Comfort women’ issue resolved: Noda ’65 treaty cited on eve of first Seoul trip

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111018a1.html

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

‘Comfort women’ issue resolved: Noda
’65 treaty cited on eve of first Seoul trip; TPP, Hague on radar

By MASAMI ITO
Staff writer
The war compensation issues regarding South Korea’s “comfort women” have already been “legally resolved,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in an interview Monday on the eve of his trip to Seoul.

Primed: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks during an interview at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence on Monday. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTO
The issue of the wartime slaves forced to provide sex for Imperial Japanese soldiers has recently flared up again in South Korea, just before Noda’s Wednesday meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak. It will be the prime minister’s first official trip to Seoul.

“Japan’s position is that the issue of the comfort women was legally resolved in 1965, and that has not changed,” Noda said, referring to a bilateral treaty that normalized diplomatic ties between Japan and South Korea. Tokyo has maintained the treaty settled all war compensation issues involving individuals.

“We will not bring this issue up during the upcoming Japan-South Korea summit meeting — it has already been settled,” he said during an interview with The Japan Times and several other media outlets.

Before a human rights panel of the United Nations General Assembly last week, South Korea urged the U.N. and its member states to provide “remedies and reparation” to those who were sexually victimized during armed conflicts.

The sex slave issue between Tokyo and Seoul has often sparked emotional outbursts between the peoples of the two countries.

On other matters, Noda reiterated that it would be “difficult” to build a new nuclear plant in Japan but expressed eagerness to continue bilateral talks to export Japan’s atomic power technology to other countries, including Vietnam and Jordan.

Noda stressed, however, that he would not be engaging in new talks over the export of nuclear power technology before assessing the triple-meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant.

Noda also expressed interest in joining talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact, despite strong opposition within the Democratic Party of Japan, which he heads.

He acknowledged there are strong voices opposing the TPP and stressed there is no deadline on the discussions before a conclusion is reached.

Regarding the 1980 Hague Convention on international parental child abductions, Noda said his government is drafting bills to sign the treaty and aims to submit them to the next ordinary Diet session.

Noda also hinted that the government might cancel the construction of a housing complex for government employees in Asaka, Saitama Prefecture, amid criticism the project is a waste of taxpayer money, especially as the country struggles to recover from the calamity.

Ma Administration takes another step back to the 1950s

http://michaelturton.blogspot.com/2011/09/ma-administration-takes-another-step.html

Ma Administration takes another step back to the 1950s
Very scary news reported the other day in the Taipei Times. The National Security Council (NSC) has ordered that Taiwan students be taught that the Senkaku Islands, which are currently part of Japan, actually belong to China.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has caused a stir with its recent directive that elementary and junior high schools teach that the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) “have been a part of China since ancient times,” and consequently belong to the Republic of China (ROC).

Critics called it “brain-washing under the guise of education.”

Huang Chi-teng (黃子騰), head of the ministry’s Department of Elementary Education, said the directive was sent after an interministerial meeting convened by the National Security Council (NSC), in which it was decided that the ministry would give schools a paper for use as reference in teaching “the relations between the Diaoyutai Islands and Taiwan.”

The paper, which includes comments such as “Japan stole the Diaoyutai Islands,” places China and Taiwan on the same side opposing Japan, using the claim that “the Diaoyutai Islands have belonged to China in the past” to argue that sovereignty over the Diaoyutais belongs to the ROC.
The position that the Senkakus belong to “China” is an invention of both Chinese governments since the late 1960s (Ampontan has a long post discussing this, with many maps and references). Prior to that time, both governments regarded the islands as uncontroversial Japanese territory. The claim to the Senkakus is thus another item in the long wave of Chinese territorial expansion that Asia has witnessed since the 1930s, which follows the typical pattern of Chinese making claims to a given territory based on some interaction that the government has followed in the past.

On so many levels this is scary. For one thing it is bound to peeve Japan. It shows that the KMT continues to regard education as a process of ideological indoctrination. It also gives a glimpse of the Party-State mentality that continues to drive the KMT’s interactions with the rest of society. It shows how the KMT Administration regards itself as “Chinese.” And finally, as many of us noted at the time, it is a prophecy of conflicts to come.

Will Taiwanese voters notice? Perhaps the DPP can somehow make them pay attention….

This directive coincided with a forum between scholars from China and ROC scholars from Taiwan at which a MOFA official declared that the Senkakus (Diaoyutais to the Chinese) belonged to China.
Earlier at the forum, Wu Jinan (吳寄南), director and senior fellow of the Department of Japanese Studies at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, Shaw Han-yi (紹漢儀), a research fellow at the Research Center for the International Legal Studies at National Chengchi University, as well as other Chinese and Taiwanese academics, presented papers to rebut Japan’s claims to sovereignty over the islands.

