New books shed more light on atrocities
A major publishing project, comprising 70 books, sheds new light on the infamous Nanjing Massacre carried out by Japanese troops during WorldWar II.
The books were released last week by the National Library of China on the eve of National Memorial Day when victims of that terrible massacre are remembered.
More than 300,000 people were slaughtered by Japanese troops in that incident.
The books, which also cover other atrocities committed during the war, represent a series called The Numerical Case Files Relating to Particular Incidents and Suspected War Criminals, International Prosecution Section (19451947). They comprise firsthand inquiry records from the Tokyo Trials conducted at the end of the war.
The work was published jointly by the library and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The Tokyo Trials, formally known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, ran from April 1946 November 1948.
Twenty-eight Japanese military and political leaders were charged with Class A crimes, and more than 5,700 Japanese nationals were charged with Class B and C crimes.
The new books are complied using original files of the InternationalProsecution Section of the Tokyo Trials, which are now housed in the National Archives of the United States. Details of about 470 cases are recorded in the books, including the interrogation records of Japanese leadersHideki Tojo, Kenji Doihara and Kishi Nobusuke.
“They (these documents) have never been seen in China,” says Han Yongjin, curator of the NLC.
“I believe China’s studies on the Tokyo Trials and the history of the war between China and Japan will be accelerated (with the publication of the books).”
Han says the new series is a crucial complement to the series called The Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which was published in 2013, and was the first Chinese book
to series based on the files of the tribunal.
Speaking of the relevance of the books to counter rightwing propaganda about the trials, Cheng Zhaoqi, director of a research center on the Tokyo Trials at the university, says: “Since 2000, expressing doubts about the Tokyo Trials has become a popular theme in some circles in Japan.”
Before the center was established by the university and the NLC in 2011, systematic research on the trials was
original almost non-existent academia.
Explaining the relevance of the trials, Cheng says: “The trials laid the foundation for the postwar order in Asia. If they are denied, the world’s faith in the judgment about Japan’s war crimes will be shaken.”
Meanwhile, more historical files on Japanese war criminals have also become available on the NLC’s website. The database translated and complied information from firsthand Japanese and English files on the trials. It was opened to the public on Dec 10.
The content on the website has been updated since then, and is also simultaneously available through a smart phone app and micro blogs.
NLC has released more books on the Chinese War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), as 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
Zhang Jiwen, deputy director of Jiangsu Provincial Archive, participated in research for the books on the newly published ChineseMagazines on War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.
Chinese She says the series (67 books) includes material from 55 wartime magazines, and “offers new angles and fills gaps in the studies of the war”.
“The archive files are the most genuine records of wartime history,” she says.
Zhang says her institution’s cooperation with publishing houses was important as it (the archive) is not just a custodian of the files.
“Earlier, we used to emphasize on their political aspects (of the files) rather than the significance of circulating the material among the public. But, now, it is time to transfer our research to a wider group.
“With such solid proof, we have better tools rather than just regular books to counter Japanese right-wing propaganda.”
Zhang says the books give more insight to members of the public. For example, there were 10 regional trials in China of Japanese war crime suspects after the conflict ended. But, barring the one in Nanjing, the provincial capital of Jiangsu and China’s national capital at that time, details of the other trials remain mostly unknown to the public.
The project contains first-hand inquiry records from the Tokyo Trials.