The Fifteen-year War in the PRC's School Textbooks and National Museums (1949-1982)

Chan Yang

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In conclusion, the alterations made by the CCP regime in response to the international or domestic transformations, were about the evaluation of individuals and third-party countries; the basic narrative of the war as a whole stayed almost intact during the period as did the evaluation of the Japanese invasion. For instance, offensive language towards Japan continued to be used substantially in the textbooks, even those published after the Sino-Japanese normalisation. In a textbook published in 1973, the word ‘Japanese bandits’ appeared five times in five sentences.[45]  Furthermore this section found that both the textbooks and museums’ presentations of the Fifteen-year War were CCP-centric and victorious. Nevertheless, it also found the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese army were presented in these two spheres without hesitation. This is different from the argument made by the existing literature that a victimhood narrative of the war was discouraged by the CCP regime during the period.  Why did the regime favour both the tragic and heroic parts of the war?  I suggest, that whilst the heroic facet was needed to boost a vigorous social atmosphere for the PRC, the tragic facet was also necessary as a contrast.


The CCP regime actually did not change its version of the Fifteen-year War memory that much between 1949 and 1982. The alterations made by the regime were about the evaluation of the US, USSR or individuals. For some short-term purposes, the regime exploited the war memory by emphasising, exaggerating or distorting a particular part of the war which could best serve their aims. Nevertheless, the regime did not try to re-interpret the war as a whole or invent something from scratch for the short-term purposes. Meanwhile, the basic narrative of the war itself, the evaluation of the Japanese invasion, as well as the CCP-centric narrative stayed intact during the period. Particularly, this paper has found not only the heroic aspect of the Fifteen-year War remembrance but also the tragic aspect was continuously employed by the CCP regime to lubricate its nation-building practices before 1982. By various means, a specific version of the Fifteen-year War - manifested by a set of CCP-centric and tragical-heroic events - was promoted by the CCP regime throughout China.

What was the relationship between local and national memory of the Fifteen-year War in mainland China between 1949 and 1982? Firstly, the PRC’s national memory relied heavily on the local memory. For example, the recruiting method of the national history museums was to issue public calls. Items turned over or donated by regional government departments and ordinary citizens comprised the major part of the museums’ collection. The museums also sent their staff to the so-called ‘old revolutionary areas’ to collect period pieces directly from the local governments and residents.[46] Secondly, the national memory of the Fifteen-year War should have penetrated locally. Nevertheless, as different places had different experiences in the war, different places should have had their own memories of the war, apart from the limited national memory.  Were they dictated to by the central government and strictly in line with the national memory, or were they enjoying a sense of autonomy? According to a related study of mine, first of all, the locals had to adopt the essence of the national memory of the Fifteen-year War: the CCP’s solo leadership and a tragic yet ultimately victorious tone. As long as it was not being contradictory to the essences of the national memory (e.g. not pro-KMT or pro-US), the locals could remember their own war experience freely without suppression or discouragement from the above. It was the memory identified with most by the locals that was thriving locally through a ‘joint enterprise’ among citizens, non-government agents and the local governments. So, the disastrous memory could be openly embraced by the locals, even substantially, as long as this victimhood was useful and could be associated with something heroic.[47]



Chan Yang has recently submitted her PhD thesis at the University of Bristol, in which she examines the remembrance of the Second Sino-Japanese War in mainland China prior to the 1982 Textbook Incident. This thesis ultimately aims at contributing to solve the Sino-Japanese History Problem. It not only explores the roles played by the Chinese and Japanese national as well as local state actors in the formation of the History Problem, but also pays attention to the individual Chinese and Japanese people. Her research interests focus on contemporary Chinese history, contemporary Japanese history, postwar Sino-Japanese relations and Collective Memory Studies.