Examining related legal claims and historical evidence under international law and traditional East Asian order, the academics concluded that the Diaoyutais belong to “China.”
Asked to comment on the conclusion, Shaw Yu-ming said he did not find it problematic saying the islands belong to China as opposed to the ROC.

“Like I said, the Diaoyutai Islands were incorporated into the Kavalan Prefecture administration office in 1837. At that time, the ROC had not been established. Furthermore, the ROC is also part of China. China is the generic term for the ROC and the People’s Republic of China [PRC]. This case shows why the ‘1992 consensus’ is necessary. For us, it’s the ROC, and for the mainland, it’s the PRC. Together, it’s China,” he said.

Shaw Yu-ming said he agreed to the suggestion made by several Chinese academics at the forum that “China shall publicly declare its position that the Diaoyutai Islands belong to Taiwan.”

“If we say that the Diaoyutais belong to ‘China,’ it would lead some people in Taiwan to wonder why they need to fight for sovereignty of the islands. But if China declares that the Diaoyutai Islands belong to Taiwan, which I think it would not oppose because Taiwan is part of its territory in China’s view, the problem would be solved,” Shaw Yu-ming said.
Frighteningly, this official envisions Taiwanese boys dying to make the Senkakus safe for Beijing’s expansion. Fortunately China will never declare that the Senkakus belong to Taiwan, but the mentality exhibited here is scary.

Note also the use of terms like “stolen territory.” Many Chinese believe that Okinawa is similarly “stolen territory”. The public rhetoric suggests a revanchist position that will make it difficult to avoid conflict between Japan and China. This rhetoric also shows how Taiwan, the Senkakus, and Okinawa are all basically linked in Chinese minds and thus, how expansion into any one area will lead to more expansion into the others. Brrr……

I took a short look at Shaw Han-yi’s long piece on the Senkakus here. It is simply a sophisticated bit of ultra-nationalistic historical exegesis that utterly fails to establish its case, but gives a good look at how such things are constructed.
________________________

Hard Work, True Grit Remembering the author of ‘The Rape of Nanking.’

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304066504576339701371568600.html

Hard Work, True Grit
Remembering the author of ‘The Rape of Nanking.’

By MARY KISSEL

Iris Chang, born March 28, 1968, was raised like many other children of her generation. Her parents relied on Dr. Spock for child-rearing advice, encouraged a love of reading, made sure that she spent time with her grandparents, and provided a loving home for her and her brother, Michael. One photograph shows the family on a trip to Yellowstone National Park, all grins, as a geyser blows behind them. Iris went on to marry and have a son. She became a writer and in 1997 published the book that made her famous, “The Rape of Nanking,” about the atrocities committed in that city by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Then, in 2004, at the age of 36, she committed suicide with a handgun.

Iris’s sudden death was the catalyst for “The Woman Who Could Not Forget,” a biographical memoir written by her mother, Ying-Ying Chang, who says she had to set the record straight and “present Iris” as “only we, her family, knew her.” But the book is less a tale of a renowned author’s vertiginous spiral into depression than it is a mother’s poignant tribute to a Chinese-American girl who achieved success through her own intelligence, hard work and grit, but also with the extraordinary support of those closest to her.

In her parents, Iris had excellent role models. Ying-Ying was born in China in 1940, and her childhood was “full of fears, worries, pains, and frights,” as her parents struggled to keep her and her brother safe while the country collapsed into civil war. Her family emigrated to Taiwan, and Ying-Ying eventually made her way to America and married a fellow Harvard Ph.D. student, Shau-Jin (a tale she doesn’t relate in the book). The two were doing postdoctoral work at Princeton University—Ying-Ying in biological chemistry, Shau-Jin in physics—when Iris was born.

A year after Iris’s birth, the family moved to the Midwest, where Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin began teaching at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. As her mother tells it, Iris was a “sensitive” child who was “shy” in public but “very talkative and often dominated the entire conversation” at home. On trips to the local library, she would check out “at least ten books at a time.” She took up piano and started winning writing competitions. “She had a tendency to obsess over the things she was interested in or working on,” Ying-Ying recalls. In high school, Iris took a liking to computers, volunteered at the local hospital and started her own magazine. She was accepted to several universities, including Cornell and the University of Chicago, but her parents advised her to go to the University of Illinois instead, because “to be home might be better for her.” She complied.

That decision is one of the few instances in the book where her parents seemed to have much sway over Iris, although the strong bond between mother and daughter is clear in the myriad of warm correspondences Ying-Ying cites in the book. “She always initiated things by herself,” Ying-Ying writes—a trait that the family supported and even reveled in. The Changs encouraged Iris to develop marketable skills and not to rely on anyone else to support her financially, although she married her college sweetheart in her early 20s. Ying-Ying reminded her: “As my mother used to say to me, the success in one’s life was dependent on 70% hard work and only 30% talent or genetic makeup.”

