Comment on the Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan

Richard Lloyd Parry, Tokyo Bureau Chief for The Times (London), kindly alerted me to an open letter recently published by a large number of academics nicely timed to follow on the heels of the various controversies which had been re-stirred by the Abe Shinzo visit to the United States.

The letter manages to delicately get around a frequently-encountered problem: The essentializing of “Japan” in discussions of how the nation is not living up to expectations in terms of how it remembers World War II, the Fifteen Year War, and empire generally. If there is one thing we hopefully have learned from the last few decades of scholarship it is that Japan was never a fully unified actor when it came to the project of empire. And we have also confirmed a more detailed understanding that the Americans themselves short-circuited the very idea of collective war responsibility through the emphasis on Class A war crimes prosecution, education reforms, and on and on — ideas which were published during the US occupation of Japan (1945-52) but which scholarship took some time to pick up on in earnest.

Certainly most of the people writing this letter (or signing it, rather) are quite sensitive to the idea that there are swathes within Japanese society, now and since 1945 generally, that have done their part to acknowledge the past in a way that looks more like Germany and less like China. I thought given the length (two pages without footnotes) and the intent that the letter did better than others I’ve seen on similar themes (scholars of Korea writing to the Park administration about free speech, that sort of thing).

Tokyo Firebomb Manual
A Japanese air defense manual, c. 1941. Courtesy National Diet Library

Reception, of course, is another matter entirely: Scholars might be doing what we have always done, when allowed — writing something a bit whose tone borders on the sanctimonious which allows us to believe that we have “done something about the problem” when in fact the reception might be an absolute flatline. After all, is there truly a middle ground to be captured in this discussion, the proverbial hearts and minds? The “thought war” continues. But if one has published books and articles on the subject, engaging in a bit of public debate can be a good experience.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the door opened, and the scholars got what they ostensibly wanted: The ouster or irrevocable moderation of the LDP, staunch support for and augmentation of Kono/Murayama statements, no more Yasukuni visits by PMs/cabinet members/active Diet members, a history education overhaul, no more intimidation of scholars who include the “comfort women” in their university textbooks in the US or Canada, a fall in sales of right-wing manga, all capped of by a sitting Japanese PM falling on his knees in front of a slew of photographers on the Marco Polo Bridge outside of Beijing / the Nanking Massacre Memorial, or sitting on those empty chairs next to the ‘comfort women’ statues — plus of course state compensation and an opening up for civil society lawsuits originating from outside of Japan for wartime labour, and on and on.

And to the instinctual response “they should criticize America first” (as most of the scholars signing the letter hail from North America), sure, and most of them have already. After all, when US Senators hold committee hearings with the Secretary of Defense about tasking the US military to carve/kill out new “safety zones” for Syrian refugees and need to leave in order to deal with martial law in Baltimore, it’s absolutely correct to state that America needs to clean itself up and have a stiff look in the mirror. Baltimore was indeed burning, if not nearly on the scale and savagery of the technocratic firebombs on Tokyo and Japanese cities of yore.

 

One thought on “Comment on the Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan

  1. JAPAN’S INVASION IN CHINA – A CURSE OR BLESSING?
    China’s opium addiction, courtesy of the Jews of Karl Marx, Sassoon and Rothchilds, opened the way for the greatest feast on human history on the greatest civilization on Earth, China, by the Western powers and Japan, as the manifestation of the sweeping of the storm of Western barbarism of religion, militarism and mob rule, or democracy.

    Did Mao thank Japan for invading China?
    Talk:Mao Zedong – Wikiquote

    新中国建立有日本的功劳,

    科学网-毛泽东关于感谢日本侵略的言论 – 肖重发的博文

    here is the asian perspective of history:

    1. japan fired the first shot of asia liberation at pearl harbor

    2. but america poisoned the sino-japanese relation with the forgery, tanaka
    memorial, which lied about japan’s mission as an aggressor, rather than a
    liberator.

    3. america then bribed chiang kai-shek to sell out china and asia to the
    western imperialists

    4. but japan invaded chiang’s puppet china of america and blockaded arms
    shipments from america(mao might just have scheme up the xian mutiny to get
    japan to do just that).

