Japanese Textbooks, Koizumi, Sex Slaves, & the Nightmare of Nanking

tags: World War II, Japan, textbooks, Nanking

Mr. Joseph, Ph.D., produced the documentary, Nightmare in Nanking, and obtained his Ph.D. from UHS/The Chicago Medical School, completing his Internship at Yale University Medical School and the VAMC in CT. He has published dozens of scientific and scholarly studies in prestigious scientific journals. His works have been translated or reprinted by foreign scientific journals and medical schools such as Harvard. He is the author of two "best selling" scholarly texts.


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We had fun killing Chinese. We caught some innocent Chinese and either buried them alive, or pushed them into a fire, or beat them to death with clubs. When they were half dead we pushed them into ditches and burned them, torturing them to death. Everyone gets his entertainment this way. Its like killing dogs and cats. --Asahi Shimbun, Japanese soldier, describing Japanese atrocities during the Rape of Nanking.

Despite overwhelming evidence of Japanese WWII crimes against humanity, modern Japanese politicians, academics, and newspapers, continue to deny and to rewrite history, innocuously referring to these atrocities as the "Nanjing Incident," or"the entrance into China."

Nationalistic Japanese politicians continue to falsely claim that Japan never declared war on China or other Asian nations, but instead was seeking to"liberate" these countries. Japanese war-guilt is increasingly minimized and there is no mention of the atrocities or sex slavery.  On page 12 of Japanese  New History Textbook, children are taught that "doubts have been raised over historical documents pertaining to the number of victims."  If"Japanese forces caused a large number of casualties among Chinese soldiers and civilians.... [t]here are various viewpoints and controversy continues to this day."

As to rape and sex slavery, the Textbooks Reform Society concludes:"no material evidence has been found showing Japanese military or police authorities took women by force."

Japanese textbooks minimize war guilt and make no mention of Japanese war-time atrocities against millions of civilians. Is Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recent"deep remorse and heartfelt apology" sufficient? Is it even honest?

On the same day he apologized members of his cabinet and more than 80 Japanese lawmakers visited Yasukuni Shrine, the bastion of emporer worship where Japanese war criminals are enshrined.

The delusion of denial becomes more emphatic every year. The Japanese parliament has passed resolutions glorifying Japan's Imperial militarist past while minimizing wrong-doing. Japanese school children are taught that Japan was a liberator and not an aggressor, and words such as"invasion" and" colonial rule" are being excised from Japanese government documents. Militarism is on the rise in Japan.

If Japan did nothing wrong during WWII, except suffer the ignominy of defeat, and if Japanese leaders such as Koizumi can only offer a generalized apology while avoiding the fact that Japan committed unspeakable atrocities, then certainly, from the Japanese perspective, it might be acceptable for Japan to engage in identical actions in the future.

Will Korea, Nanking and other Asian cities be raped yet again?

The best predictor of the future, is the past, and those who do not learn from the past, and those who deny the past, are condemned to repeat it: so concludes the recently completed 77-minute documentary film, Nightmare in Nanking, which I produced. The film documents with photographs and film taken by Japanese soldiers  an 8-week orgy of nightmarish atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against 280,000 women, children, babies, and elderly Chinese: Japanese soldiers tear out the eyes of children, gang-rape women and little girls then set them on fire, bury people alive or use them for bayonet practice, behead women, children, and old men, and torture people for fun, laughing hysterically as victims, who have been set on fire, run screaming through the night.

These quotations give a sense of what went on:

"We used barbed wire to bind the captured Chinese into bundles of ten and tied them onto racks. Then we poured gasoline on them and burned them alive. I felt like killing pigs." --Kozo Tadokoro, Japanese soldier.

"The Japanese came to the safety zone and demanded volunteers for a labor crew, and gave"promises of protection." About 50 people were led off, taken to a vacant house, robbed of all their valuables and clothes, and when completely naked, tied up together in groups of five. Then the Japanese built a large bonfire in the courtyard, led the groups out one by one, bayoneted the men and tossed them still alive on the fire." --John Rabe, German Nazi and Chairman of the Nanking Safety Zone.

Westerners and even Nazis living in the security of the Nanking Safety Zone, described their experience as an"unimaginable hell."  And if it was"Hell" for the Nazis, what must it have been like for the people of Nanking? As detailed in the documentary what took place in Nanking, then the capital of China, was a nightmare collectively suffered by 300,000  helpless men, women, and children.

