Marching Forward to Peace
China holds a military parade to commemorate its victory won 70 years ago
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UPDATED: September 7, 2015 NO. 37 SEPTEMBER 10, 2015
Good for the Soul
A publisher offers former combatants the opportunity to confess and unburden themselves
By Miao Xiaoyang

Duan Yuezhong (MIAO XIAOYANG)

Over the past 10 years or so, a press in Japan has annually published an anti-war book titled August 15, which records testimonies from Japanese soldiers who participated in Japan's war of aggression against China. Japan declared its unconditional surrender in WWII on August 15, 1945.

Sparing no efforts in salvaging confessions from Japanese soldiers quickly dying of advanced age, the publishing house has only one purpose—documenting the atrocities perpetrated Japanese militarists for future generations, so as to push forward a long-lasting Sino-Japanese friendship.

Shortly before China's September 3 Victory Day celebrations this year, the Duan Press published its 2014 edition of August 15, its 21st publication of anti-war book.

Founded in 1996, the Duan Press is dedicated to publishing Japanese-language books on China. To date, it has published over 290 titles on China's society, economy and culture as well as Sino-Japanese exchanges.

"The first anti-war book we published is The Jap Soldiers I Know, written by Chinese writer Fang Jun and published in 2000," said Duan Yuezhong, founder and Editor in Chief of the press. "After its publication, the book raised awareness in Japan and received wide coverage by plenty of Japanese media outlets. That's when we realized we should keep on publishing such works."

In 2003, the Duan Press published Here Come the Jap Soldiers Again—a Japanese soldier's attempt to atone for wartime atrocities he committed in east China's Shandong Province. The author Yasuyoshi Shioya joined the Japanese army in 1942 and battled against the Eighth Route Army, an army under the command of the Communist Party of China. After the war, he was detained in Siberia and later sent back to Tokyo.

"I've never forgotten my evil deeds in the war," he wrote in the book. In 1985, Shioya, together with his 90 peers, visited China to try to make amends for these misdeeds. Over the following five years, they visited the Chinese battlefields in which they had fought and donated supplies to nearby schools.

Another book that Duan said was worth mentioning is The Search for Surviving Evidence of the Japanese Occupation of the Puppet State of Manchukuo, published in 2007. The author Shigeru Aoki is a Japanese civil servant who visited China five times between 2000 and 2005 in search of evidence of Japanese aggression in northeast China, where the puppet state was located. In the book, he recounts his field trips with pictures and words providing solid evidence of heinous crimes committed by Japanese forces during their invasion of China during World War II (WWII).

"Japanese people have the courage to speak up and record the atrocities in detail. As a publisher, we feel a strong responsibility to pass on the historical facts to future generations. By letting more people know the crimes committed by Japanese invaders in China, more will come to realize how precious peace is," Duan said.

The Duan Press started to publish the August 15 series in 2004, based on a namesake Japanese-language monthly magazine compiled by a group of former soldiers. The anti-war group, founded in 1961, has published more than 500 issues of the magazine over the past five decades.

"Their testimonies are very precious and were spoken from the bottom of their hearts. However, since they are growing old, it is becoming more and more difficult to collect their testimonies," Duan said.

"Many Japanese soldiers want to make a thorough confession before they pass away," Duan said. "In Japan, scholars and authors are carrying out anti-war research out of conscience, without any funding support. I hope more people will join the effort."

When commenting on the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War in Beijing, Duan said the grand ceremony connected the past and the future, China and the world, as well as peace and development.

"It doesn't matter whether you are abroad or in China, present at the parade or in front of your TV set. These days, everyone can be a media outlet," Duan, who was not present at the parade, told Beijing Review. "We can tell the world in different languages and forms—let's join hands to remember history and maintain peace."

Copyedited by Kylee McIntyre

Comments to yanwei@bjreview.com

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