Japan from the inside out

Did the Chinese back down from Nanjing Massacre claims?

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In war, truth is the first casualty.
– Aeschylus

IT BECOMES LESS LIKELY with each passing year that the absolute truth of the events that occurred in late 1937 with the Imperial Japanese army in Nanjing, China, will ever be known.

Dr. David Askew has observed that discussion of the Nanjing Massacre has attracted far more activists than historians. Therefore, it might be advisable to begin any search for the truth of 1937 with the recognition of what came later:

  • Imperial Japan is dead, buried, and not coming back.
  • Japan and China signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, and the Chinese announced they would renounce war reparations to promote amicable relations in the future.
  • The Japanese nevertheless lavished enormous amounts of ODA on the Chinese, partly as de facto war reparations (and partly to reap the benefits of stronger commercial ties).
  • The Chinese leadership still demonizes the Japanese when it feels the need to strengthen its political hand both domestically and in bilateral relations.
  • It is still possible for Japanese to admit that their behavior was a national disgrace, yet wonder why the Chinese choose to exaggerate when no exaggeration is necessary and use materials of questionable historical accuracy.

Another minor skirmish in the conflict après guerre occurred this month when it was reported in Japan that the Chinese for the first time removed photographs from one of its more than 100 museums devoted to the war due to questions of accuracy. The Chinese denied the report, but in doing so publicly admitted for the first time in their domestic press that there are divergent views between the two countries about the reliability of some of the evidence they presented.

First, here is a quick translation of a Sankei Shimbun article that appeared on 20 December.

The Sankei article

The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum in Nanjing, China, which has exhibited a photo of a Shanghai railroad depot with the claim that it was in Nanjing, has withdrawn the exhibit of three photographs said likely to be inauthentic, according to a government official. The photos were those of alleged “comfort women”, children massacred by Japanese troops, and an abandoned crying child (first photo). Japanese researchers have shown that they are unrelated to the Nanjing massacre. This is the first time that China has rectified an exhibit at this museum. Nevertheless, many exhibits with a questionable relationship to the facts still remain, including their citation of 300,000 victims and the beheading of 100 Chinese in a contest between two officers.


One of the three photographs was taken before the Nanjing attack and published in the 10 November 1937 Asahi Graph. It shows women and children escorted by soldiers on their way home after performing agricultural work (second photo). The Chinese presented this scene as an instance of the old Imperial army leading women away, explaining that “the women of agricultural villages were taken away and violated, raped, and killed.” This photograph is also known for having been repeatedly used in error both in Japan and overseas. Examples include the post-war book China and the Japanese Army by Asahi newspaper reporter Honda Katsuichi, and The Rape of Nanking (Nanjing) by Chinese-American author Iris Chang.

In addition, the photograph of the children, which was used in a scholarly work about modern Korean history, shows the corpses of Korean children killed by an outlaw gang. The photo of the crying child appeared in the American magazine Life as a news photo and was taken in Shanghai. None of the three photos has anything to do with Shanghai, but the museum—designated as a “model base” for patriotic education—presented them as “tragic historical fact”

Different people have sought the removal of the photos used in error or those claimed to be composites, in addition to the exhibited articles related to the 100 beheadings, shown to have been groundless, but until now the museum has not responded.

A total of 18.97 million people have visited the museum since it opened in 1985, including Japanese students visiting on school trips.


The Chinese director of the museum rebutted the Sankei claim, as reported in a Japanese-language article on the Searchina website. Here it is in English.

The Chinese rebuttal

According to Chinese press sources, Director Zhu Cheng-shan of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum denied a report by the Sankei Shimbun that three photographs had recently been removed from exhibits, saying “they weren’t exhibited to begin with”. He did recognize that there was a difference in opinion between Japan and China about the photographs in question.


According to Zhu, the three photographs were used to present the backdrop of the war, but were not exhibited as items depicting the Nanjing massacre. The photograph of the abandoned crying child is a photo of the Shanghai South station, and it was used with the caption, “The Japanese Army, (having committed) a slaughter in Shanghai, heads for Nanjing”.

The photograph of the children killed by the Japanese army that the Sankei Shimbun explained was actually of Korean children killed by an outlaw band was removed from the exhibit more than 10 years ago, the Chinese said.

The Chinese also had an explanation for the photograph of the women and children returning home escorted by soldiers after agricultural work, which the Sankei Shimbun said had actually been taken before the attack on Nanjing. They insisted that the frightened farmers wouldn’t have been working in the fields to begin with at that time in the initial stages of the war, but “the photograph was of a scene in winter, basically during which no agricultural work is performed.” They based the legitimacy of their claim on The Record of Violence of the Japanese Enemy, released in 1938 by the Kuomintang government as a way to present the outrages committed against women and children by the Japanese army in the Suzhou and Jiangnan areas.

While Zhu disagreed with the Sankei Shimbun’s explanation of the photographs, he did add, “This signifies the large discrepancy between both countries in regard to the authenticity of the photographs.” It is unusual for the Chinese to present Japanese claims about photographs that they have described as “proof of the massacres of the Japanese army”.

Zhu also explained that the three photographs were discussed in Verifying the ‘Photographs of Proof’ in the Nanjing Incident, written by a right-wing Japanese scholar and published in 2005 by Soshisha. “However,” he explained, “(this issue arose) some time ago, and the news source for the Japanese media report that (the photos) ‘had been recently removed’ is not clear.”


Honda Katsuichi has written extensively on the Japanese military in China, but has often been criticized for accepting without question the claims of the Chinese government and those people to whom the Chinese government permitted access.

Iris Chang has been shown to have used items of questionable authenticity other than the one mentioned above. One of the photographs she used was debunked even before she published it.

This previous post has a link to a paper written by Prof. Askew about how the Chinese and Japanese view the Nanjing Massacre and how their views affect bilateral relations. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Dr. Askew also says the story of the decapitation contest, as reported in a contemporary Japanese newspaper account, is “clearly false”. It is, however, the sort of story believed by those who prefer indulging in emotionalism rather than searching for the truth.

Thanks to reader GoJapan for sending links to both of the stories.

64 Responses to “Did the Chinese back down from Nanjing Massacre claims?”

  1. I am not surprised that there are different versions of events in a war. I am even less surprised that the Communist regime in China would blatantly distort or lie about events such as Nanjing.

  2. fh said

    Truth is indeed the first casualty. And often the last victim to be recognized.

  3. Baltimoron said

    Who knows. perhaps a bad recession can only bring Japan and PRC closer together?

  4. Baltimoron said

    Also, that last link – “this previous post” – is broken at this time.

  5. Left Flank said

    Three Nanjing Massacre Photos Not Authentic…

    It’s perhaps the first signs of a diplomatic thaw between Japan and PRC over a singular issue of contention, the Nanjing Massacre. According to Ampontan’s commentary on a Senkei Daily article, unspecified PRC government officials have withdrawn three…

  6. Bender said

    I don’t know about this…Sankei goes on wild imagination trips when trying to make their readers think that “historical revisionism” is gaining the upper hand. It happened with the comfort woman issue (it was never about how one should interpret the “levels of coercion”, was it?).

    Nanjing is an issue that the Japanese should be very, very careful of when addressing. Minimizing the number killed is one big PR disaster, if you tell me.

  7. ampontan said

    Baltimoron: Thanks for pointing that out. It’s fixed now.

    Bender: I really recommend the Askew paper if you haven’t read it. He points out some of the difficulties with historical research, i.e., people can’t agree on the size of the geographical area being discussed or the time frame under discussion. Some of the Japanese on the left, such as author/playwright Inoue Hisashi, say a simple counting of the corpses is sufficient, but others point out there were dead Chinese in the streets before the Japanese arrived.

