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On Correct Understanding of the Historical Issues between China and Japan


By Jiangyong Liu
Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of International Studies of Tsinghua University of China

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Sixty years have passed, yet divergent views of historical issues keep haunting Sino-Japanese political relations. While Japan was seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Mr. Kitaoka Shin'ichi, the Japanese Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN wrote an article titled Answering China's Japan Bashers (hereinafter referred to as the "Answer"), publicly defending Japan's aggression and atrocities during the War and trying to shirk its responsibilities. The appearance of this article is by no means an accidental or isolated phenomenon. It has raised many questions which provide food for thought. My article deals with the question of correctly understanding the historical issues in Sino-Japanese relations in connection with Ambassador Kitaoka Shin'ichi's article and erroneous viewpoints that have emerged in Japan. The purpose is to deepen the mutual understanding between the two countries and facilitate the improvement and healthy development of Sino-Japanese relations.

I. The historical issues are the hurdle to the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations

The "Answer" first attributes Japan's set backs in its bid for UNSC permanent membership to "China's maneuvers". The author tries to convince the international community that Japan is not distorting history, nor shirking its war responsibilities, and that it has already apologized to China, implying that China is unreasonable in bringing out the historical issues. What is more, the Ambassador goes so far as to openly assert that the Japanese Class A war criminals were treated unfairly, overturn the verdict of the Nanjing Massacre, and question the Tokyo Trial. To a certain extent, the "Answer" "internationalizes" the historical issues in Sino-Japanese relations and provokes a debate in the UN. Therefore, it is necessary to elaborate on the historical issues between China and Japan before presenting my viewpoints.

The historical issues between China and Japan mainly concern the way the two governments, particularly the Japanese government, look at and handle Japan's aggression against China and its other Asian neighbors, and other related issues from the War, such as the chemical weapons abandoned by Japanese troops in China. The Sino-Japan Joint Statement on Building a Friendly and Cooperative Partnership Dedicated to Peace and Development concluded in 1998 points out that "squarely facing the past and correctly perceiving history constitute the important foundation for developing Sino-Japan relationship." Facts have proven that Japan's failure to come to a correct understanding of the historical issues and to take concrete actions may turn those issues into a real problem hampering the sound development of Sino-Japanese relations.

Japan's war of aggression caused more than 35 million casualties to China. It was an unprecedented catastrophe and national disaster in China's history. Japan also suffered the loss of over 3 million lives in WWII and ended up in defeat and surrender. China has never thought that Japan should adopt a viewpoint on history identical with that of China. What China asks of the Japanese side is that it should not whitewash its history of aggression and eulogize those who died in the war of aggression. Japan should admit the crimes of its militarist aggression against China, appropriately address the problems left over from WWII, draw lessons from the history and stick to a road of peaceful development. This has been the prerequisite for the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations in the post-War era and conforms to the common interest of the long-term friendly relations between the two countries.

The Chinese government has always maintained that the two countries should always bear in mind the past and take it as a guide for the future. "While taking history as a mirror, we should be forward-looking." Guided by this saying, we have made every effort to develop and strengthen Sino-Japanese relations. The Chinese Government has always told its people to make a clear distinction between the arch-criminals of militarism who launched the aggressive war and the ordinary Japanese soldiers, and especially the vast majority of the Japanese people. After the War, the Chinese government treated the Japanese POWs humanely, and helped them recognize their mistakes and return to Japan. Many Japanese orphans of the War were adopted by ordinary people in Northeast China. The Chinese Government stated in the Joint Statement of the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Japan in 1972, "for the sake of Sino-Japan friendship, China renounces its demand for war indemnities from Japan." It is in the Chinese culture that one should not do to others what one would not have them do to oneself. The Chinese nation had the painful experience of being forced to cede territory and pay war indemnities after losing wars. That is why we are not in favor of raising such demands by the victor to the vanquished. The Chinese government only demanded that the Japanese government mend its ways, abide by the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation and return to China the Northeast territory, Taiwan and other Chinese territories it had occupied. If the war indemnities were to be imposed on Japan, they would be paid out of the Japanese national revenues. As most of Japanese war criminals had already been punished, it was the Japanese people who would suffer in their stead. It was out of consideration of the interest of the Japanese people that the Chinese government renounced its demand for war indemnities. We sincerely wished to promote Sino-Japanese friendship. However, the "Answer" takes this as an example of "relinquishing economic benefits in favor of political benefits". This is sheer distortion.

After WWII, the vast majority of the Japanese nationals recognized that Japan had done Chinese wrong. They wanted friendship between Japan and China and swore never to go to war again with China. A passage from the 1972 Sino-Japan Joint Statement reads: "The Japanese side is keenly aware of Japan's responsibility for causing enormous damage in the past to the Chinese people through war and deeply reproaches itself." It was on this basis that China and Japan normalized their relations. The Japanese government stated in the 1998 Sino-Japan Joint Statement on Building a Friendly and Cooperative Partnership Dedicated to Peace and Development: "it is keenly aware of the responsibility for causing tremendous disaster and damage to the Chinese people in its past aggression of China and feels deep remorse." This was the first time the Japanese side used the word "aggression" in a political document concluded between China and Japan, representing a step forward in comparison with the Joint Statement of 1972, which deserved full recognition. However, since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took office, he has paid four visits to Yasukuni Shrine where Class A war criminals are worshiped, mourning the so-called "Eirei" (martyr souls). This, together with the Japanese Government's approval of the right-wing textbook, utterly deviates from its previous statements on relevant issues. In addition, related problems keep cropping up, such as injuries caused by the chemical weapons left behind in China by Japanese troops. All these incidents time and again brought back the painful memory of the War to the Chinese people.

