In a statement reminiscent of classic genocidal revisionism (a nice word for "denial"), the mayor of Nagoya, Japan, Takashi Kawamura, has sparked rage with both Chinese and non-Chinese citizens alike by stating that he believes the Nanjing Massacre "probably never happened."
Outside the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall
This week in Nagoya Kawamura even told visiting Nanjing Communist Party member Liu Zhiwei that Iris Chang's international bestseller The Rape of Nanking is a work of fiction. Not a smart move, considering several high-ranking Japanese officials have repeatedly angered China by this sort of dismissal despite plenty of evidence (just Google "Nanjing Massacre").
I don't think that the majority of the Japanese public actually believes this sort of extremist rhetoric, although I do believe that plenty of people purposely remain ignorant to the historical facts. This is why it's so important that people continue to keep this tragedy in our social discourse as time goes by, as not to have fools like Kawamura direct which way historical documentation takes us. Books like Chang's 1997 (and very non-fiction) The Rape of Nanking and films like The Flowers of War from 2011 are projects that sustain facts above false political or racial agendas.
Sadly, these kinds of denials will only hurt Japan in the short as well as long run. It's too bad that one unenlightened senior is taking the initiative to heighten tensions with Japan's now very formidable neighbor. He must truly live inside a bubble of ignorance to think that his statements were reasonable and safe for him to publicly say.
The Nanjing Massacre was a six-week genocide in the former Chinese capital by Japanese troops, which stormed the city on December 13, 1937 and murdered and raped at least 300,000 men, women and children, though most historians believe the actual number to be much higher.