[1] By Fifteen-year War I mean the military conflict between China and Japan that spanned the period from the Manchuria Incident on 18 September 1931 to 15 August 1945. There are different names for this military conflict: in PRC, it is normally called the Anti-Japanese War/War of Resistance against Japan (kangri zhanzheng 抗日战争); in Japan, there are several names, like the Great East Asia War (daitoua sensou 大東亜戦争), Fifteen-year War (juugonen sensou 十五年戦争) and Pacific War (taiheiyou sensou 太 平洋戦争).  Also, the time period of this war can be from 1931 (The Manchuria Incident) to 1945, from 1937(the Macro Polo Bridge Incident) to 1945, or from 1941 (the attack on Pearl Harbor) to 1945. This article will use different names of this conflict according to the context.

[2] The 1982 Textbook Incident was a major diplomatic issue between Japan and China over the alleged ‘revision’ of the Fifteen-year War history in Japanese school textbooks, and is considered as the first large-scale diplomatic conflict between China and Japan over the wartime history. For more on this incident, see, Rose Caroline, Interpreting history in Sino-Japanese relations : a case study in political decision-making (Routledge, 1998).

[3] See, Yinan He, “Remembering and Forgetting the War Elite Mythmaking, Mass Reaction, and Sino-Japanese Relations, 1950-2006”, History & Memory 19 (2007): 43-74; Yinan He,“Ripe for Cooperation or Rivalry? Commerce, Realpolitik, and War Memory in Contemporary Sino-Japanese Relations”, Asian Security 4 (2008):162-197; Yinan He,The Search for Reconciliation: Sino-Japanese and German-Polish Relations since World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Rana Mitter, “Old ghosts, new memories: China's changing war history in the era of post-Mao politics”, Journal of Contemporary History 38 (2003): 117-131; James Reilly, “China's History Activists and the War of Resistane Against Japan: History in the Making”, Asian Survey 19 (2004): 276-294; James Reilly, “Remember History, Not Hatred: Collective Remembrance of China's War of Resistance to Japan”, Modern Aisan Studies 45 (2011):463-490; also, see other articles in this special issue (China in World War II, 1937-1945: Experience, Memory, and Legacy) of Modern Asian Studies.

[4] According to Pierre Nora, a leading scholar on Collective Memory Studies, realms of memory arise to preserve the memory when there is no longer any environment in which the memory is a real part of everyday experience. Studying the realms of memory is a useful and important way of capturing the memory of the Chinese people during the PRC era, when the memory of the Fifteen-year War was not a real part of everyday experience. Anna Whitehead, Memory (Routledge, 2009). Pierre Nora, Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past (Columbia University Press, 1996).

[5] I only encountered a few studies on how the Fifteen-year War was presented in PRC’s pre-1982 textbooks, see, Zhang Shaozhe, Kang Xianshu, Huang Xiaochun, ‘Chuugoku’ [China], in Tetsu Nakamura (ed.), Higashi Ajia no rekishi kyoukasyou wa dou kakareteiruka [how the history textbooks have been written in East Asia] (Nihon hyouronsya, 2004); Yinan He’s works.  Zhang et al.‘s discussion on the textbooks’ narrative of the Fifteen-year War mainly based on three textbooks: Chujizhongxue Zhongguo Lishi disice(1956) and Quanrizhi shinianzhi xuexiao chuzhongkeben disice (1980) (full information about these two textbooks, see footnote 9 ); and a textbook published in 1995.  In He, ‘Remembering and forgetting’, she suggested several distortions of the textbooks in the 1950s and 1960s, such as the CCP-centric narrative and the neglecting of the contribution of the KMT as well as the US to the victory of the war. She also argued ‘textbook treatment of Japanese actions was rather cut-and-dried, rarely providing details (p.49). However, it is not entirely clear which textbooks were used by He. Similarly, He, “History, Chinese Nationalism”, suggested in the 1970s ‘most young Chinese at that time had minimal knowledge about Japanese war atrocities, for the state-controlled textbooks rarely mentioned them ...’ (p. 6). No reference was given for this claim.

