The Nanjing Incident: Japanese Eyewitness Accounts Testimony from 48 Japanese Who Were There
By Ara Kenichi,
The Nanjing Incident: Japanese Eyewitness Accounts
-Testimony from 48 Japanese Who Were There-
Translated by Maya Grohn
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact©
Copyright ©2002 by Ara Ken’ichi.
Originally published as Nankinjiken : Nihonjin jyuhachinin no shogen by Shogakukan Inc., Tokyo, Japan 2002. English language copyright ©2020 by Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. All rights reserved, including the rights of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Japanese personal names have been rendered surname first, in accordance with Japanese custom.
On July 7, 1937, the Japanese army held a nighttime training exercise near the Marco Polo Bridge, which was located in a suburb of Beijing. Suddenly, they were shot at. The Japanese army determined that a Chinese army unit was shooting at them and immediate talks were held.
Both sides continuously negotiated. Nevertheless, small-scale skirmishes continued, and fighting escalated such that on July 27, three Japanese army divisions were dispatched to the Beijing area.
At the time, the largest number of Japanese residents in China was in Shanghai. While fighting in Beijing continued, outbursts of violence erupted in Shanghai. There were Japanese factories in Shanghai and the Japanese Naval Landing Forces protected factories and Japanese residents. As the days wore on, Shanghai grew more and more dangerous.
On August 9, Lieutenant Junior Grade Oyama Isao of the Japanese Naval Landing Forces was shot to death. On the 13th, Naval Landing Forces and the Chinese Nationalist Army clashed. The Chinese Army force was several times larger than the Naval Landing Forces, meaning that Japanese people in China were in serious danger. As a matter of fact, on July 29, in Tongzhou (通州), east of Beijing, 223 Japanese citizens were massacred– this is known as the Tongzhou Incident.
The Shanghai Expeditionary Army was formed and dispatched to Shanghai. General Matsui Iwane, who was renowned for his knowledge of China, was assigned as the Commander of the Army.
The Chinese Army, which built their positions over a period of years, was equipped with German weapons and trained by the German Army. Powerful military units awaited the arrival of the Japanese Army. The Shanghai Expeditionary Army landed on August 23 and a fierce battle began. The Japanese Army fought hard but after a couple of months, they were unable to control Shanghai. Japanese Army casualties were mounting.
On November 5, the Japanese 10th Army, which was newly organized, landed at Hangzhou Bay in order to attack the Chinese Army from the rear. Attacked from behind, the Chinese Army panicked and routed.
The 10th Army, which had just landed and not spent much time in action, thought the best course would be to pursue the routed enemy, advance to attack the capital city of Nanjing, and then offer peace terms. They submitted their plan and began to pursue the routed enemy. Soon, the Shanghai Expeditionary Army controlled Shanghai and submitted a similar plan as well.
On December 1, General Staff Headquarters issued the order to attack Nanjing. In order to direct both the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and the 10th Army, the Central China Area Army was organized and General Matsui was appointed as commander. For the Nanjing attack, the number of Japanese army soldiers was about 70,000 to 80,000.
At first, the capture of Nanjing was estimated to take place in the middle of January 1938 but pursuit by the Japanese Army was so rapid that on December 10, 1937 the 36th Regiment (originating from Sabae, Fukui Prefecture), plunged through Guanghua Gate (光華門) Gate, and in the afternoon of December 12, the 47th Regiment (from Oita Prefecture) set up ladders and started to scale the wall of Nanjing Castle.
On the evening of December 12, the Chinese Army was given the order to retreat. Since avenues of escape were covered by Japanese troops, numerous soldiers removed their military uniforms and ran into a refugee area (a so-called “safety zone”).
On December 13, Japanese troops advanced into Nanjing Castle and started to sweep the Castle for enemy troops. The sweep continued until the 16th. On the 17th, an entrance ceremony, headed by General Matsui, was performed and the next day a memorial service was performed.
After the memorial service was completed, General Matsui returned to Shanghai on December 22. After that the, the 16th Division of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army garrisoned Nanjing until the end of January 1938.
