War crimes undeniable

Updated: 2012-02-23 08:07

(China Daily)

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Recent history is no small matter in the relations between China and Japan. Attempts to rewrite it and deny the facts will undermine the foundation for the lasting friendship both countries now desire.

Given the unbearable suffering of the Chinese people during the Japanese invasion, it is only natural that they should feel hurt by the remarks made by Takashi Kawamura, the mayor of Nagoya, during his meeting with a delegation from the Chinese city of Nanjing.

He said that he doubted invading Japanese troops massacred civilians in Nanjing in 1937. He based this belief on the kind treatment his father, an invading Japanese soldier, received in the city in 1945.

"Why were the people in Nanjing kind to Japanese soldiers only eight years after the incident?" he asked.

To describe such a distortion of history merely as irresponsible is a betrayal to all those who suffered and died during those horrific days.

There are more than enough witnesses and evidence to show how savagely Japanese troops occupied the city of Nanjing, killing about 300,000 innocent residents and prisoners of war and raping women by the thousands.

During the trials of war criminals by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo the international community also put on record the atrocities committed during the Nanjing Massacre.

But it has always been a tradition of Chinese culture to return good for evil in the hope of a better future. When Chinese people, including residents in Nanjing, treated Japanese soldiers kindly after the war, it was because they looked beyond the immediate enmity, not because the atrocities had been forgotten.

The goodwill of the Chinese people went further in 1972 when, upon establishing diplomatic relations, the Chinese government announced it would give up its claim to enormous war reparations and seek good neighborly relations which would benefit both peoples and world peace.

It is alarming that some Japanese people are willing to exploit the kindness of the Chinese people and throw it back in their face by citing it as an excuse to try and whitewash the atrocious crimes committed by their troops.

Both peoples should never forget what happened during that dark period of history, not to ferment hostility but to cement a friendship that will endure.

If there is anything preventing a lasting relationship between the two countries, it is some Japanese people's denial of its war crimes, disrespect for history and trampling of humanity.

(China Daily 02/23/2012 page8)