Yushukan vs. Anti-Japanese War Museum: Comparing and contrasting China and Japan’s museums on World War II
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine in December, where 14 Class-A war criminals are enshrined along with over 2 million other Japanese soldiers, China harshly rebuked Abe. China released a statement criticizing Abe for “denying the war-waging history”, and since then, Chinese leaders have refused to meet with Abe.
In December, shortly before Abe visited the shrine, I visited the shrine and the on-site Yushukan museum. In an article for the Shanghai Daily, I concluded the Yushukan museum whitewashes World War II atrocities.
I recently had an opportunity to visit the Chinese museum about the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, in Beijing, and I took note of how each museum described important events.
Name of the War
China: “War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War”
Japan: “The Greater East Asia War”
Treaty of Shimonoseki
The 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki ended the First-Sino Japanese War. Japan acquired Taiwan and some land along the Liaodong Peninsula in Liaoning province. China recognized the independence of Korea, and Korea didn’t have to pay tribute to the Qing Dynasty anymore. Japan annexed Korea in 1910.
China: “In 1895, Japan seized Taiwan through the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki.”
Japan: “With the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Korea became an independent state. Japan also acquired new territories and reparations.”
The Kwantung Army, a unit of the Japanese military, planted a bomb on their own railway and blamed it on the Chinese. Although the bomb did little damage, Japan used it as an excuse to invade deeper into northern China and establish Manchukou.
China: “On September 18, Japan orchestrated the 9/18 Incident, initiating the war of aggression against China. The War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japan started.”
Japan: “The Manchurian Incident was triggered by a bomb ripping the Japanese railway near Mukden on September 18, 1931. It was engineered by the Kwantung Army. The incident ended on May 31, 1933, with the signing of the Tanggu Truce Agreement. Japan had acquired special interests in Manchuria through its victory in the Russo-Japanese War. But Chinese nationalism developed into a campaign for the removal of foreign interests, in violation of the existing treaties. The campaign spread to Manchuria, where anti-Japanese harassment and terrorism erupted. Under such circumstance the Kwantung Army resorted to force.”
Japan established Manchukou in northern China after the Manchurian Incident.
China: “The founding of the pseudo-Manchukuo concocted by Japan was announced on March 1, 1932. … China’s northeast became a colony of Japan.”
Japan: “The state of Manchukuo was established on March 1, 1932, by a confederation of five ethnic groups, who hoped to create a nation of peace and righteous governance.”
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
After a battle at the Marco Polo Bridge, the war spread to the whole country. The battle at the bridge started after Japan conducted surprise military exercises on the bridge.
China: “In 1937, the Japanese imperialists created the Luguoqiao [Marco Polo Bridge] Incident, and launched the full scale war of aggression against China. Chinese garrisons rose in resistance. The fight waged by the Chinese troops at Luguoqiao marked the beginning of China’s nationwide war of resistance.”
“On the evening of July 7, 1937, the Japanese troops stationed in Fengtai, Peiping, militarily provoked Chinese defensive troops in the name of a ‘military exercise’ near Luguoqiao. Furthermore, they professed that a soldier was lost, requiring to enter Wanping County seat to mount a search. After they were refused, the Japanese troops immediately moved against the Chinese garrison surrounding Lugouqiao and bombed Wanping County seat.”
Japan: “The prevailing anti-Japanese atmosphere in China helps spread the small incident of Chinese shooting at the Japanese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge into a full-scale engagement covering all of North China.”
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East concluded that Japanese soldiers killed over 200,000 civilians and disarmed soldiers and raped 20,000 women.
China: “On December 13, after the Japanese army occupied Nanjing, the Japanese army engaged in large scale burning, killing, and looting that lasted for six weeks. They massacred over 300,000 innocent civilians and soldiers who had laid down their arms.”
China’s display on the Nanjing Massacre.
Japan: (in reference to the “Nanjing Incident”) “After the Japanese surrounded Nanking in December 1937, Gen. Matsui Iwane distributed maps to his men with foreign settlements and the Safety Zone marked in red ink. Matsui told them that they were to maintain strict military disciplines and that anyone committing unlawful acts would be severely punished. The defeated Chinese rushed to Xiaguan, and they were completely destroyed. The Chinese soldiers disguised in civilian clothes were severely prosecuted.”
Wang Jingwei established the Reorganized National Government of China with the support of the Empire of Japan.
China: “Wang Jingwei, deputy president of the Kuomintang government, founded a puppet regime in Nanjing in 1940.”
Japan: “Wang Jingwei, who advocates peace with Japan, is estranged from Chiang Kai-shek, who continues the war by aligning with the CCP in an all-out resistance against Japan. On March 30, 1940, a new government was established in Nanking with Wang as its head.”