There has been a lot of writing recently about why Japan still needs to apologize more thoroughly for their past history, but Wired News has a brief sidebar article today reminding us that there are plenty of other apologies out there that still need to be said. How many of the people who are pressuring Japan to pass a parliamentary declaration of apology genuinely want them to do so, and how many are counting on it not happening?
Lynching took the lives of over 4,700 people before finally being outlawed in the United States, because the Senate refused for years to pass legislation banning what one senator now calls “an American form of terrorism.” Despite the pleas of seven presidents, efforts to pass anti-lynching legislation repeatedly failed because of Senate filibusters staged between 1890 and 1952. On Monday, the Senate will consider a resolution, sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and George Allen (R-Virginia), expressing official remorse for the past.
— Tony Long
I’ve seen a few blogs point to this new opinion piece by Henry Kissinger, where he conclusively proves that he has absolutely no knowledge of history, and is willing to spout whatever fiction he needs to make his point.
His basic argument is quite simple, that we should stop worrying about China. They are in no way a potential threat, militarily or economically, and people who bring up the possibility of conflict with China are just misguided. Here is some of his logic.
China’s emerging role is often compared to that of imperial Germany at the beginning of the last century, the implication being that a strategic confrontation is inevitable and the United States had best prepare for it. That assumption is as dangerous as it is wrong. Military imperialism is not the Chinese style. China seeks its objectives by careful study, patience and the accumulation of nuances.
It is also unwise to apply to China the policy of military containment of the cold war. The Soviet Union was the heir of an imperialist tradition. The Chinese state in its present dimensions has existed substantially for 2,000 years.
Ok, let’s consider his claim for a second. The comparison is amazingly easy to make. Here is a map of China’s Han dynasty, which lasted from 206 BC to 220AD, contrasted with the modern borders of the Chinese and Mongolian states. For those weak at arithmetic I will point out that 2000 years ago is smack in the middle of this period.
So how do the borders line up? It seems to me that China is about twice as big now as it was then. Let’s note some of the territories controlled the People’s Republic of China that were not part of the Han Dynasty. Well, missing from the map of Han I see: Tibet Xinjiang Manchuria Mongolia (inner and outer)
And there are also a number of areas that we could consider China proper that weren’t part of the Han state, particilarly the provinces north of the Great Wall, as well as a large region in the south-west near-oh, and of course Taiwan itself!
Oh, but according to Kissinger:
ll major countries have recognized China’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. So have seven American presidents of both parties, none more emphatically than President George W. Bush.
When asked in an interview with the Fox News TV Channel, “Do we [the US] still stand by an agreement, Mr. President, that if Taiwan is ever invaded, we will come to the defense of Taiwan?” Bush said: “Yes, we do. It’s called the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Let’s look at another example of brilliance from Mister Kissinger.
America needs to understand that a hectoring tone evokes in China memories of imperialist condescension and is not appropriate in dealing with a country that has managed 4,000 years of uninterrupted self-government.
Oh yes, China’s 4000 years of uninterrupted self-government. That would include such self-government as the: Liao Dynasty 907-1125 established in what later became Mongolia by the Khitan tribal leader Abaoji. Liao’s territory included a great deal of Chinese land and people south of the Great Wall region (ancient the Wall itself had crumbled at this point-the modern one was built several centuries later to replace the ancient Han dynasty structure)
Jin Dynasty (1115-1234)-an empire ruled by the Jurchen people, who invaded from the northeast and conquered the entire northern half of the Song dynasty
Ok, so neither Jin nor Liao actually took over all of China, you may be thinking. Well, out of the three final dynasties that ruled China before the Republic of China finally defeated the old Imperial state, twoof them were governments ruled by foreign invaders!
Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368)– aka the Mongolian empire. Genghis Khan (Timüjin)begins the conquest of north China, and his grandson Kublia Khan finally finishes the job, making the vast Chinese empire only a part of the vast Mongol empire. Under Mongol rule, ethnic Chinese (often called ‘Han’ in memory of their glorious ancient empire) were legally second class citizens in every level of society.
