Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Off Topic Tuesday: The Rape of Nanking

Japan putting its best face forward
What really happened when Japanese forces took Nanking (then capital of the Republic of China) in 1937? Everyone has heard about the massacre and rape wave that shocked the world. At least it did almost a decade after the fact. No one wants to be the “bad guy” and ask questions about such a horrific event. In Japan, obviously, it is a contentious issue and many do question the version of events accepted as fact in China and the West. Try that in western countries and you will be put in the same category as those who deny the Holocaust. Try it in China and you will probably be sent to one of those happy, cozy, “reeducation through labor” camps and spend the rest of your life turning big rocks into little rocks -provided you’re not killed so the government can sell your internal organs in that communist utopia called the “People’s Republic of China”. Well, I’m used to holding unpopular positions and being called evil for it (I am a staunch monarchist living in the United States after all) and while I would not deny terrible things happened and I would not claim to have all the answers or know exactly what happened with 100% certainty -there is certainly enough information that doesn’t add up to make me ask some questions.

First of all, and this happens quite a bit when it comes to these types of stories (see the Congo Free State), there are the claims of an immense body-count. Some claim that 300,000 Chinese people were killed by the Japanese at Nanking. The only problem with that is that there were not 300,000 people living in Nanking at the time. When Japan occupied the city in December of 1937 the population was only about 200,000. Census reports can be wrong of course, but not usually by 100,000 on a scale as localized as one city and even if that were accepted, it would mean that the Japanese would have killed off the entire population which obviously didn’t happen and no one has ever claimed. So, which is more likely; well over 100,000 people just slipped through the cracks in one city or, perhaps, that the casualty figure of those killed was exaggerated? To further complicate matters, only a month later in January of 1938 the reported population of Nanking was 250,000. Obviously, something is amiss if the city which supposedly was all but exterminated to the last man, woman and child had a population increase of 50,000 in one month. More people moved to Nanking, obviously, but why would tens of thousands of people move to a city where such horrible atrocities had occurred only the month before? If hundreds of thousands of Chinese people were killed and tens of thousands raped, one would think the Chinese would tend to avoid the place where that happened.

Most will have heard of the German businessman and Nazi Party member John Rabe who is now famous for saving Chinese lives during the Nanking affair and for providing much of the evidence for Japanese atrocities. However, his story is a bit suspect as well. Along with his letters reporting atrocities by Japanese soldiers to government officials, there are also letters in which he thanks the Japanese army for their professionalism and for securing law and order. After being recalled to Germany, because of his accusations against the Japanese we are told, he was supposedly given some rough treatment by the Gestapo and ordered to keep silent on what he had allegedly witnessed in Nanking. Yet, this man later produced “evidence” of what had happened which, in the course of his arrest and interrogation and surveillance by the Gestapo, was never confiscated. It is rather hard to believe that the SS, of all organizations, would be concerned enough to arrest a man for saying the Japanese committed crimes in Nanking, order him to stop talking about it and yet knowingly allow him to retain the proof that such a thing happened. Rabe also causes a problem by putting the death toll at about 60,000 -terrible enough to be sure, but far, far less than the 300,000 claimed by others.

This, however, feeds into another fact which casts at least some doubts on the official story and, again, it is common in these types of cases; that is, wildly divergent casualty figures. Again, this is not a case of one report being slightly more or less than another. That would be common and uniformity is almost never seen in such reports. However, when accounts differ by the tens of thousands, that is something which should cause concern and perhaps even a bit of skepticism. Most widely accepted numbers range from 200,000 to 300,000. Our benevolent member of the Nazi Party put the number at 60,000. Then we have the account of American Dr. Lewis S. C. Smythe, a man who actually testified after the war about the Nanking affair at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. He was there, witnessed the events, lived in Nanking after the war until 1951 and yet, in his original accounts, he puts the death toll at only 6,600 including both dead and “missing”. These are not minor differences that can be accounted for by human error; 300,000 to 60,000 to 6,600 is a pretty gaping disparity in numbers all coming from first hand accounts.

