China’s accounting of the Nanjing incident has been consistently marred by politics.
During the war Nanjing was the capital of the Chinese Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, which mounted a brief investigation after the Japanese defeat in 1945. From the time of the Communist takeover in 1949 until the early 1980’s, when disputes over Japanese textbooks first arose, Chinese experts say there was no serious study of the massacre.
More curious still, there is no record to show that Mao, who died in 1976, ever spoke publicly about it. Save for a brief mention in a 1960 middle school textbook, the Nanjing Massacre was not featured in Chinese textbooks until the early 1980’s. As recently as the early 1990’s, historians and others who wanted to organize conferences about the event were barred from doing so.
The decades of silence were owing in part to the government’s unwillingness to recognize the resistance that China’s Nationalist armies put up against the Japanese. Although recently the Nationalists’ role has been acknowledged more, official histories of the war have always credited Mao’s Communist armies with defeating Japan.
China Hails a Good Nazi and Makes Japan Take Notice
Copyright The New York Times Published: March 15, 2006
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
History Redux: Japan’s Textbook Battle Reignites
by David McNeill
One rainy evening in April 2004, the Kudan Kaikan Hall in Tokyo, just down the hill from Yasukuni Shrine, hosted a meeting of angry old men. Speaker after disgruntled speaker among the 1,200 participants in a venue that had seen a very different conference four years previously – the 2000 comfort women’s tribunal -- took the podium to denounce the government, the state of the country, foreign influence and the torpor of Japan’s youth. Mostly, though, the target of their ire was the education system. 
“Why are we teaching our children to hate Japan?” said one. “America, China and Britain don’t teach their kids to hate their countries. We should be telling them that this is an amazing country and that they should love it with all their hearts.” “Compared with the colonial rule of the European countries and America, Japan’s rule of Asia was humane,” said another. “If we had not colonized Korea, America or Europe would have. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
The conference was organized by the Society for History Textbook Reform, a group of mainly academics and social critics offering a distinctive if familiar historical counter-narrative: Japan was not the aggressor in World War II but the liberator, fighting to defend itself from the U.S. and European powers and free Asia from the yoke of white colonialism; Imperial troops were not guilty, as most historians suggest, of some of the worst war crimes of the 20th century but the “normal excesses” of armies everywhere; Japan’s “masochistic” emphasis on atonement is leading to the “moral decline” of its young.
Like the intellectual defense of British and other historical colonialisms, such sentiments are today mostly the preserve in Japan of neo-nationalists, who bitterly resents how the Imperial era is recorded for posterity. Unlike its counterparts in many other countries, however, the Japanese historical revisionist movement may be in the ascendancy after years of defeats at the hands of progressive educationists. They now have a rejuvenated leadership, strong grassroots support and some heavyweight political and financial backing. “We’re confident we can change the teaching of history in schools here,” says one of the society’s leading intellectual lights, Fujioka Nobukatsu.  There is every reason to believe him.
A sorry state
By Ian Buruma
Published: May 27 2005 15:47 | Last updated: May 27 2005 15:47
Have the Japanese apologised enough for the war? Here are some facts. In 1972, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka told the Chinese that Japan “deeply reproached itself”; in 1982, chief cabinet secretary Kiichi Miyazawa expressed “remorse”; the emperor himself, in 1990, spoke of his “deepest remorse” in South Korea; in 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama offered his “profound apology” to Asian victims; Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, in China in 1997, repeated Murayama’s feelings of “deep remorse”; and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he was sorry in 2001, 2002, 2003 and yet again last month.
Given the fact that these apologies covered Japanese colonialism in Korea, the brutal invasion of China, the maltreatment of POWs and the forced prostitution of “comfort women”, it would be hard to maintain that Japan has officially denied its dark history. Does this mean, then, that the recent violent demonstrations in China, with mobs hurling stones at Japanese consulates, restaurants and shops while the police looked on benevolently at this venting of popular rage at “Japanese pigs”, were wholly off the mark?