    5. mao also found sanctuary in the japanese dominated northeast china at the
    end of the long march, as japan did not want to exterminate the communists in
    its liberation mission in china.

    6. japan surrendered enough military equipment(mainly artillery guns) to mao at
    the end of the war to arm 700,000 of mao’s peasant troop and helped lin biao to
    won the 1st few critical battle in chiang kai-shek’s, supported by america,
    mopping up effort of mao after the war.

    7.japan also contribute significantly to the korea war with the airforce school
    that japanese communist converts built in china.

    china, not japan, should acknowledge the true history, or else we asians will
    be forever divided and conquered by the western imperialists.

    Here’s MaoZedong telling the Prime Minister of Japan to take back his apology

    “(Japan) doesn’t have to say
    sorry, you had contributed towards China, why? Because had Imperial Japan did not start
    the war of invasion, how could we communist became mighty powerful? How could
    we stage the coup d’état? How could we defeat Chiang Kai Shek? How are we going to pay back you guys?
    No, we do not want your war reparations!”

    -Mao Zedong greeted Japanese
    Prime Minister Takuei in Nanjing, 1972

    Here’s Mao
    praising Japan’s contribution to his war effort

    “Those Japanese were real
    good. Without Japanese’s help,
    China’s [Communist] revolution would not have suceeded. I said the same thing to a
    Japanese, a capitalist, by the name of nanxiang sanlang(?).He kept on
    saying: ‘Sorry, we did invade China’ I said to him: ‘Don’t say that, on the
    contrary, Japanese helped us (Communist) in a big way’, especially Japanese
    warlords and the Japanese Emperor.”

    -Mao Zedong’s conversation with
    American journalist Edgar Snow, 1970

    Mao Zedong’s communists were on the retreat across China from the Republic of
    China until Japan’s timely intervention saved him. The Republic of China’s military
    suffered over 3 million casualties from their best trained and equipped units
    fighting Japan, as well as over 20 million civilian deaths.

    The Republic of China was obligated (even
    though Chiang Kai Shek stalled as long as he could as he considered other
    Chinese greater threats than Japan)to defend her civilians against invaders
    which meant pitched battles in urban environments against the brunt of Japanese
    mechanized forces, while Mao Zedong could afford to retreat into the
    countryside and fight a guerrilla war ambushing small groups of Japanese
    soldiers.

    By the time the Japanese Empire was defeated, Mao had regained his strength(thousands
    of Japanese who surrendered were even recruited to Mao’s forces)and
    finished off the weakened Republic.

    the yellow river flooding by chiang kai-shek drowned and starved
    upwards of 30 million chinese, but chiang blamed it on the japanese,
    using the same shamelessly filthy technique of chiang’s master, america.
    today, the two conflicting monument erected at the site should serve as
    testimony of the dirty tricks that america and its asian puppets used to
    divide and conquer asia in wwii.
    Mao is known to have said in 1956
    that had the Japanese army not
    come to China, the Chinese Communist Party would still be in remote areas and unable to visit Beijing to
    watch Beijing opera, a comment taken to mean he did not completely reject Japan’s wartime militarism.

    here is something we need to
    remember about how mao ingeniously handle the japan matter:

    Mao called the sino-japanese war
    as the “chiang kai-shek’s war”. He even reprimanded
    general peng de wai for his senseless frontal assault on the Japanese
    troops(maybe that why the bad blood between the two, especially peng failed to
    bring mao’s son from the Korean war and failed badly in the Taiwan invasion
    try).

