News Watch


Japan's War memorial construction hits obstacles above and below ground

(Asahi Shimbun E-News) Dec. 17, 1997

War memorial construction hits obstacles above and below ground

How to deal with Japan's war responsibility still a major sticking point.

Although Japan's only national war memorial, dedicated to those who died in World War II, has been 20 years in the making, it has yet to open its doors to the public.

The public will have to wait even longer because construction began only last year and the building is still a shell.

Having weathered protests from local inhabitants and hit unexpected underground obstacles, the memorial is also embroiled in a dispute over varying historical interpretations of the last war. As things stand, the building is expected to be completed in 1999.

The memorial tentatively named "peace memorial for the war dead" was originally expected to open two years ago on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II to showcase various war-related exhibits.

Construction of the 14-story building first ran into resistance from the local community, which demanded a lower building that would not impede the view of the relatively green area near the Imperial Palace and the Yasukuni Shrine. In the meantime, construction work was kept on hold and 1995 rolled by.

Work on the war memorial began in October 1996 on a plot of land in the Kudan Minami district of Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, near the Kudan Kaikan building which houses the offices of the Japan War Bereaved Families Association (JWBFA). The 12.3 billion-yen construction cost has been put up mainly by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

At the construction site, a notice board informs passersby of an already expired completion date--Nov. 30, 1997.

One of the things obstructing construction was the recent discovery of cables buried between three and 10 meters underground. The cables were reportedly laid around 1985 as part of a subway construction project.

There were other entanglements concerning the selection of exhibits. As of 1994, it was agreed the war memorial would "deal with Japan's responsibility as an aggressor nation."

In the following year, however, this theme was modified to "concentrate on the ordeals of war-bereaved families during and after the war." The official explanation for the shift in emphasis was that it is "too difficult to objectively show the facts of war at a time when historical perceptions vary so much."

Organizers are now appealing to clubs for senior citizens, asking members to send in old household articles such as kettles and metal canteens so they can be added to the 10,000 exhibits already gathered.

They also plan to gather various literature, including magazines which illustrate life during the war. The unfinished structure is already taking on the appearances of a folk museum.

To complicate matters further, local inhabitants and citizens' group members filed a suit against the government at the Tokyo District Court in August 1996, demanding construction of the memorial be suspended.

They insisted that not only does the memorial spoil the view, it also infringes on the Constitutional article separating church and state because the government is financing the memorial and entrusting its management to the JWBFA.

The plaintiffs argued this association has close ties with Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines the souls of the country's war dead from the Meiji Era up to World War II.

"Our intrinsic rights will be threatened if the realities of war, including Japan's aggressive actions, are not presented properly to future generations," said a spokesman for the association.

"A war memorial does not serve its purpose unless it faces squarely the fact there were 20 million war victims in Asia (and not only in Japan) of the last war," said Kazuo Ohashi, who heads the plaintiff group and is a representative of a citizens' group assessing the war memorial.

"If the plan proceeds as is, it will simply leave the root of (Japan's war) vice untouched," said Ohashi, who lives across from the construction site.

The JWBFA had originally petitioned the government in 1979 to document the sufferings of war as a gesture to console bereaved children.

Its members therefore expressed mixed feelings toward the watered-down version of the memorial which sidesteps an historical interpretation of the war.

"These surviving children are nearing 60 and getting older each day. We hope the memorial will be completed as soon as possible," says Sumiko Nakai who heads the association. The group has requested the memorial be tentatively called the "memorial for war-bereaved children."

Looking back on past controversies, a spokesman for the Social Welfare and War Victims' Relief Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Welfare said his ministry was not prepared to deal with criticism leveled at the memorial's historical interpretation of the war.

"The project was launched only as part of the war victim's relief work," he explained.

"We have repeatedly extended budget requests for the memorial which is impossibly behind schedule. We just hope it will somehow be completed," he said.

`Peace memorial': a chronology

1979--The Japan War Bereaved Families Association asks the government for a project to console bereaved children of World War II.

1985--The health and welfare minister sets up an advisory body focusing on the "memorial for the bereaved children of the war dead."

1987--The body advises the government to build "a memorial for the bereaved children which presents an objective and concrete view of the war."

1992--The Ministry of Health and Welfare lays the groundwork for the project and a construction budget is compiled for the memorial, to be tentatively called "peace memorial for the war dead."

1993--A group of historians announces the project "evades Japan's responsibility as an aggressor nation."

1994--The Chiyoda Ward Assembly adopts a bill opposing the construction.

January 1995--Two members of an advisory body, studying the plan for the memorial, resign in protest.

September 1995--The advisory body modifies its construction plan and agrees "not to include exhibits which may touch upon an historical interpretation of the last war."

August 1996--72 local inhabitants file a suit against the government at the Tokyo District Court, demanding a halt to the memorial's construction.

October 1996--Construction begins but faces protests from the local community.

May 1997--68 people file a second suit demanding suspension of the construction.


Nanjing Remembers the Forgotten Holocaust

(13/12/97)

NANJING, China (CNN) -- Air raid sirens filled the air over Nanjing on Saturday. Ships on the nearby Yangtze River sounded fog horns, trains blew whistles, and the city of 5 million came to a standstill for three minutes -- all in memory of what some describe as a "forgotten holocaust."

Sixty years ago, Japanese Imperial Army troops pushed up the Yangtze River from Shanghai, which had fallen that November. On December 13, 1937, they marched into what was then called Nanking, the capital of China.

The Chiang forces had already fled far upriver, to establish a new capital. The people of Nanjing stayed behind, and suffered. Historians say up to 300,000 of them died.

For six weeks, chaos consumed the city. The Japanese lined people up by the hundreds and killed them en masse. Firing squads and beheadings became common scenery. As many as 57,000 people died during one execution, according to Rong Weimu, a researcher at the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

An estimated 20,000 to 80,000 women were raped; many were disemboweled and left to die. Some soldiers even cut off the breasts of their victims, then nailed the women alive to walls.

Li Xouying was 19, and seven months pregnant. "Thirty-seven times the Japanese bayoneted me ... 37 times," Li recalled. "Some from the left, some from the right. I have no sympathy for the Japanese. I still hate them. They did horrible harm to me, and they should give me compensation."

