井の中の蛙

2/5/2007

Some Japan News

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:05 am

Japanese Culture Minister offended though whether it was by the quality of the sushi or by the fact that it shared the menu with Korean food is unclear. Japanese culinary supremicism is not a new theme (nor is the fact-fudging about “Japanese tastes” necessary to support it), but what is interesting is that in Europe, where regions can claim the exlusive right to certain culinary labels, Japanese complaints about authenticity are clearly being taken much more seriously than they will here. I don’t care what they say: poke macnut sushi is a step forward.

It wasn’t history, so it didn’t make the carnival, but Adam Richard’s roundup of Anglophone information on Japan is a fantastic collection ranging from think tanks to podcasts. My next contemporary Japan class is going to have to make use of this, I think.

In spite of new evidence regarding Japanese war crimes, a Japanese director is planning a Nanjing Massacre Denial production (is there anything more tiresome than the prospect of a widely announced documentary project produced by a hard-core partisan on a subject the results of which are known in advance and easily rebuttable?) in response to the widely acclaimed pro-fact documentary. Naturally, China is disturbed. This comes in the midst of remarkably ambitious attempts to reach common understanding, though with caveats. It’s important work, though.

11 Responses to “Some Japan News”

  1. James says:

    So those recently released documents decisively prove China’s body count claims for the Nanking Massacre? I’d appreciate a link to any information on that, as I’m interested in finding out.

  2. I don’t think anyone except the researchers cataloging the papers have any idea what they prove or don’t prove, but I find it highly unlikely that China’s “300,000+” figure will be “decisively” proven, since that number is based on deeply flawed readings of available data. If there are any relevant documents or accountings in the new sources, I suspect Chinese official counts of the massacre will increase rather than becoming more precise….

    Anyway, the key issue is that it would behoove any responsible documentarian or historian to withhold judgement a little while as these new materials are examined and integrated into the arguments.

  3. Matt says:

    On does pro-fact mean? Has not Iris Chang’s book been widely panned even by those that think
    there was a massacre at Nanking?

  4. Chang’s conclusions and language are flawed, yes, but, with a few exceptions, her sources are real. Some of them, in fact, hadn’t really seen the light of day before she brought them out. For more on my views on Chang, see here and here

  5. GreenPeas says:

    Her sources ARE flawed. They are all supplied by the Communist Party of China and made up only with questionable testimonies and forged photos. It’s sad that even history buffs on this site fell into this propaganda……

  6. K. M. Lawson says:

    It is true that she uses, as many works have, photos which are of different events/locations. She also has a large amount of inaccurate information and errors through her work. They are certainly not all supplied by the CCP. However, her use of the incredibly important Rabe diary (wasn’t she the first?) as well as other important sources are real – as Jonathan says.

    Her work is not propaganda – it is a badly written journalist’s attempt at history – but an important book because of the impact it had in reawakening and spreading outrage at the atrocities and making (again) the central symbol of China’s anti-Japanese sentiment, displacing the other horrors of the 2nd S-J war.

  7. K. M. Lawson says:

    Just for reference, I posted some limited translations on a book of former soldier testimonies a few years ago which might be of interest:

    http://muninn.net/blog/2004/03/102-former-soldiers-in-nanjing-1937.html

  8. David Askew‘s piece, which I cited in my earlier comments, remains a very strong contextualization of the whole thing.

    Konrad, if you limit “propoganda” to government-issued falsehoods, I supposed you’re right, but the original meaning of the word was really closer to what we mean by “spin.”

  9. GreenPeas says:

    K. M. Lawson (Konrad?),

    John Rabe’s diary is incredibly important alright, but have you ever read the diary(and its critisism) itself? I don’t mean to disrespect you, but wouldn’t it be more important to know how these “important sources” are used?

    I doubt my eyes when you wrote a reference to the Tamaki Matsuoka’s book to back up your opinion. When all of “102 former soldiers” uses alias/fictitious names, I would consider its credibility at the bottom low and I would immediately check the background ofmotivation of the author. If you writing a papar on any subjects, wouldn’t you think it’s important to know where these sources (photo, experts, and testimonies)came from so you can research yourself?

