My China, My Japan

Personal statement, written for the Common Application.

Approximately sixty years ago, during World War II, Japan invaded and occupied parts of China, committing many atrocities. I learned something of these events in middle school, but didn't give them special thought at the time; WWII seemed marked by so many horrors. A recent event, however, forced me to reflect on my vaguely learned school lessons and on the importance of history.

The occasion was the Asian Soccer Cup held in China this summer. The Japanese team played well and captured its second consecutive title, but throughout the tournament it was constantly harassed by heckling Chinese fans. Before each game, Chinese booing virtually drowned out the Japanese national anthem; and after the title game, Japanese supporters were forced to remain inside the stadium because of threatening Chinese mobs. The city of Beijing, it was reported, had to deploy as many as ten thousand policemen to keep order.

It is perhaps understandable that Chinese should harbor animosity towards Japan. The young spectators may have heard stories of the suffering of their relatives during the war. But I felt that it was misguided to jeer at and intimidate the Japanese athletes and supporters who themselves, after all, had done no harm. They were...

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