Mayor of Nagoya, Takashi Kawamura.
The mayor of Nagoya Takashi Kawamura recently denied that the Rape of Nanking ever took place in front of Liu Zhiwei, a member of the Nanjing Communist Party Committee.
Receiving Liu for a visit to Nagoya on Feburary 20th, Kawamura claimed that the wartime atrocities of Japanese troops against Nanjing civilians didn’t occur, with only a battle between Chinese Nationalist and Japanese forces before the city was taken.
Liu reportedly said nothing to refute Kawamura’s claims during a ceremony in which they exchanged gifts and shook hands.
The 63-year-old mayor’s opinion was reportedly influenced by observations his father Kaneo Kawamura made during his visit to the city in 1945, where he was warmly received by the locals of Nanjing, formerly known as Nanking before
Wade-Giles pinyin standardization refashioned the city as Nanjing in more recent years.
“Why were people in Nanjing kind to Japanese soldiers only eight years after the incident? I could go to Nanjing and attend a debate on the history of the city, if necessary,” Kawamura said.
“There were regular combative activities, but I believe the Nanjing (Massacre) never happened,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei expressed that China “does not accept Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura’s denial of the crime of the Nanjing Massacre” at a news conference on Monday.
Hong declared that irrefutable evidence exists regarding the Rape of Nanking, and urged Japan to see “history as a mirror”.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Nagoya, Japan’s third largest incorporated city, also expressed wishes that the relations would stay friendly between Nanjing and Nagoya, which became sister cities in 1978.
The flub by Kawamura shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the culture of denial prevalent in Japan regarding the Nanjing atrocities which claimed an estimated 300,000 lives. Films like “The Truth About Nanjing” and Japanese textbooks which downplay the incident are seen as indicative of the long way Japan has to go before coming to terms with the events which took place in December of 1937.