China is rewriting textbooks so its “eight-year war of resistance” against Japan is now six years longer
On July 7, 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army exchanged fire with startled Chinese troops near a bridge outside Beijing, after a Japanese soldier was reported missing in the vicinity. The battle, known as the Marco Polo Bridge incident, is widely viewed as the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, which ended eight years later when Japan surrendered. China’s state-run education system traditionally marked the incident (also known as the Lugou Bridge incident) as the start of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, as the war is known in China. The term “eight-year war of resistance” was something that is drilled into the head of every student in China—until Beijing decided recently that the war was actually six years longer than they had originally taught. On Jan. 3, the Chinese education ministry issued a notice to its regional offices that every single mention of the “eight-year war of resistance” must be replaced by the “14-year war of resistance” in official textbooks used by school kids from six to 15 years old, starting from the new semester in February. The notice first circulated on the internet and was confirmed on Jan. 10 by Beijing News (link in Chinese). Officials with the ministry told the newspaper that the adoption of the phrase “14-year war of resistance” was first raised by the State Council, China’s cabinet, back in October. The ministry began to update official textbooks two months ago and has already completed the process, but it didn’t provide a reason why. So if the war was 14 years long, what was the beginning of it? On September 18, 1931, the Japanese troops staged a bombing of their own railway in Mukden, now known as the northeastern city of Shenyang. The explosion was so small that a train even managed to pass through the damaged section soon afterwards. But the incident was used as a pretext for Japan to occupy Manchuria, today’s northeastern Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces, where Japan established a puppet state called Manchukuo in 1932. The 1931 Mukden incident (aka the 9.18 incident) did mark the first step of the Japanese invasion of China, but there was essentially no resistance from either the ruling Nationalist Party (the Kuomintang) nor the rebellious Communist Party. As the two parties had been engaged in a bloody civil war since 1930, the Nationalist government followed a policy of non-resistance, and even signed a ceasefire with the Japanese army in 1933 by allowing them to control more territory. At the end of 1936, the Nationalists and the Communists finally agreed to a tactical alliance to fight against Japan. When Japan’s new high-school history books in 2015 toned down or ignored the country’s aggression during World War II, including the Nanjing Massacre, Chinese state media was quick to cry foul. But as the Wall Street Journal noted at the time, Beijing has also been whitewashing its own history in official textbooks. According to the Communist Party’s narrative, it is largely responsible for victory over Japan, downplaying the Nationalists’ heavy contribution. But one account by China historian Rana Mitter, for example, says that while the Nationalists had to take on a highly trained, well-equipped Japanese army in open battle, the Communists barely engaged the Japanese except in scattered guerrilla battles. Chinese scholars and state media have cited (link in Chinese) the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, a small guerrilla force that included many Communist Party members, as evidence that the party had begun to resist the Japanese in Manchuria as early as 1931. In fact, the party’s main military force was based in southeastern China during that period, and later retreated through western China to the northwest in an epic journey known as the Long March, facing no direct contact against the Japanese army en route.
China adds six years to Sino-Japanese war in history books All primary, middle and university materials will be republished to reflect a national revision of the War of Resistance – which now starts from 1931
The Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression has been extended by six years after the Ministry of Education ordered changes in all school and history books in China. The national revision of the history has been ordered for all primary and middle schools as well as university teaching materials across the country. The Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, which is referred to as the Second Sino-Japanese War in Western history textbooks, will now begin in 1931 instead of 1937. Beijing News reporters confirmed with Eduction Bureau authorities on Tuesday morning the authenticity of the document circulating online titled, To Fully Implement the Concept of the “Fourteen-year Fight” Against Japanese In the Textbooks of Primary and Secondary Educations. The document requires national, provincial and municipal level education departments to conduct a comprehensive investigation to remove the old phrase and use the new term in textbooks for the spring semester. Related content will also be changed under the order. The move is to realize the central government’s will, said an Education Ministry official. The State Council already ordered the ministry to start making the changes two months ago in October 2016. “The new textbooks nationwide are ready now,” said the official. The Lugou Bridge Incident in July 1937 – widely known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in the West – is often used as the moment when the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression began. On July 7, the Empire of Japan held military exercises near Beiping city (Beijing today) and demanded entry to Wanping county (on the other side of the Luguo Bridge) on the pretext of searching for a missing soldier. But when the Chinese authorities denied their request, Japanese troops attacked the bridge and bombarded the county. However, the Education Ministry has now changed the starting point of the War of Resistance to the Mukden Incident on September 18, 1931. The incident in Mukden (the Manchurian term for Shenyang today) is when the Imperial Japanese Army accused Chinese dissidents of detonating a small quantity of dynamite close to a railway line owned by Japan. The Japanese responded with a full invasion and occupation of northeastern China. Some comments on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, cited a well-known saying, “History is like a maiden waiting for a makeover.” Fan Jianchuan, the deputy secretary general of the Academy of Chinese Anti-Japanese War History in Beijing, supported the change because it respected the truth of historical events. Fan said on his Weibo post that an exhibition on the War of Resistance in the Jianchuan Museum Cluster in Chengdu, which had been on show for 14 years, had always referred to the 1931 Mukden Incident as the starting point of the conflict. According to Britannica.com, the Second Sino-Japanese War started on July 7, 1937, and ended in 1945 when Japan surrendered on August 15.