After the Yuan government in China collapsed native Chinese rule was restored by the Ming.
In 1616 the descendants of the earlier Jurchens, who had recently renamed themselves the Manchu tribe, invaded part of north China and established a dynasty called the Later Jin, which in 1636 became the Qing dynasty, that like the earlier Yuan was a so-called conquest What is meant by this term is a dynasty in which an invading minority establishes control over territory, much like colonialists throughout the recent pre-modern history of most of the world.
So why exactly does Kissinger use utterly false information about Chinese history to make his argument? Well, he does admit
Before continuing on this subject, I must point out that the consulting company I chair advises clients with business interests around the world, including China. Also, in early May, I spent a week in China, much of it as a guest of the government.
at least he isn’t concealing his interests. If he had any subtlety about him then his BS might just be a little less transparent.
The biggest thing keeping me from being an avid fan of history, sports, Roman mythology, Pokemon, or what have you has always been the countless names you have to remember. It’s never enough just to know who Ichiro is or that he steals bases because that doesn’t come close to answering why his team hasn’t been to the world series in years. Who else is on the team? How do they train? Why are tickets so expensive? Why is it so stupid to root for the Yankees when you know they’re going to win? These are questions with no answers, yet they inspire some to spend their entire lives following statistics and analyzing the significance of every trade, every injury, every management change… but even a relatively contained and uncomplicated system such as American Major League Baseball is impossible to completely understand. That’s why you so often see people relying on superstitions (some of my friends swear by their rally caps) and curses to make sure their team wins. But curses, too, are occasionally broken. Where will it stop?! When can my mind finally take a break?!
Thus, it has become clear to me that the daunting task of trying to comprehend the world on a macro level takes up valuable time that could be better spent blogging. As you may have noticed, I prefer to take comfort in the agenda-driven generalizations, half-understood slogans, and other baseless name-calling that make for great blog posts. However, when a cool article such as this one comes out, even I must sit up and take notice (OK, I sat on it for 2 months but who’s counting?). Enjoy my translation:
Few have heard of him today, but once there was a strange man named Hisahara Fusanosuke. After founding Hitachi and Japan Energy he went into politics, eventually to become the leader of the prewar Seiyukai. The man lived a roller-coaster life, eventually being brought before the Marunouchi Military Police Headquarters (the charges were later dropped).
Hisahara married the younger sister of Aikawa Yoshisuke after being introduced by Inoue Kaoru, but previous to that he was dating a different woman and produced a daughter named Hisako. A young Ishii Koutarou (former House of Peers President) married this Hisako.
Shimomura Nankai, Ishii’s professor at Kobe Business School who later became his boss at the Internal Affairs Ministry, suggested the marriage. “At first Ishii was against it, saying, ‘If I marry a famous person’s daughter, people will think all my achievements are because of him.’ But Shimomura was a skilled persuader, reassuring him, ‘That is up to your attitude. I don’t think you’re the type to break under pressure like that.'” (From “Reflecting on 88 Years” by Ishii Koutarou, published by Culture Publishing). That is what Ishii had to say in his memoirs.
“Besides my older sister, there were several female members including Ishii Yoshiko, but in terms of age, Morimura Atsushi (who went blind at the Imperial Horse Show immediately after the War) was the youngest, and then next was me, then next was Umasugi Kikuko (Later Inoue Kikuko), a master equestrian rider (馬場馬術 — bababajutsu, possibly the coolest word in the Japanese language) who went on to perform in the Olympics after the War.” (From “The Distant Showa Period” by Ogata Shijurou (Asahi Shimbun Publishing)).
The “me” in the previous paragraph is Ogata Shijurou, former Bank of Japan board member who took the job of Vice Chairman of the Japan Development Bank. Here Ogata tells of a prewar youth who enjoyed riding horses at the Tokyo Equestrian Institute.