As for casualties incurred between the battle of Shanghai and the Nanjing attack, according to the diary of General Matsui, the highest ranking commander of the Japanese Army in China, Japanese Army casualties were 24,000 and according to the military record of Senior General (上将) He Yingin (何応欽), who was the military governor of the Chinese Nationalist Army, 33,000 Chinese Army soldiers were killed.
Most of the Japanese Army casualties, unexpectedly high, resulted from fighting in Shanghai. Thereafter, the Japanese Army was locked in China for the next 8 years. The beginning of a long war started with a huge number of casualties.
In December 1937, when Nanjing was captured, what happened then and there?
Nine years later, we Japanese were informed at the Tokyo Trials, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, that atrocities were committed by the Japanese Army in Nanjing.
The Tokyo Trials alleged that between December 13, 1937, when the Japanese Army entered Nanjing, and the end of January 1938, a number of assaults, rapes, plundering and arson were repeatedly committed by the Japanese Army. The victims of a massacre were said to be between 100,000 to 200,000. They claimed General Matsui, the highest ranking commander, did not take reasonable measures to prevent crimes and sentenced him to death by hanging. Hirota Koki, the foreign minister at the time, was also accused of allowing the Nanjing Incident, and other charges, and was executed by hanging as well.
When we were informed about this issue, we were under American occupation, starving and struggling to survive, so we did not give much thought about this issue.
Since then, decades passed. Did the atrocities which caused hundreds and thousands victims really happen? Were they any different from incidents that are commonly seen in battlefields? What happened really? Why don’t we ask our people who were in Nanjing at the time? They were there at that time–they could tell us what happened really. Any Japanese with common sense would come to this conclusion.
What Japanese were in Nanjing at the time?
Needless to say, first and foremost, Japanese soldiers. Those who could explore and broadly examine Nanjing and understand the situation in Nanjing were not lower ranking soldiers but senior officers. Second, not only were the military in Nanjing, but more than 200 journalists entered Nanjing to report Nanjing’s capture. Third, diplomats were in Nanjing in order to perform administrative duties and provide security after the occupation–they too must have had good knowledge concerning the situation in Nanjing.
The current author thought that these peoples’ observations would be reliable. I found 67 persons who were in Nanjing and were still alive and got in contact with them. The period of contact was from 1984 to 1986.
At that time, almost half a century had passed since 1937. Among the 67 persons I identified, I listened to the stories of 35 and corresponded with 11 by mail. I was unable to communicate with the rest, as most were unfortunately ill.
Those people with whom I could meet and listen to were not necessarily knowledgeable about Nanjing then, or what happened then. Some were very knowledgeable about some areas, but knew nothing about other areas. Some visited certain places and nowhere else. Nonetheless, by fixing their statements together, like a jigsaw puzzle, you will get a picture of Nanjing at that time.
Among the 35 interviewees, I met with some only once and some ten times, but, in general, I met with them 3 times, twice to listen, and once to check my manuscript. For accuracy, I asked them to check the manuscript before publication—not just their stories but the entire manuscript.
I got approvals from half of them, a quarter of them asked me to change wording and correct misunderstandings, and another quarter asked me to rewrite everything, based on their instructions.
In 1987, I concluded all editing and published the book “Nanjing Incident – they told us” “聞き書き 南京事件” , published by Tosho Shuppansha.
Since then, 15 years has passed. The book went out of print. But in 2002, newly titled, it was reprinted by Shogakukan Bunko, with an introduction by Ms. Sakurai Yoshiko, a well-known journalist.
The first book was 300 pages, published in a 79 x 109 mm format. For this new edition, I wanted to add a statement by Mr. Minami Masayoshi, who told me to withhold his statement for a while because it might have a negative effect on current friendly relations between China and Japan, and statements by Mr. Isayama Haruki and Mr. Otsuki Akira, who gave me their statements after publication of the first book.
If these additional statements were included in the new edition, then the number of pages would be too much for a bunko (paperback) edition, so I had to cut out some text not directly related with Nanjing, including background information of the interviewees. Eventually, I managed to include all 48 statements into the bunko edition.
