Author determined to tell truth of war crimes erased from country’s memory
TOKYO — Tamaki Matsuoka could never forget about her first visit to Nanjing, China, in August 1988, where she saw evidences of the atrocities committed by the invading Japanese army to the city in 1937 and was deeply shocked.
She was then a history teacher for six-graders in Japan. She found history textbooks vague and ambiguous about the invasive war against China and decided to find out more about the truth.
“The textbooks only mentioned that Japan lost the war, but nothing about the invasion, they described the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but miss out the sufferings of the people victimized by Japan’s invasion,” she said.
“As a teacher, I taught the children about justice, but the textbooks in Japan seemed not just,” she said.
When seeing photos of the heads cut down and the women raped at an exhibition in Nanjing for the first time, Matsuoka said she could not help shedding tears of pain and shame.
“I made up my mind at that time that I have to tell my students in Japan what had really happened, and what pain and sorrow were associated with the historical truth,” she said.
Matsuoka spent the next 30 years interviewing hundreds of survivors and victimizers of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre,
Without knowing the terror of the war, they cannot understand the preciousness of the peace.” Tamaki Matsuoka, author on Japanese war crimes
and based on their testimonies, wrote books and produced documentaries to convey the historic truth.
The first testimony Matsuoka heard was from Li Xiuying who was born in 1919. She was stabbed 37 times by Japanese soldiers and lost her baby in the 1937 massacre.
To get testimonies from the victimizers was more difficult. It was not until eight years later that Matsuoka started interviewing Japanese war veterans, and Yoshiharu Matsumura was one of them.