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No Nanking Massacre?
Posted by: mcq on Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What is it with the Japanese?
About 100 Japanese governing party lawmakers denounced the Nanjing Massacre as a fabrication on Tuesday, contesting Chinese claims that Japanese soldiers killed hundreds of thousands of people after seizing the Chinese city in 1937.

The members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party said there was no evidence to prove mass killings by Japanese soldiers in the captured Nationalist capital, then known as Nanking. They accused Beijing of using the alleged incident as a "political advertisement."


Nakayama said the study, which was initiated in part because this year is the 70th anniversary of the battle, determined there was no violation of international law.

Toru Toida, another member of the group, demanded that photographs portraying the Japanese military in a negative light be removed from Chinese war memorials.

"We are absolutely positive that there was no massacre in Nanking," Toida said.
This, essentially, is the equivalence of holocaust denial. Obviously I don't want anyone jailed for it, but for heaven sake, this just isn't in dispute by any serious historian. The evidence is overwhelming.

Why do the Japanese make themselves look foolish by continuing to deny what their troops and their government did during WWII? It would seem, given what I've read about their culture, to be somewhat against that culture's beliefs to do so. Yet they persist, trying to deny enslaving Korean "comfort women" to service their troops, modifying text books to reflect a revisionist history of the war and now Nanking. I don't get it.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Japan is the linchpin of the defense of Korea and Taiwan. Soon they will become a much larger military presence. They need to bee. If they are to play that role they need a way to "save face" Denying the obvious may seem strange to Westerners, but necessary in Japan. The thought is,‘deny "Comfort girls" and Nanking" and they didn’t happen.’

They have the economic ability to take up some of the strain on the U.S. Military. The days of Tojo and the Empire of the Rising Son are long gone. It’s time for Japan to carry it’s weight.
Written By: James E. Fish
...but they sure get offended when the Enola Gay or Boxcar are on display at a museum. Hmmph!
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Oh, and now they think they are Nancy Pelosi by renaming Iwo Jima:,2933,284834,00.html
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Why do the Japanese make themselves look foolish
Because Carter shouldn’t have all the fun.
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I’m pretty much agreeing with James here, but them acting like a Family Guy episode still has me worried.
German Tour Guide: Besides its beautiful, historic architecture, Munich was the home of many great writers, such as Thomas Mann. You will find more on Germany’s contribution to art in the pamphlets we’ve provided.

Brian: Yeah, about your pamphlet... I’m not seeing anything about German history between 1939 and 1945. There’s just a big gap.

Tour Guide: Everyone was on vacation! On your left is Munich’s first city hall, erected in 15...

Brian: Wait, wait. What are you talking about? Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and...

Tour Guide: (screaming frantically) We were invited! Punch was served! Check with Poland!

Brian: You can’t just ignore those years. Thomas Mann fled to America because of Nazism’s stranglehold on Germany.

Tour Guide: No, no, he left to manage a Dairy Queen.

Brian: A Dairy Queen? That’s preposterous.

(eveyone looks at him terrified)

Brian: (hesitantly) Uh, is that a beer hall?

Tour Guide: (cheerfully) Oh, yes! Munich is renowned for its historic beer halls.
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
If I could guess, I’d say it’s because WWII is over, the militaristic regime that started it was overthrown in 1945, and most of the people now alive were not even born then.

It’s like the Civil War. I’d be classified a Yankee, but I don’t believe my ancestors were even here at that time. I feel no guilt for slavery. I’m sorry it happened, but I didn’t do it and had nothing to do with it. I just happen, now, to live in a country which once practiced it.
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
DENIAL - It’s not a river in Afria.
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
Sing the "I was not a Nazi Polka"
Written By: James E. Fish
They make an interesting counterpoint to the American left, who insist that our history is nothing but massacres.
Written By: Christopher
URL: http://
If I could guess, I’d say it’s because WWII is over, the militaristic regime that started it was overthrown in 1945, and most of the people now alive were not even born then.
All of which has what to do with whether or not it happened and whether or not to acknowledge it happened?
Written By: McQ
I see them one "Nanking didn’t happen" and raise them a "we didn’t inter Japanese during WWII" and "we didn’t drop nuclear bombs."
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
I beleive the clinical name for it is "Waldheimers", also known as forgetting you were a Nazi.
Written By: Crusader

