Temporary Suspension of “The Country is Burning”

A comic series tracking the life of a bureaucrat in early Showa Japan has been suspended because of its September 16th and 22nd editions that contained descriptions of Japanese soldiers massacring civilians in Nanjing, China. The comic, which is by Hiroshi Motomiya (本宮ひろ志) is called “The Country is Burning” (国が燃える) and is published in the “Weekly Young Jump” magazine (「週刊ヤングジャンプ」). The Japan Times reports that 37 members of local assemblies protested because “the massacre was presented as if it really happened.” However, both that article and mention of this in an Asahi article seem to indicate that the comic was suspended because of a problematic photograph. The magazine is looking into the use of “inappropriate materials” (「不適切な資料を引用していた」). You can track this in the Japanese media via Google’s news service.

Many Japanese, even those who are not enthralled by the delusions of a few revisionist historians who reject the existence of a massacre outright, wonder why the Nanjing massacre issue is still so full of energy and emotion, especially among the Chinese. I think part of the answer is that, as Joshua Fogel has said in a historiographical work on the massacre, “Of all [the] massive, man-made atrocities, only in the case of the Nanjing Massacre has a whole school – actually, several – developed that completely denies or significantly downplays it.” (p. 4) The local assembly members above are a good example, as are the authors in a recent Bungei Shunjū article I have written about. Fortunately, there are historians in Japan and elsewhere who are making it more and more difficult to play these games, thanks in part to the oral testimonies of former soliders. I wrote about and translated a few quotes from one such recent work on 102 former soldiers in Nanjing which is available in Japanese and I recently saw it in Chinese translation at a bookstore in Beijing.


  1. Two thoughts: First, storylines like this are why manga shouldn’t be translated as “comic.”
    Second, What were they thinking? Did they really think they were going to get away with a storyline that covers Nanjing directly without drawing fire? I have no problem with addressing it in a manga (well actually, I do, but it’s more subtle a problem than the issues at hand) but if you’re going to do that, you should be prepared for what comes. Either you do it and say “to heck with the deniers” or you avoid it. But then, spineless corporate behavior shouldn’t surprise me anywhere in the world…..

  2. By coincidence, I’ve just posted an excerpt from Ishikawa Tatsuzo’s Soldiers Alive (Ikite iru heitai, 1938) translated by Zeljko Cipris. I’ll try to post another short passage or two about Japanese soldiers in China about 1938.
    It’s technically fiction, but just barely so, apparently.

  3. Jonathan, thanks for the comment, I should really go back and remove “comic” you are, of course, totally right, I just blindly used their translation of the word when on a blog such as this, it would probably be safe to leave it as manga instead.

    Joel, thanks for your comment, I look forward to reading your excerpts. As always, you put a vast amount of interest material from your readings online and always give me more things to add to my already unmanageable reading list.

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