Tokyo Trial through the prism of our times
Editor's Note: The International Academic Forum on the Tokyo Trial and World Peace was held in Shanghai over the weekend to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Tokyo Trial by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in 1946. The forum, organized by the Center for the Tokyo Trial Studies, Shanghai Jiaotong University, came at a time when the Japanese government has attempted to repudiate its wartime deeds and question the success of the trial. What should people today learn from the significant trial? How can China-Japan relations, at a low ebb, be improved? The Global Times has collected opinions of several keynote speakers at the forum. Gao Wenbin, then secretary of Chinese prosecutors to the Tokyo Trial The Tokyo Trial was no ordinary one. It was a trial to bring civilization and justice back. History should never be forgotten and facts shouldn't be distorted. The trial helped the Japanese public to have a correct understanding of the Japanese army's invasion and atrocity they committed in China. I hope to witness a memorial hall to the Tokyo Trial to be built in Shanghai. Murayama Tomiichi, former Japanese prime minister I would never forget the year 1995 when I delivered the Murayama Statement as the prime minister of Japan. I felt deep remorse and profound mourning to all victims because of Japan's wrong policy. Japan must understand Sino-Japanese history and deal with the relationship on the basis of deep remorse. Some core members of the party in power now in Japan are still trying to misrepresent historical facts and hide the truth. I feel deeply regretful for this. There are two important things in relations between China and Japan. Japan must adhere to the agreements made with China. There will be no proper diplomatic relationship without trust. The year 2017 is not only the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, but also the 80th anniversary of the Lugou Bridge Incident, which marks Japan's full invasion of China. Thus we shouldn't only celebrate the diplomatic normalization. People suffered a lot during the period between these two historical events, which makes it very important for the governments to realize the necessity of building a relationship in which people on both sides will understand and respect each other and take corresponding action. I have been worried that the Abe administration will see China as its imaginary enemy and will try to subdue China, relying on the military force in Japan with its US ally, as well as the nuclear deterrence of the US. Instead of treating each other as enemies, the best way for Japan and China to guarantee their security is to establish long-term peace and friendship and to build a solid relationship in which both sides trust each other. It's important that there should be no suspicion between both sides and meetings at the ministerial and summit levels should be held more frequently. For both sides, young people are the future of the nation. Thus communication between Chinese and Japanese youth must be enhanced. There won't be peace or development in Asia without enhancing friendly China-Japan relations. That's the only way. China-Japan relations are not just a matter of "whether you like it or not," they are rational issues and a matter of importance. As two great powers in Asia, China and Japan should achieve reconciliation as soon as they can, instead of fighting, which is not difficult to achieve. As the saying goes, we are bound together for better or for worse. I would like to contribute my best to peace and prosperity in Asia and to the friendship between China and Japan, which is at the core of prosperity in Asia. Neil Boister, professor in Te Piringa Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, New Zealand Upon closer examination people see that in many ways, the Tokyo Trial's deterrent value was secondary to its retributive function. Although the trial was poorly designed, the Tokyo Trial retains the fundamental virtue of providing a legal basis for action against aggression. If I was advising a prosecutor on where to begin in the design of such a trial, I would suggest that the Tokyo Trial teaches us the following: limit your ambitions, pursue those individuals who are responsible for the main decisions which have led to the war, ignore those who appear to be implicated but possibly peripheral, don't try to reconstruct an all-embracing ideology or war to which all subscribe. A simple trial is likely to be much more effective at conveying a simple declarative message that the war was wrongful and the individuals responsible deserve punishment, a message that cannot be easily contradicted, and a message that can hopefully place one more brick in the wall against war. Barak Kushner, associate professor of faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge The use of new international legal instruments in domestic military tribunals to seek justice against Japanese war criminals across postwar East Asia aimed to establish a new trend in resolving frictions caused by the end of empire and to announce a political and psychological form of closure to the public, often under new administrations. China's moves to pursue Japanese war criminals, as well as charge Chinese collaborators or suspected traitors, offered a means to resolve the upturned former imperial hierarchies, dealing with grudges and finding legal solace to atone for committed atrocities. It was not until the early 21st century that China began to introduce to Chinese society the history of the Tokyo Trial which had been neglected in historical memory. Efforts of the Center for the Tokyo Trial Studies, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, should be appreciated. Fujita Takakage, director of Murayama Statement Association It's a stain on the Tokyo Trial that it didn't bring up the topic of the biological and chemical warfare that Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army carried out during its aggression in China. When I visited the bioweapon facility of Unit 731 in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, I discovered that numerous people who resisted Japanese troops in Northeast China were killed by bacteria cultivated there and many children were abducted for human tests. The war turned humans into devils. But the crime of Unit 731 was not tried and relevant materials were not preserved. Using bacteria on people for the sake of the national interest is inhuman. However, after WWII, many members of Unit 731 returned to Japan, worked in big hospitals, universities and pharmaceutical companies and got treated well. They all went unpunished. This part of history has to be dug into and shouldn't be allowed to recur. The Japanese government, whenever asked by the opposition, denied that Japan had used biological warfare since no ample evidence is available. This has profaned the historical facts. We need to correct it and be Japanese that are conscientious and responsible.
1 The Marco Polo Bridge or Lugou Bridge is a stone bridge located 15 km southwest of Beijing city center in the Fengtai District.
2 Lugou Bridge bridges the Yongding River, a major tributary of Hai River. Situated at the eastern end of the bridge is the Wanping Fortress, a historic 17th-century fortress, with the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression inside.
3 In recent years, the water of Yongding River has been diverted to different areas of Beijing so often there is no water under the Lugou Bridge.