Son of Japanese soldier calls for truth on Nanjing

Photos of survivors at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing. The Japanese army is said to have killed some 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers in the massacre.
Photos of survivors at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing. The Japanese army is said to have killed some 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers in the massacre.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HIROSHIMA • The son of a Japanese war veteran has called for reflections on the Nanjing Massacre, as this year marks the 80th anniversary of the tragedy.

"It's important to tell people what happened in Nanjing and to pass on the historical truth to younger generations so as to prevent war tragedies from happening again," said Mr Toshio Yamamoto, the son of a Japanese war veteran who took part in Japan's war against China in the 1930s and 1940s.

Mr Yamamoto made the remarks last Saturday as he told Hiroshima citizens about his father's war experiences at the Sealed Memories: No More Nanjing exhibition held in Hiroshima that ended yesterday.

Mr Yamamoto's father Takeshi Yamamoto was sent to China in November 1937 as a soldier of the invading Imperial Japanese Army.

Mr Takeshi Yamamoto kept a diary of his experiences during the war, in which he depicted the atrocities committed by the Japanese troops and how he was turned from an ordinary man into a killing machine by the war. "(We) brought the eight people we captured... we kept stabbing them. I felt great. Back in Japan, I dared not even kill a snake," he wrote.

The elder Mr Yamamoto also wrote in detail what he had heard about the massacre, including how the Japanese troops brutally killed tens of thousands of Chinese civilians and captives, burned their bodies and dumped a large amount of bodies into the Yangtze River.

He returned to Japan as a farmer after the war, but the war-time atrocities kept haunting him. To pass on the memories to future generations, he wrote a memoir based on his diary and showed it to his children and grandchildren.

The younger Mr Yamamoto and his brothers published the diary. "It was also my father's wish to publish the diary, and it's necessary to pass on the true history to the younger generations so as to prevent the war tragedies from happening again," he said.

He also said it is particularly important to tell the truth about the Nanjing Massacre in Hiroshima, a city that suffered an atomic bombing in 1945. "The Japanese government should reflect on the war and let the younger generations know about the truth about war," he said, adding that he was opposed to the Abe administration's attempts to revise the pacifist Constitution and other moves that could bring Japan to war again.

The invading Japanese army is said to have killed some 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers following the capture of Nanjing in 1937. Japan has tried to downplay the atrocities by claiming that the number killed was not as many as 300,000.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'Son of Japanese soldier calls for truth on Nanjing'. Print Edition | Subscribe