[6] As regards the museums, according to Kawamura, China started to unearth and preserve anti-Japanese remains and build memorials after the 1982 Textbook Incident, see, Kawamura Kazuyuki, “Chuugoku no heiwa kinenkan” [Chinese peace memorials] in Seikaino heiwa hakubutsukan [peace museums in the world] (Nihon zusho sentai, 1995). Nevertheless, before 1982, there were exhibitions and memorials devoted to the Fifteen-year War, see, Rana Mitter, “Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Nationalism, History and Memory in the Beijing War of Resistance Museum, 1987–1997”,The China Quarterly, 161 (2000); Kirk A. Denton, “Horror and Atrocity: Memory of Japanese Imperialism”, in Ching Kwan Lee and Guobin Yang (ed.) Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution (Stanford University Press, 2007). Mitter’s article only briefly mentioned some Mao-era museums related to the Fifteen-year War, such as the War Crimes Museums set up at Fushun in the 1950s. No note was given to indicate what kind of source this mention was based on. Denton also briefly discussed the representations of the Fifteen-year War in some Mao-era museums e.g. the Northeast Martyrs Memorial Hall founded in 1948 and the Pingdingshan Massacre Museum founded in 1972.

[7] For more discussion on this point, please see my doctoral thesis: Chan Yang, Reconsidering the Sino-Japanese History Problem: Remembrance of the Second Sino-Japanese War in mainland China prior to the 1982 Textbook Incident, Department of Historical Studies, University of Bristol, unpublished, submitted on 17 March 2014.

[8] Research on the PRC’s school textbooks system, see, Zhang et al.  “Chuugoku”;  Fang Chengzhi, “Jianguo chuqi zhongxiaoxue jiaokeshu de biange” [The transformation of the Primary and Secondary School Textbook in the Early Period after the Founding of New China], Journal of Educational Science of Hunan Normal University, 6 (2007); Shi Ou and Li Xin, “Xin Zhongguo 60 nian zhongxiaoxue jiaocai jianshe zhi tanxi” [The Research in the Development of Chinese and Secondary Textbooks over Sity Years], Journal of Educational Science of Hunan Normal University, 8 (2009).

[9] Seventeen-year period: Ma Jingwu and Li Gengxu. (1957). Gaoji xiaoxue keben lishi disice [Senior primary school textbook, History, volume 4] (Renminjiaoyu chubanshe,1957) 马精武 李赓序, 高级小学课本 历史 第四册 (人民教育出版社出版,1957); Beijingshi jiaoyuju zhongxiaoxue jiaocai bianshenchu. (1961). Beijingshi gaojixiaoxue shiyongkeben Lishi xiace [Beijing municipal senior primary school trial textbook, History, volume 2] (Beijing chubanshe, 1961) 北京市教育局中小学教材编审处, 北京市高级小学试用课本 历史 下册(北京出版社出版,1961). Yao Yongbin and Su Shoutong. Chujizhongxue Zhongguo Lishi disice [junior high school textbook, Chinese History, volume 4] (Renmin jiaoyu chubanshe,1956) 姚涌彬 苏寿桐, 初级中学课本 中国历史 第四册 (人民教育出版社, 1956); Also, its 7th Edition published in 1963; Renminjiaoyu chubanshe, chujizhong xuekebenZhongguo Lishi disice jiaoxue cankaoshu [junior high school textbook, Chinese History, volume four, teaching reference book]’ (Renminjiaoyu chubanshe, 1959),  人民教育出版社, 初级中学课本 中国历史 第四册 教学参考书 (人民教育出版社,1959). Renming jiaoyu chubanshe. Gaoji zhongxue keben shijie jindai xiandaishi xiace [senior high school textbook , World modern and contemporary history, volume 2] (Renmin jiaoyu chubanshe, 1958) 人民教育出版社, 高级中学课本 世界近代现代史 下册(人民教育出版社,1958)’; Renminjiaoyu chubanshe, Gaoji zhongxue keben Zhongguo xiandaishi [senior high school textbook, Chinese contemporary history] (Renmin jiaoyu chubanshe,1960) 人民教育出版社, 高级中学课本 中国现代史 (人民教育出版社,1960); Also, the second print of its third edition published in 1964 Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe, Gaozhong zhongguo xiandaishijiaoxue cangaoshu xiace[senior high school Chinese contemporary history teaching reference book, volume 2] (Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe,1960) 上海教育出版社, 高中中国现代史 教学参考书 下册 (上海教育出版社, 1960第一版).

