Angry States: Chinese views of Japan as seen through the Unit 731 War Museum 1949-2013

Tony Brooks (Cambridge)

Page 3

Part III

The physical structure and meaning of the Unit 731 museum

The first thing that strikes visitors to the Unit 731 museum is how difficult it is to reach. The site is generally not marked on tourist maps and the only bus that travels directly from Harbin to Pingfang is a slow one, making over 20 stops along the way. The Unit 731 museum might be a “crucial centre of national memory,” but it seems that unless you are part of either a school group (for which attendance is compulsory as part of the patriotic education campaign) or a tour group (on my three visits to Unit 731 I never saw a single tour bus or group) visiting is not encouraged. [104] This seems to tie in with the post-1949 thinking of the local authorities, who have continually tried to ignore or downplay the memory of Unit 731. Arriving in Pingfang one passes former Unit 731 buildings, including army barracks now turned into shops and apartments, water towers, railway sidings and so on. These repositories of war memory are completely ignored by the local inhabitants of Pingfang who, if they are even aware of the previous roles that these structures once performed, now prefer to forget them. Only buildings inside the museum complex are labelled or signposted in any way. As soon as the visitor arrives at the entrance to Unit 731, he or she instantly realises that this is somehow not a “normal” museum. There are no loudspeakers blaring pop music, no stalls selling souvenirs, nor are there touts offering to show one round. Instead there is what I would call a “vacuum of activity,” in that the Unit 731 main entrance is left empty and untended, providing space for the visitor to dwell on past atrocities committed by the Japanese. Again, unlike many museums in China, admission to this site is free, which means that the central government wishes to encourage visits to patriotic education bases such as this one, even as the local authorities wish to downplay its presence by failing to promote it.

Before starting our tour, it is worth considering the assumptions that underpin the site, in order to gauge the political claims that Unit 731 makes about Japan. The culture scholar Ivan Karp posits that “every museum exhibition, whatever its overt subject, inevitably draws on the cultural assumptions and resources of the people who make it. Decisions are made to emphasise one element and to downplay others, to assert some truths and ignore others.” [105] In other words, museums are all about contestations of power, the power to present Japan and its wartime relationship with China in a certain way. The Chinese literature scholar Kirk Denton expands on this, by arguing that all PRC museums are “used as tools by the state to propound officially sanctioned views of modern history…[in that they become] pedagogical tools for the teaching of party history to the masses.” [106] This theoretical perspective affords a conceptual lens for decoding empirical evidence, presented in the form of the symbolism suffusing both the museum buildings and the exhibits it contains. Five aspects of the Unit 731’s physical bricks-and-mortar presence allow us to capture the image of Japan that the museum attempts to impart to visitors. Firstly, as already touched upon, Unit 731 as proof of Japanese war crimes is a strong theme which comes not just from its formal title (i.e. as a criminal evidence museum), but also through the official narratives which the commemorative structures are trying to convey. By tracing the history of CBW warfare in Japan from the 1920s right through to the Japanese defeat in 1945, the discourse unfolding room-by-room converts loss, despair, and anger into victimhood, grief and lastly hope. Loss and despair exude almost all of the exhibits as they detail the horrific nature of the crimes committed at Unit 731. A newly opened section on the history of chemical warfare in twentieth-century Japan for example, cleverly interweaves narratives of loss and despair with anger. The former are conveyed by covering corridor walls with detailed lists, of instances where the Japanese military used chemical weapons against the Chinese. The anger is plainly evident from the captions detailing the inhumanity of these Japanese crimes. Secondly, a sense of victimhood pervades the entire museum, in that China is presented as both a past and a present victim. China the past victim is conceptualised by means of the CBW warfare experiments carried out on Chinese people. China the present victim is characterised in the form of newly refurbished rooms detailing how Chinese “today” are still being harmed as a result of Japanese actions, for example using graphic footage from the 2003 Qiqihaer incident (where dozens of Chinese people were injured after mustard gas seeped from unearthed wartime canisters left by the Japanese).

