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The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War Ii

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The late Iris Chang hoped that her work “THE RAPE OF NANKING” would lead to an official Japanese apology for the atrocities Japanese troops committed in Nanking in 1937. Chang’s well-intentioned attempt to secure a Japanese apology for the Nanking atrocities is meaningless because many of the perpetrators and victims are now dead. Thus, a Japanese apology would be an empty gesture that has no meaning. "We will probably never know exactly what news Hirohito received about Nanking as the massacre was happening," she writes, " but the record suggests that he was exceptionally pleased by it" (p. 179).

How can one measure the meaning of another person's life? How can one measure the devastation that is a genocide, mass murder or rape of an entire city? Author Iris Chang calls for the apology from Japan in her book, "THE RAPE OF NANKING." Many may think that asking for an apology is futile, after all many of the victims and perpetrators are now dead. However I believe that Chang’s intention for securing an apology is not meaningless, for securing an apology would not only help Japan as well as not repeat its mistakes of the past, it would also allow freedom for the victims of families and the people in China and Japan, in which the acts were perpetrated.

In order not to repeat mistakes of the past, governments, including Japan must admit atrocities that have happened, and apologize accordingly. Chang was correct in trying to obtain an apology from Japan, even though the atrocities happened so long ago and most of the people involved are dead. The problem, which Chang asserts is not only that Japan has not apologized for these crimes, but that they also have systematically erased any evidence of it, from history textbooks to museum pictures. This eradication of the events that happened in Nanking is a denial of the past to an almost Orwellian degree. If the past is forgotten or erased, how can it be ensured that it will not be repeated? Although it may seem futile for the Japanese government to apologize for something that happened in 1937, it is not unreasonable. Admission of wrong doing is a first step in building a bridge from the past to the future. Iris Chang attributes this neglect to a politically-motivated conspiracy of silence and an alleged atmosphere of intimidation that prevents Japanese from facing their history. Research on this subject can be "life-threatening," she claims, and ". . . the Japanese as a nation are still trying to bury the victims of Nanking - not under the soil, as in 1937, but into historical oblivion" (p. 220).

Chang also makes note of how most industrialized countries have made reparations or apologies in some form or another, even though many of the victims or perpetrators may be dead or very elderly. This includes The United States of America apologizing for slavery and Germany paying reparations to victims of the holocaust. The present generation, she writes, "can continue to delude themselves that the war of Japanese aggression was a holy and just war that Japan happened to lose solely because of American economic power . . ." (p. 224). Although it may seem shallow to give money or simply apologize for genocide or slavery, because the wounds that those acts leave behind are so deep. In a capitalistic society money or reparations is equivalent to paying victims, their families and



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