  8. commonsensetalks said

    At this point of history, is it really necessary to point out the inherited limitation of history reporting, particularly when it comes to the Nanjing Massacre??? The bottom line is, does it make any difference whether the actual number of deaths were 100,000 or 400,000? Or does it make any difference whether one particular photo out of hundreds thousands was inaccurate? Would any of it make the Japanese seem less beast-like and cruel? Obviously, those who could have reported what took place precisely were all tortured then killed by the Japanese.
    For those who appear, and claim to be interested in finding out “the truth”, there are PLENTY info in cyber space which includes many prestigious academic sources, with photographs and testimonials from foreign reporters (and thus could not have been “fabricated by the Chinese government” as some love to claim with ignorance), who WITNESSED the Japanese atrocity. It is obvious then, that those who question the accuracy of the Chinese account of the massacre intentionally CHOOSE to not seek out that info. After all, I am not surprised at such attempts driven by ignorance and propaganda, since some today also claims that “The Holocaust” in Europe never took place in history.

  9. ampontan said

    …does it make any difference whether the actual number of deaths were 100,000 or 400,000?

    It does to about 300,000 people.

    You, however, are not one of them.

    Some people may say that the holocaust in Europe or the Nanjing Massacre in China never took place, and I’m not one of them.

  10. toranosuke said

    Commonsensetalks, first you need to calm down.

    Next, please recognize that there are two separate issues at play here. On the one hand, there is the political approach to the massacre – you are right to say that from the point of view of an activist, a sympathetic soul, a CCP supporter, Japan hater, all-around hippie, or other sort of politically-driven person, what’s most important is that the massacre happened, that we should be upset about it, that the cruelty and barbarity of the Japanese crimes should be recognized.

    However, there are those of us who are historians: people who put aside their own political agendas, emotional feelings, and ethnic/racial/national attitudes to seek out the truth of past events. For the historian, what is most important are the facts and details. Whether a given photo was or was not taken in Nanjing at that time is of the utmost importance, just as figuring out just what happened there, how many people were killed, and in just what way, by whom, with what motivation, is of importance.

    Far too many people in this world are misguided, mistaken or misled about far too much in history. And as historians – nay, as people – we have an obligation both to ourselves and to our communities to search for the truth. Not in order to condemn or vindicate one side or the other, but simply to know the truth.

    Every fact that we let get away, every lie that we let stand, is one more step we take away from truth and into fantasy and self-delusion. People today have certain ideas in their mind about what happened at Nanjing, and at Hiroshima, and why. Most of them are wrong. How much more wrong will people’s conventional wisdom be 50 years from now, 100, 150 years from now, if we allow details such as these to slip by us?

    Consider how much you know about history based on paintings, or other images. Consider how much of what you know about history revolves around a single image or anecdote or factoid, and stems not from a full, thorough understanding of each and every event throughout time and across the world. Now consider how important it is, therefore, that these facts, these images, these anecdotes, are factual and accurate, and not misleading.

    Thank you once again, ampontan, for inspiring interesting discussion.

  11. Of course it matters whether it was 100,000 or 300,000 or whether a particular picture is accurate or not, etc. If you can’t trust the facts then the question whether an event happened comes into question. I’m not say that Nanjing did not happen. I am certain that the Japanese soldiers did commit atrocities. My point is that once facts are purposely distorted or fabricated then the whole event can come into question. China, or whoever, lying about Nanjing only does a disservice to the memory of Nanjing and to those who actually died there.

  12. commonsensetalks said

    First let me comment on your response “[The actual number of deaths] does [matter] to about 300,000 people”. You’re wrong about that the actual number of deaths only matters to about 300,000 people, because it also concerns all who have genuine respect for humanity including myself, far more than just those those who were directly impacted by this tragedy. Of course you do realize that my question was rhetorical.
    Further, correct, you are yet to claim that the Nanjing Massacre never occured, instead, it appears that you’re merely attempting to mitigate world’s view on the matter.

    You are right on the difference between an activist and a historian, in pursuing “the truth”, however, I’d like to think that you clearly recognize that many who appear to be interested in finding out “the truth” are also racist, elitist, China-hating, politically driven Japan-supporters whose agenda is to assuage the world’s view on Japanese’ behavior in the war. Can you honestly say, that all who is pursuing the actual number of deaths in the masacre are historians??? Typically, whenever there is debate about what happened in history, there are always two sides of the debate, correct? It is then puzzling to me, that arguments from many of those who attribute their interest in “pursuing the truth” to knowledge seeking, always tend to be mono-directionally skewed towards the direction that portrays the Japanese acts to be less severe, and never more.
    On a side not, also intersting to note is the Japanese’ irrefutable fascination with rape, so much so that it stands as a major theme in Japanese pornography, more so than the industry in the rest of the world. I am no historian on human sexuality. Is there a historian here who can explore this fascination amongst the Japanese, further?

  13. commonsensetalks said

    “If you can’t trust the facts then the question whether an event happened comes into question.” This statement is truly not applicable to the points that I am making here, since you are “certain that the Japanese soldiers did commit atrocities”, correct?
    Who is to know for certain that evidence were indeed “purposely” distorted and fabricated? To say it was mistake is one thing, but to make the claim that it was intentionally done, one would have to propose a reasonable explanation or logic. The speculation that a few photographs were “purposely” fabricated, when there have already been thousands of photos that were backed by testimonials of foreign journalists available, seems a bit far-fetched.

  14. Go! Japan said

    Dear Amponatan,
    Thank you for putting up this article. There is a big controversy on this matter. But I believe that the most important thing is that we should talk about and discuss this issue and not simply ignoring and hoping things clear up.
    I enjoy your post, and comments from others.
    Have a happy new year!

  15. […] For a more complete look at this story, including the Chinese rebuttal, check out this post on Ampontan. […]

  16. Bender said


    I’ve read the piece. I kind of changed my shift on this and other issues regarding human right abuses by Imperial Japan. I basically agree with what Yukio Okamoto said here:

  17. ponta said

    As far as I know, people concerned agree that there were mass killings in Nanjing..
    Even Higashinakano and Watabe, the representatives of denier’s school, admit it; they claim that Japanese army “prosecuted” a great amount of captives but it was legal, just as some people claim that killing of civilians by atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was legal or that killing of mass Tibetans was necessary to free Tibet from slave state.

    Most Japanese historians claim that it was illegal and there were cases of killing civilians.

    Apology and remorse are due.

  18. Bender said

    Prosecuted? You mean “processed (shobun)”.

    I’ve read the “legal” argument, too, but it’s hard to persuade people when you happen to be the army invading a weakened country.

  19. ampontan said

    Bender: I’m not sure I get what he wants to say. The problem with subjective views of history is that there are always several subjective views floating around, and that contemporary subjective views are going to be a lot different than those prevailing in the past.

    Take the comfort women, for example. Both Japan and Korea were what would now be considered Third World countries. The process of industrialization does not change attitudes overnight. When Korean (and Japanese) farmers sold their daughters to brokers, the subjective view of that time and place is a lot different than today’s subjective view where daughters get sent to orthodontists to get their teeth straightened by the time they’re old enough to enter dental school.

    That’s no defense, but it also means that contemporary subjective attitudes are out of place unless they are combined in a context with the subjective attitudes of the time and place under examination.

    Particularly in a world where farmers’ daughters are still being sold to brokers. But who really talks about that?

  20. ponta said

    I mean “shyokei”, so “excute” was better. Sorry.

    南京事件「証拠写真」を検証する (単行本)
    東中野 修道 (著p45)

  21. ponta said

    The photo of the crying child appeared in the American magazine Life as a news photo and was taken in Shanghai.