On 15 August 2005, the Japanese government issued the Prime Minister's Statement on the 60th Anniversary of the End of WWII through a cabinet resolution. This statement has basically followed the keynote of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's statement on the 50th Anniversary of the End of WWII, admitting that Japan "through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. We humbly accept these historically facts, and once again express our deep remorse and heartfelt apology." However, the sentence "Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis" used in the Murayama Statement was omitted. Koizumi insisted on visiting Yasukuni Shrine, and alleged that Japan owed its present prosperity to the sacrifice of those heroic martyrs. He did not visit Yasukuni Shrine on 15 August this year. It was largely a tactical maneuver out of the need of the general election and in response to the appeal of New Komeito, its coalition partner. But he still has not made an explicit statement as to whether he will visit the Shrine again.

On the war of aggression, the "Answer" asserts: "Japan has apologized explicitly on several occasions." It is true that the Japanese leaders have made verbal apologies, but the Japanese Government has never agreed to incorporate the words "apologize" or "offer an apology" into the official documents between China and Japan. Instead, it has only repeated the wording of "deep remorse". In the Japanese language, there are many words meaning "regret", including Chinese characters of 反省and 谢罪. But they vary greatly in the nuance of the words. According to the New Concise Japanese Dictionary,反省means "reflecting upon what one has said and done and thinking about whether or not one is acting properly", while 谢罪means "apologizing for the crime and mistake one has committed" and implies a plead for forgiveness. The Japanese leaders have so far only made verbal apologies for the past aggression, and refused to include the word "apologize" in written documents. This is difficult for the Chinese to understand. Comparing Germany's post-war confession, Japan's Asian neighbors find Japan's attitude more doubtful. The historical issues between Japan and its Asian neighbors keep flaring up not because Japan's Asian neighbors want to "bash" Japan, but because some Japanese politicians have repeatedly denied, even whitewashed Japan's past aggression, thus offending the people of its neighbors, and shaking their trust in Japan. In this regard, the Republic of Korea and some other countries feel very much the same.

The conflict concerning historical perceptions between China and Japan does not mean that the two peoples have serious divergence on the interpretation of history. On the contrary, it reflects the contradiction between the wrong historical perception held by Japan's right-wing forces and the national sentiments of the Chinese people. The root cause of this contradiction is the growing rightist tendency in Japan's politics. Since the Cold War ended, organized activities conducted by Japanese politicians aimed at glorifying the history of aggression has been exerting more and more influence on the Japanese Government. In 1994, some Diet members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) published the book A Summary of the Greater East Asia War which describes Japan's war of aggression against its Asian neighbors as a war to liberate Asia. In the long post-war years, due to the opposition from its right-wing members, the Japanese Diet has not been able to pass a single resolution acknowledging Japan's past aggression and apologizing to its Asian neighbors. On 9 June 1995, the Japanese House of Representatives passed a Resolution on Drawing Lessons from History and Reaffirming the Commitment to Peace with less than half affirmative votes. The Resolution deliberately evaded the question of Japan's national obligation to offer a formal apology. It only mentioned that, "bearing in mind many cases of colonial rule and aggressive actions in the world's modern history, and realizing that Japan's conduct in the past has caused pains to other countries, especially the Asian countries, … express our deep remorse." Nevertheless, the Resolution still failed to be adopted by the House of Councilors as required by the rules, owing to the inconclusive dispute among different parties. On 5 June 1996, 116 LDP Diet members headed by Seisuke Okuno set up the so-called Bright Alliance of Diet Members. The Alliance declared that, "we should never develop a self-abusing historical perception and diplomacy of servile apology, which maliciously depict our country as an aggressor." Sixty years after the WWII, such expressions as "colonial rule and aggressive actions" have been deleted in a resolution passed by the Diet.

In the recent years, the conflict of historical perception has become the primary factor plunging the Sino-Japanese political relationship to the lowest point since the normalization of bilateral relations. According to a poll conducted by the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in September and October 2004, 53.6% of those interviewed consider Japan "far from amicable" or "not amicable", 10.3% higher than that in 2002. 26% gave the reason that "Japan invaded China in the modern history", while 61.7% thought that "Japan has till this day failed to criticize itself for its past aggression." This shows that the impact from the textbook dispute and Yasukuni Shrine visits on the thinking of the Chinese people is greater than that of memories of Japanese aggression against China. According to a public opinion poll conducted by China Daily, Japan Genron NPO and Peking University in July 2005, most Chinese and Japanese interviewees regarded understanding of historical issues as the main obstacle in the way of the sound development of Sino-Japanese relations. Among all the interviewees, 93.3% of Chinese university students, 79.8% of Chinese urban residents, and 77.2% of Japanese held this view. These figures indicate that the understanding of historical issues remains the major contradiction in Sino-Japanese relations.

Some Japanese people often ask, "What on earth should Japan do to satisfy China?" In fact, China does not ask for much except that Japan stop doing things to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. President Hu Jintao of China has made it clear that, "The war of aggression launched by the Japanese militarists brought grave disaster to the Chinese people, as well as the Japanese people. To understand and treat the history correctly means that Japan should translate its remorse into action and stop doing things which will hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and the people in other Asian countries concerned." If the Japanese leaders continue to visit Yasukuni Shrine, it will not only hurt the feelings of the people of its neighbors, but also put into question Japan's international credibility in the self-examination of its past aggression.

