The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chinese protest Japanese "memory lapse"

Apr 18, 2005

On April 9th and 10th tens of thousands of people demonstrated in various Chinese cities in front of official Japanese buildings like the embassies and consulates, and also in front of Japanese banks, supermarkets and restaurants. In some of these demonstrations, objects were thrown and windows smashed, for example, at the home of the Japanese ambassador in Beijing. Sometimes the demonstrations took on an anti-foreigner character.

Some Chinese demonstrators protested against a Japanese history book. The text minimized the atrocities committed by the Japanese army in 1937 and during World War II, when it invaded and occupied China and Korea. A minister of Foreign Affairs said the textbook "totally absolves the Japanese militarists of their crimes and their responsibilities."

The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 was barbaric on a grand scale. The city of Nanjing was sacked and burned by the Japanese army as it ferociously massacred 150,000 to 300,000 civilians. Women were raped, men tortured before being shot, and children were buried alive; well water in the region was poisoned. In Korea, the Japanese army organized a vast traffic of prostitutes, forcing 200,000 Korean women to be what they called "comfort women" in military brothels. In Manchuria, which Japan occupied in 1936, a special "Unit 731" carried out experiments in bacteriological war, operating on several thousand healthy people, mostly Chinese. The Japanese army arranged epidemics against the Chinese.

For many years these atrocities were little known, since the U.S. conquerors of Japan decreed an amnesty covering those responsible for the atrocities, beginning with the Japanese emperor Hirohito. The U.S. government decided to leave him in his position. During the Cold War, U.S. imperialism needed support in Asia against China. Taiwan, a tiny island off the Chinese coast, gave its support in exchange for which the U.S. government proclaimed that Taiwan was the real China, not Mao's China. The U.S. covered over the Japanese atrocities against China and Korea, protecting the majority of military leaders who carried them out. Although the general responsible for the massacres in Nanjing was condemned to death, the man in charge of Unit 731 got immunity, thanks to the U.S. government. Only in 1992 with the opening of the military archives did the Japanese government admit that the "comfort women" were prostitutes, since the reality could no longer be denied.

Almost 70 years after these deeds, the Japanese authorities continue their silence about the barbarism of its army. They call the army's actions "details" of history. In a similar way, the barbarities committed by the U.S. army in the Korean war of the 1950s are never mentioned in the U.S.

But meanwhile, the Japanese authorities have the nerve to demand apologies and compensation from the Chinese authorities for eggs thrown against its buildings and windows broken by demonstrators!