  22. bender said

    That’s no defense, but it also means that contemporary subjective attitudes are out of place unless they are combined in a context with the subjective attitudes of the time and place under examination.

    True, but if the number of Korean comfort women were disproportionate to the overall Korean population in the Japanese Empire (or the Japanese Military), it will look like they were targeted for exploitation. Let’s say the exploitation was not intentional- it happened because of the economic disparity between Koreans and the Japanese- still, it’s awfully bold and bad taste to actually say that Imperial Japan only bought what was already being sold. Not the kind of thing you expect to hear from the leaders of a country that’s supposed to be leading the world in freedom and human rights.

  23. ampontan said

    Not the kind of thing you expect to hear from the leaders of a country that’s supposed to be leading the world in freedom and human rights.

    You’re right, but that’s exactly the point I was trying to make about then and now. You’re talking about contemporary Japan with today’s standards. My view is that it cannot be held responsible for a dead Imperial Japan in a region in which entirely different standards prevailed. Particularly by people who weren’t alive at the time.

  24. bender said

    My view is that it cannot be held responsible for a dead Imperial Japan in a region in which entirely different standards prevailed. Particularly by people who weren’t alive at the time.

    I agree with you on that point. But Japanese leaders completely screwed up by saying things better not said. It invited more criticism rather than getting rid of them. Reminds me of racist slurs being blurted out by (white) American political/opinion leaders from time to time. You see how this is played out. I think there’s a better way to approach this (the Japanese historical debate).

  25. commonsensetalks said


    “My view is that it cannot be held responsible for a dead Imperial Japan in a region in which entirely different standards prevailed. Particularly by people who weren’t alive at the time.”

    You’re correct on that, however, it HAS TO be held responsible for editing this part of history out of text books, and in denying what took place in history. Please check out [‘No massacre in Nanking,’ Japanese lawmakers say]

  26. Mt. said

    When it comes to war hstory, there are two versions: the official version, and the real version.

  27. slim said

    On matters of Japanese history and national pride, I’d put the Sankei Shimbun in the category of “activist”. Their coverage of sensitive WW2 issues makes them resemble the one-sided Chinese state media that we rightly distrust. Just sayin’.

  28. ampontan said

    The textbooks are an exaggerated concern, considering that they are used by fewer than 1% of Japanese schools (last I read in 2005).

    The most extreme right-wing Japanese nationalist I ever met–and he was extreme–admitted the Nanjing Massacre, but dismissed it by saying, “Stuff like that happens in wartime.” Then again, where I live, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve seen, much less heard, the diehard nationalist soundtrucks in a quarter of a century here.

    There are also Japanese “lawmakers” who actively support/ed North Korea, and at least one now in the Diet with ties, perhaps financial, to the Japanese Red Army, but we don’t seem to hear too much about them.

    Japanese like Bender or Aceface who have lived overseas might have something to say about this, but there is a tendency among Japanese men (not women) that I have noticed here to pretend complete ignorance when they’re caught red-handed at something sneaky. Of course other people do it too, but the tendency seems a bit more pronounced here. I wonder if those MPs are doing the same thing. There’s even a word for it–tobokeru–for which there is not a single-word English equivalent. Get a couple of drinks in them in a private situation, and their true beliefs might be closer to the right-winger I mentioned above.

    That’s not an excuse or a justification, just an observation in passing.

  29. mac said

    LackofCommonsensetalking … Typically, whenever there is debate about what happened in history, there are always two sides of the debate, correct?
    How wrong can you get … big wrong.

    Perhaps you mean dialectics, or perhaps you are just talking at a propagandistic level? In reality there are always many views, as many as there are proponents. These views also change over time as new evidence … and new imperatives … emerge. And, as Bender and Ampontan point out, our ethics and moralities also change too.

    I have a few blind spots in this debate that I would like to have answered;

    a) what role, if any, did the Collaborationist Chinese Army on the Japanese side have in the events of Nanjing area?
    b) what role, if any, the various Chinese war lords have in the events of Nanjing area?
    c) ditto the various criminal elements prevalent in Chinese society of that time.
    d) how active were the CCP’s guerillas fomenting troubles behind the scenes which would have reflected back in the Japanese’s treatment of apparent non-combatants?

    The fact that little to none of the discussion around these topic includes any of the above is enough to question it.

    One thing I cannot understand is why are the Communist loving Chinese not grateful towards the Japanese for weakening the petty bourgeoisie and ruling classes of the Kuomintang so significantly that their armies, and party, were able to take power after the war? I think there is a fair argument to suggest that without the Japanese influence, the CCP would never have come to total power.

    One thing that interests me around this is the gradual evolution of consciousness of a mythic China, and “being Chinese”, as a state of harmonious wonder and oneness, especially in emigrant Chinese with no real experience in the matter.

    The development of national consciousness is a recent thing and one that different “nations” and engaged in at different levels according to their current state of social evolution. The internet is the most volatile meeting ground, or battlefield, for them, one which did not exist before.

    Before its existence, popular sentiments involved in the creation of national identities could engage in all the racism and xenophobia they wanted and it would not effect the rest of us, or their intended targets at all. it pains me that we are all going to be subjected to generations of it swilling around the ether, cached and archived for ever, rather than hitting the rubbish bins as wrapping for yesterday’s fish as it used to.

    I take Toranosuke’s point about historians even further than he does. The vast majority of individuals engaged in such discussions have absolutely no intellectual right to any involvement in it whatsoever. Intellectually, they are not ready yet.

    At least the honest ones could admit they are nothing but propagandists with a vested interested and set their agenda down clearly for us to consider., for example, is really not much of a winning strategy to achieve anything.

    I would like to see an honest assessment of the Japanese Army of that time. My impression is that it would score much higher than the armed forces of developing nations today. There is a limit to how responsible a military can be held for the individual actions of its combatants, never mind a people. In war, one is all to easily reduced to the level of one’s opponent.

    My impression is that the Japanese army did start off “trying to play the game” (material resources accepted), e.g. wearing uniforms, expecting treaties to be upheld. It had a desire to be accepted as an imperial power by the other imperial powers.

    In China there has been no freedom of historical research and presentation. No research is allowed to deviate from the point of view of Chinese government. Very few researchers agree with the Chinese government assertion of ‘the murder of 300,000 people’. In fact, most disagree with it.

    The lurching product of American popular interests in the debacle, some of which are Asian American, do nothing to help our understanding in the matter.

  30. mac said

    To which I should add that much of the forces of the Koumintang were made up from feudalistic, underground criminal gangs and thuggish cronies.

    Its a shame we have little no awareness of the nature and extent of the Chinese criminal underworld in all these issues.

    The Japanese were not exactly fighting angels, nor were ‘the Chinese people’ nor ‘the motherland’ the motivating principle for many of them.

  31. Bender said

    You’ve completely lost me there. So are you saying that Japanese PMs’ denials of wartime abuses have to do with the “tobokeru” tendencies of Japanese males? Or, are you saying that Japanese males are predominantly nationalistic revisinonists but hide their true beliefs thru “tobokeru” acts?

  32. ampontan said

    Bender: I’m saying that I suspect the deniers really know it happened, think “c’est la guerre” in private, and deny it in public through the tobokeru tendency.

    It’s just a suspicion. I could be wrong about all of it, including the observation of the tobokeru tendency in other situations.

  33. commonsensetalks said


    Thanks for the correction there, I am glad that you agreed with me that there is always more than one side to a debate, which is not the case with many of those who are pursuing the “real” number of deaths in Nanjing.