Ishii Yoshiko, who would later become a chamson singer, was the daughter of Ishii Koujirou and his wife Kumiko. Shijurou’s father was politician Ogata Taketora, and The Distant Showa Period’s subtitle is, “My father Ogata Taketora and Me.”
Back when Shijurou the boy and Ishii Yoshiko were riding horses, Ishii Koujirou and Ogata Taketora were working at Asahi Shimbun together. Both Ishii and Ogata went on to become powerful politicians after the War.
Shijurou’s wife is former UN High Counselor for Refugees Ogata Sadako. If you climb up Sadako’s family tree, you will find that her father was Nakamura Toyoichi, former minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Finland, her grandfather was Yoshizawa Kenkichi, a former Foreign Minister, and her great grandfather was the famous former Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi, whose assassination signaled the end of Taisho democracy. In Yomiuri Shimbun’s “Witnesses of an Era”, Sadako writes, “If you put the families of my husband and me together, the hidden areas of Showa history may come uncovered.”
How interesting to look at recent and modern history while tracing the connections between people!
The Asahi, one of Japan’s three major daily newspapers, has two contrasting Q&A format opinion pieces regarding Japan’s recent problems with China and Korea that some people may find interesting. The first is with a German freelance journalist Gebhard Hielscher, who was formerly Far East correspondent for the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Q: What was your reaction to the recent outrage against Japan in China and South Korea?
A: My impression is that all along, Japan has been deliberately not trying to face the past, and hoping that these issues would go away. Japan has been more concerned about its relationship with the United States.
Running away from the issue of compensation to the two countries that were the main victims of Japan’s aggression, the Japanese have had it (protest) coming for all these years.
Our (Germany’s) main victims, aside from the Holocaust, were the Soviet Union and Poland, and we have done a lot for them. I always leave out the Israel issue because it is not part of the comparison: Japan did not commit a Holocaust. But what we did in Poland, which is colonize it, can be compared to what Japan did in the Korean Peninsula.
Germany didn’t pay direct reparations to Poland, or the Soviet Union, but the Allied Forces took a lot of industrial property out of Germany as a form of reparation. Also, Germany gave up 24 percent of its traditional territory to these two countries, the two biggest victims. We saw that as one way to pay our moral debt.
The intreview given as a response to Herr Hielscher, which disagrees from what I would consider a rather moderate position, and not the extreme nationalist stance that has been irritating everyone, is by Keio University professor Tomoyuki Kojima an expert on Chinese and East Asian affairs.
Q: Do you think Japan has compensated enough for wartime aggression, compared with Germany?
A: In terms of state-to-state compensation, I would say Japan has done more through the process of normalizing relations with many of its neighbors.
While there are countries that did not demand compensation, for those countries that did, we have paid compensation.
In the case of China, both Taiwan, with whom Japan normalized relations first, and mainland China, declared they would forfeit claims for reparations.
Taking the example of forced labor, a court has ruled that the former employer of forced laborers from China and Korea pay damages. But the same court did not rule on whether the state was liable, as that issue has been settled through bilateral negotiations.
In the case of South Korea, for example, Japan agreed in 1965 to provide grants and loans to the country. There is a problem that it was not clearly referred to as “compensation,” but in reality both sides agree that is what it was.
There are individual issues pertaining to the war that remain unresolved, and that is undeniable. Definitely Japan must do something.
But my view is that it is not worthwhile to simply consider Germany a model and criticize Japan for lack of atonement for the past.
Full of Japanese insisting that Jap nats are as much lunatic fringe as certain members on this forum.
I sincerely do not believe that Koizumi, if he did not have to do it for the political advantage in the Japanese representative democracy, would go to that particular shrine if he had the choice. It’s not worth ruining relations with China and Korea, and if Japan wants to become a normal country it has to at least stop it with the shrine visits: it can argue that it has given sufficient reparations for its abuses during WW2 and its occupation of China and Korea, but certainly there is no sense in the war criminal shrine.