The article you link to is misleading. The question is not whether Nanjing occurred - it is whether the figure of 300,000 dead as officially quoted by China is anything close to correct. Unlike the Holocaust, whose figures have been thoroughly and independantly verified by countless scholars from around the world, accounts of the Nanjing massacre vary greatly. The historian David Askew provides a thorough overview of the situation here:

As you’ll see, there is much to suggest that the death-toll was about one-tenth the figure quoted by China, and that the majority of the victims were actually soldiers.

We need to remember that Japan is an open democracy with academic freedom, and that China is a totalitarian state, in which an academic who challenges the party line faces prison or worse.
Japan is understandably upset because Chinese claims about "revisionist" textbooks, for instance, are routinely repeated in the western media uncritically, and Japan has historically been afraid to challenge these distortions because they don’t want to seem racist. But the textbooks are a perfect example - the "revisionist" texts do exist, but they are used in only about 18 of nearly 11,000 middle-schools in Japan (the Japanese teachers unions openly oppose them).

The problem here is that there are shades of gray, and everyone in the west still sees it in b/w. Japan has issued dozens of apologies and paid numerous reparations throughout Asia. Their behavior since WW2 has been completely peaceful. In that same post-war period, China has murdered more than 50 million of its own citizens thanks to Mao. But the U.S. is loathe to criticize China, now that they’re making wigits for us on the cheap.
Written By: KidB
URL: http://
In related news, it was recently discovered that America never had slaves.
Written By: TallDave
Tall Dave,

You’re funny. Did you read the paper I linked to?

Written By: KidB
URL: http://
As you’ll see, there is much to suggest that the death-toll was about one-tenth the figure quoted by China, and that the majority of the victims were actually soldiers.
Actually there’s not and that’s the point. This isn’t something which happened in a vacuum, nor was it something which wasn’t pretty darn thoroughly documented at the time, not only by those who survived but by the Japanese themselves.

It was a massacre in any sense of the word and the links I provided pretty graphically demonstrate that.

Additionally any number of first hand accounts are available as well.

Whether or not Japan is now an open democracy and China is now a closed totalitarian society has zip to do with the history of the event. What happened happened and it did so under the control and auspices of the Japanese there at the time.
Written By: McQ
None of the articles you link to quote any sources - not a single one! Nor do the photographs contain any attributions. You are aware that China was undergoing a civil war throughout WW2 aren’t you? And that during this period the Nationalists killed over 6 million Chinese, and conducted purges and massacres very similar to those attributed to Japan? Which is why photographic evidence is not so easily parsed.
This isn’t something which happened in a vacuum, nor was it something which wasn’t pretty darn thoroughly documented at the time, not only by those who survived but by the Japanese themselves.
Then you might want to read what those who’ve studied it actually have to say.
Whether or not Japan is now an open democracy and China is now a closed totalitarian society has zip to do with the history of the event.
It has everything to do with how the event is researched, what evidence is presented, and why it continues to be an "issue" for present-day political gain. If you can find fault with the article I link, and the many conumdrums it describes, please do so.
Written By: KidB
URL: http://
Then you might want to read what those who’ve studied it actually have to say.
I have ... for years. This isn’t some small body of work nor is it an obscure body of work. And there is plenty of documentation. One example:
The first is a long set of documents produced by the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, a group of foreigners who strove to protect the Chinese residents. The second is a series of letters that American surgeon Dr. Robert Wilson wrote for his family during the same period.


The evidence compiled by the International Committee and its members would be decisive for the indictments against Japanese leaders at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo.
Got that?

