News Watch


China warns Japanese academics over massacre denial

(17/6/98)

BEIJING, June 15 (AFP) - China on Monday hit out at a group of Japanese academics who denied that the 1937 rape of Nanjing took place and warned there was plenty of evidence of the massacre.

"There are mountains of irrefutable proof of the war crimes, including the rape of Nanjing, committed by the Japanese militarists during their invasion of China," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"Any denial or distortion of the war crimes commited by the invading Japanese militarists is without foundation and will be rejected by all people who respect justice," he added.

A group of Japanese academics said Friday in Tokyo they had discovered no evidence of a massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops in December 1937 in Nanjing.

China says 300,000 civilians were massacred when Japanese troops embarked on an orgy of destruction, pillage, rape and murder after taking Nanjing in 1937.

The Allied powers' Tokyo trial of Japanese war criminals determined that 140,000 people were killed. Japanese authorities have never offered a figure for the death toll.

Akira Nakamura, a professor of history at Dokkyo University, said: "Civic life in the city actually improved after the Japanese Imperial Army entered there."

"China and the Japanese media only look into the 'dark' side of the Nanjing incident and I would like you to see its 'light' side," Nakamura told reporters.

Fujioka Nobukatsu, a professor of education at Tokyo University, said Japanese soliders took good care of Chinese citizens after they entered the capital.

"I would be very cautious in using the term 'massacre' or 'holocaust' to describe what had happed in Nanjing at that time," he said.

Nakamura said the most authentic record on the number of murdered civilians in Nanjing was made by US sociologist Louis Smiles, who said in 1938 that 2,400 civilians were killed.


Japan's Debate Over the War-Memorial Plan

(17/6/98)

Protected by a dozen security guards and a metal detector, a controversial advisory panel to the Tokyo governor ended its final session Tuesday on a planned memorial hall for victims of U.S. air raids during World War II.

About 200 citizens had gathered at the No. 2 building of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's head office in Shinjuku for the final session, with some shouting upon its close, "We oppose (plans for) the peace hall!"

The planned war museum has met with opposition from some politicians and scholars who argue that the draft for its permanent exhibits is based on a "masochistic view of history."

Apparently fearing attacks by some rightwing extremists, the metropolitan government stationed a dozen security guards at the hall where the meeting was held and several more on the floors of the offices of the governor and vice governors.

The 20-member panel had virtually ended discussion in the previous session in May, and Tuesday's session was devoted to checking a summary memo prepared by the chairman to draw up a final report.

The panel members have given up attempting to detail the contents of the permanent exhibits, leaving untouched a number of matters they cannot agree on. The panel compiled two different draft proposals for the hall, both of which offer only general outlines of the permanent exhibits and the recommended space for each section.

A majority of the 20 panel members supported Draft A, which gives more exhibition space to items dealing with the U.S. air raids over the capital. Some, however, preferred Draft B, stating that Japan's victimization of other Asian countries should also be detailed.

Under Draft B, the exhibition would include an image theater to "introduce incidents in which Japan forced (other) Asian countries to make a sacrifice."

Panel members who drew up Draft A, however, argued that the more general wording of Draft A includes exhibits that cast Japan in the role of persecutor.

The final report, to be submitted to Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima next month, is expected to include the two draft proposals but not a conclusion.
The Japan Times


New Document Reveals Japanese Troops Used Poison Gas in China

(14/6/98)

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese troops used poison gas against Chinese military forces during World War II, a Japanese newspaper reported Sunday, citing government documents on war crimes trials held in China.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry documents released Saturday include reports on a postwar Chinese court verdict which found a Japanese military officer guilty of ordering the use of poison gas on a northern China battlefield in May of 1942, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

The reports detail the outcome of a war crimes trial held in communist China from 1946 to 1949, the paper said.

Japan has said its wartime army manufactured and stored poison gas in China, but it has not acknowledged that any chemical weapons were actually used. China has said Japan used poison gas 2,900 times during World War II, killing thousands Chinese soldiers and civilians.

As a signatory of last year's Chemical Weapons Convention treaty banning chemical weapons, Japan has agreed to clean up stockpiles of poison gas which were abandoned in China by the former Imperial Japanese Army.