    There are indeed some facts and research on some of the aforementioned of your many blind spots;

    On the role of Collaborationist Chinese Army in the events in the Nanjing area; The earlier Collaborationist Chinese Army was in the Northern China under Operation Nekka in Jehol and the Battle of the Great Wall in 1933. There is no evidence suggesting that a Collaborationist Army in the Nanjing area was formed before the massacre. By 1938, the total manpower of the Collaborationist Army amounted to only about 70,000 with the vast majority being in Northern China. The Collaborationist Army in Nanjing later went under the puppet state “Nanjing Nationalist Government” that was formed in March 1940.

    On the role of various warlords on Nanjing Massacre; Research suggests that there was probably none. Some of the known powerful warlords at the time in this region included the following:
    [Zhang Zongchang], was once a warlord in the Nanjing area, between 1925 and 1928, but was assassinated in 1932.
    [Feng Yuxiang], after shifting his positions quite a few times on support of Chiang Kai-shek, became the commander-in-chief of the “Chahar People’s Anti-Japanese Army Alliance” in 1933 with Ji Hongchang (another warlord during this time who was later killed in 1934). Between 1935 and 1945, he supported the KMT and held various positions in the Nationalist army and government in the resistance against the Japanese.

    On the reflection of CCP’s guerillas movements on the Japanese treatment of apparent non-combatants; it was known to the Japanese that former uniformed soldiers were in disguise amongst the civilians, thus it was its policy to kill anyone who “looks like a soldier”, and that included anyone who had calluses in their hands as that meant they might have held weapons; however, we can all agree that other manual labors also had calluses in their hands. Nevertheless, one cannot generalize that the Japanese’s treatment of women and children, including some that were still being breastfed, was governed by this policy.

    Please illustrate with some “facts”, what specific criminal elements were you referring to as being prevalent in the Chinese society that could have contributed to the massacre? And I emphasize, more facts, and less speculations and fluff, please.

    “[…]much of the forces of the Koumintang were made up from feudalistic, underground criminal gangs and thuggish cronies.” Correct, that is perhaps why it saw the CCP as more of a threat than the Japanese (which in retrospect was a great mistake), and was/ is often criticized for its passive approach in resisting the Japanese force before 1937.

    “One thing I cannot understand is why are the Communist loving Chinese not grateful towards the Japanese for weakening the petty bourgeoisie and ruling classes of the Kuomintang so significantly that their armies, and party, were able to take power after the war? I think there is a fair argument to suggest that without the Japanese influence, the CCP would never have come to total power.”
    First, what type of “Japanese influence” are you referring to? And on whom? Perhaps, you’re confusing that with the recognition of the importance of strong government and military power (that was highlighted by the Japanese invasion) and armed with the acquired Japanese weapons, along with the weakened military force of Kuomintang, made the CCP take-over possible. One thing that is correct in your statements, is that the CCP probably would not have taken power in that moment in history, had it not for the Japanese invasion; however, to say that they should be “grateful” is suggesting that hundreds thousands of lives were only a minor price to pay compared to the great gain by the party. Then, following your line of thinking, one can assume that you would also suggest that Japanese should be grateful to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US that ended the war, since it allowed the rapid economic and technological advancement in the country post war? In addition, the advancement in medical science in the understanding and treatment of radiation exposure, could also be attributed to the aftermath of the events as well? Your evaluation on “cost vs. benefit” of wars and the killing of non-combatants seems to resemble that of the IJA.

    In the light of pursuing the truth, I wonder why some issues, such as bacteriologic warfare by the TAMA Detachment of the Japanese army, and the contribution of Japanese narcotic trafficking that was under the organization of Prince Konoyeon, on the war, are hardly researched further, definitely not by the Japanese themselves?

    “I take Toranosuke’s point about historians even further than he does. The vast majority of individuals engaged in such discussions have absolutely no intellectual right to any involvement in it whatsoever. Intellectually, they are not ready yet.” Yes, the vast majority of individuals, including yourself, are no historians, and are ill-equipped with facts and research.
    Thanks for the opinion piece, however, it does nothing to help our understanding in the matter.

  34. Trapped in Brazil said

    Mac: …d) how active were the CCP’s guerillas fomenting troubles behind the scenes which would have reflected back in the Japanese’s treatment of apparent non-combatants?…”

    Well, just look at Brazil. Every time the drug lords fight with the police, every single person that was killed by the police is portrayed as a “little angel who had a bright future ahead”, despite the fact that that same “angel” was caught in action, firing with ak-47s or throwing granades at the police force.

    commonsensetalks: if you wanna talk about sex, then check the net, there are lots of internet based focused on rape, there is even one san francisco based company who does sex movies on the streets during daylight. Also, checking CNN, you can find interesting things about Europe, Russia, pedophilia and even children being killed by white-sickos. It seens that every danm year the scotlandyeard have to arrest from 100 to 1000 perverts.

    Also, I would like to point that not even the germans are attacked with so much passion by the rest of the world. I remember that they throwed flowers at the site were the bismarck were found, but if you try to find and put flowers to the Yamato, all hell would break loose.

  35. mac said

    TIB wrote: Also, I would like to point that not even the germans are attacked with so much passion by the rest of the world.

    Its true. I think the sort of people that do the attacking grew up watching war movies and only like picking on people that are smaller or politer than they are and don’t fight back … and what the hell has any of it to do with “the Japanese”?

    Let’s do a rough estimation removing …

    a) any Japanese person under the age of, say, 83 … which excludes 96% of the population
    b) any female Japanese person … which knocks off another 2.5% (we are up to 98.5%)
    c) any Japanese males who stayed at home to work the farms or do any non-combatant work … let’s estimate a modest 1%

    That leaves at most 0.5% of remaining Japanese population as potentially having anything to do with WWII. Now let’s ask how many of them had any decision in the matter or carried out any crimes …

    Its the voice of racism, pure and simple.

    What makes me wonder is how much of it is conscious propaganda even to this day, and what agendas are at play? Korea and China I can understand. It is politically useful for both their leaders and interest groups as it hides their more recent crimes. But why does America and England still persist in it?

  36. Trapped in Brazil said


    America and England have their political and economical issues too, it´s just that in the modern world, you can´t hide the truth for long. People travel worldwide for business or vacation, some going to Asia. You can watch the internet and see movies made with someone´s cellphone, or read blogs like Ampontan´s, so it is not as ferocious as in certain places.

    Or it could be the same with Brazil. Since it is racism to discriminate blacks, jews or homossexuals, you can say things like “japs” or “shuttup danm jap” or “I didn´t knew japs were allowed in here, what an outrage!”, wich is not racism, but just “fooling around”, like they say it here (By law it is racism, but you won´t receive any help from the local authorities in that issue).

  37. ampontan said

    Don’t know about Britain, but there is the odd phenomenon in the US in which Asians don’t seem to count. Things seemed to be couched in black/white terms. When people from some groups claimed there was a non-white disadvantage in things like university admission, it overlooked the fact that Asians, particularly East Asians, do better than everyone.

    The recent flap over the appointment of Obama’s successor to the US Senate is a case in point. Some seriously argued that unless an African-American were appointed to his seat, the Senate would be all white!

    There are at least two Asians in the Senate, one of which is Japanese-American, and a couple more Latinos. (Latino political interest groups are not interested in being called “white”.)

  38. mac said

    There is always congressman Mike Honda and his Comfort Women resolution H.121 too. What is that all about? Did the guy go bananas (yellow on the outside and white on the inside … to be particularly non-PC) and feel the need to patriot or is he plugging for the ‘Asian-American’ vote which out votes the ‘Japanese-American’ vote? Perhaps it was just exceptional political strategy for a Japanese descendent to be seen to be the one to deliver it?

