The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang (5 stars)
As a nation, Japan has deliberately refused to take any responsibility for her actions in World War Two or even admit that the war in the Pacific was precipitated by the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Germany at least admitted her guilt, took responsibility for starting the war, the Holocaust, and all other atrocities they committed. They taught the truth about the Nazis to their children. What they didn’t choose to do was to prosecute the war criminals around them after West Germany was established in 1955. In fact, many of those responsible for terrible crimes carried on in their positions in the government including the judiciary. It is revolting. But at least the Germans did something. They even did their best to track down Holocaust survivors and slave laborers and pay them a monthly stipend.
The Japanese have done none of this. There are many extreme right wing groups in Japan and they threaten to murder any politician who talks about apologizing to China or mentioning in their textbooks that it wasn’t the Americans who were the aggressors.
Ms. Chang became a spokesperson for the surviving victims of Nanking. On 1 December 1998, she confronted the Japanese Ambassador to the United States on the PBS News Hour for his country’s refusal to offer a true apology – most specifically – a written apology. In the realm of official contacts between nations, the Japanese refusal to supply a written apology is a diplomatic insult of the first order.
Said the Japanese Ambassador Kunihiko Saito on the News Hour:
“Really unfortunate things happened?” Really? That’s really all you will say about the matter, Mr. Ambassador? Has it occurred to you that Japan’s difficult relationship with China is linked to this very issue?
Iris Chang herself became a victim of the Rape of Nanking. Hounded by ultra-right wing Japanese nationalists, who constantly sent her death threats through the mail and even placed threatening notes on her car in the United States, she grew deeply depressed and took her life on 9 November 2004. She has been honored repeatedly in Nanking and a bronze statue of her was erected in the city after her suicide.
[Image courtesy of Wikipedia.]