The Nanjing Incident: Japanese Eyewitness Accounts 2
By Ara Kenichi,
Nanjing as Observed by Journalists
“…. I do not think there was anything that could have been called an “incident”. I didn’t see anything and nobody associated with the Asahi raised it as topic. And, considering the number of civilians and the presence of Chinese troops, such a thing could not have possibly happened. The bodies I saw in Shanghai and Nanjing included bodies of Chinese soldiers that appeared around my ship in the Huangpu River, which were the first set of bodies I saw, and the bodies of the victims of fighting in the battle within the streets of Shanghai. Others bodies I saw were around the ramparts. The bodies around the ramparts were clean: no sign of beheading or anything like that. The bodies of those killed in battle were clean because they were shot to death.” (From the statement of Mr. Yamamoto Osamu, staff of the Shanghai branch of the Osaka Asahi Shimbun)
A grateful Chinese person holds up a child to a Japanese photographer. In this photo, there is no sign that he and others were afraid of the Japanese or Japanese soldiers. (By Mr. Sato Shinju, the Nanjing Safety Zone, December 15, 1937.)
1. Asahi Shimbun Newspaper
1) Interview with Mr. Yamamoto Osamu (山本治), Staff of the Shanghai Branch of the Osaka Asahi Shimbun
Mr. Yamamoto Osamu graduated from Dong A Dong Wen Shu Yuen Da Xue or East Asian Literary School, Shanghai, 1928, and then was drafted into the army. As a military cadet, he became a second lieutenant. Following his discharge from military service, he joined the Osaka Asahi Shimbun-sha (currently the Asahi Shimbun) and was assigned to the East Asia Department. The East Asia Department of the Osaka Asahi Shimbun managed branch offices throughout Asia. Mr. Yamamoto’s specialty was China, so naturally, he followed China-related matters until the end of the [the Second World] War.
In July 1936, he moved to the Hsin-king (新京) office, and then to the Nanjing office in April 1937. The Nanjing office was headed by Mr. Hashimoto Tomisaburo (橋本登美三郎,), who became a politician after the War. There were two staff members in the Nanjing office after Mr. Yamamoto’s arrival. Soon thereafter, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident broke out.
– What was the situation in Nanjing when the Marco Polo Bridge Incident broke out?
Nanjing was the capital of China then but not many Japanese lived there at that time – doctors, employees of the Manchurian railway, embassy-related people and military-related people–around 100 in total. There was only one Japanese inn there. In comparison to Shanghai, in which 20,000 Japanese lived, Nanjing had a minor Japanese population.
Most newspaper branch offices had no more than one person as staff. Mr. Hashimoto did not understand Chinese so I traveled with him (as a Chinese language specialist). So the Asahi Shibmbun had only two staff members.
As the Marco Polo Bridge Incident broke and circumstances worsened, Mr. Hashimoto’s and my family left Nanjing, and around the end of July, branch office staff of other newspapers also began leaving Nanjing.
However, Mr. Hashimoto mentioned to me that:
“This is a challenging time for newspaper reporters. We should act as reporters of the Asahi. Yamamoto, trust your life to me.” So, we remained in Nanjing until to the end.
Mr. Hashimoto was known as a magnanimous person, so he helped Japanese people, who came from further up the Yangtze River and were stranded in Nanjing.
Mr. Hashimoto related to me: during the Manchurian Incident, he followed Colonel Itagaki Seishiro (板垣征四郎), Staff Officer, Kwantung Army, who was to meet Ma Zhanshan (馬占山), mounted bandits in Manchuria. Before departing for this dangerous meeting, Staff Officer Itagaki assured Mr. Hashimoto that he would be entirely responsible for protecting Mr. Hashimoto. By contrast, Mr. Hashimoto grumbled, the Japanese Embassy in Nanjing merely urged us to evacuate.
While watching Japanese warships go down the Yangtze, I idly thought, “Now we have arrived to the point of no return–friendly relations between Japan and China will soon end.”
– You eventually escaped to Qingdao.
On August 15, dozens of Japanese who remained in Nanjing planned to leave Nanjing by train. The train was protected by Chinese soldiers under Chiang Kai-shek’s command –their chests were decorated with Chiang Kai-shek’s photo.
All of the train’s windows were covered by plates so we could not see outside for 36 hours. I escaped with nothing but a camera.
The Nationalist Party’s Central Army troops moved north, one after another, and our escape almost coincided with their movement. At that point, it was impossible to escape to Shanghai, so from Nanjing, we moved north, and via Jinan, escaped to Qingdao.
– What happened after that?
Mr. Hashimoto returned to Tokyo but I continued to report from Qingdao because there were many Japanese remaining there. A week later, I was called by our main office in Osaka, Japan to give lectures in Osaka and Kobe on my experience in Nanjing. Thus, I returned to Osaka.
The Shanghai Expeditionary Army soon began its Shanghai Landing Operation, and I was appointed to staff the Shanghai branch. It was the end of August, and I headed for Shanghai immediately. When we arrived, I found a number of bodies of Chinese soldiers floating in the Huangpu River. At the moment, I was convinced that this was now a real battlefield.
– At that time, how many staff were in the Shanghai branch office?
The head was Mr. Shirakawa Ikai (白川威海), with 4 to 5 staff in total, including Mr. Moriyama Takashi (森山喬).
When I arrived in Woosung (呉淞), I found the town of Shanghai totally empty and the Army’s Headquarters was not set up yet. We ran our car at full speed from the wharf to our office.
In the hotel where we set up our office, the Army’s press bureau also set up their office there and my job was to visit the press bureau to have our advance copies checked.
– What was censorship specifically like?
There was no clear standard, but, at the very least articles that hinted at future troop movements were forbidden. I had worked at the Hsin-King（新京）branch until April that year and underwent the Kwantong Army’s censorship; I knew what they were after by then and articles I that brought them almost always passed freely.
– Did you gather news from the front line too?
Yes. In those days, additional reporters came in from Tokyo and Osaka and I worked with them. For the report of the Landing Operation at Bai Maojiang (白茆江in), the Yangtze River bank, which was conducted by the Shigefuji (重藤) Detachment, one reporter per newspaper was allowed to join in the operation, so, from the Asahi, I was the only one allowed to go.
– When did you go to Nanjing?
I repeatedly came back to Shanghai, from Suzhou, or from the front line or wherever. When I visited Nanjing, to my memory, I was with Mr. Hashimoto.
For the entrance ceremony, the Army offered me passage by air, saying that it was a kind of reward for my continuous reporting on the Battle of Shanghai from start to end.
We arrived in the afternoon and found that the entrance ceremony had already finished.
– How was the situation of Nanjing?
I found corpses of Chinese soldiers around the ramparts. Watching from Zhongshan Gate (中山門), I noticed smoke rising in several places in Nanking Citadel.
– What was it like inside of the Castle?
There was nothing in particular to note. The most impressive thing in Nanjing was seeing the bodies of Chinese soldiers around the ramparts. That’s all.
– It is said that there was a massacre.
I didn’t see or hear anything like that. We reporters gathered together in the evening–and I never heard such a thing. Nobody mentioned such a thing. Within the Asahi Shimbun, it was never raised as a subject.
– Did you see the Refugee District [Safety Zone]?
Soldiers and the military police guarded the Safety Zone and they didn’t allow me to enter. Therefore, civilians were safe. I never saw a corpse of an ordinary citizen.
I saw Red Swastika Society people clearing war victims.
– How many days did you stay in Nanjing?
A couple of days and then we returned to Shanghai by car.
– Did you stay in Shanghai after that?
Yes. But the 10th Army stayed in Hangzhou and in January, I moved to Hangzhou as the head of the Hangzhou branch. Shortly after I arrived in Hangzhou, the chief of the Special Duty Organization in Hangzhou told me to bring my family to Hangzhou, so I did.
In January, peace negotiations seemed to gain momentum, but during that time, peace negotiations were not expected, so the reason for calling in Japanese families was to show the Nationalist Chinese that the Japanese Army would be in for the duration.
– Didn’t you hear of the Nanjing massacre in Shanghai and Hangzhou?
No. Mr. Shirakawa, the head of the Shanghai office, was acquainted with top officers of the Army, but I never heard anything from Mr. Shirakawa.
After joining the Xuzhou operation, I became ill and returned to Japan in the summer of 1938. I arrived in Kobe and at a hotel in Kobe, I was surprised to hear that the Japanese Army committed atrocities in Nanjing. They said it was reported in foreign newspapers.
While I was in Shanghai, I constantly read Chinese newspapers, in which I saw something like “bloody battle at Guanghua Gate (血戦光華門)” in big letters, but I never saw such a thing as a massacre in Nanjing. I felt very strange.
– The claims started recently.
I think there was no such thing as the Incident. I didn’t see anything and no one within the Asahi raised it. And, considering the number of citizens and the movement of Chinese troops, such thing could not have possibly happened. The bodies I saw included a number of bodies of Chinese soldiers around my ship in the Huangpu River, which were the first bodies I saw, and the bodies of war victims in the city streets during the Battle of Shanghai. Others I saw were around the ramparts. The bodies around the rampart were clean, not beheaded or anything like that. The bodies of the war dead were clean because they were shot to death.
And I’d like to mention something about the expression “massacre”. In a battlefield, an act which could be regarded as the worst possible thing under peacetime circumstances was regarded as the best of achievements. It is nonsense to define some act under normal circumstances, during peaceful conditions. I think they used standards under normal conditions and called it a “massacre”.
I was called to military service in 1940 and joined the army as a second lieutenant. At that time, I myself, at times, ordered attacks on the enemy. Thus, I was engaged in the war as a soldier as well as a reporter and saw matters objectively as a reporter. Based on my experience, I have doubts concerning a “massacre”.
Mr. Yamamoto worked at the Asahi Shimbun until his retirement. After his retirement, he edited a public information sheet in Nagaokakyo City, Kyoto. Nagaokakyo City organized the Visiting China Group for the purpose of promoting friendship between Japan and China, which was headed by the Mayor.