The Associated Press


US WWII Japanese Internees Get Compensations

(13/6/98)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- All Carmen Mochizuki wanted was equal redress for the pain, humiliation and anguish she suffered while imprisoned in U.S. internment camps during World War II.

Similar to thousands of Japanese-Americans, Mochizuki lost most of her belongings when she was forced from her home by the U.S. government and put in an internment camp. But under a 1988 federal law, she was ineligible for a $20,000 redress payment because she was from South America.

Now, after a two-year legal battle, the U.S. government has agreed to pay hundreds of Japanese internees from Latin America $5,000 each -- far less than the $20,000 given to Japanese-Americans.

The settlement, stemming from a 1996 class-action federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, received preliminary approval Thursday night from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington. A hearing to finalize it was scheduled for Nov. 17.


Japan Revisionist Historians Attacked Iris Chang's Book

(12/6/98)

TOKYO (AP) -- Conservative Japanese academics tried Friday to counter the accusations in the best-selling "The Rape of Nanking," calling the book's account of Japanese atrocities in China in the 1930s misleading, poorly researched and exaggerated.

"The Rape of Nanking," by Iris Chang, is a vivid account of what historians have widely characterized as the murder and the rape of thousands of civilians by Japanese soldiers in the city now known as Nanjing.

A group of academics accused Chang on Friday of inflating the magnitude of the killing, basing her book on unreliable sources and using false captions on the photographs she uses as evidence. Chang defended her account Friday, and said the revisionists' denials ultimately only only hurt Japan.

Accounts of the December 1937-January 1938 massacre -- part of Japan's conquest of China -- are a favorite target of Japanese revisionists, who claim critics have stretched tales of Japanese brutality as means of putting political pressure on Japan and winning compensation.

"We don't deny civilians were killed," said Akira Nakamura, a history professor at Dokkyo University. "But it is doubtful what happened at Nanjing can be called a `holocaust' or a `massacre."'

The scholars told reporters it was impossible for Japanese troops to have killed 300,000 civilians in Nanjing -- as claimed by Chang and the Chinese -- because the civilian population in the city at the time was only 200,000, not the 600,000 Chang claims.

But in a phone interview Friday, Chang cited population studies of Nanjing by the Chinese historian Sun Zhaiwei, who found that the city had about 1 million people prior to the Japanese invasion. Several hundred thousand later fled, leaving between 600,000 and 700,000.

In their criticism of Chang's book, the Japanese historians also blamed some of the killings on the Chinese themselves. For example, they said Chinese soldiers disguised themselves as townsfolk, making it hard for Japanese forces to distinguish between civilians and the Chinese military.

In response, Chang said such actions by Chinese soldiers were hardly license for the Japanese soliders to kill people at will.

"To commit widespread massacres of civilians because there are some soldiers hiding among them is a clear violation of human rights laws and established laws of war," she said by phone from Lake Placid, N.Y.

Nobutaka Fujioka, a Tokyo University professor, took aim at Chang's use of photographs, saying she had misled readers by attaching false captions to shots presented as depictions of the massacre.

He said a photograph of a Japanese tank setting fire to a house in Nanjing could not have been authentic because the tank was produced in 1938, after the Nanking massacre occurred.

He also claimed that it was impossible to ascertain where and when a picture of the severed heads of Chinese men had been taken, making it useless as evidence of Japanese atrocities.

Chang denied manipulating any of the photographs or captions, adding that all the pictures in the book have been in the public domain for some time -- in books, newspapers, museums.

Reinterpretations of Japan's wartime role are gaining popularity among Japanese.

"Pride," a film that depicts convicted war criminal Gen. Hideki Tojo as a hero, is the top-earning domestic film in Japan so far this year, according to its producer.

The revisionists on Friday attempted to depict the occupation of Nanjing as largely benign, citing Japanese newspaper photographs showing Japanese soldiers playing with children and handing out medicine.

As for witness accounts of unbridled murder, looting and rape, Nakamura said: "The Chinese people have a tendency to exaggerate."


Japanese Film Glorifies War Criminals

(8/6/98)

By CHESTER DAWSON, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) A controversial movie that depicts Japan's top war criminal as a hero is the top-earning domestic film in Japan so far this year, the movie's producer said today.

