Ever vigilant against historical revisionism

An anonymous letter that appeared in this week’s Shanghai Review of Books (a supplement to the Sunday Oriental Morning Post) starts off with a standard “long-time reader” intro before accusing the publication of treason:

“进入”还是“侵略”

《上海书评》创办两年半来一直很有特色,我每期必读,几乎保留了全部。然而,3月20日第131期一篇访谈的用词却让我非常惊愕。在这一期《小白谈租界那些事儿》一文的第一节中有这样一句话:“离日本人全面进入华北还有六年时间。”在这里,作者犯了一个严重的历史常识错误:作者不说“侵略”却轻描淡写地说成“进入”,而且作者不说“全面进入”华北的是“日本军队”,却说是“日本人”,作者是不是想说当时是日本平民到中国华北来全面经商或旅游来了呢?这可不是简单的常识性错误。众所周知,日本右翼政客修改教科书,就是把“侵略”二字修改成“进入”。

普通老百姓

“Enter” or “Invade”?

For the two-and-a-half years since its launch, the Shanghai Review of Books has been consistently remarkable. Each issue is a must-read for me, and I’ve kept practically every one. However, the language in an interview that appeared in issue #131 on March 20 left me flabbergasted. The first section of the article “Xiao Bai Talks About Concessions” contains the following line: “Still six months away from the total entry of the Japanese into Northern China.” Here, the author commits a grave error of basic history: the author does not write “invasion” but uses “entry” to gloss over it. And instead of writing about the “total entry” of the “Japanese army” into Northern China,  the author writes of “the Japanese.” Does the author mean to imply that ordinary Japanese at that time were coming to Northern China to engage in full-scale trade or tourism? This is no simple factual mistake. Everyone knows that right-wing politicians in Japan revised textbooks for the express purpose of turning the word “invade” into “enter.”

— An ordinary person

Concession 《租界》 by Xiao Bai (小白) is set in Shanghai in 1931 and  first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2010 novel supplement to Harvest magazine and has just been published in standalone form by People’s Literature Publishing House.

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