The corridors are virtually dark, windows are few and the place is barely heated in winter, which further heightens the sense of victimhood. The Unit 731 museum is not a place to be glad or happy. Thirdly, set off against China the victim there is hope for the future, a fervent desire that by highlighting Japanese atrocities they can never happen again, and also optimism that (for remember this is a state-led narrative) the Japanese will apologise for their crimes in a way acceptable to the Chinese people. To emphasise this, shortly before exiting the museum are several rooms dedicated to reconciliation and peace, lined with emotional pictures of former Unit 731 Japanese staff confessing their past crimes, as well as photos of recent visits by Japanese delegations. Another potent symbol of hope is the new “atonement for Japanese crimes” memorial, erected in the grounds of the Unit 731 museum, adjacent to pens that many years ago were used to breed plague-infested rats. This memorial, unveiled on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Japanese surrender, on August 15, 2010, is one of the first of its kind, in that it was erected by Japanese people in the grounds of a Chinese war museum. [107] The date chosen to unveil the monument was significant in itself, in that as we saw in the previous chapter, throughout the history of the PRC this date has normally been used by the state to criticise the Japanese political establishment. However, even if the monument represents tentative moves by both sides to come to terms with memory of the war, the Chinese authorities have tried to ensure that it cannot be attacked or defaced by Chinese nationalists. This is why the shiny new monument stands in a guarded, locked compound.

New commemoration at Unit 731

New commemoration at Unit 731

Fourthly, personal (as opposed to collective) grieving is now increasingly permitted at museums such as Unit 731. Unlike in western countries, where Great War (1914–18) memorials document the landscape in almost every village, in China collective remembrance of the war has traditionally been focused on a small number of commemorative sites including, after 1982, Unit 731. [108] In Christian countries those in mourning turned to churches to aid their sorrow, and as a result war memorials located in or adjacent to churches have tended to dwell on traditional devotional architecture. [109] However, Communist China is officially atheist and during the Mao era temples and churches were mostly closed, thereby precluding their use as sites for individuals to grieve their loved ones killed by the Japanese. It is only very recently that the Chinese authorities have encouraged the use of war museums as sites for relatives to grieve or commemorate named individuals. In a similar fashion to the Nanjing Massacre Museum extension (which opened in 2007), since 2010 the museum complex at Unit 731 has commemorated individuals who perished within its walls, with name plaques mounted along a corridor imitating the style of a modern-day Chinese crematorium. Only names of those proved to have been killed here are included. Figure five, taken in summer 2011 shortly after the memorial wall opened, records the names of the prisoners who met their deaths here. In places photos have been attached to the plaques, where the family of the deceased has been identified and relatives are now free to pay respects to their former loved ones. This form of commemorating the war allows people to grieve personally as they see fit, as opposed to collectively as the Chinese state sees fit. Yet even in personal commemoration, the state has a role to play, since China has no official war cemeteries or war graves commission. [110] Museum curators that I spoke to all over the country (not just at Unit 731) stated that this job of identifying the war dead by name is now forming an increasingly important part of their work, allowing families to come and mourn in person, albeit in the confines of a museum. Finally, it is worth briefly re-emphasising two points relating to the physical structure of Unit 731 which have been already given extensive treatment earlier in this chapter, namely distortion of the message and how that message changes with time. Since the Unit 731 museum opened in 1985, it has maintained a relentless focus on Japanese crimes, for example by using archival evidence from the unit as exhibits or documentary proof of atrocities committed by Japanese forces at Pingfang. In this respect, the main message of the museum, even now, seems to be that the Japanese committed unconscionable crimes during the war, they continue to deny them and therefore this museum needs to exist in order to remind LDP politicians of their responsibility to own up and confess. A number of scholars have written about this need to force a confession in order for the Chinese side to gain face, in a contemporary battle for political supremacy in East Asia. [111]

