For Topspeed-The Rape of Nanking

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Goldfish
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For Topspeed-The Rape of Nanking

Post by Goldfish » 17 Aug 2004 13:47

This is in answer to Topspeed's question from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki thread.

The "Rape of Nanking" is the name generally given to the sacking of the then Chinese capital, Nanking (modern day Nanjing), by the Japanese in the approximately six weeks between Nanking's fall in mid-December 1937 until the end of January 1938. During this time it is estimated that the Japanese killed from 200,000 to 400, 000 prisoners of war and civilians. They also systematically raped any woman (regardless of age)that fell into their hands (up to 100,000 of them), thus the term "Rape of Nanking".

Some have theorized that this was ordered by the Japanese government as a way to terrorize the Chinese government into surrender. However, there has never been any conclusive evidence that this was the case, although the Japanese Army had standing orders not to take any prisoners and it is estimated that up to 50,000 (including most of those killed in the first few days) were captured Chinese soldiers. The Japanese did know it was happening, however, as proven by the contest, covered as a sporting event by the Japanese press, between two Japanese lieutenants to see who could behead 100 people first. The Japanese did use other terror tactics during the war, such as the terror bombing of Chinese cities and the "Three-All" (kill all, loot all, burn all) campaigns used against Communist base areas. This has kept open the possibility that the "Rape of Nanking" was ordered from above, but it cannot be proven conclusively until more evidence is uncovered.

It is thought that the Japanese soldiers themselves, frustrated by the fierce Chinese defense of Shanghai and concerned about their overextended lines (and perhaps the fact that they were outnumbered greatly by the Chinese in Nanking) commited the massacre spontaneously. Or perhaps the massacre of Chinese PoWs (which was ordered from above) stirred the bloodlust of the Japanese soldiers to the point that they lost control and began killing any Chinese they saw. It must be pointed out that what other armies would consider proper military discipline did not apply to the Japanese Army, which only saw discipline as something for the battlefield and training ground (The Japanese military police-the dreaded Kempeitai-existed to eliminate political dissent, not maintain discipline as in other armies). Also, there had been decades of anti-Chinese propaganda in Japan going back to the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). The Japanese referred to the Chinese as "pigs" and viewed them as inferior. An example of this attitude was the 1941 order, rarely obeyed, that Western civilians captured in Asian colonies were to be treated well and "not like Chinese."

One thing that is certain, however, is the Japanese government's attempt to cover up what happened and pretend that they did nothing wrong. The Japanese government has consistantly tried to downplay the savagery of the massacre and reduce the death toll to about 40,000 to 50,000, which is the approximate number of PoWs killed and therefore, the Japanese argue, means the Japanese only killed soldiers (albeit unarmed) and not civilians. However, the mountain of evidence and tremendous international pressure have caused the government to grudgingly acknowledge the massacre, although it still only barely mentioned in histories of the war taught in Japanese schools. Japanese histories of WWII still focus mostly on the Pacific War and the atomic bombings. To date, Japan has issued no apology for the massacre or for their aggression in China and members of the government continue to visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where the only two men convicted and executed for the "Rape of Nanking", among others, are enshrined.

This represents the view and actions of the Japanese government, though, and not the Japanese people. Most Japanese have no knowledge of the events in Nanking and elsewhere in China during the war. They honestly have no idea why the Chinese, and the Koreans, are still so angry at them, as seen in the recent Asian Cup soccer tournament. They are told that this is just the Chinese government using nationalism and anti-Japanese propaganda to divert attention from domestic problems. Even if this is true, Japan's actions to cover up, or even honor, their Army's bloodthirsty aggression in China only makes the situation worse.

Some further reading on the "Rape of Nanking" in English (I don't know about any Finnish sources-sorry!):

Brook, Timothy. Documents on the Rape of Nanking.

Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of WWII.
[considered the definitive work on the subject]

Rabe, John. The Good Man of Nanking.
[An eyewitness account by a German diplomat in Nanking during the massacre]

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Post by Topspeed » 17 Aug 2004 17:13

Thank you,

I am now well informed.

Somehow there are similarities with the Soviet / Russians ralations to finns. Finns were called tsuhnas ( meaning a pig ) by the soviets !

best regards,

Juke T

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Post by Sewer King » 25 Aug 2004 04:26

Rabe, John. The Good Man of Nanking.
[An eyewitness account by a German diplomat in Nanking during the massacre]
Rabe was not actually a diplomat but an businessman for Siemens in China, and an official in the NSDAP Auslandsorganization or overseas branch. The Good Man of Nanking is the published version of Rabe's diary of several volumes.