Most of them were born during the Meiji era, the generation of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. From their statements we will vividly see what happened, or what did not happen, at the time of December 1937 in Nanjing. I believe the truth lies in their statements.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Nanjing, as Observed by Journalists
1. Asahi Shimbun Newspaper
1) Mr. Yamamoto Osamu (山本治), Staff, Shanghai Branch of Osaka Asahi Shimbun
2) Mr. Adachi Kazuo (足立和雄,), Reporter, Tokyo Asahi Shimbun
3) Mr. Hashimoto Tomisaburo (橋本富三郎), Vice-chief, Shanghai Branch of Asahi Shimbun
2. Mainichi Shimbun Newspaper
4) Mr. Kanazawa Yoshio（金沢喜雄,）Photographer, Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
5) Mr. Sato Shinju (佐藤振寿), Photographer, Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
6) Mr. Goto Kosaku (五島広作), Reporter, Osaka Mainichi Shimbun
7) Mr. Suzuki Jiro (鈴木二郎), Reporter, Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
3. Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
8) Mr. Futamura Jiro (二村次郎), Photographer, Hochi Shimbun Newspaper
9) Mr. Taguchi Risuke (田口利介), Reporter, Hochi Shimbun Newspaper
10) Mr. Higuchi Tetsuo (樋口哲雄), Film Operator, Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
11) Mr. Mori Hiroshi (森博), Photographer, Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
4. Domei Tsushin News Agency
12) Mr. Arai Masayoshi (新井正義), Reporter, Domei Tsushin
13) Mr. Asai Tatsuzo (浅井達三), Photographer, Domei Tsushin
14) Mr. Hosonami Takashi (細波孝), Radio Operator, Domei Tsushin
5. Other Newspapers
15) Mr. Minami Masayoshi (南正義), Reporter, Shin-Aichi Shimbun
16) Mr. Mitoma Mikinosuke (三苫幹之介), Reporter, Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun
17) Mr. Koike Shuyo (小池秋羊), Reporter, Miyako Shimbun
18) Mr. Yauchi Shogoro (箭内正五郎), Reporter, Fukushima Minpo
Chapter 2 Nanjing, as Observed by Japanese Soldiers
1. The Army
19) Major Yoshinaga Sunao (吉永朴), Staff Officer, 10th Army
20) Major Okada Yuji (岡田酉次), Staff Officer, Special Duty Department
of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army
21) Captain Onishi Hajime (大西一), Staff Officer, Shanghai Expeditionary Army
22) Mr. Okada Takashi (岡田尚), Attached to General Matsui
23) Colonel Tanida Isamu (谷田勇), Staff Officer, 10th Army
24) Captain Kaneko Rinsuke (金子倫助), Staff Officer, 10th Army
25) Mr. Okada Yoshimasa (岡田芳政), Officer of Planning Board
26) Colonel Isayama Haruki (諌山春樹), Chief of General Affairs, General Staff Headquarters
27) Major Otsuki Akira (大槻章), Officer, Military Formation Team of Military Affairs Section of the Military Affairs Bureau, the Ministry of the Army
28) Colonel Mikuni Naofuku (三国直福), 22nd Regiment Commander, Field Artillery
2. The Navy
29) Lieutenant Commander Terasaki Takaharu (寺崎隆治), Captain of the Gunboat Seta
30) Commander Doi Shinji (土井申二), Captain of the Gunboat Hira
31) Lieutenant Shigemura Minoru (重村実), Member of Press Bureau, Shanghai Military Office in the Navy
32) Lieutenant Commander Genda Minoru (源田実), Staff Officer, 2nd Combined Air Group
Chapter 3 Nanjing, as Observed by Painters and Photographers
33) Mr. Sumitani Iwane (住谷磐根), Painter and Naval Correspondent
34) Mr. Watanabe Yoshio (渡辺義雄), Photographer, Information Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
35) Mr. Koyanagi Jiichi (小柳次一), Member of the Press Corps, Japanese Army
Chapter 4 Nanjing, as Observed by Diplomats
36) Mr. Eiichi Iwai (岩井英一), Assistant Consulate
37) Mr. Kasuya Yoshio (粕谷孝夫), Assistant Consulate
38) Major Yoshikawa Takeshi (吉川猛,), Staff Officer, Central China Area Army
39) Lieutenant Colonel Terada Masao (寺田雅雄), Staff Officer, 10th Army
40) Captain Sento Shunzo (仙頭俊三), Staff Officer, 10th Army
41) Lieutenant Colonel Goto Mitsuzo (後藤光蔵,), Chamberlain Military Officer
42) Captain Okamura Tekizo (岡村適三), Shanghai Military Police
43) Mr. Horikawa Takeo (堀川武夫), Reporter, Domei Tsushin
44) Mr. Fujimoto Kame (藤本亀), Reporter, Asahi Shimbun
45) Mr. Asami Kazuo (浅海一男), Reporter, Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
46) Mr. Nishino Gen (西野源), Reporter, Osaka Mainichi Shimbun
47) Mr. Otani Kosho (大谷光照), the Chief Abbot of Nishi-Honganji Temple
48) Mr. Ishikawa Tatsuzo (石川達三), Novelist and War Correspondent
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), 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 Nanjing 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, I heard 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 Nanjing 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.
