Satoko Oka Norimatsu, a member of Japanese Canadians Supporting Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day, published two articles simultaneously, in Fraser Monthly (November Edition) and weekly Vancouver Shinpo (November 1 Edition) that circulate mostly among the Japanese-speaking immigrants in Greater Vancouver.
Here are images of the articles and summaries of the main points in English.
Title: Facing the History — Regarding Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day
- As I started the group JCs Supporting NMCD, there have been critical voices against me in the local Japanese newspapers.
- On September 19, a rally called “Wake Up Foreign Ministry! Nanjing Massacre Did Not Happen!” was held in Tokyo, and even there, one of the conservative members of the Parliament who spoke at the event singled me (and another colleague) out.
- Nanjing Massacre is an unshakable historical fact. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and POWs were massacred and tens of thousands of women and girls were raped (many of them killed immediately after, to erase the crime) by the Imperial Japanese Army troops.
- Even Japanese government admits this history, though insufficiently (lack of referral to mass POW killings and rape of women). However, for those who want to deny the history, even this limited recognition by the Japanese government seems dissatisfying. This is why a meeting like above is held, and the fact that current members of the Japanese Parliament attended and gave a talk at such an event truly disheartens me.
- Since there is so much denialist narrative going around in the public media and on the Internet, it is increasingly difficult for Japanese language users to learn about this history. So I introduce some of the reliable material here. (Introduction of books by Tokushi Kasahara, and other Japanese historians and journalists including Tamaki Matsuoka, diaries of then witnesses of the Massacre, Minnie Vaultrin and John Rabe, both of which have been translated into Japanese.)
- Back in 1980s, I attended Lester B. Pearson College in Victoria for two years. There, I learned for the first time in my life about the war atrocities of Imperial Japan from my Asian friends from the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, etc.
- I fully understand that it is very difficult for one to learn the past wrong of one’s own country. I even understand the wishful thinking that it would be easier if this history was a lie. It took me a long time to come to terms with this history.
- But now, thinking back, this experience set a foundation within myself for the work that I do now — work for peace with fellow Asian colleagues.
- In Germany, children learn about the Holocaust, and with the whole country honestly facing the history, it has become a responsible member of the international community. I want Japan to be such a country too.
- Just as we remember the Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial days in August, even in Canada, it is important for us to remember the Nanjing Massacre in December as well.
- We are planning to hold a gathering to remember the victims of the Nanjing Massacre on December 11, in Downtown Vancouver. Details TBA. Anyone is welcome.
Title: Denial of the History of Nanjing Massacre is Unacceptable
- As I formed the group Japanese Canadians Supporting Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day, there has been increasing criticism against me on the Internet and Japanese language papers.
- On September 19, a meeting with the theme “Nanjing Massacre Did Not Happen” was held in Tokyo, and there too, a member of Parliament pointed at me
and another colleague as Japanese supporters of the NMCD.
- I think there can be a variety of opinions about establishing NMCD in Canada. However, it seems that not a few people within the opposition movement against NMCD deny the history itself, and this is not acceptable.
- Nanjing Massacre is an unshakable historical fact. The Japanese government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) admits it on their web page, though insufficiently.
- The Japanese official report of 2010 to conclude the Japan-China joint historical research commissioned in 2006 by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in the dawn of the first Abe Administration), clearly states, “there were cases of both mass and individual killings by Japanese soldiers of prisoners, stragglers, soldiers in civilian clothing, and some ordinary citizens, and there were also many cases of rape, pillage, and arson. The number of victims of massacre by the Japanese forces was said to be over 200,000 at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (over 100,000 in the sentence against commander Matsui) and over 300,000 at the 1947 Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal; the current Chinese view is based on the latter tribunal. Research by the Japanese side, by contrast, has come up with a variety of estimates, such as 40,000 and 20,000, with 200,000 as the highest estimate. Behind these differing estimates of the number of victims lie differences with respect to the definition of ‘massacre’ (illegal killing), the geographical area and time span involved, and the results of inspection of written materials, such as burial records and population statistics.” (See English version HERE.)
- Japanese Canadians account for about 1% of the total Canadian population. Among them, Japanese speakers are an even smaller minority. This NMCD is a Canadian issue, so I propose we use Canada’s official languages to discuss this issue, not just Japanese.
- I am particularly concerned with the anonymous attacks against me using the oppressive language. We need to have respect in discussing this issue.
- In July, I visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Its “Breaking the Silence” section allows visitors to learn about the five genocides that happened outside of Canada, which Canada’s Parliament has recognized (the Ukrainian Holodomor, the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide and the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia). It states, “In Canada, people are free to speak openly about human rights abuses. Canadians used this freedom to draw attention to acts of extreme violence and inhumanities around the world. Concerned Canadians have influenced Parliament to recognize five mass atrocities as genocides – deliberate systematic attempts to destroy specific ethnic, racial, religious or national groups. Through such official recognition, Canada speaks out as a nation. It exposes and condemns horrific crimes that have been hidden, minimized, or denied.”
- This museum of course emphasizes human rights violations within Canada, such as those against Indigenous Peoples and Japanese Canadians.
- It is only natural that the historical memory of Canada, which tends to focus on the “West,” now pivots towards East Asia, as immigration from that part of the world increases.
- On December 11, a group of Japanese Canadians will hold an event to mourn the victims of the Nanjing Massacre in Downtown Vancouver. Details TBA. All are welcome.