  10. K. M. Lawson says:

    I’m sorry, clearly this is a waste of my time, so this will be my last comment on the issue. Yes, I have read the Rabe diary, and I have also read Chang’s work. My interest in the historiography of the Nanjing atrocity has led me to do a lot of reading amongst the “great” massacre school, the moderates, and the deniers. Your responses are similar to many of the atrocity denying arguments there has been: No amount of evidence, no number of witnesses (for surely they are all part of the vast conspiracy?) – nothing will ever be good enough.

    There will always be inaccuracies found, the testimony of a soldier or two can be challenged completely, the dangers of relying on the oral histories of people so distant from the event must also be taken into account – and to not find discrepancies, mistakes and distortions would be more suspicious than not finding them, this is important and something historians need to take into account. I am especially ungrateful to Chang, whose problematic (but still important) book made things more difficult with her uses of questionable sources and her many errors.

    What you don’t get is a conspiracy theory. Most regimes, but perhaps most skillfully, Communist regimes have always tried to exaggerate the atrocities committed against their own people, while hiding their own horrible acts. The Nanjing atrocity is no different. Sometimes, they have created accusations of atrocities out of little or no evidence – adding lies to a list of inconclusive material. The Korean War is filled with those examples – but also of examples where real atrocities by UN and South Korean forces, worth recording remembering and avoiding in the future also became propaganda bonanzas for the Communists.

    The way we can show our professionalism and maturity as historians and as people who may have conflicting motives when we investigate such accusations is not to simply offer the reverse: blanket denials and conspiracy theories. There were horrible atrocities committed in Nanjing. Personally I think they unfortunately overshadows how the violence there was reproduced in towns and villages across China before and after Dec. 1937, and that numbers game is frustratingly distracting and of minimum importance. That doesn’t change the fact that when so much violence and madness happens before a greater number of witnesses, in a more concentrated period of time, and amongst such a large population – you will inevitably get an atrocity that can be more (though never perfectly) documented, remembered, and pointed to as a symbolic representation of how bad things can get when you have undisciplined troops who have been conditioned in such a way that civilian populations are given minimal respect rampaging, looting and slaughtering in a captured city.

  11. Matt says:

    “What you don’t get is a conspiracy theory. Most regimes, but perhaps most skillfully, Communist regimes have always tried to exaggerate the atrocities committed against their own people, while hiding their own horrible acts. The Nanjing atrocity is no different. Sometimes, they have created accusations of atrocities out of little or no evidence – adding lies to a list of inconclusive material. The Korean War is filled with those examples – but also of examples where real atrocities by UN and South Korean forces, worth recording remembering and avoiding in the future also became propaganda bonanzas for the Communists.

    The way we can show our professionalism and maturity as historians and as people who may have conflicting motives when we investigate such accusations is not to simply offer the reverse: blanket denials and conspiracy theories.”

    Well, that statement right there would make you a denier too, since the picture you are painting the deniers is a total strawman. Most of the deniers do not actually deny every single detail and say nothing happened. Many of them dispute the 300,000 figure and thus its status as an unprecedented, huge massacre. Your statement “…Communist regimes have always tried to exaggerate the atrocities committed against their own people, while hiding their own horrible acts. The Nanjing atrocity is no different” puts you solidly in the denier category.

    As for the numbers killed being unimportant, well I would say you are wrong. The reason Nanking is stressed is because of the huge numbers of people supposedly killed there. Everyone accepts (even Japanese nationalists) that the conduct of the Japanese army was quite bad at times, which is why the scale of what happened in Nanking is important to both the Chinese and the Japanese that care about the issue.

    Finally, as far as I can see GreenPeas just came here seeking knowledge and you rudely dismissed him. I still do not see a reasonable answer to his question, which makes me think you just do not like to be challenged and that you have no answer.

    Good day.

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