– 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.
– 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.
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)
– 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”.
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)
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.
– 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 Nanjing 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.”
3. Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
8) Interview with Mr. Futamura Jiro (二村次郎), Photographer for the Hochi Shimbun Newspaper (Yomiuri Group newspaper)
With the outbreak of the China Incident, the major newspaper companies dispatched their reporters and photographers to the battlefield; the Hochi Shimbun (Yomiuri group newspaper) followed as well. At the time, the Shanghai branch of the Hochi Shimbun had only three members, including Chief Hyakutake (百武), and this was insufficient, so the Hochi Shimbun sent five reporters and photographers first, with the outbreak of the Shanghai Incident; then two additional reporters were dispatched to Shanghai. And on September 5, 1937, the third reinforcement arrived, that is, photographer Mr. Futamura Jiro.
Mr. Futamura joined Hochi Shimbun at the age of 16, starting as a flush-operator, and when he was dispatched to Shanghai, he was still 22 years old, the youngest in the photograph department. Like Robert Capa, who took pictures of the Spanish Civil War, war photography was a most challenging job so he was envied by colleagues. He followed numerous battles, including Zhabei (閘北), Dachang Town (大場鎮), and Zoumatang (走馬塘). On November 11, 1937, the Japanese Army took control of Shanghai. The Japanese Army moved to Nanjing and Mr. Futamura followed the Army.
Mr. Futamura stayed in Shanghai until the end of March 1938 and then returned to Tokyo. In June, he was recruited by the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun. He kept his position at the Mainichi Shimbun after the War, publishing numerous photos and eventually opened his own studio.
I interviewed Mr. Futamura in April 1986, when cherry trees were full of bloom, at his studio in Shibuya, Tokyo. Mr. Futamura showed me his last remaining album, which narrowly escaped destruction by American air raids during the War, as well as articles concerning the so-called Nanjing Massacre published by Asahi Shimbun.
Mr. Futamura told me that he had nearly forgotten about the Nanjing issue but a decade ago, Mr. Suzuki Akira, who wrote the book, “Illusion of the Nanjing Massacre” (南京大虐殺の幻) (Nankin daigyakusatsu no maboroshi), visited him and informed him that the Nanjing issue became a subject of public discussion. Since then, he has followed every and any discussion concerning the Nanjing Incident and kept an article, ‘Wanrenkeng’ (万人坑), published by the Asahi Shimbun several years ago.
– What route did you take when you moved from Shanghai to Nanjing?
At first, I walked on the railway tracks to Kunshan (崑山); needless to say, there were no trains. I didn’t follow any particular group of soldiers. Then I went to Suzhou (蘇州), where I took pictures of the troops entering the fortress. Suzhou was a big city and the pictures of the troops entering the fortress made headlines, so we sent the photos to Shanghai immediately. Magara Akinori (真柄秋徳), the head of the photo section of the Hochi Shimbun and photographer Miyakawa Katsumi (宮川克己), and Suzuki Jiro (鈴木二郎), a reporter from the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, and I, started for Shanghai.