"It was about ten in the morning when a dozen Japanese with rifles and fixed bayonets rushed into the house. They shot my father and grabbed my baby sister, being breast-fed by my mother. They bayoneted the baby and stripped my mother and raped her. Then the Japanese killed my grandparents and dragged two of my sisters out and raped them. Then they stabbed me and my 3-year old sister with bayonets. I saw both of my older sisters lying in pools of blood, dead." --Xia Shu-qin, 7-year old resident of Nanking.

"No matter how young or old, they could not escape the fate of being raped. Neither old women nor young girls were spared. We sent out coal trucks to the city streets and villages to seize women, and then each was allocated to 15 or 20 soldiers for sex and abuse. Every soldier was issued a Red Ticket --a paper with the seal of his company's commander--and they lined up in their underwear to wait their turn." --Takokoro Kozo, Japanese soldier.

It has been estimated that nearly 80,000 women were raped in Nanking. Many were tortured, bayoneted, beheaded, set on fire, or gang raped to death.

"We took turns raping them. We always stabbed and killed them. When we were raping her, we looked at her as a woman. But when we killed her, we just thought of her as something like a pig." --Azuma Shiro, Japanese soldier.

"You can't breath for the sheer revulsion when you keep finding bodies of women with bamboo poles thrust up their vaginas. Even old women over 70 are constantly being raped" --John Rabe.

Thousands of Chinese men and boys were used for bayonet practice. Men and women were hung by their tongues. Pregnant women were disemboweled and their fetuses torn from the bleeding bodies. Men, women, and children were buried alive. Japanese soldiers impaled babies on bayonets, and then tossed them alive into pots of boiling water.

The crimes of the Japanese were so horrific that they almost made their German allies look civilized in comparison. Shooting someone is a terrible act. However, stabbing someone is truly horrific and takes a lot of effort. The victim is screaming and bleeding on the perpetrator who must push the blade in and out, over and over again. These are called" crimes of passion" and are generally motivated by extreme hatred and rage.  And yet the Japanese soldiers committing these crimes did not feel rage but pleasure.  They tortured people for fun, using their swords and knives like some gleaming steal phallus.

By contrast, Nazi soldiers became ill and began to break down after a few hours of shooting people. Even Heinrich Himmler, the head of the dreaded SS and the concentration (extermination) camps, became ill, turned green and almost threw up while watching his men shoot civilians. Himmler decided there must be a more"humane" way of killing. Himmler was not concerned for the victims, helpless Jews, but the mental state of the Nazi soldier.

By contrast, the Japanese obtained an almost sexual pleasure from committing horrible, hellish, almost unimaginable crimes against innocent people who had never caused them any harm. And they did so not just to satisfy their sadistic sexual desires, but in order to honor their god, emperor Hirohito:

"We did everything for the sake of the emperor, raping, killing, everything," --Masayo Enomoto,  Japanese soldier.

Unlike their Nazi counterparts, the Japanese Emperial Army ordered their men to rape, torture, maim, behead, set on fire, and to use Chinese men, women, and children for bayonet practice as Japanese officers and fellow soldiers stood and laughed. They called it:"Killing practice."

Murder, rape, and torture, including the rape of children, were believed to be a good way for bolstering the morale of their soldiers, and contests were held to see who could kill the most Chinese.

In fact, the Japanese were committing identical atrocities in hundreds of towns and villages.

As Nightmare in Nanking documents, it was not just Asians but Americans who suffered at the hands of the Japanese. Americans and other prisoners of war, were starved, denied water for days at a time, deprived of sleep, harshly beaten, bayoneted, beheaded, buried alive, castrated, tortured, set on fire, and killed without reason.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the nightmarish crimes committed by the Japanese Emperial Army,  nationalistic Japanese politicians, textbooks, and newspapers, continue to deny that the Japanese committed atrocities against millions of innocent men, women and children. These lies constitute the second Rape of Nanking, and they come with a price: Those who do not learn from the past, are condemned to repeat it.