Pan Kaiming, now 80, and a former autoworker, carries a calling card that reads "Nanjing Massacre Survivor." Pan says that on December 14, 1937, he was among about 300 people who were lined up to face a firing squad. The Japanese sprayed the group with machine gun fire. Pan awoke beneath a pile of bodies.

"Slowly, slowly, I made my way out," he recalled. "My coat was completely soaked with blood. I thought I was a ghost."

He went to the river to clean the blood from his body, but the river was red -- filled with blood running from hundreds of corpses tossed into the water. Pan escaped by pretending to be a messenger for a Japanese officer.

Memorial built on former mass grave

Today, about 1,800 people living in Nanjing are survivors of what the Chinese call the "Nanjing Massacre," and others call the "Rape of Nanjing." Of the survivors, one in 10 were victims.

The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall stands as a tribute to those who suffered, and as a reminder that such slaughter should not be repeated.

Scholars are divided on the massacre's death toll. But Zhu Chengshan, director of the memorial, says the numbers do not matter.

"It is a history written in blood. Even 300 deaths would be a massacre," he said.

The memorial, which opened in 1985, was built on a former mass grave, where some 8,000 bodies were exhumed. It is a series of galleries and walkways of rough granite blocks, surrounded by beds of stones, like giant tombstones, representing the dead. It was the first permanent public site devoted to China's holocaust.

In one underground gallery, glass walls reveal a pile of bones from victims whose bodies were dumped on the ground.

Protests and politics

Today, Japan is the biggest outside investor in China. But Nanjing is a sensitive issue for both nations.

For the Chinese, it fuels hatred. For the Japanese, it fuels denial. But that is slowly changing.

The Japanese commanders blamed for Nanjing's bloodshed were executed as war criminals. But, like Li, many Nanjing survivors feel the Japanese should pay a price for their atrocities. Activists keep the issue alive, and the massacre was the subject of many student protests during the 1980s.

China, however, waived claims for war damages in 1972, when Beijing and Tokyo established diplomatic ties. Now, when Japanese officials visit Beijing, the Chinese clear the city's streets of Nanjing activists.

Recently Japan began mentioning Nanjing in its school books, but the text is vague, suggesting the civilians died in battle. In 1994, a member of the Japanese cabinet was forced to resign after he claimed the Nanjing massacre was a hoax.

'I can never forgive Japan'

In his official comments marking the 60th anniversary of the massacre, Chinese President Jiang Zemin carefully balanced his words. He urged Japan to learn from the aggression that brought "disaster for the Chinese and suffering for the Japanese."

"Past experiences, if not forgotten, can be a guide for the future," Jiang said.

Jiang and other Beijing officials stayed away from Nanjing on Saturday. Scheduled appearances by Nanjing's mayor and the governor of Jiangsu province were canceled at the last minute.

At an officially sponsored event, one young man held up a T-shirt bearing anti-Japanese slogans. Police quickly took him away.

Some 3,000 people gathered at the city's memorial, where they watched as cages of pigeons were flung open and the symbols of peace flew out to fill the gray winter sky.

"I can never forgive Japan," Li said.

--AP, December 13, 1997

From: Ignatius Ding Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 13:42:19 -0800


US POW Protested the Houston Chronicle for Covering Up Japanese War Crimes

(27/10/97)

The Center for Internee Rights and its 47,000 military POW and civilian internee members protest the recent censorship by the Houston Chronicle in the case of the obituary submitted by Dr. Lu on her mother Tian Yew Cu Lu. This occurred on 2/27/97.

Dr. Lu sent her paid obituary on her mother to the Houston Chronicle mentioning that her mother witnessed the execution of her husband and seven others by Japanese soldiers in Manila, Philippines in the Spring of 1942 during WWII. The Obituary department demanded a change 20 minutes before print time or they would not run it. The obituary submitted by Dr. Lu included this line.."All were executed by the Japanese during WWII". The change demanded by the Houston Chronicle was this.."Who all became casualties of WWII.".

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 12:28:49 -0800
From: Ignatius Ding


Japanese Lawyer-scholar group ready to battle for war compensation

(8/10/97)

Thirty-seven lawyers and scholars have established a group to push for legislation that would make the national government directly compensate foreign World War II victims, the group's representatives said Oct. 7.

The group's founding members include lawyer Koken Tsuchiya, the former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Hosei University Professor Yoko Tajima and novelist Ayako Miura. Nearly half of members are lawyers.

The group will urge a nonpartisan group of Diet members to introduce a set of two bills, Tsuchiya said. One bill would be aimed at investigating "violations of international humanitarian law" committed by the Japanese military before and during World War II. The other would enable a provisional payment by the government for women forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers at wartime frontline brothels, he said.

The Japan Times
From: Ignatius Ding


Japanese Ex-Soldier Tells of WWII Atrocities

(1/10/97)

By Yvonne Chang

TOKYO (Reuter) - A former Japanese military police officer Wednesday became the first Japanese to admit in civil court that he committed atrocities against Chinese during World War II.

"I would tie up the prisoner's hands and feet and cover his nose with wet cloth so that he couldn't breathe.... We then poured heated wax from a burning candle on his feet but he wouldn't give the information we wanted," Yutaka Mio, 83, testified at the Tokyo District Court.

Families of Chinese victims believed to have been murdered by the infamous Unit 731, which conducted germ warfare and experiments on live prisoners in China during World War II, filed a lawsuit in 1995 demanding the Japanese government pay compensation of $826,000.

"I believe that the Japanese government should acknowledge this fact and apologize and pay compensation for what it did. And I pray that this becomes the voice of the Japanese people," he told the court,

Mio, a former officer of the "kempei-tai," Japan's notorious wartime military police, testified that he arrested and sent four Chinese men to Unit 731, known as the "Ishii Unit" after the unit's commander, Gen. Shiro Ishii.

Families of two of the men, Wang Yauxuan and Wang Xuenian, are among the 10 plaintiffs in the case.

Acting on secret orders from Emperor Hirohito, the Japanese army set up germ warfare units code-named 731 and 100, which conducted experiments and tested biological agents on live prisoners of war. None survived the experiments.

