The Chinese Communist Party is regularly accused of whipping up nationalist hatred of Japanese, but the approach is never usually this blunt: an online computer game where the user is instructed to simply shoot Japanese, identified as war criminals, repeatedly in the head.
The game was created by the online version of the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Party. It is simply called “Shoot the Devils.”
Users are greeted with revolutionary music and a racist depiction of a Japanese soldier, who wears a confused expression and has two buck teeth.
Players then select 1 of 14 targets, identified as Class A war criminals for their actions during World War II. These men are among those honored at the Yasukuni Shrine in Japan; Chinese leaders evince anger at the visits to this shrine by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Gamers are given 20 bullets and instructed to shoot the faces of Japanese war criminals, which have been placed inside a red bull’s-eye. The faces get smaller and move around, and once the ammunition is expended players are given a score, and ranked against peers.
An advertisement goes with the game: “Someone visits the devils, let me shoot the devils!” an obvious reference to Prime Minister Abe’s trips to Yasukuni. “Hurry up and try out your shooting!”
Some Chinese Internet users found the experience of shooting Japanese war criminals in the face quite cathartic. Others were deeply concerned about the inculcation of hatred that the game encourages.
“We should let go of the hatred. … What we leave for our children should be the social responsibility after humiliation, not hatred from the older generation,” a Chinese netizen said.
An Internet user in Beijing mocked the premise of the game: “What a good game! Train Chinese from an early age to shoot the Japanese devils, so that Chinese will remember national humiliation forever!”
The appearance of the game on the Internet comes at a time of notably increased tensions between Japan and China, mostly because of their dispute over the Senkaku Islands, called the Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese authorities, located in the East China Sea. The small rock formation has been administered by Japan for decades, but now Chinese authorities say it belongs to China.
Japanese are not the only ones at the receiving end of the blunt force of People’s Daily’s online games. Another one is called “Beating Corrupt Officials.” It was released in January. Director of the People’s Daily Weibo account, Ren Tanchao, told Chinese media that it was being promoted to help the public focus on the Party’s current anti-corruption campaign.