II. The Issue of Tokyo Trial

One of the main causes of conflict on the historical issues between China and Japan is the issue of Tokyo Trial. Although the Japanese Government has publicly expressed its willingness to accept the verdict of Tokyo Trial, the Japanese right-wing politicians and officials are still trying to publicly reverse the historical verdict on Japan's aggression, evoking freedom of speech in a democratic society as an excuse for their statements. They allege that "the textbook and Yasukuni Shrine issues originate from Tokyo Trial". They try to deceive the general public by digging out the wrong arguments which were refuted by Nuremberg Military Tribunal and Far East Military Tribunal. They have gone so far as to publicly challenge the fairness, justice and legitimacy of Tokyo Trial, thereby denying the existence of Class A war criminals.

(1) The author wonders "How can Japan and Germany be compared?" He argues that Germany committed the crime of genocide, consequently it was punished and made apologies to the victimized countries, and that Japan is a different case. The "Answer" goes so far as to equate Japan's war of aggression with border conflicts between China and Vietnam, and accuse China of failing to apologize, in an attempt to stir up anti-China sentiments in the international community.

The War is 60 years behind us, yet some Japanese are still spreading this deceptive talk that "Japan and Germany are different", as if only genocide were a cause for apology while Japan did not need to apologize for its war atrocities at all. This is ridiculous. The fascist Germany and Japan were the hotbeds of war in Europe and Asia in WWII. In their quest for world hegemony, they wantonly invaded other countries and plunged nearly 40 countries into war. Four out of five people in the world suffered from the war. The Japanese Class A war criminals formed an alliance with the Nazist Germany, and launched the war of aggression and committed unpardonable crime of ruining the peace. The Japanese troops engaged in "Nanjing Massacre", implemented the Sanko Sakusen (Three-All Warfare: burn all, kill all and loot all), and employed chemical and bacteria weapons, causing enormous casualties of innocent Chinese citizens. They committed numerous anti-humanity crimes and war crimes. The Japanese militarism does not differ from the German fascism in its nature. Some of the means it employed excelled the German fascists in cruelty.

(2) The "Answer" alleges that, "as a political matter, it (Japan) has accepted those judgments, but it would be hard to find a legal scholar who believes that the tribunal was fair." "It was extremely problematical from a procedural standpoint, with inadequate examination of the evidence and cross-examination and no high court ruling." Therefore, the author implies that the Trial did not faithfully reflect the reality.

This issue not only touches upon the evaluation of Tokyo Trial, but also directly bears on that of Nuremberg Trial. If Tokyo Trial were to be negated on the above-mentioned reasons, Nuremberg Trial's verdicts on the German war criminals would also be overturned. After WWII, the Japanese war criminals underwent two kinds of trials: one is the trial in the victimized countries, such as the Special Military Tribunal of the Supreme Court of the People's Republic of China; and the other is the Far East Military Tribunal in Tokyo(Tokyo Trial). The latter was not a domestic court, but an international military tribunal representing the world people. Its verdicts did not need to be examined and approved by the high-court of any country. These trials have become the important basis of the post-war international order and international legal system. Therefore, their justice, legitimacy and authority are beyond any doubt.

The Potsdam Proclamation, signed on 26 July 1945, explicitly declared that "stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners". On 2 September 1945, the Japanese Emperor and his Government expressed in the Instrument of Surrender Japan's willingness to accept the Potsdam Proclamation which contains the above-mentioned provisions. These international legal procedures and conventions formed the legal ground on which the Far East Military Tribunal handled the case of war criminals. The legal principles and procedures of fair trial were stipulated in the Tribunal Charter. Nuremberg Trial, from November 1945 to October 1946, held 403 sessions with a final trial record of more than 17,000 pages. Tokyo Trial, which was longer and on a larger scale, held 818 sessions from May 1945 to November 1948 with a final trial record of 48,412 pages. In the court, more than 4,300 pieces of evidence were presented, 419 witnesses were summoned and 779 affidavits submitted. The verdict document runs 1213 pages.

On 19 August 1986, the Japanese Cabinet Secretary expressed in a Cabinet Committee debate under the House of Representatives that it was true that Japan accepted the verdict under Article 11 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in handling its relations with other countries. Although China opposed the treaty concluded by the US and Japan without China's participation, one may still draw the conclusion: the San Francisco Peace Treaty stipulates that Japan shall accept Tokyo Trial as well as its result. This in itself is not only a political issue, but also an issue of complying with the international law.

(3) The "Answer" puts forward the viewpoint that "the tribunal approached everything from the American perspective", and thus "no reliable historical research could have taken place in such a context".

From Tokyo Trial to the "Cold War" policy, the United States was attempting to carry out its political intention by taking advantage of its special status as the sole occupier of Japan. It adopted a less than thorough approach to the war criminal punishment and the eradication of the Japanese militarism. For example, in order to use the Japanese Mikado System to exercise indirect rule in Japan, the United States did not hold Emperor Hirohito responsible for the War. After the execution of Hideki Tojo in December 1948, the US announced the release of other Class A war criminals and concluded the Trial. This action served the need of the US Cold War policy, and annulled the effect of Tokyo trial. However, it should not be used as an excuse to negate Tokyo Trial, which was conducted in accordance with the common will of anti-fascist countries and the international law rather than at the US bidding. The aggressors inflicted immense disasters on humanity and thus became the public enemy of the world. Up till 1 May 1945, 47 countries had declared war on the Axis of Germany, Japan and Italy, covering 5 continents. Except the Axis and their vassal states, more than 70% of the sovereign states in the world at the time opposed the aggression. The Far East Military Tribunal, though consisting of the representatives from 11 countries, represented the common position of all the victimized nations.