Cultural Revolution period: Beijingshi jiaoyuju jiaocai bianxiezu, Beijingshi zhongxue shiyong keben lishi disance shangce [Beijing municipal high school trial textbook, History volume 3 issue 1] (Renmin jiaoyu chubanshe, 1973) 北京市教育局教材编写组《北京市中学试用课本 历史第三册 (上册)》(人民教育出版社,1973); Liaoningsheng zhongxiaoxue jiaocai bianxiezu, Liaoning sheng zhongxueshiyong keben zhongguolishi xiandaibufen [Liaoning Provincial high school trial textbook,Chinese History, contemporary part] (Liaoning renmin chubanshe, 1977) 辽宁省中小学教材编写组, 辽宁省中学试用课本 中国历史 现代部分(辽宁人民出版社,1977).Post-cultural Revolution period: Zhongxiaoxue tongyongjiaocai lishi bianxiezu, Quanrizhi shinianzhi xuexiao chuzhongkeben disice [full-time,ten-year schooling junior high school textbook, Chinese History, volume 4] (Renmin jiaoyu chubanshe,1980,1979 first print) 中小学通用教材历史编写组, 全日制十年制学校初中课本 中国历史 第四册, (人民教育出版社出版, 1980,1979第一版); Zhongxiaoxue tongyong jiaocai lishi bianxiezu, Quanrizhi shinianzhi xuexiao chuzhong Zhongguo lishi disice jiaoxue cankaoshu [full-time, ten-year schooling junior high school Chinese History,volume 4, teaching reference book] (Renmin jiaoyu chubanshe, 1980, 1979 first print) 中小学通用教材历史编写组,全日制十年制学校 初中中国历史 第四册 教学参考书( 人民教育出版社出版,1980, 1979第一版).                

[10] The ‘second Civil Revolution War period’ was called ‘Land Revolution War period’ during the Cultural Revolution.

[11] It seems that the idea of ‘strategic deadlock phase’ had not been adopted by school textbooks published in 1950s. Also, a few textbooks, published after 1960, simply taught the historical facts without a strict periodisation, Beijingshi zhongxue shiyong keben lishi disance shangce (1973).

[12] This table is based on: National Museum of China’s exhibition “Centennial of National Museum of China”, visited by the author on 24 Sep 2012; the official website of National Museum of China, <>; and Zhongguo geming bowuguan,  zhongguo geming bowuguan cangpinxuan [Selected collection of Museum of Chinese Revolution] (Wenwu chubanshe, 2003).   Chinese characters of the terms used in the table: 中央革命博物馆筹备处, 中国革命博物馆, 中国革命历史博物馆, 中国共产党30周年纪念展览 (七一展览),党史陈列, 中国革命史陈列, 中国共产党党史陈列(民主革命时期)

[13] The revolution museum was under the control of the PRC’s Ministry of Culture, while the military museum was under the control of the PLA.

[14] The revolution museum, which exhibited Chinese History since the Opium War in 1840, was located at the east side of Tiananmen Square. It was merged with the Museum of Chinese History, which specialised in pre-1840 Chinese history, to form the National Museum of China in 2003. These two museums have shared the same building since 1959. They merged and separated several times in PRC’s history. For details about this, see the official website of the National Museum of China.

