China is going to publish “confessions” of 45 convicted Japanese criminals

On 3 July  2014, the deputy director of the China State Archives Administration (SAA), Li Minghua, stated that the SAA was going to publish “confessions”of 45 convicted Japanese World War II criminals on its website. It’s the first time for the SAA to publish all the 45 whole confessions on the internet. Previously, the SAA had partly published some of these materials in print.

The publication will last for 45 days, with each criminal for one day. The 45 criminals were put on trail in China in 1956. The documents include the whole confession,  handwritten in Japanese with  official translation in Chinese and brief translation in English.   Issues arose to be considered .   Human rights of the Female Victims: In order to protect the female victims and their family, the SAA used the fake names.   History and Criminal Law Trials: Several months ago, an International Criminal Law Center was established in Fudan University. Some scholars had mentioned the ignored war crimes trials in China during 1945-1949 and in 1956 at the ICLC first meeting. It is a good news. Three weeks ago, I attended a meeting regarding the international trials and history. It inspired me to think about the limitations of  fact-finding and  its effects of international crimes trials on establishment of history. Japan government failed to confront upon its history of aggression in Asia, especially regarding the Nanjing Massacre.  (There are different categories of opponent tothe event. One is that they did not admit there was a massacre. Second, there was a massacre, but they cannot agree with China on the numbers of civilian victims.Third, they held that there were intentionally murders, however, the victims were not civilians but soldiers/combatants.) The publication of the confession could open the door for the public either in China or in Japan to know what happened. However, based on the first confession of Keiku Suzuki, dated 1954 and 38 pages long, some of the sentences were very long and contained multiple clauses. [Suzuki was held by Soviet forces at the end of the conflict and transferred to Chinese custody in 1950. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the court and released in 1963 according to earlier Chinese documents.] The possibility that it had gone through several drafts could not be excluded. In addition, all  confessions are confessions. It means that confessions could be made from inner voluntary and also with outsider-coercive. Moreover, only confessions are not enough for historians to seek the facts and establish the history. In other words, confessions (only a bit part of trial documents) are not sufficient to construe a convincing argument. Therefore, more information should be published and available to public,especially to historians and other academics.     Politics: It was said that the documents were being released to mark the 77th anniversary on Monday of the 7.7 Incident in 1937,the start of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.     Worries: Avoid to intriguing hatred to Japanese people or to triggering anti-Japan atmosphere. 


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