III. Nanjing Massacre

Nanjing Massacre constitutes the bloodiest chapter in the history of Japanese aggression against China. It has been made into a bone of contention by Japan's right-wing forces which are trying hard to cover up and deny the country's crime of aggression. Even the Japanese Government is reluctant to acknowledge this historical fact. As can be seen, the Japanese leaders are not willing to visit Nanjing and the museum concerned, yielding to internal pressure in Japan. Since the end of WWII,no Japanese Prime Minister has ever visited Nanjing. One may imagine that if a Japanese Prime Minister visits Nanjing and only utters the words "deep remorse", without any expression of formal apology and refuses to go to mourn the dead, he would find it difficult to be pardoned by the victimized. Regrettably, however, Japan has so far failed to offer a formal apology to Nanjing. What is more, one sees only repeated remarks and statements denying the historical truth of Nanjing Massacre. This cannot but arouse stronger indignation of the victimized and lead to repeated verification of the facts. As a consequence, the public opinion poll conducted by China Daily, Japan Genron NPO and Peking University in July 2005 shows that 50.1% of the urban residents and 50.9% of university students would immediately think of Nanjing Massacre when Japan was mentioned. Regardless of the facts, the "Answer" is advertising the following points, in an attempt to deny Nanjing Massacre:

(1) The author claims that the number of Nanjing Massacre victims was challenged during Tokyo Trial. According to him, the city center of Nanjing had a population of about 200,000 to 250,000 before the Japanese army entered the city. The number rose after one month of war. So, the figure of 300,000 people slaughtered could not hold water.

Here we see the location of Nanjing Massacre changed into "the city center of Nanjing". The verdict document recorded that the total number of civilians and POWs slaughtered in Nanjing and its surrounding areas amounted to over 200,000 in the first 6 weeks after the Japanese occupation. This estimate was not exaggerated as could be seen in the testimony that 155,000 corpses were buried by the burial team and other organizations. According to the reports of these teams, most of the bodies were hand-bound at the back. And this figure did not include those burnt and discarded in the Yangtze River or disposed of in other manners. In 1937, the population of Nanjing City was over 1 million. About 550,000 people remained in the city when the Japanese troops were approaching; over half of the population took refuge in the suburban areas, and about 200,000 to 250,000 stayed in "international security zone". These figures constitute only part of the total population of Nanjing and its surrounding areas. After the fall of Nanjing, the massacre by the Japanese troops lasted several weeks and extended to the countryside 100 kilometers away from the city. The files kept by the military police of Japanese Kanto Army in the Archives of Jilin Province show that the population of Nanjing was one million before Japanese occupation and reduced to 340,000 afterwards. The fact that refugees returned to Nanjing after the Massacre absolutely cannot be taken as a proof that the Massacre had never occurred.

(2) The "Answer" claims that the testimony of a group of 12 people disposing of 2,600 corpses a day is not credible considering that there were no bulldozers at that time. The author maintains that the Nanjing Massacre was not planned so as to exonerate Matsui Iwane from his criminal responsibilities. As regards the testimonial statements of the third persons who exposed the atrocities of the Japanese troops, such as the Diaries of John Rabe, the author simply dismisses them as something "based on the hearsay".

Such assertion is aimed to deny the whole crime by questioning the details. In fact, up till April 1938, the Chong Shan Tang (Charity House) burial team alone had buried 112,267 corpses in and around Nanjing, among which 813 were children. Many witnesses testified that the Japanese troops chose low lying land like riversides and ponds for the Massacre. The Japanese troops even forced the Chinese POWs to dig trenches, shot them in rows and buried them in the trenches. Japanese journalists saw the Japanese recruits ordered to use the Chinese POWs as the targets for their bayonet training, and then throw the bodies into the air-raid trenches after stabbing them to death. Were bulldozers necessary to aid the burial? It is clear for all to see that this was a planned and organized collective massacre and corpse destruction. Even the report by a representative of the Nazi German government pointed out that these atrocities and crimes were not conducted by individuals, but by the whole Japanese army which was described as a "group of beasts". The evidence also proved that, as early as 5 December 1937, Asaka Yasuhiko, Commander of the Japanese army in Shanghai, gave a secret order to kill all the captives when he was informed that about 300,000 Chinese soldiers were besieged. The Japanese Government, condemned by the international opinion, had no choice but to recall Matsui in March 1938, only to confer on him a medal afterwards. Today, the more some Japanese try to deny the historical facts of Nanjing Massacre, the more it shows the seriousness of the Japanese troops' atrocities. A Chinese saying goes, "the more one tries to hide, and the more one is exposed". This could serve as advice for the liars to stop those meaningless and hopeless sophistries. No lie can cover up bloody facts.

Diaries of John Rabe contain invaluable facts of historical significance. Mr. John Rabe was the head of Nanjing group of Nazi Party of Germany, an ally of Japan. He was then the commercial representative of Siemens in China, and chairman of the international committee for the Nanjing security zone during the Japanese occupation. The Diaries are truthful and detailed records of Rabe's personal experience and what he saw with his own eyes during Nanjing Massacre, including telegrams and photos taken on the spot which he had sent at the time to both Chinese and Japanese sides. Today, if a person born after the War claims that the dairies of a witness on the spot were based on "hearsay", or attempts to overturn certain contents he dislikes by so-called "research", how can he be called a modest and serious scholar who respects historical truth?

(3) The "Answer" also assumes that "if defeat is unavoidable, a commander will surrender to avoid unnecessary loss of life among the soldiers and the citizenry". "If Tang Shengzhi surrenders, the lives of soldiers and civilians will be spared." "In the Battle of Okinawa …, vast numbers of civilians were killed because the Japanese army did not surrender when it should have. …The same must be said of Chiang Kai-shek and Nanjing."