[15] “Xiangrenmin qunzhong jinxing aiguozhuyi he gemingchuantong jiaoyu, gemingbowuguan lishibowuguan jiancheng”  [educate people on patriotism and revolution tradition, the revolution museum and history museum has completed ], Renmin ribao, 20 Sep 1959; PRC’s Ministry of Culture, “Weizhiyuan Zhongguo geming bowuguan, Zhongguo lishi bowuguan, gugong bowuguan zhengji wenwuziliao” [Recruit period pieces for Chinese Museum of Revolution, Chinese Museum of History and Museum of the Forbidden City], 10 Nov 1958.

[16] Exhibition “Centennial of National Museum of China”; Yang Fang, “Guojiabowuguan qiaorenbianhua: cong gemingmiankong dao shechipin zhanshi” [quiet change of National Museum of China: from the face of revolution to the exhibition of luxurious goods], Zhongguo guojia bowuguan meizhou kuaixun, 25 (2011)

[17] The three periods are: 1840-1919, 1919-1949, post-1949, this periodisation was based on Maoist theory. Central Archives, “Deng Xiaoping guanyu minque Zhongguo gemingbowuguan fangzhen dedeyijian pishi” [Deng Xiaoping’s opinion about the guiding principle of Chinese Museum of Revolution], 18 Oct 1957. The photo of this document is shown by the exhibition “Centennial of National Museum of China”.

[18] See, the official website of the military museum,  <>

[19] See, “Zhongguo geming lishi bowuguan jieshao” [introduction of Chinese Revolution Museum and history museum], Xinhua Ribao, 30 Jun 1961.

[20] The display in the War of Resistance hall was a part of the museum’s basic exhibition as well, which was previewed internally since October 1959. See, “Gemingjunshi bowuguan longzhong kaiguan” [the Military Museum is opened solemnly], Nanjing Ribao, 2 Aug 1960; “Jinsanshi wanren canguanle junshi bowuguan” [Nearly 300,000 people has visited the Military Museum], Nanjing Ribao, 18 Aug 1960.

[21] See, Maurice Meisner, Mao's China and after: a history of the People's Republic (New York, NY, Free Press, 1999); Kwan Ha Yim, China since Mao (London:Macmillan,1980); Michael Y.M. Kau and Susan H. Marsh, China in the era of Deng Xiaoping : a decade of reform (M E Sharpe Inc, 1993).

[22] For example, two chapters in Chuji zhongxue Zhongguo lishi (1956) were used to discuss the left-wing literature movement and the literature during the War of Resistance period, respectively. However, the two chapters disappeared in this textbook’s 1963 edition. The left-wing literature movement and its supporters, like Wang Ming, Liu Shaoqi and Tian Han were heavily criticised in a school textbook published in 1973, see, Beijingshi zhongxue Lishi (1973). Criticism towards the literature in the movement, see, “Zuoyi zuojia de youyi mianmu” [the right-wing features of ‘left-wing’ writers], Xinhua Ribao, 11 Dec 1966. 

[23] Lei Yi, “Qu Qiubai yunan bushiyu sirenbang debohai” [Qu Qiubai’s case of injustice did not start from the persecution of ‘gang of four’]’,Wenshi cankao 2010; “Wang Zhang Jiang Yao sirenbang pohuai Zhongguo renmin gemming junshi bowuguan chenliexuanchuan gongzuo de zuixing” [gang of four’s’ crime of sabotaging the Revolution Museum and Military Museum’s work of exhibition and propaganda], Xinhua Ribao, 23 Jan 1977.

[24] “Zhongguo gongchandang lishi chenlie minzhu gemingshiqi” [pilgrimaging of the Exhibition of the CCP’s history (democratic revolution period)], Renmin Ribao, 6 Jul 1981

[25] Quanrizhi shinianzhi xuexiao chuzhongkeben disice (1980)

[26] “Jinian weida kangri zhanzheng shengli ershizhounian zhanlan xunli” [a pilgrimage of the Exhibition to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Victory of the Great Anti-Japanese War], Renmin Ribao, 22 Aug 1965; “Chongwen weida kangrizhanzheng de lishi” [review the great history of Anti-Japanese War], Renmin Ribao, 21 Aug 1965.