    Well, America and its Chinese
    pro-west Asian dogs were able to fool most of the us Asians, but they could
    never fool mao. Personally, I wont be
    too surprised if it was mao’s covert plan to drawing the Japanese in the xian
    mutiny so that japan could blockade American arms shipments to chiang.
    Show less

    Rachel L
    5:04 PM

    +Joe Ching
    The Nanking Massacre was a created story of China.
    (1)Why China fabricated 143 pictures in the Nanking Museum?
    One of the Photos displayed at the ‘Memorial Hall of Victims in Nanjing Massacre’. It is also displayed in the book The Rape of Nanking. The book states “The Japanese rounded up thousands of women. Most of them were gang raped or forced into military prostitution. (Politburo of Military Committee, Taipei)” However, this photo has nothing to do with neither the gang-rape nor the military prostitution. This photo has appeared in the Asahi Graph, a weekly photo journal, published in Japan on November 10, 1937, about one month before Nanking battle. A set of four pictures have appeared in the journal with the explanation, titled as “Utopia amidst the Gun-power: The ‘Rising Sun’ Village South of the Yangtze.” The very picture is captioned with “A group of women and children from the Rising Sun Village returning from the fields, guarded by our soldiers.” In those days, the lootings is often committed by the deserted Chinese soldiers. So, the farmers have needed the protection of Japanese troops to engage in farming safely. Also, this very photo has been taken by Correspondent KUMASAKI in Shanghai, on Oct 14, 1937. In short, a scene of peaceful farming village has been secretly switched to the one that is taking villagers to somewhere prior to rape en masse. It is indeed a wicked act.

    (2) Why China could not prove the murder of 340,000 when the Tokyo Trial was opened?
    According to Summary report on the Investigation of Japanese war crimes committed in Nanking, prepared by the Procurator of the District Court in Nanking, to prepare for the IMTFE, the KMT set up the Nanking Investigation Committee for Antagonists Crime on Nov 7, 1945, and appealed to the Chinese public to report Japanese Army’s crimes. It was reported, however, that few responded to the crimes committed by them, and some refused to testify or to deny the massacre occurred. Then, the KMT reluctantly submitted the tentative report to the IMTFE on Jan 20, 1946. Except for one testimony made by a man named Lu Su, no other evidence of massacre by the Japanese Army was available, besides burial records.

    (3)Where were 300,000 of dead bodies?
    A burial record presented to the IMTFE by the Chinese Red Swastika Society shows where the corpses were found and buried. Only about 2,800 corpses are found inside Nanking castle, and the rest are recovered outside, which were almost 40,000.

    (4)Why many Chinese people came back to Nanking after Japanese occupied the city?
    Many Nanking citizens thus came back to the city, and the population increased. Would the citizens have come back to a city in which there had been a massacre?
    (A)John Rabe, the Safety Zone Committee (TSZC) member, wrote in his diary in Dec 10, when the Nanking battle began, the Nanking population was 200,000.
    (B)TSZC documents read that in Jan 1938 the population was 250,000.
    (C)Smythe investigated the population on Feb 1938. The population of Nanking was 250,000 or 270,000.
    (D)The Nanking City Administrative Office of the Nanking Restoration Government, which was established on March 28, 1938, registered 277,000 inhabitants.

    (5)Why China paid money to Timperley for writing the Japan’s atrocity story to a book?
    Timperley was paid by the Ministry of Information in China for writing the book “What War Means”. The book was written about the Japanese atrocity. Zeng Xubai, then chief of the international propaganda division, said in his autobiography (vol. I, p. 201) that the central propaganda bureau funded the publication of Timperly’s book and Smythe’s book.

    (6)Why Mao didn’t mention any of them at the international media conferences from 1937 to 1938?
    Mao never referred to the massacre. He made exactly one mention of the Battle of Nanking during a lecture delivered six months after the conflict, reproduced in On Protracted War. Mao criticized the Japanese for failing to annihilate Chinese troops after having surrounded them. If there had been slaughter in Nanking of a magnitude so great as to prompt the description “holocaust of the century,” there is not the slightest chance that he would have been silent on the matter.

    (7)Why China paid money to John Rabe?
    According to Rabe’s diary, at that time those Chinese in the Safety Zone, were limited to persons who could communicate with Rabe in the Safety Zone. Only those who could speak in either English or German were the Chinese staff that helped work in the Safety Zone Committee and Chinese officers, Colonel Lung and Chow. Rabe was recording about Chinese officers in his diary as follows:
    “Shortly before eight o’clock Colonels Lung and Chow arrive (Ling has marched off by now) and ask if they can take shelter in my house. I agree. Before Han and I left for home, these two gentlemen deposited 30,000 dollars in the committee’s safe.” (The Good Man of Nanking, p.64.)Is this a illegal act or not?

