Japan's last vets of Nanking massacre open up

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Young Japanese infantryman Sawamura turned numb when he was ordered to bayonet a Chinese peasant as fellow soldiers looked on and taunted him.

"You captured him, so you get rid of him," his lieutenant barked, yanking the 21-year-old soldier toward his writhing victim, only days after Japanese troops had overrun the Chinese city of Nanking in December 1937.

"I stumbled forward and thrust the blade into his body until it came out on the other side," said Sawamura, who is now 94 years old. "We were told not to waste bullets. It was training for beginners.

"I have told myself for the rest of my life that killing is wrong," said the veteran of the Imperial Japanese Army, who declined to give his surname, in an interview with AFP at his home in Kyoto.

Sawamura is one of a fast-dwindling number of Japanese former soldiers who took part in the Nanking massacre, considered by historians the worst wartime atrocity committed by the Japanese army in China.

Historians generally estimate about 150,000 people were killed, thousands of women raped and thousands of homes burned down in an orgy of violence until March 1938 in what was then the capital of the Chinese Nationalist government....

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Jacquelyn M Kennedy - 5/20/2010

That the Japanese government would continue to remain a 'wall of silence' regarding what soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army did in Nanking continues to be totally unacceptable. This has gone well beyond the 'saving face' stage. This is a shame that the Japanese people will never be able to rectify until they admit just exactly what they did!