``All of the debate about it has helped boost its popularity,'' said Chika Inamoto, spokeswomen for Toei Co., which produced the film.

``Pride,'' a film about World War II leader Gen. Hideki Tojo, was released last month and immediately provoked an outcry from neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, which were occupied by Japanese troops.

As Japan's prime minister from 1941 to 1944, Tojo authorized the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. After Japan's surrender in 1945, Tojo was found guilty of war crimes and hanged.

The film has made roughly $1.43 million in Japan's five biggest cities, according to industry estimates.

Toei declined to provide sales figures, but said ``Pride'' was the top-grossing Japanese-made movie in the past six months. The movie cost $11 million to make, three times Toei's usual budget.

The film portrays Tojo as a peaceful man who went to war in self-defense, and to liberate Asia from Western colonialism a popular view among nationalist Japanese.


US WW II Veteran Recalled Japanese Brutality

(7/6/98)

By David Hasemyer
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

Lester Tenney suffered as witness to the infamous Bataan Death March, a young soldier subjected to the atrocities of war.

Yesterday, the retired SDSU professor recalled seeing World War II comrades killed because they couldn't understand Japanese. He saw others beheaded because they didn't show enough respect to their captors.

"I saw men buried alive by their buddies because the Japanese wanted to have some fun," said Tenney, who shared his memories with an audience of about 100 people at a seminar at San Diego State University titled Preserving the History and Peace in the Pacific.

Tenney said he hasn't forgotten the treatment and likely never will. And he doesn't want the world to forget, either. It's time for Japan to apologize for World War II, he said.

That was the theme of the seminar, which took the position that Japan owes an apology. It did not offer any defense or explanation of the Japanese position on the issue.

Tenney was among the thousands of troops who stubbornly resisted the Japanese army in a courageous but hopeless fight for the Philippines in 1942. Finally, there was surrender.

But treatment of the captured troops was horrendous, seminar participants said, beginning with the Bataan Death March. It was a 60-mile march under barbaric conditions for an estimated 76,000 American and Filipino troops captured by the Japanese on the mountainous Bataan peninsula in the Philippines.

Tenney was joined at yesterday's conference by leaders of the local Chinese community -- China was ravaged by Japan at a cost of millions of lives -- in support of a U.S. congressional resolution.

House Concurrent Resolution 126 demands that Japan apologize for its role in World War II and pay reparations for its war crimes, compensation for the economic losses suffered by the nations that fought Japan and for the suffering of individuals.

Measuring each word, shaking a finger and in the booming voice, Tenney said: "Japan . . . MUST . . . apologize."

The money is important because it is a tangible way to make Japan understand what it did in the name of war, he said.

Although the resolution has languished without coming up for a vote, Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Imperial Beach, told the group that the message must somehow be delivered.

"We must shine a bright light of truth on this issue so that our next generation and the one after that and the ones after that know what happened," Bilbray said.

Copyright 1998 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.


Japanese Right Praises Film on WWII Leader

(12/5/98)
By SONNI EFRON, Times Staff Writer

TOKYO--In a gesture likely to trigger fresh acrimony between Japan and its Asian neighbors, 27 conservative lawmakers from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday warmly endorsed a controversial new movie about Gen. Hideki Tojo, the infamous Japanese prime minister who was tried and executed as a war criminal after World War II.

Japanese and foreign critics say the feature film, "Pride: A Fateful Moment," scheduled to open here May 23, glorifies Tojo and portrays the brutal Japanese invasion of Asia as a just campaign by Japan to liberate its oppressed Asian neighbors from Western colonial rule. "Hideki Tojo was the chief criminal of that war of aggression," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said Saturday. "We feel shocked and indignant over the fact that some people in Japan produced such a movie to whitewash aggression." North Korea also condemned the film with vitriol.

Still, the guest list for Monday's screening of Toei Studio's $11-million, 161-minute epic read like a "Who's Who" of the LDP's right wing. Seven of the lawmakers--including three former Cabinet ministers and the son of one of the "Class A" war criminals executed with Tojo--held a post-screening news conference to endorse the filmmakers' view that the Tokyo war crimes trials, conducted by the Allies after Japan's surrender, were grossly unfair, a mere vehicle for imposing the victors' predetermined judgments upon the vanquished. Lawmaker Masahiro Koga claimed that he could not say whether atrocities were committed at Nanjing, where the Chinese say 300,000 men, women and children were massacred by Japanese soldiers. "The most important thing is to recognize that there are a lot of different interpretations of history," Koga asserted.

