A Lesson of は: Aizu says, “You are still an old enemy, but we are thankful to you.”

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Apr 2, 2011 20:00 Japan history Japanese_language 「は」 partial_negation
The city of Hagi in Yamaguchi prefecture, at the west end of the mainland of Japan, sent relief money to the city of Aizu in Fukushima prefecture. The Asashi newspaper described their relationship by saying, “They have still some ill feelings against each other”, which would be surprising to readers, since this expression seems to be extraordinarily outspoken as the Asahi newspaper [~としては].

However, the reason for their relationship is quite clear; that is, it is that Yamaguchi and Aizu are old enemies in the Meiji Revolution (1868-69). The new government was headed by Yamaguchi (Chōshū; 長州) and Kagoshima (Satsuma; 薩摩). It fought in 1868 against Aizu, which took sides with Tokugawa's government. The battle (会津戦争) is passed down to posterity as ghastly. For example, it is said that dead bodies of Aizu troops were not allowed to be picked up after the battle as a warning to others.

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http://lang-8.com/satoshi/journals/941923/ (小学生が会津をPR)

According to the article, the mayor of Aizu said to delegates from Hagi, “Though we have historical issues, I am thankful for the warm support from the people of Hagi”. However, the original in Japanese has more nuance, which, to tell the truth, surprised me. It clearly shows that there are still strong ill feelings. I think that it is a very rare case in contemporary Japan.
This は of 支援は implies a feeling of the people in Aizu that they are thinking thanks and the historical issue obviously differently. As I wrote many times before, は implies that the one that は marks is a simple exception to something. (a partial negation)

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