BEIJING – China’s leadership is putting more pressure on Japan by emphasizing the history of wars between the two countries.
The Jilin Provincial Archives in northeast China recently released dozens of historical materials on the acts committed by the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army.
But the Qiushi Journal, a magazine published by the Communist Party of China, is poised to push historical issues beyond the wars Japan waged against China in the 1930s and 1940s. It may soon assert that modern Japan’s aggression in China originated in the hallowed Meiji Era (1868-1912).
The party and the Chinese government decided to adopt the policy of using wartime history to isolate Japan after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo last December, a party official said.
With aggressive appeals both at home and abroad, they are believed to be aiming to build anti-Japanese sentiment ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year.
The Jilin Archives, which started releasing historical materials in January, said last Friday it had recently discovered 89 items relating to such issues as the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, the “comfort women” Japan forced to provide sex for its soldiers in military brothels, and Unit 731, a division of the Imperial Japanese Army that carried out research on biological warfare, including live vivisections.
The capital of the Manchukuo puppet state established by Japan between 1932 and 1945 was situated in what is now Jilin province.
The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, devoted a full page to introducing the newly released materials, saying they filled gaps in studies on Japan’s aggression in China and restored the truth of history. A book containing a compilation of the materials has already been published.
Chinese authorities have stepped up publicity efforts targeting not only its people, but also foreign journalists, calling on them to support the government’s stance.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has arranged tours for foreign journalists to visit war-related sites including the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Liaoning province in January, and the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Jiangsu province in February.
The ministry also recently arranged a two-day tour to the Jilin Provincial Archives.