[27] Dittmer and Kim argues, in the 1950s, the CCP regime fostered the creation of an international socialist identity,which was mobilised in domestic and foreign policy to ‘symbolize its solidarity with the Soviet Union’; however, after the Sino-Soviet conflict, ‘the international socialists symbols underwent a process of nationalization or indigenization with the subordination of the international socialist symbols of the first decade of the PRC to nationalist symbols celebrating China’s own past, including the history of the CCP, its leaders and tis martyrs.’ Lowell Dittmer and Samuel S. Kim ed., China's Quest For National Identity (Cornell University Press, 1993), 269.

[28] “Jinian kangrizhanzheng shengli sanshizhounian” [commemorating the 30th anniversary of the victory of Anti-Japanese War], Renmin Ribao, 3 Sep 1975; “Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hubei dengdi xiang Sujunlieshi lingmu, jinianbei he jinianta xianhuaquan, Hebeisheng Zhangbeixian geweihui xiang sumenglianjun lieshijinianta xianhuaquan” [Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang,Hubei and other places offered flowers to the Soviet martyrs’ tombs, cenotaphs and memorial towers, Zhangbei county in Heibei province offered flowers to the Soviet and Mongolian united army martyrs‘ memorial towers], Renmin Ribao, 4 Sep 1975

[29] This paragraph was based on the sources cited previously.

[30] Two sources used for this part were: two books edited by the Revolution Museum and Military Museum, which describes some items from their collections: Zhongguo geming bowuguan (2003). Zhongguo geming bowuguan cangpinxuan [Selected collection of Museum of Chinese Revolution] (Wenwu chubanshe, 2003) and, Zhongguo renmin junshi bowuguan.Zhongguo junshi bowuguan wenwujianshang [Appreciate the period pieces of Chinese Museum of Military] (Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 2006); also, a few pre-1982 newspaper reports, which described the exhibitions in the two museums. If an item was mentioned by the pre-1982 reports and the two books, I speculate that it has been displayed/ possessed by the museums since they were turned over.

[31] According to Gemin bowuguan (2003), 156 and p.152 Junshi bowuguan (2006), 152, the items were turned over to the Revolution Museum and Military Museum in 1952 and 1959 respectively. The items relating to Zuo Quan were also displayed in the new basic exhibition of the Revolution Museum in the post-Culture Revolution period,see,“Zhongguo gongchandang lishi chenlie minzhu gemingshiqi”.

[32] Both the medal and the boat were mentioned in, “Jinian weida kangri zhanzheng shengli ershizhounian zhanlan xunli”. The medal is described in Gemin bowuguan, 180. The boat is described in Gemin bowuguan, 173.

[33] E.g, “Zhongguo geming lishi bowuguan jieshao”. Also, several memorials were built to commemorate Bethune, see, “Shijiazhuang junmin jisao baiqiuen tongzhimu”[soldiers and people in Shijiazhuang commemorate Bethune at his grave], Xinhua Ribao, 12 Nov 1964; “Baiqiuen jinianguan kaimu” [Bethune memorial inaugurates], Xinhua Ribao, 1 Sep 1976. The popularity of Bethune among Chinese largely stemmed from an article ‘Commemorating Bethune’, which was one of the‘three old articles (laosanpian 老三篇)’ written by Mao.

[34] E.g. “Jinian weida kangri zhanzheng shengli ershizhounian zhanlan xunli”; “junshibowuguan kangri zhanzhengguan jijiang chongxinkaifang[The Military Museum’s Hall of the War of Resistance against Japan will re-open soon], Renmin Ribao,16Aug 1965; Junshi bowuguan, 182.

