A Japanese Perspective on Nanking
With recent Japanese-Chinese relationship problems in the news, I was once again reminded of the long-lasting controversy over Japanese history textbooks.
As a Japanese citizen, it only seemed natural to read the commentary by Ms. Hseih as I flipped through the pages of the New University.
Within minutes, I was formulating a response to the charges presented.
Before getting into the commentary itself, let’s take a look at the political cartoon of the Asian man. Political cartoons are supposed to be sarcastic and satirical, so I won’t deal with the ridiculous outfit of the man.
However, it seems the author has a misunderstanding of the subject, for Japan does not deny its past atrocities, but it deals with the insufficient education of students on the subject.
Now, let’s see how much U.S. textbooks educate us.
Everyone learned about how the areas surrounding U.S. bases overseas have a much higher crime rate than other areas, right?
We all know how in many of these places, such as South Korea and the Philippines, women in the area are forced into prostitution and are frequently the victims of abuse!
And murder and rape in Okinawa? What? No?
You mean you didn’t learn that in middle school? Those countries must be furious!
In fact they are, but the U.S. military exerts so much power that details of these incidents are usually wiped from the mass media very quickly without being reported.
OK, let’s examine something on a similar scale as Nanking. Everyone knows about Hiroshima and Nagasaki because high school textbooks covered it in detail: a paragraph or two and a picture of the mushroom cloud.
An estimated 350,000 people died, but the exact number will never be known.
People died from the initial impact of 4,000 degrees Celsius heat waves, the pressure, and other factors.
Many others suffered the effects of radiation for years, slowly decaying in pain from the diseases inflicted.
Furthermore, 60 years later, people still suffer from these effects, another reason why there will never be an exact count of how many were affected.
However, in no way am I saying that either tragedy was more or less devastating.
As many of you may know, Japan’s history textbooks have been under much criticism, so I decided to pull out my brother’s textbook, issued in 2001.
It can be inferred that if anything, this year’s textbooks have gone into more detail.
It states, ‘In the process of taking over Nanking, the soldiers killed a large number of Chinese, including women and children.