    I have not looked at the details of that campaign and resolution … it smacks to me to be “holocaust industry” time all over again, which seems to the business and political model post-Iris Chang. Most academic discussion on it seems to be based around the develop of an “Asian-American” consciousness over nationalist-based identities, by which they mean mongoloid Asian (India not counting as being Asian at all).

    This in its self seems to be a categorization based on an racist view and a typical of a cultural inability to tell radically different East Asian nations apart (vis-a-vis Cameron’s Geisha movie and endless Kung Fu cruft). “Asian” existing in the popular mind mainly as rice-based food or a sexual fetish. “Well, they all look the same to me …

    I hope this rant does not overshadow my demographic estimates above. I would love to see someone research that properly. My guess is the final number of individuals alive who were involved will boil down to almost as many existing comfort women themselves (… but several hundred times less that those who claimed to have been comfort women when talk of compensation first arose).

    China herself appears to be taking a far more mature stance to the whole issue and not getting involved in it.

  39. ampontan said

    …the contribution of Japanese narcotic trafficking that was under the organization of Prince Konoyeon, on the war, are hardly researched further, definitely not by the Japanese themselves?

    I think you mean Konoe Fumimaro, a hereditary prince. It’s sometimes spelled Konoye.

    After being indicted as a war criminal, he killed himself in December 1945.

    Perhaps we should find his funerary urn, spill out the ashes, and whack them with a stick to let everyone know just how outraged we are 70 years later.

    But you know, the North Korean government is trafficking in narcotics (and date rape drugs) TODAY, not 70 years ago. Please note that this is not a personal reference to you (how could it be?), but it’s interesting that the same sort of people who want to get all upset about Japanese narcotics trafficking 70 years ago are often the same people who, with the bigotry of low expecations, overlook NK’s behavior but expect Japan to initiate a rapprochement and provide assistance to keep that evil regime afloat. It’s all Japan’s fault, don’t you know.

    It’s similar to the comfort woman issue. Sexual slavery is a serious problem in the world today–in Africa, among other places–but people would rather enjoy themselves bashing the dead and buried Imperial Japan. Indeed, it seems as if everywhere UN peacekeeping forces go for the past 10 or 15 years, a thriving child prostitution business is sure to spring up in the same area. Fancy that coincidence.

    Yet the Little Jack Horners prefer to whack the Japanese pinata instead. Heck, while ignoring the UN’s complicity in child prostitution, some of those same people write unreadable blog posts about how terrible Japan is for failing to abide by some obscure UN treaty that no one outside of a few NGO groupies in a coffee shop has ever heard of.

    This is the same UN that didn’t have any problem with having Libya chair its Human Rights Commission in 2003. Then again, Cuba and Zimbabwe were members of the commission that same year, so perhaps the standards were a little lax.

    It’s a funny old world.

    BTW, did you know that Konoe requested a summit meeting with FDR in the summer of 1941, and that Roosevelt refused?

    By some accounts, he was also quite the sexual adventurer. According to one of his partners (in something I read long ago not online), there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t try once with anybody.

    Got any links about his narcotics trafficking? The 1930s was a little to early for sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Maybe sex, drugs, and boogie woogie.

    And that reminds me. The origin of the phrase “boogie woogie” is from a Bantu verb (“mbuki mvuki”) which means, “to take off your clothes and dance”.

    Dang, I got to get back to work.

  40. mac said

    … it does nothing to help our understanding in the matter.

    You are awfully condescending my friend, correct? I think what you mean is “it does nothing to popular our acceptance of the propaganda you are pushing, correct?

    Certainly the leaders of the CCP had no compulsion at rubbing out a million here or there of their own people. Death by Communism was a far more terrible ailment than any the Japanese might have dreamt of.

    How the secret society shaped social relationships in the China remains unclear to this day (at least to Western academia). The manifestation of the power relationship between them and government has not been fully examined, correct?

    Let’s start with the Shanghi Green Gang, Chiang Kai-shek’s allies, who were anti-Communist, flush with drug money, controlling Nanjing and having all the armed goons and killers it needed. The opium trade, and we are talking 100s of tons shipments, financed the great Chinese patriots. So, equally, did the umpteen other pretenders who spread terror in the cities where they had control. Tell us about their and Jiang’s scale involvement in Nanjing … did they all just shut up shop and take a holiday when the Japanese came to visit? (Many gangs took sides with the collaborators).

    Both they, and the Chinese army had a long term habit of disguising themselves as workers. Arson, scorched earth tactics of their own motherland, were again a Chinese practise not in the Japanese’s interest. How much of all this bloodletting going on from Nanjing to Shanghi was about the strategic opium trade? Are you going to say “none?”. If you did, I’d start laughing.

    So what would you do if you were a simple young officer, responsible for the lives of your often difficult troops, with sod all resources, stationed against you will, in the midst of all that?

    The Chinese gangs successors exist to this day, dwarfing the mafias of the West in scale. They are still profiting from prostitution and human trafficking, as did the Korean government cronies after the Japanese left. Who are you going to take on? Them or some dead Japanese grandmother? You whack a warlord, his troops just don’t fall over and die …

    The point I am making is that none of complexity of the situation is ever mention at all in the propagandist version, and the supporting academia, sold to the West leaving it all very suspect. Its just “Japan bad … China good”. Its a joke … look at the rampant corruption on Taiwan immediately after the Japanese left.

    What impresses me most about the Japanese is that whatever they did and then they stopped 60 odd years ago. No one else in the immediate region did … they expanded on it and developed on an industrialized scale. Yet all those “elses” want to scream hysterically, point fingers at the past and flood the internet distracting to what their people are involved and complicit in, or powerless over, at the present.

    If we imagine the Chinese and Korean rhetoric is slowing become more sober and reserved on its own path to objectivity … what does that say of where it was decades ago? A question that does not need answered and issues which deliberately contrived racism in the West dating to WWII have flamed ignorantly.

  41. commonsensetalks said

    “You are awfully condescending my friend, correct? I think what you mean is ‘it does nothing to popular our acceptance of the propaganda you are pushing, correct”
    This is indeed a direct quote of your statement, my friend. Thus we can assume you were speaking in a condscending tone as well, and that what you meant was “The lurching product of American popular interests in the debacle, some of which are Asian American, do nothing” to help your attempt to sweep under the rug what happened in the past, correct? And interesting you would say that, as many of the Americans in their 40’s and younger never heard of Nanjing Massacre in history lessons. So I say, yeah, at some point, people NEED to learn of this atrocity, and perhaps it will help them fully understand the importance for Article Nine in the Japanese constitution to be continually upheld. Perhaps, this is one difference between the Nazis Germany and the Japanese; Japan is making an attempt to renege on its historic commitment to pacifism with its discussion on abandoning Article Nine. It would be very interesting to learn the view of those who are quick to call the arguments from those who are not blindly Japan-loving as propagandistic, on this issue.

    Your “estimation” of the population as “potentially having anything to do with WWII. Now let’s ask how many of them had any decision in the matter or carried out any crimes”, interesting, however, (correct me if I am wrong) I don’t think “who carried out the crimes” is really in question here; whats currently being debated here is indeed how it should be viewed, remembered, or for you and your gang, forgotten. Individuals I am concerned with is someone like Satoru Mizushima, his supporters such as political figures like Shintarō Ishihara, as well as all those on this board who seem to subsribe to their view. And perhaps you are one who nodded while watching Satoru Mizushima’s 2007 propagandistic film.

    Trapped in Brazil,
    I am certain that rape is occuring everyday and in every corner of the world; however, perhaps many can agree that there is a difference between rape that occur sporadically and randomly, or over a relatively short period of time, and rape as what seems to be a nation’s fascination with its vast availabity of pornography portraying such violent acts indicative of the supply and demand of such. I am glad you mentioned the net; if you were to search for rape pornography, how soon do you think you will come across one in Japanese (with many portraying a young girl in a school girl outfit)? Again, I am talking about a decades long “pattern”.

