The beheading competition

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Peter H
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The beheading competition

Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 07:59

The two Japanese officers of the 16th Division who conducted a beheading competition 1937.

http://www.geocities.com/nankingatrocit ... ing_02.htm

Mukai and Noda were also well known for their killing contest to cut down a hundred Chinese soldiers in combat with their swords on the way to Nanking. Their story was serially published in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi newspaper, where the two second lieutenants were treated as war heroes.

However, as many historians point out today, the stories of hyped heroism, in which those soldiers courageously killed a number of enemies in hand-to-hand combat with swords, couldn't be taken at face value.

Indeed, when Noda came back to his hometown in Japan and made a speech at an elementary school, he told his young audience that of more than a hundred Chinese soldiers he killed, most were actually prisoners of war.

In 1971 one of the schoolchildren, Shishime Akira, wrote to a magazine of what he heard from Noda years before, a part of which quoted the second lieutenant as saying:

"I killed only four or five with sword in the real combat.... After we captured an enemy trench, we'd tell them, "Ni Lai Lai." The Chinese soldiers were stupid enough to come out the trench toward us one after another. We'd line them up and cut them down from one end to the other."



Mukai Toshiaki and Noda Tsuyoshi,from the Japanese Pictorial World 1938:
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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 08:04

Articles in the Japanese press 1937 on the killing competition:

http://www.geocities.com/nankingatrocit ... ing_02.htm


The following article was quoted in Timperley's What War Means (American title: Japanese Terror in China) in 1938. It appeared in the Japan Advertiser, an American owned and edited English-language daily paper in Tokyo, on December 7, 1937.

SUB-LIEUTENANTS IN RACE TO FELL 100 CHINESE RUNNING CLOSE CONTEST

Sub-lieutenant Toshiaki Mukai and Sub-lieutenant Takeshi Noda, both of the Katagiri unit at Kuyung, in a friendly contest to see "which of them will first fell 100 Chinese in individual sword combat before the Japanese forces completely occupy Nanking are well in the final phase of their race, running almost neck to neck.

On Sunday when their unit was fighting outside Kuyung, the "score," according to the Asahi, was: Sub-lieutenant Mukai, 89, and Sub-lieutenant Noda, 78.
On December 14, 1937, the same paper published another report that read:

CONTEST TO KILL FIRST 100 CHINESE WITH SWORD EXTENDED WHEN BOTH FIGHTERS EXCEED MARK

The winner of the competition between Sub-Lieutenant Toshiaki Mukai and Sub-Lieutenant lwao [Takeshi] Noda to see who would be the first to kill 100 Chinese with his Yamato sword has not been decided, the Nichi Nichi reports from the slopes of Purple Mountain, outside Nanking.

Mukai has a score of 106 and his rival has dispatched 105 men, but the two contestants have found it impossible to determine which passed the 100 mark first. Instead of settling it with a discussion, they are going to extend the goal by 50.

Mukai's blade was slightly damaged in the competition. He explained that this was the result of cutting a Chinese in half, helmet and all. The contest was "fun," he declared, and he thought it a good thing that both men had gone over the 100 mark without knowing that the other had done so.

Early Saturday morning, when the Nichi Nichi man interviewed the sub-lieutenant at a point overlooking Dr. Sun Yat-sen's tomb, another Japanese unit set fire to the slopes of Purple Mountain in an attempt to drive out the Chinese troops.

The action also smoked out Sub-Lieutenant Mukai and his unit, and the men stood idly by while bullets passed overhead. "Not a shot hits me while I am holding this sword on my shoulder," he explained confidently.



The dismissal of the libel case brought by their families in August 2005:

http://www.japanmediareview.com/japan/blog/Events/728/


Judge Akio Doi noted that "the lieutenants admitted that they were in a race to kill 100 people" and therefore flatly rejected the suit. "We cannot deny that the article included some false elements and exaggeration, but it is difficult to say the article was fiction not based on facts. Since a final historical assessment on whether the contest of killing 100 people has not yet been made, we cannot say [the article] was obviously false."