The regimental commander, Fujii Sueyoshi (藤井末吉), I don’t remember his name very well, came up to me and said, “We could have taken the area sooner, as the enemy was asleep, but now they are awake, so your journey will be very dangerous. Take these.” And he handed us weapons. We knew that they could not spare any soldiers to protect us. The weapons we received were those captured from the Chinese army. I was given a light machine gun and the other three were given infantry rifles. I didn’t know even how to shoot so I was told to try it out first. When I shot it, I fell on my butt from its recoil. I was far from hitting the target but just having the weapon might be useful, so I carried it and headed for Kunshan.
Our luggage was carried by several coolies.
When we arrived at Kunshan there was a car waiting me, which was arranged by our company Hochi, so I took the car, leaving the other three and went back to Shanghai.
We were comrades in the battlefield but, in the end, as journalist we were competitors, so I didn’t offer them a ride. I think rides were already arranged for them as well.
– Did you head for Nanjing from Shanghai again?
Yes, of course. Reporters wrote their articles later but photos cannot wait. You must be there at the right moment. I departed right away, alone. I went to Wu-xi (無錫 ) and as far I remember, delivered my photos to Shanghai as well. After that, I decided to follow any group of soldiers and departed Shanghai for the third time–I met the 47th Regiment of the 6th Division. I was born in Oita, Kyushu, and this Regiment was the “Oita Regiment,” so I decided to follow the Regiment.
– According to my knowledge, the 47th Regiment suffered from cholera and stayed in Jiashan (嘉善) for a while.
Did it? I don’t remember that at all. Maybe I joined them after the cholera incident. I was with the 47th Regiment for a week before we arrived in Nanjing.
I moved with Regimental headquarters but later went to the front line in order to take good photos. As a matter of fact there was food at headquarters and they generously gave me their portions. But when I moved to the front, I had to find food for myself. Soon, my stock ran out and I had to eat the last of my stock, a pickled plum. I put it in my mouth and found that it was not pickled plum but candy plum. After that, I entered a nearby farmhouse and took some food. I think other solders had done the same.
– Did you move with other photographers?
For a while, I moved with Ishii Kiyoshi (石井清), a Mainich Shimbun photographer, but we separated thereafter, so later I was alone most of the time.
I heard that photographer Konoyama Kunio (此山国雄) of the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun, had been accidentally shot by a Japanese soldier at Zhonghua Gate (中華門)—I was in the area as well–because he wore a Chinese soldier’s steel helmet. In those days, Chinese soldiers hid in farms in the area, so using the enemy’s helmet made no sense. But in any event, his death should be regarded as war-related.
– It was the 47th Regiment who first put up the hinomaru flag over the fortress, wasn’t it?
Yes, it was. They climbed the rampart of Zhonghua Gate to attack and, being with the first wave, I took pictures. Actually, it was not easy to follow the first wave. Taking the best shot of capturing the castle at the right moment was quite a rare opportunity so we usually made the soldiers pose again, for a good shot.
– When did you enter the castle?
I remember that the 47th Regiment climbed over the captured rampart. It was either the 12th or 13th.
– What did you see in the Castle?
No Chinese there. I separated from the 47th Regiment and moved alone. Our Hochi Shimbun reporters moved to Nanjing separately so I tried to find my colleagues to make a temporary Hochi office and pictures of capture of the rampart were carried by airplane to Shanghai.
– Where did you make your temporary office?
I don’t remember. What I remember was, the Hochi brought staff from Japan who handled carrier pigeons.
– Have you heard about the so-called Nanjing Massacre?
During my stay in Nanjing, I never saw anything like that at all. After the War, people often asked me about this but I have no memory about it. For sure, I would want to know about this. Unlike Auschwitz, there was no designated place to kill people. It was the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) when I heard about this for the first time after the War. I thought very deeply and I remember that I saw a huge hole inside the Castle.
– When did you see this?