At that time, Mr. Yamamoto accompanied the group as the secretariat and met Mr. Liao Chengzhi (廖承志), the first director of the China-Japan Friendship Association, and Mr. Sun Pinghua (孫平化), the current director of the China-Japan Friendship Association.
After that, Mr. Yamamoto tried to establish sister city relations with a Chinese city and Nagaokakyo City. Mr. Yamamoto chose the Chinese city of Hangzhou (杭州), which he knew very well, but for some reason, the Chinese decided that the city was to be Ningbo (寧波). From early childhood through his 70s, Mr. Yamamoto was deeply involved in China.
I interviewed him when he was 81 years old. He was very lively and spoke for more than two hours without a break.
2) Interview with Mr. Adachi Kazuo (足立和雄), Reporter for the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun
In autumn 1984, I asked Mr. Adachi Kazuo if he could discuss with me the situation in Nanjing after its capture. He said he wondered if he could be of any help concerning this, but promised to meet me nonetheless. On the appointed day, when I called him that morning, he stated, “I think I do not have much to say, so if it is alright let us speak over the phone.” But I wanted to meet him in person, so I replied, “All of the issues which I want to discuss with you are simple matters but I have over 20 questions, so I want to meet you in person.”
As I tried to persuade him to meet me, he got a little agitated.
“You people claim there was a “Nanjing massacre,” but I didn’t see a massacre. I don’t know what position you have but I cannot make any statements concerning a massacre.”
“Mr. Adachi, I don’t know whether you suppose that there was a massacre, that was said to have happened or not, but you were in Nanjing at that time. I just want to know what you saw in Nanjing then.”
My request for an interview developed into an argument.
Mr. Adachi wrote an article in “Moriyama Yoshio Anthology,” titled “The Nanjing Massacre and me,” so I assumed that he saw the Nanjing massacre. But what I wanted to know was what he saw in Nanjing with his own eyes. After several exchanges, he finally relented, “OK. Please stop by.”
Mr. Adachi at first joined the 101th Division as a war correspondent and reported from the front line at Shanghai. As the battle in Shanghai concluded and the assault on Nanjing started up, Mr. Adachi headed for Nanjing. The 101th Division remained in Shanghai and later participated in the attack on Hangzhou. Thus, Mr. Adachi, who was in Nanjing Castle at that time, moved south, following the 101th Division. As a result, Mr. Adachi was in Nanjing for 10 days or so.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing. What did you see at the time?
I can’t say there were no victims. It was the next day, after I entered Nanjing, so it was the 14th, that I saw the Japanese army shoot a dozen or so Chinese. They made a trench and put the Chinese in a line in front of the trench and shot them. I don’t remember exactly where–it was not the Safety Zone.
– How did you feel when you saw this?
I felt disappointed, that they did something irreparable. I thought that if they do things like this, we will never be able to defeat China.
– Why did you think Japan could not win?
We did this in front of Chinese women and children, even if there were only a few of them, but we did this in front of civilians. These kinds of things must have led the Chinese people to reproach us. I thought that we could not ethically excuse ourselves.
– Did you see anything else?
– It is said there was massacre.
I saw dozen or so Chinese killed, maybe more were killed elsewhere, too. Maybe a hundred or two hundred elsewhere. In total it might have been a couple thousand killed.
– How about outside Nanjing?
Well, outside Nanjing, between Shanghai and Nanjing, all of the deaths were from battle. Including the ones outside Nanjing, I guess there were a total of several thousand victims.
– If you say so, most of the victims were in the Castle?
Yes. All the young men were soldiers and they should not have been in the Castle. The people remaining in the Castle were noncombatants, just elderly people and women and children. There were some young men there, though. Those young men were regarded as soldiers on special duty or ben-i-tai, plain clothing soldiers. After the conclusion of fighting, the ben-i-tai frequently snuck into places held by the Japanese army to disrupt or to attack our rear areas. If they couldn’t escape and remained within the Castle, the Japanese soldiers naturally considered them as enemies.
The purpose of the Japanese army was to clear out the ben-i-tai, but they might have gone too far.
– So, there were several thousand victims inside and outside of the Castle?
If you added them up, something like that. People have an image that the Japanese army massacred prisoners but they are confused with losses due to battle. I think the Japanese army didn’t massacre Chinese who were clearly prisoners.
– Some war correspondents then stated there was a massacre, for example, Mr. Imai Seigo.
Mr. Imai died a while ago.
– Did you know Mr. Imai?
We worked in the same department, on the city news. We were not close but I don’t want to talk ill of the deceased.
– Yes, I understand. But could you tell something about him, as far as you know?
Mr. Imai did not report what he saw. I heard that he was always in the rear, that he wouldn’t go out to the front line, dangerous places–as a matter of fact, in Nanjing, several photographers were killed. Mr. Imai’s talent was to write dramatic stories based on hearsay. Even though he freely wrote based on his own imagination, his writing was much appreciated.
– It is said that Mr. Imai wrote an article on the entrance ceremony–before the ceremony occurred; a so-called advance manuscript.
Generally, advance manuscripts were acceptable. For example, events in which the Emperor was to attend. On the day of the event, we followed around and if there was a deviation, we corrected the manuscript. I don’t remember if Mr. Imai’s article was an advance manuscript or not, but this likely occurred in order to keep deadlines.
Aside from the article of the entrance ceremony, I felt that some of Mr. Imai’s articles might have been partially fictitious.
– How about reporter Moriyama Yoshio?
We were very close and I respected Mr. Moriyama.
In saying this, Mr. Adachi took a copy of Anthology for Moriyama Yoshio from his bookshelf. It was published eight months after his death and contained his biography and memories from his close friends.
“After he died we made this book. I contributed an article, too.”
Mr. Adachi located his article, “I would say now that this title is thoughtless.”
Regretfully, he showed it me.
“The Nanjing Massacre and Me” was a short article. It contained the incident in Nanjing that he spoke to me about earlier. Mr. Adachi watched with reporter Moriyama and he wrote that he regretted seeing this.
Mr. Adachi now felt very uncomfortable about the title “The Nanjing Massacre and Me,” so he made sure to check my manuscript, especially the part that contained his story, before publication. He was worried that the public might misunderstand his statement. His worry was reasonable since there are few today who can state what actual conditions in Nanjing were like in those days.
Mr. Adachi and Mr. Moriyama worked together in Nanjing but were later separated. Mr. Adachi went to Hangzhou. Mr. Moriyama stayed in Nanjing for a while and returned to Japan. Then he went to Berlin as special correspondent. Mr. Adachi talked about his recollection and admiration of Mr. Moriyama for 10 minutes, then, suddenly, he remembered an episode related to Mr. Moriyama:
In the spring of this year, a person in charge of “Opinion”, an editorial column in the Asahi Shimbun, called me. It was a story of Mr. Moriyama in Berlin; In Berlin, Mr. Moriyama had a dinner with a Japanese student and Mr. Moriyama told the student that there was massacre in Nanjing. The student eventually became a professor at a well-known university. He was new to me but the professor sent an article to the column.
According to the story that Mr. Moriyama told the student, now a professor, the Japanese army killed old people, women, and children in Nanjing—so many that the streets were flooded with blood, which leaked into his low-top boots. The professor insisted that Mr. Moriyama told him such story. The editor of the “Opinion” column heard that I was with Mr. Moriyama in Nanjing and that we were close, so he called me to confirm this story.
I told him that, yes, I was with Mr. Moriyama in Nanjing but I didn’t see such things and never heard of this from Mr. Moriyama. Mr. Moriyama was not the kind of person who would lie. I don’t know the professor but what he said was a lie, and if such a lie appeared in our newspaper, then I would feel ashamed for Mr. Moriyama. The editor of “Opinion” seemed to understand. He didn’t print the professor’s article. Concerning the Nanjing massacre, many people intentionally lie.
– At the Asahi Shimbun, where you used to work, reporter Honda Katsuichi (本多勝一) insisted that there was a Nanjing massacre and the paper often discussed the subject in the social issues section of the paper.
This is truly regrettable. I met with a director of the Asahi Shimbun recently and told him that there was no massacre.
Within the Asahi Shimbun, the thinking is pro-Chinese Communist Party, anti-Taiwan, pro-North Korea, and anti-South Korea. Not just Mr. Honda, but the whole social issue section has a tendency to make the paper as such.
And some of the Asahi‘s readers are Honda believers. The publication section is encouraged by successful sales and continues to publish his books. Mr. Honda is an energetic, hard-working reporter. His reportage on Eskimos was wonderful. He lived with the Eskimo. The reportage on Bedouins, too; he didn’t hesitate to go out into the wild. Nobody could go out so far as he did. Mr. Honda joined an alpine club during his time in university–that experience worked out well. His set of three reportages in those days was stunning. After that, he went China and made “one-way” articles. He simply wrote down what the Chinese told him to write, without checking the evidence. But his fans for his set of three reportages still follow him.
I know that some people in the Asahi Shimbun frown upon his attitude.
Mr. Adachi continued to talk about the stance of the Asahi Shimbun.
– What was the tone of opinion at the Asahi Shimbun in 1937?
In response to my question, Mr. Adachi opened up his scrap book and said, “I found this article.” He showed it me. It was titled “A baby and the death of parents,” written by Mr. Adachi. It stated that at Tang Shuizhen (湯水鎮), located near Nanjing, a reporter found a baby crying by the dead bodies of its parents. Worried, the reporter came back later, but the baby was not there anymore. Japanese soldiers may have taken care of the baby.
This article was not highly regarded by the army but the people at the Asahi Shimbun made well of it. I don’t deny that I wrote articles on brave Japanese soldiers but that’s not all. Now, when I go back and read my articles, I find that I tried to write objectively, and I also write articles that praised the enemy. We had such an atmosphere at the Asahi. Compared to the Asahi, the Mainichi Shimbun made a lot more boasts, like the “100-killing” [kill 100 soldiers] contest.