Yet by concentrating on war crimes the museum denies visitors the opportunity to consider other narratives, such as the activities of the GMD in north-east China, or the role played by Japanese military units not involved in CBW. In this respect, the Unit 731 museum is no different from the commemorations of wars in antiquity, where they “reflected the political and religious views of the state…[and the] continuous, unremitting and inevitable victory of the ruler.” [112] By reflecting the views of the state in the museum, the CCP is shaping the discourse unfolding inside for political and pedagogic purposes (bashing right-wing Japanese politicians, indoctrinating children), simply because the party won the fight against the Japanese and came to power. If this were not the case, then the Japanese might never have left Harbin in the first place and the Unit 731 museum would not exist today. In other words, the fact that Unit 731 exists at all means that the CCP is staking a political claim to power. This is because the CCP is able to say anything it wishes (with respect to Japanese atrocities committed in north-east China) simply because it faces no organised domestic political opposition to doing so. The other point I wish to reiterate is that the way in which Unit 731 has been interpreted has changed with time itself, which is another way of saying that the museum is “not exempt from history.” [113] For example, immediately after the war locals scavenged the site for bricks, steel wire, glass bottles and so forth for recycling. They neither knew nor cared that they were despoiling very special ruins, which could tell future generations much about the Japanese occupation of China. Twenty years later during the Cultural Revolution, the Unit 731 site was razed to the ground, as Red Guards sought to remove any memory of the war. Fast forwarding another 20 years to the reform era in 1985, the site was “rehabilitated” as a national patriotic education base with which to remind younger Chinese about the crimes committed by Japan during the century of humiliation. These three snapshots of Unit 731’s history demonstrate that not only have representations of the CBW facility (and the eponymous museum which now occupies part of the former base) changed drastically since the foundation of the PRC, but also that any post-1949 interpretation of what the site signifies must be analysed in terms of its history.

After the war Unit 731 became subject to history itself, in that during the Mao era, political actors on both the local and national stage clashed over the future of the site. To illustrate, immediately after the foundation of the PRC, local cadres allowed factories to be built over part of the former military base, effectively erasing its presence there. At this time arguments raged back-and-forth between the provincial and national government, over whether to preserve or demolish the site, with the State Council preferring the former option (so as to preserve proof of enemy crimes) and cadres in Harbin repeatedly requesting the latter. During the 1980s and 90s there occurred a global outpouring of remembering, which the historian Michael Kammen posited was caused by factors such as delayed memory of conflict, an increase in state-directed tourism and a growing tendency to “tell it [history] like it really was.” Whilst all these forms of remembrance are applicable to Unit 731, it is also highly likely that the former Japanese CBW headquarters was “remembered into existence” following the first textbook crisis and the Manchurian monument incident in 1982, because of a perceived need to fight back against right-wing LDP politicians who, for example, published textbooks denying the invasion of China. This riposte took the form of a battle for ownership of the past as it referred to Unit 731, and also a recognised requirement to use the education system to indoctrinate Chinese youth about Japan’s past. In part, this indoctrination highlights Hu Qiaomu’s continual influence in moulding PRC views of Japan. Hu argued that war memory encapsulated in wartime commemoration halls ought to form a central plank of the nascent patriotic education campaign. In fact, Hu’s ideas on museums formed part of a broader post-Cultural Revolution rehabilitation of history, which sought to change the Mao era dogma that “history is useless” to one where history plays an extremely important role in the CCP’s rise to power. He did this by demonstrating that the war was a turning point in the party’s fortunes which ultimately brought it victory over the GMD. At a stroke then, Hu’s thesis changed the way in which Unit 731 was seen, from being a blot on the collective Chinese memory that should be forgotten, to a museum that could and should be used to re-remember the party’s rise to power. This new remembering was selective, in that highlighting wartime atrocities committed by the Japanese, allowed the Chinese Communists to downplay memory of post-1949 policy mistakes and disasters, such as the Cultural Revolution. Exhibits from the Unit 731 museum, in the form of documentary proof, allowed elite leaders to construct a new version of war memory. They achieved this by releasing archives in 1999 and 2001, almost 50 years after they were unearthed. In 1999, publication of Unit 731 archives allowed the authorities to influence domestic Chinese and international Japanese audiences in ongoing battles over wartime compensation in the Japanese courts. Two years later, the release of a second tranche of archives coincided with visits to the Yasukuni shrine by Prime Minister Koizumi. In both cases, the construction of this filtered version of war memory—that is, the selective release of Unit 731 historical records—was used to achieve very concrete objectives, influencing court cases and warning Koizumi. In contrast, the physical structure of Unit 731 presents a confection of narratives, which concentrate on pain, anger and victimhood, accompanied at the same time by tentative messages of hope for the future. These messages of hope are transmitted in a number of ways, such as by allowing families to grieve named individuals at new commemoration walls, and also by the recent unveiling of an “atonement for Japanese crimes” memorial. Since the 1980s commemoration of atrocities once committed at Unit 731 has enabled the party to prevent history of the war from being swept away. In this respect, the Chinese Communists must feel that public funding used to preserve the site has been money well spent.



