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Shiro Takahashi

【#318(Special)】What Are Required to Block Beijing-backed Inscription on World Memory List?

Shiro Takahashi / 2015.07.30 (Thu)

July 27, 2015

     China last year filed an application with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for inscribing documents on the Nanjing Massacre and Chinese comfort women on the UNESCO Memory of the World list.
     The documents involving the Nanjing Massacre include (1) 16 photos claimed as depicting atrocities of Japanese military, (2) the Magee Film claimed as having been made by American missionary John Magee to record massacre victims, (3) Chinese woman Tsen Shui-Fang's diary quoted by "Chinese Comfort Women" (Oxford University Press) as claiming more than 20,000 women as having been raped, (4) affidavits of former Japanese soldiers claimed as having testified about the massacre, and (5) trial records on the late Imperial Army Sixth Division Commander Lt. Gen. Hisao Tani tried at the Chinese Kuomintang's Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal in 1946.
     Among the documents on the comfort women are 19 photos including that of the Yangjiazhai Entertainment Center, a wooden brothel built by Japanese army engineers in Shanghai.
     In its preliminary examination of these documents, UNESCO termed Nanjing Massacre documents as defective and requested additional documents. The UNESCO secretariat's registration subcommittee has completed deliberations on the Chinese application, leaving the International Advisory Committee of UNESCO's Memory of the World Program to make a conclusion. The committee will decide whether to inscribe the documents on the Memory of the World list in September.

Problematic Chinese documents
     Citing problems with these documents Happiness Realization Party, a Japanese fringe party, has submitted a rebuttal against Chinese claims to the UNESCO headquarters. But the Japanese government itself must make a clear rebuttal.
     Among the above-mentioned documents, some of the 16 photos depict soldiers in light-duty garment that is not suitable for the winter when Nanjing fell to the Imperial Japanese Army, as noted in "Verifying ‘Evidence Photos’ of Nanjing Incident" by Shudo Higashinakano and others. The Magee Film does not include any scene where Japanese troops were massacring Chinese.
     Tsen’s diary (of which the English version has been published by South Illinois University Press) is called the Chinese version of "the Diary of Anne Frank," depending only on hearsay. The depositions of former Japanese soldiers including Hiromichi Nagatomi represent nothing more than political propaganda resulting from the Chinese Communist Party's brainwashing of Japanese prisoners of war. Against Lt. Gen. Tani’s trial records, some 100 former Sixth Division members made rebuttals in a publication.
     China submitted the photo of the Yangjiazhai Entertainment Center as evidence for "sex slaves" and claimed its Central Archives as having the photo and its copyright. But this photo was taken by Japanese army physician Tetsuo Aso who was in charge of checking over comfort women. The bereaved family of the late army physician asserts that China used the photo in an unauthorized manner with false explanations.
     China refuses to fully publish the documents for the application, running counter to the UNESCO General Guidelines for the Memory of the World Program.

Japan should be united to rebut Chinese claims
     I submitted English documents for the rebuttal against the Chinese claims to senior officials at the Japanese delegation to UNESCO on July 9. Unless such partial rebuttal is accompanied by the Japanese government’s basic view on the “Nanjing Massacre,” however, we cannot be optimistic what final decision the UNESCO director-general would make on the Chinese application. Little time is left for Japan’s rebuttal as the International Advisory Committee of UNESCO's Memory of the World Program enters into recess in August. Japanese government and private sectors should be united to rebut Chinese claims.

Shiro Takahashi is Director, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Meisei University