– Did you know the story of 100-killing contest?
Yes, and I knew the reporter, Mr. Asami Kazuo, who wrote the article.
– Asami was a reporter from a competing newspaper, wasn’t he?
Yes, but we met often. The Mainichi Shimbun tended to support the war and Mr. Asami supported the war. I felt that the article on the “100 killings” contest was fake. It may be true that Mr. Asami met the two soldiers who competed for 100 killings but the entire story involving the two seemed fictional. Mr. Asami has been quiet about this, but I feel that he secretly regretted writing the story. After the War, the two soldiers were executed due to the article which was used as war crime evidence.
Incidentally, Mr. Asami visited China after the War as the head of the newspaper company’s labor union.
– Did you meet Mr. Asami after that?
Several times. When I last saw him he looked very thin. I wonder what he is doing now.
As mentioned to you earlier, I joined the 101st Division as a war correspondent. Mr. Ito, a reporter from the Manichi Shimbun, also joined the Division. We were on the same ship. He was a reporter but carried a Japanese sword on his waist and when he got drunk, he became violent, wielding his unsheathed sword. He too, became a leader of the labor union. I feel that Mr. Asami and Mr. Ito were not so bright.
Mr. Adachi continued for two hours. He seemed to want to talk some more but it well past time, so I concluded the interview.
To the readers: if it appeared that Mr. Adachi was blaming someone in his statement, it was not his intention to do so, rather, I take responsibility for this. At times he held his tongue closely, nevertheless, I urged him to continue for the sake of his valuable statements.
3) Interview with Mr. Hashimoto Tomisaburo (橋本富三郎), Vice-chief of the Shanghai Branch of the Asahi Shimbun
Mr. Hashimoto Tomisaburo, of the conservative party, is one of the most powerful persons in the world of post-War Japanese politics. He served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary under Prime Minister Sato Eisaku, and the Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party during the Tanaka Kakuei Cabinet.
Mr. Hashimoto entered Nanjing Castle in December 1937. Mr. Hashimoto graduated from Waseda University in 1927 and joined the Asahi Shimbun. At the time of the Manchurian Incident, he worked as a correspondent, reporting from the front.
In July 1937, when the Marco Polo Bridge Incident broke out, he was chief of the Nanjing branch. The chief had only one reporter, Yamamoto Osamu (山本治), as mentioned previously, and a couple of Chinese people. Most other branches of other news agencies also had only one or two other reporters. In Nanjing, the anti-Japan mood increased day by day, and eventually everyday outdoor activities became highly risky. Chinese military policemen had to protect the Japanese branch offices. Mr. Hashimoto stayed in Nanjing until the start of fighting in Shanghai, but on August 15, he, a resident military assistant officer and others headed for Qingdao (青島), from Pukou (浦口), via an evacuation train.
He returned to Tokyo and then went to Shanghai as the vice-chief of the Shanghai branch. His duty was to manage local matters. He himself did not do any reporting but gave orders to each of his reporters–thus, he was in a position to get an overall picture. He served in this capacity from the beginning of the Battle of Shanghai and as the Japanese army moved for the attack on Nanjing he joined the troops as a manager of war correspondents.
The Asahi Shimbun dispatched many war correspondents but most of them left Nanjing after several days since Nanjing was in Japanese hands. However, Mr. Hashimoto remained in Nanjing and met the New Year, 1938, in Nanjing.
After that, Mr. Hashimoto served as the chief of the Zinjing (新京) branch, as the department chief for reporting, as the chief of the department for East Asia until the end of the War. After the War, he left the Asahi Shimbun and entered politics. Starting as the mayor of the town of Itako, he proceeded to positions within the central government and distinguished himself as an aide to former Prime Minister Sato. When he was appointed as a minister, the newspapers profiled him as “The first journalist to enter Nanjing Castle”.
In 1972, when the Nanjing massacre became a subject of discussion, Mr. Hashimoto was the Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party, the main person supporting the Tanaka Cabinet, so he was too busy to spare time and talk about the Nanjing massacre.
In 1976, as the Lockheed bribery scandals unfolded, Mr. Hashimoto was charged with being involved in bribing All Nippon Airways, thus the opportunity for him to talk about the Nanjing massacre further faded. In 1983, Mr. Hashimoto retired from politics.
It was in the fall of 1984 when I interviewed him. For Mr. Hashimoto, his days in Nanjing were 47 years ago. As a matter of fact, his current concerns were the Lockheed trial and the matter of finding his successor, and seemed concerned with nothing else, not even the Central Government or Mr. Tanaka Kakuei, the former prime minister.
At the start, Mr. Hashimoto was reluctant to accept my interview request, saying he had almost no memory about a “Nanjing massacre”. But he would be the most knowledgeable person about Nanjing before and after its capture. I repeatedly asked him that I needed to know everything and anything he remembered about Nanjing; he finally agreed.
Mr. Hashimoto was 83 years old when I met him but he looked very robust for his age. He still visited his office twice a week. He spoke clearly and coherently.
– You were in Nanjing before the attack on Nanjing, so I think you know a lot about Nanjing.
When the China Incident broke out I was the chief of the Nanjing branch. In those days, our branch office was situated in town, apart from the Japanese Embassy. I had a colleague who graduated from the Dong A Dong Wen Shu Yuen Da Xue, or the East Asian Literary School, and was fluent of Chinese, so I could get fresh information of the city.
– Your colleague was reporter Yamamoto Osamu (山本治)?
Yes, I couldn’t speak Chinese so he handled everything relating to the Chinese.
– According to an article from those days, there was a growing anti-Japanese mood in Nanjing and your wife had a dangerous experience.
Did she? My wife didn’t stay in Nanjing, she visited me for a couple of days, I think. During that time she must have had such an experience.
Fighting started in Shanghai and I hurriedly closed the Nanjing office and returned to Tokyo. Then I went to the Shanghai branch again. In Shanghai, I didn’t work as a reporter but did desk work, compiling reporters’ manuscripts.
At the attack on Nanjing, my duty was same–I gathered all materials which came from reporters at the front. The newspapers was a competitive business, so I collected information on which division would be the best to follow in order to get the news first, and gave instructions to my reporters.
– Which Division did you follow?
I followed the headquarters of the Kyoto Division, or the 16th Division, and it just so happened that I was around Division Commander Nakajima Kesago (中島今朝吾) when he was injured.
– Were you near the Division Commander?
No, it just so happened that I was close enough to him to be covered with the same dust. The Division Commander received a minor injury.
– Did you know Division Commander Nakajima?
In those days, the Division Commander was a significantly high- ranking officer, so I had no opportunity to know him in person. His status was really high. I just followed the headquarters of the Kyoto Division.
– How many reporters in the Asahi Shimbun joined the war?
From the Aashi Shimbun, to my memory, around 50 joined, including 15 war correspondents and other reporters. I managed the entire staff.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing. What was the situation in Nanjing?
The “Incident in Nanjing,” well, I have never heard of it. If there was one, reporters would have talked about it. Reporters raise a subject whatever it is, if it has news value, even slightly–that is their job.
I have never even heard of it as a rumor. We at the Asahi held local meetings so if such a thing occurred, somebody would have brought it up–talk might not have been direct, but, for example, “it didn’t feel good watching it,” or something like that.
I think there was no massacre in Nanjing.
– Did you know reporters Imai Seigo (今井正剛) and Moriyama Yoshio (守山義雄)?
I don’t remember speaking with them. I have no clear memory of Mr. Moriyama Yoshio. I knew another Moriyama, Mr. Moriyama Takashi, who was senior staff. I think the Mr. Moriyama you’re refer to was in the political department and came from Tokyo as a special correspondent.
– Imai wrote the report “The mass murder in Nanjing Castle” and claiming that 20,000 people were killed. And Moriyama, who didn’t write anything, but someone said that Moriyama told someone else about a massacre. [Refer to the second interviewee Mr. Adachi's statement and story in Berlin.]
I didn’t hear anything from them first-hand so I don’t know if this is true or not. Both of these reporters were neither left-wing nor right-wing in particular. Nevertheless, people make vague remarks at times and their remarks could be one of those.
– Do you remember anything about a manuscript written by reporter Imai? Someone said he wrote it based entirely on his imagination.
Mr. Imai’s manuscript? Manuscripts must be written by reporters who were at the site of the story.
– It was said that Mr. Imai wrote an article concerning the entrance ceremony before the ceremony occurred. It was called an “advance manuscript”.
The manuscript of the entrance ceremony was an “advance manuscript”? There was no entrance ceremony during the Manchurian Incident, so we did not experience any ceremonies– we were unable to write “advance manuscripts”. I have no memory instructing Mr. Imai to write an advance manuscript. If it was written ahead of time, he must have visited headquarters, heard the schedule and wrote this out. And, you know, it was called a “ceremony” but the real thing was very modest, far from elaborate. Mr. Imai was a very talented reporter, using descriptive phrases, so I think he wrote this using his unique style.
War is abnormal. Just with natural disasters, like earthquakes, even a rumor became news.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I don’t remember this very well. After a while I appointed someone as temporary chief and returned to Shanghai.
– What did you think of the press code then?
I didn’t feel there were any restrictions. We could write and talk about what we thought and what we saw.
I was hoping that he would talk in more detail. During the interview, I tried to jog his memory by asking questions from various angles. But now, I have to admit that the present interview was the maximum extent to which an 83-year-old man could remember the things that he experienced as at the age of 36.
2. Mainichi Shimbun
4) Interview with Mr. Kanazawa Yoshio (金沢喜雄), Photographer for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
Mr. Kanazawa Yoshio joined the army as a photographer for the Tokyo Nichinichi Simbun (currently the Mainichi Shimbun). After the War, Mr. Kanazawa was involved in the magazine Camera Mainichi from the day of its foundation, and worked as its chief editor until his mandatory-age retirement. After retirement from the Mainichi Shimbun, he worked as an instructor of photography at a junior college for 10 years and moved to Fukuoka City in 1977.
