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Japan's forgotten war crimes in China

Lian Shan Po | 19.04.2005 12:13 | Analysis | Social Struggles

The recent anti-Japanese demonstrations in China are being very poorly reported in the Western media. Hidden from view is the reality that the communist party did not initiate them, and that the targeted Japanese interests are in fact far from being 'innocent'.

The ongoing mass demonstrations in China aimed at Japanese embassies and businesses are being obscured completely out of context. The dominant picture is a racist one of masses of yellow skinned people being programmed by their government (for their own geopolitical purposes) into attacking 'defenceless' Japanese interests. This is a duplicity in more ways than one, and effectively hides the decades of injustice and suffering that lie at the heart of the issue.

Between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese military committed war crimes in China on a parallel of horror to anything the Nazis inflicted in their invasion of Russia, or against the Jewish people. This included mass rapes, mass executions, torture, live vivisection of prisoners by army 'doctors', slave labour to the point of death and the burning alive of whole villages of people. The death toll ran into many, many millions, and may even exceed the Nazi murder rate of Jews and Russians in the same period. But while Germany has to a large extent acknowledged its guilt and made many positive steps towards healing the atrocities it inflicted on the world - in exchange for supporting Western post-war interests in Asia, the Japanese establishment was allowed to remain in permanent denial of the blood dripping from its hands. The position of the Chinese people is thus in fact analogous to that of the one million near forgotten Romany gypsies who were killed by the Nazis - ie. their equally abominable suffering (to the Jews and Russians) has by and large been 'liquidated' from the historical record and public consciousness.

The trigger for the current spate of protests was a revisionist change in the teaching of history in Japanese schools, which completely edited out the crimes referred to above. For the reasons already explained, these events had always been sidelined and pushed to the margins in post-war Japan, but now they have been effectively 'vanished' from existence by the new textbooks. So when this revelation combusted with simmering economic resentment of recent Japanese capital investments in China, something just had to explode.

On closer analysis, it seems evident that the Chinese communist authorities are in fact trying (somewhat unsteadily) to ride out this populist wave rather than being the instigators of it. For while the government of the Peoples' Republic want to be seen to 'approve' the popular spontaneous anger and the outpouring of unhealed wounds for their own ends, they are also terrified of it 'getting out of hand'. The party elite are in danger of losing the 'handle' on a situation which is already shaky, and fear that these protests could mushroom into a vehicle for expressing other grievances - namely those of a more embarrassing, domestic orientated nature.

In conclusion, it is absolutely essential that the Japanese establishment is compelled to belatedly admit in public all their appalling war crimes committed between 1937-45, and similarly - that the world ceases to permit these atrocities to be conveniently pushed under the carpet. Hopefully too, spontaneous political activity in China on this issue may even mutate into something more challenging to the one party rule of the Peoples' Republic itself.

Lian Shan Po


Display the following 2 comments

  1. War crimes — frets
  2. Like duh... — Lian Shan Po