Thursday, July 14, 2005

You Say Massacre, I Say Massage

Let's not quibble.

Those testy Chinese are up in arms again. This time they're protesting a new Japanese textbook being used in some schools which, they claim, is less than straightforward with regards to Japan's militaristic history, in particular its involvement with WWII-era atrocities.

To try to understand why Japans' neighbors were so upset, I decided to read a few passages from the controversial new textbook, and see if they weren't overreacting a bit. My initial, albeit limited, research shows the protesters are overly sensitive.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
When Nanking fell on December 19, 1937, men and boys were grouped together, bound by barbed wire and either beheaded with swords or shot en masse. Thousands of people, mostly adult men, were instructed to dig holes and then kneel next to them as a way of saving the soldiers the trouble of burying them after execution. They were shot in the head, pushed into the graves, and covered up. Some were simply beheaded Standing up, their bodies and severed heads dumped into the Yangtze River.

JAPANESE TEXTBOOK
On December 19, 1937, Nanking fell. A few bad apples acted independently and killed a handful of civilians. Aside from that, the locals were rounded up and given yard work to keep busy, and not even difficult yard work at that. Seriously. All the Chinese had to do was dig some ditches. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
Groups of 3 to 10 marauding soldiers would begin by traveling through the city and robbing whatever there was to steal. They would continue by raping the women and girls and killing anything and anyone that offered any resistance, attempted to run away from them or simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

JAPANESE TEXTBOOK
Japanese soldiers worked out at the gym a lot more than their enemies. As a result, the majority of them had fine physiques that Chinese women found irresistible. A lone Japanese soldier on the streets of Nanking would have to fend off the ladies. To protect one another, soldiers would go out in groups of 3-10 so as not to be taken advantage of by women. When sex did occur, it was usually because a soldier felt sorry for a woman.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
The Japanese not only disemboweled, decapitated, and dismembered victims but performed more excruciating varieties of torture. Throughout the city they nailed prisoners to wooden boards and ran over them with tanks, crucified them to trees and electrical posts, carved long strips of flesh from them, and used them for bayonet practice.

JAPANESE TEXTBOOK
To let off steam, Japanese soldiers stationed in Nanking enjoyed long walks along the river, calligraphy and writing poetry. In rare cases, they played loud music after 10 o'clock, which infuriated the Chinese who liked to be in bed by 9pm. Many a sleep-deprived Chinese person invented horrific tales of abuse to get back at the Japanese soldier.

So there you have it. Obviously I should do a little more research, but it seems pretty clear to me that the Chinese, in this case, are overreacting. Also, I can't imagine that a government would make false claims about what happens during a war.

37 comments:

Clinton Freeman said...

I just want to know who is the Japanese equivalent of Karl Rove.

ChozSun said...

You said "testy".

Seriously, we should begin to think: what is the reason for the US invasion of Iraq? More importantly, what will our children and grand-children learn about this war? Will they learn one thing but learn the truth when they get home?

DogsDontPurr said...

Everything is so "Wag the Dog" these days!

VagabondLoafer said...

Read the late Iris Shun-Ru Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking, 1997. The Japanese have been denying these atrocities since the war’s end. Each subsequent generation of Japanese children have been indoctrinated with these lies and denials. Contrast this legacy with that of subsequent generations of German children who know all too well the truth of German atrocities committed during WWII. They’ll have to live with that shame for many generations to come – I’ve seen it in them myself. Germans may probably never forget their roll in the war. For the rest of us, the warped Japanese vision/revision of their actions will just remain an open wound. And it does look infected to me.

Laura Swisher said...

Vagabond,
Before I even read your post I'd gone online to check out books on Nanking at the library and actually placed a hold on the very book you recommended. Interesting. And I also spotted a book on the "Alleged" Massacre there.

Butternut said...

You can always count on Laura's blog for a smile.

My best friend's mom was interred here in the U.S. during WWII in a Japanese camp. At least she didn't get beheaded. We're so civilized.

So Laura, how's the Daily Show countdown going? We're all pulling for ya! Is that really shot in New York?

Bridget said...

laura,
you up for the daily show?
oh my god!

by the way. I quit do comedy. harder than quitting smoking.

GL44 said...

I think that chozsun is right. We should just sit around and think about the reasons we invaded Iraq. Maybe we could debate some more on which side is right or wrong and handring over what people think and worry about offending more terrorists. Or perhaps we could put a burm on the Syrian border and then sorround the Sunni trianlge and give the civilians 48 hours to get their stuff together and then bomb the shit out of the Sunni triangle and bring our men and women home.

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