China; a country with one of the world’s fastest growing economies, also known as being an ‘unforgiving’ country towards events that occurred in the past. Japan; a highly technologically advanced country, also a very proud country where apologies are absolute. 300,000 Chinese deaths. China wants an official, handwritten apology from Japan due to the six week long mass murdering of Chinese by Japanese troops in the 1930’s, but should they get one?
The ‘Nanjing Massacre’ was a brutal attack on China’s Nationalist capital Nanking (now called Nanjing) by the Japanese military in 1937. Even though the Chinese did not have access to the weapons nor the training the Japanese military had, the Chinese resistance put up a good fight. Sadly though, it was not enough and the Nationalist capital fell. It is also commonly nicknamed ‘The Rape of Nanking’ as reports show that in just the first four weeks; at least twenty thousand Chinese women were raped. Additionally many had their bodies mutilated and many more were slaughtered. In the non-fictional book entitled The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang cited a soldier’s recollection that stated:
“It would be all right if we only raped them. I shouldn’t say all right. But we always stabbed and killed them. Because dead bodies don’t talk … Perhaps when we were raping her, we looked at her as a woman, but when we killed her, we just thought of her as something like a pig.”
This recollection not only tells us the Japanese troops had no respect for the women and merely thought of them as toys at most, but moreover they knew what they were doing was wrong, yet they continued to do it. Chang also stated that “girls under the age of 8 and women over the age of 70” were also attacked in the same manner. At the age of eight… This was appalling and disgusting, hence the request for an apology to China at least.
Unsurprisingly, there is more. Upon the surrender of Nanjing, a secret order was passed on to the Japanese saying all captives were to be killed. For this reason, all the military-aged men amongst the refugees in Nanjing were captured, whether they had been soldiers or not. In one case, Chang tells us of how the prisoners were starved of food and water for days but were promised food and work. After this treatment which would last several days, the weak and malnourished men would be herded away and killed in grotesque games. Many horrific photographs have been found of the Japanese troops smiling while performing such repulsive acts. Do you not think this is awful? It could be categorised with the holocaust in my opinion. This also adds strain to Japan’s relations with China.
China was, and still is, enraged by this attack. I do not suppose it helps that now many Japanese neo nationalists -including prominent members of the parliament- claim that the accusations have gone too far, therefore all school textbooks should censor all the references to the Japanese “war guilt and atrocities, and to instil national pride rather than shame.” Charming, huh?
Germany apologised for the holocaust, therefore why can Japan not apologise for the Nanjing massacre? We all know how China’s economy is booming, they have lots of nuclear weapons and the country is becoming stronger. So what if something little was to trigger China’s anger at Japan? Could we possibly have a WWIII on our hands? Would this have repercussions on the rest of the world? Would other countries lend a helping hand, and if they did, who would they support? I know that just an apology won’t solve everything, but it is a sure way to start. If Japan could surpass its ‘pride’ and just acknowledge they the attack was very severe, it would not only help mend connections with China, but also with all its neighbouring countries who are quite cautious of them. After all, most of Japan’s youth have acknowledged it and don’t doubt it happened.