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Stephen David Shenfield - 2/8/2011

I watched Dr. Joseph's remarkable video on Youtube and noticed that most of the viewers' responses expressed not understanding of the impact that a totalitarian political system can have on any nation but simply a visceral hatred of all Japanese. I am not suggesting that we should suppress historical truth for the sake of international peace, but let us give thought to HOW we can present the truth in a way that discourages a racialist response. For this purpose, we should emphasize that many Japanese fought against the rise of the imperial system and paid for their resistance with their lives. Also we can pay our respects to the patriotic Americans of Japanese origin who contributed to the defeat of imperial Japan. Regarding Unit 731, the deal that they made with the US military should be exposed and its implications fully brought out.

Vinilla Guerrilla - 3/6/2009

Nicely written piece on Nanking. I've studied this quite a bit as I lived there for a couple years after college. My girlfriend's mother was one of the young girls hidden in the girl's university there. Her uncle, a baby at the time, was one of thousands of infants tossed into the air and skewered by a Japanese bayonet, while his family watched on. These weren't acts of soldiers. These were acts of fanatics.

Why Japan and it's people aren't still paying for this, as well as Korea, the Philippines, and all the south pacific islands they committed the same atrocities on, is unbelievable. To this day, many of the Japanese I meet still have a superiority complex, and act like they're just above everything.

Giving Japan back to the Japanese was so wrong.

Ivan Ng - 11/4/2005

How could anyone submit to orders of such nature? The Japanese are unthinking fanatics who deserve a similar treatment just to experience the true agony of these horrific scenarios. Whatever happened to treating others the way you would like to be treated? The Rape of Nanking is undeniable, and whosoever attempts to deny the event is apparently either mentally retarded or devoid of conscience.

James Orr - 10/17/2005

Japanese perpetrations in the Asia Pacific during World War II are beyond outrageous, and the inability of Japanese leaders to express remorse is beyond lamentable. Japanese popular sentiment in regard to war remembrance does seem to be drifting toward a more nationalist direction, but this posting by a non-historian, non-Asian specialist, in the "History and Historians" section, presents a grossly misleading picture. It violates everything I learned about doing history with care for accuracy and balance. What is it doing on the HNN site?

Two points in the essay immediately jump out to cast doubt on the integrity of Dr. Joseph's posting as history.

First, despite the alarm over the content of the textbook cited, very few school districts have adopted it. The vast majority still use texts produced by standard commercial publishers such as Tokyo Shoseki and Nihon Shoseki, not the ideologically driven Textbooks Reform Society. It is atypical.

Second, Dr. Joseph blithely adopts the 300,000 number for Chinese victims, but this is at the high end of estimates. Those who deny the Nanjing atrocities put the number in the few thousands. If you want to play the numbers game, you've got to take into account the parameters of time, space, and the identities of victims and witness.

For a thoughtful discussion of the historiographical and ideological issues surrounding the Nanjing (rape, massacre, or incident), take a look at anything Daqing Yang has written on the subject, for example his June 1999 AHR piece, or read one of David Askew's cybernetically accessable essays: "New Research on the Nanjing Incident" on the Japan Focus website for a http://japanfocus.org/article.asp?id=109; or his related piece in the "electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies" at http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/articles/Askew.html.

As Askew observes near the end of his Japan Focus essay, "Historians have an obligation to combat the tendency to use Nanjing as a weapon in contemporary ideological and international contests." I see the contest in Dr. Joseph's post. Where's the history?

Jonathan Dresner - 10/17/2005

I have some qualms about the article itself -- the psychological analysis is problematic -- but the quantities and qualities of evidence about the Nanking Massacre are too substantial to dismiss outright.

And your statement about Iris Chang is both incorrect, and offensive.

megans K kissinger - 10/12/2005

I was studying about Rape of Nangking, but I stopped the research long time ago. Why? There were just too many false evidences made up by activists.

This article seems to be the best example of what you've been doing for decades. You didn't state any "proof", instead just saying "All Japanese were extreme evils", "look at the photos(which originated from nowhere)", "read this quote (which is from infamous anti-gov newspaper with painful mistranslation, and of course with no date)". Have you really researched about "what ordinary Japanese men were fighting for and why?". It's not just for their emperor, it's for their children as well. Why can you ignore this simple fact?

Ms. Iris Chang ended up with committing a suicide without defending various false claims she has made. I think it was god intended. How about you? Or you are still expecting more Chinese support?