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Friday, April 22, 2005

A Malaysian Chinese Remembers the Nanjing Massacre

(Disclaimer: This blog entry deals in a very sensitive and gory account of history. Reader discretion is advised. Anyone of acute racist sensitivities should be forewarned – Simon)

The China-Japanese relationship has hit the rocks again in the recent textbook revision fiasco. This time both sides are accusing each other of ‘un-neighbourliness’, with South Korea joining in for some mud-slinging. Meanwhile the street protests, flag burning, embassy-pelting, and product boycott continues in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and all over Japan.

I’m a Malaysian ethnic Chinese, born long after the war. My grandmother disliked Japan and Japanese products. She didn’t hate them, just disliked them, just like how some narrow-minded Malaysian Chinese dislike Indians (yeah, I know quite a few like that). But of course, she also didn’t like me, so she didn’t talk to me much (she already had 4 grandsons before me, so I was a little inconsequential).

My dad lived through the war and Japanese Occupation, but he never discussed it with us. All he said life was hard then, they had to live on sweet potato and sometimes hid in jungle. But my dad was an exemplary Christian, so I suppose he would not speak ill of anyone.

All my life I’ve been a little apprehensive about the Japanese. I only know about the war from what I read in the media, our history books, and personal accounts of survivors. But the recent political furor has spurred me to find some facts of my ancestral past.

I did not find much on the Malayan Occupation that I didn’t already know. But I did find out about the Nanjing Massacre from many sources (this is a good one). Summarized here are some of them:

During the Nanjing Massacre, the Japanese committed a litany of atrocities against innocent civilians, including mass execution, raping, looting, and burning. It is impossible to keep a detailed account of all of these crimes. However, from the scale and the nature of these crimes as documented by survivors and the diaries of the Japanese militarists, the chilling evidence of this historical tragedy is indisputable.

The Tragedy at Yangtze River - On 13/12/37, a large number of refugees tried to escape from the Japanese by trying to cross the Yangtze River, but were trapped by the Japanese Army and killed. A Japanese officer estimated that more than 50,000 people were killed.

Annihilation in the City - Japanese troops fired at more than 100,000 refugees or injured Chinese soldiers in the streets. Dead bodies covered the two major streets of the city. The streets became "streets of blood" as a result of the two-day annihilation.

Mass Execution of Captives – TheJapanese arrested anybody who was suspected to be a Chinese soldier. Many were arrested and sent outside of the city to be massacred, from several thousand to tens of thousand at a time. The captives were shot by machine guns, bayoneted, burnt alive or gassed.

Scattered Atrocities With Extreme Cruelty - Japanese soldiers invented and exercised inhumane and barbaric methods of killing including shooting, stabbing, cutting open the abdomen, excavating the heart, decapitation (beheading), drowning, burning, punching the body and the eyes with an awl, and even castration or punching through the vagina.

Raping - An estimated 20,000 women were raped by the Japanese soldiers during the six weeks of the Nanjing Massacre, most were brutally killed afterwards.

(Some of the descriptions for that last item were so brutal I won’t reproduce them here. Read the article for yourself for the details.)

Somehow I can imagine what happened to the Malayan Chinese were not so different than in Nanjing. It is no wonder it is often called the ‘Forgotten Holocaust’. Novella once sad ‘War is hate, anger is king'.

My conclusion? I don’t know what to say. But I am reminded of Romans 12:19:
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

I can understand why my grandmother dislikes them.

(For further reading, you may want to try Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking)

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  • I agree with you. Events of such magnitude can only be safely placed in the hands of the Almighty. Only He can mete out justice and grace perfectly.
    Humanly speaking it continues to blow my mind what cruelty human beings are capable of.
    However I am haunted by the feeling that given the right circumstances I too am capable of great evil. God help me.

    By Blogger jedibaba, at 4/22/2005 10:35:00 pm  

  • A whole nation forgetting the atrocities they commited and in denial. Lest we repeat ourselves from not remembering our past.

    By Blogger Kervin, at 4/22/2005 11:16:00 pm  

  • I know every single "event" you mention above, I read it when I was in secondary school, and never want to read it again.
    This was something hard to forgive and forget, especailly to those women who escape from dead during that time.

    By Blogger Twinsmom, at 4/23/2005 01:06:00 am  

  • To all - hopefully our children will never live to see it again...

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/23/2005 09:02:00 am  

  • Hi - yes I've seen some of the horrible pictures of women murdered after they'd been raped in Nanking.
    Also, being Sabahan I've got one or two issues with the past - during the japanese occupation the death toll over here was terrible and the infamous Death March killed thousands.
    I've always wondered why no one talks about it these days - it is very important to remember the atrocities of war and what hate can lead to.
    I'm not condemning the japanese - heck my grandfather was in a POW camp in Labuan for 2 years, so if I wanted to be a bigot I would have done so by now - but we simply cannot allow ourselves to forget history and what it can teach us.
    Think the reason for this rant is due to my watching Hotel Rwanda last night - have you guys seen it?

