________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2000

cover In the Name of the Emperor.

Christine Choy and Nancy Tong (Directors). Nancy Tong (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: The National Film Board of Canada, 1998.
50 min., 27 sec., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197 186.

Subject Headings:
Nanking Massacre, Nan-ching shih, China, 1937-Video recording.
War and civilization-Video recording.
War-Moral and ethical aspects-Video recording.
Nanking (China)-History-Video recording.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4

During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), the Japanese army occupied the Chinese city of Nanking (Nanjing) and made it the capital of the occupying government. When the army marched into the city, they began a systematic murderous attack on helpless men, women and children. Their crimes against humanity have become known to history as "the Rape of Nanking."

Utilizing archival film footage, the diaries of western missionaries, eyewitness accounts, and the confessions of Japanese soldiers who were ordered to commit these atrocities, the film weaves a horrific story of the murder of more 300,000 people, one-third of the city's population. However, until the mid-1990s, the highest levels of the Japanese government and many Japanese historians steadfastly refused to acknowledge the truth of any killings and censored references to them from student history books.

The film raises many vital issues that have a proper place in classrooms. The institutionalized murder of civilian populations is becoming more common in our age, under sanitized names, such as ethnic cleansing, but can educators allow students to become blase to the horror of genocidal practice? Should even powerful nations that deny their crimes, in the hope that history will either forget or ignore them, be somehow sanctioned by the international community? What of the malfeasance of western nations in their imperialistic treatment of indigenous peoples and the natural world? Finally, can Canadians really cast the first stone of historical innocence, or must we, like the Japanese, look into our own hearts of darkness?


Ian Stewart lives in Winnipeg and is a regular contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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