Here is the cite and a few more for your perusal.
Written By: McQ
Yes, there is plenty of documentation that a massacre occurred. I’m not disputing that. But there is no evidence to support the huge figure quoted by China, which is what I’ve said from the beginning, and which you’ve ignored from the beginning, and which your source (even the latest) does not refute.

You’re contention that a ten-fold (or even a three-fold!) discrepancy in the figure, nor the identity of the victims (civilians or soldiers?) "doesn’t matter" is baffling to me.

From the article:
Large differences are also seen regarding the question whether soldiers who changed into civilian clothes and hid among the civilian population of Nanjing should be viewed as plain-clothed soldiers, regular soldiers, civilians, or other (or in other words whether they should be viewed as combatants or non-combatants). Of the 16 members of the Illusion and Middle-of-the-Road Schools, 11 view such soldiers as plain-clothed soldiers and four as regular troops (combatants). Of the seven members of the Great Massacre School, one views such soldiers as regular troops, and six have replied "other", giving their definition as defeated soldiers who had lost the will to fight (non-combatants). Needless to say, this difference has large implications in terms of the legality of the executions of these soldiers. There is in fact also a clear fault line regarding the questions whether the execution of these soldiers was legal: all members of the Great Massacre School declare that it was not; almost all others believe that it was.
Written By: KidB
URL: http://
The point here is that Japan is routinely demonized in the media for its past, despsite extensive reparations and apologies. They have apologized and repaid for sixty years, and yet China continues to demonize them. Why? Because, China, which continues to violate human rights, and is responsible far more atrocities than Japan over the course of this century, needs a bogeyman to channel the collective anger of its own citizens. And every time someone in the west repeats these unfounded claims about Japan’s "revisionist" history, they are promoting Chinese propaganda.

Japan is understandably tired of having to apologize endlessly, to no effect on their belligerent neighbors.

I suspect that original news piece you linked to misquoted Abe, and that the original claim was that the figure of 300,000 was fabricated, and not the event itself. fact, I’ve just found a BBC article which confirms this suspicion

Written By: KidB
URL: http://
On a side note, of the three links in McQ’s original post, only the first one works from inside China. You’d think the Chinese would want that information accessible.

KidB’s link works fine.
Written By: Joe R.
URL: http://
"Japan is understandably tired of having to apologize endlessly,"

And the solution to that is to deny it ever happened.

"The members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party said there was no evidence to prove mass killings by Japanese soldiers in the captured Nationalist capital, then known as Nanking"
" Toida, another member of the group, demanded that photographs portraying the Japanese military in a negative light be removed from Chinese war memorials."
"We are absolutely positive that there was no massacre in Nanking," Toida said.

You can quibble over the numbers, but it appears that the Japanese are denying that anything occured. I particularly love the demand that Japanese soldiers not be portrayed in a negative light. Thirty thousand or three hundred thousand, they were still atrocities committed by barbarians. Next I suppose you will tell us those biological warfare experiments performed on prisoners(Mengele must be green with envy) were merely exagerations of naturally occurring diseases at a humanitarian outreach clinic.

Written By: timactual
URL: http://

I love how people attribute all kinds of nefarious motives to people like myself who simply want to bring some rational balance to these debates.

I would NEVER deny the existence of Unit 731 and its various off-shoots. These atrocities are a confirmed part of history, and I know of no effort on the part of the Japanese mainstream to deny their existence.

But you can see the flipside of this, can’t you? Between the racist anti-Japanese propaganda produced by the U.S. and Britain before and during WW2 (which we must remember heavily shaped the western media’s accounts of Japan’s actions in East Asia), and Japan’s own sense of historical shame (which has led unwilling to challenge ANY criticism or accusation until recently, for fear of stoking old fears and grudges), it now becomes possible for countries like China and Korea to make any claim they want to and, because the media uncritically repeats these accusations, Japan is essentially guilty until proven innocent." Some could come out and say "Japanese soldiers had a policy of decapitating Chinese babies and drinking blood from their skulls," and people would believe it.