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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 08:11

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contest_to ... with_Sword


In Japan, the contest was lost to the obscurity of history until 1967, when Tomio Hora, a professor of history at Waseda University, published a 118-page document pertaining to the events of Nanking. The story was ignored by the Japanese press until 1971, when Japanese historian Katsuichi Honda brought the issue to the attention of the public with a series of articles published in the Mainichi Shimbun—the modern-day descendant of the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun. In Japan, the articles sparked ferocious debate about the Nanking Massacre, with the veracity of the killing contest a particularly contentious point of debate. Honda published a book about Nanking and the contest in 1981.

Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, who, in 2000, undertook one of the most comprehensive studies of the incident ever conducted, reached the conclusion that "the killing contest itself was a fabricated story", but served as a positive influence in Japanese culture, making the Japanese more aware of some of the wartime atrocities that had actually been conducted by the Imperial Japanese Army.




http://rene.malenfant.googlepages.com/h ... irikyousou

2nd Lt. Mukai was the Toyama Battalion's Gunnery Platoon Captain, 2nd Lt. Noda was the Toyama Battalion's aide-de-camp.

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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 08:23

I'd be interested to see Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi's findings on the "fabrications" involved here but all I can find is this:

http://www.jref.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17722

One of the best written study of the 100-Man Killing Contest is undoubtedly one written by Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, yet the article published in Journal of Japanese Studies 26-2, Summer 2000 pp. 307-340, is not easily accessible on the web, and the abstract provided by the author reserves a certain kind of opaqueness to it.

...the abstract provided by the author is not clear at all how Wakabayashi arrived at his conclusion. In fact, his paper only gives circumstantial suggestions as to why he should have thought so. A close reading reveals the details of his argumentation which can be likened to a well-studied defense attorney's. Only after stripping away the complexities present in the threads of words, ideas, and debates of the 1960's and 1970's can one begin to see a picture, still somewhat vague, but clearly based on the historical documents, so that any ambiguity of the sources can be reproduced in the minds of the readers. Historical investigation can only become as clear as the original source of information is clear, and this historical objective is closely adhered to in Wakabayashi.

It almost appears that Wakabayashi's statement amounts to saying the two officers in the photo Mukai Toshiaki and Noda Takeshi (Tsuyoshi) who boasted of having killed over 100 Chinese civilians should have been released for flawed and insufficient evidence. Although his conclusion may be considered difficult to swallow by some readers, his presentation of primary sources, summary of the 1970's debate, and the transparent manner in which he relates his own views have infinitely redeeming qualities that will bring us one step closer to the historical truth of the Nanjing 100-Man Killing Contest.



My understanding is that Wakabayashi hints the story was a "fabricated press contest",that the men did no actual killings,and they ultimately paid the price for their involvement in this saga.Wakabayashi is no revisionist as his book on Nanking suggests.( http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php? ... shiNanking ).However it doesn't say much for the Japanese mentality at that time if such an episode was glorified in the press.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 08:55

If Sato Shinju (佐藤振壽), the cameraman who photographed the photo of two lieutenants didn't lie in the court in 2005, it is probably untrue that the two Japanese lieutenants were competitors for a butcher game. In this sense, they may have been scapegoats of Japanese wartime propaganda.

http://www.senyu-ren.jp/100/005.HTM

But I think that whether the two Japanese lieutenants were really butchers is just a collateral issue. A more important thing we have to note is Japanese wartime mentality that allowed such a newpaper article to be published.

Image

http://homepage3.nifty.com/m_and_y/genr ... a4_150.jpg

Some Japanese right wingers use this case as a pretext to deny the Nanjing Massacre, making Mukai and Noda scapegoats of Japanese denialism.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 09:19

Again, whether the beheading competition was really carried out by the two Japanese officers is not an important issue. These kinds of things were not rare in the Japanese army.