I visited Mr. Kanazawa in February 1986. His house was situated in a suburb of Fukuoka City, surrounded in three directions by small mountains. So far, he lived quietly with the mountains for 9 years. He was 74 years old and healthy, climbing the mountains alone, and didn’t look like a pensioner.
Mr. Kanazawa was dispatched to Shanghai as soon as Dachang Town (大場鎮) was captured by the Japanese Army in October 1937, and retained his position in the photo department of the main office. He was 25 years old then. In those days, their Shanghai branch was headed by Tachibana Nobuyoshi (田知花信良). There were several reporters, including Edamatsu Shigeyuki (枝松茂之) (who later became Executive Director of the Mainichi Shimbun), Shimura Fuyuo (志村冬雄), and other special correspondents, dispatched from Tokyo, one after another–Mr. Kanazawa was one of them.
As Mr. Kanazawa arrived in Shanghai, the dead-locked battle in Shanghai shifted rapidly, and the Japanese army advanced to Nanjing. Mr. Kanazawa joined the Jiangyin (江陰) Battery Attack which was the first battle after the order to attack Nanjing was issued.
– When did you start moving to Nanjing?
As I returned from the battle in Jiangyin (江陰), staff in our branch office spoke excitedly, that Regiment Commander Colonel Wakisaka Jiro (脇坂次郎), of the 9th Division, was proceeding ahead to the front with the Regimental colors, which was the most dangerous front. Still, the Commander dared to press on, even alone. It was really a dangerous front–as a matter of fact, a reporter from the Yomiuri and a photographer from the Asahi who traveled with Regiment Commander Wakisaka, were just killed.
And we guessed that, among all troops involved in the attack on Nanjing, the Wakisaka Regiment would advance to Nanjing first. I, just returning from the battle of Jingyin (江陰), was chosen to follow the Wakisaka Regiment.
I departed at once, and I don’t remember how many days it took, via Wu-xi (無錫) and Changzhou (常州), I finally met Regiment Commander Wakisaka. This was before we reached Nanjing. Since then, I constantly followed Regiment Commander Wakisaka.
On the dawn of December 9, in the morning mist, I vaguely recognized large ramparts two kilometers away: it was Nanjing Castle. Everything was quiet. In the middle of the rampart I found a gate, Guanghua Gate (光華門), from which a wide road extended towards us. Soon, the streets lights lined along the road turned on all at once. The Chinese soldiers hid behind Guanghua Gate (光華門) and had been patiently waiting for the Japanese soldiers. As soon as they saw the Japanese army they turned on the street lights.
Then, all at once, the attack started. The rampart was surrounded by creeks and we had no other way to attack except up the wide open road which led to Guanghua Gate (光華門), so the Japanese Army attacked from the road. This meant that Chinese soldiers could easily target and shoot Japanese soldiers. Commander Wakisaka moved to the air-defense school which was located under a bank in front of a creek and we also entered the air-defense school. It was 600 meters away from Guanghua Gate (光華門).
The Battalion, headed by Major Ito Zenko (伊藤善光), eventually reached Guanghua Gate (光華門) but Guanghua Gate was double-layered and the fierce attack by the Chinese army prevented the Japanese from going any further.
At the time, when I tried to get up to take photos, Chinese troop shot at once. The roof of the air-defense school was gone, and under the circumstance, Commander Wakisaka closely supervised the Ito Battalion at Guanghua Gate (光華門). I couldn’t move at all to take photos, so I instead, I took a photo of the Commander washing his face and sent the negatives to our main office. Usually, photos of commanders were not published, but this photo was accepted.
– What was the situation inside Nanjing Castle?
Some Japanese troops moved along the Yangtze River and troops from Hangzhou Bay took a huge detour to get to Nanjing; in any event, Nanjing was surrounded by Japanese troops. Thus, most remaining Chinese soldiers fled via the Yangtze River. Chinese soldiers who remained stayed at each gate, eventually fought with Japanese troops. Thereafter, Japanese troops entered Nanjing. I also entered Nanjing through the Guanghua Gate (光華門).
After the War, a massacre of hundreds of thousands of people occurred, but this was puzzling to me, indeed! At the time, I traveled around Nanjing and I never saw anything that could be considered a massacre and I did not hear of this from soldiers.
The Mainichi Shimbun had 50 to 60 staff then, including correspondents. At first, we stayed at an inn for our lodging which was located close to Zhongshan Gate (中山門) and stayed there for several days. The work of the newspaper ended with the capture of Nanking so staff who were dispatched from Tokyo returned thereafter. Then around December 20, we moved our lodging to the Foreign Affairs Office building which was located along Zhongshan North Road (中山北路) and the staff of the Shanghai branch stayed there.
The branch was headed by Shimura Fuyuo (志村冬雄), and they said they needed a photographer, so I remained, too. Murakami Go (村上剛), who later succeeded Shimura, was also in the branch. I was there for about one month and I never saw nor heard anything like the massacres that some people after the War claimed to have occurred. It is said a massacre occurred but it was impossible to have occurred. I don’t understand why General Matsui Iwane (松井石根) had to be executed by hanging for this allegation.
I was low ranking in those days and I had no opportunities to talk to army staff officers but Mr. Shimura worked as chief of the Nanjing branch and visited headquarters often. Mr. Shimura knew more about matters than I did. He already passed away but I have never heard of a massacre from Mr. Shimura.
– Were there any bodies at all?
Yes, there were. There were a number of corpses. Since it was war, the Japanese army may have shot them, killed them and then threw them into the River. The bodies were the same as the ones I saw in creeks on the way to Nanjing. It was a big battle and the Japanese army adopted encircling tactics. Therefore, it was as a matter of course to see bodies, corpses floating in the River. Encircling tactics were used for that purpose, to destroy the enemy.
It was a battlefield inside the Castle as well so several refugees may have been shot and killed. I don’t deny that. It was war. If you call this a “massacre”, then every war is a “massacre”. The massacre story was made up by people who know nothing about war.
– How about on the banks along the Yangtze River?
People often said a number of bodies were thrown into Yangtze and the river turned red, but I never heard such thing, and of course never saw that.
– Was a massacre ever raised as a topic at the office?
– Within your company, the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, reporter Asami Kazuo (浅海一男) insists that a massacre happened.
Mr. Asami–he is a little bit of an odd fellow like me but good guy. He came from the social department of the main office. I met him in Wu-his (無錫) as I headed for Nanjing. In order to reach Nanjing from Shanghai, we commonly used the main road through Wu-his (無錫) and Changzhou (常州). Later I went to Guanghua Gate (光華門) and we separated. After we entered Nanjing, I met him at an inn located close to Zhongshan Gate (中山門), but he did not mention anything.
– After you left Nanjing, did you hear about a massacre?
I expected that the war would end when Nanjing was captured, and in thinking so I took photos of the entrance ceremony. However the war did not end–on the contrary, it eventually expanded into the Greater Eastern Asia War, and during all this time, I remained at the Shanghai office.
After the capture of Nanjing, I had no specific assignment, so I stayed there for a month without doing anything and then returned to Shanghai. After that I traveled to and from Shanghai and Nanjing. When the Wang Zhaoming (汪兆銘) Government was established, I took photos of Wang Zhaoming (汪兆銘) in Shanghai as well as in Nanjing, but I never heard about a massacre.
After the War, I was surprised to read reports and notes of others about their experiences in those days, which could not have been true, and were merely self-promoting. The Nanjing massacre falls into this category. I think my information won’t change anything and I have not spoken with anyone else, but today you asked me so I recalled what I know.
For my visit, Mr. Kanazawa looked through photos of those days of but couldn’t find anything useful; nevertheless his interview was very descriptive.
5) Interview with Mr. Sato Shinju (佐藤振寿), Photographer for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
If you see a copy of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimubun published during 1937, you will find several photos of the battle of Nanjing, which were taken by Mr. Sato Shinju (佐藤辰寿). But it was after the War that Mr. Sato’s name became widely known. About a decade ago, it was claimed that the 100-killing contest was fictional. It was Mr. Sato who took the picture of the two Second Lieutenants, Mukai Toshiaki (向井敏明,) and Noda Iwao (野田巌) at Changzhou Gate (常州門), who were famous for their story of the 100-killing contest.
Mr. Sato made clear statement of his views in the books, “The Illusion of the Nanjing Massacre (南京大虐殺のまぼろし),” and “History of Showa of One Hundred Million People (一億人の昭和史).”
In autumn 1985, I asked him to talk about the situation in Nanjing back then and of the massacre; he quickly agreed. Upon visiting his home in Fujisawa, I saw that he had prepared a number of materials, including the notebook which he used then, personal photos of Nanjing which he took with his Leica and a scrapbook of photos, and so on. With these documents, Mr. Sato spread out a map and began.
In 1932, Mr. Sato Shinju (佐藤辰寿) joined the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun as a photographer. At the end of September 1937, as soon as the 101st Division was dispatched to Shanghai, Mr. Sato and reporter Ito joined the troops. Mr. Sato completed reporting on the Battle of Shanghai, conducted by the 101st Division, and on November 13th, together with reporter Asami Kazuo (浅海一男), he observed the Baimao-Kou (白茆口) Landing Operation, which was conducted by Shigefuji Detachment of the Taiwan Garrison (台湾守備隊). After completing this assignment, from Baimao-Kou, he went back Shanghai on the cruiser. Upon arrival, he immediately departed for Nanjing. He was 24 years old.
After the battle of Nanjing, he returned to Tokyo. In 1939, he observed the Shantou (汕頭) Landing Operation again. Mr. Sato fell ill due to tuberculosis, and was unable to further carry out his duty as a war correspondent, and, given the irregular lifestyle working in a newspaper, he quit the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun. He then edited a photographic magazine of a photographic association, which was an external organization of the Bureau of Information. Since then, his career has been photo-related and has worked as a photo critic as well.
