His­tory and truth anath­ema to Abe’s Ja­pan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

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

whole coun­try.

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.

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