The four Chinese Mio arrested on spy charges were eventually taken to Harbin in northeastern China, where the unit was headquartered. The kempei-tai alone sent close to 600 Chinese prisoners to Unit 731, according to Mio.

"It was all a big secret. We didn't know what that unit did, but we knew that it was a frightening unit and that once you were sent there, you never came back alive," he said.

While he was not directly involved in experiments conducted by Unit 731, he said he also bore responsibility as the unit would not have been able to operate without people like him.

"Unit 731 was able to exist because of the kempei-tai, which provided it with people to experiment on. Sending someone to Unit 731 was an act of murder," Mio said.

He recalled meeting the son of Wang Yauxuan in 1995. "He told me, 'My father wouldn't have been killed if it hadn't been for you.' I couldn't respond," Mio said.

Mio said in an interview after his testimony that he received threats and malicious phone calls for promising to appear in court. "But I don't care... It's my duty to pass on what I know to everybody else," he said.

All documents related to Unit 731, including a list of all Chinese sent by the kempei-tai to the unit, were destroyed at the end of the war. Mio's acts were recorded in documents made in China when he was detained there as a prisoner of war.

After the war, Ishii and his colleagues were granted immunity from prosecution for war crimes by U.S. authorities in exchange for all of the data on their experiments.

Most Japanese citizens were unaware of the unit's activities until 1981, when author Seiichi Morimura exposed the unit's dark history in a book, The Devil's Gluttony.

Many of the doctors and researchers in the unit became heads of medical and pharmaceutical firms in post-war Japan.

The Japanese government has never formally apologized for Unit 731's activities, and did not even admit to its existence until August, when the Supreme Court ruled that the existence of the unit was accepted in academic circles.

From: Ignatius Ding Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 15:08:29 -0700


Japan Steelmaker Compensate WW II Forced Labor

(22/09/97)
By Mari Yamaguchi Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) -- A Japanese steelmaker and the families of 11 Koreans have reached an out-of-court settlement requiring the first payments by a Japanese company for using forced labor during World War II.

Nippon Steel Corp. will pay more than $163,000 in "condolence money" to the families of 11 Koreans forced to work during the war at the company's mine in Kamaishi, 300 miles northeast of Tokyo, a lawyer representing the families said Monday.

"We are not completely happy with the settlement, but we wanted to focus more on the positive side -- the fact that a Japanese company is paying money for the victims and their memorial services," Akihiko Oguchi said.

The families filed suit two years ago, demanding $2 million in compensation and the return of the victims' remains. The Korean laborers died during an American air raid in the closing months of the war.

Nippon Steel insisted the payment was based solely on humanitarian considerations. It agreed to pay $16,300 to each of 10 families that never located their relatives' remains and $400 to the one family that recently received the ashes of their kin.

The company said it bears no legal responsibility for conscription of Korean laborers during the war. Japan ruled Korea as a colony from 1910 until 1945.

Oguchi said his clients accepted the offer from Nippon Steel because they thought the company had demonstrated enough sincerity through efforts to help them locate the victims' remains.

The families, however, plan to continue their legal fight against the Japanese government, he said.

Japan's wartime military government brought hundreds of thousands of young Koreans and Chinese to Japan, often by force, to make up for a domestic labor shortage. The conscripts worked in mines and private factories, and many died from malnutrition or injuries inflicted by plant operators.

The Japanese government has refused to directly compensate individual victims, maintaining that all wartime compensation issues were settled in postwar peace treaties.

Nippon Steel and other wartime employers, many of them corporate giants today, have said they only operated under government orders.

"I hope Nippon Steel's action would influence other Japanese companies that still haven't come to terms with their wartime responsibility," Oguchi said.

Several Japanese companies, including NKK Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kajima Corp., face similar lawsuits.


Tokyo will never say sorry for war, historian claims

(3/9/98) By RUSSELL SKELTON, Herald Correspondent in Tokyo, Sydney Morning Herald

The conservative Government led by Mr Ryutaro Hashimoto is unlikely ever to fully apologise for Japan's wartime aggression, a veteran free-speech campaigner and historian, Professor Saburo Ienaga, warned yesterday.

Professor Ienaga, who won a 32-year legal battle last week against the Education Ministry for censoring his textbooks on Japan's role in World War II, said the country was entering a new period of conservatism about its past.

He said too many Cabinet ministers were making inaccurate statements about the war - including a recent refusal by some to acknowledge the forced prostitution by the Imperial Army - to give him optimism for the future.

"I do not think things are going well in terms of Japan accepting responsibility for the past," he said. "In fact, willingness to address the past is becoming less and less."

Professor Ienaga, 84, won a landmark decision in the Supreme Court over the Education Ministry's decision to censor his textbooks on war history. The court ruled there was no justification for cutting references to Japanese atrocities.

In particular, the court found that references to the notorious Unit 731, which conducted biological experiments on prisoners of war, should not have been cut.

The ruling is regarded as a breakthrough because Japan has never formally acknowledged the existence of its biological warfare program.

Unit 731 conducted experiments on Korean, Russian and Chinese prisoners which resulted in the deaths of thousands. The unit's existence was fully documented after the Allies seized documents and interrogated the scientists involved.

When the book was written, the Textbook Authorisation Council ordered that the section on Unit 731 be cut on the grounds there was no credible research proving its existence.

Professor Ienaga had argued that government censorship of school textbooks was not only unconstitutional but distorted history and covered up Japan's long list of war crimes, which include the Nanjing massacre and the use of civilians to resist Allied forces on Okinawa.

Professor Ienaga said yesterday that the conservatives had begun a campaign to bring back censorship of school books. "In my personal opinion there is justification for these views from an academic point of view, but it poses dangers," he said.

He argues that it should not be up to the Education Ministry to decide the historical content of schoolbooks, but historians and educators: "The Government should not be allowed to decide the issue."

Professor Ienaga was awarded a token $5,400 in damages by the court for the anguish he suffered in having his books censored. But his victory, while important, was only partial.

The Supreme Court rejected seven other claims of Professor Ienaga's relating to passages he wrote about events in Nanjing and Okinawa. He said he had been forced to include in his book a passage claiming that many of the 160,000 residents killed in the battle for Okinawa had died in mass suicides.


