Friday, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, inscribed into its Memory of the World register the Nanjing massacre, which is also referred to as the Rape of Nanjing.
China began fighting Japan in 1937 and says some 300,000 people died in a six-week slaughter that included rape and decimated the area after the Japanese military entered Nanjing. Many historians put the number substantially lower, but there’s little doubt in mainstream scholarship that the event took place.
However, in Japan, revisionists deny any atrocities took place. The official position is that “the killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other acts occurred,” but it adds “it is difficult to determine” the true number of victims.
Japan’s foreign ministry responded to the news in a statement: “It is extremely regrettable that a global organization that should be neutral and fair entered the documents in the Memory of the World register, despite the repeated pleas made by the Japanese government.”
Normally, I’d discuss how this perverted view of history tarnishes Japan’s regional relations, but today, I don’t have to. The comment section of Japan Today does a fair job of that and here are a few comments:
Moonraker: Yet letters and memorabilia for kamikaze pilots have been floated as worthy of putting forward for inclusion and, as it says here, documents related to the victimhood of Japanese prisoners also put forward and accepted. Politicized? Sure. Japan should only be regarded as victim or having no choice.
PTownsend: There’s some chance, though scant, that by being truthful about the many hideous acts our respective cultures have committed that we can learn not to repeat similar acts, but there’s NO chance to learn if cultures continue to deny that they too did hideous things. EVERY nation involved in any war any time in history committed hideous acts. To deny that and try to hide from it is pathetic.
BurakimDes: Good on UNESCO – the Nanjing Massacre (or in the whitewashers’ language – “incident”) documents deserve to be archived and studied. The reaction from this government is petulant and childish to put it politely. It’s funny how the Japanese government has attacked UNESCO as being “political” – yet when one of their own nominations are approved, it’s accepted as apparently well-deserved!
And the list goes on…
Japan is by no means the only country that likes to sidestep its dark history, but the veracity in which the Abe administration perpetuates the notion that it was somehow a victim in the second World War is contemptible.