Review: The Rape of Nanking

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The late Iris Chang hoped that her work “THE RAPE OF NANKING” would lead to an official Japanese apology for the atrocities Japanese troops committed in Nanking in 1937. Chang’s well-intentioned attempt to secure a Japanese apology for the Nanking atrocities is meaningless because many of the perpetrators and victims are now dead. Thus, a Japanese apology would be an empty gesture that has no meaning. "We will probably never know exactly what news Hirohito received about Nanking as the massacre was happening," she writes, " but the record suggests that he was exceptionally pleased by it" (p. 179).

How can one measure the meaning of another person's life? How can one measure the devastation that is a genocide, mass murder or rape of an entire city? Author Iris Chang calls for the apology from Japan in her book, "THE RAPE OF NANKING." Many may think that asking for an apology is futile, after all many of the victims and perpetrators are now dead. However I believe that Chang’s intention for securing an apology is not meaningless, for securing an apology would not only help Japan as well as not repeat its mistakes of the past, it would also allow freedom for the victims of families and the people in China and Japan, in which the acts were perpetrated.

In order not to repeat mistakes of the past, governments, including Japan must admit atrocities that have happened, and apologize accordingly. Chang was correct in trying to obtain an apology from Japan, even though the atrocities happened so long ago and most of the people involved are dead. The problem, which Chang asserts is not only that Japan has not apologized for these crimes, but that they also have systematically erased any evidence of it, from history textbooks to museum pictures. This eradication of the events that happened in Nanking is a denial of the past to an almost Orwellian degree. If the past is forgotten or erased, how can it be ensured that it will not be repeated? Although it may seem futile...
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