After the War he was a prolific writer and he read a number of books related to the Nanjing Incident.
– Did you go to Nanjing after Baimao-Kou (白茆口)?
Yes. I was originally a war correspondent attached to the 101st Division. When I returned from Baimao-Kou, the 101st Division was in Shanghai. I had worked as a war correspondent during the landing, which was conducted by the Taiwanese Garrison, under enemy fire, so I thought I deserved some rest. Instead, I was suddenly ordered to go to Suzhou (蘇州). It was November 20, according to my recollection. So I went as far as Kunlun (崑崙) by car then walked along the railway tracks to Suzhou (蘇州).
When I arrived at Suzhou (蘇州), it was rainy and I tried to get to Division Headquarters. I couldn’t find where other war correspondents for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun were lodged. It was a dark night and I could not locate our company’s banner, so in the middle of the cold street of Suzhou (蘇州), I shouted “Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun!” and eventually found my company.
– After that, what route did you take?
From Suzhou (蘇州), I went through Wu-xi (無錫), Changzhou (常州), Danyang (丹陽), and headed for the Mabansan (磨盤山) Mountains.
In Wu-xi (無錫), I followed the Commander, Colonel Wakisaka Jiro (脇坂次郎), and I was accompanied by reporter Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎), of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun. Around that time, I landed in a drainage ditch and sprained a knee, and ever since I still suffer from the injury–still now, I have difficulty turning myself in bed at times.
In Changzhou (常州), I took the picture of the two of the Second Lieutenants, Mukai and Noda.
While talking, the two officers asked me if I had any cigarettes. I bought 100 boxes of Ruby Quinn before I left Shanghai and stored them in many places in my rucksack.
I gave the two officers a couple of boxes of cigarettes–they were very pleased and were animated when speaking. Asami asked many questions. I wondered how they were able to keep track of numbers killed. They said: Noda’s orderly counts those that Mukai killed and Mukai’s orderly counts those that Noda killed.
Listening carefully, I realized that Noda must have been be too busy to kill Chinese soldiers in hand-to-hand fight because he was the battalion commander’s adjutant and had to convey orders and other things during battle. And Mukai was likely busy too, as he was an infantry gun platoon commander. He had to figure out coordinates and issue orders during battle. They could not have had a chance to do their “killing contest” during a real battle; this was fairly obvious.
After the War, I came across Asami and he told me that he was called by the Chinese prosecution to testify about the “100 killing contest”, and added that I might be called soon; I didn’t get a summons.
Had Asami clearly stated that the article was fictional, that would have been OK, but he didn’t. He and Liao Cngzhi (廖承志), the first director of the Sino-Japanese Friendship Association, were classmate at Waseda University, so maybe he had something in mind. As a result, the two officers were executed as war criminals in China.
– Did you always travel with Asami?
No, at that time I was with him by chance. After the capture of Nanjing, he returned to Tokyo to attend a conference on Japan’s victory. One or two local reporters were always attached to Divisional headquarters. Other reporters served as reserves. I was a reserve and others who came from Tokyo, including Asami and Suzuki, were reserves as well. So, we often ended up worked together.
In those days, troops competed with each other over who would get in Nanjing first, and we, the reporters, would also wonder who would be first as we would be following them. Information and instructions from the various Shanghai branches were delivered to headquarters at the front, which was radio-equipped, by which troop movements were announced (and we could figure out which troops would enter Nanjing first) and instructions on following troops were given.
– So you followed the 9th Division and then the 16th Division?
Yes. As a result, Asami, Suzuki and I followed the 16th Division (Kyoto), but the originally assigned reporter to the 16th Division was Mitsumoto, who came from the Kyoto branch of the newspaper.
– After crossing the Mabansan (磨盤山) Mountains, what route did you take?
I took a course between Chunhuazhen (淳化鎮) and Tangshuizhen (湯水鎮) to get to Nanjing and on 10th we arrived at the Zhongshan Cultural Education Institute (中山文化教育館). The Zhongshan Cultural Education Institute was situated close to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (中山陵) in Mt. Zijin (紫金). It was a four-storied building and displayed antiques in glass cases. During that time, we suffered another shortage of food.
– How long did you stay at the Zhongshan Cultural Education Institute?
I stayed there until the capture of Nanjing on the 13th. We and other reporters shared a room, and the headquarters of the Kusaba (草場) Brigadier of the 16th Division used the next room. I went to the Brigadier’s headquarters everyday and asked the staff when the capture of Nanjing would be, and they replied, “not today.” We ended up stayed there for three days.
In front of the front-line base of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun. In the front row, from left to right, Mr. Kaneko, vice-manager of the local news section, Mr. Shimura Fuyuo, former Nanjing branch chief, Mr. Sato Shinju and Mr. Oya Soichi.
– Mr. Oya Soichi (大宅壮一), a critic, wrote in the magazine Kaizo (改造) that he met you, Mr. Sato, at that time.
At that time, Oya Soichi was a company friend of the newspaper’s liberal arts department and came to Nanjing as non-regular employee. I brought Oya to the Zhongshan Cultural Education Institute. I didn’t know where he found it, but I saw him carrying a Chinese antique. Not only Oya, but other reporters had done the same thing. In those days they said that, “I bought this at a 100 percent price reduction.” There were a number of old Buddhist statues in China, as you know, and I often saw a few people stealing them.
– What date did you enter Nanjing?
In the early morning of the 13th, I was awakened by shouting, that Nanjing fell. So I walked from the Zhongshan Cultural Education Institute along the ridge for a while, passed through the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and entered the Castle through the Zhongshan Gate (中山門). It appeared that the fist soldiers entered the Castle before dawn. At the Zhongshan Gate, I looked at the inside of the Castle with binoculars and saw Chinese soldiers far away crossing Zhongshan East Road (中山東路). Watching carefully, I saw that they were wearing brown uniforms. I wondered if Chinese soldiers wore brown uniforms as Japanese soldiers did. But in fact, they were Japanese soldiers–the 6th Division had already entered the Castle.
Kanazawa Yoshio (金沢喜雄), a photographer attached to the Wakisaka Regiment, had already taken the photo of the rising sun flag on the Guanghua Gate (光華門). This meant that either the 9th Division or the 6th Division entered Nanjing before our 16th Division.
– What was the situation like inside Nanjing Castle?
On the 13th, the battle continued, with Chinese soldiers hiding here and there–it was dangerous, but the inside of the Castle was quiet. Walking a little from the Zhongshan Gate (中山門), we found the Reishisha (励志社) off to the right and we decided to use it as lodging for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun staff. In one room, we found a sofa and a billiard table and so on. We decided who got to use what by playing janken, or the rock-paper-scissors game. I was happy to take the billiard table, but later I found out that under the felt was a stone slab, so I had to suffer from coldness. The next day, we moved to a nearby Chinese inn. Here we found a lot of beds, and I really felt good. While I was in Nanjing, this inn served as our headquarters.
– What about the 14th?
I took many pictures at Zhongshan Gate (中山門) on the day when I entered, but I wanted more impressive pictures which depicted the fall of Nanjing Castle. Shimura Fuyuo (志村冬雄), the chief of the Nanjing branch, suggested to us a place, the Nationalist Government’s building, and we successfully took a picture of a man waving our newspaper’s banner there. We were lucky because only fifteen minutes earlier, an Asahi photographer was attacked by Chinese stragglers there and he was unable to take photos. So my photo became a scoop and was used in the extra edition.
On a street near the Safety Zone, a ramen noodle shop opened promptly and I saw Japanese soldiers buying ramen for 10 sen (銭)* and eating.
On the 14th, ransacking by the Chinese continued. I saw a Chinese walking down Zhongshan Road (中山路) with a table on his shoulder, and another Chinese who forced open a shop door and extended his hand into the store to steal something. On the same day, fighting against Chinese soldiers continued elsewhere.
I think it was the 14th–inside the Castle, while walking from Zhongshan Gate (中山門), on the left side of the street, that I found the headquarters of the 88th Division of the Chinese Army, which was directly administered by Chiang Kai-shek. It was located in front of the airfield. A signboard of the 88th Division was put up on the building. There, I saw Japanese soldiers kill Chinese soldiers. They must have been stragglers. I believe this was a consequence of the battle.
It is nonsense to talk about battlefield conditions during peace. Those Japanese soldiers were full of enmity, their eyes bloodshot.
My colleague Ito followed the troops with me. He was the type who carried a Japanese sword with him all the time, but even he was shocked by the combat death of Regiment Commander Colonel Kano Haruo (加納治雄), whom he highly respected. He could not continue his job and was sent back to Tokyo.
And Takada Tamotsu (高田保), a playwright, and Bando Mitsugoro (坂東三津五郎), a kabuki actor, who visited Shanghai to entertaining the troops, as well, went back as soon as the next day, soon after arrival, because they understood what a real battlefield was and were totally shocked. You know, a REAL battlefield is like that.
*Sen (銭); old Japanese currency, 100 sen =1 yen.
– How about the 15th?
This might have been the 14th, but I heard that the Nanjing Embassy was about to open and went there to take photos. Kaida Seiichi (開田靖一), a director in our film team who studied French at Tokyo University, was a high school mate of Mr. Fukuda Tokuyasu (福田篤泰), assistant consulate, who came to Nanjing as diplomat and gave us this information. So, we went over to the Embassy and took photos of the staff raising the national flag.
Later, several of us went around the inside of the Castle by car. When we arrived at the Safety Zone, a Chinese came up to us and started speaking in English. He saw our clothes and thought that we were not soldiers. He asked us to tell the Japanese soldiers not to kill the people in the Safety Zone.
From where we standing, we could see a hill behind the Safety Zone and on a western-style building which was standing on the hill, we saw the raising of the rising sun flag. As a whole, the town was quiet.