This is to say that, if the Chinese generals did not surrender, the Japanese army would be free to slaughter the captives and civilians. It follows that to resist the aggression is wrong while slaughtering the captives is right. Based on such a fallacy, the Japanese army's "Three All" policy in the Chinese base areas in the resistance against the Japanese aggression and its wanton bombardment of Chongqing would be justified, and it would be the leaders of the United States, Britain, Australia and other countries who should assume the responsibility for the Japanese killing of allied POWs who had fought against the Japanese army. This is entirely the logic of militarist aggressors. On 7 December 1937, Matsui Ishine, the arch criminal of the "Nanjing Massacre", personally drafted the Outlines to Capture Nanjing, which included cleansing the city area after area when the army entered the city so as to "occupy Nanjing and force China to submission". Matsui Ishine himself spent a week in Nanjing beginning from 17 December. Upon hearing about the brutalities committed by the Japanese troops, instead of taking effective measures to stop them, he "expected 400 million Chinese to make self-introspection". The intention of the Japanese army was to intimidate the Chinese people through bloody massacre and force China to surrender by occupying its capital.

There has never been a single provision in the Law of Wars that POWs and civilians can be killed if the commander refuses to surrender. Japan approved in 1907 the 4th Hague Convention which prescribes humanitarian treatment of captives. But up till December 1941, Japan had not ratified the Geneva Convention of Captives it signed in 1929 which forbids abuse of captives, largely due to the opposition from the Japanese Army and Navy. At the time, Japanese soldiers were repeatedly indoctrinated with the notion that "to die for the Emperor is the greatest honour" and that to surrender is a shame. This doctrine led the Japanese soldiers to despise captives and conventions on war. Abuse and slaughtering of captives were commonplace among the Japanese troops who even pursued and killed the survivals of a merchant ship destroyed by a Japanese submarine. Under such circumstances, "Nanjing Massacre" was inevitable. The "Answer" takes the civilian casualties of Okinawa as an example to show that the Chinese Commander defending Nanjing was to blame because he refused to surrender, thus completely blurs the distinction between the aggressors and the aggressed. However, the responsibility for the casualties of the Japanese people in the war rested entirely with the Class A war criminals and the Emperor who refused to surrender. Moreover, part of the civilian casualties in Okinawa was caused by the Japanese army on the eve of their debacle. This was in itself a crime against humanity.

VI. The Issues of Textbooks and Yasukuni Shrine

The issues of the Japanese textbooks and Prime Minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine serve as the litmus test by which to judge whether Japan correctly understands and handles the historical issues. The two issues are directly related to the attitude of the Japanese Government, the modern history of international relations, the current relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors and the direction Japan is heading for.

(1) The "Answer" says: nowhere does the textbook by Fusosha Publishing deny that Japan committed aggression against other countries. Therefore, China and the ROK's charges that the textbook glorifies the Japanese aggression are completely off the mark. The author even says in an ironic tone that "as the protests by China and South Korea focus the spotlight on this book, interest is growing among the Japanese, and its share can almost certainly be expected to increase." This is nothing but shifting the blame onto others in an endeavor to promote right-wing textbooks.

In the 60 post-war years, the Japanese right-wing forces, under the umbrella of so-called democracy and freedom of speech, have been openly trying to reverse the verdict on the aggressive war and going all out to disseminate anti-China remarks. In 2000, the Textbook Compilation Committee made up of the Japanese right-wing scholars produced the New History Textbook for junior high schools, which was later published by Fusosha Publishing and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Culture, Education and Science in 2001. Despite all the serious representations by China and the ROK, the textbook was once again approved by the Ministry in April 2005 and put on market to be chosen by the middle schools in Japan. The right-wing textbook tries to preach the following fallacies:

--- Distorting the Pacific War by calling it "Greater East Asia War" and claiming that the aim of the war was "self-defense and self-survival, freeing Asia from the European and American control" and "building Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere". As is well known, the Pacific War started by Japan was the continuation of the war of aggression against China. "Self-defense and self-survival" were nothing but an excuse for Japan to expand its territory and start wars. The so-called "Greater East Asia War" was actually proposed in the Japanese Army's headquarters meeting in November 1941, including the war of aggression against China, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the invasion into Southeast Asia.

--- Alleging that "at the beginning of the war, Japan's defeat of the allied forces enhanced the courage of the Asian peoples under long European and American colonial rule". The Japanese army's advance to the south offered "an opportunity for Asian nations to gain independence". "Greater East Asia Declaration" emphasized "the self-determination and independence of all nations", "which reflected the Japanese notion of wars". This was a pre-war propaganda of the ideas of militarist aggression. Japan had long been exercising colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan. The invasion of the South was both an important step of Japan's ambition to conquer the whole Asia and a move to grab colonies from the European and American powers; it was not at all to liberate Asian nations. It was the victory of the war of resistance against the Japanese aggression that delivered the Asian people from the tyrannical rule of colonialism and brought them independence and liberation.

--- Attributing the cause of "September 18 Incident" to "the Chinese Japan-phobia movement", saying that "Manchuria was founded as the first modern country in the Chinese mainland. Manchuria's economy grew rapidly thanks to the precept of harmony among nationalities and happy citizens under a benevolent king." "The Japanese Kanto army assassinated the warlord Zhang Zuolin in a bomb attack in order to strengthen control of Manchuria. But it intensified China's anti-Japan movement and the Japanese trains were frequently blocked. Worse still, Japan was confronted with the Soviet threat in the north and the pressure of the advancing KMT forces from the south. Under such circumstances, Ishihara Kanji and some other officers of the Japanese Kanto Army drew up a plan to address these threats by occupying the whole Manchuria. " The textbook of April 2005 made another revision: "With the approaching unification of China by KMT, the anti-Japan movement had been intensified in China. The Japanese trains were frequently blocked and the Japanese pupils were persecuted. Worse still, Japan was confronted with the Soviet threat in the north and the pressure of the advancing KMT forces from the south." This is an unequivocal statement that Japan's invasion into Northeast China was not only justifiable but also commendable. If this is not the glorification of the aggression, what is it?

