When Lin Boyao visited fish vendor Ryokunan Suzuki, the old Japanese man was well into his 90s. Lin knew he had served in the Japanese Army's infamous 16th Division in Nanjing and the Chinese businessman, based in Japan, had some very important questions to ask.
"What did you do in Nanjing?" The former Japanese soldier looked at the younger Chinese man and recalled the horrors.
"We drove many Chinese together then I shot at them, no matter men or women, the old or children," Suzuki told Lin.
On the day he confessed his crimes to Lin, Suzuki collapsed in remorse. His long-kept dark secrets, which had haunted him for more than half a century, had been finally revealed.
Lin and his Japanese friends have collected evidence and testimonies from almost 200 Japanese veterans confessing to their horrific actions in Nanjing. And Lin's campaign to raise awareness of the 1937 atrocity continues.
In the year of the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, Lin is especially busy. Last week the 68-year-old Kobe businessman accompanied two massacre survivors, Zhang Xiuhong and Wu Zhengxi, to eight Japanese cities to take part in activities in memory of the massacre.
"In fact the survivors do not want to recall the nightmare in 1937," says Lin, a second-generation Chinese living in Japan. "Every time they talked about their agonies they would cry and tremble."
Born into a clothing vendor's family based in Kyoto's countryside, Lin endured a lot of "Shina" insults in his childhood, especially during the Japanese invasion of China. Some malicious Japanese even unleashed their dogs to chase Lin and his mother when they peddled through villages selling clothes.
In 1990, when Japanese right wing politician Shintaro Ishihara smeared the Nanjing Massacre as "a lie", Lin's childhood memories called him into action to search for evidence of Japanese war crimes.
Lin focused on finding evidence, while at the same time trying to raise money for war victims and their families, who have filed suits for compensation in Japan.
In 1997, he met with Azuma Shiro, one of the few ex-soldiers to admit to his participation in Nanjing Massacre.
The family of another veteran Takeo Kajitani gave Lin Kajitani's diary after he died. In the diary Kajitani wrote: "We forced them to stand against a wall. Then we shot them with four machine guns. There were more than 3,000 Chinese."
In 2001, when Japanese right wing activists launched a campaign to deny the Nanjing Massacre in Osaka, Lin organized a protest campaign to call on Japanese to find out the truth.
"The right wing activists are absurd to deny the truth although the massacre survivors are still suffering mentally and physically," Lin says.
"In my view, the Nanjing Massacre goes beyond a history issue in China-Japan relations," Lin says. "The massacre is a catastrophe in human history. The whole world should remember and learn lessons from this disaster."
(China Daily December 13, 2007)