Intelligence officer of the 232th Regiment of the 39th Division, Unono Shintaro (鵜野晋太郎) confesses that beheadings were rampant in the 'Invincible Japanese Imperial Army' at that time. He himself beheaded more than 40 Chinese.

http://homepage3.nifty.com/m_and_y/genr ... in/uno.htm

「百人斬り競争」に対する鵜野氏の感想

昭和十二年十一月 ― 十二月の日本の新聞は、連日南京へ進撃する皇軍のニュースで埋まっていた。とりわけ私の関心は、野田・向井両少尉の百人斬り競争であった。今日は何人目と報ぜられる記事は何者にもまして素晴らしく、一八歳の私の胸は皇国の無敵ぶりへの確信を一段と高めたものである。当時私は幼稚な「天下無敵大和魂武勇伝」を盲信していたので、百人斬りはすべて「壮烈鬼神も避く肉弾戦」(当時の従軍記者の好きなタイトルである)で斬ったものと思っていたが、前述の私の体験的確信から類推して、別の意味でこれは可能なことだ――と言うよりもむしろ容易なことであったに違いない。しかもいわゆる警備地区での斬首殺害の場合、穴を掘り埋没しても野犬が食いあさると言う面倒があるが、進撃中の作戦地区ではまさに「斬り捨てご免」で、立ち小便勝手放題にも似た「気まま(イ盡)な殺人」を両少尉が「満喫」したであろうことは容易に首肯ける。ただ注意すべきは目釘と刀身の曲りだが、それもそう大したことではなかったのだろう。また百人斬りの「話題の主」とあっては、進撃途上で比隣部隊から「どうぞ、どうぞ」と捕虜の提供を存分に受けたことも類推できようと言うものだ。要するに「据え物百人斬り競争」が正式名称になるべきである。尚彼等のどちらかが凱旋後故郷で講演した中に「戦闘中に斬ったのは三人で他は捕えたのを斬った云々」とあることからもはっきりしている。その戦闘中の三人も本当に白兵で斬ったのか真偽のほどはきわめて疑わしくなる。何れにせよ、こんなにはっきりしていることを「ああでもない、こうでもない」と言うこと自体馬鹿げた話だ。私を含めて何百何千もの野田・向井がいて、それは日中50年戦争――とりわけ「支那事変」の時点での〝無敵皇軍〟の極めてありふれた現象に過ぎなかったのである。

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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 10:22

The Uno testimony at the 2005 trial also questioned whether the low grade,mass produced swords as issued to junior officers could do around a hundred beheadings without going blunt or bent.Obviously the more high grade katanas held as family heirlooms by the rich,and more senior officers,could have done at better job,

If these men were innocent their subsequent execution by the Chinese should also be acknowledged as an injustice.If innocent,its fair to say they were scapegoats of Japanese wartime propaganda.I dont think the Chinese had the resources or availability of documents to dwell too far into the matter.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 11:51

Even if the two Japanese officers didn't behead more than 100 Chinese each, this doesn't exempt them from suspicion of war crimes. Unono Shintaro (鵜野晋太郎) also says it is probable that two lieutenants enjoyed killing Chinese POWs, which was common practice of Japanese soldiers at that time.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 12:14

Actually, newspaper coverage on the beheading competition consists of four articles.

1937年11月30日付朝刊(第1報) (The first report on November 30, 1937)

百人斬り競争!/両少尉、早くも八十人 (Competition for beheading 100 enemies! Two lieutenants already got 80 people)

Image


1937年12月4日付朝刊(第2報) (The second report on December 4, 1937)

急ピッチに躍進/百人斬り競争の経過 (Competition progresses rapidly, Progress of competition for beheading 100 enemies)

Image


1937年12月6日付朝刊(第3報) (The third report on December 6, 1937)

〝百人斬り〟大接戦/勇壮!向井、野田両少尉 (Close competition for 100 enemies! Brave officers Mukai and Noda)

Image


1937年12月13日付朝刊(第4報) (The fourth report on December 13, 1937)

百人斬り〝超記録〟向井 106-105 野田/両少尉さらに延長戦 (Record breaking 100 beheadings, Mukai 106 : Noda 105)

Image

http://homepage3.nifty.com/m_and_y/genr ... inichi.htm
Last edited by Kim Sung on 04 Mar 2007 12:47, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 12:33

Mukai Toshiaki's sword is said to be in the possession of his grandson who resides in the USA.