    By Blogger Shan, at 4/23/2005 10:45:00 am  

  • shan - hotel rwanda? heard of it...but haven't watch it yet. Izzit good?

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/23/2005 10:53:00 am  

  • Hi Simon - yup it's great. It's about the Hutu butchering of almost 1 million Tutsis in a country gone mad with ethnic hatred.
    And the fact that the western 'superpowers' i.e. america & europe did absolutely nothing to stop this mass genocide was shocking.
    I'd always wondered what happened over there, and the movie gives a clear perspective from a Hutu man who's married to a Tutsi woman - based on a true story.
    Try and watch it if you can.
    Have a great weekend & Cheers.

    By Blogger Shan, at 4/23/2005 01:56:00 pm  

  • Simon,

    Run through this entry and the feedbacks.


    By Blogger SK, at 4/23/2005 05:14:00 pm  

  • sk - yea, i read your earlier post. maybe we can get something going, and find other local blogs on this matter. A little effort can make a difference to preach the truth...

    shan - i'll see if i can find it over the weekend!

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/23/2005 06:52:00 pm  

  • When we look back on those times, I think we should count our lucky stars that we are living in peace now. I thank God for that. My mom and parents in-law have their share of horror stories. I too pray that our children and future generations will not have to face this at all.

    By Blogger 5xmom, at 4/24/2005 05:02:00 pm  

  • Forgive but not forget... yes, i agree tat japan is the guilty part for starting the war but from history we could all see all sorts of war and conquering being done, not only japan but france,german,pre-usa. tat's a fact... it's their fav pastime in those days. wat do china wants? revenge? an eye for an eye? getting the new generation of japanese bow in humiliation for the act of ww2 when their own historic culture is deem honorable in those days of old? wat? to apologize over n over for their grandparents actions?

    even now all over the world we can see dispute and tension which can certainly trigger an all out war. countries tat i c is mostly like north korea(+south), china(+taiwan), and i definitely won't left out USA as the main fire maker. the iraq problems itself haven't been resolve. ppls are still being killed(fragmented). indonesia themselves with all thier internal troubles with rebels can be seen arguing about territorial water boundary which they probably can't save guard, their "illegal" workers, their newspaper propaganda towards malaysia.

    diff places, diff cultures, diff belief, without understanding, tolerance....conflict is bound to happen, and most important of all is to have wisdom in countries leaders n decisions makers and not having a pea head which driven by greed, ego, and a big bully tat took out their big guns n tech superiority on those not on on the same sides as them.

    oops~ am i out of topic? :p ^^

    By Anonymous orel~, at 4/24/2005 05:56:00 pm  

  • 5xmom- well said.

    orel - our leaders must learn from the past mistakes or they are doomed to repeat them. thanks for your thots...

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/26/2005 09:32:00 am  

  • rape of nanking by iris chang is nice reading. the tension in japan is not so much, although sometimes i heard people talking about it. probably because i am in kyoto, not a big city.

    By Blogger Patrick Leong, at 4/26/2005 11:41:00 am  

  • not being disrespectful to the japanese, but they seriously have no idea what went on in other countries during the war. The only hardship they felt was 2 two bombs in Nagasaki & Hiroshima.

    The rest of us got murdered, tortured, etc...

    patrick leong - did you get a copy of iris' book over here or there?

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/26/2005 12:44:00 pm  

  • i bought the book in japan. actually my friend (malaysian in osaka) bought it for me as a present. she knew that i like to read about war books. have you read 'the pianist' ? i watched the movie twice plus read the book. i like it. i have also read The Oath and Ghost Soldier and others. i will read da vinci's code this weekend. we have a week break - the Golden Week, we called it in Japan.

    By Blogger Patrick Leong, at 4/26/2005 12:50:00 pm  

  • patrick leong - i read a lot, but not many. The few I've read are Guns of Navarone, Exodus, night of the fox, and a few other jack higgins & alistair maclean books.

    maybe you can recommend a few very good ones?

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/26/2005 06:31:00 pm  

  • not being disrespectful to the japanese, but they seriously have no idea what went on in other countries during the war. The only hardship they felt was 2 two bombs in Nagasaki & Hiroshima.

    Not quite. While they were not occupied before the war ended, there was still firebombs and starvations to contend with. 'Grave of the Fireflies' will put it into context.

    By Blogger NSDS3HvLDjJd, at 4/26/2005 08:14:00 pm  

  • I'll look out for that book, nsds3. Haven't seen you around here lately, nice to hear from you...

    By Blogger Simon, at 4/26/2005 09:53:00 pm  

  • Can access your site now, so I'll be here more often.

    By Blogger NSDS3HvLDjJd, at 4/26/2005 10:07:00 pm  

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