Feature: Tamaki Matsuoka's 30-year journey for conveying truth about Nanjing Massacre

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-13 19:30:25|Editor: Zhou Xin
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TOKYO, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Tamaki Matsuoka, a former primary school teacher in Japan, has spent the last 30 years interviewing survivors and victimizers of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre to reveal the historical truth about the massacre to the Japanese people.

All these started with a journey to Nanjing, China in August 1988, which changed her life.

Matsuoka was then teaching six-graders history in Osaka. She found history textbooks vague and ambiguous about the invasive war against China, thus deciding to find out more about the truth.

"The textbooks only mentioned that Japan lost the war, but nothing about the invasion. They described the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but missed out the sufferings of the people victimized by Japan's invasion," she said.

"As a teacher, I taught the children about justice, but the textbooks in Japan seemed not just."

When visiting for the first time in her life at an exhibition in Nanjing, the evidence of the atrocities committed by the Japanese army, including photos of the heads cut down and the women raped, Matsuoka could not help shedding tears of pain and shame.

"I made up my mind at that time that I have to tell my students in Japan what had really happened, and what pain and sorrow were associated with the historical truth," said Matsuoka.

In the next 30 years, Matsuoka interviewed hundreds of survivors and World War II veterans. Based on their testimonies, Matsuoka wrote books and produced documentaries to convey the historical truth.

The first testimony that Matsuoka heard from a victim was from Li Xiuying who, born in 1919, was stabbed 37 times by Japanese soldiers and lost her baby in the 1937 massacre.

To get testimonies from the victimizers was more difficult. It was not until eight years later that Matsuoka started interviewing Japanese war veterans, and Sho Mitani was one of them.

In 1937, 18-year-old Mitani arrived in Nanjing with the Japanese Marine on Dec. 17, when the atrocious massacre was going on in the city.

According to Mitani, when he arrived in Nanjing, he could barely see local residents on the streets, but human bodies piled like small hills in Xiaguan area of Nanjing city.

In the next few days, Mitani witnessed Japanese troops kill Chinese people with machine guns or burn them alive. The bodies were dumped into the Yangtze River, and the blood turned the river water to a red-brownish color.

When he returned to Japan 10 days later, he was ordered by superiors to tighten his lips about what he witnessed.

Mitani passed away at the age of 98 in September this year and failed to speak about the massacre as scheduled at a memorial event on Nov. 26 organized by a civil group founded by Matsuoka.

But a documentary featuring him was aired at the event to mark the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. Some 500 people attended the event.

Matsuoka said that Mitani had sought to pass on the truth about the Nanjing Massacre and the terrors of war to the younger generations in order to preserve peace.

"I will carry on the work left by him and pass on the truth," said Matsuoka.

"It is not just for the Chinese victims, but more for the Japanese people," she said, adding that it would be an misfortune for the Japanese people if they do not know about the truth.

"Without knowing the terror of war, we can not understand the preciousness of peace."

Three Nanjing massacre survivors, namely Xia Ruirong, She Ziqing and Yang Mingzhen, who Matsuoka knew and had interviewed, also passed away this year.

Matsuoka, while mourning the deceased, felt that she is racing with the time.

She is now busy with digitalizing the hundreds of tapes that record the testimonies and her interviews of the people who had experienced the war.

"Peace could collapse before you know it. We shall pass on the truth about the war crimes such as the Nanjing Massacre and only by doing that, can we consolidate the foundation of peace," she said.