Those who stood on the left of the political spectrum, which included much of the Japanese intelligentsia, had no problem with these policies. Like most Japanese they were glad to be rid of the oppressive wartime regime and embraced democratic change. Marxists had their own ideological reasons for seeing the dark past in terms of "feudalism" and "capitalist imperialism" and it was not uncommon in the 1950s and 1960s for Marxist school teachers to praise Chairman Mao's China while denouncing imperialist Japanese history in the most lurid manner. Such teachers had a strong influence on the Japan Teachers Union, whose institutional power only began to crumble in the 1980s. Many school textbooks reflected their views, even though leftist biases were almost invariably watered down by conservative education ministry bureaucrats.
A tale of two massacres
As the rain of stones on Japan increases, Jonathan Watts finds China sheltering in a glass house
Friday June 24, 2005
At a recent lecture at a Beijing university, students politely lambasted this correspondent - and by association all other foreign journalists - for painting too negative a picture of China.
"Why," asked one questioner, "do you keep writing about the Tiananmen Square incident and the Cultural Revolution? The past is the past. China has changed. It is time to move on."
He had a point. The world's most populous nation has indeed been transformed in many ways since the dark days of Mao Zedong and the massacre of civilians by the People's Liberation Army in1989. But the same could also be said of Japan since the second world war, yet many of the students had a very different view about the value of history when it came to the atrocities committed by their neighbour more than half a century ago.
Scenes From a Nightmare: A Shrine to the Maoist Chaos
May 29, 2005
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
SHANTOU, China - Nothing but the faint sound of birds nesting on surrounding hilltops can be heard inside this new mountaintop site - part museum, part monument - that is the first public commemoration of one of the darkest chapters in China's recent past.
Inside the circular pavilion that is the site's centerpiece, the walls are lined with a series of gray tablets, each starkly engraved with images depicting the Cultural Revolution, China's decade-long descent into madness, beginning in the mid-1960's
Later, a couple of elderly women who acknowledged living through the period dodged questions about their impressions of the museum, and walked away when asked about their experiences of the 1960's and 1970's.
Three local men in their 30's, one of them using a video camera, also toured the site. "Every family had some kind of experience of this history," one of them said. Asked if he had heard the stories of his parents and grandparents, he said, "They only say China is growing now, and it is better to look to the future."
Even the museum's founder, Peng Qian, a former deputy mayor of this city who raised money for it from private donations, including one from the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, dodged a reporter's requests to meet, saying he was too busy and later turning his telephone off to avoid further calls. .
New York Times
Then they escalated when Japan, once again, altered a
history textbook to gloss over its wartime actions against
China, reinforcing the perception that the Japanese aren't
truly the postwar pacifists they've so ably demonstrated
for half a century.>>
the Japanese prime minister's visits to a Tokyo shrine
that includes the remains of 14 war criminals
The disputed textbook contains negative reference to
communism, which was the core of the issue for the
socialists and communists in Japan. They invited Korean
and Chinese governments to criticize the book without
The Tokyo shrine mentioned in The Monitor's View is
called Yasukuni Jinja. It is no tombyard, and it does not
possess any "remains" of 14 war criminals. The shrine
included the names of the people who were judged "war
criminals" by the Allied Forces in its list of deities
so that those wartime politicians would not "resurrect"
as war ghosts.
Visiting the shrine is a pacifist gesture that is purely
domestic in nature. Inclusion of the names of 14 Class A
war criminals among the enshrined souls derives from the
custom of seeking forgiveness for the deceased's soul,
not for promoting war.>>
Like Japan's, Chinese Textbooks Are Adept at Rewriting History
May 8, 2005
By Mark Magnier, Times Staff Writer
BEIJING ― When Li Xuanyao, a student at Beijing's No. 55 Middle School, wants to learn about the Great Leap Forward, she has her work cut out for her. Mao Tse-tung's disastrous 1950s policy, which saw 30 million Chinese die of starvation, is relegated to a few paragraphs in her 163-page history textbook.