    The Nanking Massacre was a created story of China. There’s nothing to corroborate Chinese story.
    Show less

    Joe Ching
    6:06 PM

    1
    Edit

    +Rachel L these are good evidences to show the world that naking massacre was a fabrication by chiang kai-shek, after america bribed his extended family of the kungs and songs to become the richest people in the world(but resided in texas).

    as an american chinese, i became suspicious about nanking massacre after hearing the death of iris chang at the height of his book, rape of nanking’s, fame. i even sought out her dad in one of the annual nanking massacre conferences in the san franciso bay area to confirm the cause of iris’ suicide. it turns out the america cia was the major suspect that caused her the fatal mental stress.

    anyway, the story, that convinced me categorically that nanking massacre was a fabrication, is from the testimony told by the widows of chiang kai-shek/dai li/qian xinming’s spies, who were sold out to the japanese policy shortly after they fabricated the infamous nanking masscre photo album, during a small window of time before the japanese even enter the city.

    the recent rekindle of this fabrication was mostly done by the chinese christian converts loyal to the kmt government in taiwan for the purpose of resuming the divide and conquer scheme of america.

    frankly, i dont hold much hope that all the trustful evidence japan gathered would sway the public opinion in truth favor. the only chance of japan clearing itself of all the smears(the tanaka memeorial, the yellow river flood, nanking massacre) by america and the pro-america chinese is for asia to form a unified front by 2020.
    i have some friends in the chinese military. so, only contribution i will be able to make to this effort of history revision is to take evidences like the ones u presented here to the chinese military and insist that they, not japan, should face history truthfully.

    Rachel L 10 hours ago · LINKED COMMENT
    The Nanking Massacre was a created story by China. (1)Why China fabricated 143 pictures in the Nanking Museum? (2) Why China could not prove the murder of 340,000 when the Tokyo Trial was opened? (3)Where were 300,000 of dead bodies? (4)Why many Chinese people came back to Nanking after Japanese occupied the city? (5)Why China paid money to Timperley for writing the Japan’s atrocity story to a book? (6)Why Mao didn’t mention any of them at the international media conferences from 1937 to 1938? (7)Why China paid money to John Rabe?
    Show less
    Reply ·