China Blasted Japan Government for History Textbook Censorship

(1/9/97) [Lateline 1/9/97]

Beijing - China blasted the Japanese government Saturday for condoning censorship following a Japanese court ruling against the deletion of wartime Japanese atrocities from a proposed history textbook, but which upheld the Education Ministry's right to screen textbooks, Kyodo reported. ''The Japanese government revealed a wrong position in the process of history textbook screening, and has come under intense fire from neighboring countries once it invaded,'' Xinhua News Agency said in a dispatch from Tokyo.

The report, with a byline by Xinhua Tokyo Bureau Chief Li Wenyu, follows Friday's ruling by Japan's Supreme Court that a recommendation by the ministry's textbook screening group that a historian delete a description in his history textbook of biological experiments by the Japanese Imperial Army, the infamous Unit 731, in China during World War II was unconstitutional.

But the court unanimously upheld the Education Ministry's right to continue screening all textbooks before they are used, and to remove anything it finds objectionable, including references to war crimes.

The Xinhua report took issue with the top court's decision to allow some passages identified by the government's screening to be deleted from the proposed textbook written by 83-year-old historian Saburo Ienaga.

''The Supreme Court ruling does not deny all of the editing requests as wrongful screening by the Japanese government of history textbooks,'' the report said.

The report praised Ienaga for fighting with an indomitable spirit against the Japanese government, and cited Ienaga as saying he will continue to cooperate in ''a battle of justice.''

Between 1939 and 1942, germ warfare experiments were orchestrated by the Japanese Army Unit 731, based in the city of Harbin. More notorious experiments took place in the southern ports of Ningbo and Guangzhou. During one attack in Ningbo, more than 400 people died after Japanese planes dropped plague-infested wheat grain over farms surrounding the city.

"We have conducted research between 1991 and 1994 to find out what really happened to Chinese people during the war," Masataka Mori, leader of a Japanese lobby group, said. "The death toll would probably exceed tens of thousands. The atrocity of Japanese germ warfare is equivalent to that of the Rape of Nanjing in 1937."


China Hosts Nanjing Massacre Conference

(13/8/97)
[Lateline]

Nanjing - A group of former Japanese Imperial Army soldiers have returned to the site of an infamous massacre to issue apologies to their victims' relatives. The soldiers have gathered in the city of Nanjing, better known by its wartime name of Nanking, for an historic conference addressing the first mass slaughter of World War II, Reuter reported. Organized by Nanjing Massacre scholar Shi Young, the forum brings together soldiers, historians, scholars and survivors at the Nanking Massacre Memorial Museum for three days of discussions on the sensitive topic.

More than 300,000 Chinese were killed or raped in the weeks following the fall of Nanjing to the Japanese in late 1937. The scope of the massacre stunned even the Japanese high command, which clamped a lid of secrecy so tight that even today scholars cannot agree on the death toll.

U.S.-based historian Shi Young believes the conference will help survivors come to terms with the horror and stir international concern about the event.

Shi adds the meeting will conclude with the lighting of an eternal flame in memory of the victims and a call for Chinese and Japanese youths to visit survivors of the massacre to remind the world of the horrors of war.


Japanese history revisionists: Japanese army were not particularly brutal

By Joseph Coleman

TOKYO (AP) -- The painting is brutal: A Japanese soldier stomps on a screaming baby and waves a dagger at a bleeding Chinese woman tied to a wooden stake. "Japanese demons are cruel!" is written in bold characters.

The Japanese history textbook illustration, taken from Chinese World War II propaganda, upsets Nobukatsu Fujioka. But his main concern isn't the victims-- he is worried about Japan's self-image.

"It's masochistic," said Fujioka, an education professor at the prestigious University of Tokyo. Textbook writers "are volunteering to show that Japanese people are ruthless."

The Japanese have feuded for decades over how to present World War II in textbooks. Under pressure from its wartime victims, Tokyo slowly has allowed writers to include details of Japan's bloody conquest of Asia in the 1930s and 1940s.

But the leaders of a new conservative backlash in Japan say the trend has gone too far. They want to cull references to Japanese atrocities and instill national pride rather than shame.

"No other country in the world subjects its schoolchildren to such terrible history education," Fujioka's Association to Promote New History Education wrote in a declaration. "To correct this situation, we feel compelled to write a new history textbook."

Old guard conservatives and rightists long have railed against exploring Japan's war role in the classroom. Militarists in trucks fitted with loudspeakers regularly blare abuse at the Education Ministry or publishers deemed too far to the left.

But Fujioka is no fringe radical. Writers, businessmen and a well-known sports figure are among his supporters; at least one local legislature has endorsed his views; his books are best-sellers. His ideas are fodder for high-brow journals, and a major daily newspaper -- the Sankei -- is behind him.

The growing backing has critics worried.

"What they are saying is a product of mere imagination, not even worth serious consideration," said historian Saburo Ienaga, who has fought for 30 years to include more mention of the war in textbooks. "What's alarming to me is that many people seem to support them."

Fujioka, however, has struck a cord with Japanese who question the need to feel contrite over events years before they were born.

If current textbooks have filled Japanese with self-loathing, Fujioka and his supporters say this aphorism is the cure: Japanese troops were no worse than those of any other fighting nation in World War II, and should not be singled out as especially brutal.

According to Fujioka, U.S. occupation forces brainwashed the postwar Japanese into believing they had committed terrible crimes. The Japanese meekly accepted this view, and their neighbors have used it to pry concessions from a guilt-ridden Tokyo.

Perhaps Fujioka's most controversial stand is on the so-called "comfort women," the thousands of women from Korea and other Asian countries forced to work as prostitutes at front-line brothels.

It was not until 1993 that Japan admitted the government was involved, and it has set up a private fund to compensate survivors. The Education Ministry recently began allowing mention of the women in junior high textbooks.

But Fujioka considers the issue a cynical ruse by former prostitutes to squeeze money out of Tokyo. He wants the issue expunged from the books.

"The women got a lot of money compared with non-warfield brothels," Fujioka said, adding that often the women's parents also profited.