Another LDP member, Kenzo Yoneda, 49, said the Tokyo war crimes tribunal, which concluded in 1948, should be reconvened in an unbiased, international court. "Japan was made out to be the only villain in the war," he said, but blame should be apportioned among both the Japanese and the Allies. He and other lawmakers suggested that the U.S. firebombing of Tokyo and atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should also be treated as war crimes. As for Tojo, he attempted suicide but eventually was hanged in 1948 after his conviction by an international tribunal that found him to be the architect of the brutal Japanese wartime campaign, particularly in Southeast Asia and China.

Tojo was said to have personally approved Japan's surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor and was seen as the chief force in ensuring that the Japanese joined the Axis forces, coordinating their attempts at global control with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Repeated episodes in which Japanese officials have tried to minimize or deny Japan's wartime misdeeds have outraged the Chinese, Koreans and other Asians for decades.

But recently, beleaguered Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has taken pains to try to mend fences. Last year, he toured a war museum in Manchuria, the region of northeastern China that was once a Japanese colony, and apologized for the pain Japan had caused there.

And just last week, senior LDP official Hiromu Nonaka was sent on an unprecedented mission to Nanjing, where he expressed remorse and laid a wreath at a memorial to the massacre victims. This act was particularly symbolic because the Japanese right claims that the victims were mostly soldiers in civilian clothing and the alleged death toll vastly overstated. But Nonaka's gesture was quickly countered Monday by LDP member Seisuke Okuno, who called the Nanjing massacre "a political creation."

This ideological rupture within Japan's ruling party is symbolic of a growing nationwide battle between liberals, who are trying to force their government to admit and atone fully for wartime atrocities, and conservatives, who say that Japan has apologized enough for much-exaggerated misdeeds.

The conservative backlash appears to be gaining ground of late by insisting that 50 years after the war crimes trials concluded, Japan should shed its "brainwashed" and "masochistic" Allied-imposed view of history.

The chief sponsor of "Pride" was Higashi Nihon Housing Co., whose president, Isao Nakamura, has reportedly been outspoken in calling for Japan to give its children a version of their history that will reinstill national pride.

Yuko Iwanami, Tojo's granddaughter, who believes her notorious ancestor has been unfairly lumped together with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini as a symbol of pure evil, has been an energetic backer of the film.

The popular actor Masahiko Tsugawa, who starred in films by the late director Juzo Itami and now turns in a brilliantly sympathetic performance as a tormented yet unbowed, honorable and grandfatherly Tojo, has also been stumping for the movie and its ideology. Tsugawa said charges that the film glorifies Tojo are based on a "simplistic" interpretation of a complex character. He said he is delighted by the debate and the international furor, which he called "great publicity for the movie."

Toei executives say they hope to release the picture in the U.S. But "Pride" could spark anti-Japanese prejudice among some U.S. audiences. The film's length, its schmaltz, its omission of any mention of Tojo's mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war and its portrayal of the American chief war crimes prosecutor as a vengeful bungler who fails to produce any real evidence against Tojo might make it a hard sell in Yankee territory.

The loudest objections to the movie, however, have come from Toei's own labor union, which organized a denunciation of "Pride" by 305 Japanese film luminaries, intellectuals, unionists and liberals. "This movie glorifies Japan's war of invasion and exonerates Hideki Tojo," said Masayuki Kawachi, chairman of the Toei Labor Union Committee. Moreover, it is likely to trigger foreign antagonism, Kawachi said. "In the short-term, the studio could make a lot of money, but in the long run, it will be damaging," he said.