The Woman Who Could Not Forget
By Ying-Ying Chang
Pegasus, 426 pages, $29.95

And Iris worked. She interned at Newsweek and freelanced for the New York Times but had trouble getting a job in the run-up to college graduation. She took an internship with the Associated Press but soon left to take another one at the Chicago Tribune—and then the newspaper declined to hire her full-time. With her parents’ support, Iris returned briefly to the University of Illinois before winning an assistantship in John Hopkins’s writing program.
An adviser there encouraged her to get in touch with Susan Rabiner, a HarperCollins book editor, who would give Iris her first book topic, a biography of Tsien Hsue-sen, the father of China’s missile and space program. But the book advance was modest, and for a while Iris delivered pizzas to make ends meet.

“The Rape of Nanking” had its genesis in the tales her parents told her of her maternal grandparents, who barely escaped the Japanese onslaught in 1937. Iris attended a 1994 conference on this “most atrocious chapter in history,” Ying-Ying says, and realized that there wasn’t a good English-language book on the subject. Iris holed up at the National Archives in Washington, trawled through Yale’s library and traveled to China to interview survivors. She discovered an eyewitness’s diary—a German Nazi, John Rabe—that added significantly to the historical record of the slaughter. All the while, Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin helped her with translations and, once Iris began writing, “gave up our nights and weekends to read her manuscript.”

The book was a remarkable success for such a harrowing subject, and Iris soon got to work on another project, “The Chinese in America,” which was published in 2003. The young author was in demand for television interviews, bookstore appearances and speaking engagements. It was on one of her trips that Iris had a breakdown, in a Kentucky hotel, was hospitalized and diagnosed with, as Ying-Ying describes it, “‘brief reactive psychosis,’ due to stress conditions such as lack of sleep and food.”

Ying-Ying attributes her daughter’s slide into depression to side effects from antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs and poor medical advice. A few months after her breakdown, Iris Chang was dead. Her mother devotes only a few chapters to this period of illness and despair. Perhaps that’s best. “The Woman Who Could Not Forget” ultimately isn’t a sad story, but rather a celebration of Iris’s remarkable life.

Ms. Kissel is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

editor note

Book reading and signing event -

Thursday, 7/21, 8:00 pm

Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (Los Angeles)

46 N. Los Robles Ave.

Pasadena , CA 91101

(626) 449-2742

www.pacificasiamuseum.org

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.

Sincerely,
Erick Omar Guzman

Story of Chu-Yeh Chang – A Survivor of Nanking Massacre

http://www.nj-alpha.org/ref_info.html

Story of Chu-Yeh Chang – A Survivor of Nanking Massacre

(Talk presented at the Nanking Massacre 70th Anniversary Commemorative Event

at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey – 12/18/2007)

My name is Chu-Yeh Chang, and I was born in one of the old capitals of China, Nanking. I personally lived through the cruelty and persecution of the Japanese military during the Nanking Massacre and would like to share that with you today.

I am 84 years old. Seventy years ago on December 12th, 1937, when I was 14, 50,000 of the Japanese military invaded and occupied Nanking, thus beginning this terrible and unthinkable massacre. According to the trial that took place between August 1946 and February 1947 by the Far East International Tribunal Court, formed by the United Nations’ War Crimes Investigation Committee, the estimated number of Chinese murdered by Japanese military during the six-week-long Nanking massacre was between 340,000 and 400,000.

I belonged to a family of eight, with 4 younger siblings (2 brothers and 2 sisters), a great-grandmother of 80 years old, and my parents. My father worked as an accountant for the Jiang-Ning county government. Knowing that Japanese military was bombing the residential area in Nanking, we were very scared, so we locked our doors, left our house behind, and crossed the Yangtze River to the countryside to escape the Japanese occupation. Our relatives in the countryside, in the midst of moving inland themselves, could not accommodate us, so we ended up staying in this little town Wu-Yi along the Jin-Pu railroad line, hoping to catch the train to move westward, as the Chinese Nationalist troops had also moved westward. There were so many people escaping to the west that there weren’t any train tickets available for us to purchase, except for very expensive tickets which we couldn’t afford. Soon afterward, this escape route was also closed, as the Japanese military wasted no time to occupy the towns along the railroad.

