Japanese Remembrances of World War II

Japanese Remembrances of World War II

Compiled August 2005

To this day in Japan the legacy of World War II impacts politics and international relations. Recently, relations between China and Japan worsened when the Japanese government authorized textbooks that some considered “whitewashed” the actions of the Japanese Imperial Army during the war. This guide offers summaries of and links to websites that address how Japan remembers the war, specifically: the atomic bombings, the battle of Okinawa , the issue of responsibility for the war, the issue of sexual slavery of women, and the Nanjing Massacre. See also the companion Japan Digest “ Japan and World War II: The Legacy Six Decades Later” (http://www.indiana.edu/~japan/Digests/legacy.htm) and “ Examining the Japanese History Textbook Controversies” http://www.indiana.edu/~japan/Digests/textbook.html

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Hiroshima Peace Museum

This site offers information about exhibits, a virtual tour, a “Kids Peace Station” (including Flash animation, a place to post student-developed peace presentations form around the world, and “kids news”), information on steps toward peace, and the text of annual peace declarations.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Built as a reminder to future generation of the horrors of nuclear weapons and to prevent any chance of a future nuclear holocaust, the museum maintains a website that offers many resources such as pictures and online exhibits.

Nuclear Education Project

A webpage maintained by the monthly periodical Japan Focus that makes available graphic and sound resources, printed texts, pertinent historical documents, and relevant articles to teachers, students, and citizens that contribute to the understanding of the atomic bomb, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nuclear issues in general.

Hiroshima Message: Reconciliation Instead of Retaliation

A speech delivered in 2003 by Hiroshima 's mayor, Tadatoshi Akiba, on the necessity of abolishing nuclear weapons and looking at Hiroshima 's rebuilding process as a model of hope.

Devotion to the Cause of Peace

This site addresses the wide variety of efforts for peace and seeks to build a 21st century of peace and humanity free from nuclear weapons.

Battle of Okinawa


The Cornerstone of Peace Monument

A monument erected by the Okinawa Prefectural government to remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa. The monument is also meant to remind future generations of the tragic consequences of war and to transmit an everlasting message of peace.

Peace Wars: The Politics of Presenting the Past in Contemporary Okinawa

At the center of a dispute are two memorial museums in Okinawa, the Yaeyama Peace Memorial Museum and the Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, both of which have new exhibits that contradict previous Japanese commemorative historical accounts of World War II.

1945 Suicide Order Still a Trauma on Okinawa

This article, published in the International Herald-Tribune , notes that many Okinawans feel that Japanese historical accounts of World War II gloss over the wartime plight of the Okinawan civilian population.

Interpreting the Battle of Okinawa

Discusses a dispute over plans for new exhibits in the Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum. In particular, the removal of a display of a Japanese solider threatening an Okinawan denizen sparked a heated conflict over how World War II should be depicted.

The Question of War Responsibility


60 Years: The Path of a Nation Striving for Global Peace

This pamphlet, and accompanying fact sheet (http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/postwar/60th.html), are available from the website of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The pamphlet begins with a statement acknowledging Japan 's mistaken national policy and the “tremendous damage and suffering” it caused to the people of many countries. It goes on to describe Japan 's efforts in the ensuing 60 years to strive for global peace.

Yasukuni Jinja

A shrine that commemorates Japanese servicemen who lost their lives in war. The website offers a nationalistic viewpoint, and in several commentaries on the site the credibility of Japanese blame for World War II is questioned. Also maintains the Yushukan War Memorial Museum, which has on-line exhibits about World War II.

NHK's Censorship of Japanese Crimes against Humanity

Lisa Yoneyama's essay in Harvard Asia Quarterly (Winter 2002) discusses censorship and alteration of history by the Japanese broadcasting company NHK concerning programming relating to Japanese involvement in World War II.

Japan Addresses its War Responsibility

An article by John W. Dower that argues despite American media coverage to the contrary, the issue of war responsibility has been discussed and dealt with thoroughly in Japan. The bulk of the article consists of the text of seven documents that convey a sense of the gamut of positions taken on this issue.

ABC of Modern Japanese History

Website of the Association for the Advancement of Liberalist View of History that refutes charges of Japanese war crimes such as the Nanjing Massacre and comfort women.

Center for Research and Documentation on Japan's War Responsibility (JWRC)

The JWRC was established in April 1993 and is dedicated to fulfilling Japan 's responsibility to Asians victimized by Japan during World War II. The website contains articles, activities, and exhibits on Japanese aggression.

Japanese Textbook Raises Concerns

A special report in 2001 conducted by Asia Today on the dispute over the approval of a controversial textbook. Discusses the widespread discontent many feel that the textbook does not accurately portray Japanese aggression during World War II.

Comfort Women and other Wartime Forced Labor Issues


A History of Trauma

A website that focuses on the plight of Taiwanese women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

Resolving the Wartime Forced Labor Compensation Question

This article addresses the issue of lawsuits, brought against the Japanese government, in response to forced labor issues during World War II.

"I'm Here Alive": History, Testimony, and the Japanese Controversy over "Comfort Women"

Yoshiko Nozaki's article considers the controversy and debate surrounding the issue of comfort women in order to understand “controversies over women's voices, testimony, and history more generally.”

Korea Lesson Plan: Korean Comfort Women

This lesson is for an independent project in Women in History in which high school students write a paper comparing problems faced by survivors (as discussed in an included article), with problems faced by a character in the book Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller.


Nanking Atrocities

Originally submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Arts in the Graduate School of Journalism of the University of Missouri-Columbia, this website offers an on-line documentary with detailed analysis, eyewitness accounts, photos, film clips, and a selected bibliography of the Nanjing Masacre.

Nanking 1937: Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Nanking Massacre

This website, which accompanied a student-run exhibition at Princeton University in 1997, offers pictures, documents, and a brief historical account.

New Research on the Nanjing Incident

David Askew's article examines the debate on the Nanjing Massacre in research in Chinese, Japanese & English languages.

WWW Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre

The WWW Memorial Hall contains a plethora of articles, links, pictures, and other resources. Includes accounts from survivors, Japanese military personal, and refutations and claims of exaggeration from current Japanese officials.

Compiled by Wes Barnhart Gabbard