--- Placing the responsibility for "July 7 Incident" on China. "On the evening of 7 July 1937, someone fired at the Japanese soldiers in the middle of an exercise at Lugouqiao in Beijing outskirts. The next morning, the Japanese army entered into combat readiness against the KMT army. The Japanese side tried to solve the problem then and there, and at the same time, it dispatched a large-scale reinforcement and the KMT government also issued the war mobilization order. The war broke out and lasted 8 years." The April-2005 version of the textbook made the following revision: "On the evening of 7 July 1937, an incident occurred at Lugouqiao on Beijing outskirts when someone fired at the Japanese soldiers. The next day, the Chinese side continued firing and entered into combat readiness. The incident itself was nothing but an insignificant friction. Although an on-the-spot settlement was much hoped for, the continuing conflicts with the Japanese army made the settlement difficult." This clearly shows that the Fusosha textbook tries to distort the cause and place the blame on the Chinese side for the Lugouqiao Incident, thereby justifying Japan's war of aggression.

---Trying to exonerate the Japanese Army from the crime of "Nanjing Massacre". The textbook reads: "In August the same year, two Japanese soldiers were shot in Shanghai where foreign interests concentrated. The incident triggered an all-out war between Japan and China. The Japanese army thought if they captured Nanjing, the capital of the KMT government, Chiang Kai-shek would surrender. Then Nanjing was captured in December. (At that time, the Japanese army caused many casualties of civilians. That was called Nanjing Incident.)" Isn't it clear enough that the textbook aims to shirk Japan's responsibility for "Nanjing Massacre"?

---Distorting history on the question of the Korean Peninsula. The textbook says "if the Korean Peninsula fell under control of a big country hostile to Japan", Japan's defense would become difficult. So Japan's annexation of Korea "was necessary for its security and its interests in Manchuria." The annexation was carried out "according to the principles of international relations at the time and in a lawful manner." The revised version still retains the following content: "The Japanese Government deemed it necessary to have Korea merge with Japan to safeguard Japan's security and its interests in Manchuria. There were also calls in Korea in favor of the merging." This is a clumsy trick of distorting history by borrowing the old colonialist fallacies. It is bound to arouse strong opposition from the DPRK and the ROK.

The other seven history textbooks examined and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Culture, Education and Science have also watered down its history of invasion in various degrees. In 1997, there were seven publishing houses using such phrases as "invade China", "invade Korea" and "invade Asia" in the textbooks. However, in 2002, only one publishing house used "invade China" as a title while the other publishing houses adopted the phrase "going into and out of China" and "the war between Japan and China", thus totally ignoring the aggressive nature of the war launched by Japan. As for "Nanjing Massacre", seven textbooks in 1997 gave an account of the Massacre, whereas in 2002, only three publishing houses continued to use the word "massacre". The other publishing houses used "Nanjing Incident" without mentioning the word "massacre" in the textbooks. On Sanko Sakusen ("Three All" warfare) and bacteria weapons experiments on living bodies by 731 Unit, five textbooks published in 1997 contained the content about the atrocities of killing all, burning all and looting all. In 2002, only one contained such content. The crime of live-experiments by 731 Unit was completely deleted in the seven textbooks to be examined. Regarding the crime of colonial rule, four textbooks of 1997 recorded Japan's colonial rule of Korea and its Kominka Movement (to turn the Koreans into subjects of the Japanese Emperor). However, in 2002, major deletions were made in some textbooks, whereas in others, the content was completely deleted. All this cannot but arouse the concern of Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community as well.

The textbook issue is definitely not an isolated one. Rather, it is the continuation of the long struggle between the two standpoints on history in Japan, an important component of the activities by the Japanese right-wing forces aiming at glorifying the history of invasion and an indicator of the growing rightist tendency in the post-Cold War Japanese political life. The activities to glorify Japan's past aggression have been conducted by the right-wing forces in an organized way, with the right-wing elements in the political, academic and media circles coordinating with one another. They may stir up more troubles in the future.

(2) In order to defend Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine, the "Answer" stressed that, "each time Prime Minister Koizumi has visited Yasukuni Shrine, he has publicly stated that he believes the war was a mistake and explained that he is not visiting the shrine to worship the spirits of war criminals but to honor the unknown soldiers, people who had no choice but to go to war and die in battle." Then the "Answer" asked, "How could this visit be taken as the glorification of Japan's war of aggression?" "Many nations including China honor and worship those who died for their country, and the controversy of Yasukuni Shrine revolves around the Class A war criminals enshrined there." The Tokyo Trial, "reflecting a US-centered view of history put the Japan-US conflict and Tojo Hideki in center stage". What the author implies is that it is incomprehensible why China and ROK take the Trial so seriously.

