Thursday, April 07, 2005

Japan faces storm over 'rewriting' war history

My god, how many times have I read this story? Seems to be repeated every year!

Would love to see an interview with a rep from the Japanese Min of Ed. I mean, what the hell would he say in answer to a direct question about the Rape of Nanking? Deny it ever happened??

Let me know if anyone sees a follow-up to this, eg about the effect of the boycott.

Japan faces storm over 'rewriting' war history
Times Online
From Leo Lewis in Tokyo
April 06, 2005

5 comments:

JP said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4945613,00.html
China, Japan Leaders May Meet Over Row

Japan deserves this, in my considered opinion...

Wembley71 said...

Very intereted in Seb's take on this.

My own limited but first-hand experience is that Japan REALLY needs a long hard look at its own history, but also that this isn't likely to happen any time soon.

But we have in our midsts a genuine bona-fide expert. Dakin-sensei, dozo itte kudassai.

Seb said...

It does indeed blow up every year, and the Ministry of Education is the most reactionary of Japan's ministries.
re. the Nanking massacre.
this has become a kind of shorthand for Japanese atrocities against civilians. Some of what is passed off as fact is however of dubious provenance. Probably the most widely-read account was by the late Iris Chang, who was awarded high honours by the Chinese state for her contributions to 'history'. Her book has been shown to have basic factual errors, faked photos and photos that were claimed to be of Nanjing but demonstrably not. Fortunately for knee-jerk orthodoxy, the scholars who made these observations are 'right-wing', or 'ultra-nationalist', so we can safely ignore them, since the pictures, wherever they were taken, are disturbing. Ms. Chang's receipt, from no less a model of historical rectitude than the PRC, of such an honour clearly shows she was right.
Regarding the numbers involved, contemporary eye witness accounts (from missionaries and merchants of western origin) differ from the current figure by zero. The zero on the end of the number, that is. It is a figure that has crept up steadily since the war, in part no doubt because the award of a research grant to study the issue is a kind of macabre auction to see who can 'prove' the most casualties, preferably with a flair for horrific detail. Historians who would seek to challenge the PRC account can't get visas to China, never mind access to the records.
It is a matter of record that Japanese officers routinely displayed their swordsmanship by decapitating prisoners. Had they cameras perhaps they'd have piled them up naked and made them simulate sex.
A whole lot of rape went on in China. Which is not to even attempt to excuse the Japanese, but a quick read of 'The Soong Dynasty' would disabuse anyone interested of the notion that this was an offence limited to the Japanese. I've lent it to a friend so I can't give page references. It's a great book so if you come across it give it a go.
To get to the point:
US textbooks don't dwell on massacres of native Americans, nor more closer to the issue here in fact on the decision to secretly let Unit 731 go free in return for their 'data'
Japanese textbooks don't dwell on the Nanjing massacre or sex slaves and for that matter the carpet bombing of Dresden was not the main focus of the textbooks I had at school.
As for what is in the textbooks of the PRC, well, the slow starvation of millions and the stupid destruction of a generation are no doubt related in painful detail. People in glass houses...
So why don't the Japanese just throw the whole history thing back at the Chinese?
The obvious answer is that they realise this is just a ploy for leverage in a diplomatic game, Japan's contribution to which last week was the granting of exploration rights in a disputed section of sea bed. The Japanese don't chuck the communist party's history back at them because the 'facts' presented by the Chinese government are so fragile, and so critical to its retention of power, that it would amount almost to an act of war. They know the game. By the way, look at the numbers of 'demonstrators'. Ten thousand in Shanghai! What's that as a % of twenty million.
This textbook issue is reported on the front pages of Japanese newspapers every year, as indeed is the sex-slave issue. People here in Japan are not ignorant of what went on. Neither are they ignorant of what the CCP has done over the years, and in general the attitude is boredom and annoyance, "who the **** are the Chinese to be harping on about this?". The Japanese at Nanjing are dead and gone. The Chinese leadership of Tiananmen are the same guys.
There are certainly reasons why many politicians of the LDP would be shy of these kind of issues, but that is a long story and it's dinner time,

JP said...

It's "comfort women revisionism time" again. As usual with the bloody Indie, no way of knowing how long this will remain free-to-view.

Japanese Prime Minister angers victims of wartime sex slavery
Independent
09 March 2007

JP said...

Seb, did you know this?

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, was a unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans who fought in Europe during the Second World War. The families of many of its soldiers were subject to internment. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with distinction in North Africa, Italy, southern France, and Germany, becoming the most highly decorated unit of its size and length of service in the history of the U.S. Army, including 22 Medal of Honor recipients.