During WWII, China fended off the Japanese invasion that first launched on September 18, 1937, at the Marco Polo Bridge. The country was actively involved in the war to stop Japanese from conquering much of East Asia and the Pacific. In the process, China lost approximately 16 million lives.
In December 1937, the Japanese army swept into the city of Nanking, which was the capital of the Kuomintang government at the time. After a short and intense battle, the city fell into the enemy’s hands. Within six to eight weeks, the Japanese army had massacred more than three hundred thousand civilians and raped at least eighty thousand women. As Iris Chang mentioned in her book, The Rape of Nanking, the death toll from the massacre was higher than both the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings combined. Most of Japanese, however, still regard the Nanking Massacre as a minor event. Moreover, they neither acknowledge Comfort Women nor Unit 731.
In this term paper, I will discuss the impacts of the atrocities that Japan has committed against its neighboring countries and its relationship with China and the Republic of Korea. The essay will primarily focus on the topic of Japanese history as well as the textbook’s description of the Nanking Massacre and Comfort Women. The debate about Japan’s wartime, treatment of Comfort Women, and the atrocities of the Rape of Nanking continues to influence the current political climate in the region. The people of China and Korea still feel that Japan has never fully apologized for its actions during World War II, particularly in comparison to its wartime ally, Germany. Furthermore, Chinese and Koreans believe that Japan is not remorseful. This is demonstrated by treatment of World War II in Japanese school textbooks and by government officials visiting Yasukuni Shring, which is the place Japan’s war dead are commemorated.
Consequently, Japan is still being significantly affected by this and even played a role in Tokyo to achieve its foreign policy goals and expand its international influence. Additionally, the situation influences Japan’s regional relations since Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea all share an interest in regional stability in addition to the fact that the economies of these three nations are inextricably connected to each other. This paper discusses the Japanese history textbook controversy over Comfort Women.
History education and textbooks have been used as tools for building national identity among people in many countries. This argument is particularly true concerning Japan. Several studies have documented postwar political struggles over the revision of Japanese secondary school social studies textbooks, which occurred at the fall of 1982. The world press picked up stories initially reported in Japanese newspapers that the Ministry of Education was revising unfavorable historical treatment of Japanese imperialism and wartime cruelties. For example, one text outlined that as a result of the official action, the Japanese “invasion” of China was revised to become the “the advance” into China. It was further reported that the “rape of Nanking was now described as an abnormal happening resulting from Chinese resistance and the deportation to Japan of hundreds as an “implementation of the national mobilization order of Koreans.”
In 2007, Shinzō Abe, who was the Japanese Prime Minister at the time, stirred up controversy by denying that Comfort Women were coerced by the Japanese military. He was supported by more than a few politicians, and therefore, his opinion may be viewed as a reflection of the nationalistic atmosphere of Japanese society. Furthermore, since the 1990s, research has been establishing that the Japanese government and military were entirely and systematically involved in the Comfort Women –a system that violated numerous international and domestic laws. The wave of anti-Japanese protests, which swiped across major cities in China back in 2015, demonstrate that historical interpretations of Japan’s war conducted during World War II are highly contentious.
Additionally, similar protests occurred in South Korea regarding Japan wartime and Comfort Women further suggest that Japan has whitewashed the darker aspect of its wartime. The action has aroused ill-will not only in China but also in other parts of Asia. Notably, when mentioning the Nanking Massacre, people think of is Holocaust and with the Nuremberg Trails and the Final solution. However, looking into the event afterward, the massacre was a forgotten event in much of Chinese and Japanese histories for nearly three decades, from 1940 to 1970.
Chinese and Japanese scholars, as well as politicians, have affected the way history was written, and it has impacted the relations between the two countries. The idea that Japan is a country where honest discussion of the past is impossible did not originate with the Chinese protest movement. Instead, the notion was deliberately created through the approval of Japan’s middle-school textbook, which downplayed the country’s wartime atrocities.