Letter to Atimes.com
Re: A brighter future for China and Japan: Tang Liejun writes: "Japanese scholars still deliberately avoid discussion of Japan's wrongdoings in World War II in their textbooks."
The myth of a conspiracy preventing Japanese citizens from knowing about Japan’s wrongdoings in WWII needs to go the way of the 1980's North American myths that the Japanese were incapable of creativity and that Asian languages obstruct intelligent thought.
In The Nanjing Massacre History and Historiography (The University of California Press, 2000) page 74, I find: "In November 1946... the elementary schoolbook textbook Kuni no ayumi (ge) (The Course of the Nation, Volume 2, 1946), for instance, stated: "Our army devastated [arashi] the capital of China, Nanjing." The junior high school and high school textbook Nihon no rekishi (ge) (Japanese History, volume 2, 1946) read: "Atrocities [zangyaku koi] committed by our army at the time of the capture of Nanjing resulted in an all-out anti-Japanese struggle by the Chinese." On page 84, I find: "Although [Nihon shoseki, Kyoiku shuppan, and] two other [junior high school] publishers mentioned the massacre, the other four did not mention it at all. High school Japanese history textbooks... all described the massacre, but no numerical death toll was mentioned in them."
Best selling books have been written in Japanese by Japanese about Japanese WWII atrocities for at least thirty years by my count. This can only be surprising to people who get their information primarily from newspapers.
Tang Liejun also writes: "...when the war ended Chinese treated Japanese war prisoners very kindly, an unimaginable thing in a country filled with hatred for Japanese atrocities and brutality." Unimaginable? Page 22 of the above book clarifies things a little: "The trials of Chinese collaborators also drew attention away from trials of Japanese war criminals, because those Chinese who had served Japan were the real focus of Chinese anger. From September 1945 until June 1946, a lead story about Chinese collaborators appeared almost every day in the Chinese press, and only the most notorious Japanese war criminals could elicit equal interest. Chinese courts passed sentence on more than 10,000 Chinese for collaborating with the Japanese enemy by the end of 1947... these numbers overwhelmed those from Chinese trials against Japanese war criminals.... even trials by other countries took a more serious stand against Japanese aggression. For example, the British had a higher conviction rates, the United States tried more Japanese, and the harshest courts were those of the Dutch."
And many of the Japanese convicted of war crimes were actually Taiwanese (178) or Korean (148). Plus, formal public apologies for WWII aggression began to be given by Japanese prime ministers way back in 1991, as I recall.