Good for the soul

By Miao Xiaoyang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 6, 2015
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In Japan, there is a Chinese-founded publishing house named the Duan Press. Over the past 12 years, the press has been publishing an anti-war book titled August 15 each year, which records testimonies from Japanese soldiers who participated in Japan's war of aggression against China. Sparing no efforts in rescuing confessions from Japanese soldiers who are dying of old age, the publishing house has only one purpose--documenting atrocities of Japanese militarism for future generations, so as to push forward a long-lasting Sino-Japanese friendship.

Shortly before China's September 3 Victory Day celebrations this year, the Duan Press published August 15 in 2014, its 21st anti-war book.

Confessions for peace

Founded in 1996, the Duan Press is dedicated to publishing Japanese-language books on China. As of August 2015, it has published over 290 titles on Chinese society, economy and culture as well as Sino-Japanese exchanges.

"The first anti-war book we published is The Jap Soldiers I Know, written by Chinese writer Fang Jun and published in 2000," said Duan Yuezhong, founder and Editor in Chief of the press. "After its publication, the book raised high attention in Japan and received wide coverage by plenty of Japanese media outlets. That's when we realized we should keep on publishing such works."

In 2003, the Duan Press published Here Comes the Jap Soldiers Again--a Japanese soldier's atonement for his war atrocities in east China's Shandong Province. The author Yasuyoshi Shioya joined the Japanese army in 1942 and battled against the Eighth Route Army, an army under the command of the Communist Party of China. After the war, he was detained in Siberia and later sent back to Tokyo.

"I've never forgotten my evil deeds in the war," he writes in the book. In 1985, Shioya, together with his 90 comrades-in-arms, visited China to atone for war atrocities. In the following five years, they visited the Chinese battlefields they had fought in and donated supplies to nearby schools.

Another book that Dun said was worth mentioning is The Search for Surviving Evidence of the Japanese Invasion of the Puppet State of Manchukuo, which his press published in 2007. The author Shigeru Aoki is a Japanese civil servant who visited China five times between 2000 and 2005, in search of evidence of Japanese aggression in northeast China, where the puppet state was located. He recorded his field trips with pictures and words--solid evidence of heinous crimes committed by Japanese forces during their invasion of China.

"Japanese people have the courage to speak up and record the atrocities in detail. As a publisher, we feel a strong responsibility to pass on the historical facts to future generations. By letting more people know the crimes committed by Japanese invaders in China, more will come to realize how precious peace is," Duan said.

Precious testimonies

The Duan Press started to publish the August 15 series in 2004, based on a namesake Japanese-language monthly magazine published by a group of former soldiers. The anti-war group, founded in 1961, has published more than 500 issues of the magazine over the past five decades. Japan declared its unconditional surrender in World War II on August 15, 1945.

"Their testimonies are very precious and were spoken from the bottom of their hearts. However, since they are growing old, it is becoming more and more difficult to collect their testimonies," Duan said.

Duan said that the August 15 series, thick and almanac-like, does not sell well and the publishing house has to subsidize its publication with incomes from other books. However, out of a sense of responsibility, he has kept on doing the job.

"Many Japanese soldiers want to make a thorough confession before they pass away," Duan said. "In Japan, many scholars and authors are carrying out anti-war research out of conscience, without any funding support. I hope more people will join the effort."

When commenting on the parade marking the 70th anniversary of victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War in Beijing, Duan said the grand ceremony connected the past and the future, China and the world, and peace and development.

"It doesn't matter whether you are abroad or in China, present at the parade or in front of your TV set. These days, everyone can be a media outlet," Duan, who was not present at the parade, told Beijing Review. "We can tell the world in different languages and forms--let's join hands to remember history and maintain peace."

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