This is a Japanese monk, and he is in Liaoyuan, China. He is memorializing some of the actual bones of 10,000 Chinese miners who were brutalized and killed during the Japanese occupation there.
In the US, our history lessons go over the Japanese-US war that started in 1941. I can’t remember ever hearing about the Japanese war with China that preceded it by four years, and severely weakened Japan’s ability to go to full war.
Had Japan not been at war with China, not only could it have made the mainland US, but it would have been brutal. The Japanese were such a warlike culture at the time that during the “Rape of Nanking” their army reached China’s capital with ease and proceeded to kill about 300,000 civilians and rape 100,000 more. Their main technique was brutalization and they were unfortunately very good at it.
To read of these atrocities you wonder how a culture could transform itself, and you wonder how other cultures could even allow it to continue. Now one of the biggest fights between China and Japan are what Japanese history books say about Nanking. I’m hoping it’s a case of a culture so embarrassed by its own history that it can’t find the words to include in those books. It has to be memorialized, again and again and again, so that you can hope, with education, it never happens again.
It continues to happen, yes, but you hope it never happens again in the smarter world.