Judgment, Memory, Legacy

The readings in the Judgment, Memory, Legacy section explore the aftermath of World War II in China and Japan and the challenges of rebuilding after the devastation of war. Several resources explore the challenge of seeking justice in the aftermath of the Nanjing Atrocities inside and outside of the courtroom including the efforts of people seeking to record, remember and teach this history in China, Japan and around the world. In particular, a number of readings focus on the debates over education and public memory of the Nanjing Atrocities.

Essential Questions:

• What needs to happen for there to be justice after mass violence or atrocities?
• How should individuals, groups, institutions, and nations be held accountable for war crimes and mass atrocities?
• What are the enduring legacies of the wartime atrocities in China?
• What role does memory play in understanding the Nanjing Atrocities today?

Judgment, Memory, Legacy Video Gallery

Judgment, Memory, and Legacy Video Gallery

Watch videos related to the aftermath of World War II in China and Japan.

Readings in This Section

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

War Criminals and Aggressive War

As Emperor Hirohito prepared for surrender in the summer of 1945, Japanese military leaders also saw that capitulation was imminent. Unlike other times in history when war was concluded, surrender to Allied forces this time included their arrest and prosecution for war crimes. The 1943 Moscow Declaration confirmed that the Allied forces sought to conduct trials against major war criminals, and Article 10 of the Potsdam Declaration stated that “stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners.”Alongside these provisions, Japanese military leaders could not ignore the fate of leading Nazi officials awaiting trial at the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg.

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

The History Problem

Conflicting recommendations show the difficulty in standarizing how Japanese history textbooks portray historical episodes of wartime aggression, including the Nanjing Atrocities.  

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

Responsibility of Command

Holding leaders accountable was a leading argument used during the prosecution of what occurred in Nanjing. Class A defendants, Matsui Iwane and Hirota Koki, are questioned as to their knowledge of atrocities committed by those under their command.

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

Rape As a Weapon of War

Rape has always been a weapon of war. But until recently it was neglected as a crime worthy of prosecution on its own. During the Nanjing Atrocities young and old women were repeatedly violated by Japanese Imperial troops. While definitive numbers are difficult to pin down because of the nature of the crime, tens of thousands of rapes were documented, witnessed, and reported.

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

A Nation's Past

Decades after the end of World War II in China, Sino-Japanese relations continue to remain strained. Conflicting memories and accounts of imperial Japan’s occupation of China and wartime atrocities remain one element of this discord. One of the most visible expressions of this tension arises regularly at the Yasukuni shrine.

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

Refuting Denial

History education and documentation were the focal points for historian Ienaga Saburo. His successful suit against the Japanese government to change the method by which history textbooks were adopted and how events like the Nanjing Atrocities and the institution of military sexual slaves are included greatly impacted Japanese society.

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

Apology

Over the years Japanese political leaders have issued a number of general apologies for the Imperial Army’s conduct during World War II. Despite these apologies, the Chinese people and Sino-Japanese relations have yet to be fully normalized, and tensions remain. Often the criticisms revolve around the actual language used by Japanese public figures to acknowledge the destruction and terror waged on behalf of their nation during World War II. What weight do different terms carry under such important circumstances? Are there different levels of responsibility expressed in using terms such as remorse versus apology?

Reading
Genocide & Mass Violence

Healing Historical Wounds

How do two nations who share a past of violence, war, and atrocities forge a new relationship? Some suggest a shared scholarship can advance the healing process. Others question whether the governments and peoples of affected nations are ever able to share a single narrative. 

Judgment, Memory, Legacy Image Gallery

The Nanjing Atrocities: Judgment, Memory, Legacy Gallery

The images in the Judgment, Memory, and Legacy gallery visually explore topics related to post-war China and Japan and issues of rebuilding, justice and memory in each nation.

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