History and truth anathema to Abe’s Japan
July 7 marks the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which triggered the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) across the country. Three scholars share their views on several related issues with China Daily’s Cui Shoufeng. Excerpts follow: Tang Chongnan, a senior researcher at the Institute of World History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
A collection of more than 20,000 pages of confidential telegraphs and documents, in possession of the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II and published in Beijing in June, serves as irrefutable evidence of not just Japan’s wartime atrocities but also how between 1937 and 1941 it carefully choreographed the plan to invade and occupy China. In 1941, Japan also attacked Pearl Harbor, which ultimately forced the United States to join the Allied forces in World War II.
According to these “top military secrets”, most of which were microfilmed after Japan’s surrender and are being made public for the first time, Japan made astonishingly specific and detailed plans to invade North China and then the
A four-page document, for instance, tells the then Japanese army to be ready for a long war in China while using diplomatic maneuvering to widen the divides among Chinese warlords. It also revealed Japan’s attempts to have China all to itself by exploiting the loopholes in the international law. The schedules of then Kuomintang officials, including Chiang Kai-shek and Chang Hsueh-liang, too, were in the hands of the Japanese.
The once secret files showing how Japan launched a full invasion of China are a slap in the face of Japanese rightist politicians who argue the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7, 1937, was an “accident”. And these rightist forces have gained in strength because of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies. For example, a documentary denying the Marco Polo Bridge Incident has been presented almost daily in Yasukuni Shrine, which among others honors 14 class-A war criminals. But the Abe government’s selective amnesia about history will fool no one, because truth always speaks for itself.
The Tsai Ing-wen government’s ambiguous stance on the Japanese aggression is akin to amnesia about history, which An Fengshan, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office,
described as a “betrayal”. Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, he said at a press conference in May, should always remember and commemorate the painstaking struggle, which helped Taiwan residents get rid of Japanese occupation in 1945.
Tsai’s refusal to observe the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident reflects her belief that what happened to the Chinese people 80 years ago has nothing to do with the Democratic Progressive Party and its supporters.
Given Tsai’s public speeches over the past year, her and her party’s “pro-independence” mentality remains unchanged. She has also continued making efforts to sever the historic and cultural links between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, which explains why she and the DPP want compatriots on the island to forget major events concerning both sides of the Straits.
Known to have triggered the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression across the country, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident consolidated the resistance against Japanese aggres
sors and needs to be remembered by people on both sides of the Straits. And that Kuomintang chairman-elect Wu Den-yih still attaches great importance to the incident is indeed laudable.
Tsai’s so-called efforts to correct the “wrongs” of previous administrations are getting her nowhere near the justice she vowed to uphold. By labeling the Kuomintang rule as unjust and authoritarian, the DPP’s only desire is to marginalize its biggest rival.
On the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Japanese right-wing politicians’ reaction will be closely watched. Japanese politicians have refused to reflect on history, as in April Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering of a tree to Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism before and during World War II. And led by Abe’s aide Seii- chi Eto, a multiparty group of more than 90 lawmakers visited the shrine for its annual spring festival.
Japan’s new draft guideline for school curriculum, issued more than four months ago, even requires elementary and junior high schools to teach students that China’s Diaoyu Islands and some islands in dispute with the Republic of Korea are an “inherent” part of Japanese territory. Such controversial moves have invited staunch opposition and protests from Beijing and Seoul as well as righteous Japanese citizens.
Obsessed with paying homage to Japan’s war dead, including 14 class-A war criminals, those visiting Yasukuni often choose to forget what they died for and why they don’t deserve to be honored.
This year also marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, in which 300,000 Chinese were killed after Japanese army occupied the city in December 1937. Japanese rightist politicians deny the massacre on Abe’s support, but the massacre too, should always be remembered by the Chinese people. It’s high time therefore that the Abe administration stopped trying to whitewash Japan’s war crimes if it really wants to make Japan a “normal” country.