First of all, why in hell would he think that we’re Japanese? I can’t imagine anything that would suggest that even remotely.
Second, in response to the idea that Koizumi is forced to engage in the Yasukuni shrine visits because of domestic political concerns and not his own beliefs. I agree that this is the case, but not in the way that the poster suggests.
The important thing to remember is that while Japan is a country with a democratically elected parliament, their head of government is a prime minister chose by the elected parliament, and not directly chosen by the people. What this means is that Koizumi does not have to appeal directly to any voters outside of his home territory of Kanagawa prefecture district 11 (Yokosuka and Miura Cities). He is prime minister due to the fact that he is the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and when he engages in activity best described as ‘pandering to his base’, i.e. the Yasukuni visits, he is pandering not to the general electorate of Japan as say a US President must, but to the LDP Diet members that actually selected him as Prime Minister.
Let me clarify some more. The LDP, despite the name, is in fact the most conservative of all the major political parties in Japan. Koizumi is actually a member of the most liberal faction of the LDP (the LDP is divided into formally organized factions, something like sub-parties that band together for political strength). Ever since he rose to prominence in the party he has been a controversial figure, a driving force for economic structural reform and various significant liberalizations in Japan’s domestic policy. How exactly did a young, divorced geisha-dating, liberal reformer get to be the president of the conservative right-wing virtually unchallenged for half a century Liberal Democratic Party? Yasukuni.
The visits to Yasukuni are Koizumi’s deal with the devil. To secure the support of enough of the arch-conservative power bosses within the party, to get himself into the position from which he would have a chance to even attempt to reform the stagnant and sometimes corrupt Japanese economic machine he had to give them something in return. When he won the presidency of the LDP, he had already lost twice before and it probably looked to him as if he would never be able to succeed without making a concession. What he promised them was that in exchange for cooperation, he would make annual pilgrimages to Yasukuni.
He may very well have been morally opposed to the visits, and he was probably smart enough to realize the potential damage to diplocatic ties with former colonies, but as a politician he decided that domestic reform was a higher priority. Having made that promise, his only choices are to continue the visits or all his entire career to self-distruct. After a significantly weaker showing in the most recent major Diet election the LDP is getting worried, his massively important postal privatization plan almost stalled completely, and time is running out for him to make his mark.
Something that is implicit from all I’ve said above, but I have not yet quite stated explicitly, is that although Prime Minister Koizumi’s annual visits to Yasukuni are required by domestic political concerns, they still do not necessarily reflect any widespread demand for him to do so. He was forced into it to secure the support of a minority faction of his own party, to give him the majority within the party that he needed to become president of the party and then Prime Minister.
I don’t honestly know how much support there is within Japan for the Yasukuni visits, or how strong the nationalist right-wingers have become. From what I have seen, and from what I have heard from people who were in Japan long before I was even born, it does seem that the nationalists have gotten more vocal recently, but are still very, very far from having anything that you could call a popular mandate. I believe that it would be a tragedy for radicals to rise to power again in Japan, and I hope that ultimately the more sensible moderates will prevail. Some people seem to think the radical right-wingers have already won, but I am just trying to explain that this is far from the case. They are only becoming more organized and more vocal, and hopefully the quiet opposition is nothing but a slow response.
A quick look at my last posts made me realize I forgot why I was posting: to show excerpts from the new textbooks!
It’s important to remember that the vast majority of the protesters in China and Korea have not read them for themselves. The Tsukurukai realizes this and plans to post free Chinese and Korean translations online in the near future.