Tony Brooks earned an MPhil in International Relations and a PhD in East Asian Studies from Cambridge University. This paper stems from his dissertation research on post-1949 Sino-Japanese relations. Tony spent extended periods of time studying in mainland China, he worked for the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (EUCCC), contributed to trade journals on Chinese politics, business and government relations, and advised Europe’s largest companies investing in China. He is now based in Shenzhen where he runs his own company, Southern Seas (Nanhai) Trading Company Ltd.




[1] Sheldon H. Harris, Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up (London: Routledge, 1994).
[2] Much of the secondary literature in both English and Chinese concerns the incidents or the wars that these museums are portraying. For example, whilst the Chinese literature on the Nanjing massacre runs to over 10,000 articles, there exist only a handful of works in any language which examine the Nanjing Massacre Museum itself. One of the best overviews of Chinese war museums can be found in: Kirk A. Denton, “Heroic Resistance and Victims of Atrocity;” see also: Takashi Fujitani, Geoffrey M. White, and Lisa Yoneyama, Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s) (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).
[3] Archaeologists disagree on the definition of the term site to such an extent that some major specialist dictionaries in the field omit it. In this paper I take site to mean “an identifiable location informed by the memory of past events,” as defined in: Jacqueline Rossignol and LuAnn Wandsnider, eds., Space, Time, and Archaeological Landscapes (New York, NY: Plenum Press, 1992), 23–24.
[4] Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 1.
[5] Barbara A. Misztal, Theories of Social Remembering (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2003), 5.
[6] Eric J. Hobsbawm, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
[7] Jens Bartelson, “We Could Remember it for you Wholesale: Myths, Monuments and the Constitution of National Memories,” in Memory, Trauma and World Politics: Reflections on the Relationship Between Past and Present, ed. Duncan Bell (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 50.
[8] Pierre Nora, Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1996), 1:3.
[9] Ibid.
[10] 731 budui rijun qinhua zuizheng bowuguan, ed., Qinhua rijun guandongjun qisanyi xijun budui (Beijing: Wuzhou chuanbo chubanshe, 2005), 3.
[11] Ibid.
[12] The complex included an airfield and a barracks, with an estimated 3,000 personnel working there by August 1941. See: Tsuneishi Keiichi, “Unit 731 and the Japanese Imperial Army’s Biological Warfare Program,” trans. John Junkerman, Japan Focus (2005), -Keiichi/2194.
[13] Harris, Factories of Death, 75. See also: Peter Williams and David Wallace, Unit 731: The Japanese Army’s Secret of Secrets (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989); Hal Gold, Unit 731: Testimony (Tokyo: Yenbooks, 1996).
[14] Harris, Factories of Death, xxix.
[15] 731 budui zuixing tiezheng (Changchun: Jilin sheng dang’an guan chubanshe, 2003). Changchun is located 300 kilometres south of Harbin.
[16] Officials from the hygiene bureau suspected that Unit 731 was the source of recurring plague outbreaks in the city. However, thorough Japanese destruction of Unit 731’s research facilities before their retreat, coupled with subsequent widespread looting by locals made it difficult to piece together the unit’s former purpose: MFA doc. #105-0092-02(1), 10–12.
[17] Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army Charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1950).
[18] MFA doc. #105-00076-03.