There was also a Japanese military engineering troop, stationed in Wu-Yi, waiting for orders to repair roads and bridges, so that the Japanese troops could go inland to chase after the Chinese Nationalist troops. This Japanese troop drafted my father and me to help them move equipment and machinery. One day the officer of this troop happened to see me, and communicated with me by writing down the Chinese characters on paper. He asked how old I was and whether I went to school. I told him that I was 14 and in 8th grade. He was pleased with my answer and took out a picture from his wallet and told me, “This is my 14-year old son, and he is about your height also.” He then took me to eat and shared his food with me. He told my father that he would like to teach me some Japanese everyday using the English alphabet as phonetic symbols. He also taught me some Japanese song which I still remember how to sing. But I never knew the meanings of the lyrics until almost 60 years later in 1996 when I was invited to give a talk on the Nanking Massacre at Okinawa University in Okinawa. During that talk, I sang that song, and the Okinawans told me that song was about sending soldiers off to war and was an old folk song from Hokkaido part of Japan.

On the New Year Eve of 1937, this officer took me to the farmers’ village to catch chickens and dig out scallions for a feast; we also decorated the doors with rice straws, and drank wine to celebrate the New Year. Never did I know that this very night would turn out to be so devastating in my life! That night, five Japanese soldiers charged into our house, forced my father and me out, and then raped my mother, my 80 year old great-grandmother, and my 11-year-old sister. My father sent me to get urgent help from the officer. Unfortunately, by the time I woke up the officer and hurried him to my house, my great-grandmother had already died and was lying in a pool of blood from this violent abuse and unbearable suffering. When he scolded those soldiers, I couldn’t help lashing out loudly the Japanese curse word I knew of, “bagayalu”, at them as well. One of the soldiers got very mad and punched me to the ground. That hit on my head has caused permanent partial loss of hearing on my left ear. When the officer took away those soldiers, he told me that for our safety’s sake, my family should leave as soon as possible. My father and I wrapped my great-grandmother’s body in quilt and carried it to a small temple nearby. We found an empty coffin but no lid, and hurriedly put her body in and covered it with whatever things we could find on the ground. We also put my mother with her coverings in a one-wheel cart which we found. With me pulling the rope in front of the cart, my father pushing and balancing the cart handles in the back, together with all my siblings, we fled Wu-Yi in no time and went to a smaller village named Tang-Jing-Zi. We stayed there for about a month until after the Chinese New Year. When my father heard that the city of Nanking and its surroundings were getting more orderly relatively speaking, my father led us back to Wu-Yi. The Japanese military had left Wu-Yi already, and we went back to the small temple, but could not find great-grandmother’s body or coffin. Maybe she had been buried by others already.

Crossing the Yangtze River on a small boat back to Nanking, we saw many dead bodies bloated like balloons floating around us, and the smell of the corpses from the upstream Ba-Gua-Zhou Island made me feel like puking. These bodies were often the result of killing practices and competitions among the Japanese troops, and many of the bodies were without their heads as decapitation was one of the Japanese’s favorite execution methods.  The walls of the city moat were covered with blood drops and bullet holes.

Numerous residents continuously came back to the city and everyone looked very worried. According to the Japanese new rule, before entering the city, everyone must apply for this so called “good citizen ID”, issued only after investigation by the occupying Japanese authority. Even with this “good citizen ID” on hand, each resident when entering the city had to bow and present this ID to the Japanese soldiers guarding the city entrance. If the soldiers detected any tiny bit of disrespect from the resident, they would slap his face or drag him inside for torture. Furthermore, if the Japanese guards noticed any marks on the foreheads that might be the result of wearing a Chinese soldier’s hat, the Japanese guards would conclude that the person was a Chinese Nationalist soldier and would have pulled him aside for questioning or execution.

When we finally arrived home, we found that all the doors and windows were gone and the entire house was ransacked. We settled in the house after tidying up the place a little, but started worrying about how we could support our lives without any apparent means. My father asked me to go to this Hong-Zhi-Lang fermentation factory and bought many fermented tofu and preserved vegetables at wholesale price and went to the streets to sell to people, hoping to get some profit to help support our family’s daily needs. I went all over the city, but did not see many people out on the street. Instead, I often found dead bodies in the damaged or destroyed houses. I did see people with Tong-Shan-Tang (a funeral house) logo on their sleeves moving around searching for dead bodies.. Since by then my nose had developed this sharp sense of smell for dead human bodies, including the ability to distinguish dead human bodies from other animals’ dead bodies, I often helped them find dead bodies in some overlooked areas and notified the body-searching team where to dig. For each such body I discovered, they would pay me one Mao (1/10 of a Yuan), while they would get one Yuan from a local Chinese charitable organization. Within a period of three months, I helped locate about one thousand dead bodies.

