Miyazaki Declines Nanjing Museum’s Request To Return Wartime Stones

Miyazaki declines Nanjing museum’s request to return wartime stonesThe director of the Nanjing Folk Anti-Japanese War Museum is demanding the return of stones removed from the Chinese city during the war to help build a commemoration tower in Japan, but the prefectural government here has refused.

“Many (stones) were taken to Japan after they were looted by (Japanese) troops during the war,” said museum director Wu Xianbin, 51, when he submitted a written request addressed to Miyazaki Governor Shunji Kono at the prefectural government building on Oct. 27.

The 36.4-meter tower at Heiwadai Park in Miyazaki, called the Peace Tower today, was completed in 1940 during the 1937-45 Sino-Japanese War with stones collected from inside Japan and overseas.

The three pieces Wu is demanding be returned are part of the structure's foundation.

One measures 45 centimeters by 30 cm and is decorated with the image of a qilin, an imaginary creature in China. Another is 45 cm by 60 cm and is engraved with Chinese characters symbolizing Mount Zijinshan, a scenic mountain in northeastern Nanjing.

The final one, measuring 45 cm by 60 cm, bears the Chinese characters that represent Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum in Nanjing. Sun (1866-1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and founding father of the Republic of China.

The prefectural government, which owns the monument, has acknowledged that the stones were taken from Nanjing.

Wu also urged the prefectural government to erase the characters from the tower that make up the inscription "Hakko Ichiu" (the whole world under one roof), a slogan Japan used during World War II to justify its aggression in China and other Asian countries.

But Fukuichi Moriyama, chief of the prefectural government’s city planning section, which oversees Heiwadai Park, dismissed the request when he met Wu.

“We want to preserve the monument as it is,” he said.

Regarding the circumstances of the pieces being taken to Japan, Moriyama said, “We cannot look into the matter since there are few reliable documents available.”

But Wu expressed his determination to make additional visits to Miyazaki until his request is met.

“I did not receive a satisfactory response this time,” he said. “But I am going to come back over and over again to discuss our request.”

The monument was built as a project to celebrate the 2,600th year of imperial reign in Japan. Then-Governor Katsuroku Aikawa approved the project.

According to a civic group in Miyazaki, 364 of the structure’s 1,789 foundation stones originated in China, the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan and elsewhere.