Recent arguments I’ve seen characterize these textbooks as “not glorifying war but merely deviating from leftist doctrine that Japan invaded other nations just for the sake of invading.” However, these aren’t scholarly texts, they’re meant to be read by 14-year-olds who have to be told what to think. The fact that Tsukurukai has made texts for such an impressionable audience guarantees controversy and makes it difficult to deny that they are tools of persuasion. And picking battles such as the Nanjing massacre, comfort women, et cetera is like kicking someone when they’re down and belies the more extremist beliefs of the authors.
Anyway, trying to analyze all this is making my head spin. Let’s take a look at some excerpts. I got these from the online newsletter of The Marxist Faction of the Revolutionary Communist Union of Japan (so take it with a grain of salt!):
These “history” textbooks erase both the comfort women and the forced march of Koreans from history, and treats the Nanjing Massacre, the gravest sin of the “imperial army”, as if it substantively didn’t happen with such lines as “There were several killed and wounded among the Chinese army and civilians,” “There is disagreement on the actual number killed” et cetera. Throughout it regards The Japanese Empire’s invasion of Asia as the “Emancipation of Asia”, and makes claims that “Japan’s actions bolstered the people’s of Asia” to “quicken the pace of independence movements” in Asian countries. This text seems to know no bounds for scandal. What’s more, in the “Civics” textbook, the “Constitutional Reform” section romanticizes the Constitution of the Japanese Empire (the Meiji Constitution), comparing it favorably to the “imposition of the GHQ” as our current constitution is characterized. It goes on to rationalize worsening the constitution, emphasizing the rationalization of “the right to self defense” and “the duty of national security”.
↑Seems to repeat the same problems from 2001.
Ministry of Education Instructs revision to say “Takeshima (Dokdo) is illegally occupied by Korea”
They didn’t stop there. The Ministry of Education instructed the textbook publishers to revise the caption “Takeshima, the island over which We are in territorial confrontation with South Korea” under a picture of Takeshima/Dokdo, explaining that “there is a fear that there would be misunderstanding over territorial rights”. As a result, the publishers revised it to say, “This is Japan’s exclusive territory, but South Korea is illegally occupying it.”
That’s all for now. Coming up: choice quotes from Japanese editorials on the subject and the right wing’s reaction. Also I might take a look at Wiki Japan, not sure. Stay tuned!
It looks like Japan-China tensions just might become a dominant theme of 2005. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse after Foreign Minister Machimura returned to Japan empty-handed, a Tokyo court rejected claims for compensation of Chinese victims of Japan’s chemical warfare in WW2. Although China has offered to pay for damage to the Japanese embassy caused by hands-off approach to security, it has no plans to let up pressure on Japan to give as-yet unspecified concessions. While there was a message on Chinese TV calling on Chinese not to take part in “illegal” demonstrations, there’s no guarantee that China won’t authorize a new round of legal protests.
On the Japanese side, Machimura’s visit has been described as Japan’s “last card” and the government wants the textbook issue to be seen as a domestic problem, off limits to negotiation. Here’s how I see it: China and Japan are not foolish enough to let this affect their economic relationship, let alone place sanctions each other or God forbid fire on each other (Of course I could be wrong, the CCP is unpredictable and I know very little about it — comments welcome). China simply sees the run-up to the September vote on UNSC expansion as perhaps the weakest point in postwar Japanese diplomatic history. Japan will likely the support of 90 Why miss the opportunity to shake a few concessions out of Japan while you’ve got them by the balls? And of course it is very much in Japan’s interest to make a compromise because a permanent UNSC seat will give Japan a much stronger diplomatic position in the future. (Although with the new developments it looks like many nations want to stall for time, citing contempt for “artificial deadlines”).
But enough about that — I’m here to talk about the current sticking point in Japan-China relations, the 新しい歴史教科書を作る会 (the “Make new history textbooks association”, or “Tsukurukai” for short). These are the people making the offending textbooks (Published by Fusosha) that have caused thousands in China to protest and some people in Korea to cut their fingers off. Their tenets:
1. Assert — renew Japan’s history textbook to give an appreciation for Japan’s traditions and history to the children.
2. Fight “masochism” — Don’t let outside countries influence our textbook inspection system (citing the first instance of such, in 1986 as being the result of “misreporting”), get rid of “foreign pressure” and make textbooks for JAPAN, not other countries.
