Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Japanese captives recall life in China


Recommended Posts

Japanese captives recall life in China

www.chinaview.cn 2004-06-06 13:40:58

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Please don't forget this phase of history: In the early 50s of the 20th century, 1,062 Japanese prisoners of war (POW) were detained in China's war prisoner administrative office (969 of them in Fushun War Criminal Administrative Office in north China's Liaoning Province), 1, 017 of them were free from being sued for three times in 1956 and released back home; another 45 were sentenced by the special military tribunal of the Supreme People's Court (with not a single death penalty), and released back home in April 1964,according to People Daily online.

When China's Supreme Court announced its judgment, no war prisoner protested, and sob mixed with remorse and gratitude was heard from the defendant seat. Foreign auditing correspondents commented: China's trial, despite the different stands of the procurators and war prisoners, the victims and war prisoners, the witnesses, judges and war prisoners, the judge and the judged, at the solemn court, people exposed with one voice the atrocities of Japanese imperialism, an unprecedented scene in international trial history. Those veteran Japanese soldiers vowed to turn over a new leaf, and never changed their choice for half a century.

Fushun miracle

Correspondent with the Overseas Edition of People's Daily attended a gathering held in Tokyo to mark the publication of the book "Testimony by Staff of China Fushun War Criminal Administrative Office: Work Left by Photographer Tosio Arai". The gathering was initiated by "China Returnees Association", a peace organization composed of former war prisoners detained in China. Eight former war prisoners at the senile age specially attended the meeting. The themes of the meeting were to memorize Tosio Arai and to recall the life at the administrative office in Fushun, north China's Liaoning Province in their early years.

Upright Tosio Arai, though not having experienced war, published works such as "Testimony of Invasion", "Ah, Manchuria" and Japanese remaining after War in China".

In 1985, Sun Mingzhai and Jin Yuan and some others. who once worked in Fushun War Criminal Administrative Office visited Japan and those invited them were precisely the war prisoners under their administration 28 years ago. Throughout the times, former war prisoners and officers all changed their roles and got together for peace. This event greatly moved Tosio, who, seeing many Japanese being ignorant of China's policy toward war prisoners, got the idea of recording this phase of history.

Then Tosio Arai gave up his peaceful life and went to China for interview at his own expense and with friends'support. He once went deep into Taihang Mountains bordering north China' Shanxi and Hebei provinces. There he went to see an elderly who suffered sexual abuse and cried with the narrator. Within several years, he trudged from Harbin Exhibition Hall displaying evidence of t 731 force's crimes in north China's Heilongjiang Province, to the Pingdingshan martyrs' Osseous Remains Hall in central China's Henan Province, from Shenyang, "September18" Museum to Nanjing Massacre Museum, with his footmarks covering over 80 places in Fujian, Hubei, Henan, Hebei and Shanxi provinces. He consulted a great deal of historical materials in National Archive Administration, visited 31 people once working in the administrative office, including the then office director, teachers, doctors, pharmacists, keepers and cooks. He took a lot of precious photos and acquired a lot of testimonies. Unfortunately, Tosio died of lung cancer in June 2001 before the publication of his works. Jin Yuan, former head of the office, who offered all-out support to Tosio also passed away in 2002. Fortunately, "Tosio Arai Information-keeping Association" published his "Testimony by Staff of the China Fushun War Criminal Administrative Office"

Treat war prisoners as human beings

Another part of the gathering was to invite those old folks to talk about their feelings of living in the office. 80 to 90-year-old former war prisoners analyzed themselves candidly, feeling that "they are right now and wrong in the past". They said in one voice that Chinese administrators' deeds are philanthropic act of rescuing humankind. Gray-haired Syunntarou Kunitomo showed the pictorial "Humanity and Pardon" published by China in the 1960s to all present there. He said, China regards harmony as most precious "peace brings benefit while battle causes injury to both sides".

Ninety-year-old elderly surnamed Ehato said emotionally, China's policy is, first, "treating war prisoners as human beings, and recovering their human nature through education". He held that the administrative office is "the World's first highest-level prison in human history established in the times of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. Chinese administrators stressed education, and knew how to guide the prisoners to confess their guilt in front of the people. "The confession drive is an achievement of China's humanitarianism".

Mr. Itou, then "head of the study group, organized the study of "On Practice". He said that the war was a sheer invasion of China and crime committed on the soil of China. However, China gave war prisoners warmth, and he himself truly felt the "humanity" from Chinese Communists.

Yosio Sinozuka, who once joined 731 Force, recalled, when he was unconsciousness, it was the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that rescued him by all means. Originally he was very stubborn, and his change was the result of China's earnest education.

