Community calls for observance of 75th anniversary of Nanjing Massacre
Representatives of Japanese and Chinese Canadian communities, along with other concerned Canadians, call for truth, reconciliation, and understanding in an effort to collaborate and move forward in a grass roots peace action.
On Sunday, December 9, more than 60 people crowded into the tiny living room at Historic Joy Kogawa House to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre and to start a historic roundtable discussion.
The roundtable included the following discussants:
? Joy Kogawa of Historic Joy Kogawa House
? Theka Lit of BC Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA)
? Judy Hanazawa and Tatsuo Kage of the Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association Human Rights Committee
? Satoko Norimatsu of Peace Philosophy Centre and Vancouver Save Article 9 Group
? Bill Chu of Canadians for Reconciliation Society
? Ellen Woodsworth, former Vancouver City Councillor
The goodwill expressed called for ongoing cooperation and understanding between Japanese and Chinese Canadians to overcome the tension between their home countries. The Japanese captured the Chinese city of Nanjing in December 1937. The Nanjing Massacre on December 13, 1937, led to the death of 250,000 to 300,000 people and the rape of 20,000 to 80,000 women and girls. The atrocity and unhealed historical wounds contributed to the long-standing tension between Japan and China, which flared recently over disputed ownership of islands in the East China Sea.
“It is urgent that people of the world overcome old animosities in order to address dangers our planet faces today,” said Joy Kogawa. “Canada is a space where this can be demonstrated.”
“We need to be educated about and observe events like the Nanjing Massacre to honour those who were victimized, to call for justice for this inhumanity which affects us all, and most of all, to learn by working together, to create a world which will no longer allow this,” said Judy Hanazawa of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Cultural Association.
“We have to work harder to help make the Nanjing Massacre penetrate into public consciousness,” stated Thekla Lit, president of BC Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA).
“As Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking, reminded us that unless we truly understand how these atrocities can happen, we can’t be certain that it won’t happen again.”
Satoko Norimatsu of the Peace Philosophy Centre said, “In Japan, unfortunately, Nanjing Massacre has been largely ignored, downplayed, or even negated. If there is any attention, it is often about the debate on how many people were killed. I believe on this commemorative day, we should simply put aside the debate and humbly and solemnly remember and reach our hearts to the victims of the horrendous crime.”
“It is agonizing to see post-WW2 Japan being so misled by self-interests as to deny its WWII atrocities committed in Nanjing, China,” said Bill Chu of Canadians for Reconciliation Society. “As Christmas signifies peace and hope, let us try to seek liberation from untruths and reconciliation with neighbours, for the sake of our shared humanity.”
The gathering at Historic Joy Kogawa House on December 9 was but one of numerous commemoration events to be held across the country. Toronto City Council has unanimously voted for a week of education around this historic event, proclaiming this to be Nanking Massacre Awareness Week.
Participants at the gathering called for the public to observe the 75th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre on Thursday, December 13.