3. Action — call for public support to “fix” an unjust history such as the uncritical acceptance of the idea that the comfort women were forced into service. On a side note, much of action they take to gain support is actually pressure on those who disagree with them. The recent lawsuit against a Chiba library that refused to accept the textbooks brought by the Tsukurukai is just one example of this. Another is the pulling of a manga depicting the Nanjing Massacre.
4. Passing inspection — Making the necessary changes to get the textbooks approved for use in classrooms. The site, from 2001, says that it will make the necessary changes to help “achieve a balance in the quality of Japan’s self-image”. Again, the Tsukurukai places a huge amount of pressure on the inspectors, which I cannot document presently but would like to.
5. Implementation — Get the textbooks used. It’s been noted that they haven’t been too successful in this regard, but as other have commented it has had an effect as well.
６．Agreement — This is, I believe, the main goal of this Association. That is, make enough noise to create a “fair and balanced” textbook industry. No textbooks refer to a Nanjing “Massacre” but instead a Nanjing “Incident”, which is a pretty clear-cut win for Tsukurukai.
A lot of people (especially the protesters in China and Korea) are saying: why the hell doesn’t Japan change its textbooks? Japan’s government does guarantee free speech, so it is somewhat defensible for them to avoid stepping in themselves. However, there is a recent precedent for holding people accountable for causing “meiwaku” (a nuisance) to the Japanese government because of stupid things they were doing — the Iraqi hostages. There was even talk by one government official (Koizumi, I think) of making them pay for their own ride home, a sentiment shared by probably a majority of people.
But where is the popular movement condemning the bothersome actions of Tsukurukai? Aside from the obvious bullying and pressure that would come from reproaching the rightists, one of the reasons I don’t expect to see many cries of ‘meiwaku’ is the way the issue is being formed as a ‘domestic’ issue that Japan should be defensive about. Japan is asking CHINA to apologize (although Koizumi said he’d stop that at the summit next week) not the publishers.
I hate to say it, but the fact that the govt and media are giving the rightists a free pass on this one might have something to do with the fact that their ideas resonate with a large part of the government and the people themselves. Criticism by the Chinese only seems to back up
the validity of the textbooks’ claims. And as much sense as it makes to compare this to the Iraq hostage situation, sentiments like that are strictly a one way street — when some leftist wackos embarrass the govt (Iraq) they are stupid, when some rightist wackos stand up for Japan, they’re all but heroes.
Japan’s homework assignment for this month: Call German diplomats! An interesting article in the (Rev. Moon-owned) Washington times from UPI had an interesting suggestion for Japan:
Several respondents mentioned Germany’s role in dealing with its past as an opportunity for Japan to heal wounds and deal with the future.
The best answer came from a European envoy who told UPI, “Germany holds a knife that can cut the Gordian Knot.”
“The Germans have had big influence on Japan’s development going back to the early days of the country’s military, industrial, and institution building along Western patterns,” the envoy said.
“The last lesson Germany can show Japan is how to apologize,” the diplomat added.
The foreign representative noted: “Don’t forget Asians and Westerners measure time in different ways; we look at anniversaries in terms of five and ten years’ time passing- China gave neighboring countries a 60-year calendar which runs full circle this year.”
“Picture this scenario,” the diplomat said. “Germany and Japan together express remorse and apologize for the wrongs they did first in May (when Nazi Germany capitulated) then August (when Imperial Japan surrendered).”
The diplomat believes “joint apologies in Europe and Asia allow the Japanese an initial face saving measure and formula that could enable Japan to apologize on its own in the future.”