There was another rescuer at Nanking at the same time as Rabe, an American woman named Minnie Vautrin who was connected with the city's Ginling College. Her story may be less well-known than Rabe's but no less heroic:

Hing-Lu, Hua. American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: the Courage of Minnie Vautrin. Look in

http://www.siu.edu/~siupress/titles/s01 ... desspb.htm

There's a recent Japanese reply to the recent Nanking histories, which denies the scale or intent of the massacres and rapes. I haven't read it yet, but the fact that it was printed bilingual Japanese and English in the same volume implies what this has stirred up in recent years -- most of all since Chang wrote Rape of Nanking:

Takemoto Tadao and Ohara Yasuo. The Alleged 'Nanking Massacre': Japan's Rebuttal to China's Forged Claims (Tokyo: Meisei-sha, Inc, 2000).

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Post by Goldfish » 25 Aug 2004 13:20

Thanks for the correction on Rabe.

I have heard of that Japanese book and that was the source for the 40,000-50,000 figure stated above. The idea is that if they [when I refer to "they" or "the Japanese", I am not referring to all Japanese, but only the Japanese government and the view of Japanese far-rightists. Not all Japanese were responsible for atrocities, deny the Rape of Nanking, or even know about it.] only killed PoWs, it wasn't so bad because other countries, including China, killed PoWs on occasion as well. This kind of "moral equivalence" is typical of those who are accused of ghastly crimes and cannot prove it never happened. The idea being that because the Chinese routinely executed captured Japanese fliers, it was okay for the Japanese to execute hundreds of thousands of Chinese and other Allied PoWs throughout the war (as well as millions of civilians). It is conveniently forgotten that it was the Japanese "no prisoners" orders that led to China's policies (just like Japan chooses to forget that it was they who first undertook the mass terror bombings of other countries).

The problem for the Japanese is that there is a mountain of evidence that supports a death toll of at least 150,000 at Nanking and the Japanese excuses cannot explain them all away. Another problem for the Japanese is that the world no longer rejects China's statements out of hand as "communist propaganda" as the Japanese have always pretended these claims to be.

The fact is that a approximately 150,000 to 300,000 people were killed in the Rape of Nanking and that the Japanese have no excuses that can change this. The Japanese, who thought they would never be punished, made no effort to hide what they did. The bodies were buried in mass graves, which have been uncovered. The Japanese soldiers took photographs and "home movies" of their actions, which they then sent to Chinese photo studios for processing (and which the studio owners made duplicates of). They even covered the execution "contest" in their newspapers.

The interesting thing is that Nanking paled in comparison to the "three alls" campaign to destroy Communist base areas in North China, resulting in an estimated 2.5 million deaths (this is quoted as recently as 2004 in Jonathon Fenby's biography of Chiang Kai-Shek) and the campaign to punish the people of Zhejiang province for helping the Doolittle Raiders (200,000-300,000 estimated deaths, mostly civilian). This pattern of brutality makes it unlikely that the Rape of Nanking never happened or that it was a fluke.

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The Rape of Nanking and the recent Death of Iris Chang

Post by JamesNo1 » 01 Dec 2004 07:15

Goldfish provided for Topspeed an excellent short account of the Rape of Nanking and the background to Japan's horrifying war crimes in China between 1937 and 1945. Goldfish mentioned Iris Chang's famous book "The Rape of Nanking" which is widely regarded (except in Japan) as the definitive account of the atrocities at Nanking (or Nanjing) in which between 200,000 and 400,00 Chinese civilians and prisoners of war were murdered by the Japanese after the fall of the city.

Sadly, Iris Chang, the young Chinese-American historian who did so much to publicize the horrors committed by the Japanese in China from 1937 died on 9 November 2004 aged 36. Inspired by stories told by her grandparents who fled Nanking at the time of the notorious atrocities in 1937, Chang travelled to China and interviewed survivors of the massacre. Chang admits that she wrote her book "out of a sense of rage".

In recent years a well organized attempt has been made in Japan to discredit her work and cover up Japanese war crimes. This disgraceful activity has been led with considerable success by Professor Nobukatsu Fujioka of Tokyo University who denies Japanese war crimes occurred including the Rape of Nanking. He has considerable support for the cover up of Japanese war crimes and censoring of school history text books within Japan's long dominant Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who regularly pays homage to Japan's war dead, including the worst war criminals, at the notorious Yasukuni Shrine.