This problem is exacerbated by the poor reportage of Asian politics in general in the U.S. media. Much (if not all) of the nuance of Japanese political speech is lost in translation due to shoddy reporting. Quotes are also taken out of context. I highly recommend a blog called Ampontan, written by an American translator living in Japan - it provides an excellent resource for getting past the poor work done by American journalists.

The issue for the members of the LDP is that, so they claim, the Nanking Memorials in China often contain photographs that are misattributed. In other words, many of the pictures may actually depict Nationalist purges rather than Japanese actions. This is not an unreasonable or impossible claim, and it is at least worthy of investigation.

No one is yet in a position to absolutely confirm or deny anything about Nanking, as of yet, because, unlike the Holocaust - or other Japanese actions is Asia, for that matter - it is NOT settled history. There is comparatively little direct, academic research in English on the incident, and the most famous book on the subject, Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking, has been heavily-criticized even by WESTERN historians, for incorrect sourcing, inclusion of misattributed and faked photgraphs, and various other fabrications. From the entry on the book in Wikipedia:
Chang’s book provoked widespread response from readers and critics alike. Various scholars considered this book, especially Chang’s discovery of John Rabe’s diary, an important contribution to history. According to William C. Kirby, Professor of History at Harvard University, "Ms. Chang shows more clearly than any previous account just what (the Japanese) did."

Other academics have argued that the book was seriously flawed, claiming "it is full of misinformation and harebrained explanations." Scholar Joshua Fogel considered this book as "seriously flawed". While admiting that "[Chang] successfully recounts the work of the International Committee. Chang’s discovery of John Rabe’s lengthy diary may be her most important contribution", and "(h)er description of the Japanese assault on Nanjing is generally good, though flawed by occasional wild assertions". Fogel further stated that "the book begins to fall apart when she tries to explain why such a horror took place.... The most disturbing element of Chang’s work is her insistence that postwar Japan continues to hide its past", which he found "unnecessarily unnuanced and, indeed, inaccurate and unfair."[1]?

Timothy M. Kelly described the book as "simple carelessness, sheer sloppiness, historical inaccuracies, and shameless plagiarism" and presented a case that Chang had plagiarised passages and an illustration from Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy by David Bergamini. [2]

Chang was also rebuked by "liberals, who insist the massacre happened but allege that Chang’s flawed scholarship damages their cause." (Los Angeles Times, June 6 1999). In Japan, many regard her book as a significant blow to the "Great Massacre" school, which advocate the case for massacre. "Rather than concentrating on those who argue for a smaller death toll than what it sees as acceptable, the Great Massacre School has thus been forced into the (unusual) position of criticising a work that argues for a larger death toll". [3]
This book is now being made into a feature film - and people will no doubt believe everything they see in it - whether it is true or not.

The Japanese need to be given more credit than you’re giving them. They have already acknowledged their crimes and issued many apologies and reparations. They have also done the most research into Nanking than any other country, and within Japan there is a very robust debate among academicc about what happened and why.

In the end, the point is that everything is not "settled" here, and the Japanese have a right to pursue historical truth based on the scientific methodology without being called "deniers". Unfortunately, lazy American journalists are not helping matters when they repeat already-debunked falsehoods like the aforementioned textbook issue. (Here is a BBC article which gives the figure of .1% as the total percentage of schools using the book)
Written By: KidB
URL: http://
Fine, if you don’t believe informations from China, and we should not believe informations from Japan either. Let’s look at informations from Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and others asian’s countries and you will find Japanese committed many war-crimes all over Asia in WWII.

If you still don’t believe informations from Asian-countries, you can try the WEST with BBC here.....

Or the best thing is for you to goto any libraries in North America or Europe and do you own research under WWII in Asia and find historic facts yourself instead of reading many false informations on the internet.

Written By: Computergeek
URL: http://
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