Perhaps. UPI notes that Sino-Japanese relations are at a critical impasse, with both sides entrenched and unable to break a destructive cycle of mutual bitter feelings that could destabilize the region unless something is done immediately.
Seems like a great idea, for Japan at least. Germany doesn’t have nearly as much to do to convince the world that it’s really sorry about World War II. Germany doesn’t have much to gain from associating itself with Japan’s method of apology. Looking at it from a cynical political perspective, Japan has to make it worth Germany’s while. That way Japan’s image will improve and maybe China would even support its entry to the UNSC. But I think Japan also has an obligation to express its regret and apology on the 60th anniversary of its surrender.
This is a repost of an article from the Kyodo news service originally published on October 14th of last year.
Publisher pulls Nanjing Massacre manga after politicians protest
TOKYO — Major publisher Shueisha Inc said Wednesday it will suspend publication of a comic in a popular weekly manga magazine after Japanese local politicians claimed it “distorts history.”
Shueisha said it will not publish the comic “Kuni ga Moeru” (The Country is Burning) in the Oct 13 and Oct 28 editions of Weekly Young Jump, which is immensely popular with Japanese men.
“Some people say the photo used for reference in the drawing was fabricated. It was inappropriate to use such material,” a Shueisha representative said.
The comic series, authored by Hiroshi Motomiya, is a fictional tale about the life of a bureaucrat in the turbulent times of the early Showa era (1926-1989). It has been carried in the magazine since November 2002.
In the magazine’s Sept 16 and Sept 22 editions, the comic described Japanese soldiers massacring civilians in Nanjing in China, in reference to the Nanjing Massacre of 1937.
A group of 37 members of local assemblies protested to the publisher on Oct 5, saying the massacre was presented as if it were the truth in the form of manga and that it was deliberately distorting history by using a photo whose authenticity cannot be confirmed.
They said in a letter that there is strong evidence that the massacre never happened and no proof that it did.
“The parts related to the use of the fake photo as pointed out will be edited or deleted when the comic book is published,” Shueisha said in its reply to the complaint.
The Nanjing Massacre refers to atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army against civilians in Nanjing and its vicinity from December 1937 to January 1938.
The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal concluded that more than 140,000 people were killed. Some Chinese historians put the death toll much higher at 300,000 in Nanjing alone. Japanese accounts vary from several thousand to 200,000 dead. (Kyodo News)
Here is a sample page from the original manga, chosen to show how graphically it actually depicts the Massacre. Do realize that this comes from the weekly manga magazine ‘Young Jump,’ whose primary audience is Jr Highschool boys-the same segment that the shitty rightwing textbook is supposed to be teaching.
I think that this backs up both of my points in my previous post; namely that firstly, the Japanese public at large is in fact exposed to and open to a range of viewpoints regarding history and are not opposed to the truth, and secondly that the ultra rightists, in their vocal attempts to stifle what the public sees, succeed in becoming the only voice picked up by international media. Still, it is most disturbing that there are a number ultra rightists who deny that the Nanjing Massacre ever took place. Of course their presence on the web is mainly in Japanese, but here is one example in English. Japanese readers may be interested in this detailed page trying to ‘prove’ that the photographs used in Iris Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking are false. For the record, I find Nanjing Massacre-denyers about as credible as people who believe that we never actually landed on the moon. (To be clear, that means I don’t believe them.) It is very unfortunate that the Japanese public is willing to accept this kind of bullying by extremists.
Many of you will probably be most interested in the following picture from the adjoining museum, which contains Yasukuni’s explanation, in both Japanese and English, of the ‘Nanjing Incident,’ or as we usually know it, the ‘Nanjing Massacre.’
Since the image is a bit blurry and hard to read, I will reproduce the English below. And yes, the Japanese does say the same thing.