    Joe Ching 1 second ago
    +Rachel L also:(8) why did the wang ching wei, a leader of integrity(opposite to chiang kai-shek, who tried to assassin wang) agreed to head the pro-japan chinese government, of which nanking was the capital? (9) why Did Mao thank Japan for invading China? Talk:Mao Zedong – Wikiquote 新中国建立有日本的功劳, 科学网-毛泽东关于感谢日本侵略的言论 – 肖重发的博文 here is the asian perspective of history: 1. japan fired the first shot of asia liberation at pearl harbor 2. but america poisoned the sino-japanese relation with the forgery, tanaka memorial, which lied about japan’s mission as an aggressor, rather than a liberator. 3. america then bribed chiang kai-shek to sell out china and asia to the western imperialists 4. but japan invaded chiang’s puppet china of america and blockaded arms shipments from america(mao might just have scheme up the xian mutiny to get japan to do just that). 5. mao also found sanctuary in the japanese dominated northeast china at the end of the long march, as japan did not want to exterminate the communists in its liberation mission in china. 6. japan surrendered enough military equipment(mainly artillery guns) to mao at the end of the war to arm 700,000 of mao’s peasant troop and helped lin biao to won the 1st few critical battle in chiang kai-shek’s, supported by america, mopping up effort of mao after the war. 7.japan also contribute significantly to the korea war with the airforce school that japanese communist converts built in china. china, not japan, should acknowledge the true history, or else we asians will be forever divided and conquered by the western imperialists. Here’s MaoZedong telling the Prime Minister of Japan to take back his apology “(Japan) doesn’t have to say sorry, you had contributed towards China, why? Because had Imperial Japan did not start the war of invasion, how could we communist became mighty powerful? How could we stage the coup d’état? How could we defeat Chiang Kai Shek? How are we going to pay back you guys? No, we do not want your war reparations!” -Mao Zedong greeted Japanese Prime Minister Takuei in Nanjing, 1972 Here’s Mao praising Japan’s contribution to his war effort “Those Japanese were real good. Without Japanese’s help, China’s [Communist] revolution would not have suceeded. I said the same thing to a Japanese, a capitalist, by the name of nanxiang sanlang(?).He kept on saying: ‘Sorry, we did invade China’ I said to him: ‘Don’t say that, on the contrary, Japanese helped us (Communist) in a big way’, especially Japanese warlords and the Japanese Emperor.” -Mao Zedong’s conversation with American journalist Edgar Snow, 1970 Mao Zedong’s communists were on the retreat across China from the Republic of China until Japan’s timely intervention saved him. The Republic of China’s military suffered over 3 million casualties from their best trained and equipped units fighting Japan, as well as over 20 million civilian deaths. The Republic of China was obligated (even though Chiang Kai Shek stalled as long as he could as he considered other Chinese greater threats than Japan)to defend her civilians against invaders which meant pitched battles in urban environments against the brunt of Japanese mechanized forces, while Mao Zedong could afford to retreat into the countryside and fight a guerrilla war ambushing small groups of Japanese soldiers. By the time the Japanese Empire was defeated, Mao had regained his strength(thousands of Japanese who surrendered were even recruited to Mao’s forces)and finished off the weakened Republic. the yellow river flooding by chiang kai-shek drowned and starved upwards of 30 million chinese, but chiang blamed it on the japanese, using the same shamelessly filthy technique of chiang’s master, america. today, the two conflicting monument erected at the site should serve as testimony of the dirty tricks that america and its asian puppets used to divide and conquer asia in wwii. Mao is known to have said in 1956 that had the Japanese army not come to China, the Chinese Communist Party would still be in remote areas and unable to visit Beijing to watch Beijing opera, a comment taken to mean he did not completely reject Japan’s wartime militarism. here is something we need to remember about how mao ingeniously handle the japan matter: Mao called the sino-japanese war as the “chiang kai-shek’s war”. He even reprimanded general peng de wai for his senseless frontal assault on the Japanese troops(maybe that why the bad blood between the two, especially peng failed to bring mao’s son from the Korean war and failed badly in the Taiwan invasion try). Well, America and its Chinese pro-west Asian dogs were able to fool most of the us Asians, but they could never fool mao. Personally, I wont be too surprised if it was mao’s covert plan to drawing the Japanese in the xian mutiny so that japan could blockade American arms shipments to chiang.

    Yew, here is something else we need to remember about how mao ingeniously handle the japan matter:
    Mao called the sino-japanese war as the “chiang kai-shek’s war”. He even reprimanded general peng de wai for his senseless frontal assault on the Japanese troops(maybe that why the bad blood between the two, especially peng failed to bring mao’s son from the Korean war and failed badly in the Taiwan invasion try).

    Well, America and its Chinese pro-west Asian dogs were able to fool most of the us Asians, but they could never fool mao. Personally, I wont be too surprised if it was mao’s covert plan to drawing the Japanese in the xian mutiny so that japan could blockade American arms shipments to chiang.

    Did Mao thank Japan for invading China?
    Talk:Mao Zedong – Wikiquote
    新中国建立有日本的功劳,新中国巩固有美国的功劳_新浪杂谈_历史论坛_新浪网
    科学网-毛泽东关于感谢日本侵略的言论 – 肖重发的博文

    Is that true or forged?
    JOE’S ANSWERVIEW 24 OTHER ANSWERS
    Joe Ching
    here is the asian perspective of history:
    1. japan fired the first shot of asia liberation at pearl harbor
    2. but america poisoned the sino-japanese relation with the forgery, tanaka memorial, which lied about japan’s mission as an aggressor, rather than a liberator.
    3. america then bribed chiang kai-shek to sell out china and asia to the western imperialists
    4. but japan invaded chiang’s puppet china of america and blockaded arms shipments from america(mao might just have scheme up the xian mutiny to get japan to do just that).
    5. mao also found sanctuary in the japanese dominated northeast china at the end of the long march, as japan did not want to exterminate the communists in its liberation mission in china.
    6. japan surrendered enough military equipment(mainly artillery guns) to mao at the end of the war to arm 700,000 of mao’s peasant troop and helped lin biao to won the 1st few critical battle in chiang kai-shek’s, supported by america, mopping up effort of mao after the war.
    7.japan also contribute significantly to the korea war with the airforce school that japanese communist converts built in china.

    china, not japan, should acknowledge the true history, or else we asians will be forever divided and conquered by the western imperialists.