Let me first dwell on the nature of Yasukuni Shrine. The Shrine, established in 1869, the second year of the Meiji Restoration, was originally named Tokyo Shokonsha (Tokyo Revival Shrine). It was changed into Yasukuni Shrine in 1879. Before and during a war, the Shrine was regarded as the spiritual source of Japanese militarism and the breeding ground for the belligerent militaristic spirit. From its inception, Yasukuni Shrine had been entitled to privileges of an imperial house. It was under the administration of the War Ministry. During the WWII, as a military institution, the Shrine was directly affiliated to the Japanese Army and Navy Ministries and funded from Japan's military budget. The officers and soldiers to be sent to an overseas battlefield would go the Shrine before departure to participate in a ceremony in which they would pledge "Sitisho Hokoku" and "Konki Yasukuni" (to dedicate their lives to the country and consecrate Yasukuni Shrine with their souls). The whole of Japan would thus be immersed in an atmosphere of fanatic militarism. About 2.453 million Japanese soldiers have lost their lives in battles at home and abroad since Meiji Restoration, among whom 95% died in WWII and most of them died during Japan's aggression against China. The nature of Yasukuni Shrine underwent certain changes after Japan's surrender. The post-war constitution provides for the separation of religion from politics. Yasukuni Shrine was then changed into a non-governmental religious site with no special status of an institution under the State administration. However, certain people in Japan were unhappy about this change and kept demanding that the Japanese Prime Minister Pay homage to the Shrine in the official capacity and the Shrine be funded from the national budget. In 1978, a list including the 14 Class A war criminals such as Tojo Hideki and Matsui Ishine was secretly moved to the Shrine as Showa Junnansha (Showa Martyrs). Thereafter, the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine became an outstanding issue between Japan and its neighbors and drew the attention of the international community. At the same time, some people in Japan, arguing that the Prime Minister's visit to the Shrine violates the provisions of separation of religion from politics in the Constitution, stand opposed to Koizumi's visit and even brought the case to the court.

The "Answer" states: "Some people in Japan believe that the prime minister should suspend his visits", "but there are few who believe that such visits are intended to exalt past aggression". Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone expressed his views in September 1986: "Regarding the question of worshiping Class A war criminals as they are called, if viewed from the standpoint of countries concerned, official visit by the Prime Minister to a place which enshrines people responsible for the war of aggression against those countries is tantamount to praising those people, thus irritating the national sentiment of peoples who suffered aggression. Ours is an Asian country, so we have to reflect on the War and draw lessons from it. This is a prerequisite for the survival of Japan." On 14 August the same year, Chief Cabinet Secretary Gotoda Masaharu indicated in his remarks that, "Considering that Japan, as a pacifist state, should shoulder greater responsibility for international peace and prosperity, we must attach importance to international relations and give due consideration to the national sentiments of the neighboring countries…. Following a serious and independent studies, the Japanese Government has decided to suspend the Prime Minister's official visit to Yasukuni Shrine on 15 August."

Yet, since taking office in 2001, Prime Minister Yunichiro Koizumi has made four visits to Yasukuni Shrine respectively on 13 August 2001, 21 April 2002, 14 January 2003 and 1 January 2004. He made a public statement: "My visit is not to remember any particular people, but to mourn the fallen soldiers on battlefield or on their way to the battlefield who were forced to fight and to express the determination never to go to war." Then in an internal statement, he insisted: "It is definitely not wrong for the Japanese people to pay homage to the war dead and express our heartfelt gratitude. We know China is unhappy about it, but I wonder whether it is a proper thing to do to suspend the visit simply because other countries consider our 'Irei' practice 'inappropriate'." "No war memorial can substitute Yasukuni Shrine." In today's information society, such double talk will only end up losing his credibility at home and abroad. Up till now, we are still puzzled by the following contradictions:

First, when some people proposed moving the memorial tablets for Class A war criminals out of Yasukuni Shrine, the Japanese right-wing forces and people of Yasukuni Shrine voiced their objection. One of the reasons they produced was that once the spirits are placed in the Shrine for worship, they become "Eirei" (the spirit of martyrs), inseparable from the others, just as a drop of water falls into the sea. Well, it was the "Eirei" that the Japanese Prime Minister paid homage to. What is it if this is not glorification of the aggressive war? And how could Prime Minister Koizumi separate those "particular people" from the "Eirei" which is inseparable?

Second, Prime Minister Koizumi paid "homage" and expressed "heartfelt gratitude" to the war dead enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine. It happens that the main part of the Shrine consists of those who perpetrated acts of aggression against Japan's Asian neighbors, including the Class A war criminals. In his capacity as the Japanese Prime Minister, on the one hand, he expressed remorse and apology to the victims, and on the other hand, he paid homage and expressed gratitude to the victimizers. Is this a normal way of thinking? We might as well recall that when Japan launched the war of aggression, it flaunted the banner of "liberating Asia" and "safeguarding peace in East Asia". Although Prime Minister Koizumi now indicated that he visited the Shrine "with the determination never to go to war", the visit itself has once again spiritually hurt the peoples of Japan's Asian neighbors. For deeds are always more eloquent than words.

Third, there has existed a myth in Japan which stresses the traditional Japanese religion, believing that a man becomes a Buddha upon his death and he will no longer be judged as good or evil. Therefore, a person may visit Yasukuni Shrine without thinking of the crimes committed by the Class A war criminals. This line of thinking is obviously influenced by the war-time propaganda of the Yasukuni Shrine about National Shinto and is extremely misleading. As a matter of fact, according to the traditional Japanese Shinto observed by Yasukuni Shrine in the past, there are two kinds of spirits, namely Nigimitama (peaceful spirit) and Aramitama (desolate spirit). The former brings peace while the latter causes disaster. The Japanese traditional notion of deities can be divided into Nigimikuma (good deity) and Aramikuma (evil deity). The former is related to Nigimitama and Sorei (ancestors' spirits) and brings security and the latter mingles with Aramitama, the ghosts of those who die in war, epidemics and natural disasters. The Mitama religion tells us that Irei originates from the consolation of Sorei and Tinkon focuses on subduing Aramitama. Through Tinkon(subduing Aramitama, the desolate spirit), people pray for the transformation of Aramitama into Nigimitama and Nigimikuma(peaceful spirit and good deity). Regrettably, many Japanese do not really know the above-mentioned notions. They cannot even correctly pronounce such words as Nigimitama, Aramitama, Nigimikuma and Aramikuma. Those who advocate paying visits to Yasukuni Shrine often trumpet about restoring Japan's traditional culture. Is it not an irony? Yasukuni Shrine only worships the Eirei of those who died for the country in wars. Besides, if the Japanese people really believed that it is their traditional culture that a man turns into a Buddha upon his death, then their sense of self-constraint in their lifetime would be put in doubt.

