“Stadium of Skulls”

The Japanese had massacred five thousand of the townsfolk in 1944. Survivors of Hengyang dug up the corpses in 1946 and carefully arranged them on a hillside for the memorial. In the upper right and bottom left are the bones of the victims.

Both the photo and the caption are from ESWN’s grimly fascinating post about this horrifying photo. Anyone curious as to why the Chinese still bear a mild grudge against the Japanese should go read this post now. After describing some especially barbaric acts against innocent Chinese civilians, ESWN remarks:

Understandably, to vastly understate the case, the residents of Hengyang don’t like what was done to them. Now, it may be possible to persuade them that it is time to move on because people cannot dwell on past history forever. It is a lot harder if they keep reading that the Japanese want to revise their history textbooks (see previous post Japanese History Textbooks (2005 edition), as in “The only reason that Japan entered China and Korea was to liberate those people from the western imperialists!”

Understatement is right. ESWN, forgive me for stealing, but this was a very moving post.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

Having listened to some of the stories from my late fiancé’s family in Liaoning province, I completely understand the resentment many Chinese feel towards Japan. Particularly those who either suffered through the occupation or those whose families are from the area once referred to as “Manchuria”.

However, for all Chinese to continue such hatred today – it’s B.S.

I’ve heard that some estimates for the lives lost at the hands of the Imperial Japanese army to be around 35 million and while that is an atrocity, it’s only 5 million more than Mao starved to death and he’s considered a “hero”.

Japan is not the same country it was during the occupation of China and nor are their people the same. In fact, I believe Japan is financially the highest contributor to world-wide aid and they certainly contribute the most to China.

How long must one continue to apologize for their past transgressions?

Remember the Germans?

This hatred is simply a government inspired method for taking pressure off of their own failures.

April 7, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

Three cheers for the unnamed above for saying that Japan shouldn’t be hated today for this, and yes, it is true, Japan is the worlds highest contributor of ODA.

It is foolish to think that hatred like this is healthy, or that it isn’t being stoked, though I would say that it was nationalists rather than commuists who were doing the worst. True, some of the nationalists are in the government, but not all of them.

April 7, 2005 @ 5:02 am | Comment

Darn it! I forgot to sign my name to that.

I made pretty much the same statement on my own blog.

April 7, 2005 @ 6:00 am | Comment

How long must one continue to apologize for their past transgressions?

Remember the Germans?


The Japanese didn’t just commit atrocities in China,it was across Asia.The Germans have been made to pay,they’ve come clean.The Japanese have not done this!Until Japan faces up to its past and makes a meaningful apology to those that suffered under them the hatred will continue.This is not something that happened hundreds of years ago,it’s only sixty.Many,many victims are still alive.If Japan wants to move on,it must say sorry.Look at the former comfort women being violated again and again,while Japan hides behind its treaties.If your mother had been one ,how would you feel?


April 7, 2005 @ 8:16 am | Comment

Right on Mark.

April 7, 2005 @ 11:31 am | Comment

Japan can always point to on so and so date at so and so place some Japanese politician used some form of the word “regret” and therefore that constitute a sufficient apology and so Japan shouldn’t need to apologize anymore. But this whole attitude that we said sorry already therefore everything is alright is what strikes people in China and Korea as incredibly insincere. The Germans on the other hand, have not just apologized but shown with their action their sincerity. You don’t see Germans talking about how ungrateful the Jews are for all the grant money given to Israel by Germany (btw, most of Japan’s aid to China is in the form of loans that needs to be paid back with interest). You don’t see Germans writing textbooks and making movies about their heroic sacrifice to liberate the people of Europe. You don’t see Germany trying to recover territories from the glory dates of the empire. For obvious reasons, it’s natural to compare the behavior of Germany and Japan after the war, and Japan just doesn’t come anywhere close to Germany in terms of facing up to the terrible past.

April 7, 2005 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

Hui Mao,

Wont argue with you on this one.


April 7, 2005 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

It’s absolutely true, Hui Mao, and their attitude is wrong, embarrassing, thoughtless, etc. So does that mean these temper tantrums continue ad infinitum? Doesn’t there come a point when the hatchet gets buried? I really do understand the rage of the Chinese, and I put up this post to underscore the fact that it’s justified, at least to an extent. I can understand if the Chinese remain angry and indignant for many decades to come, especially in light of Japan’s refusal to come clean. But it’s definitely time to show some maturity and not allow anti-Japanese hysterics to take over, as they did last year in Xi’an and in Guangzhou (the prostitute scandal with the Japanese businessmen). It almost looks as if there’s a cottage industry dedicated to keeping the hatred burning, and it reflects poorly on China.

April 7, 2005 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

Richard. Did you take down the photo? I am still in China and it does not show up on your blog this morning.

The attitude against the Japanese is not just a cottage industry. Over the years I have come to know many young Chinese, 20-30 somethings, quite well, getting to know about their interests, their families, etc. In fact, one young man who I have known for several years told me the other day he thought he might not be a Han Chinese as his father was from the Dongbei, Heilongjiang. Anyway, invariably these friends say they do not like the Japanese. They are not wild-eye haters and would probably never go to a demonstration, however they have those feelings, a second generation since the grandparents’ generation was so brutalized and murdered.

I think there is more than the eye can see on this Chinese/Japanese relationship. My experience in China suggests that the Christian concept of forgiveness is not understood nor practiced on a large scale; although I don’t think that would explain this on-going hatred by itself. The Chiinese want to feel secure in their nationhood and in their persons. Without finding sense of that in the relationship with Japan, it will be difficult for the Chinese to forget and ,if ever, forgive.

April 7, 2005 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

I am with you Pete, and appreciate the comment. Yes, it’s true that turn the other cheek isn’t a golden rule in China, but still, as ou say, there’s more behind this than mere revenge, something that’s been cultivated and carefully worked on….

And I did not take the picture down — it is very strange that you can’t see it. Is there just a blank space where the photo was?

April 7, 2005 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

A black outlined blank space the same color as the background.

Tonight the photo is back up.

April 8, 2005 @ 7:55 am | Comment

I hate the Chinese Communist Party!

May 7, 2005 @ 5:12 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.