[19] Two years later in 1952, the Chinese claimed that the United States used similar weaponry to launch over 2,000 CBW attacks on the PRC during the Korean War. See: Ruth Rogaski, “Nature, Annihilation, and Modernity: China’s Korean War Germ-Warfare Experience Reconsidered,” Journal of Asian Studies 61, no. 2 (2002): 383.
[20] MFA doc. #105-00076-03, 9.
[21] Ibid., 7.
[22] John Lewis Gaddis, The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 72.
[23] 731 budui zuixing tiezheng (Ha’erbin: Heilongjiang renmin chubanshe, 2001), 2. There seems to be considerable confusion about the history of these documents. The date they were discovered is given either as 1953 or 1955, with variously 3,600 or “over 80” files found, of which some were moved from police custody to provincial archives in either 1969 or 1982.
[24] Adam Cathcart and Patricia Nash, “War Criminals and the Road to Sino-Japanese Normalization: Zhou Enlai and the Shenyang Trials, 1954-1956,” Twentieth-Century China 34, no. 2 (2009): 93.
[25] No record exists as to why the authorities did not publicise the cache back in the early 1950s.
[26] Zhongguo riben xue nianjian, 1949–90, 22–23.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Jilin sheng dang’an guan, “731 buduide you yi zuizheng,” Zhongguo dang’an 10 (2001): 55–56.
[29] For a graphic illustration of Chinese attempts to improve bilateral relations from December 1952 onwards, see: RW, 1:97–101.
[30] See: MFA doc. #105-00954-04.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Jin Chengmin, Riben jun xijun zhan (Harbin: Heilongjiang renmin chubanshe, 2008), pp. 633, 647. At the time of writing the management of the aviation factory still routinely deny access to curators from the Unit 731 museum wishing to conduct archaeological research. Interview with Assistant Curator Wang Dongke, Unit 731 Museum, Harbin, 15/7/11.
[33] See n18.
[34] Unfortunately, neither the Heilongjiang provincial nor the Harbin city archive have released records which could prove or disprove this assertion.
[35] MFA doc. #105-00548-09.
[36] Chinese MFA records relating to Unit 731 make no explicit reference to the Soviets requiring them to preserve the former cantonment. However, documents relating to the 1949 Khabarovsk war crimes trials make it clear that amassing of evidence on CBW experiments at the Pingfang facility was ongoing at this time. See: Materials on the Trials of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army, 14.
[37] See n35.
[38] George Herbert Mead, The Philosophy of the Present (1932; repr., La Salle, Il: Open court Pub. Co, 1959), 235.
[39] MFA doc. #105-00954-04.
[40] Jin, Riben jun xijun zhan, 647.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Interview with Curator Zhang Pengli, Nanjing Aviation Martyrs’ Museum, Nanjing, 30/9/11.
[43] In a different context, this point is made in: Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1971), 166.
[44] HQM, 3:104.
[45] Ibid., 106–07. The speech was made at the second national Chinese history conference, held on 8/4/80.
[46] See p. 47. Declassified transcripts of national foreign policy conferences (1960-62) housed in the Jiangsu Provincial Archive in Nanjing imply just this. File numbers provided on 
[47] David M. Bachman, Bureaucracy, Economy, and Leadership in China: The Institutional Origins of the Great Leap Forward (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 213.
[48] See also: Rose, Interpreting History in Sino-Japanese Relations; Rose, Sino-Japanese Relations.
[49] See: Fujitani, White, and Yoneyama, Perilous Memories, chap. 1.
[50] Misztal, Theories of Social Remembering, 2.
[51] Michael Kammen, “Review of ‘Frames of Remembrance: The Dynamics of Collective Memory’ by Iwona Irwin-Zarecka,” History and Theory 34, no. 3 (1995): 245–61.
[52] Hannum et al., “Education in the Reform Era,” 233.
