Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Analysis on the Causes of the Atrocities of Nanking 1

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

Analysis on the Causes of the Atrocities of Nanking 1

Article excerpt

PREFACE

The atrocities and rape of Nanking or Nanjing has become one of the symbolic events of the war, a paradigmatic example of Japanese brutality and Chinese victimization. For both China and Japan, "it" was a disaster. China calls "it" the Rape of Nanking because hundreds of thousands of lives were taken without just compensation. Japan calls "it" the Incident of Nanking because China had fabricated a tale that slandered and sullied Japanese honor and integrity1. Many Chinese writers noted that "have viewed the massacre as a kind of 'master narrative'," without examining the particular circumstances in which it took place. Mark Eykholt has demonstrated how the Chinese government has used the atrocity as a tool for gaining moral ascendancy over Japan2. "Certainly it was one of the greatest mass rapes in world history," writes Iris Chang. She notes that "it is impossible to determine the exact number of women raped in Nanking". Estimates range from as low as twenty thousand to as high as eighty thousand'. Daqing Yang, a Nanking University graduate, has written extensively on this subject4. Sun Zhaiwei is another Chinese critical of the Nationalist army's operations in Nanking3. On the other hand, despite compelling documentary evidence, eyewitness accounts, including some by Japanese soldiers, and photographic evidence, Japanese revisionists continue to reject charges that war crimes and atrocities occurred there. Even many Japanese writers, in reaction, have denied the massacre entirely. At a point, some Westerners became the unsung heroes of Nanking, working day and night to the point of exhaustion to aid the Chinese. They also wrote down their impressions of the daily scenes they witnessed, with one describing Nanking as "hell on earth." Yamamoto Masahiro in his book "Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity" and Heather M. Downing in his article titled "The Rape of Nanjing: Is an Unbiased Representation Possible?" tried to ignore it as a Massacre.6 Shortly after the Sino-Japanese War, while the Japanese were fighting the Allies, Ishikawa Tatsuzo came out with his book, "Living Soldiers", which came out in installments. It tells the story of a unit of the Japanese army, making its way through China. It was banned from Japan and Tanaka Masaaki, a soldier in the Sino-Japanese War, and an adamant denier of the Nanking Massacre states the reasons it was denied was due to: scenes in which Japanese soldiers brutally and indiscriminately slaughter enemy soldiers and noncombatants; scenes that show Japanese soldiers looting in the South China battle zone, and create the impression that looting is an integral part of military policy; scenes in which Japanese soldiers assault Chinese noncombatants while robbing them; scenes in which Japanese soldiers violently assault Chinese women and girls in order to satisfy their sexual desires7. Actually, there is no opportunity to deny these atrocities but their exact numbers of victims are still not clear now. However, I do not want to argue about the numbers of victims. I will try to discuss the issue of why the Japanese army behaved with such apparent barbarism in seizing places Nanjing.

BACKGROUND OF THE WAR OF NANKING

In ancient civilization, there were two principle countries in the Far East who rose above the others: China and Japan. They gradually developed their countries and fought each other for status in power, but years later they found themselves unprepared for the Western intrusion into Asian affairs. Suddenly, it became a death match: it was a battle of survival between one and the other. On September 18, 1931, the South Manchuria Railway at Liutiaohu, on the outskirts of Mukden, was bombed during the night. The incident was a conspiracy planned by two officers in the Guandong Army: Ishiwara Kanji, operations officer, and Itagaki Seishiro, senior staff officer*'.Chang states in her novel that the war started with Japan when "the Japanese army blew up the tracks of a Japanese-owned railway in Southern Manchuria. …

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