A Holocaust-denial essay in a prominent Japanese magazine has drawn sharp protests from American Jewish groups and the Israeli government.
It has also prompted the withdrawal of all advertising from the publication by the Volkswagen company of Germany.
The article appeared in the February issue of “Marco Polo” magazine under the headline, “The Greatest Taboo of Postwar History: There Were No Nazi `Gas Chambers.’ “
The article claimed that there was insufficient evidence that Jews were murdered systematically at the Nazi death camps. It also said the gas chambers at Auschwitz were built after World War II by the Polish government or the former Soviet Union.
The piece was preceded by an editorial statement, expressing “major doubts regarding the `Holocaust’ and the massacre of Jews at the hands of the Nazis.” The preamble concludes by billing the article as “the new historic truth.”
The Israeli media have reported that the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo had lodged an official protest with the Japanese government over the article.
As part of its campaign against the article, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked the magazine’s major advertisers, including Microsoft, Philip Morris, Cartier, Philips Electronics, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen, to drop any future advertisements.
An immediate response was received this week from Ferdinand Piech, chairman of Volkswagen, stating that his company had dropped its ads from the magazine until “the incident has been unambiguously clarified.”
In a letter to Takakazu Kuriyama, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, noted that the article was timed to appear “at the very moment that world leaders gathered at Auschwitz to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of that death factory and the innocents who were systematically murdered there.”
Cooper added: “For the survivors of the Holocaust, the `Marco Polo’ attack is akin to a public denial of the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima and the death and suffering which it wrought on the Japanese people.”
Neil Sandberg, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Pacific Rim Institute, was in Tokyo when the article appeared and said that he expressed his dismay to Japanese leaders in person.
Sandberg said he was astonished that the publishers of “Marco Polo,” the influential Bungei Shunju Ltd., printed and endorsed the article without examining the qualifications of the author, who relied on Holocaust revisionist sources.
The author, Masanori Nishioka, is a young physician, who, Cooper said, “never traveled to the sites of the death camps and never interviewed any reputable historians.”
“He merely took quotes from professional bigots and Holocaust deniers,” Cooper also said.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, sent a letter to Kazuyoshi Hanada, editor of “Marco Polo.” “Publications such as yours have a responsibility to reject historically inaccurate and incendiary articles. By failing to do so, you have given legitimacy to Mr. Nishioka and his dangerous views,” Foxman wrote.
ADL has protested anti-Semitism in Japan on several previous occasions. Most recently, last November, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, apologized to ADL for publishing advertisements for anti-Semitic books after ADL protested the ads.