[35] Even in the two primary school textbooks I surveyed , Imperial Japanese army’s atrocities were described. E.g. ‘Japanese army brutally massacred many Chinese people, and humiliated Chinese women. Whenever Japanese army went, it would burn down the villages and loot all the assets there’. Original Chinese Text (OCT): “日军野蛮地大量地屠杀中国人民,侮辱中国妇女。日军打到哪里,就烧毁哪里的村镇,抢光哪里的财物。人民受到了深重的灾难”), Xiaoxue lieshi (1957),28-29.

[36] Gaojizhongxue Zhongguo xiandaishi (1960), 54-55. OCT: “日本帝国主义占领东北以后,对东北人民实行残暴的殖民统治。从伪 “满洲国”的中央,各省,各县到基层行政组织,都操纵在日本侵略者的手里。在那里,普遍地实行十户连坐的保甲制度, “一人犯法,十户负罪”。日本帝国主义在东北施行奴化教育,压制东北人民地爱国思想。它还提倡种植和吸食鸦片,摧毁东北人民地健康。日军在东北烧杀,抢 掠,奸淫等暴行,多到数不清。日本帝国主义垄断了东北的经济命脉。它把矿山,工厂,交通运输等事业全部控制在手里,强迫东北人民进行奴隶般地劳动,任意霸 占东北人民地土地财产。日本帝国主义每年从东北掠夺大量地煤,铁,木材和粮食......但是东北人民没有屈服......建立了抗日游击 队......1935年各地抗日游击队统一改编成东北抗日联军”.

[37] A misstatement that the Nanjing Massacre was an academic forbidden zone and not taught in the PRC’s schools has been popular among some amateur historians and even postgraduate students. For instance, an online article claimed that the Nanjing Massacre was first included in school History textbooks in 1979, when the manuscript of the Nanjing University’s 1960 research project was published as an internally circulated document, see, “Nanjing datusha censhi yanjiu jinqu beizhongguo chedi yiwang 35 nian” [the Nanjing Massacre used to be the academic forbidden zone, and had been forgotten in China completedly for 35 years], last modified 13 Dec 2010,  Further, a textbook’s description of the Nanjing Massacre was also quoted in Zhang et al’s article, nevertheless, the article did not provide any analysis.

[38] The Nanjing Massacre and the figure of 300,000 was mentioned in Gaojizhongxue Zhongguo xiandaishi (1960), 57 and in the same place in its third edition published in 1964.The reference book further pointed out the cruelty was a feature of Imperial Japanese army and the Nanjing Massacre was only a typical example, see, Gaozhong jiaoxue cankaoshu (1960). Also, this reference book was based on other history books edited/written by some mainstream Chinese historians at the time.

[39] Chuzhong Zhongguo lishi (1979), 51. OCT: “日军占领南京以后,展开了疯狂的大屠杀。南京的和平居民,有的被当做练习射击的靶子,有的被当作拼刺刀的对象,有的被浇上油烧死,有的被活埋,有的被挖 去心肝。在一个多月里,被杀害的不下三十万人,被焚烧的房屋达三分之一。那时候,南京城里,尸骨纵横,瓦砾成山,阴风凄凄,顿成人间地狱.”

[40] Chujizhongxue Zhongguo lishi (1956), 87. OCT: “侵略军残杀人民,使广大平原成为 ‘无村不带孝,到处闻哭声’的悲惨世界,以为这样就可以征服这个地区了”.

[41] According to a memoir of a Japanese technician who visited China three times between 1965 and 1966, although there were items reflecting Japanese atrocities in the Revolution Museum and Military Museum, the atrocities exhibited in the two museums were not as disturbing as these displayed in the National Cultural Palace, see, Anonymous, “Watashi to Chuugoku” [Me and China]’, last modified 26 Mar 2006,

[42] Jinian weida kangri zhanzheng shengli ershizhounian zhanlan xunli”; Geming bowuguan, 184.

