China plans 80 books on Japan war trials

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 6:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 6:52pm

China is compiling a series of 80 books documenting the post-second world war “Tokyo trials” of Japanese war criminals, state media said on Friday, at a time of souring ties between the historical rivals.

“Many right-wing Japanese politicians and historians doubted the justice of the trials and distorted the reality... so we have to accelerate our research to counter their version of events,” said Zheng Zhaoqi, head of the centre producing the series, as quoted in the China Daily newspaper.

News of the project comes a week after two Japanese ministers visited a controversial Tokyo shrine that honours 14 war criminals, provoking an angry response from China, as prior visits by Japanese politicians have also done.

Sino-Japanese relations had already been strained over a decades-old dispute about an island chain that flared up again in August, and Beijing has long resented what it sees as Japan’s failure to fully atone for its aggression in the early 20th century.

“It’s only the beginning,” Zheng said, adding that the full volume of books, containing 50,000 pages, would be published by the end of next year. “We plan to expand relevant research based on this original file.”

The 1946-48 Tokyo trials, formally known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, were akin to the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis, set up after the second world war by the victorious Allied forces to convict war criminals.

All 28 Japanese defendants were convicted by 11 judges from Allied nations, with sentences ranging from seven years in jail to execution. Scholars have since debated if the process was one of unfair “victor’s justice”.

The Chinese have protested against atrocities committed when Japan invaded and occupied parts of China, from forced labour and sex-slave “comfort women” to mass killings including the infamous 1937-38 massacre known as the Rape of Nanjing.

The collection of documents will be the first project undertaken by the centre, which was set up specifically to study the tribunal by the National Library of China and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Bilateral ties between Japan and China have deteriorated since Tokyo last month nationalised disputed East China Sea islands that Beijing also claims.

The move sparked massive protests across China and forced Japanese firms in the country to suspend operations as both governments traded insults and refused to back down.