It is not clear how Fujioka's movement will affect how the war is taught in schools. The Education Ministry, which screens all textbooks, expects more detailed descriptions of the war in coming years.

"They talk about pride or the good things Japanese did, but we think the textbooks should be written based on the results of historical research," said Takashio Itaru, the ministry's textbook division chief.

Not that textbooks lay bare the unsavory details of the country's march through Asia. Even the most detailed passages on Japanese atrocities are brief and sometimes vaguely worded, and debate often focuses on what to outsiders may seem trivial.

For example, fierce disagreement has raged over whether the Japanese conquest of its neighbors should be called "an invasion" rather than "an advance."

In practice, textbook descriptions of the war make little difference to students. The war is given short shrift on all-important exams -- a guarantee that students obsessed with test scores have no incentive to study it.

In the meantime, Fujioka and his group expect to write their own textbooks depicting Japanese "with dignity and balance" for consideration by the ministry in two years.

"I agree that there were crimes committed by Japanese troops -- just as other countries committed crimes," Fujioka said. "But to feel bad about something that you didn't do -- that's almost sick."

AP, Monday, August 4, 1997; 2:01 a.m. EDT


Holocaust Exhibition in Nanjing

An exhibition on the Holocaust opened on July 30 in Nanjing which itself is the scene of a massacre by Japanese troops in 1937. "We want to create a climate of sympathy between the two peoples," Israeli consul general Yitzhak Gerberg said.
(CND-EP, No. EP97-015) August 1, 1997


Japan Rightists Land on Island

By MARI YAMAGUCHI
Associated Press Writer
Friday, June 13, 1997 10:05 am EDT

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese rightists said today they landed on a disputed island near Taiwan earlier this week to repair a lighthouse that sparked a furor when they built it last year.

The uninhabited islands, located in an area of rich fishing grounds and possible oil and gas deposits in the East China sea, are also claimed by Taiwan and China. They are controlled by Japan, but Japanese are barred from landing on them.

Video taken of this week's landing showed three members of the Japan Youth Association climbing up the lighthouse to install support wires. The Japanese coast guard looked on, but did not interfere, despite calls by the owners to stop trespassers.

"There is little we can do unless major laws are broken," coast guard spokesman Yoshihiro Umeda said. He said Japanese citizens on Japanese-registered boats are allowed to approach the islands, though they aren't supposed to land.

Japan originally claimed the chain -- known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese -- in 1895, but China and Taiwan say they have been Chinese for centuries. They were controlled by the United States following World War II and were handed over to Japan in 1972.

The lighthouse has caused a furor since it was erected last year. Last month, a flotilla of protesters from Hong Kong and Taiwan attempted to land on the chain and tear it down. Japanese coast guard intercepted them and allegedly rammed one of their boats.

"We will keep reminding people of the fact that the islands are Japan's territory," said Toyohisa Eto, a rightist leader.

Japan repeated its claim to the islands today. "We don't want to hurt relations with our neighbors, but Senkaku is our territory and it's a fact," said spokesman Yuichi Yamamoto.

Landing on the islands without the owners' permission is a misdemeanor, but charges are rarely brought against Japanese, according to the Okinawa Prefectural Police Department, responsible for policing the islands.

One of several protest expeditions last year succeeded in planting Chinese and Taiwanese flags on one of the islands. David Chan, leader of one Hong Kong expedition, drowned when he jumped overboard to protest being turned away by the Japanese coast guard.

The Japan Youth Association is among the most active and well-funded of Japan's 1,000 right-wing groups, who have long sought to revive support for Japan's former militarist glory.

Copyright 1997 The Associated Press Posted on Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 14:13:39 -0700


Former Nagasaki mayor slams A-bomb memorial

By Kanako Tsuji and Yoji Hanaoka
Mainichi Shimbun, April 23, 1997

NAGASAKI -- The former mayor of Nagasaki wrote in an essay that the A-bomb Dome in Hiroshima should not have been designated a World Heritage Site because it makes light of Japan s role as an aggressor during World War II.

Seeing only the victims viewpoint does not work in the global community, said Hitoshi Motoshima, 75, told the Mainichi Shimbun. His controversial essay appeared in a recent newsletter of the Hiroshima Institute for Peace Education.

At events relating to the dropping of the atomic bomb, it has never been made clear why the bombs were dropped, he said.

In the article, Motoshima accuses the city of Hiroshima of lacking a sense of responsibility for the war from a global perspective. He says the city should not have recommended the building to be included as a World Heritage Site.

The structure was almost completely destroyed in the Aug. 6, 1945 bombing.

Last December the historical dome was designated a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), despite opposition by the United States and China.

Motoshima told the Mainichi Shimbun that his comments were based on firm convictions. He also said that he now felt ashamed of the annual peace declarations he issued as the mayor of Nagasaki because they failed to include the point of view of Japan as an aggressor in the war.

In the essay, Motoshima points out that the United States and China were opposed to the A-bomb Dome being designated a world heritage site as they regarded it a reminder of Japan s aggression.

In the essay s conclusion, Motoshima wrote, The first thing to do is to apologize to China and others (who were the victims of Japan s aggression). Hiroshima and Nagasaki should pardon the atomic bombing and lead the world in reconciliation.

Motoshima s stance has annoyed A-bomb victims who see the monument as a symbol for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the promotion of eternal global peace.

Sunao Tsuboi is one of those victims. He is a member of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, which had pushed to have the dome listed with UNESCO.

We have repeatedly stated publicly that Japan should express its regrets and apologize for the misconduct of Japan s military forces, said Tsuboi. However, the dome, as a spiritual symbol, is worthy of being part of the world s heritage.

Motoshima began his 16-year term as mayor of Nagasaki in 1979. In 1988, he stated publicly at a session of the municipal assembly that Emperor Showa was responsible for the war. As a result of his remarks, he was attacked and seriously injured by a right-wing activist in 1990.

