The China Desk
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Rape of Nanking
Once was Quite Enough
October 02, 1999
I would like to commend Mirko Stoll for his unflinchingly honest letter about how Germany has faced up to the Holocaust, confronting it boldly without turning away. By doing so Germans have earned the trust of their former victims.
This is in sharp contrast to the way Japan has dealt with the Rape of Nanking, bobbing and weaving for the past fifty years, evading responsibility.
The Japanese need to realize that until Japan comes clean, and I mean from the bottom of the heart, without playing disingenuous semantic games with weasel words like "regret" instead of "apologize," they will never fully be trusted by their neighbors, no matter how many quality high tech consumer products they might purchase from Japan, Inc.
Whether 300,000 Chinese died in Nanking at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army, or "only" 140,000 is hardly the point.
The reason should be no mystery. It is not about a pound of flesh. It is not about payback. It is about peace of mind.
As the American historian George Santayana once observed "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." Anyone who has ever been in psychotherapy, Alcholics Anonymous, or any twelve step program, knows that only after one has acknowledged what one is, can one change into something different.
Fritz Perl's "paradoxical law of change" applies to collectives as well as to individuals. This is why former victims of Germany feel safer than former victims of Japan. Japan's neighbors understand this in their guts, even though they may not always express it in these terms.
It is high time Japan understood it too. No nation in east and southeast Asia wants to be victimized a second time by a resurgent, fascist Japan which did not learn its lesson the first time around.
Once was quite enough, thank you.
Japan, stop dragging it out. Admit your responsibility once and for all, and get it over with. Then the rest of us can all relax, confident Japan won't be a repeat offender.
Taipei, Taiwan, ROC