"I felt very conflicted," Cooper recalls when he first met with Chu-Ki-Nren in Tokyo. "Imagine sitting across the table from Joseph Mengele." Still, he decided to help because "young people in Japan live in a historical black hole."
The members of Chu-Ki-Nren, a group of repentant Japanese war criminals whose name means "Those Who Returned from China," are guilty of many things: some raped and killed in Nanking; others did Nazi-style medical "research" on captured Chinese. After years of expressing regret quietly in Japan, Chu-Ki-Nren members are seeking to apologize to American audiences, but Washington's ban on visas for war criminals is preventing them. Convinced, however, that the group's regrets should be heard, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, has organized a trans-Pacific video conference, to take place on the Internet Aug. 16 and be covered by Japan's top TV network, NHK. Panelists in Los Angeles will question four Chu-Ki-Nren members in Tokyo, among them a veteran of Nanking and a doctor from Manchuria's infamous 731 medical unit.