It was shortly after I entered the Castle. It was a rectangular hole, 20 to 30 meters long, more than 1 meter depth–it looked new. It was not located in the housing area but in the fields.
– Who made the hole, Japanese or Chinese soldiers?
I don’t know. When I heard about Nanjing Massacre I felt that the hole might have been somehow related. But this is just my guess; I know nothing about it.
– Did you go back later to check?
I was not concerned at all that time, so it never occurred to me to check again. After the War, there were claims about the Nanjing massacre so I tried to remember anything, and I finally remembered that hole.
– Someone said prisoners-of-war were killed.
I saw prisoners walking–they were tied up in rows. It was daytime.
– Did you mention this with others in your office?
In the middle of battle, I watched one or two war prisoners being killed. We reporters saw those things but it did not become a topic in particular. You might just call them prisoners but prisoners could turn to be enemy at anytime. And, practically it was impossible to bring prisoners with us. We could not move with them. Several hundred prisoners I saw in Nanjing might have been killed because we did not enough foods for them. If you can find the soldiers who led those prisoners, you might be able to find something about so-called Nanjing Massacre.
– How about civilians?
I don’t believe Japanese soldiers had done any wrong with them.
– Did you not see bodies in Nanjing?
I saw almost nothing. Had I seen hundreds of bodies, I would not have forgotten. But for the Yangtze River, I heard many reporters saying they saw countless bodies floating in the river.
– Was this the so-called massacre?
They were not massacred–but the number of bodies was large so they might have mentioned this, I think.
– What places did you visit in Nanjing?
I visited the Yangtze River myself but what I saw with my own eyes were one or two bodies. I visited a depository which kept goods of abandoned property. There were huge buildings and the inside was ransacked. Chinese soldiers or Japanese soldiers–I don’t know who did it–anyway, no valuables were left.
I visited the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (中山陵), of which I have still pictures, together with my colleagues from the Hochi Shimubun. There were hundreds of stone steps and the journey took a whole day. I remember that there were Japanese soldiers acting outrageously, throwing papers into a room and setting it on fire. So all of us had to carry water to put out the fire.
Also I visited buildings of the Nationalist Party’s Government and took a picture of the Japanese flag being hoisted there.
– Did you take pictures of the two ceremonies, the triumphant entry and memorial service?
Yes, I did. The memorial service was especially impressive. At the time, it was not easy to get near Commander General Matsui but I was able to take close-up photos of him. I remember that I was trembling because I was so nervous, to see him so close.
Commander General Matsui Iwane, full of tears, mourned the dead and I found myself crying as well. Even now, I have not forgotten the feeling.
– Were you back to Shanghai soon after the memorial service?
Maybe I stayed Nanjing for a couple of days. We returned to Shanghai by car, and the car fell into a rice paddy but luckily nobody was injured at all.
– Did you stay in Shanghai after that?
After I returned to Shanghai, I went to Hangzhou (杭州). After the New Year, in January or February 1938, I went to Nanjing in order to take the Tianjin-Pukou line (津浦線).
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
There were no Chinese soldiers and the town was quiet. Regarding Japanese soldiers, only sentries were posted. I went to the Tianjin-Pukou line and stayed for a while, since the Xuzhou (徐州) Operation was going to start, but there was no progress with the operation, so I came back to Shanghai and later returned to Tokyo. I arrived in Tokyo on April 1.
Thinking back those days, I feel strange – we didn’t know how or when we will die. During the battle of Somatou (走馬塘 ), I took pictures at the front and came back in one piece. But my backpack, which I left in a shelter, was hit by a bomb. Later, in Tokyo, my backpack was exhibited to the public as a backpack carried by a war correspondent, as well as my light machine gun, as I previously mentioned.
Mr. Iwakura Tomomasa (岩倉具方) (painter and the third son of Duke Iwakura), who joined the Navy as an artist/reporter for the Hochi Shimbun, was a very quiet person. He said that he would never go to out to a battlefield because he was really afraid and never left Shanghai. However, the Chinese army bombarded Shanghai, and Mr. Iwakura, who lived on Woosung Road (呉松路), where many Japanese lived and a supposedly safe place took a direct hit by a bomb. I think he was the first reporter casualty in Shanghai. At the time, I thought we would die wherever we were, in a town or on the battlefield, when the time came.
