———– At the time of writing this article, the world is mourning the tragic passing of two innocent Japanese hostages. After some pondering, I decided to proceed with the release of this article, reminded by the words from the mother of a victim that it’s time to stop a (vicious) cycle of revenge. Let us hope that the world will listen. ————-
Why do Chinese all over the world cannot forget, and forgive, Japanese war crimes dating back over seventy years? For the majority, the answer lies in the fact that a segment of the Japanese population has shown little remorse over wide spread and deep pains inflicted by the Imperial Japanese Army throughout much of China during WWII. To this date, some of Japan’s political, social, and economic elites continue to rub salt over old wounds, thus keeping alive – even reinforcing – horrible memories from the past.
Officials on both sides of the Taiwan Strait claim that in the city of Nanjing alone, 300,000 armless soldiers and civilians were brutally murdered in 1937 AFTER the city had surrendered. As recent as December 2014, Japanese government told Chinese govenment that it is “not appropriate” for Xi Jinping, during a first-of-its-kind memorial service, to cite 300,000 casualties. Earlier in 2014, a member of NHK’s board of governors – appointed by Japan’s Prime Minister – stated during a press interview that the Nanjing Massacre had never taken place.
I have been “brainwashed” throughout my life, mostly by my parents, my grandfather, other close relatives and family friends who lived through that era, about the Nanjing Massacre and countless other war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII. Still, I was shocked, not by the scale of brutality, but by the stupidity and insensitivity. Imagine a spokesperson for German Chancellor Merkel were to announce that the German government disagreed with the accuracy of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, or a high-level German government official were to deny the existence of the Holocaust, how would the rest of the world – not to mention people of Jewish descent – react? Why would anyone expect the Chinese to react differently, even after seventy years?
It’s not easy for Chinese to forget and forgive the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army during 1937-1945. In all, at least fourteen million – Chinese government claims twenty million – died. Hundreds of millions more suffered from deep physical, emotional and mental afflictions resulting from biological warfare, daily bombings of China’s war time capital Chongqing, sex slaves, competition among Japanese soldiers on decapitating Chinese prisoners, etc.
Few Chinese families I know escaped that era intact. For them, the emotional recovery process is stirred up every time the mayor of Osaka makes a public comment that wartime sex slaves were necessary, the mayor of Tokyo denies the existence of the Nanjing Massacre, or the standing Prime Minister pays homeage to Japan’s war shrine in which the leading Japanese war criminals of WWII are worshipped, next to other veterans.
Why does the wound not heal after seventy years? Central to answering this question lies in the bitter memories of those brutal acts committed. The remedy lies in mainstream Japan demonstrating sincere remorsefulness over war crimes committed during Japanese invasion and occupation – not “liberation,” as some in Japan still believe today.
Time is the most effective healing agent. That said, it would work only if we stopped rubbing salt over a healing wound.