About Datong

Japanese newspaper imprint from World War II in North China

( chinadaily.com.cn )

update: 2014-12-18

Japanese newspaper imprint from World War II in North China

Concrete strip with Japanese newspaper imprint, from Datong, Shanxi. [Photo by Rong Yuren/dtnews.cn]

The Folk Museum in the city of Datong, Shanxi province recently put a historical piece on display that was discovered at a former Japanese military site during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), where city archaeologists described it as a Japanese newspaper imprint.

The paper was apparently imprinted on a concrete strip after many years of pressure, with the Japanese characters written in an old style and appearing after the surface of the strip is immersed in water, but without an identifiable date. However, Chen Shangshi, a translator in Datong, said the articles are about Japan's invasion of Beijing and Tianjin, and the troops encountering strong Chinese resistance.

Chen is a doctor at a local hospital, and a student of the Japanese language who has spent years translating and thousands of Japanese characters into Chinese, especially from items about the war. The news headlines tell of Japanese residing in the city of Tianjin, the conquering of Chinese cities, a new factory in Tianjin, and a tourist site in Beijing that the Japanese discovered. One of Chen's translations is a letter about Japanese soldiers showing loyalty to the emperor, with a line writes that goes,"I know I may die here [China], but please do not tell my younger brother. I am willing to sacrifice myself for my country. Nothing is better than that."

Chen says that his translations are purely for reference by others and that he has a limited knowledge of history, so he is asking other people to help decode the cement strip.

Edited by Fang Sha and Roger Bradshaw

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