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History Wars: China Ignores Facts to Weaponize the Past




Late last year, according to multiple sources, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited the ambassadors of at least 16 countries to a December 13th ceremony at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.


“The nation’s chairman is expected to attend,” the invitation read, “so those ambassadors attending the memorial ceremony may afterwards be able to have a private meeting with him.”


It was a rare opportunity even for ambassadors to China to meet directly with the “nation’s chairman,” Xi Jinping.




Among those invited were the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, and Vietnam. It has not been revealed who came. It goes without saying that Japan’s ambassador was not invited.


Sources familiar with Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations view the memorial and invitations as “part of China’s strategy to work quickly to build up a united front of anti-Japan encirclement on historical issues.”


Propaganda Among Foreign Exchange Students


The overseas “united front” strategy is moving ahead in many different areas beyond the diplomatic arena. An example of this is the historical-themed walking tour held in November 2017 that covered sites in the International Nanking Safety Zone. The tour was centered on the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.



In December of 1937, as Japanese troops occupied Nanking, English and German people in the city, along with American missionaries, sectioned off a roughly four-kilometer square as “International Safety Zone.” The area comprised the consulates of various nations, as well as medical treatment facilities and schools, such as Jinling University, Nanjing Theological Seminary, and Jinling Women’s College. The stated purpose of this was to protect Chinese residents from Japanese military attack.


According to reporting by a Jiangsu province television station in Nanjing, some 150 foreign exchange students studying at universities throughout Nanjing were also invited to join the walking tour. There were about 300 participants in all, including locals conversant in foreign languages. The tour guides explained that approximately 250,000 refugees were saved in the International Safety Zone.


A foreign exchange student from Poland currently studying at Nanjing University said that she was grateful to those who rescued the masses of China in 1937.


This tour was reported both locally and overseas as an event reinforcing the impression that China and other countries were working together to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the incident in Nanjing.




Not Adding Up


A historical researcher from China, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The lives of many of the approximately 250,000 people protected in the International Safety Zone were spared. American and British reporters who escaped Nanjing by ship to Shanghai a few days after the massacre began were able to tell the world what had happened.”


Three hundred thousand people are said to have been massacred. In addition, 250,000 people are said to have been rescued, for a total of 550,000 people allegedly in Nanjing at the time. It has been pointed out that 550,000 people is vastly greater than the entire population of Nanjing in 1937, but there are few scruples in China over historical facts.


According to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, memorial ceremonies similar to the one held in Nanjing were also held in 208 other places in nine countries around the world, including the US, Canada, and Taiwan. Overseas Chinese groups are believed to have been involved in all of these events. The tens of millions of overseas Chinese and their descendants, along with overseas Chinese networks, are being used towards achieving anti-Japanese encirclement.



Information also points to the Chinese authorities in Beijing funneling money secretly through Hong Kong and Taiwan to overseas Chinese groups.


Linking Nanking with Comfort Women


The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, under renovation for the first time in about a decade, reopened to the public on December 14, 2017.


The Chinese historian who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the upgraded Memorial Hall displays will seek to intertwine the comfort women and the Nanking Incident. “There are plans to house several ‘iron evidence’—i.e., indisputable proof] displays, such as the contraceptive and bathing implements which comfort women in Nanjing were forced to use by the Japanese military.”


In the past, the Memorial Hall had contained only small, auxiliary displays on the comfort women, such as a photograph of a comfort woman with a troubled expression on her face who claimed to have been forcibly impregnated by a soldier, along with a list of rules which had hung at the entrance to a comfort station.



Speaking of the intentions behind linking the comfort women issue to the Nanking incident on the 80th anniversary of the latter, the Chinese historian said: “The massacre at the hands of the Japanese military in Nanking lasted for 40 days [beginning on December 13, 1937]. Because the issue of the ‘comfort women’ forcibly abducted during the eight-year occupation of Nanking following the massacre worsened during that time, the two things cannot be separated.”