    And you might be right about Germans not being attacked by the rest of the war the way Japanese are, and one has to wonder if where a nation takes a stand in regards to its past mistake (and crimes) has any influence on the view from the rest of the world. For one, Germany does not have a Hitler shrine in its capital; contrary to that, is the Yasukuni Shrine having the Class-A WWII criminals for all to worship.

    And last but not least (of course),
    “[…]but it’s interesting that the same sort of people who want to get all upset about Japanese narcotics trafficking 70 years ago are often the same people who, with the bigotry of low expecations, overlook NK’s behavior […]”
    Perhaps narcotics trafficking by a group of people to help fund its way into a city to commit mass murder of the innocent (about 300,000 in particular), is sometimes inevitably looked at just “slightly” different, from those who have not committed such act in immediate relation to narcotic trafficking.

  42. nigelboy said

    Yep. Soldiers in disguise among civilian population is never a good thing. If I’m not mistaken, such acts were outlawed in Geneva Convention at the time and more defined later in 1949?

    I’m curious if Japan would of gotten the same scrutiny if they just bombarded the living daylights out of Nanking just like the Allieds have done so consistently well? I have the feeling that it will still be called “Nanking Massacre” as opposed to “Naking Air Raid” or “Nanking bombings”

  43. bender said

    Let’s see here…I wonder if condemning a “nation” ever makes sense. Do folks get to opt out of nation-guilts if they naturalize to become Americans? Are Japanese Americans descended from pre-WWII immigrants different from those who came after, because WWII condemned the Japanese “nation” to be born criminals for eternity? What if Ampontan naturalized and became a Japanese citizen? Is he to feel remorseful of WWII and say sorry, or should he be proud that America liberated Europe in that war?

  44. bender said

    Speaking of Germans, Japan does not have violent skin-heads attacking non-Aryans, setting fire on Turkish homes. Nor is the far right winning votes like in former East Germany. And let’s not forget Austria, too. I don’t think Germany is that perfect, not as how Japan-bashers make it to be. IMHO, anyways.

  45. mac said

    Dear ‘theusualpropagandatalk‘ can I ask you honestly …

    what do you personally get out of fomenting race hate? What is in it for you?

    Have you even been to Japan or interacted with any Japanese people?

    Its a Han Chinese tradition to take out the bones of dead people break them with hammers and spit on them as a sign of disrespect that still goes on to this day, correct?

    Its a Korean tradition to punish the families of criminals, including putting them into slavery. It was the Japanese occupation government that prohibited slavery in Korea, once 30% to 40% of the population in, but the Koreans are still practising the former to this day, see the latest political witchhunts, correct?

    Both the Japanese and Westerners evolved beyond this a long time ago. Correct.

    It is far more logical that the souls of sinners need prayed for than the souls of saints, and so what is illogical about have a place to do so? Do you believe in the existence of spirits?

    I am afraid that little of the rest world believes in American foreign policies and military justice, never mind propaganda, especial post-Guantanamo Bay etc. Was it is that different 60 year ago?

    So, which would you rather we did? Spit on the bones of the dead or punish the then unborn relatives of those you perceive to be criminals … and if we are address crimes against humanity, can we apply your laws universally to the British, Chinese and Americans too? Or must we reserve them for the Japanese only?

    I am awfully afraid that we would be kept too busy with the 25,000 suspected human traffickers the Chinese police arrested between 2001 and 2005.

    Going back to the Green Gang’s involvement with everything from drugs, to prostitution to state controlled murder with the Nanjing government. You did not pick up on that but instead retreat back to the well worn figures that no academic studying the history accept any more.

    Presumably you are aware of the many thousands these apparatus of terror killed, e.g. over 5,000 in a matter of 6 months, immediately before the war … are we to educate the Americans and punish their relatives too? Their bosses awarded honorific position of Major General.

    And what about the ‘Action Club’, the Gen She? A secret society greatly influenced by the Italian Fascisti and German National Socialists whose main purpose was to promote fascism as a means of strengthening Jiang Jieshi’s position.

    Or the French occupational government that was involved in the Opium trade in order to fund their empire and the British occupational empire before them? I mean, where is the historical cut off line, 60, 65, 75 years to your retrospective punishment

    … or is it just a determined by racism?

    So many vested interest groups, from either ends of the political scale, have their own reasons to whip up and institutionalize both racism (which is what you are dealing out), and national divisions within the region through erroneous, uninformed but often repeated propaganda. Everyone from weepy liberals to rabid right-wing militarists …

    Personally, I’d love to see China, Korea and Japan bury the hatchet, work together with the rest of their region and kick America’s fat, greedy, slippery ass … economically speaking. Its basically what is going to happen anyway over the next decade or so. That along is reason enough for America to stir up the shit.

    I always amazed by the mental and diplomatic gymnastics that “America” has puts itself, its support and involvement with the Communist government and its handwashing of human rights issues from backing the war against Japan Pre-Pearl Harbor to Tibet. Given it general position on left wing politics, it is one that would be classified as schizophrenia in any other case.

  46. ampontan said

    Individuals I am concerned with is someone like Satoru Mizushima, his supporters such as political figures like Shintarō Ishihara, as well as all those on this board who seem to subsribe to their view.

    You are cordially invited to name three people among “all those on this board” who seem to subscribe to their view, as well the specific reasons you think they do.

    Japan is making an attempt to renege on its historic commitment to pacifism with its discussion on abandoning Article Nine.

    1. Self-defense is a natural right.
    2. They were forced to relinquish it.
    3. Now some have the excellent idea of reclaiming it.
    4. They are not discussing “abandoning” Article 9; most serious objectors just want to remove the last paragraph.

    “Men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them…good will is powerless unless the policeman is there to back it up.”

    – George Orwell

  47. The Overthinker said

    Just to add to Ampontan’s comment….

    “Japan is making an attempt to renege on its historic commitment to pacifism with its discussion on abandoning Article Nine.”

    Don’t refer to people as a country. Not only is it inaccurate and distorting of the truth, but insulting to those many Japanese who are passionately committed to defending Article Nine. Yes, some want it modified, but without this fierce opposition there would be no “discussion” in the first place.

    Incidentally, Ampontan, it’s long been recognised that Japan has the right to self defence – that’s what the SDF are. What specifically are you referring to?

  48. ampontan said

    OT: I’m one of those Americans who prefers a strict interpretation of the US Constitution. Words mean things, you know? Based on a strict reading, the Japanese SDF are clearly unconstitutional. We all know that some people bend over backwards with various interpretations to try to get around it, and they have, with the consent of the people who burdened them with that clause to begin with, but it’s still artificial and everyone implicitly understands that.

    People can say “we have that right”, and some people in other countries can say “you have that right”, but the Constitution states clearly, no sea, land, or air forces. That leaves pitchforks, I guess.

    If you’ve got laws–and a Constitution is the basis for all laws–people are supposed to follow them.

    I know you know this, but that’s why some people want to ditch the second paragraph and keep the first–implicitly renouncing belligerence and using war as an instrument of national policy, but keeping the ability to defend oneself.

    It’s not just military action, either, as the case with the Somali pirates shows. That’s another topic I’ve been putting off…

  49. mac said

    Looking at the original draft by the USA Army, it says; “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Is there any chance we might get America to adopt that one to include all the “special operations” it has involved itself in across South America and Asia? The big joke is that those acts of national aggressive and intimidation has been justified on the basis of fighting Communism.