Beheading appears to be a common Chinese execution method as well.

This CNN article from 1996 states that in the case presented "Chinese nationals accused of aiding the Japanese, were beheaded with a large sword".

http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/9609/23/ra ... index.html

The photos, taken by a Swiss photographer near Shanghai in 1937, all depict the brutality of Chinese soldiers toward Japanese prisoners and Shanghai residents accused of helping the Japanese as they began their military conquest of China.


I have my doubts about the authenticity of this episode.I cannot find any reference to it elsewhere.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 12:55

Peter H wrote:Beheading appears to be a common Chinese execution method as well.


Beheading was a common execution method in East Asia. But no other Asian people frequently used beheading in modern wars as the Japanese.

According to an article in Kagoshima-Okinawa Edition of Osaka Daily Newspaper on January 25, 1938, including the famous beheading match, Lt. Noda beheaded 253 Chinese stragglers and boasted that he would behead 1,000 Chinese.

http://homepage3.nifty.com/m_and_y/genr ... inichi.htm

二百五十三人を斬り 今度千人斬り発願

     さすがの〝波平〟も無茶苦茶 野田部隊長から朗信

南京めざして快進撃を敢行した片桐部隊の第一線に立つて、壮烈無比、阿修羅のごとく奪戦快絶〝百人斬り競争〟に血しぶきとばして鎬を削つた向井敏明、野田毅両部隊長は晴れの南京入りをしたがその血染の秋水に刻んだスコアは一○六 ― 一○五、いづれが先きに百人斬つたか判らずドロンゲームとなつたが、その後両部隊長は若き生命に誓つてさらに一挙〝千人斬〟をめざし野田部隊長は□□の敗残兵掃蕩に二百五十三人を斬つた、かくして熱血もゆる両部隊長の刃こぼれした白刃に刻んでゆく〝血刃行〟はどこまで続く?……
 このほど豪快野田部隊長が友人の鹿児島県枕崎町中村碩郎氏あて次のごとき書信を寄せたが、同部隊長が死を鴻毛の軽きにおき大元帥陛下万歳を奉唱して悠々血刃をふるふ壮絶な雄姿そのまヽの痛快さがあふれてをり、〝猛勇野田〟の面目躍如たるものがある


His comrade made a poem praising his 'Great?' feat.

百人斬日本刀切味の歌(豪傑節)(The Song for the Glorious Sword which beheaded 100 Enemies / Song for the Hero)

一、今宵別れて故郷の月に、
   冴えて輝くわが剣
二、軍刀枕に露営の夢に、
   飢ゑて血に泣く聲がする
三、嵐吹け/\江南の地に、
   斬つて見せたや百人斬
四、長刀三尺鞘をはらへば、
   さつと飛ぴ散る血の吹雪
五、ついた血口を戎衣でふけば
   きづも残らぬ腕の冴え
六、今日は口かよ昨日はお□、
   明日は試さん突きの味
七、國を出るときや鏡の肌よ、
   今ぢや血の色黒光り……
  (中略)


This is a typical Japanese propaganda article. Didn't Noda know all these nonsense newspaper articles were being written in his home country? Did the reporters write all these propaganda articles without informing him or getting his implied consent?

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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 13:08

Its said both men suffered "wounds" and gave up on the contest.

Whether they knew about what was going on in the newspapers is hard to say.Whether they could challenge the issue further under the Japanese militaristic regime is also another matter.Being a poster boy also had its advantages while Japan was winning.

I don't know if they stayed with the 16th Division and later deployed to the Phillippines or moved on into another unit.


The documentary Japanese Devils also had a veteran relating how new recruits were "blooded" by bayoneting prisoners.

Kazuo Sone in his book A Japanese Soldier’s Confession also has this to say:

To boost the morale and courage of new recruits during the war, we experimented with bayoneting the enemy. That means using POWs or local civilians as live targets. New recruits without any battle experience would learn from this practice. It was unlucky for the people selected as targets, but it was also a painful experience for the new soldier forced to participate in this experience. Facing the prisoners and civilians, every recruit wore a tense and expressionless countenance, staring with trembling lips and bloody eyes at their victims. They held their bayonet-fixed rifles in such a way as if ready to cry for help and flee. Hearing the order to charge, they nervously leaped forward and yell kill!

