The rape of nanking Essay

The rape of nanking

            Introduction

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            Deniers of genocide and other large scale human rights violations generally through the application of fallacious arguments, erroneous facts and historical distortions seek to demonstrate that certain events never occurred. The case of Nanking Massacre exemplifies the failed attempts of the Japanese conservative majority to deny Japan’s responsibility for crimes against the Chinese. However, while Japan seeks the means to form a “humanistic” image of the country in the international arena, it refutes and distorts the humanistic vision of history as such, as humanistic history inherently tries to explore truthful in-depth implications of human behaviors[1], which become particularly controversial at times of war.

            For years and centuries, countries and nations were seeking the means to justify their actions at times of the greatest wars. With the attempt to promote a “humanistic” image, and trying to reject the guilt for thousands of human deaths, Japan was persistently denying the intentional character of mass murders at Nanking in 1937. For years, humanity has been misled in regard to the roots and consequences, as well as the real causes of the events that were later called “The Rape of Nanking.”[2] These controversies exemplify a characteristic human striving to dig the most disgusting events into historic oblivion. However, truth remains unchanged, and through the failing attempt to mix reality with political propaganda, the Rape of Nanking has grown to the size of a terrible crime committed by Japanese soldiers, and so effectively erased from the minds and spirits of the world’s population.[3]

            In distinction from the Nazi whose anti-human crimes are widely recognized the Japanese Massacre looks more like a historical myth, surrounded by numerous controversies. The fact that international community does not know much about the events of 1937 has been wisely used by Japan to promote its falsely innocent role in the tragedy of Nanking. Although “for decades after 1945, Japanese high school and university textbooks, influential and widely read historical works, to say nothing of magazines and newspapers that circulate in the millions, informed their readerships of the Nanjing massacre in detail,”[4] the quality of those historical details was doubtful. In the light of numerous established facts, the Japanese conservative majority was trying to challenge historical accounts that invariably proved the dominant military role of Japan in the events of Nanking. Despite the growing pool of evidence for Japan’s guilt in Nanking, the Japanese were “arguing that this record has been falsified and distorted to discredit Japan and to extract concessions and reparations”.[5] However, objective historical research does not seek reparations or other types of financial compensations, but seeks relevant explanations to the events that happened in 1937 in Nanking. The paradox is in that by trying to reject its guilt for mass murders of the Chinese, Japan undermines its unstable humane image. Instead of recognizing the fact of having executed thousands of Chinese soldiers, and having raped thousands of women after the Chinese military collapse in Nanking, Japan consciously avoids any in-depth public reflection on the matter, trying to deny the objectivity of historic events and the role of history as the society’s mirror.

The Nanking controversy and its linkage to the political beliefs of the Japanese conservatives are always paralleled with the Nazi atrocities in Europe during the Second World War. However, Germany was able to recognize its tragic mistakes and has paid significant financial compensations to the majority of its survived victims,[6] while Japan still rejects an opportunity to review the Nanking Massacre with the fear of public condemnation. The problem is in that historic denial is not a good way to avoid condemnation and justice; on the contrary, Japan is gradually moved beyond the limits of historic reconciliation with the tragedies and events of the past. By denying its guilt, Japan does not protect its innocence, but indirectly promotes the legitimacy of mass murders as such. “The people claiming there was no Nanjing Massacre, […] are the people who would maintain that Japan’s war in China was legitimate, that it was not an invasion. Many Japanese do not know much about these events, and the people of this camp are trying to influence them”.[7]

            The controversy is in that Japan denies the facts, which have already confirmed its guilt of crimes in Nanking. The Japanese society is associated with the image unchangeably aggressive and negatively inflexible in its political convictions. Any attempt to provoke a new historical research on the subject of Nanking massacre inevitably generates insuperable public opposition on the side of the Japanese conservatives. The recent example of Iris Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking implies that Japan is unlikely to recognize its political failure to hide historical facts. Chang writes that “when it comes to expressing remorse for its own wartime actions before the bar of world opinion, Japan remains to this day a renegade nation”[8], and one cannot but agree to Chang in her striving to express the opinions of international majority in regard to Japanese position in terms of Nanking. Now, after seventy years of the futile fight for truth, the example of Japan has become the source of the major historical-political paradox, where political misinterpretation of historical facts leads to public denial of Japan as a nation. In the middle of historic controversy, Japan is vainly trying to cover up the events of the forgotten holocaust – the events that have forever distanced Japan from the single truly humanistic understanding of history.

            Conclusion

            Deniers of genocide and other war atrocities use fallacious arguments and erroneous facts to demonstrate that such events never occurred. The Rape of Nanking is the bright example of how nations manipulate the public in its historical unawareness. The paradox is in that trying to defend its politically innocent image in the international arena, Japan on the contrary denies its humanistic historical vision. By distorting the facts, Japan intentionally avoids public responsibility for the Nanking Massacre. This public denial forms a stable image of Japan as a renegade nation and the source of “outrage that there’s been a wrong that has not been righted”.[9]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barshay, A.E. “The Rape of Nanking: The Letter to the Editor.” The New York Times,

January 4, 1998. Available online. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405E2DF1F3EF937A35752C0A96E958260

Burress, C. “Wars of Memory: When Iris Chang Wrote ‘The Rape of Nanking’, to

Memorialize One of the Bloodiest Massacres of Civilians in Modern Times, She Wasn’t Prepared for the Firestorm she Started.” San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 1998. Available online. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/07/26/SC77214.DTL

Chang, I. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. Penguin Non-

Classics, 1998.

Kingston, J. Japan in Transformation, 1952-2000. Pearson Education, 2001.

Sabella, R., F. Li & D. Liu. Nanking 1937: Memory and Healing. M.E. Sharpe, 2002.  

 

Takemoto & Y. Ohara. The Alleged ‘Nanking Massacre’: Japan’s Rebuttal to China’s

Forged Claims. Meisei-Cha, 2000.

[1] R. Sabella, F. Li & D. Liu, Nanking 1937: Memory and Healing, (M.E. Sharpe, 2002), p. 249.

[2] I. Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, (Penguin Non-Classics, 1998), p. 55.

[3] Takemoto & Y. Ohara, The Alleged ‘Nanking Massacre’: Japan’s Rebuttal to China’s Forged Claims, (Meisei-Cha, 2000), p. 23.

[4] A.E. Barshay, “The Rape of Nanking: The Letter to the Editor”, The New York Times, January 4, 1998, Available online, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9405E2DF1F3EF937A35752C0A96E958260

[5] J. Kingston, Japan in Transformation, 1952-2000, (Pearson Education, 2001), p. 148.

[6] J. Kingston, Japan in Transformation, 1952-2000, (Pearson Education, 2001), p. 148.

[7] R. Sabella, F. Li & D. Liu, Nanking 1937: Memory and Healing, (M.E. Sharpe, 2002), p. 248.  

[8] I. Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, (Penguin Non-Classics, 1998), p. 15.

[9] C. Burress, “Wars of Memory: When Iris Chang Wrote ‘The Rape of Nanking’, to Memorialize One of the Bloodiest Massacres of Civilians in Modern Times, She Wasn’t Prepared for the Firestorm she Started”, San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 1998, available online, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/07/26/SC77214.DTL

 

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