Although there were grave dangers posed by the Japanese troops in Nanking, many heroic acts were performed by many people, including many foreigners (Germans, Americans, British, Danish, etc.) who were living in the international zones in Nanking (at that time, many foreign powers had jurisdictions over certain parts of Nanking). These westerners set up an International Safety Zone and helped save about 200,000 Chinese from being killed and about 20,000 women from being raped. After the war, many retired Japanese soldiers confessed and provided their criminal photos to the public. Also many Japanese lawyers and people volunteered to help the Chinese victims to file claims for reparation in Japanese courts.

In spite of the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers against my family, I am not seeking any revenge, and do not hold any animosity against the Japanese people. The fact that I have become a Christian has helped me to forgive the Japanese. I tell my three children and nine grandchildren that they must not hate, but they must never forget this part of history. I don’t want this kind of things to happen again to anyone else in the future.

Iris Chang’s mother’s new memoir honors renowned author of ‘The Rape of Nanking’

Iris Chang’s mother’s new memoir honors renowned author of ‘The Rape of Nanking’
By Bruce Newman
bnewman@mercurynews.com
Posted: 05/15/2011 07:26:03 PM PDT
Updated: 05/15/2011 11:05:53 PM PDT
Like almost every suicide, the death of Iris Chang left questions that reverberate in the lives of those who loved her long after the gunshot that took her life in 2004. Foremost among them, why would the revered author of an international best-seller — the treasured daughter of immigrant parents, and herself the mother of a 2-year-old she had struggled to conceive — end her life at 36?
Some tantalizing clues are revealed in a new memoir by her mother, Ying-Ying Chang, to be published this week. “The Woman Who Could Not Forget: Iris Chang Before and Beyond ‘The Rape of Nanking’ ” flatly asserts that Chang’s suicide not far from her San Jose home was caused by antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs she was taking.
But the book arouses a question of its own: Why would Chang’s 71-year-old mother — a biochemist with no previous writing experience — willingly reopen the wound left by her daughter’s death? For a year after Iris’ suicide, Ying-Ying and her husband, Shau-Jin, now 74, were unable to speak their daughter’s name without crying. Is “The Woman Who Could Not Forget” also a description of her?
“A person dies twice,” Ying-Ying Chang begins. She is thin but not brittle, her posture upright and her eyes shining as she sits at the dining table of her North San Jose townhome. It is where she was roused from a dreamless sleep just before midnight by Iris’ husband, Brett Douglas, and a police officer, who had come to tell her that her daughter — her beautiful little girl — would never be coming home.
“One death is mortal,” she says, “the other is memory. Iris’ body died already, but I don’t want the memory of her to die. Her life symbolized a lot of things, gave a lot of people courage. Even though she died, her noble spirit is still here.”
The evidence of Iris Chang’s life is all around. Her fierce, determined gaze peers out from pictures on the wall, joined by a poster for “The Rape of Nanking,” which recounted a “second holocaust” committed by Japanese soldiers in the former Chinese capital during World War II. The book confronted Japanese nationalists and war crime deniers with unassailable proof of the slaughter — 200,000 innocents murdered in the first six weeks of occupation.
Act of remembrance
“Letting go is not easy for any family,” Ying-Ying says. “I felt relieved after I wrote this book. I don’t want to keep on thinking about this. My relatives and my husband keep on saying forget about it, but I wanted to finish this first before I forget.”
The memoir’s introduction is by Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” who was impressed by the determination of Chang’s mother — for whom English remains very much a second language — to celebrate her daughter’s life.
“I don’t think of her as being unable to forget,” Rhodes says via email from his home near Half Moon Bay. “One sign of recovery from traumatic experience is when you can narrate it in the past tense, rather than continuing to experience it in the present. Not that she will ever forget her daughter, or think of her without pain, but that she has memorialized her life exactly as Iris would probably have hoped.”
Iris was 29 when “The Rape of Nanking” settled onto the New York Times best-seller list, making her a literary sensation while conferring a connection to her roots that she hungered for. Even in that moment of ecstatic ascendancy, she described the experience as “like being strapped to a roller coaster and not being able to get off.”
Hiding her depression
Her mother’s memoir details Iris’ frustration at her inability to get pregnant, and the decision she and her husband made to engage a surrogate to overcome a medical condition that caused her to repeatedly miscarry. She suffered from bouts of severe depression for months before her death, but covered her illness with a frenzied work schedule that, at one point, resulted in her being away from her newborn son, Christopher, for a month.
After a breakdown while she was on a trip researching a new book on the Bataan Death March, Iris grew increasingly suspicious of her mother’s expressions of concern. “It’s very complicated to have a mental patient who is smarter than you,” Ying-Ying says. “I knew something was going to happen. I couldn’t sleep. But I didn’t know she would carry it out so quickly.”
Iris took advantage of a loophole in California’s gun law that allowed her to purchase an “antique” gun without a waiting period. All alone on a service road near Los Gatos, she put a pearl-handled Ruger .45 replica revolver into her mouth and pulled the trigger.
Just as Iris came to believe children’s vaccines were responsible for her son’s mild case of autism, Ying-Ying believes psychiatric medicines increased her daughter’s mental instability. “I don’t blame her,” she says. “She was under the influence of the medicines and didn’t know what she was doing.”
Shau-Jin Chang says he has dreamed about his daughter only once, and that was during the week after her death. “And when I woke up from the dream,” he says softly, “I realized she had already gone.” As much as she would like to, Ying-Ying has never been able to conjure up Iris in her sleep. “She never appears in my dreams,” she says sadly. “I think it’s because I’m already thinking about her all the time.”
Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004.