9) Interview with Mr. Taguchi Risuke (田口利介), Reporter for the Hochi Shimbun Newspaper
On August 13, 1937, at the outbreak of the Shanghai Incident, Mr. Taguchi Risuke was a reporter from the social department of the Hochi Shimbun and was assigned to the Ministry of the Navy. At that time, 7,000 Japanese citizens lived in Shanghai, and in order to protect them, 4,000 members of Imperial Japanese Navy Landing Forces stood up against 30,000 Chinese troops. Accordingly, the Kuroshio-kai (黒潮会), a reporters’ association which was assigned to the Ministry of the Navy, reporters were sent to Shanghai, from the Domei Tsushin, Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, and Hochi newspapers. Reporters sent were Mr. Taguchi from the Hochi and Mr. Hayashi (林謙一) from the Mainichi. Mr. Hayashi Kenichi , later wrote “Ohan-han,” which became a popular TV program. They left Tokyo on September 12. Mr. Taguchi was 26 years old.
When they arrived in Shanghai, the Japanese Army had just arrived at Kunda (公太) Airfield as well. Thereafter, they attacked Nanjing from September 19 to 25, with a total of 300 airplanes, 11 times. The Nanjing air-raid was internationally condemned.
– Did you go to Shanghai to report on naval activity?
Yes. Ten days after the attack, the Imperial Japanese Navy Landing Forces defended Headquarters at all cost, and when we arrived in Shanghai, they confronted the Chinese Army at North Sichuan Road (北四川路).
Military artist Iwakura Tomomasa (岩倉具方) (Duke Iwakura’s son and Tomomi Iwakura’s great-grandson) from the Hochi Shimbun, took a mortar round to the head as walked in the International Settlement. He died on October 14.
He was indeed dedicated to the Navy, so I asked the Navy to spare a couple of sailors for his cremation. I guessed that the Landing Forces or its press section did not have any sailors on hand, so I went to the Third Fleet. “We do not have anyone available for such purpose,” they simply told me. They didn’t care for war correspondents or military artists at all. After we died, we were nothing to them; chilly. So, in the early morning, we placed Mr. Iwakura’s body into a coffin, which the Japanese residents’ society prepared, and went to a mulberry field near the airfield, and two persons, a Chinese and a driver, burned the coffin with petroleum.
– The fighting by the Landing Forces was over with the battle of Zhabei (閘北), is that correct?
While the Landing Forces won the battle of Zhabei, the Japanese Army also won the battle of Dachang (大場鎮). After that, the main force shifted to the Army. So I began reporting news mainly on the Army.
A number of creeks and lakes dotted the suburbs of Shanghai and the Chinese military used them to build their pillboxes. Chiang Kai-shek called it the “Von Seeckt Line”. German commander von Seeckt used these creeks to build a solid defensive line connected to Suzhou (蘇州), which was regarded as firm as the Maginot Line. Japanese Naval Aviation had command of the air but it was not easy to defeat the Chinese.
– When you went to Nanjing, you followed Japanese Army troops?
The Shanghai Expeditionary Army attacked from both directions, against Kunshan (昆山) and Suzhou (蘇州). We followed, but not with any particular unit. While we moved to Suzhou and Wu-xi (無錫), we came across the 16th Division and after that we followed the 16th Division. We continued to move to Changzhou (常州), then Danyang (丹陽), and I wrote several stories about Colonel Katagiri (片桐), the Commander of the 9th Regiment.
In those days, I traveled by jeep and delivered my reports to Shanghai by jeep. But as we got closer to Nanjing, we found that the Chinese military had burned down a bridge before they disappeared, so our jeep could not go any further, and that report became my last article.
– Did you move with divisional Headquarters?
I moved at the company level, so I didn’t know anyone such as the Division Commander or his staff officers.