    Written 8m ago. 1 view.
    Upvotes0
    Here’s Mao Zedong telling the Prime Minister of Japan to take back his apology

    “(Japan) doesn’t have to say sorry, you had contributed towards China, why? Because had Imperial Japan did not start the war of invasion, how could we communist became mighty powerful? How could we stage the coup d’état? How could we defeat Chiang Kai Shek? How are we going to pay back you guys? No, we do not want your war reparations!”
    -Mao Zedong greeting Japanese Prime Minister Takuei in Nanjing, 1972

    Here’s Mao praising Japan’s contribution to his war effort

    “Those Japanese were real good. Without Japanese’s help, China’s [Communist] revolution would not have suceeded. I said the same thing to a Japanese, a capitalist, by the name of nanxiang sanlang(?).He kept on saying: ‘Sorry, we did invade China’ I said to him: ‘Don’t say that, on the contrary, Japanese helped us (Communist) in a big way’, especially Japanese warlords and the Japanese Emperor.”
    -Mao Zedong’s conversation with American journalist Edgar Snow, 1970

    Mao Zedong’s communists were on the retreat across China from the Republic of China until Japan’s timely intervention saved him. The Republic of China’s military suffered over 3 million casualties from their best trained and equipped units fighting Japan, as well as over 20 million civilian deaths.

    The Republic of China was obligated (even though Chiang Kai Shek stalled as long as he could as he considered other Chinese greater threats than Japan)to defend her civilians against invaders which meant pitched battles in urban environments against the brunt of Japanese mechanized forces, while Mao Zedong could afford to retreat into the countryside and fight a guerrilla war ambushing small groups of Japanese soldiers.

    By the time the Japanese Empire was defeated, Mao had regained his strength(thousands of Japanese who surrendered were even recruited to Mao’s forces)and finished off the weakened Republic.

    Just to be clear, I think everyone who fought against Imperial Japan’s invasion (regardless of what flag they fought for) was a hero, but the leaders of both the communists and the nationalists were self serving. They were more interested in fighting each other for territory and the lives of their men were pieces to accomplish that goal. There were also Chinese that were neither Nationalist nor Communist who fought and died to protect their homes, but the history books has largely forgotten them.
    Joe ching’s comments:
    “”” everyone who fought against Imperial Japan’s invasion (regardless of what flag they fought for) was a hero”””
    no way, at best their r just weak-minded, gullible chinese who swallowed the lying forgery, the tanaka memorial, used by america to divide and conquer asia. and at the worst, they were china and asia’s traitors and greatest murderers.

    the yellow river flooding by chiang kai-shek drown and starved upwards of 30 million chinese, but chiang blamed it on the japanese, using the same shamelessly filthy technique of chiang’s master, america. today, the two conflicting monument erected at the site should serve as testimony of the dirty tricks that america and its asian puppets used to divide and conquer asia in wwii.

    And then Mao invited some Japanese war criminals over to mainland China

    Mao is known to have said in 1956 that had the Japanese army not come to China, the Chinese Communist Party would still be in remote areas and unable to visit Beijing to watch Beijing opera, a comment taken to mean he did not completely reject Japan’s wartime militarism.
    -To normalize ties, Mao turned to war criminal

    Mao was too busy making business deals with Japanese to bother condemning them for the war, and for him his main enemy was always the Republic of China (That was now holed up in Taipei and the jungles of Burma, trying to get the US to back a counter-invasion of the mainland). Getting Japan to acknowledge the PRC over the RoC was a higher priority for him.

    It’s actually after Mao Zedong’s death that you see anti-Japan sentiment rise in mainland China.

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