[53] Kammen, “Review of Frames of Remembrance,” 250.
[54] Ibid, 11.
[55] Kammen, “Review of Frames of Remembrance,” 250.
[56] Ibid., 249.
[57] See: Harbin city government website, “Ha’erbin shi huanying nin,” Harbin city government, (accessed 10/11/11).
[58] A small number of inmates from the Beiyinhe CBW unit escaped in 1933, which partly as a result was quickly closed down. 731 budui rijun qinhua zuizheng bowuguan, Qinhua rijun guandongjun qisanyi xijun budui, 21.
[59] See: Bao Haichun, ed., Qinhua rijun xijun zhan ziliao xuanbian (Hulunbei’er: Neimenggu wenhua chubanshe, 2010); and Toshiyuki Tanaka, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II (Oxford: Westview, 1996), chap. 5.
[60] Mr Zhao was interviewed on 21/8/82. Unit 731 exhibit (viewed at Pingfang on 13/7/11). The term prisoner should not be confused with the term forced labourer, as the latter was not allowed any contact with the former.
[61] For example, Devil’s Gluttony (see below) was serialised for CCTV in 2003, accompanied by best-selling reprints of the book. Meanwhile, outside of mainland China in Hong Kong, several highly controversial, extremely violent films were made about Unit 731, including The Man Behind the Sun (Hei taiyang 731, 1983) and its sequel Death Factory 731 (731 sharen gongchang, 1988).
[62] RMRB, 24/8/82, 6. No reasons are given as to why the monument was to be built in Shizuoka Prefecture.
[63] Ibid.
[64] Richard J. Samuels, Machiavelliʼs Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), 141.
[65] Jin, Riben jun xijun zhan, 633.
[66] Ibid.
[67] Si Maguang, Zizhi tongjian, eds. Liu Houbin, Li Xiaoju, and Han Shufeng (Beijing: Zhongguo renmin daxue chubanshe, 2010). Tellingly, post-1949, the first recorded use of this oft-quoted phrase is in early 1983, barely six months after the first textbook crisis. See: RMRB, 22/2/83, 6.
[68] Rose, “The Textbook Issue: Domestic Sources of Japan’s Foreign Policy,” 206.
[69] Jin, Riben jun xijun zhan, 648.
[70] See n35.
[71] HQM, 3:187. The book which Hu refers to is: Morimura Seiichi [J], E’mo de baoshi: riben xijun zhan budui jiemi, trans. Luo Weilong and Chen Naixuan, (Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 1983). This book was originally serialised in Akahata, the JCP newspaper.
[72] HQM, 3:186.
[73] Ibid.
[74] Richard J. Evans, Lying about Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving trial (London: Verso, 2002), 257.
[75] The phrase in quotation marks is taken from: Peter Novick, The Holocaust and Collective Memory: The American Experience (London: Bloomsbury, 2000), 8–9.
[76] J. M. Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 86.
[77] Peter Kenez, The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917–1929 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 3.
[78] The full text of the order can be found at: Ministry of Culture (PRC) website, “Wenhua bu gonggao tongzhi,” Ministry of Culture, (accessed 14/11/11).
[79] Jin, Riben jun xijun zhan, 648.
[80] Ibid.
[81] As a comparison with other wartime commemoration halls, during the first decade after opening to visitors in 1987 the Beijing War of Resistance Museum received 7 million visitors, whereas the much smaller John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall in Nanjing receives 11,000 visitors per year. Rana Mitter, “Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Nationalism, History and Memory in the Beijing War of Resistance Museum, 1987–1997,” China Quarterly 161 (Mar. 2000): 281; Interview with Deputy Curator Yang Shanyou, John Rabe Memorial Hall, Nanjing, 21/5/11.
[82] 731 budui zuixing tiezheng (Changchun), 589.
[83] The terms in quotation marks are from: Peter Hamilton, “Representing the Social: France and Frenchness in Post-war Humanist Photography,” in Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, ed. Stuart Hall (London: Sage, 1997), 81.