The text blames bad central planning for its failure and is quick to add: "During the Great Leap Forward, every village in China built its commune. Members of the commune could eat in its dining hall free of charge."
Although Xuanyao's history teachers have taught her a lot about Japanese atrocities, she said, they are reluctant to talk about the Great Leap Forward. And they never mention the deadly Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
"Studying Chinese history is very important because it helps increase our knowledge and our patriotism," said Xuanyao, 16, dressed in purple jeans and a matching backpack. "I wasn't taught anything about Tiananmen. But what the Japanese did, particularly the Nanjing massacre, is unforgivable. Remembering this is very, very important for our national pride."
China has criticized Japan in recent weeks for whitewashing its militarist history, focusing in particular on a junior high school textbook recently approved by Tokyo. A wave of anti-Japanese protests swept the world's most populous nation.
A close look at China's corresponding textbook, "Chinese History ― Textbook for Junior High School," however, finds several areas where China's official history appears to have gaps of its own.
"Yes, what Japan did in World War II is horrible," said Sam Crane, Asian studies professor at Williams College in Massachusetts. "But the embarrassing fact for the Communist Party, and one that is not taught in Chinese schools, is that the party itself is responsible for many more deaths of Chinese people than those caused by Japanese militarism."
Historians and China scholars say an underlying theme in many Chinese textbooks is the country's victimization at the hands of foreign powers, particularly the Japanese. Although this is true, they say, China tends to underplay the long periods that it dominated its neighbors.
The focus on being a victim can easily spark social indignation and the sort of emotional outpouring and violence seen in recent weeks, some argue. Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura echoed this theme last month on a TV talk show, accusing Beijing of indoctrinating its students with an unbalanced view of the past.
"There is a tendency toward this in any country," he said. "But the Chinese textbooks are extreme in the way they uniformly convey the 'our country is correct' perspective."
Machimura added that Japan would consider mounting its own review of Chinese history textbooks. According to a survey released last month by Japan's Asahi newspaper, more than 80% of Japanese believe that China's nationalistic education system encouraged the recent protest, which saw Japan's embassy and consulates attacked, Japanese cars overturned and businesses vandalized.
In recent days, Beijing has moved to quell the demonstrations. Last month, officials detained 42 anti-Japanese protesters, some caught on security cameras hurling bottles, and paraded them on television in a warning to the nation. The government, apparently fearful that the protesters could turn their focus on it, wanted to prevent further disturbances before the historically significant May 1 and May 4 holidays.
In addition to ignoring the Tiananmen Square massacre, China's main junior high history text makes short work of most of the surrounding decade.
Under chapter subheadings such as "Great Achievements of Socialist Construction," the text skips from Deng Xiaoping's market-oriented policy after 1978 to the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997.
"These textbooks don't make any sense," said Jasper Becker, author of "Hungry Ghosts," about the Great Leap Forward. "All sorts of things are brushed under the carpet."
The "Chinese History" textbook, the most popular of seven approved by the Education Ministry for nationwide use, also gives the Communist Party a disproportionate role in fighting the Japanese in the 1930s and '40s. In fact, many historians say, most of the heavy lifting was done by the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, whose members fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war to Mao's forces.
Mao's 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, a period of chaos marked by purges and the tyranny of the fanatical Red Guards, does merit a (five-page) chapter that concedes that Mao made a "wrong analysis of the class struggle."
But much of the blame is pinned on Mao's fourth wife, Jiang Qing, part of the Gang of Four, for trying to take over the party. Nor is there any mention of the extreme suffering people endured.
The book also doesn't explain how modern China has chosen its leaders, which until recently involved purges and intrigue. Nor does it cover the 1951 occupation of Tibet or the exile of the Dalai Lama.
