The Nanjing Museum of the Site of Lijixiang Comfort Stations in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Tuesday. Poirot donated five of his paintings with that theme to the museum. (Cui Xiao/For China Daily)
A book rebutting denials of the Nanjing Massacre, a notorious rampage of rape and murder by Japanese troops in China in the winter of 1937-38, was published in Shanghai on Monday.
Titled Studies on Nanjing Massacre: Criticism of Japanese Illusion School, the book is a collection of history studies done by Cheng Zhaoqi, director of Shanghai Jiaotong University's Center for Tokyo Trial Studies, over the past 17 years.
The term "illusion school" refers to a group of Japanese scholars - such as Shudo Higashinakano, Minoru Kitamura and Toshio Matsumura - who either deny that the Nanjing Massacre ever happened or claim the huge number of civilians killed by Japanese troops was fabricated for propaganda purposes.
"Starting from the 1970s, the denials of the Nanjing Massacre have been gaining momentum in Japan. Since the 1990s, more books denying it have appeared in Japan's bookstores than have appeared affirming it," said Cheng, who frequented Japan for research in the 1980s and '90s.
In 2000, Cheng started collecting publications from the Japanese illusion school, and undertook the project to study their arguments and evidence. Cheng said that although Japanese troops had destroyed the majority of official wartime records, the illusion school's claims are still rendered untenable through close study of personal diaries and correspondences written by individual Japanese soldiers and officers.
In his book, Cheng cites more than 280 Japanese historical records, memoirs and academic monographs published in Japan.
"What I did is use the historical materials written by Japanese to prove the fallacies in the illusion school's arguments," Cheng said.
"For example, my study found that the Japanese 10th Army had been burning, killing and pillaging Chinese since it landed in Shanghai - unlike some scholars who have defended the idea that the troops always maintained their discipline."
The book further questioned Japanese general Iwane Matsui after analyzing Matsui's diary, suggesting he might have given false testimony at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East about ordering his troops to maintain strict discipline. They were responsible for the massacre.
"Cheng's book contains analyses of key historical facts and criticisms on some points of view, both founded on a substantial body of materials, which makes it very convincing," said Yang Daqing, associate professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University.
"Facts speak louder than sophistry," said Xiong Yuezhi, president of Shanghai History Studies Society. "But historical facts cannot speak for themselves; it's the responsibility of historians to present them, and that's the value of this book."