Japanese leaders dispute 'Rape of Nanking' death toll

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A group of about 100 lawmakers from Japan's ruling party claimed Tuesday that after a monthlong review they have determined the number of people killed by Japanese troops during the infamous "Rape of Nanking" has been grossly inflated.

Nariaki Nakayama, head of the group created to study World War II historical issues and education, said documents from the Japanese government's archives indicated some 20,000 people were killed about one-tenth of the more commonly cited figure of from 150,000-200,000 in the 1937 attack. China says as many as 300,000 people were killed.

"We conclude that the death toll in the Nanking advance was nothing more or less than the death toll that would be expected in a normal battle," Nakayama told a news conference.

He said the study, which was initiated in part because this year marks the 70th anniversary of the slaughter, determined was no violation of international law.

"We have no intention to fan the problem over the interpretation of wartime history between the two countries, but we want to achieve justice," he said. "We cannot ignore propaganda trying to portray the Japanese as brutal people, so we decided to examine primary documents to restore the honor of the Japanese people."

Nakayama distributed to the news conference a document submitted in 1938 by China's Nationalist government to the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations, calling for Japan to be denounced for killing 20,000 people in the attack...

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