The latest development in Japan’s struggles to deal with its wartime history is a strange one. It starts with Henry Stokes, the former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief, now 75 and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Stokes is the author of a bestselling book that has been widely celebrated among right-wing Japanese. “Conservatives and nationalists,” the South China Morning Post reports, “have held it up as evidence that Japan has been the target of unfair international criticism for its colonial past.” The book concludes that Nanjing Massacre was “made up” by the Chinese government.The only problem is that Stokes’s translator and publicist allegedly “smuggled” these passages into the book behind his back.Stokes didn’t know until recently what his ghostwriter had done. He was “shocked and horrified” to hear about the “straightforward right-wing propaganda” that had been “just spooned into the text.” The book’s title should have been a dead giveaway: “Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist,” but Stokes doesn’t read much Japanese.Though Stokes has strayed close to some arguments made by right-wing crackpots in the past (he prefers Nanjing “Incident” to “Massacre”), he says the words in his book have been twisted. He told reporters that he “can’t support” the arguments attributed to him. “I don’t come within ten-thousand miles of this stuff as a position,” he said. The book’s ghostwriter and publicist, it turns out, have a strong association with Japan’s right-wing historical revisionists.Both are high-ranking members in the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, an educational group that puts out revisionist interpretations of Japan’s wartime atrocities. Hideaki Kase, who describes himself as a “diplomatic critic” and wrote the book’s afterward, was an advisor to several past Prime Ministers and is associated with a hard-right political group that has close ties to the current PM. He is suspected of being the writer of a book called “Ugly Koreans” and argues that Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula was good for that country. The Japan Times has a little more on Kase:
In November 2012, Kase’s name appeared alongside Abe’s in a full-page newspaper advertisement in the New Jersey newspaper The Star-Ledger that described comfort women as high-paid prostitutes and made a number of additional claims that closely resemble those found in Stokes’ book. The ad instructs readers “eager to look further into the truth” to visit the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact.
In the end, it seems likely that two Japanese nut-jobs took advantage of an elderly journalist in order to put a legitimate facade on some of their wacko ideas. Unfortunately, it looks like the Japanese version of the book won’t be corrected. It has sold 100,000 copies in five months, making it one of the most popular books in the country.