From: Ignatius Ding
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 1997 15:27:23 -0700


Two Japanese politicians preparing WW II Atrocity Investigation and Reparation Legislation

(1/4/97)

The Alliance for Preserving the Truth of Sino-Japanese War (APTSJW) has received information from Japanese Senator Shoji Motooka's office that Senator Motooka and Japanese House Representative Koh Tanaka of the lower house of the parliament are ready to submit a proposed legislation to the Diet (i.e. the Japanese Parliament) for establishing a governmental panel to investigate Japan's wartime atrocities, including military sexual slavery, forced labor, development and use of biological and chemical weapons. In addition, they are also considering a separate bill to offer compensation to individual victims as recommended by the International Commission of Jurists and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Motooka and Tanaka express their concern that continuing delay of taking appropriate actions will cause Japan to miss the opportunity of resolving these critical issues in time before many of the aging victims pass away.

APTSJW has passed on this information to the NGO activists, who are currently attending the annual meeting at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, as Senator Motooka and Representative Tanaka have requested.

From: Ignatius Ding
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 1997 17:53:20 -0800


26 Japanese intellectuals set up a group to fight history revisionism

(March 25, 1997)

In an attempt to counter moves to "denounce descriptions of Japan's wartime misconduct in history textbooks," 26 intellectuals set up a group Mar. 25 to protect freedom of expression and ensure accura te history is disseminated.

At a Tokyo news conference, core members of the group criticized Nobukatsu Fujioka, a professor of education at the University of Tokyo, who is a vocal critic of Japan's "masochistic" history textbooks. Fujioka is also a key member of the Group to Make New History Textbooks, which has demanded the Education Ministry delete descriptions of military "comfort women" in school texts.

The current moves "are too dangerous to ignore," said Toru Yuge, a professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, reading a statement prepared by the liaison group "Freedom and Truth in Textbooks." The group has already submitted a petition to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, asking it not to adopt a different petition that calls for the deletion of textbook descriptions about military comfort women, who were forced into sexual slavery for Imperial Japanese forces before and during World War II. All the new history textbooks to be used at junior high schools from April contain a brief explanation of the practice.
The Japan Times
From: Ignatius Ding, Mon, 31 Mar 1997 17:46:34 -0800


The Legacy of War Crimes: Japan's War Criminals Are All but Ignored

(23/3/97) By William Triplett
The Washington Post
Sunday, March 23 1997; Page C03

The painful reexamination of the Holocaust and other Nazi war crimes stands in sharp contrast to the tiny step the U.S. government recently made to correct its willfully blind policy toward Japan's war crimes, which included the murder and torture of civilians and military prisoners.

In December the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) -- which has focused almost exclusively on Nazi war criminals since its inception in 1979, despite its mandate to pursue both Nazis and their allies -- took the biggest step toward redressing this imbalance by adding the first set of Japanese names to its nearly 70,000-member "watch list," until now a collection of alleged Nazi war criminals and sympathizers barred from entering the United States. Twelve of the 16 new suspects are veterans of the Japanese Imperial Army's infamous Unit 731, which conducted grotesque medical and biological warfare experiments on POWs, some of whom may have been Americans. The other four are believed to have been involved with "comfort women," the Japanese term for captured Chinese, Korean, Dutch, Malaysian and Filipino women forced into prostitution by the army.

The additions to the list represent the first formal attempt by the U.S. government since the post-World War II war crimes trials to do something about Japanese war criminals who had escaped justice, and they are therefore indisputably a step in the right direction. The question remains whether the action might lead to what certain victims' rights groups have desperately sought for years -- shining as much light on Japan's wartime atrocities as has been shone on Germany's for the last half-century.

The answer is no. Not even close.

Eli Rosenbaum, director of OSI, says that his office has been trying for 10 years to develop information on Japanese war criminals, but, because of a dearth of Japanese records, a reluctance among victims to speak out and a general lack of interest among scholars, human rights groups and others, the going has been slow. "As far as World War II is concerned, the world's focus has clearly been on Europe. That's a historical injustice that we're trying to rectify," said Rosenbaum.

Recently, he said, there have been some breakthroughs with documents and interviews coming into the public record on subjects such as the use of slave labor and the phenomenal death rates in Japanese prison camps. "There has been a learning curve internationally that the scholarly community has been on, that the media have been on, that human rights groups have been on," he said.

The biggest obstructions have been the Japanese themselves. For the most part, they have refused to acknowledge their role in wartime atrocities; rather than confront the issue as Europeans have done, the Japanese have made deliberate efforts to keep it out of their textbooks.

Unfortunately the American government has also done little to bring Japanese conduct into the open. As in Europe, the U.S. ran war crimes trials in Japan and convicted 25 of the 100 top officials it arrested. But the trials were cut short by the onset of the Cold War and a new strategy that called for molding Japan as a bulwark against communism. The prosecutions, it was felt, would only alienate the Japanese, whom the U.S. now needed as an ally. Rosenbaum estimates that several thousand Japanese escaped prosecution, and of those several hundred are still living and should be added to the watch list.

It was a foreign policy of "selectivity, by which I mean based upon the needs of the moment," says Dick Rosen, a Japan specialist and professor of history and international studies at Utica College.

A particulary cynical example of this was what happened with Unit 731. Despite evidence of their sadistic treatment of prisoners -- such as live dissection and testing the effects of germ bombs and frostbite on shackled subjects -- none of Unit 731's personnel ever appeared in the Tokyo war crimes tribunal. The U.S. military, with the full knowledge of the U.S. government, agreed to a deal offered by the unit commander -- all the results and data of the human experiments in exchange for blanket immunity. Most scholars have maintained that the U.S. government thought it would put them ahead in a germ warfare race with the Soviets.

As evidence of the secret deal with Unit 731 began surfacing in the early 1980s, a number of former American POWs tried to get Congress to help substantiate their claims that medical experiments had been performed on them. But Greg Rodriquez, an advocate for the veterans, including his late father, says the effort proved futile. "Nothing happened," he remembers. After two hearings, Congress issued no reports or conclusions.

It wasn't until early this decade, as memorial flames were beginning to be lit in honor of one World War II anniversary or another, that public interest in Japan's war crimes rekindled. For example, in 1991 a large segment of the Chinese-American community in California gathered at a service to remember the Rape of Nanking, where 200,000 civilians were slaughtered. Ignatius Ding, one of the organizers of the service, says it led to the founding of the Alliance for Preserving the Truth of the Sino-Japanese War, a group that has since been trying, without success, to get records from the Japanese government.