[84] Ryuji Mukae, “Japanʼs Diet Resolution on World War Two: Keeping History at Bay,” Asian Survey 36, no. 10 (Oct. 1996): 1011. In fact, relations were starting to deteriorate before the Diet resolution, for example in May 1994 when Justice Minister Nagano Shigeto called the Nanjing massacre a fabrication.
[85] For example, see the RMRB 16/6/95 headline: “We warn the Japanese right-wing factions: It is not permitted to overturn the history of the invasion!”; or the RMRB front page slogans on 25/6/95: “Stop distorting history! Recognise China’s position on Taiwan! Renounce World War Two crimes!”
[86] 731 budui rijun qinhua zuizheng bowuguan, Qinhua rijun guandongjun qisanyi xijun budui, 142.
[87] Theodor Meron, “War Crimes Law Comes of Age,” The American Journal of International Law 92, no. 3 (1998): 462–68.
[88] For example see: Wan, Sino-Japanese Relations, 316.
[89] James Reilly, “China’s history activists and the war of resistance against Japan,” Asian Survey 44, no. 2 (2004): 276–94.
[90] This organisation is quite probably fictitious, since I can find no other reference to it either in print or online.
[91] Moreover, contemporary Chinese sources rarely make a sharp distinction between compensation claims and war crimes, inferring that the Chinese state preferred to blur the two court actions in order to brand them as one and the same.
[92] 731 budui zuixing tiezheng (Ha’erbin), 419.
[93] For example see: Guangming ribao, 3/8/99, 1; Zhongguo dang’an, 1999, vol. 10, 8–12.
[94] Bao, Qinhua rijun xijun zhan ziliao xuanbian, 64.
[95] Tuwu Gongxian [J], “Guanyu 731 budui xijunzhan susong shenpanjuede pipan tantao,” Changde shifan xueyuan xuebao 6 (2002): 12–14.
[96] For an example of how the party tries to assuage domestic concerns over foreign policy in order to avoid protest, see: Christopher R. Hughes, “Nationalism in Chinese Cyberspace,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 13, no. 2 (2000): pp. 196, 206.
[97] Zhongguo dang’an bao, 17/9/01, 1. These were the records excavated during the early 1950s.
[98] Ibid. This tranche of archives also contained information about wartime plague outbreaks in Manchuria, which were allegedly deliberately caused by the Japanese.
[99] 731 budui zuixing tiezheng (Changchun), 508. The term 9.18 refers to the Mukden or Manchurian Incident on 18/9/31, which acted as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of what is now north-east China.
[100] Interview with Assistant Curator Wang Dongke, Unit 731 Museum, Harbin, 17/7/11. This would explain why recently published records of interviews with surviving Unit 731 Chinese conscripts contain only highly-negative significations of Japan.
[101] Daiki Shibuichi, “The Yasukuni Shrine Dispute and the Politics of Identity in Japan,” Asian Survey 45, no. 2 (2005): 197–215.
[102] Ibid., 210.
[103] See: Peter Gries, “Nationalism, Indignation and China’s Japan Policy,” SAIS Review 25, no. 2 (2005): 110.
[104] The term in quotation marks comes from Nora, Realms of Memory, vol. 1, xvii.
[105] Karp and Lavine, Exhibiting Cultures, 1.
[106] Kirk A. Denton, “Museums, Memorial Sites and Exhibition Culture in the People’s Republic of China,” China Quarterly 183 (Sept. 2005): 567.
[107] See also Heilongjiang People’s Daily, 16/8/10, 1.
[108] Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning, 1.
[109] Ibid.
[110] Lary and MacKinnon, The Scars of War, 8.
[111] For example see Gries, Chinaʼs New Nationalism, 90.
[112] Alan Borg, War Memorials: From Antiquity to the Present (London: Leo Cooper, 1991), 1.
[113] Ivan Karp, Christine Mullen Kreamer, and Steven D. Lavine, Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992), 12.