On the one hand, the author believes that the Tokyo Trial of Class A war criminals "reflects a US-centered view of history", revealing his position of denying the existence of Class A war criminals. On the other hand, he argues that it is not Class A war criminals that Prime Minister Koizumi paid homage to, so his visits should not be construed as glorifying history of aggression. The inherent logic is that visits to Class A war criminals is to gloss over the history of aggression. This in turn is tantamount to recognizing the existence of Class A war criminals. How can he expect to convince people by this kind of self-contradictory and confusing logic? The Japanese Prime Minister's insistence to visit Yasukuni Shrine and the appearance of right-wing textbooks have not only seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, but also undermined the confidence building between the leaders of the two countries. They have thus become the hurdle to the improvement of China-Japan relations.

V. Does China interfere in Japan's internal affairs on the historical issues?

Some Japanese media and politicians always refuse its Asian neighbors' criticism regarding the textbook and Yasukuni Shrine issues by accusing them of interfering in Japan's internal affairs. Their views have certain influence on the Japanese people.

According to a poll conducted by China Daily, Japan Genron NPO and Peking University in July 2005, 19.9% of Japanese believed that the Prime Minister should stop visiting the Shrine; 13.2% believed that the Prime Minister should not visit the Shrine and a new memorial site should be built, and 20.5% proposed that the memorial tablets of war criminals be moved out of the Shrine before the next visit. In other words, 53.6% of the people interviewed opposed the visits. In contrast, 32.1% believed that the issue belonged to Japan's internal affairs and that the Prime Minister should continue his visits if he so wished. The rate between those against and those for the visits stood at 5 to 3. Once more Japanese come to realize that this is not an internal affair of Japan, the number of those who support the visit would be greatly reduced.

In fact, judging from the perspective of international law, any governmental act glorifying Japan's history of aggression including the issues of textbooks and Yasukuni Shrine go beyond Japan's internal affairs. The countries concerned and the international community has the right to request the Japanese side to redress them. This is by no means interference in Japan's internal affairs. According to the United Nations Charter, internal affairs refer to "matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state". However, if the Japanese Government approves the textbooks aiming at glorifying its history of aggression and the Japanese leaders visit Yasukuni Shrine which worships Class A war criminals, these will constitute "matters of international concern" prescribed by international law. The Japanese Dictionary of International Laws calls it "matter of international relations" whose definition is as follows: "Although a certain matter falls under the domestic jurisdiction of a state, it becomes the prescribed object of international law according to the concluded treaty which is legally binding for the country. Obviously, it becomes an issue that the state cannot dispose of it on its own."

The Japanese Government handled both the textbook issue in 1982 and the issue of Yasukuni Shrine in 1986 in a way as "matters of international concern" would require. The disputes which have emerged since Koizumi took office are caused by the Japanese Government's reneging on its previous commitment. The rightist deviation in Japan's politics has undermined the mutual trust and friendship between Japan and its Asian neighbors.

Japanese scholars of international law believe that," once a certain matter is written into an international agreement, the matter ceases to be a domestic issue". Therefore, "the question of violation of non-interference obligations" does not arise. Article 98 of the Constitution of Japan stipulates that the treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed. The international laws and regulations that Japan must observe on the historical issues are as follows:

First, Article 6 of the Potsdam Proclamation by the United States, China and United Kingdom ---- A Statement of Terms for the Unconditional Surrender of Japan stipulates that there must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on a world conquest. Article 6 of the Instrument of Surrender signed by Japan in September the same year states: "We hereby undertake for the Mikado, the Japanese Government and their successors to carry out the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation in good faith and to issue whatever orders and take whatever actions as required." Japan has been a UN member for a long time. The Japanese Government remains duty bound to observe the basic principles of Potsdam Proclamation which constitute the bedrock of post-war international laws, and should absolutely not allow the right-wing textbooks and the militarist view of history to continue deceiving and misleading the Japanese people.

Second, the Japanese Government stated in the Sino-Japanese Joint Statement of 1972 that "the Japanese side is keenly aware of Japan's responsibility for causing enormous damage in the past to the Chinese people through war and deeply reproaches itself." The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the People's Republic of China and Japan in 1978 provides that the principles enunciated in the Joint Statement should be strictly observed. The Japanese Government also expressed deep remorse and heartfelt apology for the past colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula in the Joint Declaration on a New Japan-ROK Partnership towards the 21st Century. Its position on the issues of textbooks and Yasukuni Shrine should naturally conform to its above-mentioned statements.

Third, the Japanese government's acts which hurt the feelings of the peoples of the neighboring countries on historical issues cannot be regarded as faithful observance of the treaties between Japan and its neighbors and the established international laws and regulations, nor its deep remorse on the disasters Japan brought to its neighbors through its war of aggression. Evoking freedom of speech stipulated in Japan's Constitution to defend the opinions and views aimed at glorifying the history of aggression and to attack and vilify its neighbors is nothing but profaning and abusing the Japanese Constitution.

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