Another numerical problem that crops up is the lack of babies. When the Soviet Red Army went on one of the most horrific rape rampages in recorded history in Berlin in 1945 there was, nine months later, a huge number of half-Russian babies born to the unfortunate women of Berlin. In Nanking there were no reports at all of such a thing happening and with the claim that some 20,000 women were raped, even if some of the women were killed later or had abortions, there still should have been a significant sudden increase the baby population. There is also the issue of motivation. Why would Japanese troops do this, or be allowed to do it, on this one occasion in a war that lasted over a decade? The Imperial Japanese Army code of justice called for seven years at hard labor for any soldier who raped a civilian. No documents show a surge in convictions at the time of Nanking of course, few would expect there to be assuming the commander approved of such conduct. Yet, that doesn’t make much sense either. The commander was HIH Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, an uncle, by marriage, of Emperor Hirohito and the son-in-law of Emperor Meiji. Prior to his assignment at Nanking he had been reprimanded (in his usual, understated way) by the Emperor for his extreme views. Why would a man, stung by such a reprimand, order or allow such an atrocity that would besmirch the name of his country and double-down on the perception that got him into trouble in the first place?

There are uncomfortable questions concerning the actions of the Chinese as well. For example, despite continued hostilities, the Republic of China did not actually declare war on Japan until after the U.S. did so on December 8, 1941. Prior to that, every time Japanese force won a battle, took a city or pretty much gave someone in China a dirty look, the Chinese would make a formal complaint to that useless talking shop known as the League of Nations. They did so, for example, after the Mukden Incident in 1931 and at almost every hostile action afterward. Yet, they made no report at all about the alleged massacre of 300,000 people at Nanking in 1937. Why would they rush to report hostile acts, some of which were no more than skirmishes, but fail to report a massacre of hundreds of thousands? Similarly, the Chinese Communist Party (which today regularly uses the Rape of Nanking to stir up anti-Japanese hostility) made absolutely no mention of the incident until almost a decade later when it was brought up at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. In all his writings and correspondence, Chairman Mao never seems to have mentioned it even once. Considering how much mileage the Communist Party has gotten out of it in the decades since, it seems rather odd that none of their people at the time even mentioned it.

For such a horrific crime, it seems incredible that there was no official mention of it until the Tokyo War Crimes Trials after the conflict was over. Yet, since that time, it has seldom been absent from the public discourse, particularly in China. It also seems rather suspect that the Chinese Communist government brings up the story of the Rape of Nanking whenever mention is made of communist atrocities against the Tibetans, the Uyghur minority or even Falun Gong practitioners. Recently, scientific studies were done of the evidence produced to prove the stories of atrocities at Nanking only to find that literally hundreds of the photographs showed signs of manipulation. Not all of them it is important to note -but still, hundreds were proven to be fakes. Certainly, all of this taken together, should at least be enough to make people a bit more skeptical about the accepted version of events and, not deny all allegations out of hand, but at least be brave enough to question their most extreme extent.

The worst part about this today is the way the Rape of Nanking is used by the present communist tyranny. Oddly enough, if the worst stories are true it makes the misuse of the tragedy all the more reprehensible. The fact is that the Communist Party in power in China today killed or caused the deaths of far, far more people than the Japanese even if the most extreme stories of their crimes are accepted as fact. Moreover, their misdeeds continue to this day rather than remaining decades in the past. The same government with the blood of tens of millions on its hands (more than Hitler and Stalin put together) still brings up Nanking as a way of taking world attention off of themselves and puts Japan on the defensive by demanding apologies or reparations or something that makes Japan the villain and themselves the victim in the world media. So far, they continue to do this because it has consistently worked so well. Everyone can be made to forget about Tiananmen Square, Tibet, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the persecution of religious minorities, the arrest of dissidents, the state-sanctioned slave labor programs and on and on simply by the government bringing up Nanking. At that point, even nearly 75 years later, it is Japan that is forced to defend itself, make apologies or issue denials (all of which are met with matching outrage) while the far greater and more immediate crimes of their accuser get shuffled out of the limelight yet again.

Call me a deranged conspiracy theorist, and you will, but it all seems a little too convenient for me and, taken as a whole, something just doesn’t quite ring true. The worst accounts may be completely true, but if so they should be able to stand up to scrutiny and those who ask questions should not be dismissed out of hand.

Additional note: only today on CCTV the anniversary of the Nanking massacre was noted and used to justify the recent construction of a new aircraft carrier, military drills at sea and the build-up of the People's Liberation Army.


  1. Another thing. Mao never mentioned the massacre. And the memorial was made in 1987, 50 years after it allegedly happened!


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