The purpose of the Nanking Operation was to surround the capital, thus discouraging the Chinese from waging war against the Japanese. Tang Thengzhi, commander-in-chief of the Nanking Defense Corps. ignored the Japanese warning to open the gates of the city. He ordered his troops to defend Nanking to the death and then escaped. Therefore, when the hostilities commenced, the leaderless Chinese troops either deserted or surrendered. Nanking fell on December 15.
Having seen what Yasukuni has to say about the ‘Nanjing Operation,’ let’s look at a more mainstream Japanese source. First I will post my translation the Kojien‘s entry on the Nanjing Massacre (南京大虐殺）. For those who don’t know, the Kojien is basically the most popular standard Japanese dictionary (that is, Japanese dictionary for Japanese readers, not to a foreign language), and probably the source that most Japanese would first turn to when looking up almost any term. Therefore it is arguably the most mainstream possible source.
In the Sino-Japanese war, about December of 1937, in and around the occupied city of Nanjing, the Japanese military massacred a large number of surrendered and captured Chinese soldiers, as well as civilians. Additionally there were incidents of such misconduct as arson, plunder, and rape.
I would also like to present the entry on the ‘Nanjing Incident’ （南京事件） from the 1970 edition of the Kadokawa Dictionary of Japanese History(角川日本史辞典). There are actually two sub-entried under ‘Nanjing Incident.’ The first refers to an incident in March of 1927 when the ‘People’s Revolutionary Army’ fired upon Japanese, British, and American troops. The second ‘Nanjing Incident’ is the one which we today generally call the ‘Nanjing Massacre.’ There is no entry for ‘Nanjing Massacre’ or any note that this is term is also used, but then for all I know the term was not yet in common use in 1970. If anyone knows one way or the other, clarification would be appreciated. Here is my translation of the Kadokawa Dictionary of Japanese History’s entry.
1937(Showa 12). The plunder and ravaging that occured during the Japanese military’s occupation of Nanjing in the Sino-Japanese war. The Chinese army had already retreated before the Japanese entered the city, and the Japanese army went on a rampage that lasted until February of the following year, killing 42,000 Chinese, primarily women and children. Responsibility for this incident was severely pursued after the war by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East [Note: also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal]
The interpretation of history provided at Yasukuni is most definitely an extreme right wing position. I am not going to offer any of my own opinion or interpretation at the moment, but I will say this; having seen both the Yasukuni/right-wing perspective and two different examples of a mainstream, literal dictionary definition of the Nanjing Massacre in Japan, it is interesting to see that they are not actually contradictory. Even the Yasukuni museum (at least in this single panel) does not deny that the Massacre took place; they simply ignore the issue. Is it actually likely that there are many people in Japan, even among the 0.3% of middle school students being taught with low quality textbooks drafted by right wing organizations, who are unaware of truth of the Nanjing Massacre?
Since ESWN’s helpfully donated link started this post, I’ll end with as an addendum with a quote from an article posted there just a day or two agotheir latest post:
There is a small number of ultra-rightists in Japan whose comments are magnified in the Asian media. I do not believe that they represent the mainstream Japanese opinion. Yet, the majority in Japan is either embarrassed, intimidated (as in: if you speak up, an ultra-rightist sound truck going to show up outside your home and/or workplace to harrass you 24 hours a day with diatribes of hatred) or too polite to say anything about these ultra-rightists so that the Asian nations now believe that those opinions are mainstream in Japan. This is why there are international crises. It is up the to the majority of the Japanese people to condemn those wayward opinions each and every time in a vociferous manner.
Is the problem really that the right-wingers are influencing popular opinion in Japan? Or are they as few as ever, but increasingly good at making their presence known in the international media? Is it true, as Norimitsu Onishi in the New York Times seems to think, that Japan is slowly but surely drifting towards the right?
PS: Curzon over at Coming Anarchy just posted a piece about why he thinks Japan no longer needs to apologize for the crimes of their Imperial period. I’m more interested in what people actually think and know already than abstractions of what they ‘should’ do, but there is obviously a connection between one and the other.