The alliance then tried the U.S. government. "We ran into as much problem with the Americans as we did with the Japanese," Ding says.

"The State Department has fought us bitterly every inch of the way," says Gil Hair, who is executive director of the Center for Internee Rights. "They said this would be an embarrassment in our relationship with the Japanese."

State Department officials deny this. Rosenbaum maintains that, when he went to the State Department for its approval to put Japanese on the watch list the agency was "very supportive." Perhaps the climate is changing.

The question, however, is what does this action -- long overdue for whatever reason -- really amount to? Some people can overlook the hypocrisy of denouncing suspected war criminals whom we once protected -- as long as the effort to start righting historical wrongs appears genuine. But the Clinton administration has no plans to press the Japanese into tracking down the 16 suspects (or any of the few hundred that the OSI expects to list eventually). In fact, the government hasn't even made the names public. Including the Unit 731 members on the list amounts to an anonymous warning to aging war criminals out there ("you know who you are") not to try visiting the United States.

"This may only be a symbolic gesture," Rosenbaum concedes, "but symbolic gestures do have an impact when they come from the most powerful government in the world." The official reason to keep the 16 anonymous is to gain a sort of ripple effect: Other war criminals, not knowing whether they were on the list, would be deterred from trying to come here. But it could have more impact if the government would name names -- and continue to add more to the list.

Reviving the issue of war crimes is about more than punishing the guilty; it's about rectifying the historical record so that we can understand everyone's role and prevent this from happening again. It's bad enough that younger Japanese people, innocent and to a large degree ignorant of their country's wartime atrocities, are in effect allowing the guilty and their crimes to remain hidden from world view. The U.S. government doesn't have to keep helping. Wasn't once enough?

William Triplett is the author of "Flowering of the Bamboo," an account of a mass murder committed in post-war Japan.
From: Ignatius Ding
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 18:24:37 -0800


Another Justice official, requesting anonymity, said a total of 17 men were in the second group of Japanese ever put on the list.

"All served in Unit 731 or otherwise were involved in medical experimentation cases," Russell said.

Unit 731 was an army detachment in Manchuria that conducted frequently lethal pseudo-medical experiments on thousands of non-volunteer prisoners of war and civilians.

Russell declined to identify the Japanese veterans by name or provide the exact number, because withholding the information "may serve as a deterrent to entry by others not yet listed." He said more Japanese veterans are expected to be added to the list later.

Last December, after tracking Nazi war criminals for 17 years, the Justice Department took its first action against Japanese army veterans suspected of medically experimenting on prisoners and operating forced sex camps during World War II. Sixteen men who served in the Imperial Army were the first Japanese placed on the "watch list."

More than 60,000 people linked to Nazi persecution in Europe have been put on the list since 1979, including former United Nations Secretary-General and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. The list has prevented more than 100 people from entering since 1989, when record-keeping began.

Russell said the Japanese Embassy here was informed Thursday that the second group was put on the list.

Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, which hunts war criminals, said his investigators have found no evidence any Japanese war criminals live in the United States or have visited here.

The Washington Post
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
From: Ignatius Ding


Japan to dismantle weapons at plant

(10 Feb 1997)
The Japanese Government plans to build a plant in northeastern China to dismantle chemical weapons left behind by Japanese troops at the end of World War II.

Japan planned to complete the plant by March 2001 and would choose a contractor at an auction in the 1998 financial year, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper reported yesterday.

The plant would be built in Dunhua in Jilin province, where most of the leftover weapons are situated.

The Japanese Government was hoping Chinese troops would help in transporting weapons from other provinces, the newspaper said.

Tokyo also planned to set up a new bureau to deal with the issue and handle negotiations with Beijing, the newspaper said.

It would comprise officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Agency, Environmental Agency, Science and Technology Agency, International Trade and Industry Ministry and other government bodies.

The plan follows Japan's agreement with China last December to dismantle the weapons, an issue which has long overshadowed relations between the two countries. Beijing has accused Tokyo of indifference.

The Japanese Government has said there are 700,000 bombs in China which it has promised to destroy.

The Chinese Government has said there are two million chemical bombs, mostly mustard gas, still in the country.

According to official Chinese statistics, more than 2,000 Chinese have died from chemical weapons contamination since the Japanese were beaten in the war in 1945.

South China Morning Post


A Japanese Professor Blamed China For Starting the 2nd Sino-Japanese War

February 10, 1997
A Japanese professor has written a research paper asserting a 1937 clash that led to the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945 was probably sparked by firing by low-ranking Chinese troops.

The conclusion drawn by Ikuhiko Hata, a professor at Chiba University, on the so-called Marco Polo Incident, of July 7, 1937, conflicts with views of other scholars who argue it was triggered by firing by Japanese troops.

He said the seeds of the conflict were planted by Japan's policies towards China before and after the 1931 Manchurian invasion.

The paper, published by the University of Tokyo, is set to prompt a fresh debate as this year marks the 60th anniversary of the incident near the Marco Polo Bridge, 19 kilometres from Beijing.

South China Morning Post


In Chinese Village, Germ Warfare Is Remembered Nightmare

New York Times (4/2/97)

By PATRICK E. TYLER

CONGSHAN, China -- When the history of the 20th century is written and the great terrors, exterminations, and genocides are fully documented, a grisly footnote will have to be appended from this tiny hamlet in southeastern China.

Along with a handful of other remote villages in China, it was the site of the only confirmed biological warfare attacks in modern history, committed by secret units of the Japanese invasion force that occupied much of China from 1931 to 1945.

As the century nears its close, the danger that what occurred at Congshan might happen again refuses to recede, now that a growing number of countries may be secretly developing biological weapons.

Had it not been for Jin Xianlan, the villagers here would never have connected the outbreak of bubonic plague with the Japanese plane that flew out of the western sky in August 1942 and circled low over the rice paddies that surround this huddle of ornate, upturned roof lines in Zhejiang Province.

It sprayed "a kind of smoke from its butt," as Ms. Jin, with the bluntness of a Chinese peasant, later recounted to her husband, Wang Dafang, and to their neighbors.