    The additional clause sought to be added is simply to “authorize the use of force for the purpose of self-defense against aggression directed against the Japanese nation.” Where is the great shock in that?

    I recently attended an Article 9 meeting at which an American vet was being paraded telling of the horrors going on in Iraq. I asked him, if China acted Japan, what would its protectors America do? He answered as though I was an idiot … “withdraw all American forces”. “So”, I asked, “what was Japan supposed to do then?” America could not give a damn, the reduction or destruction of Japan is in its interests.

    Going back to the Green Gang for a moment, one of the problems with the type of binary, comic book version of history presented by Mr Commonsensetalks is that it depends on people projected their experience of the world as it is now onto the past, so that China of the first half of the 20th Century is thought of as some wonderful, benign, united mid-West America of the second half of the 20th Century into which our comic book villians, the sword wielding, rapacious “yellow monkey” Japanese, swept.

    Looking at Nanking of the 30s, the government appears a facade upheld behind which were hidden the war lords, the secret policemen, the Green Gangs and others who actually yielded power in China. Forces which lay at the heart of the New Fourth Army Incident in 1941( when the united front against the Japanese collapsed) and other key events. There was no such thing as “China”.

    The Green gang’s power base was not “China” but in the “French Concession”. The French gave them power. The British and Americans were all into the narcotic trade. The Kuomintan did business with the Japanese. The CIA later went on to support the Kuomintan operate as terrorists in other Asian countries whilst continuing the heroin trade. And add 10,000 other little complications … so who was involved in doing what and why? All we can say is it certainly not “national interests”.

    In the midst of all this … and there is far too much more to write about … do the “stinking Japs” 60 years later not make a convenient, ‘binary bad’ comic book scapegoat? This was the Japan’s ‘hood. These were the neighbors they lived with and still do. They were perfectly experienced in the modus operandi of the White Imperialists …

    Frankly, I think it was a wonderful idea to try and kick the Whites out of Asia and amazing brave, if suicidal, to face the ABCD confinement. It had been the Christians, then the British, then America, then Russia that had encroach on Japan … not the other way around. But, let’s make Japan the bad guys.

    So, how does all this related to today and current discussions? OK, putting aside;

    a) the political value of Nanjing and the Japanese as an “enemy without”, their role in creating a nationalist identity in China
    b) the utter lack of open discussion by academics in China and
    c) the utter lack of any human or constitution rights within China

    … Let’s skip across the ocean to California, for an example, where last October 2008 Chinese-American journalist Henry Liu was murdered for writing critically about Chiang Kai-shek. Members of the Taiwan-Chinese criminal syndicate’ the Bamboo Gang’ are being held under indictment in the case acting on the orders of the Taiwanese government.

    Now … tell me how free and honest a discussion you really think is going on about all this, Mr Commonsense?

  50. Joji said

    Typical Chinese stuff. Phony history, pirated goods and rat poison laced dog food. Don’t forget the contaminated milk which was even reported in the heavily biased USA and Canada (even Korea, Mexico and Europe reported it)media outlets.

    If they were so correct, then they would not need to delete anything from the museum. If they deleted 3 photos, what makes you think all the photos there are true and legit. You can only cry wolf so many times before the sheeps get eaten up.

    The Chinese in the beginning did not scream about Yasukuni nor the Senkaku Islands. If that is so, why did they not scream when former Prime Minister Kishi (grandfather of former PM Abe) a class A war criminal became PM? Why didn’t China protest to the GHQ or even to the US President? They had who knows how much time to do so.

    It is all to divert social discontent (especially with the global financial disaster as lots of Shenzang across from Hong Kong are losing their jobs and the owners disappearing without paying their debts).

    In reference to history, I believe it was the Wall Street Journal that said that Chinese and Korean textbooks are inherently unreliable as either exaggerated or outright lies and that the government has no freedom in comparison to Japan as it is heavily censored.

    These are the people who claimed that Tibet needed to be ‘liberated’ and invaded Tibet. Ask any Tibetan in the world if they liked getting invaded by China and if they got any benefit from it. Even a dog would laugh at that.

    Japan messed up, because they should have taken care of the problem while it was small, but now being so large, it may not be corrected. Fortunately there is a gradual move in that direction. Hope it all works out.

  51. I hope that China is starting to deal with history in a more honest way, even if it is just baby steps right now. Numbers and facts do matter, which is why dishonest people exaggerate numbers, distort facts, and doctor photos.

    I am an American in Korea and have noticed signs that Koreans are also starting to show signs of questioning some of their nationalistic history. One of the signs is that Koreans seem to be less vocal about promoting some of the more controversial history these days, but there are more, including a decision to delay issuing a 100,000 won bank note because of what is suspected to be a disagreement over the design.

    The bank note would have had the image of independence fighter Kim Ku on the front and the image of an old Korean map on the back. Both images are controversial. Kim Ku is viewed by some as being a murderer and a political terrorist. The old map is controversial because it does not show the island of Dokdo, which is a small group of islets claimed by both Korea and Japan. Many Koreans wanted to add Dokdo to the image of the old map, while others said that would compromise the integrity of the original.

    It is hard to know the exact reason for the delay of the bank note since the Korean Minister of Finance only explained it by saying, “There are a range of complicated issues that I cannot discuss in public,” but other ministry officials “cited the bill’s design as a key issue behind the postponement.”

    Anyway, the fact that Koreans are disagreeing with each other on such issues is a good sign, in my opinion.

  52. Ken said


    I am so late for a long trip but, “A happy new year!”.

    Regarding to this topic, what Chinese government constructed War-to-Japan memorial museums by the aid or loan from Japan is never be accepted by Japanese people though Japanese media do not report it because of the agreement between Japan and China.
    Anyway, Chinese fabrications will be upset one by one as the US was plotting preemptive strike against Japan before the Pearl Harber.
    I also read an information that China had close relationship with Nazis, revealed by a Chinese scholar, in Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai’s column of Shuukan-Shinchou.

  53. mac said

    Ken writes correctly. The Nationalists had military advisors from Nazi Germany and the Green Gang and Blue Shirts were modeled on Itallian and German fascist leagues. There was the clear intent to introduce fascist tendencies into the Chinese Nationalism, weaponry coming from Europe and America.

    Where it is incorrect, and this is not personal to to Ken but a general comment, is that there was no such thing as “China”. “China” existing only, and manipulated as it is today … in the imagination of individuals. There were many “Chinas” all with their own agendas and many puppet masters. China of today is being reconstructed on a mythic is China of the past.

    As an aside, the leader of the people’s Taibai rebellion against the corrupt Manchu rulers (which killed 10 of millions) died in Nanjing (Nanjing has been an unfortunate place to live for civilians), his remains were later exhumed, cremated and then the ashes were blasted out of a cannon in order to ensure that his remains have no eternal resting place.

    The same primitive and cultic mentality is obvious still at play today.

  54. bender said

    What if space-aliens come and decide to take over? Is it OK for them to crush us because there is no unified Earth?

  55. Ken said


    I know what you mean but then what do you call the war-loving entity?
    They are good at cherry-picking.
    For instance, Chinese communist party does not succeed the responsibility of Chinese people’s party’s conduct.
    So calling them China as a whole is supposed rather convienient sometimes.

  56. mac said

    > What if space-aliens come and decide to take over?

    Shit … my cover is blown.

    > I know what you mean but then what do you call the war-loving entity?

    Good question, and one that applies universally in such issues. Obviously, I was playing their game back on them and attempting to make them look at the technique they were using. Most folks do not realise how recent in human history “national identity” is and how deliberately the politics of its creation is. Some countries are further behind others in the process. Nanjing (and comfort women) is central to the creation of a unified Chinese (and Korean) national identity in a different way to, say, Taiwanese national identity arose post-war quite comfortable and appreciative of Japan.