But often those charges lacked energy and determination and the yelling was feeble. It was impossible to finish off a victim with this kind of charge. The human targets wailed and howled in extreme pain. Their blood spurted from the open wounds. At this point, the recruits would be frightened by what they had done. The horrifying scene softened the murderous look on their faces. But when the victims continued to scream in pain, the blood gushing from their bodies, the soldiers would stab aimlessly and repeated, hoping to end their lives quickly and escape the ordeal, until their live targets became motionless.

This kind of killing experience was every soldier's test and ordeal. After this they would be fearless in real battle, and would glory in the act of killing. War made people cruel, bestial, and insane. It was an abyss of inhuman crimes.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 13:21

Asami Kazuo (浅海一男), the reporter who wrote beheading competition articles in question recalls...

http://homepage3.nifty.com/m_and_y/genr ... houdou.htm

事実、「敵」を無造作に「斬る」ということは、はげしい戦闘間のときはもちろんですが、その他のばあいでも、当時の日本の国内の道徳観からいってもそれほど不道徳な行為とはみられていなかったのですが、とくにわれわれが従軍した戦線では、それを不道徳とする意識は皆無に近かったというのが事実でした。筆者は、あの戦線の薄れた記憶のフィルムのなかでも、次のようないくつかの場面だけは脳裡に焼きついて離れません。
 例えば確か丹陽の少し手前(上海寄り)にあった中華民国歩兵学校が占領されたとき、その裏手の広場に、数十体の国民党軍の兵士の遺体が横たわっていて、それらの遺体にどれひとつとして頚部から上の部分が見られなかったときの筆者の驚ろきと暗澹たる心情は忘れがたいのです。


Summary :

In fact, beheading was not considered as immoral from the moral standard of Japan then. For example, at the Chinese National Infantry Academy at the suburb of Shanghai, I found scores of Chinese soldiers' bodies. All those bodies were already beheaded
.


Now we can understand why the Japanes public became excited over such heinous newspaper articles without any sense of guilt.

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Post by Kim Sung » 04 Mar 2007 13:28

Shijime Akira (志々目彰)'s account on Lt. Noda's speech at an elementary school in his hometown in the spring 1939. He was an elementary school student who admired Japanese hero(?) Lt. Noda.

http://homepage3.nifty.com/m_and_y/genr ... hijime.htm

「郷土出身の勇士とか、百人斬り競争の勇士とか新聞が書いているのは私のことだ……
 実際に突撃していって白兵戦の中で斬ったのは四、五人しかいない……
 占領した敵の塹壕にむかって『ニーライライ』とよびかけるとシナ兵はバカだから、ぞろぞろと出てこちらへやってくる。それを並ばせておいて片っぱしから斬る……
 百人斬りと評判になったけれども、本当はこうして斬ったものが殆んどだ……
 二人で競争したのだが、あとで何ともないかとよく聞かれるが、私は何ともない……」


Actually, the number of Chinese soldiers whom I beheaded in combats was just 4~5.



Shijime's confession

その頃の私たちには、斬られた中国兵のために憤り、或いは同情する“ヒューマニズム”はなかった。その中国の兵たちにも自分のような弟がいるかもしれないなどとは、思ってもみなかった。軍人になろうとしている兄貴を慕っていた私だから、そんな類推ができない筈はなかったのに……


At that time, we didn't have humanism toward beheaded Chinese soldiers. We had never thought that, like us, those Chinese soldiers had brothers too.



Shijime's confession shows what the moral stadard of the Japanese society then was like.

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Post by Peter H » 04 Mar 2007 13:34

In the samurai tradition the public was lead to believe in 1937 that the contest entailed man to man combat and not the killing of prisoners.

One exaggeration was the "a claim by one of the soldiers to have cut a Chinese soldier in two by splitting his steel helmet with his sword".

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