Copyright Los Angeles Times


Iris Chang Challenged Japan's Ambassdor to a Televised Debate

(11/5/98)

IRIS CHANG, best-selling author of The Rape of Nanking, last week challenged Japan's ambassador in Washington to a televised debate. The 30-year-old writer threw down the gauntlet after Ambassador Kunihiko Saito described Chang's book, which chronicles Japanese atrocities in China in the 1930s, as "inaccurate," "distorted" and "erroneous." The Foreign Ministry in Tokyo later said Saito was objecting only to the suggestion that Japan has never apologized for its actions and has tried to keep the incident out of textbooks used by schoolchildren. Saito's attack on Chang has so far drawn fire from only a few organizations, but Tokyo is less concerned about Saito than about the damage the book may be doing to Japan's image in the U.S. at a time of trade and economic tensions between Washington and Tokyo. Last week the Japanese government hired Gallup to conduct a poll, apparently to see if friendship for Japan has eroded in the U.S. The results indicated that 60% of the American public views Japan as trustworthy. Chang's publisher, Basic Books, says that before Saito made his remarks, only one Tokyo imprint had expressed interest in buying the rights; now several have jumped into the auction.

--By Adam Zagorin/Washington and Frank Gibney Jr./Tokyo
Time Magazine -- US Edition, May 11, 1998


China Criticizes Japanese Ambassador's Distortion of History

(7/5/98)

The Spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate-General in San Francisco, Zhang Lizhong, yesterday issued a statement criticizing the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kunihiko Saito, being extremely irresponsible for making public statement distorting history. Zhang pointed out that the Nanking Massacre was one of numerous atrocities committed by the Japan's militarists during its aggression war against China. It is an undeniable history. He demands Japan to repect truth.

Zhang was responding to Saito's public statement attempting to discredit a best-seller, "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II," written by Chinese American historian Iris Chang, as "full of errors, biased and one-sided view." Saito's statement has triggered strong reactions in the U.S., and especially angered the Chinese Americans and overseas Chinese community.

Zhang Lizhong said that the Japanese aggression inflicted catastrophic pain upon the Chinese people. The "Rape of Nanking" was among many of Japan's brutal war crimes in China. Its historical truth must not be denied or whitewashed.

"History makes a vital part of Sino-Japanese relations." Zhang said, "Recognition and properly facing the history of Japanese militarism against China is the bedrock of the relations between the two nations. Chinese always advocate 'history is the best teacher of all.' We must develop our future based upon lessons learned from the past. Japan must understand and respect the truth, be sensitive and respectful to the feeling of the Chinese people, and respect the Sino- Japanese Joint Communique and the Sino-Japanese Friendship Treaty. It is not only critical to the health and development of the Sino-Japanese relations, but also to Japan's own image in the international community."

The statement from the Chinese Consulate-General in San Francisco was a direct result of the remarks Kunihiko Saito made in his routine press conference in Washington, D.C. on April 21. Saito attacked the best- seller: "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World Warv II," written by Chinese American historian and writer Iris Chang as full of errors, biased and one-sided view. His remarks, reported by the Japanese and American media [including the New York Times and the Time Magazine], triggered extremely negative reaction in the Chinese American and overseas Chinese community. The Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia has written to the U.S. Congress and the Chinese governments in Beijing and Taipei, calling for their attention to Saito's misbehavior, demanding for a formal apology from the Japanese government, and the immediate dismissal of Saito. It was for the first time the Consulate-Generate has made an official statement yesterday. Thus far, there is no statement from the government in Taiwan.

Iris Chang stated in her exclusive interview with Singtao Daily that she welcomes concrete evidence from Saito if he can pinpoint to any specific error in her book, and she challenges Saito for a public debate.

Singtao Daily


Japan Officially Apologise to WWII POW

(12/1/98)

TOKYO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Japan told British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday it would issue an official apology for the suffering of victims of World War Two including British prisoners of war, a British spokesman told reporters.

He said Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto told Blair his entire cabinet had agreed to issue ``an expression of deep remorse and heartfelt apology to the people who suffered in the Second World War.''

Blair raised the issue of the prisoners of war with Hashimoto ahead of a visit to Britain by Emperor Akihito in May which both governments felt could be affected by the unresolved problem.

The British spokesman said Japan also agreed to a plan under which the two governments would jointly finance visits to World War Two battlefields and cemeteries in Asia by veterans of both armies.

Japan also promised to pay for a programme of scholarships to Japanese schools to allow grandchildren of British POWs to study in Japan for a year, and to expand an existing programme of visits by grandchildren.

A previous apology in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was seen as insufficient by the POWs because it did not have full government backing. The former prisoners have been demanding an apology and compensation for their ordeals.


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