note:

L.A. Book Tour July 21st

Ying-Ying Chang, the mother of the late Iris Chang, will be in LA to promote her new book “The Woman Who Could Not Forget”. Please stop by to meet her in person and support her new book.

Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (LA)
Thursday, July 21 at 8 PM

Tai-Ling Wong (contact person)
Authors on Asia Curator/Store Manager
Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 449-2742, ext. 1 20
www.pacificasiamuseum.org

Book Reviews at http://www.irischang.net/news/index.php

70 Years Later, Struggle for Nanking Massacre Justice Continues

70 Years Later, Struggle for Nanking Massacre Justice Continues
By Eamonn Fingleton
The late historian Iris Chang, and now her mother, take up a generations-old fight to remember the Japanese atrocities in China

Nir Elias / Reuters

Hints don’t come much less subtle than the one the late Iris Chang received in a small package in 1998. Inside the box, which has been mailed to her front door, were two bullets. Almost anyone else might, there and then, have opted for a less stressful life. Not Iris Chang.
The episode is recounted in The Woman Who Could Not Forget, a new biography by her mother, Ying-Ying Chang. The book provides new insights into the pressures that the world put on Iris, who as the author of the late 1990s best seller The Rape of Nanking came not only to fear for her own safety but for that of her loved ones. The threats never seemed to slow her down — at least not until near the end, when they may have contributed to the profound depression that led to her suicide at the age of 36 in 2004.

The British author Simon Winchester, in dedicating a book to her in 2005, wrote that her “nobility, passion, and courage should serve as a model for all.” He was not alone in his admiration. “I don’t know of anyone in the field who was more courageous,” said Ivan P. Hall, a Harvard-educated historian and a former cultural diplomat to Japan.

To understand her achievement, try a thought experiment. Imagine that, thanks to a stew of pecuniary and geopolitical factors, public discussion of Auschwitz had long been muffled and that officials not only in Germany but in the United States and even Israel had colluded in the cover-up. Then imagine a previously unknown 29-year-old almost single-handedly smashing the taboo.

The horrors of the Nanking massacre were in many ways not so different from those at Auschwitz — shocking not only in their huge scale but even more so in the gruesome eyeball-to-eyeball sadism. Over a period of several weeks in the winter of 1937 to 1938, at least 150,000 and perhaps as many as 300,000 Chinese men, women, and children died in an organized exercise in terror at the hands of a conquering Japanese army. Yet, until Chang came along, the carnage had been a great unmentionable among American scholars of the region.

As Iris Chang noted in taking on the project, the silence over Nanking was unusual compared to the massive attention given to other such modern mass atrocities. There have been hundreds of books about the Nazi Holocaust alone, countless others about Turkey’s Armenian massacre, the air bombing of Guernica, the London Blitz, the Dresden firestorm, and, of course, the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why was Nanking different? At its core, the issue was money. Almost from the moment World War II ended, the then impoverished Japanese government made one of its primary goals fending off the potential tidal wave of claims for compensation. There followed a highly orchestrated campaign to keep the more controversial aspects of Japan’s past from intruding on its future. So successful was that campaign that, as I wrote in a 1995 book, the total sum Japan paid to war victims of all nations had come to little more than $1 billion. Any subsequent additions are likely minimal. By contrast, Germany had already paid $72 billion to Jews, Poles, and other victims of the Holocaust by the mid 1990s, and continued to make further payments thereafter.

Nazi Germany’s policy of premeditated genocide had no counterpart in Japan, of course. But imperial Japan was notoriously brutal in its treatment not only of civilians in fallen cities like Nanking and Singapore, but of prisoners of war.