At the time of her death she had been researching a history of American troops on the Bataan peninsula in 1942. Chang was found dead in her car from a gunshot wound, and it is believed that she took her own life during a bout of clinical depression. Whether the continuing attempts within Japan to discredit her work contributed to her death is hard to say.

I became so disgusted by the long history of denial of Japanese war crimes and continuing attempts to censor history books for schoolchildren that I included a lengthy section on Japanese war crimes on one of my history web-sites. Anyone interested in browsing this sad story can find it at:

http://www.users.bigpond.com/battlefora ... Intro.html

JamesNo1

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Post by Sewer King » 06 Dec 2004 05:16

There's a recent Japanese reply to the recent Nanking histories, which denies the scale or intent of the massacres and rapes. I haven't read it yet, but the fact that it was printed bilingual Japanese and English in the same volume implies what this has stirred up in recent years -- most of all since Chang wrote Rape of Nanking:

Takemoto Tadao and Ohara Yasuo. The Alleged 'Nanking Massacre': Japan's Rebuttal to China's Forged Claims (Tokyo: Meisei-sha, Inc, 2000).
I now have a copy of this book, since a nearby used bookstore had it for $5. It would not pass before me again so easily and inexpensive, so I picked it up.

From what I have read so far, it sounds much like some Holocaust denial I have read from French sources, which attempted to prove that people could not be killed in the numbers of victims, volumes of chambers, and type of gas used. Tadao and Yasuo take a similar tack with the number of bodies that would have to be disposed of at Nanking and argue that it would not be possible. There may be some argument also that the city's economy was busy enough in the following years to rebut the claim of such a large massacre.

I don't fully understand why Nanking in particular among all the wartime destruction in China has such a stubborn denial in Japan. Is it the scale? Do Imperial atrocities in the Philippines and elsewhere raise this much forceful anger in Nippon? My mother was a young girl in the occupied Philippines, in Rizal province, and recalled for me the fear of Japanese troops and Kempeitai police in her town She found it hard to read the Chang book for its description of sadistic rape. At her age back then this fear was a palpable thing.

Through the present day, new information is turning up about the extent of Japan's biological warfare program, which centered in China but reached well beyond it. A few years ago, a Tokyo court recently made one of the first official government admissions regarding the infamous Unit 731. And some younger Japanese are learning about the subject, there had been a traveling (privately-done) exhibition that toured the country. Japanese BW (and CW too) is still an open subject in China. Does this get the same level of denial? when Japanese investigators themselves have done original research and publicity on Unit 731 (and other units) for the last 20 years?

Granted, WW2 history may not be as widely and traditionally popular a subject of study in Japan, as it is in Europe and the US. But I think there are big gaps in Japanese wartime history that modern Japanese should try to fill in these sensitive areas. Because for the most part, outsiders cannot. Who for example can take the time, money, effort, language capability, scholarly study, and connections to look up Japan Defense Agency archives? A few Japanese have in connection with BW history, but compared to the availability of British, German, US, and other archives this is very small.
...Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who regularly pays homage to Japan's war dead, including the worst war criminals, at the notorious Yasukuni Shrine.
I have had the impression that Koizumi is one of those leaders who grew up postwar, like Britain's Tony Blair and US Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush. As such he cannot have nostalgia for what Japan once was, but politically he has to walk that line of going to Yasukuni even though he might know better in his heart.

I did not know until reading here that Chang was dead.
At the time of her death she had been researching a history of American troops on the Bataan peninsula in 1942. Chang was found dead in her car from a gunshot wound, and it is believed that she took her own life during a bout of clinical depression. Whether the continuing attempts within Japan to discredit her work contributed to her death is hard to say.
My father was one of the Filipino Commonwealth troops taken prisoner on Bataan, He survived the Death March and a year at Camp O'Donnell, later to become a guerrilla connected with the Allied Intelligence Bureau. There was some especial satisfaction of participating in the Los Banos rescue raid during Philippine Liberation. He gave me a copy of Chang's Rape of Nanking and told me he could smell the decay of burial details again from its photos.

Like the still-growing bibliography on Japanese BW, there has been a lot written in recent years about Bataan. For such a well-covered subject I wonder what Chang wanted to add.

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