Aggressors' remorse: Yasutada Nanba

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Added On September 2, 2014

Wednesday is Victory Day of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.
 
China's anti-Japanese war in the 1930s and 1940s was an important part of the World Anti-Fascist War.
 
More than 35 million Chinese were either killed or injured during the eight-year conflict, which ended in September 1945 after Japan's official surrender.
 
Ahead of this year's commemorations, we have spoken to Japanese prisoners of war who were later released by the Chinese government, who expressed remorse for what they, and others had done in China seven decades ago.
 
Today we meet Nanba Yasutada, who served with the invading Japanese army for years before being held captive by the former Soviet Union and then repatriated to China.
 
Japanese veteran Nanba Yasutada died in 2013 at the age of 92. Captured in 1945 by the Soviet Union Army and released in the 1956 amnesty from a war criminal camp in China, the machine-gun squad commander dedicated afterwards to anti-war activities by retelling his own crimes in China during the World War II. 
 
SOUNDBITE(JAPANESE):YASUTADA NANBA, Sergeant, 39th Division of Japanese Army, WWII
 I’m a tool of Japanese militarism in that war of aggression. I inflicted grave damages to Chinese people. As a Japanese, I apologize sincerely.
 
The war against Japanese aggression broke out in 1930s and ended on Aug. 15, 1945 with Japan's unconditional surrender, which also cemented total victory in WWII. More than 35 million Chinese were either killed or injured during the eight-year conflict.
 
Yasutada recalled the manslaughter he joined in central China in 1943. He witnessed how Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed and dumped into  rivers and how the Chinese soldiers were bayoneted as training targets by Japanese soldiers.
 
SOUNDBITE(JAPANESE):YASUTADA NANBA, Sergeant, 39th Division of Japanese Army, WWII
My officer ordered us to wipe out some villages in the valley: killing all creatures even a cat and looting all things back. So We ransacked a village, force all villagers into a house and latched the door. We set fire on the nearby straws before hurling them into the house. It’s December. The dry straws blazed up immediately. The villagers, most of them the aged, women and kids, were all burned to death. We slaughtered the remaining civilians and transported the grain, pork and chicken back to army camp with their donkeys.
 
Yasutada’s personal experience urged him to examine the evil of the war. He was also worried about the frayed Japan-China relationship in recent years due to the sovereignty of Daiyu Islands in Eastern China Sea. 
 
The earliest record of the names of the Diaoyu Islands can be found in the book of Voyage with a Tail Wind (Shun Feng Xiang Song) published in 1403, the first year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of China's Ming Dynasty.
 
It shows that China had already discovered and named Diaoyu Islands by the 14th and 15th centuries. 
 
It was not until 1895 that Japan stole the Diaoyu Islands from China in a war and then forced the Qing court to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and cede to Japan the island of Taiwan, as well as the Diaoyu Islands and all other islands appertaining or belonging to Taiwan. 
 
On Dec. 1, 1943, China, the United States and Britain issued the Cairo Declaration, which stated in explicit terms that "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa (Taiwan), and Pescadores" shall be restored to the Chinese. In international law, the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been returned to China since then.
 
SOUNDBITE(JAPANESE):YASUTADA NANBA, Sergeant, 39th Division of Japanese Army, WWII
I’m rather angry about what Japanese government did. Its claims for land sovereignty actually dodged its responsibility for the consequence of waging a war. It bottles up all things we did on one hand, and talks nonsense like “the door of conversation still open.” I’m sorry for those words and deeds.
 
Yasutada repeated his own stories in his lifetime to inform young Japanese of what happened in the war. He said that he hoped the two countries can communicate equally, understand each other and develop together in the future.
 
September 3 was designated as the Victory Day decades ago by the Chinese government.
 
This year it's the first time that it's officially observed, after its legalization by China's top legislature in February.