Significance of the 75th Anniversary of the Nanking Massacre

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, one of the most horrific atrocities that men had unleashed on other human beings.  During the six-week period beginning on December 13, 1937, about 300,000 Chinese (mostly civilians) were killed, over 20,000 Chinese females (women, girls, and even very young girls) were raped, and one third of the city of Nanking was burned to the ground.  Many Chinese were beheaded or bayoneted in competitions among Japanese soldiers to see who could kill the most.  Many were lined up and shot en mass, or were buried alive in mass graves.  The Yangtze River was a river of death with dead bodies floating all over, and Nanking ran out of coffins.  For an account by an eyewitness and survivor of the Nanking Massacre, click here.  Even though this happened 75 years ago, its significance is as important as ever.

The Japanese government has never officially acknowledged and apologized for the massive atrocities the Japanese Imperial Army committed in China and other parts of Asia during WWII.  The Japanese parliament has never passed any resolution offering such acknowledgement and apology.  On those occasions when a top Japanese leader would make such a statement (usually just before a key meeting between the top leaders of Japan and China), invariably a short time afterward, a spokesman for the Japanese government would make another statement negating in content the previous statement.  Furthermore, top Japanese leaders have repeatedly made statements such as:

  • The Nanking Massacre never occurred
  • What happened during the Nanking Massacre were the natural consequences of war
  • There were no sex slaves; the so-called comfort women [1] were just prostitutes
  • There were no inhumane experimentation of new germ weapons on civilians and POWs
  • There was no slave labor

A recent example of such statements was the February 20, 2012 remarks made by Takashi Kawamura, the Mayor of Nagoya, when he told a visiting delegation from Nagoya’s sister city Nanjing [2]  “While there was general combat, I do not believe there was anything like the Nanking Incident,” and he has repeatedly refused to retract his statement.  Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo and one of Japan’s current leading right-wing politicians, said in an interview in 1990 that the Nanking Massacre “is a story made up by the Chinese.”  Japan’s current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said to the Japanese Parliament on August 27, 2012 that “there was no coercion of women into sexual slavery during  the Second World War, and there is no testimony from anyone in Japan.”  This is in spite of numerous testimonies to the contrary by former Japanese soldiers.  Furthermore, Japan’s top leaders, including its prime ministers, have regularly visited and paid their respects at Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class-A and 1,068 Class-B and Class-C war criminals [3] are enshrined.

The reactions by the Japanese political leaders should be contrasted with what Chancellor Willy Brandt of West Germany did in 1970 when he fell to his knees at the site of the Warsaw ghetto and expressed the guilt, sorrow, and responsibility of Germany for the Holocaust.  Can you imagine the world’s reaction if  the current leaders of Germany would visit and pay tribute at  Hitler’s burial site?

This flagrant distortion of the truth and absolute lack of sorrows by the Japanese government are even more troublesome in view of the fact that many governments in the world have passed resolutions condemning Japan’s actions (or lack of actions) on the “comfort women” issue.  These include western governments like the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, and the European Parliament.  For more details about these resolutions, read the article “Reflections on Atrocities in Asia During WWII.”

Not only that the Japanese government is denying its own knowledge, since around 1980 it has also purposely rewritten this part of history in their history books so that new generations would have no knowledge of the truth, thus making the warning of the great Spanish/American philosopher George Santayana “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” even more ominous.

This is the significance of the 75th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre.  The above positions and actions of the Japanese government are part of Japan’s strategic move to revive Japanese militarism and imperialism.  They want to portray themselves as the victims, and not as the aggressors during WWII.  They want to ignore their agreement from the Japanese Instrument of Surrender which they signed in 1945, and implement again their 100-year old ambition to expand and dominate at least Asia.  This is also the root of the recent territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands/Senkaku Islands (former name used by Chinese, and latter name used by Japanese).  There are ample historical, geographical, and legal evidences that these islands clearly have been part of the Taiwan Province of China since the 14th century.  Therefore, at the end of WWII, Japan was required by the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, and the 1945 Japanese Instrument of Surrender to return Taiwan, and therefore also the Diaoyu Islands, to China.  Yet, Japan has been using its trickery since the 19th century to try to steal these islands from China.  This conflict has recently escalated and could easily lead to military actions and war.

What is alarming is that the U.S. government is also involved, and it has adopted an ambiguous and internally inconsistent policy of stating that the sovereignty of these islands is unsettled, but these islands are covered under the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty.  This means that the U.S. could very easily be dragged by Japan into a war in the East China Sea that it has no moral or legal reasons to be involved.   For a more detailed discussion of the Diaoyu Islands issue, see the article in this same release “Inconsistent Foreign Policy May Drag the U.S. Into Another War.”  Unfortunately, the statements from American political leaders and the western mass media’s coverage of this dispute contain a lot of half truths, lies, and biased analyses that it is difficult for the average American to see through the smoke.  However, I have faith that once the American people learn about the truth, they will not stand by and allow their political leaders to send their sons and daughters to fight in an unjustified war far away from home.

In light of the Japanese government’s total lack of acknowledgement and apology for the massive atrocities they committed in Asia during WWII, as well as the deadly surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and their dangerous revival of Japanese militarism and expansionism, we are advocating two actions:

  • When there is a reasonable choice, boycott buying Japanese products.  For example, even with automobiles, we now have choices of good cars made by the U.S., Korea, and Europe.  Stop buying cars from Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, etc.
  • We should convey to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) that no Olympics (Summer or Winter) should be awarded to Japan until they have acknowledged and apologized for the massive atrocities they committed in Asia during WWII.  In particular, we should ask the IOC and other nations’ Olympics Committees not to select Tokyo from the current list of three finalists that include Istanbul and Madrid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. [4]

We call upon all peace-loving people of the world to endorse and take up these two actions.  We also call upon the Japanese people to apply pressure on your political leaders through your votes to seek justice and not to add insult to past transgressions.  Seek a path for peaceful coexistence with your neighbors and defeat the right-wing faction who tries to steer Japan into a path of isolation and destruction that is also not in the best interests of the Japanese people.


[1] The term “Comfort women” is euphemism for “sex slaves.”

[2] Current spelling of the city of Nanking is Nanjing.

[3] As determined by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

[4] That decision will be made in September 2013.

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2 Responses to “Significance of the 75th Anniversary of the Nanking Massacre”

  1. John K. Li says:

    I basically agree with your statements shown above.

  2. Rich Braverman says:


    I also agree with your thoughts on this subject. It should be a basic demand of the Chinese people to continue making an issue of the Nanking Massacre until such time as someone in Japan will admit to their guilt.



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