"Most Chinese end up believing this government view of history," said Dugarjab Hotala, an ethnic Mongolian who grew up in China's far west before immigrating to the United States. "While a lot of students don't take history seriously, unconsciously it becomes part of your thinking."
Exclusive nationalism prevalent in Korean history textbooks: critics
By Jin Hyun-joo
The Korea Herald
Publication Date : 2005-05-07
For weeks, Japan's textbooks have been sparking strong criticism in Korea and China for whitewashing Japanese colonial rule. But, interestingly, Korea's textbooks, published only by the government for students in the first to 10th grades, also have a strong muscle of nationalism, say historians.
"Voices of far-right wingers are loud in Japan, but they do not represent the whole Japanese population. On the other hand, Korean nationalism is quiet and not provocative, but is supported by a thick layer of Korea historians," said Lee Gil-sang, a professor of the state-funded Academy of Korean Studies.
Nationalism is defined in the dictionary as "the belief that nations will benefit from acting independently..., emphasizing national rather than international goals." In a positive way, nationalism is considered to be "devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation."
Lee, who specializes in history education, said what all three major countries in East Asia - Korea, Japan and China - have in common is consolidating nationalism in their textbooks.
"Nationalism in Japanese textbooks is shown in a less obvious but cleverer way. The degree of nationalism in Korean ones is also very serious as it is prevalent and has never been lessoned. China is no different from Korea and Japan. Its textbook tends to stress ideology," he said.
Critics say Korean textbooks contribute to boosting nationalism by describing Koreans as having a history of cooperation as a mono-ethnic group from ancient times. They say, however, the concept of "we" did not exist in the hierarchy society which collapsed in 1894.
"The idea of race is based on homogeneous feelings that 'we are the one' among members in society. I doubt how things like nationalism were there when social classes existed," said Lim Jie-hyun, a history professor at Hanyang University in his book, titled "Hostile Accomplices."
Lim is a representative of a historians' group from Korea, Japan and China, named "East Asia history forum for criticism and solidarity," formed to urge the East Asian countries to get over their self-centered perspectives of history.
For example, he says nationalism is shown in the textbook's statement that all Koreans, whether they belong to the lower or upper class, cooperated in combating outside forces such as Japan and China which often invaded the Korean Peninsula.
What historical records say, however, is that poor people sided with Japanese intruders. "In "Imjinwaeran," or Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592, O Hui-mun, general of the Korean loyalist troops, wrote that he was worried that lower class people welcomed Japanese forces rather than joining his troops. That was because Japanese occupation strategy was to distribute rice to villagers," said Lim.
"If the folks had been armed with a nationalistic conscience, like the textbooks say, they should have resisted the Japanese forces."
However, Han Young-woo, a member of the National History Compilation Committee, said the concept of race based on an identical cultural background has been inherited from old times so it is dangerous to just defy Korean nationalism itself.
"Brushing off Korean nationalism is a new historical distortion," he said.
Han still said exclusive and ultra nationalism should be criticized, as in the Korea-China's row over the historical and territorial sovereignty of the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo.
The dispute started in early 2004 when China claimed Goguryeo, known to dominate the vast territory from central Manchuria to south of Seoul, as an ethnic kingdom of ancient China. China's claim ignited outrage in Korea since Koreans know Goguryeo as rulers of the largest territory among Korea's ancient kingdoms.
Historians say, however, that neither China nor Korea had ownership of Goguryeo as the kingdom encompassed various ethnic groups.
"Obviously, in Manchuria, people lived with other ethnic groups who had immigrated to the area. But the Korean textbooks see it as history, neglecting the coexistence with other groups," said Isiwata Nobuo, a teacher at Tokyo University in Japan, in a book titled "The World's Textbooks."
Lim also said, "The battle is very unhistorical. In fact, it doesn't make sense to distinguish between Korean and Chinese surrounding the history. At that time, there existed neither China nor Korea. What existed was only Goguryeo. We have to return the history of Goguryeo to the folks of Goguryeo (not the Chinese or Koreans)."