Yamanaka, Suzuki and Koyama said, from generals to soldiers, 1, 062 war prisoners, except for a few, all changed their stands. The administrative office was a university of life. Watabe, who came specially from Nagoya, burst into tears: "I'm No. 459 as described in the book". Watabe killed Chinese after joining the army, at first, he had the resentment and so had the idea of muddling along, but later he was one of those who became awakened early. He suffered serious schizophrenia, and it was Chinese doctors who cured him. He said, Tasio's 'testimony' was the most precious gift he had ever had and it gave him greater courage to confess.

Tecurou Takahasi, former head of "China Returnees Association, said that in his latter half of life, the spirit of 'opposition to war, and peace and amity' was deeply engraved in everybody's heart. China's treatment of war prisoners as human beings and its policy of basing its administration of prisoners on education helped cut off the interlink of hatred featuring the search of revenge.

Based on education

What kind of magic wand did the Chinese Communists use to make the war prisoners, firm believers in Japanese militarism, confess their guilt and never changed once they confessed. People are exploring the secret of "Fushun miracle". In fact, all the secret lies in China's policy on war prisoners, which is not "the winner's reprisals against the loser" but education and transformation.

In the beginning, many officers could not understand the policy. The 7 family members of a chief warder were killed by Japanese armies, and he joined army for revenge. His superior asked him not to beat or abuse the war prisoners in front of him, and he should even talk kindly. He cried out of anger. The authorities educated them "to hate the crime but not the person", and put the family enmity aside and stick strictly to the Party's policy. War prisoner is also human being, who is not born evil. It was militarism that should take the blame. They were driven to the battlefield and deprived of humanity. Do not insult and abuse them, but respect their personality. Cooks paid attention to sanitation, and medical staff gave timely treatment to patients. Like an iceberg in the pole melting gradually under the sun in spring, the nature of being a human was aroused in the prisoners of war.

Sun Mingzhai, Jin Yuan, heads of the administrative office, said, struggle was needed for the war prisoners to change their stands. At first, most prisoners remained arrogant, advocating Japan's "self-existence and self-defense" and asserting that they came to China for "maintaining public order" and was "acting upon the order of the Mikado. Chinese staff rebuffed seriously: Japan's invasion of China was not invited by China; Japanese Mikado could not administer the affairs of China. Japanese armies ran roughshod on China's soil and did everything evil, the only way out for the prisoners was to confess and transform themselves.

Although the war prisoners committed monstrous crimes in China, considering the changes during the several decades after Japan's surrender , the development of Sino-Japanese relations and the repentance of most war prisoners, the National People's Congress (NPC) decided to give lenient treatment to Japanese prisoners. In the summer of 1956, the Special Military Tribunal of China's Supreme People's Court held hearings in Shenyang, north China's Liaoning Province, and Taiyuan, north China's Shanxi Province, announcing different terms of sentence for 45 prisoners with heinous crimes, such as Sigeru Fujita and another lieutenant general surnamed Suzuki, from eight years to 29 years and exempting the accusation and immediately released 1, 017 war prisoners. All those declared guilty confessed to Chinese people. Nosuke Sasansinn, sentenced to a term of 16-year imprisonment, said that he committed crimes all over China, so the 600 million Chinese people hated him so much that he could not make it up no matter how many capital punishments were given him. Tadayuki Furuumi, sentenced to 18-year imprisonment , admitted, "my crime is intolerable and in order to educate the younger generation of Japanese, please give me death penalty" . Sigeru Fujita, at hearing the furious and sorrowful accusation made by Zhang Putao, the first witness whose whole family was killed by Japanese, said , "I felt as if a knife were stabbing into my heart, and my guilty conscience surged inside me. I would like to ask this grandma to kick me, bite me and beat me down. I am willing to take death penalty."

By People's Daily Online

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

This is a really late response, but thank you so much for posting this article. I read a lot of books on the Massacre at Nanjing, and very few mentioned the eventual capture and imprisonment of the Japanese people. And if they did, it was brief and, as this article did in more detail, talked about the amount of time that the prisoners stayed and how many were released.

Although it's really good to know that soldier's of Japan's army feel a remorse for that they did, and that at least some Japanese people don't hate Chinese, I do wish that more of them felt that way. I'm sure that many Japanese people still feel as if that invasion was justified; especially in the older generations. Japan has failed to educate their younger generations of the atrocities that the country has committed, and has also failed to teach the downfalls of racism. My friend Yosuke who studies history said he learned of the Massacre at Nanjing, but was taught very little of it. The information was given was purely about how many people were killed, and how long it took to invade. They left out the people being beheaded as practise for initiating soldiers, the burying of men and having them eaten live by dogs, etc, etc.

As a Chinese person, it's annoying to know that Japan still doesn't acknowledge the massacre at Nanjing. Very. Very. Annoying. And at times, I feel justified for feeling bitterness towards the Japanese government, and Japanese people. However, I also remind myself that I love Japanese culture and the language, and that the sins of the father should not be passed down on to the children. Teaching and educating about humanity; I wish the Chinese government would do more of that now.

Sorry, now I'm just rambling.

Again, thank you for posting this article.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...