Japan should atone for Nanjing Massacre

Rabi Sankar Bosu China Plus Published: 2017-12-12 21:10:32
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By Rabi Sankar Bosu

History is not what happened, but a story of what happened. It is such a mirror where we can see the past in the present. Indeed, the lessons of history, if we care to learn them, can help us perceive more clearly the current state of affairs and give us wise guidance for the planning for the future.

The year 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, also known as “the Rape of Nanking”, in which more than 300,000 Chinese people, including infants and the elderly, were killed and 20,000 women raped by the Japanese invaders who occupied Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province on the morning of December 13, 1937, marking the start of six weeks of destruction, pillage, rape and slaughter in the city. “The Rape of Nanking” is a key part in the history of the Japanese invasion of China which has become part of the emerging transnational memory of the World War II.    When I was a secondary student I read about the humiliating history of the notorious Nanjing Massacre which had been covered up for many years because of various reasons, I could not help shedding tears. The untold sacrifice of the massacre victims is stored in the Chinese people's collective memory. The long-80-year reminds the world that the Nanjing massacre really happened, and it was not only a legend or a story. The world must never forget the Nanjing massacre victims at the hands of Japanese army in 1937.

Students visit the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, July 29, 2015. [Photo: Xinhua]

Students visit the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, July 29, 2015. [Photo: Xinhua]

The Nanjing massacre was no symbol. It was a most humiliating history which tested the will, courage, and strength of the Chinese people. We must never forget the souls of the 300,000 deceased victims by the Japanese military during World War II so that it can never be repeated again. Unfortunately, Japan has failed to atone for its war crimes. Today Japanese leaders must not evade the weight of the past. What Japan did to China in the World War II is very dangerous and Japan should bear the consequences.

Japan cannot disavow the Nanjing Massacre. In China the Nanjing Massacre is seen as the lowest point of an era in which the country was bullied and humiliated by foreign powers. In February 2014, China's top legislature designated December 13 as the National Memorial Day for victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

In 1931 the Japanese military invaded the northeast region of China and the two countries fought a full-scale war from 1937 to 1945 that ended with Japan's defeat in World War II. Japanese military imprisoned Chinese women and girls, whom Japanese soldiers would routinely rape, often dozens of times per day. Chinese academics estimate about 200,000 Chinese women were forced to work as "comfort women" to provide sex to Japanese soldiers and many of them did not survive the torment. Unfortunately, Japan has long attempted to whitewash its militarized sexual violence against women which is an unspeakable shame.  

We should bear history in mind, honor all those who laid down their lives and cherish peace and open up the future.  A Comfort Women Museum was set up in Nanjing to remind people of this part of the history in 2015 as a way to honor the comfort women and their legacy. The museum was made out of the former site of a comfort station, or military brothel. The gruesome Japanese barbarism experienced by the comfort women can no longer be hidden from history despite the Japanese government's denial. 

Documents related to the Nanjing massacre were inscribed in UNESCO Memory of the World register on October 9, 2015. The "Rape of Nanking" is an exceptionally sensitive issue which has affected Japan's relations with China for years. It is important to point out that the Japanese government has so far refused to acknowledge its legal responsibility for its Nanjing atrocity. In February, 2014, Naoki Hyakuta, a senior executive at Japan's publicly-funded TV broadcaster NHK, denied the Nanjing massacre, dismissing accounts of it as "propaganda". Undoubtedly, Japan’s denial of Nanjing massacre is "a barefaced challenge to the international justice and human conscience."

On September 3, 2015 while addressing in the Victory Parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression Chinese President Xi Jinping said, "The aim of our commemoration is to bear history in mind, honor all those who laid down their lives and cherish peace and open up the future.”

For over 80 years, the heart-wrenching Nanjing massacre haunts the mind. The “inexcusable act” of the Japanese troops to the Chinese civilians, including women, reveals the darkest crimes on the spectrum of sexual violence carried out under the aegis of the dehumanized Japanese military men. Germany has apologized for its war crimes but Japan had not apologized for its war crimes. The China Federation of Demanding Compensation from Japan (CFDC), a non-governmental group, asked once again the Japanese government to apologize to the victims of the Nanjing Massacre and their surviving relatives and to pay suitable compensation.

The Nanjing massacre is a brutal crime committed by the Japanese militarism during their invasion of China, which has irrefutable evidences. If the Japanese government can really learn from history, it will be conducive to the development of relations between China and Japan. Japan would be well-advised to face up to and deeply reflect on the invasion history, handle the problems left over by the history with a responsible and proper attitude, and regain trust from its Asian neighbors and the global community with concrete actions.

(Rabi Sankar Bosu is secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners’Club, based in West Bengal, India)

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