with the news filled with coverage
of anti-Japanese protests across China,
artist Teruaki Ogura decided to proceed
with an exhibition at the art museum
of the Japan-China Friendship Center
in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward from Sept.
Half of the 40 or so works are
of Japanese landscapes, with the
other half of Chinese landscapes.
"I never imagined the protests
would become this bad," Ogura,
an ink wash painting artist, said
of the raging turmoil across China.
"I was a bit worried."
The recent controversy over the
Senkaku Islands and the often violent
protests in China have led to a
number of cancellations of tours
to China and events for bilateral
But Ogura is one of a number of
individuals and groups that have
refused to halt grass-roots activities
between the two nations, arguing
that the private sector has to do
whatever it can because of the difficult
political and diplomatic situation.
Ogura held an exhibition in Shanghai
earlier this month ahead of the
one in Tokyo. While that was before
the start of anti-Japanese protests,
sentiment toward Japan in Shanghai
had begun to worsen with talk about
Japan nationalizing the Senkakus,
which are called the Diaoyu Islands
Security was very tight at the
opening ceremony in Shanghai, and
there were few smiles among the
organizers. However, those who came
to see the exhibition approached
Ogura with smiles and asked for
He said he had tears in his eyes
when he thought that art could overcome
history and national borders.
On Sept. 16, as protests spread
throughout China, often violently,
a group of about 30 Japanese and
Chinese gathered at Nishi-Ikebukuro
park in Tokyo. The event was a weekly
Sunday gathering organized by Duan
Yuezhong, 54, a Chinese editor in
chief at The Duan Press, a publisher
of books on China-Japan relations.
Members, ranging from homemakers,
college students and senior citizens,
learn about language and culture.
Since the sessions began in 2007,
a total of 256 have been held.
On Sept. 16, group members discussed
how the Senkakus issue could be
"Looking at only newspapers
and television, feelings of hatred
will only deepen because there is
a prevalence of boorish Chinese,"
Duan said. "Mutual understanding
can only deepen through direct dialogue
This year marks the 40th anniversary
of the normalization of relations
between Japan and China.
Some events can trace their roots
back to that normalization.
A volunteer group of Japanese college
students and company workers has
been showing Chinese movies at an
almost monthly pace since 1973.
The group plans to proceed with
the scheduled screening on Sept.
22 of a movie titled "Postmen
in the Mountains" in English.
The group head, Yuji Shimizu, 54,
said, "Suddenly canceling something
just because something occurred
in China is very irresponsible."
The Tokyo metropolitan Japan-China
friendship association has also
been continuing with exchange events
for more than 30 years.
In October, about 30 members will
travel to Beijing. The individual
in charge in China said, "The
situation should have quieted down
by October. You don't have to worry."
The head of the association, Ken
Kataoka, said, "We visited
China even during the Tiananmen
Square incident and in 2005 when
anti-Japanese protests turned violent.
There will be no change in the relationship
of trust. It is important to continue
A group that was established after
the Great East Japan Earthquake
to promote exchange between Chinese
students in Japan and Japanese college
students is also planning to hold
an event in October in Shanghai
to meet with local college students.
"Protests are naturally frightening,"
said the group's leader, Naoki Anzai,
32. "But, we feel that for
the sake of the future, we should
not cut the ties of exchange at
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN anti-Japan bilateral
exchange painting movies language
college students grass-roots groups
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He Huiqun teaches a Chinese-language
class on Sept. 19 in Tokyo. She
said her students have continued
to attend classes as usual. (Ryota