both countries' relations.
The economic impact was immediate: Japanese companies and corporations started to look elsewhere for business opportunities as they risked damage if they continued to invest in China.
This particular episode in world events can contribute to 2 components of the civilisational paradigm proposed by this site:
Japanese tendency to be nationalistic - Nationalism, a vital characteristic of both the Chinese and Japanese culture, plays an important role in the continued debacle over a simple issue such as the actual numbers killed. As both sides refuse to back down and accept that the incident is over, the contention over the Nanking Massacre continues without cessation.
The Chinese government are also claimed to have manipulated the situation to their political advantage by allowing and even encouraging the riots to escalate.
Japanese tendency to be globally connected - Japan's global connectedness is also evident as Japan apologized immediately after the demonstrations sparked off. Japan's economy is also dependent on China considering China's rapidly growing market (Starrs 2001). Thus, Japan cannot afford to have its economy compromised by physical damage done to its economic infrastructure in China.