In a fair post-war world, millions of such victims and their heirs would have been entitled to compensation. But Japan pleaded poverty and, in 1951, in a spirit of Cold War solidarity, the United States led more than 40 nations in renouncing their citizens’ claims on Tokyo. The 1951 agreement did not rule out the possibility that Japan would make payments as its economy recovered. But Tokyo stuck rigidly to its not-a-penny policy, with the assiduous support of the U.S. State Department in fighting off claimants. The State Department even slapped down a number of lawsuits by U.S. servicemen who had suffered abominably in Japanese prisoner of war camps, in many cases serving as de facto slaves, doing the most dangerous and unhealthy jobs in Japanese factories and mines.

Japan’s symbolic support for U.S. foreign policy, most notably the Vietnam war, kept Washington on its side in Tokyo’s reparations diplomacy. Japanese diplomats proved adept at exploiting the State Department’s Cold War neuroses. Greatly exaggerating the influence of the left in Japanese politics, they constantly implied that, absent copious “mutual understanding” in Washington, Japan might switch sides and throw in its lot with the Soviet Union.

Japanese officials feared an inundation of millions of claims from China but, although Beijing never signed the 1951 agreement, they nonetheless successfully kept Chinese claimants at bay for decades. In the late 1970s, China’s new supreme leader Deng Xiaoping was persuaded to take a deal: in return for a promise of billions of dollars in Japanese economic aid and technology transfers over subsequent decades, he signed away Chinese citizens’ rights to remunerations. After that, top officials in Beijing proved almost as assiduous as their counterparts in Tokyo and Washington in sweeping victims’ claims under the rug.

Chang’s book posed a threat to this status quo not only because it broke the silence on one of the most embarrassing episodes in Japanese history but because it highlighted the not-a-penny compensation policy, which continues today. Japan experts regarded this as the ultimate no-go area in East Asia studies. Chang sensed that she had enemies almost everywhere.

Her fears had been aroused even before the book was published. On a research mission to China in the mid 1990s, she later wrote, she had lived in constant fear that her notes and audio tapes would be confiscated.

Her relations with Japan were particularly fraught. She believed that many of her threats came from right-wing extremists there. And as the book shot into the best seller list, she found herself debating, among others, the Japanese ambassador to the United States on national television.

Her biggest surprise came from her work’s reception in the United States. Although most mainstream American intellectuals and journalists welcomed her book, the reaction among scholarly specialists in East Asian history was often negative. Joshua Fogel, then of the University of California, pronounced some of her analysis “hare-brained.” Robert Entenmann of St. Olaf College dismissed her book as “cliched” and “simplistic.”

As recounted by her mother, Ying-Ying, a particularly wounding episode came in 2000, when when the publisher of a forthcoming biography of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito asked several commentators, including Iris, to provide a blurb for the back cover. She duly obliged. But when a well-known East Coast Japanologist learned that his comment would be featured alongside Chang’s, Ying-Ying writes, he threatened not only to withdraw his blurb but to pressure other writers into doing the same. Iris’s was deleted from the back cover.

Susan Rabiner, who edited The Rape of Nanking for Basic Books, believes that the sullen reaction among American scholars stemmed from old-fashioned territorial concerns. “Iris was still very young and they just regarded her as an interloper,” she told me.

The academics’ standard line was that The Rape of Nanking was “deeply flawed.” No doubt it contained some inaccuracies. And certainly, in its passionate advocacy, it diverged sharply from the usual dispassionate tone in the East Asian history field.

Some journalists also joined in the pile-on, most notably Ian Buruma, a frequent reviewer for the New York Review of Books and a key gatekeeper in the East Asian studies field. He pronounced the book “not serious history.”

But Chang’s book is serious history. By dint of dogged detective work, she had unearthed a compelling new source in the so-called Rabe Diaries, written by John Rabe, a German businessman who lived in Nanking in the 1930s. He had not only witnessed the massacre first-hand but, day in day out, had recorded it in devastating detail. He went on to play a leading role in the Nanking foreign community’s efforts to save hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens.

Why the long silence in Western academies? Few East Asia specialists doubt what happened in the winter of 1937 to 38. And a definitive, book-form accounting was overdue — as its market success attests, book buyers agreed. But the way that money flows in the East Asian studies field made such a book difficult to write. Nanking was, in a sense, a scholarly poisoned chalice. The East Asian field’s funding comes overwhelmingly from corporations and foundations based in Japan and elsewhere in the region. Any scholar who broke the Nanking taboo would risk their funding.

After Iris, several scholars subsequently wrote their own accounts of Nanking — though they generally avoided the compensation issue. Many of them took swipes at Chang’s earlier book. But few of these books would have been published, and our understanding of this terrible and important chapter in Asian history would be far poorer, had not Iris declared open season on the subject.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/70-years-later-struggle-for-nanking-massacre-justice-continues/239478/

Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

The Horror Of War In The ‘City Of Life And Death’

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/21/137296321/the-horror-of-war-in-the-city-of-life-and-death

June 21, 2011

Lu Chuan’s film City of Life and Death lives up to its title. In documentary-like black and white, the writer/director shows the systematic murder of thousands of Chinese soldiers; some are machine gunned, some marched into the sea, some burned, some buried alive. Then the invaders turn to the civilian population and the process of killing continues.