– Could you enter the Safety Zone?
The entrance was closed and a Chinese guard stopped people from entering.
– How was 16th?
On the 16th, I saw on Zhongshan Road (中山路) that plain-clothed soldiers in the Safety Zone were taken out and pictures were taken of them. The plain-clothed soldiers filled Zhongshan Road (中山路). Only those with a shaved head, trace on the forehead of wearing a hat, sun-burned, or otherwise clearly recognized as soldiers were picked out. Long-haired Chinese were considered civilians.
– How was 17th?
That was the day of the entrance ceremony. I wanted to take pictures of the ceremony from a higher level so I found three ladders and prepared them the night before. I put them on every second or third electric pole and as General Matsui entered through Zhongshan Gate (中山路), I climbed up those ladders and took photos. I took one picture, then hurriedly moved to the next ladder and took another, so that I took several photos.
At that time, Kimura Ihei (木村伊兵衛) and Watanabe Yoshio (渡辺義雄,), both photographers, came to take photos as non-regular staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They took a photo of me. NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) as well came to broadcast the event.
I completed my assignment, taking photos of the entrance ceremony and of the memorial service the next day.
– It is said there was a massacre.
I didn’t see one. It is said there was massacre, but on the 16th and 17th, I found shops that were opened, not only on small streets but on big streets. In addition, I saw many Chinese people wearing a rising sun armband gathered around Japanese soldiers in a friendly manner. I cannot believe that a massacre occurred under such circumstances.
– You didn’t see anything with your eyes, but did you hear of any rumors?
I heard a rumor once. Three thousand Chinese prisoners who were caught in Zhenjiang (鎮江) were lined up along a quay wall at Xiaguan and shot with a heavy machine gun. Several Japanese guards, not quick enough, were killed, too. Only a company caught 3,000 prisoners—this must have been really tough. Of course, we believed this was a consequence of the battle, it was not a massacre as it was claimed after the War.
If we caught prisoners, we had no food to give them; we had nothing, no cup or no pan. Even Japanese soldiers did not get enough food. We reporters looked forward to the rice which our correspondent from Shanghai brought us.
– Did you go to see Xiaguan?
Yes, after the entrance ceremony. I went there but saw no trace of anything as stated in the rumor. When I visited, the army used coolies to unload liquor barrels. While I was watching, a coolie dropped a barrel. I felt pity for him since he might be chided later.
– Did your newspaper talk about a massacre?
No one mentioned anything.
– Did you take photos in Nanjing wherever you went?
I had two cameras, one for my work, and one for myself, a Leica. The Leica was new and I took many pictures with this. After the memorial service, I mainly used my Leica and took the pictures of street scenes. I was told not to take photos of Japanese soldiers’ bodies, but I actually took photos of everything, including corpses.
That time I took approximately 100 photos, but I found no pictures that Japanese soldiers were doing cruel things. Among the photos, you see Japanese soldiers giving consoling bags and Chinese people gathering around the soldiers. Under the circumstance, I don’t believe that I missed seeing a massacre just by chance – I think that a massacre didn’t happen.
As a Japanese Pacification Unit started to deliver food and candies, Chinese
people, including grown-ups and children, gathered around the soldiers.
(December 18th, 1937)
– Did you add captions to the photos you took?
Yes. I put the date, the location, and a simple explanation on the top of the film, which was carried by correspondent to Shanghai. They were developed in Shanghai, delivered to Nagasaki, Japan by ship, and from Fukuoka electrically transmitted to Tokyo. In Tokyo, we had to obtain the army’s approval. The negatives were kept at the main office in Osaka.
– Were those photos then the property of the Mainichi Shimbun?
Yes. I took the photos but ownership belonged to the Mainichi Shimbun.
– You say there was no massacre but photos from those times showed cruelties.
Yes, a photo alone does not mean anything–it’s all up to its explanation.
For example, on the 15th, I took a picture in Nanjing Castle, in which a Japanese soldier shouldered his belongings and pulled a baby carriage. (Explanation of Photo A) I myself have experienced the difficulty of transporting belongings–they were such a burden. So I used Chinese porters to carry them or I used a donkey. I injured my knee in Wu-xi (無錫), so climbing the Mabansan (磨盤山) Mountains was exceptionally hard. I started earlier in the morning than the others in order to not be late but arrived last anyway. So I understood pain very well.
The soldier, of whom I took the photo, seemed distressed–after entering Nanjing, he was in an unguarded moment and walked with sagging shoulders. I empathized with him and took his photo. Nevertheless, here, it is captioned as, “A soldier carries requisitioned goods.”
And, Mr. Fudo Kenji (不動健治), of the Domei Tsushin, and I took a picture of the same scene. In Mr. Fudo’s photo-book, “Japanese Photo History, 1840 to 1945,” published by Heibonsha, the caption stated that this scene was the site of a massacre (Refer to Photo B). However, Matsuo Kunizo (松尾邦蔵), of the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, showed a similar scene and we both knew that these were not bodies due to a “massacre”, rather, the photo showed “Chinese soldiers, victims of an air attack”.
I knew Mr. Fudo very well but I never heard from him state that there was a massacre in Nanjing. I knew his brother, too, so when I met with his brother, I complained about this to him. He replied, “My brother was suffering from dementia so he didn’t understand.” He continued, that after the War, Mr. Fudo was asked to show any photos of a massacre and gave the photo mentioned above.
Mr. Fudo died recently, but I still have the recorded conversation with his brother.
Photo A: Mr. Sato’s explanation: Worn-out, exhausted Japanese soldiers carrying their belongings. In front, one pulled a baby carriage in a shape of a boat, and in the background, donkeys are used. (December 15, 1937)
Photo B: Mr. Sato’s explanation: Chinese soldiers killed in an air raid. (December 13, 1937, Mainichi Shimbun-sha)
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
Until the 24th. On the afternoon of the 24th, I put our motorcycle, which was used for correspondence, onto the bed of a truck and left Nanjing. There were numerous big holes in the road, so it was really hard driving. I stayed overnight on the way and in the early morning of the 25th, I arrived in Shanghai. I stayed in Shanghai until February 1938, and then returned to Tokyo.
– When did you hear about the Nanjing incident?
After the War. It was after the US Army arrived, so 1946 or 1947. NHK’s program, “Truth Box” (From December 9, 1945, “Now It Can Be Told,” title later changed to “Truth Box,” was organized, scripted, and produced by the GHQ Civil Information and Education Section.) was broadcast, in which it was said a massacre in Nanjing occurred–that was the first time I heard about a massacre. It happened that I heard the program by accident. It started with Tchaikovsky’s symphony, then the sound of a machine gun shooting, followed by people screaming. The narrator said there was a massacre in Nanjing. I was astonished. I snapped to persons around me that “This is a lie.”
About 10 years ago (around 1975), the Asahi Shimbun published a series of articles, “Travel to China (中国の旅),” in which they parroted Chinese statements, that there was massacre. At that time, there were many surviving Japanese people who were in Nanjing and saw it with their own eyes. Why didn’t they speak with those people and why did the Asahi adopt such lie, which simply benefited the Chinese government? The people who were in Nanjing at that time would never believe such stories. Since this series was released, I stopped my subscription to the Asahi Shimbun. I told the Asahi delivery person that I cancelled my subscription because of the Asahi’s brazen lie.
It often happens that victims tend to exaggerate their injury. At the time of the capture of Nanjing, a number of Asahi Shimbun reporters and photographers were there. Without their statements, damages and losses claimed are based on the say-so of solely one side. I doubt the reliability of the Asahi series.
Among the dozens of interviewees, Mr. Sato’s statement was the most detailed. His explanations were realistic for an event that occurred 50 years ago. The reason he could speak in detail was in part due to the fact that he was the youngest of the interviewees, but mainly due to the fact that he kept a number of photos of those times, which serve to vividly remind him of his experiences. Most of his statements were based on his photos.
6) Interview with Mr. Goto Kosaku (五島広作), Reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun
After the War, among the reporters who were present during the attack on Nanjing, Mr. Goto Kosaku (五島広作) is the most vocal concerning the Nanjing Incident.
His representative work is “The Truth of Nanjing Operations – Kumamoto 6th Division’s Military History” (南京作戦の実相―熊本６師団戦記), published in 1964. The book describes six months of the 6th Division movements, starting with the order to mobilize in August 1937, battles in North China, the landing of Hangzhou Bay in November and the attack on Nanjing. The book contains dictation from Colonel Shimono Ikkaku (下野 一霍), Chief of Staff of the 6th Division. In addition to Shimono’s dictation, the book includes protest by Division Commander Lieutenant General Tani, written while imprisoned in Nanjing, and a battlefield report by Mr. Goto, all of which were edited and published by Mr. Goto.
Sixth Division Commander Tani Hisao (谷寿夫) was accused of being responsible for the massacre and was executed in Nanjing after the War. Chief of Staff Shimono was Division Commander Tani’s aide, and at the time Tani considered Goto a promising officer. Both men kept close contact with Tani during the war. The two who knew Division Commander Tani most, published this book in honor of Lieutenant General Tani as well as in honor of the 6th Division.
Mr. Goto suffered from Parkinson’s disease for about ten years and continued his struggle against illness. Nevertheless, he accepted my interview request, since the Nanjing incident was his issue. Mr. Goto was 79 years old and had difficulty walking, a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. His condition was worse than I expected. At first, I thought of meeting him in a quiet location, but upon seeing his conditions, I suggested a nearby cafe which was not too much trouble.
As soon as taking a seat at the cafe, Mr. Goto took his documents out from his shoulder bag and started to explain the Nanjing Incident. I was taken aback by his unilateral manner. I listened him for a while and at last caught a chance to say, “I have read your book, “The Truth of Nanjing Operation,” so I understand what you want to say. But today I have specific questions to ask.”