    One has to be very, very specific and that takes the kind of knowledge of a subject most internet users have no interest in.

    Alternatively, one can look at exactly the same issues or conflicts, e.g. Sino-Japan or comfort women, and see them not from the nationalist point of view but, e.g. a marxist or feminist point of view. (I’ll skip Freudian or other psychological ones).

    In the former case, a critical analysis of the capitalist interest driving the social change which included the tensions of imperial expansion and confinement of which the common people of both nations had no involvement. And, in the latter cases, from the point of view of the relationship between the masculinist influences within both Korean and Japan (and Asia as a whole), and its ongoing abuse of the feminine of which prostitution is only one element. Korean, for example, has been described as “hyper-masculinist society”.

    That is to say in the case of the comfort women, it was not “Japan doing it to Korea” but merely a ongoing example of ‘Asian males doing it to Asian women’ (and later Americans). All military forces representing the masculine and destructive, the nurturing element female and creative.

    I quite honestly think the much bigger feminist appraisal of the comfort women issue is far, far more accurate than the nationalist political one which is being returning to a masculine/combative one for obvious reasons, e.g. in the case of Korea, covering up Korean male guilt or in the case of “Western liberals” as a cover for their impotence … individual female suffering being exploited even further for masculine gain.

  57. bender said

    FDR might have been eager to enter into the war (which theory has not really been established yet apart from those conspiracist circles), but so was the Japanese military regime (which is an established fact). Efforts to make the Japanese Empire look benign won’t work. The Japanese Empire, especially when it was taken over by the military, was a cruel regime.

    Arguing that the Japanese Empire is long gone is the way to go.

  58. bender said

    Preemptive strike: target Canada.

  59. tomojiro said

    >I also read an information that China had close relationship with Nazis, revealed by a Chinese scholar, in Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai’s column of Shuukan-Shinchou.

    That the Chinese Nationalist Party had inofficial but close relationship with the German Wehrmacht is a long known story. Nothing new. General von Falkenhausen was the military adviser and under his supervision the Chinese Nationalist Party made bunkers and torchikas around Shanghai which led to the ferocious battle between the Japanese army and the Chinese. Already at that time the Japanese officers recognized that part of the Chinese army was equipped with German helmets, machineguns and in some cases with German made armed vehicles.

    Because of the German suprevision, Chinese resistance was very effective and caused heavy damage to the Japanese invasion army (of course huge underestimation against the Chinese army on the Japanese side was another reason of heavy casualties).

    Either Sakurai is ignorant of the already long known history of the relation ship with the Chinese National Party and the German Wehrmacht, or she is sensationalizing this fact with intention to shift the blame on the Chinese.

    And personaly,I realy don’t think that we need another conspiracy theory about FDR.

  60. mac said

    “Follow the money” is probably the best advice. I could not try to excuse the Showa Military but I would not generalize it as a whole nor pass the blame down to the lower ranks. Things don’t “just happen”, someone makes them happen and it when you start to look behind the scenes into who was betting on who, who was placing double bets both ways, the criminal connection of all parties that you really start see what it was all about.

    I have often asked the question, did your average Japanese person really believe in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and that they were working towards that idea? I think they probably did without any guile and it is too simplistic to suggest that it was “justification of Japanese aggression”.

    Again, immediately, you have to ask, who is “Japanese”? It was not the Japanese people. (Most people really cannot be bother invading other territory if it means getting up early, sleeping on the ground and being away from home for a few days.) Hence the problem arises from the amateur and activist members of public erroneously using the terminology of descriptive military historians. Real life is much more complex. Military historians until recently have been highly political and in service to their masters or prejudices.

    Personally, I think the idea of “Asia for Asians”, kicking the Western Imperialist out was as good and fair as Japan defending itself from Russia. I have to ask the honest question, would “Greater Asia” (and the Asian peoples), been better of under Japanese influence and could it have developed into a commonwealth without external influences bedeviling it? Those external influences were neither charitable nor selflessly interested and neither, as we have illustrated, were those internal resisting forces mired as they were in caste, hard criminality and exploitation.

    The wars are presented as national ones. They were not. I would argue that they were merely the collision of equal but opposing capital self-interests in which Japanese appears, and have since been proven, to be the better of the devils.

    File under ‘work in progress’.

  61. ampontan said

    OK, no conspiracy theories about FDR.

    How about a geopolitical theory?

    1. FDR already was working with the British and French in Europe in anticipation of American entry. There are reports that he had US forces cooperate with British forces on attacks on German U-boats to bait the Germans into a counterattack, creating…well, an Atlantic Pearl Harbor. Hitler went out of his way not to bite.

    2. He increased economic sanctions on Japan starting in 1939, and refused Japanese requests for discussions.

    3. After FDR cut off oil to Japan, Konoe Fumimaro offered to meet FDR anywhere in the Pacific. He suggested that if oil supplies were restored, Japan would leave Indochina and would allow FDR to negotiate peace with China. FDR said no.

    4. Secretary of War Stimson, in his diary on 25 November after a Cabinet meeting: “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”

    5. On 26 Nov, Secretary of State Hull rejected negotiations and demanded the Japanese get out of Indochina and China. Which Konoe had already talked to the US about.

    6. The Soviets had occupied parts of Mongolia. Keeping Japan out of China kept Soviet attention focused on Germany, keeping Germany’s attention from England.

    Herbert Hoover wrote a friend on 8 December saying, sticking pins in the heads of rattlesnakes got us into this mess. Japan was a rattlesnake at the time. And FDR kept sticking very sharp pins in its head, when US national interest was not much of a factor.

    It’s interesting how some of the same people who would jump to FDR’s defense might be the first to jump at GWB’s throat over Iraq.

    That brings us back to the quote at the beginning of the post and the very first comment.

    But I don’t want to get into all that…all those people are dead now too. And I got work to do!

  62. The Overthinker said

    Mac – I like your bringing of “what is ‘China'” – it’s something that tends to get overlooked when people discuss it. Aside from the modern development of the nation-state as an “imagined community,” (There’s a ton of fascinating research on modern Japan as such) China has been a different geopolitical entity each time the regime changes, further confusing matters. Quite aside from the Taiwan issue (split ‘China’ is hardly new in Chinese history anyway), it opens up the question of just whose land Manchuria was.

    Ampontan: minor typo: “Secretary of War Stinson” –> “Secretary of War Stimson”

  63. Ken said

    >That the Chinese Nationalist Party had inofficial but close relationship with the German Wehrmacht is a long known story.

    Ms. Sakurai is mentioning there must be something from Nazis as substitutions to stable supply of tungsten, etc from China beyond a long known story.
    Furthermore, she is criticising Chinese government does not allow others to access the historical facts.

  64. Mac said

    Just an aside from recent reading which illuminates the more complex reality of Pre-WWII Japanese society and China relationships than the one the media protagonists, blogistes, and the Wikipedia would have us believe. Not sure where to post it

    From ‘Understanding Japanese NGOs from Facts and Practices’ compiled by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in cooperation with the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC).

    “It is generally agreed on that the beginning of Japanese international cooperation NGOs can be traced back to a medical mission of Christian doctors and medical students sent to China in 1938. The mission, which provided care to refugees, was sent in response to damage caused by the Japanese military invasion.

    For the next 20 years or so, this work was disrupted because of the intensifying war and, in the post-war period, the need to reconstruct Japan itself.”

    It is also worth noting that post Russian-Japan War, the Japanese Christians, who had political and well as social influence, believed that progress in East Asia would be a gift from Japan to the other nations. Their interests ranged from Christian Socialism to Temperance and Feminism around the beginning of the last century.

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