NMSFC.html ;W /@/ ;P; @@TEXTttxtL//&QNMSFC

Sino-Japanese War and the Nanjing Massacre
Added to San Francisco Curriculum

By Ken McLaughlin
Mercury News Staff Writer

Posted by Ignatius Y. Ding
Thu, 18 Jan 96 15:41:55 PST

Firing the first shot in a battle to change the way California schoolchildren are taught the history of World War II, a Cupertino-based group has persuaded the San Francisco Board of Education to add the Sino-Japanese War to its supplementary curriculum.

To most Americans, the war in the Pacific began when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack in 1941. But to many Americans of Chinese descent, the war started in 1931, when the Japanese Imperial Army marched into Manchuria, beginning a brutal occupation of China that lasted 14 years.

First step

The board's unanimous action Tuesday night was only a first step in the campaign being waged by the Alliance for Preserving the Truth of the Sino-Japanese War. Following the one-year San Francisco experiment, the alliance hopes to persuade state education officials that California needs to alter its guidelines for teaching about World War II.

The Cupertino alliance has dubbed the occupation "the Forgotten Holocaust."

Killing, starvation

Although some Americans have heard of the 1937 Rape of Nanjing -- in which an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians were bayoneted, machine-gunned or burned alive -- few Californians are aware that as many as 30 million Chinese died from indiscriminate killing and starvation during Japan's occupation, alliance members say.

Alliance member Barry Chang, a Taiwanese immigrant recently elected to the Cupertino Union School District, said the issue of how World War II is taught would be pressed by the growing number of Asian-Americans on California school boards.

"We will make the difference," said Chang.

In the last decade and a half, the growth of California's Asian-American population has been dramatic. By the end of the 20th century, people of Asian descent will represent 13 percent of the population, up from 5 percent in 1980, according to a Mercury News computer projection based on census data and population trends.

In Santa Clara County, the projections show, 26 percent of the population will be of Asian descent at decade's end, up from a mere 8 percent in 1980. In San Francisco, 35 percent of the population will be of Asian descent, up from 22 percent in 1980.

"In a state like California where we have such diversity, you realize how much there is to learn about the world around us," alliance spokesman Ignatius Ding of Cupertino said Wednesday." "As the world becomes smaller and smaller, we need to arm our children with knowledge."

Ding's group presented the board with searing accounts of the occupation that included references to germ-warfare experiments on Chinese civilians, mass rapes, decapitation contests and Bosnian-style ethnic cleansing.

'Very painful truths'

"These are very painful truths to ask our children to examine," said board President Dan Kelly. But if man's inhumanity to man isn't taught, he argued, it is destined to be repeated.

With the help of the Chinese American Bilingual Education Alliance, Ding's group will put together multi-media presentations on the Sino-Japanese War. The material will be made available to San Francisco history teachers, who will be encouraged but not required to add the subject in their classrooms.

Many Asia scholars have attacked history textbooks in the United States as Eurocentric.

"Western-Europeancentric, really," said Ding, who likewise noted that the role of Eastern European countries such as Yugoslavia and Romania in World War II is rarely given adequate space in American textbooks.

Although Ding said most of the 500-odd members of his 3 1/2-year-old group are Chinese immigrants from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, his group has also reached out to Japanese-Americans.

In a letter read aloud Tuesday by Chinese-American board member Leland Yee, Rosalyn Tonai, executive director of the National Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco, praised the trustees for adding the Sino-Japanese War to the district's supplementary curriculum. She noted that San Francisco led the nation in teaching children about the experience of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during the war.

Because the Bay Area has so many people of Asian descent and so many business people here depend on Pacific Rim trade, Tonai said, "it is important for everyone to know more of the Asian culture and history."

Emmy-winner speaks

One alliance supporter who spoke Tuesday night was an Emmy-award-winning film producer, Bob Boudreaux, an African-American who said that one of the most lasting memories he had of college was the dearth of teaching about the "holocaust brought on by slavery."

He said he now felt the same way about the forgotten Asian holocaust.

"Almost every one of us knows that six million Jews perished in Germany, but virtually none of us knows that 30 million Chinese perished in China," Boudreaux said.

Back to Reading Room
2ЁA-p/ N+@XOfrU T?( NMSFC.htmlTEXTttxtTEXTttxt/L gHxup//-/ HxdNBO -LN^NuReadMessageNVH... (nN*/.Nb&@ XOfp` S hf^ T "HA 2)&22styl )`