The movie takes a fictional approach to one of the most horrific events in human history, In late 1937, the Japanese army stormed the Chinese city of Nanking — then the country’s capital and now called Nanjing. More than 200,000 people, many of them civilians, were raped and killed in what’s known as “the Rape of Nanking.” Lu says that in his film, which has raised controversy in both Japan and China, he wanted to show that the Japanese had a program for killing:

“I really wanted to show that a massacre in the battlefield is just like industry. It’s just like a machine, you know? It use a very complicated program to control the whole machine to eliminate the enemies. So it’s [a] human being, you know, [that] can design a complicated program to kill people — it’s a very brutal nature.”

To understand the experience, Lu interviewed some of the Japanese soldiers who occupied Nanking.

“Basically, they don’t want to face their memory. But some of them tell me the truth,” he says. “But I should say, to my surprise, they didn’t show any regret. They just say something about, ‘Yes, I kill people. Yes, I rape some girls. But you know, everybody do that. So I have to do that.’ But they never say ‘Sorry.’ They never feel regret. So for me it’s a very bad experience, you know.”

Nevertheless, one of the central characters in City of Life and Death is a sympathetic Japanese soldier. And this has turned many Chinese against the film. Lu says that even though many people went to see the film in China, he got death threats.

“Lots of audience — Chinese audience — hate this movie because I choose the angle of Japanese soldier, you know,” Lu says. “So they hate this movie because the traditional history education gives most of the Chinese people a feeling that Japanese people are beasts, not human beings, not human beings just like us. So, in my movie, it’s the first time I show the humanity of Japanese soldier. So the Chinese audience cannot accept it.”

Though the film was made in 2009, controversy has stalled its release outside China. Now it’s finally making its way into theaters in the United States; it opened in New York in May and began playing in Los Angeles on June 17. The story of the atrocities depicted in the film has been told in recent years by the late historian Iris Chang, whose book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII was a best-seller. (Iris Chang’s mother, Ying-Ying Chang, recently published a memoir of her daughter’s life called The Woman Who Could Not Forget.)

One of the reasons Lu chose to show the innate decency of the Japanese soldier was to create a portrait of human behavior rather than an indictment of one nation or culture.

Richard Pena, director of the New York Film Festival, says that City of Life and Death really includes three points of view — that of Japanese soldiers, the Chinese in Nanking and the observations of Westerners in the city, chronicles of the invasion displayed on postcards sent home.

“If there’s one concept that I think really unites the aesthetic principle of the film it is that of ‘witnessing,’ ” Pena says. “And you know, for a long time under the People’s Republic [of China], it was practically forbidden to talk about [the massacre] because it was seen really in many ways as a symbol of Chinese weakness. The fact that so few Japanese had been able to terrorize, humiliate and murder so many Chinese was seen in an uncomfortable light. So this film offers, you know, in ways that some people support and some people don’t, a kind of varied position on it. And I think in the end the idea that films like this are made — and made in such a way that really not only, how could you say, excite emotions but incite thought, incite reflection, incite meditation — that’s what’s great. And that gives you hope. That gives you hope that we’re, you know, we’re better than that was.”

Surprises and ambiguities revealed within the film’s shifting points of view are central to the story Lu wants to tell. He’s made a violent war film because he hates violence and war, and he made a film in which one group of people brutalizes another to show that all people are capable of both horror and remorse.

“I think everybody is the Japanese soldier,” he says.

Besides interviewing Japanese soldiers who had been in Nanking, and Chinese survivors of the attack, Lu read journals and diaries and even made a trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., to see how the killing in Europe is remembered. He says that what he saw through the making of City of Life and Death did not comfort him:

“I felt I open many, many doors toward the darkness of the heart, you know? So every [time] I open the door, I go deeper and deeper to the soul, to the soul of humanity. So I feel, sometimes I was scared. I’m really scared.”

What’s most surprising about City of Life and Death is that after all of the horror and fear, some people find the strength to go on.

Book Tour: “The Woman Who Could Not Forget” by Ying-Ying Chang

Ying-Ying Chang, the mother of the late Iris Chang, will be in LA to promote her new book “The Woman Who Could Not Forget”. Please stop by to meet her in person and support her new book.

Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena (LA)
Thursday, July 21 at 8 PM

Tai-Ling Wong (contact person)
Authors on Asia Curator/Store Manager
Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 449-2742, ext. 1 20
www.pacificasiamuseum.org