October 22, 2001

Exhibit Sheds Light On Nanjing Killings

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The Nanjing Massacre — a little discussed event — is a name for a six-week period during World War II when Japanese soldiers indiscriminately tortured and killed over 300,000 Chinese men, women, and children.

Last night, a presentation on the Nanjing Massacre opened with a variety of events. Conscience, an organization to increase awareness on crimes against humanity, planned the program.

An audience of about 50 people attended a showing of the documentaryIn the Name of the Empire and the accompanying panel discussion in Goldwin Smith Hall. Later, in Willard Straight Hall’s Art Gallery, Conscience officially opened a photography exhibit chronicling the Massacre.

In the Name of the Empire, directed by Christine Choy, explored the concepts of racism and nationalism in relation to the massacre.

Afterwards, the panel, which included Choy herself, discussed issues of Japanese culture circa World War II, varying perspectives of the massacre as well as the massacre’s relation to current events.

Judy Wong ’02, organizer for the event, said the purpose of Conscience is “to educate [and] to increase awareness of crimes against humanity to the public that are lesser known due to economic benefits and political gains.”

She said that she chose to address Nanjing Massacre because “no one talks about it. … The Massacre was a human rights violation and a total neglect of human dignity.”

Wong said the goals of the event were to increase awareness and “to show the public the reality and truth behind war.” She said that she ultimately hopes to expand educational curricula to cover the event.

She added she wants to convince the Japanese government to apologize and offer reparations to China.

Prof. Brett de Bary, Asian studies and comparative literature, one of the speakers on the panel said, “As someone who teaches about Japan at Cornell, I feel I have a responsibility to address the legacies of a certain forgetfulness of the crimes about Japanese nationalism and the war.”

She added, “It’s very important to come away from a film about such horrifying events, without forming stereotypes of Japanese culture and people — similar to stereotypes being formed about Arab and Islamic at this time.”

Oliver Masaba ’03 said that he was surprsied that he had never learned about the massacre, noting that he believed the educational system has a responsibility to teach students about the massacre, just as it has about the Holocaust.

“I’m surprised I never heard about this before. … It seemed like it was large-scale genocide,” he said.

Chang Chu-Yeh, a Chinese survivor of the Massacre, will speak about his experiences at 6:30 p.m. today in Goldwin Smith Hall’s Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium. There will also be a documentary film screening of Magee’s Testament. The exhibit in Willard Straight Hall’s Art Gallery continues through Friday, October 26.

Archived article by Shannon Brescher