In December 2015 a museum of documents pertaining to comfort station sites in the city of Nanking was established. In October 2016, the Chinese comfort women historical museum opened on the campus of Shanghai Normal University. They both have become virtual branch museums of the Nanking Massacre Memorial Hall.


Odd Repetition of Even Numbers


The programming goes beyond exhibits in museums. Beginning on December 11, CCTV began airing a five-part series, timed to coincide with the memorial ceremony at the Hall on the 13th, titled, “Exposing the Systematic Rape of the ‘Comfort Women’ by the Japanese Military.”


The one-sided series says that the former Japanese military forcibly gathered young women from China, the Korean peninsula, and other countries, turning them into comfort women. The series also says that military doctors managed the women, checking them for communicable disease, after which the military would provide the women to officers and enlisted men as “sexual slaves” as part of an inhuman program of “systematic” rape.


China has long held that 300,000 Chinese women were forcibly taken away by the former Japanese military and made to work as comfort women. The number of alleged victims interestingly is the same as the 300,000 people said to have been massacred in Nanjing. The Chinese have been pushing this supposed link both at home and abroad in an attempt to exaggerate their victimhood during the Sino-Japanese War. 


Evading the 1972 Sino-Japanese Agreement?


In response to a Sankei Shimbun interview request on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Nanking Incident, the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, a private-sector organization based in Beijing and headed by Tong Zeng, revealed that, on December 7, 2017, it sent to the Japanese embassy in Beijing a written demand to the Japanese government for an apology and reparations.


The documents on the subject of the Nanking Incident, which Tong Zeng’s organization submitted to the Japanese embassy, contain violent language. “Japanese fascists were the ones who created this human hell,” one of the papers said. The documents use the phrase “more than 300 thousand people,” indicating that Tong and his group believe that the number of people who lost their lives in Nanjing is even higher than the official number used by the Chinese government.


The documents also explicate bizarre theories. The demand letter alleges that “by means of constitutional revision, Japan is seeking to revive militarism by the summer of 2018.” It closes with, “We strongly request that the Japanese government apologize for, and pay reparations to the victims of, the Nanking Massacre.”


This same China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands has gathered together Chinese people (and their surviving relatives) claiming to have been forcibly abducted and made to work against their will during the war, filing one lawsuit after another against Japanese corporations. A source familiar with the situation says that Tong Zeng’s China Federation is possibly considering filing civil suits on behalf of more than 100 Nanking survivors and their relatives, along with former comfort women and their relatives.


In April 2014, the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua ran a commentary, stating that the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communiqué, by which China renounced all claims to wartime reparations, “did not include claim rights for the private sector or individuals.” Some are wary that victims and their families will go through Tong Zeng’s China Federation and use the Chinese courts to sue for reparations as individuals.


Jealousy Over Pearl Harbor Visit


When asked about the Chinese attempts to ramp up their anti-Japan campaign using the Nanking Incident as a centerpiece, the anonymous Chinese historian cited above complained: “In December 2016, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the monument in Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i—the place that touched off World War II. But not only does he not apologize for the Nanking Massacre, but there are actually movements in Japan to deny it.”




Another source explains the particular Chinese “logic” by which Abe’s visit to the Pearl Harbor memorial was greeted with a Chinese backlash: “Japan may have been seeking reconciliation with the US, but conversely is unaware that [the visit] wounded the feelings of Chinese victims.”


In October of 2015, China and other countries applied to have documents related to the Nanking Incident registered as a “Memory of the World” with the United Nations Scientific, Cultural, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In October of 2017, China postponed its registration of comfort women documents.


The Chinese historian raised his voice when speaking of these, saying “the Chinese people will continue to make every effort to register both [Nanking and the comfort women] with UNESCO.”


China is working through both officialdom and the private sector in taking its history war against Japan to new extremes. There is no sign that this will end anytime soon.



Takashi Arimoto, Mayu Uetsuka, Masumi Kawasaki, Makiko Takita, Tatsuya Tokiyoshi, and Takao Harakawa contributed to these reports.


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(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)