[43] “Jinian weida kangri zhanzheng shengli ershizhounian zhanlan xunli; Junshi bowuguan, 147-148

[44] See, “Zaikangri zhanzhengguan shou gemingjiaoyu[Receive revolutionary education in the Hall of the War of Resistance against Japan], Renmin Ribao, 27 Aug 1965; “Wanrenken debeiju qineng chong yan” [how could the tragedy of wanrenken be performed again], Xinhua Ribao, 14 Jul 1974. Wanrenken was a kind of common Japanese ‘remains’ throughout China. For example, the Japanese journalist Honda Katsuichi visited a wanrenken in Liaoning province in 1971 and was deeply shocked by it. Honda Katsuichi. (1981). Chugoku no tabi [travels in China] (Asahi shinbunsha, 1981), 147 (This is the pocket edition of the original book which was published in 1972). Also, according to my interview with a person who is originally from Hunan province, there was a wanrenkeng near his hometown which was a result of the Battle of West Hunan between the KMT force and Japanese troop during the last months of the war, see, Interview, Duan, Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall,13 May 2012. An article about it was also included in a textbook in Chinese subject: Beijingshi jiaoyuju zhongxiaoxue jiaocai bianxiezu, Beijingshi zhongxue keben Yuwen diqice [Beijing municipal high school textbook, Chinese, volume 7] (Beijing renmin chubanshe,1972),100-108. 北京市教育局中小学教材编写组, 北京市中学课本 语文 第七册 (北京人民出版社出版,1972).

[45] Beijingshi zhongxue lishi (1973), 55-56.

[46] See, Nanjing Municipal Archives- 5003-3-409: “Zhongyang geming bowuguan choubeichu zhi Nanjingshi fangdichan gongsi disi banshichu fuzetongzhi” [the central Preparatory Office for the Museum of Revolution to the staff of Nanjing municipal Land Company], 11 Aug. 1955; Announcement of the PRC’s Ministry of Culture: “Weizhiyuan zhongguogeming bowuguan”.

[47] I examined the evolution of the remembrance of the Nanjing Massacre within Nanjing between 1937 and 1982, based on the documents in the Nanjing Municipal archives, Nanjing’s local newspapers, interviews with scholars as well residents in the city, and some secondary sources. I found that the Nanjing Massacre was remembered well by the survivors and local residents consistently and naturally (quoting an interviewee's comment, any Nanjingnese had more or less heard about the Nanjing Massacre ‘in the dribs and drabs of their life’, see, Interview, Zhang & Luo (husband born in 1957 and wife born in 1958,Nanjing), ‘Nanjing Municipal Library’ 30 June 2012).  What was more, the remembrance was occasionally stimulated by the local government as well.  The local CCP regime’s first official usage of the Nanjing Massacre memory was during the grand July 7th commemoration period in 1949, e.g. “Jinian qiqi tongyi Nanjing datusha” [Commemorate the July 7th and painfully recall the Nanjing Massacre], Xinhua Ribao, 7 Jul 1949.  Since then, the Nanjing Massacre memory continued to be used during some war-memorial-day commemorations. Also, during the mass campaigns aimed at the US and Japanese rightwing government in the early 1950s and 1960s, the Nanjing Massacre memory was substantially exploited by the local government.  The Nanjing Massacre memory was also used for domestic propaganda purposes. For example, it was used for the ‘class education’ in the 1960s, and in the campaign of criticising Lin Biao’s ‘Self-Restraint and Return to the Rites (keji fuli 克己礼)’ doctrines in 1974. See, Chan Yang,  Reconsidering the Sino-Japanese History Problem. Also see Liu Yanjun’s Chinese-language article: Liu Yanjun, Nanjing datushade lishijiyi [the historical memory of the Nanjing Massacare], Kangri zhanzheng yanjiu, 2009.