Chinese activist yearns for democracy, not disputed Senkaku islands
Amid the ongoing Senkaku islands spat with Japan, exiled Chinese activists are advocating for reform and democracy in country than owning the islands.
Human rights activist Han Guang, one of the few Chinese moderates on the Senkaku Islands issue, said the dispute is the last thing he hoped to see when China is on the verge of a once-in-a-decade leadership change.
"The more the territorial row escalates, the more hard-line China becomes, strengthening dictatorial elements in the Chinese government," he said.
Han, 54, who has also worked since the 1990s to help Chinese former 'comfort women', females who were forced into sexual slavery to serve the Imperial Japanese Army during the war, is a strong advocate for democracy in China, the Japan Times reports.
According to the report, he returned to Japan in 2008, where he had lived as a graduate student, to advocate for China's democratization from abroad after finding it impossible to openly engage in political activism at home.
Han published the book 'Bomei' ('Exile') last year and released the documentary film "Outside the Great Wall" to increase understanding among the global community of persistent human rights abuses in China despite its meteoritic economic rise, the report said.
But his efforts have attracted scant attention in Japan, and despite making frequent public speeches, the events rarely draw more than a few dozen people.
On the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets, called Diaoyu and claimed for decades by Beijing, Han said that 'ordinary Chinese are irate because they (repeatedly) see images of atrocities (Japan's army) committed during the war on television and the Internet'.
"They still feel wronged because the enormous amount of money Japan paid China as economic aid instead of reparations for the war never reached individual Chinese victims," he said.
He urged the Japanese public to show compassion for Chinese people living under an autocratic government, and is confident bilateral relations will improve if China becomes a democracy.
"Fear of a reign of terror is embedded in (Chinese people's) DNA because countless dissidents have been executed in China for thousands of years," Han said.
"Repression of free speech in China makes it impossible to forge candid relations between the two peoples. If China is democratized and its leaders govern in a way that reflects the desires of ordinary Chinese, it will become possible to build closer bilateral ties," he added.
"To enable this, it is vital for (Tokyo and Beijing) not to engage in any sovereignty row that, both in Japan and China, plays into the hands of Chinese hardliners seeking to exploit the bad blood between the two countries to consolidate their hold on power, cracking down on internal dissent and resorting to a military buildup," he said.
According to the report, Han is continuing to push China's democratization and despite fearing reprisals from Chinese authorities, he is determined to continue visiting his homeland once or twice a year to support the aging comfort women.