Haruki Murakami calls for fight against history revisionism

Published in February 2017, Haruki Murakami's latest book references the Holocaust and the Nanjing massacre.
Published in February 2017, Haruki Murakami's latest book references the Holocaust and the Nanjing massacre.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Haruki Murakami, the Japanese author perennially pegged as a contender for the Nobel literature prize, has called for a fight against historical revisionism in a rare interview with Japanese media published on Sunday (April 2).

His comments came after a successful Japanese hotel chain operator triggered an angry backlash from China earlier this year for his book claiming the 1937 Nanjing massacre committed by Japanese troops a "fabrication".

Critics say that revisionists have grown bolder under nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who says Japan must shake off past constraints, including altering its war-renouncing constitution imposed by American occupiers after World War II.

Toshio Motoya not only penned a book calling the Nanjing massacre a lie but proudly displays it in guest rooms of his nationwide chain of APA hotels.

China says 300,000 people died in a six-week spree of killing, rape and destruction by the Japanese military that began in December 1937.

Some respected academics estimate a lower number of victims, but mainstream scholarship does not question that the incident, known as the "Rape of Nanking," took place.

Published in February, Murakami's latest book "Killing Commendatore" references the Holocaust and the Nanjing massacre.

Asked about why he addressed the issues, he told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper: "Because history is the collective memory of a nation, I think it is a grave mistake to forget about the past or to replace memory with something else."

"We must fight" against historical revisionism, he added.

"Novelists are limited in what we can do, but it is possible for us to fight such forces in the form of storytelling."

Murakami has often criticised his country for shirking responsibility for its World War II aggression.

In 2015, he said Japan must repeatedly say sorry to China, Korea and the other countries it invaded in the 20th century until its former victims have heard the apology enough.

Murakami became a global sensation with the publication of "Norwegian Wood" in 1987 and has written several bestsellers including "1Q84" and "Kafka on the Shore".