TV & Radio
Posted on Mon, Dec. 19, 2005
Scores remember victims in Nanjing, honor author
By Katherine Corcoran
San Jose Mercury News
More than 200 people in San Francisco braved a downpour Sunday to commemorate victims of the 1937 Nanjing massacre and honor the late San Jose author Iris Chang, whose book brought the story of the Nanjing atrocities to a wide, English-speaking audience.
The Chinatown ceremony, an annual event known as Nanjing Ji, was marked by numerous calls for Japan to apologize for its World War II atrocities in Asia, and featured religious leaders of African-American, Jewish and Chinese heritage decrying genocide and crimes against humanity worldwide.
Speakers tied the Nanjing massacre to the Jewish Holocaust in Europe and slavery in the United States.
``If it happens there, it happens to all of us,'' the Rev. Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church said of Nanjing. ``If you talk about the arrogance and lack of humility by folk who won't say, `I'm sorry,' I'm familiar with that.''
African-Americans have worked for years to secure an apology and reparations from the U.S. government for slavery.
The massacre in the city now known as Nanjing, was the subject of Chang's 1997 bestseller, ``The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.'' In the six-week attack beginning Dec. 13, 1937, an estimated 300,000 people died. They were among an estimated 30 million people killed during the occupation of China by Japan in the 1930s and 1940s.
The issue of an apology and accusations that Japan downplays its World War II history are causing a major rift between China and Japan today. Earlier this month, Chinese officials canceled a luncheon with their Japanese counterparts during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Malaysia to protest the Japanese prime minister's periodic visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war dead but also houses the remains of convicted World War II criminals.
Peng Keyu, the Chinese consul general in San Francisco, was among the speakers Sunday saying right-wing forces in Japan are trying bury history.
The Japanese consul general couldn't be reached for comment Sunday, but the Japanese argue they have apologized dozens of times, most recently in August at the 60th anniversary of Japan's surrender, and that Japan's wartime aggression, including the Nanjing Massacre, is described in all 26 history textbooks that have been approved by the government of Japan.
Chang's mother, Ying-Ying, read from her daughter's book and then, with her husband, Shau-Jin Chang, placed a bouquet of white roses on an altar in their daughter's memory.
``Iris put her heart and soul into writing this book, and she disclosed the truth,'' said Ying-Ying Chang. ``As Iris wrote, `To forget the holocaust is to be killed twice. We should never forget and never give up.' ''
Chang killed herself in late 2004.
Sunday's event was sponsored by the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition in San Francisco and the South Bay-based Alliance for Preserving the Truth of the Sino-Japanese War.
Contact Katherine Corcoran at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5330.