Several days ago when I asked him for an interview about the Nanjing Incident, I told him that I wanted to know details from those days. Mr. Goto seemed to misunderstand my intention and tried to persuade me that there was no massacre.
Mr. Goto worked as a reporter at the Kumamoto branch of the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun (currently the Mainichi Shimbun) and as the 6th Division was dispatched to North China, he followed the 6th Division. So he was the 6th Division’s correspondent and observed the attack on Nanjing as well as the Baoding (保定 ) Operation, Zhengding (正定) Operation and Hangzhou (杭州) Bay Landing Operation.
– Where in the 6th Division did you work?
I always worked within Division headquarters. I was with the Division for a long time, since the fighting in North China, so Division Commander Tani was familiar with me and at times he had Staff Officer Fujiwara Takeshi (藤原武 ) call me into their strategy meetings, thinking that it might be useful to me.
– On reaching Kunshan (昆山), it is said that troops were ordered to kill all Chinese, including women and children.
There was no such order. I worked at Divisional headquarters and frequently followed the Division Commander and I never heard of anything like that. I think it was something made-up after the Tokyo Trial (the International Military Tribunal for the Far East)
– Someone said that the 6th Division was unable to get a citation for battles in North China, so that’s why they had done cruel things in Central China.
That is a new story to me. Such things never happened in the 6th Division. This story, like the previous story that I said was made-up, was fabricated after the Division Commander was executed. After the War, many stories were created that were made to make China look good.
– What was the movement of the 6th Division after the capture of Nanjing?
At 12 o’clock on the 12th, we captured the rampart for the first time, and on 13th some of the soldiers entered the Castle. I, too, entered the Castle with the troops who were selected from the 13th Regiment.
– During that time, were there any acts of cruelty?
On 13th and 14th the troops conducted mopping-up operations, but no massacre occurred.
– In the attack on Hankou (漢口) in October the following year, 1938, the 6th Division fell under the 11th Army, which was headed by Lieutenant General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次). According to “Documents of General Okamura Yasuji,” Major General Ushijima Mitsuru (牛島満,), the Brigadier Commander in the 6th Division, mentioned that the 6th Division had disciplinary problems.
The attack on Hankou (漢口) was conducted the next year. I was not attached at the time, so I have nothing to say.
I think at the time after the capture of Nanjing, the Brigadier’s headquarters and the Division headquarters were located in two different places. Major General Ushijima was a righteous man, I met him at his headquarters. At that time we didn’t talk about a massacre or anything like that. This is my thinking – perhaps something suspicious might have had happened. But in any event, no one carried out a massacre.
– Were there foreign reporters stationed in Nanjing?
Yes. I spoke with several of them.
– When you spoke with them, did they mention disciplinary problem of Japanese troops?
I have no memory of speaking to them about such things. Paramount shot a newsreel of Nanjing and I appeared in it. Arthur Menken made the film.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I stayed there until January 10 the following year. During my stay, I visited many places in Nanjing but never saw anything that can be called a “massacre”. Concerning rapes, a brothel was already established, so allegations about that made after the War are lies.
After the Nanjing Attack Operation was completed, Lieutenant General Tani was appointed Commander of the Middle Area Garrison and left the 6th Division. I returned to Shanghai with Lieutenant General Tani.
– In October 1967, on a TV program, war correspondent Imai of the Asahi Shimbun, and Chief of Staff Shimono, of the 6th Division, argued about a massacre. Could you tell me about the argument?
I have no clear memory of this. I don’t remember if I was there, or if I heard of this later from Lieutenant General Shimono. Please refer to my writings.
The interview lasted one and half hour. He said his memory was not so clear so I avoided pushing him further. In addition, he looked pained, due to his illness. I tried to make the interview as brief as possible but he repeatedly assured me, “I am OK, go on, go on.”
7) Interview with Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木二郎), Reporter for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎) was at the attack on Nanjing as a reporter for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun and was one of the authors of the “100-killing contest” article.
After the War, Mr. Suzuki wrote about these matters in a magazine, Maru (丸), entitled “Cursed Scoop – The 100-Killing Contest,” which was published in January 1961. He later wrote in Maru, “I Witnessed the Tragedy of Nanjing,” which was published in November 1971.
Soon afterwards, Mr. Suzuki Jiro’s (鈴木次郎) statements sparked controversy. Mr. Yamamoto Shichihei (山本七平), Isaiah Ben-Dasan and Mr. Suzuki Akira (鈴木明) roundly criticized Mr. Suzuki’s article, “I Witnessed the Tragedy of Nanjing”. The argument continued on in the magazine Shokum (諸君), from 1972 to 1973 – the three claimed that the 100-killing contest was fictional and that Mr. Suzuki made dubious statements.
Shortly thereafter, a book critical of Mr. Yamamoto Shichihei (山本七平), “Plot of the Pen,” was published. Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎) contributed an article to the book, “War Reporter in Those Days,” in which he stated that the Incident, which has he had written about in his article, “I Witnessed the Tragedy of Nanjing,” was true.
In the fall of 1984, I asked Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎) for an interview and he responded that his health condition was not good, perhaps the following year he will be better. If it was urgent, he would answer my questions by mail. It was not a matter that could be completed by mail so I decided to wait. Mr. Suzuki was 78 years old, so I could not force him any further. Unexpectedly, as soon as next year began, I got his OK.
As I visited his home on the day of the meeting, he came to see me outside. While walking with him, I thanked him for accepting my request for an interview. Then, I said, “Can I take it that your statements written in the book “Plot of the Pen” are your convictions?” He nodded with a smile. We reached his house, and he led me to his room where I found documents from those days laid out on a table. We spoke across the table.
Mr. Suzuki said, “I wonder if I could help you.”
“I think I have read all your writings. Based on your writings, I have some questions to ask you.” Thus, I started the interview by asking questions.
It has been reported that the entrance of Nanjing Castle was on December 13, 1937. Mr. Suzuki wrote that he entered the Castle on December 12. My first question was to confirm this.
– You said that you entered the Castle through Zhongshan Gate (中山門) on December 12, but I think this is mistaken. Wasn’t it actually the 13th?
No, it was 12th. I entered the Castle through Zhongshan Gate (中山門) on the 12th, with a senior staff member, Fukushima Takeshiro (福島武四郎). Japanese airplanes were still bombing the Castle and I saw fires raging.
– According to various records and statements, Japanese troops entered the Castle after midnight, actually 2 o’clock in the morning, of the 13th. If this is correct, did you enter the Castle before the soldiers?
This shouldn’t be. I entered with the first wave of soldiers.
– So, you entered on the night of the 12th, actually before the dawn of the 13th?
No, it was daytime. At Zhongshan Gate (中山門), a movie-news photographer who came with me took my picture, saying it was better than taking of ones of soldiers.
Mr. Suzuki then showed me the picture, on the back of the picture was written, “On Zhongshan Gate (中山門)”.
– If it was daytime, I think it must have been the 13th.
Ever since, I have thought that it was the 12th. It was not likely for a reporter to be there on time when the Army captured the Castle or entered the Castle, and, well, it was common to correct later the date and time. Also, the office often corrected press manuscripts. I don’t know what the newspaper stated, but to my memory, I entered the Castle during the day on the 12th.
– Did you take any memos or notes?
I didn’t have a notebook. As a matter of fact, I had no time to take memos or notes. When I wrote the article, “I Witnessed the Tragedy of Nanjing,” I didn’t refer to any memos or materials in particular. I wrote it based on my memory. My experiences itself were the “memos and materials”.
– You mentioned that you stayed in Nanjing for four days, so you stayed in the Castle from 12th to 15th?
Yes. I returned without seeing the entrance ceremony on 17th. It so happened that I could get a ride in the truck that was going back to Shanghai.
– In the book, “Plot of the Pen,” you stated that, “I entered the Castle on the 12th or the 13th,” and that “I state this, having a slightly confused memory,” which seems to suggest a need for correction.
At the time, what Yamamoto Shichihei (山本七平) wrote was very convincing, so I felt that I might have been wrong and wrote that. But it was the 12th, nonetheless.
In those days, the news of Nanjing’s fall was released as early as December 10 in Japan and people started cerebrations. A part of Guanghua Gate (光華門) was captured on the 10th and China Gate (中華門) and all of Guanghua Gate were captured on the 12th. But in fact, it was the 13th when Japanese troops entered the Castle all at once through Zhongshan Gate (中山門) and China Gate. According to the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun (December 14, 1937), Zhongshan Gate (中山門) was captured by the Oono Unit at 2:30 AM on 13th.
– On the Ministry of the Army’s announcement and in newspapers they said the capture of Nanking was on the 13th.
The capture on the 13th was the official announcement—Japanese soldiers entered earlier. The date was released after the last mopping-up operation was completed and it became quiet in the Castle. The official date followed after the fact.
– In a newspaper photo, soldiers are cheering banzai on the Zhongshan Gate (中山門) which is dated December 13.
Units came in one after another and took photos, cheering banzai on Zhongshan Gate (中山門). This cannot be evidence.
– Mr. Nakagawa Norimoto (中川紀元), who entered Nanjing as a war painter, wrote in his article, “Troops Entering Nanjing,” that in the afternoon of the 13th, we entered the Castle with frontline units and lodged in part of an excellent building called the Reishisha (励志社).
Mr. Nakagawa came to the Reishisha a day later. That is, reporters found our company banner raised at the entrance of the Reishisha and came in. After the War, people who don’t know the situation of those times, made wrong claims; it doesn’t make sense.
The above statement was Mr. Suzuki’s answer to my question concerning the date of entering the Castle. He believed it was the 12th and repeated this with confidence.
In those days, it was popular to make a rhymes or puns, so the day (12), the month (12), and the year (Showa 12), was easily remembered, that is, Nanjing was Captured on 12/12/12. Accordingly, Mr. Suzuki is convinced that it was the 12th when he entered Zhongshan Gate (中山門). If Mr. Suzuki is right, then this means that all newspapers, battle progress reports, and so on, need to be corrected.
