An open letter from a Los Angeles high school student to the Japanese Government

To whom it may concern:
My name is Erick Omar Guzman and I am currently a tenth grade student at the Camino Nuevo High School, in the United States of America. This academic school year I have learned about events that unfolded previous to U.S involvement in the pacific theatre of war in the 1930’s. More specifically I have learned about the Rape of Nanking on December 1937. That month Japan, under the leadership of Emperor Hirohito, committed atrocities comparable to those of the Nazis and the Holocaust. Japanese soldiers, under Hirohito, did not just kill Chinese civilians in their then capital city, Nanking, but rather slaughtered Japanese men, women and children. It has been decades since those vile acts were committed yet I am aware that your government does not acknowledge those events, much less feel in need of apologizing to China. However the nation of Japan should apologize for the severe misconduct of its men in the year 1937.

In order for the nation of Japan, your nation, to redeem itself in the eyes of the world it must at least take the first step in acknowledging that the Rape of Nanking took place. Every nation commits mistakes and from the information that I have acquired in my history class it has become apparent that your nation does not admit its mistakes. Your nation and your countrymen alter, manipulate, and censor history. Case and point; Japanese historian Tanaka Masaaki tempered with General Matsui’s diary, a historical primary document. Matusui was the commander in charge of Japanese forces occupying Nanking and in order to cover up the abhorrent acts his men committed, Masaaki altered Matsui’s diary. Such deception is unacceptable in a democracy. In the U.S we are allowed to question and criticize our government from Hiroshima to Vietnam to Libya. Should not the Japanese people have the same right to freedom of speech? It is incorrect that the Japanese government cover up an act as atrocious as the U.S use of the A-bomb on civilians and the German massacre of Jews.

The acts that were committed under Hirohito were so repugnant that they, in the very least, merit a humble, genuine NATIONAL apology. Your soldiers fueled by racial hate, at the time, committed acts so vile and, for lack of a better word, disgusting that I cannot help but emphasize their similarity to the Holocaust. According to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Japanese men raped approximately 20,000 women in a month and killed 200,000 human beings in a month and a half. I would like to point out that the numbers above are estimates meaning the numbers could well have been higher. That was the death toll of the Rape of Nanking, a death toll that has for too long been denied.

It is about time that the Japanese nation accept its mistakes. It is important that the Japanese people know that their nation has committed mistakes, so that they can strive to redeem and better their nation. Also given that Japan is now a democracy it is important that my Japanese counterparts be able to exercise their rights to speech and criticize their government. It is important that they have that ability to criticize and analyze history, just as I do in my high school. Most importantly the numbers I stated above represented living, breathing, sentient human beings, the very least you could do is apologize in their memory and honor out of respect. It is time the Japanese nation step up, take responsibility, have courage and apologize for its previous mistakes.

Erick Omar Guzman

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