I came to Japan in 1989 to learn of Japan's contemporary art. While working on and releasing some of my work I was shocked to notice that Japanese people have extremely poor knowledge of the war and their country's role in it.
The Nanjing Massacre is a typical symbol of the atrocities committed during the war of aggression against China. Many generations in Japan, however, still don't know about this event.
I produced works on this theme because I wanted people to recognize this historical fact so that it would not ever be repeated. Las year I was planning to hold a one man exhibition in Gifu Prefecture, but was forced to cancel because of difficulties created by right-wing organizations. Around the same time, a mural painting of the Nanjing Massacre, which I was working on at the Student Center of Hosei University, was eventually banned by University authorities.
There was also another disappointing incident. Last year, I applied to the city of Hiroshima, the site of the first atomic bombing, for permission to hold an exhibition of my work. They refused to allow this. I understood the feeling of Hiroshima when the A-bomb exhibit was canceled, but I do not understand why they refused my application for an exhibit on the Nanjing massacre. To me the Japanese are only aware of their status as 'victims' not as 'instigators.'
To protest this state of affairs in Japanese society I opened the Museum of the Nanjing Massacre. I have converted my small apartment into the museum's site.
The politicians who represent Japan's militarism still deny that any such massacre ever happened. Last year, a former Minister of Justice, a Mr. Nagano, said the "Nanjing massacre was a make believe story.' His remarks resulted in his dismissal after significant criticism from both in and out of Japan. Yet there still exists in Japanese society those who try to gloss over Japan's war of aggression and insist on viewing the war as an effort to 'emancipate' Asia. I believe the existence of the Yasakuni Shrine is a symbol, much like a mirror, that reflects the state of Japanese society. And, still standing at the top is the the Emperor system of Japan. I want Japanese people to change their society themselves.
There are 3000 'faces' (clay works) exhibited in the museum. They express the souls of the 300-thousand victims who still do not rest peacefully. For the remaining 277-thousand 'faces,' I would like to make them agents to cooperate in reforming the Japanese conscience. Please come to my museum, and let's make a society where such tragedies never happen again.
1962 Born in Fujian, China
1985 Graduated from the Department of Arts at the Shanghai University of Drama. Worked at Xiamen City television.
1989 Came to Japan to study Japanese Contemporary Arts
1992-95 One-man exhibition at the Nerima Cultural Center, Hosei University, National Diet Library, and others.
The Museum of Nanjing Massacre:
-54-13 Itabashi 1-chome, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo
(2 minutes on foot from the east exit of Itabashi station of the JR Saikyo line)
-Open 10:30-17:30 (Closed on Mondays)
-Entrace Fee (as part of a fundraising campaign) 500 yen
Tokyo Kaleidoscope will soon open the Nanjing Massacre Museum on the Internet.
Guo Peiyu, Artist
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