The first signs of the coming epidemic emerged two weeks later, when the rats of the village started dying en masse. Then the fever, transmitted by fleas that carried the same Black Death through Europe in the Middle Ages, struck. It raged for two months, killing 392 out of 1,200 residents before Japanese troops moved in on Nov. 18 and started burning down plague-ridden houses.

At its peak that terrible November, the plague here was killing 20 Chinese a day, all of them civilians. Their screams sundered the night from behind shuttered windows and bolted doors, and some of the most delirious victims ran or crawled down the narrow alleys to gulp putrid water from open sewers in vain attempts to vanquish the septic fire that was consuming them.

They died excruciating deaths. "You buried the dead knowing that the next day you would be buried," said Wang Peigen, who was 10 when the horror began. He is one of the few remaining survivors of the attack, and he still refers to the Japanese soldiers as devils.

After a half-century of recriminations, China and Japan agreed this past December to take the first steps toward cleaning up the remains of chemical and biological warfare arsenals abandoned in China at the end of World War II.

Japanese diplomats said that in the next several weeks they would propose a plan to build environmentally safe factories in China to destroy chemicals, chemical-laden bombs, and the related equipment used by the Japanese Imperial Army to make chemical and biological weapons.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Shen Guofang, said in December that China had insisted that Japan "shoulder the whole responsibility" of eliminating the remnants of these weapons. Between 700,000 and 2 million chemical bombs, most of them loaded with mustard gas and many of them corroded and leaking, are stored in warehouses and old munition dumps in Manchuria, where chemical agents were manufactured and deadly bacteria were cultured on a large scale in the 1930s and 1940s.

The germs that formed the basis of Japan's biological warfare program -- bubonic plague, typhoid, and anthrax -- have long since died, though some of the large fermenting machines where the deadly organisms were spawned remain, along with the terrible memories in places like Congshan.

Historians say Congshan and other Chinese villages are the only confirmed targets of modern biological warfare, although several countries, Iraq among them, have launched attacks with chemical weapons.

The cleanup comes as Japan, China, and many other countries are preparing to carry out the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, which requires the destruction of all stockpiles over the next 10 years. Although the treaty has the support of the Clinton administration, the Senate has yet to ratify it.

Later this year, a working group drawn from countries dedicated to banning germ warfare will present proposals for tighter verification and inspection procedures for the 1972 Convention on Biological Weapons.

But the number of countries suspected of developing or conducting research on biological weapons has increased in the last decade, from about 10 in 1989 to perhaps 17 today, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment has reported. ...

In Congshan, it was the same.

"The thing I remember most is the fear," said Wang Da, 68, another survivor. "People closed their doors, and all you could hear through the night was people dying and people crying for the dead."

If a villager ventured out of doors, he or she might be captured by the Japanese technicians who wore white coats and masks and who performed experiments on live plague victims in the Buddhist temple just down the road.

In Congshan recently, the old survivors produced a map for this reporter showing the houses destroyed by the purging fires of Nov. 18, 1942, the day the villagers were herded at gunpoint to a nearby slope to watch and wail as their possessions were incinerated. The harvest rotted, and the hardships of that winter still bring tears to the eyes of those who lived through it.

During a tour of the village, Wang Rongli, 63, stripped off his shirt to show his withered right arm, where Japanese doctors injected bacteria and left him to die. "My arm rotted for many years," he said.

In a small courtyard off the village square, the elders have built an activity center, where they store the large, white scrolls that carry the names and ages of the victims, along with the signature of a witness to each death.

There is no museum here, although the villagers are trying to raise money to build one. The Chinese government is sympathetic, but its only involvement with Congshan over the decades on this matter has been to send a medical team once a year to capture rats and test their bhe old woman told of hearing Miss Wu pleading for her life to the doctors as they tied her to a chair and placed a hood over her head to muffle her screams. Then they dissected her to remove her organs for study.

Over the years, the U.S. government has said little about the atrocities committed in China by the Japanese. The communist victory in 1949 shifted Asian alliances, pushing postwar Japan and the United States together as a bulwark against Soviet and Chinese communism.

With the opening of wartime archives in recent years, it is now clear that the United States was willing to exempt Japanese officers who directed chemical and biological programs from war crimes prosecution in exchange for a full rendering of their secret programs and the knowledge and experience they had gained.

"We were concerned about the potential of the Soviet Union in this area and we wanted to build our own capability," Cole said. The United States renounced its biological warfare programs in 1969 and destroyed its weapons.

For all these reasons, a half-century later, many outside China still do not know what happened here.

But the survivors will never forget.

Posted by: Ignatius Ding

On the road leading out of the village, a stark white pagoda stands on a hilltop that in 1979 was renamed "The Mountain of Remembering Our Hatred."


Seiroku Kajiyama: "Comfort women" are prostitutes for money

(27/1/97)

TOKYO (AP, Jan. 27) -- Japan's top government spokesman apologized Monday for angering Koreans by saying Japan's use of women as sex slaves during World War II was justified under the mores of the times.

The ill-timed comments by Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama came on the eve of weekend summit talks between Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and South Korean President Kim Young-sam.

South Korea and other Asian countries have often criticized Japan for whitewashing its wartime activities, and Kim had expressed anger over Kajiyama's remarks.

``I deeply apologize that my remarks have caused some unpleasantness at the Japan-South Korean summit, and misunderstanding among the South Korean people,'' said Kajiyama, who in 1990 was forced to resign as justice minister after comparing American blacks to prostitutes who come in and ruin a neighborhood.

Kajiyama did not, however, retract his latest comments. He was quoted Friday by the Japanese media as saying women sent to front-line brothels were simply trying to make money and were no different from Japanese prostitutes who were operating legally in Japan at the time.

As many as 200,000 women from Korea and other Asian countries were forced into slavery by the Japanese military in World War II. Japan had insisted that private enterprises recruited the women, but admitted in 1993 that the government was involved.

Kajiyama, 70, said many of the women ``went for the money. When they went to the front, they got extra money for being at the front.''

Hashimoto had already apologized for the remarks at the beginning of the summit talks in the southwestern Japan city of Beppu on Saturday.


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