I ended the question concerning the 12th and 13th, and asked about his company’s banner.
– You wrote that after you entered the Castle, you put up the company’s flag in front of the Reishisha, but according to “War Note,” which was published by the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun and Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, Mr. Matsuo Kunizo (松尾邦蔵), who was your colleague, also put up the flag.
Most of the reporters who were assigned to the battle had a banner. Therefore, it was not strange that other reporters from the same company would put up the same banner. We had a banner in order to distinguish our company from competitors; even in the middle of a battle we often raised our company’s banner.
When we entered Nanjing Castle we made a rule that the reporter who entered first through whichever gate, put up our company’s banner so that subsequent reporters could find us. After we joined up, we started to find lodging that could be used as our headquarters. We raised our company’s flag at the Reishisha (励志社), which was located close to Zhongshan Gate (中山門), but the Japanese Army started searching nearby remnants, so in the evening, we moved to a deserted inn nearby.
In saying so, Mr. Suzuki showed me a photo, showing reporters of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun and Osaka Mainichi Shimbun gathered in front of the inn. In the background, on a wall, a character 旅, for “travel” was written. Forty-one reporters appeared in the picture, including Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎), Mr. Ooya Soichi (大宅壮一), and Mr. Nakagawa Norimoto (中川紀元).
On the night of the 12th or the 13th (Author’s note: his story continues on the assumption that he entered the Castle on the 12th), I saw fires here and there. I remember Mr. Fukushima Takeshiro (福島武四郎) raising a cry, “Those are fires celebrating victory!”
We were very excited that time. Excited more than I ever imagined. Joining the fighting was dangerous but I never thought of being killed. If we captured Nanjing, the war would be over, that was all I thought.
My next question was about massacres. During arguments with Yamamoto Shichihei (山本七平) doubt was cast regarding the massacre at the Zhongshan Gate (中山門). Mr. Suzuki described the Chinese soldiers who were executed at Zhongshan Gate: some of them grinned, and some of them laughed out loud.
– Mr. Yamamoto’s question was that how could you see the faces of soldiers standing on the rampart; some people, who support you, such as Mr. Suzuki, suggest that you might have seen them by climbing up the rampart, or you might have had binoculars.
I watched them from the inside of the Castle. I saw them from the ground. I didn’t climb the rampart and I didn’t use binoculars.
After midnight of the 12th, in the stage of capturing the Zhongshan Gate (中山門), all enemy soldiers on the rampart were cleared and on the 13th, Japanese troops went through the Zhongshan Gate (中山門), one after another. Naturally, it seemed that there were no enemies left on the rampart. It was not likely that Japanese soldiers would bring Chinese soldiers up the rampart, which was 25 meters high, in order to kill them. The rampart might have been partly collapsed yet had very steep sides. And under the rampart, Japanese troops continued to pour in.
– It is not easy to believe that Japanese soldiers threw Chinese soldiers down from the rampart under such circumstances.
I do not have the courage to make up a lie.
In confronting him, I did not feel as if he was intentionally lying.
– Other than the massacre you saw at the Zhongshan Gate, what else did you see with your own eyes?
Apart from the massacre at the Zhongshan Gate (中山門), I saw that survivors were killed by pickax at the entrance of the Reishisha, and—I don’t remember the place—I saw a corporal showing other soldiers, “When you want to kill, do it like this,” and he killed Chinese soldiers. These three occasions were all that I saw with my own eyes.
– You wrote that you saw burning bodies in a trench.
These could be suggestions of a massacre. Other suggestions of a massacre were piled up bodies found at Guanghua Gate (光華門) and the bodies at Xiaguan (下関).
– As for the bodies at Guanghua Gate (光華門) it is argued that there were no bodies.
Surely there were bodies, as tanks were running over the bodies. I can’t confirm the place but I think it was Guanghua Gate (光華門).
I’ll tell you one thing: several years ago, an imperial soldier, Mr. Tsuchiya, who lived in Tokorozawa, visited me. Mr. Tsuchiya also entered the Castle through Guanghua Gate and he said he saw no bodies at Guanghua Gate, and wanted to make sure if I really saw bodies. I think Mr. Tsuchiya entered the Castle a little later. When he entered the Castle, the bodies must have been cleared already.
– Were they cleared by Japanese soldiers?
I think so, though I didn’t see for myself.
– As for the bodies in Xiaguan (下関), did you see the moment when they were killed?
No. What I saw was bodies. More than 1,000.
– The bodies in the trench were not battle dead but burned bodies?
They had been burned with gasoline. All of these incidents may not necessarily mean that a massacre occurred, but such a conclusion is the fate of the defeated nation; we lost the war so it became a “massacre”.
As I was embedded with the troops, I became very familiar with their situation: if you don’t kill, you will be killed. The soldiers were in the highest level of alertness. So, I can understand that they killed Chinese soldiers. In addition, escaped Chinese soldiers turned into plain-clothed soldiers or guerrillas. Before reaching Nanjing, the Japanese soldiers saw a number of their comrades killed in creeks during enemy-held river crossing operations. So, killing Chinese soldiers was a matter of due course.
– Did you see all areas of Nanjing?
I didn’t see all of it. Mostly around Zhongshan Gate (中山門) and Yi Jiang Gate.
– How many total victims of a massacre were there, from which you saw on Zhongshan Gate (中山門), at the Reishisha, and the killing by the corporal?
I don’t know have a clear idea; several for each. The scenes of their acts are imprinted in my mind.
– How many massacres, do you think, happened in Nanjing?
I cannot say how many because I didn’t see them with my own eyes. I don’t know.
– It is said that 200,000 or 300,000 were massacred.
I think no Japanese could know the entire amount. At best, a commander would know casualties numbers for which he was responsible. If you ask the commanders today, they would not be able to tell you the numbers.
The figure of “hundreds of thousands” was stated at the Far East Military Tribunal. Mr. Hora Tomio (洞富雄), a former professor at Waseda University, gave the number based on the Tribunal’s report.
– Next, I’d like to hear the story of 100-killing contest.
Among the three news articles, I was only involved with the last article. As I was heading for Nanjing, I met Mr. Asami Kazuo (浅海一雄), who wrote the article. Mr. Asami told me that: there are two such persons and if you meet them on the way to Nanjing, ask them how many they killed. Thus, I wrote the article. I didn’t know the whole story.
– When you heard the story from the two, did you believe it was true?
They said they would not kill Chinese soldiers if they ran away. I believed that was true. After the War, Second Lieutenant Noda Iwao (野田巌) told a story in which he tricked Chinese soldiers in a trench, calling out “Ni, lai lai!” As the Chinese soldiers came out of the trench, he killed them. When I heard the story, I felt betrayed.
– Did you see with your eyes that they killed at least one person?
I didn’t see anything. I was so busy that I did not follow them. I was focused about sending an article on the First to Capture Nanjing, by staying as near to the front line as possible.
– In the column, “Anonymous Monthly Critic of Newspapers,” which appeared in the February issue of the magazine Bungei Shunju (文藝春秋), it reads:
“– Pulled up a sword from its sheath, he rushed to the trench where Chinese army soldiers were hiding. Then, slash! Makko-karatake-wari! Two pieces apart! – According to an article in a newspaper, the head was cut into two pieces! This sounds like the narration of a drama. War is not a theatrical story!”
– As stated above, they implicitly criticized the 100-killing contest story as fictional.
I had no other choice but to believe their story, which they boasted of so proudly. What I was thinking then that I just wanted to hear the numbers they killed.
– At first the article was written by reporter Asami, but someone who knew Asami then, said that it might be fictional.
We made no fictional stories for the special issue. But I don’t know about Mr. Asami. It was not only the 100-killing contest, but there were many other inspiring military stories with fictional components, like the Three Bomb Heroes.
I met Mr. Asami for the first time in 30 years at an off-site party for the Mainichi Shimbun’s social news department. At first I didn’t recognize him. Someone was looking at me with a grin. Who is he, I wondered. It was Mr. Asami.
The interview lasted over an hour. We made the other relax at times, making a joke or two.
In 1946, Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎) visited the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) at Ichigaya for 40 days, as a witness to the 100-killing contest. As a witness for the prosecution, his statement was taken by the British prosecutor.
“I clearly told the prosecutor the 100-killing was not a massacre.” Thus, Mr. Suzuki was not needed for further testimony.
At the Tokyo Trial this issue was dropped. However, in Nanjing, the news article was adopted as evidence and two Japanese soldiers were executed based on the article.
“I have done whatever I could do after the two soldiers were sent to China. I want to add this: that, after the War, I found that Second Lieutenant Mukai Toshiaki (向井敏明) was remarried by a chance due to the article and the Second Lieutenant Noda became famous because of the article.”
As stated earlier, Mr. Suzuki got involved in the massacre debate shortly after the War, when he worked in Sapporo as an executive of a subsidiary of the Mainichi Shimbun. He was told by his employee that his article raised controversy. Then he received a phone call from the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho (週刊新潮). Without his knowledge, the dispute started.
“I was upset when I was told that I wrote a lie. I couldn’t stand it as a person making a living by the pen at the Mainichi Shimbun. But at that time, I was not given a chance to protest. I was an honorable, lifelong reporter and I wrote my statement in our company magazine.”
Before I left his house, I confirmed with Mr. Suzuki that:
He watched a so-called massacre at Zhongshan Gate (中山門), at the entrance of the Reishisha (励志社), and at an unnamed place in which a corporal killed Chinese soldiers. Also, he saw what could have been a massacre in Xiaguan (下関) and in a trench, at a place assumed to be Guanghua Gate (光華門).
The number of victims were: “more than 1,000” in Xiaguan, “many” at Guanghua Gate and others places, where the exact number is not known but there were “several” killed. Also, he does not know how many people were massacred in all of Nanjing.
When I went over these Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木次郎) confirmed these things with a “yes.”