Film on Rape of Nanking set to open in China
The Times of London explains why a new movie with Woody Harrelson and other top stars is going to inflame the Chinese against the Japanese. I have a couple of photos I will post at the bottom of this article. Everybody wants all countries to make nice, but the Japanese continue to deny many of the horrible things they did during World War II and also in the years leading up to World War II when they were trying to conquer all of Asia. Just ask the Koreans who had their language and names obliterated and suffered severely while under the heel of Japan since the early 1900s. The Japanese are still denying that period was bad for the Koreans!!!
Hollywood reopens the old wounds of Nanking
A new Woody Harrelson film is set to open old wounds with its telling of the 1937 massacre of Chinese refugees
IT could be a long hot summer between China and Japan after a new American film about the 1937 Nanking massacre of Chinese soldiers and civilians by Japanese troops opens in cinemas in China this week.
The decision to show the film in China – it will be one of only a few foreign movies allowed onto domestic screens this year – thrusts Hollywood into the bitterest historical row in Asia.
The Chinese move has perplexed and concerned diplomats in Beijing and Tokyo, who are trying to calm nationalist tensions between the neighbours.
“They are playing with fire,” said a diplomat. Passions over the wartime past set off antiJapanese riots in China two years ago.
The film stars Woody Harrelson and Mariel Hemingway in a mixture of actor readings and grim archive footage, telling the story of how a few westerners protected Chinese refugees, saving them from rape and murder by Japanese soldiers.
It won critical praise at the Sun-dance festival in America but its audience in China is more likely to be inflamed than entertained by its dramatic effect.
Everything about the massacre is disputed. It remains sensitive because members of Japan’s imperial family were implicated in the commission and cover-up of the mass rapes and executions, according to independent historians and war crimes trial testimony.
Japanese ultra-nationalists have vowed to produce their own film, which would probably portray the story as a counter-terrorist operation that may have entailed regrettable excesses.
Last month 100 Japanese parliamentarians incensed the Chinese by saying that government archives in Tokyo showed that “only” 20,000 people had been killed. “China is exaggerating the numbers for propaganda,” charged one. The Chinese foreign ministry said the statement showed “ignorance”. Its spokesman said 300,000 had died.
The exchange came not long after Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, emphasised the themes of reconciliation and joint economic progress during a visit to Japan. But politicians in both nations are ready to exploit patriotic indignation in the run-up to local elections in Japan later this month and a Communist party congress in the autumn.
China gave permission to the directors, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, to shoot some of the film on location, thereby giving official approval to the project.
The Nanking massacre is said by some to mark the true beginning of the second world war because it turned the Japanese invasion of China into a fight to the death and brought the West face to face with Japanese cruelty. It was the first great atrocity by an Axis power.
Japan had been fighting in China since 1931 and the assault on Nanking, the capital of the Republic of China, was planned by Emperor Hirohito’s imperial headquarters as a psychological knock-out blow to Chinese forces under Chiang Kai-shek.
The armies were commanded by Prince Asaka, an uncle of the emperor. They laid siege to the walled city, containing half a million civilians, on December 8. It fell five days later.
“There was no order to ‘rape’ Nanking,” says Herbert Bix, the latest historian to examine the issue of Hirohito’s responsibility. “Standing orders to take no prisoners did exist, however.”
Before the horrified eyes of 22 westerners who remained in the city, the Japanese army, says Bix, “went on an unprecedented and unplanned rampage of arson, pillage, murder and rape”.
The 16th Division under Lieu-tenant-General Nakajima Kes-ago slaughtered about 32,300 fleeing soldiers and prisoners of war on its first day. The 9th Division joined it in rounding up and executing 17,000 Chinese boys and men on December 17. Three months of bloodshed ensued.
The film tells how the foreigners tried to save victims. They established an internationalsafety zone, relying on nothing more than personal bravery and the prestige of the white man in the colonial era.
A Briton, PH Munroe-Faure, of Asiatic Petroleum, was among those who risked their lives to confront soldiers running amok.
They included a German businessman John Rabe, the so-called “good Nazi”, whose testimony is read by J�rgen Proch-now in the film. Harrelson reads the words of Bob Wilson, a US surgeon, and Hemingway plays Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary teacher.
The postwar Tokyo war crimes tribunal accepted a figure of 200,000 civilians and prisoners of war murdered at Nanking.
The allies hanged General Matsui Iwane, the overall commander in the theatre. Later evidence showed Matsui had ordered his staff to restore discipline and tried to stop the slaughter. His conviction was regarded by some as a miscarriage of justice.
In contrast, Prince Asaka, the senior officer in Nanking, was never tried and denied the massacre. After the war he became a celebrity Japanese golfer.
Such a history of denial continues to inflame a new generation of young Chinese and puts Japanese public opinion on the defensive. The wounds remain raw, as the high court in Sapporo, Japan, demonstrated last Thursday.
It ruled against 42 Chinese seeking compensation for being forced to work in mines and on building sites on the island of Hokkaido during the war. The court cited the 1972 Japan-China accord in which China declared it “renounces its demand for war reparations from Japan”.
As they stream out of cinemas from Nanking, the Chinese audience are not likely to be thinking of such diplomatic niceties.