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Special> Undeniable Japanese Atrocity Archives> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: March 10, 2014 NO. 11 MARCH 13, 2014
Respecting History
China's Nanjing City has revealed confidential files detailing Japan's war crimes
By Yu Yan

As application materials, the files consist of several parts, including descriptions of atrocities such as burying innocent people alive, eyewitness reports, records of the International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone, and details of military brothels. They have been kept and safeguarded by the local government for all these years.

For instance, after Nanjing was occupied by Japanese soldiers, charity organizations including the Nanjing Office of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and local charities such as Chong Shan Tang and Pu Yu Tang found bodies in the street every day. They collected and buried the bodies, as well as making records and reports of how many they did this for.

There are investigations by the municipal government's affiliated agencies and police stations on the citizens slaughtered by the Japanese soldiers, their houses burned and their possessions robbed. Also, there are citizens' appeals concerning their family members being killed or raped, and their possessions being robbed. The files also include investigation reports by the city's interim council on the massacre.

Sexual slavery

Of the files, there is a special archive that is particularly noteworthy. It contains evidence from 1938 collected by Nanjing Municipal Autonomous Administration, a pro-Japan puppet regime established by the Japanese army. Its title reads "letter to summon Mr. Qiao Hongnian of the Hougang Military Brothels to get payment for the performers."

"So far, this is the only part of the archives that was issued by the puppet regime about establishing a military brothel," said Jing Shenghong, a history professor at Nanjing Normal University.

Soon after Japanese troops occupied Nanjing on December 13, 1937, through the puppet regime, Japanese troops established military prostitution with the help of local traitors and gangsters. They "recruited," lured and forced Chinese women to work in the military brothels. Qiao, the man mentioned in the archive, was a notorious local gangster at the time, and "performers" referred to comfort women he had sourced, according to Jing.

Page 37 of the archive gives the reason for his payment, "On January 14-15, 1938, a performance was held for Japanese officers and soldiers. The fees should be paid by the command of the army service station."

"Of the 17 items in the archives on 'comfort women,' this one is the most special," said Jing. "Without approval from the Japanese troops and the puppet regime, Qiao would never dare to go and get the money. So this archive is solid evidence of Japanese troops setting up military brothels in Nanjing."

China is also cooperating with South Korea and trying to register the records on Japan's wartime sex slaves in China, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations in the program.

"Forcing women into sexual slavery was a grave crime against humanity by the Japanese military during World War II, causing sufferings in China, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries," said China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. "China is willing to work with other countries that were victims of Japanese aggression to maintain historical justice. Japan should work to gain the trust of its neighbors and the international community through concrete action."

Japan's application

However, Japan showed no intent of apologizing. On the contrary, it applied for inclusion of 333 items left behind by World War II kamikaze suicide pilots in the UN organization's Memory of the World program.

"Their application attempts to embellish the history of Japanese militarism and their invasions, and it challenges the post-war international order," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a press conference.

The application was made by the Chiran Peace Museum in Minamikyushu. The kamikaze were pilots recruited by Japan to attack Allied naval vessels in 1944 on suicide missions that took place during the closing stages of the Pacific campaign in World War II. Most of its members were Japanese youth that had been indoctrinated.

Reportedly, at least 300 Allied vessels were damaged as a result. The kamikaze also caused serious losses to the American Pacific fleet, especially at Okinawa.

Many media outlets, including UK-based newspaper The Guardian, revealed that some survivors of the kamikaze program had come forward and said that some of them were forced to fight in the war.

Japan's request is an insult to the UNESCO's Memory of the World Program, said Wang Shan, Deputy Director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"As is known to all, World War II was a war of aggression. The kamikaze were a crime against humanity … Japan is relying on this act to mislead its youth, making them oblivious of the facts and genuine values," he said.

He emphasized Japan's deed would never be accepted by the international community, and especially the victimized countries in East Asia, as well as anti-fascist forces that had participated in World War II.

Email us at: yuyan@bjreview.com

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