Whose Truth?

May 23rd, 2012

I am surprised that the article on Chinese writer Ha Jin and poet Wing Tek Lum ’68 unquestioningly stated that the infamous Nanjing massacre actually took place and that only extremist groups in Japan are trying to deny it (“Hard Writing,” Elms, January/February).

There are now many books published, mainly in Japan, which prove that the genocide claimed by the Chinese government never took place. I refer you to a series of YouTube videos (search for “Fake of Nanking Massacre”) for examples. Yale University has letters from missionaries who were in Nanjing at that time so that readers can check for themselves what they saw or heard. We now know that all the pictures in Iris Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking were fake or had nothing to do with what happened in Nanjing at that time. It was a war, and many Chinese and Japanese soldiers were killed, but there was not a massacre of Chinese civilians. Chinese soldiers were also known to flee from losing battles by stealing civilian clothes to hide their identity.

You can easily find real massacres of civilians elsewhere (for instance, the bombings of Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, which killed 400,000 civilians). We can see from this example how the description of wartime incidents can be affected by whether you won or lost the war.

Takahiro Hiroi

The writer is a senior research associate in the department of geological sciences.

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May/June 2012