On either December 8 or 9, we were at, if my memory is correct, Jiangsu (句容) – several consoling visitors from the House of Representatives came to Headquarters and left Japanese sake for Prince Asakanomiya. That night, a staff officer, a lieutenant colonel, in the Asakanomiya Army, brought the sake to us. We lit a candle in a small box, trying not to leak the light out, and sipped the sake. “The Prince doesn’t experience hardships – it is you, reporters, who face the hoary front, who deserve the sake,” said the lieutenant colonel. I think then that the lieutenant colonel acted like yakuza or a gangster. His name was Lieutenant Colonel Cho Isamu (長勇), who later committed harakiri (suicide) at the battle of Okinawa. This well describes his character.
– Did you move with Staff Officer Cho (長) after that?
No. I met him only once, that night.
The next day, I went to a place called Kirinmon (麒麟門). It was called mon (gate) but it was not one of Nanjing Castle’s gate. The place I stayed at hardly looked like a village–it was just a cluster of several houses, where the front-line company was deployed. Nanjing Castle stood firmly despite Japanese field gun attacks. We spent 3 to 4 days there.
Incidentally, this is after the fact–at around the same time when we were there, the Mainichi Shimbun printed a special edition on the start of the attack on Nanjing Castle. I heard about this after I returned to Shanghai. “What have you been doing?” the desk yelled at me. But in fact, the Japanese military just reached Nanjing Castle!
Back to the story at Kirinmon–in the middle of night, a voice suddenly awakened me, “Okinto yakemasse–wake up or you will be burned!” in a Kyoto dialect that sounded somewhat peaceful to my sleepy head. At first I didn’t understand what had happened. The next moment, my eyes caught scarlet fire past the windows. It was unlike the situation of yakemasse, like a baked potato, so I rushed out of our lodging immediately. The battle had started.
Several days like that passed. Then one morning, when I got up, I realized that there were no more sounds of shooting. Nanjing fell that day.
Just over one night the world had completely changed. I entered Nanjing that day. What I only had in my rucksack then was a handful rice and three dried sardines.
– Did you enter from Zhongshan Gate (中山門)?
Yes. There were a lot of sandbags clogged up the inside the gate. Those sandbags had been partially removed before I entered so I climbed up. The inside of the Castle was quiet, no sound of guns. I felt strange–only a short while ago we had been surrounded by noisy gunfire.
Zhongshan Gate led to a big street, Zhongshan East Road (中山東路,), where I saw nothing, not even a kitten. Walking along the deserted street, I found buildings of the Nationalist Party’s Government. I entered and was surprised to see that it remained intact, as if Chiang Kai-shek was there. On his desk were pencils, pens and other things, as if he were ready to go to work. I heard he had escaped around December 7 – it seemed that he in fact ran away in a hurry.
What I found next was a bidet in the bathroom. At first, I wondered what it was, but then I realized that this was bidet. I had heard of bidets but it was the first time I actually saw one.
– What was it like inside Nanjing Castle?
I saw just 2 or 3 bodies. I heard that the Chinese Military fled from Xiaguan (下関), so I visited Xiaguan. Xiaguan was a harbor town along Yangtze River. To reach it, you have a lot of choices of gates to go through–I didn’t know which gate they used.
I found nothing at Xiaguan. Maybe it was because they had long since fled.
– Did you find anything impressive in Nanjing?
One day, I visited the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (中山陵 ) at Mt. Zijin (紫禁山). I climbed up more than 300 spacious, gentle steps made with white granite. The Sun-Yat-sen Mausoleum looked magnificent. Incredibly, I saw no traces of gunfire there and felt relieved.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing.
I never heard of that then–nobody mentioned such a thing.
– Did the 16th Division keep discipline?
As far as I saw, there were no big problems. Except on the way to Nanjing, a sergeant from the 16th Division declared that he would kill 100 Chinese with his sword on the way to Nanjing. I don’t know if he actually did that. He said he would do it to avenge his comrades and it was said that whenever he met Chinese he used his sword to kill them. It was said that he killed not only uniformed Chinese soldiers but also ben-i, plain-clothed soldiers.
– What did other soldiers think of him?
I am sure that no one else thought that this was good. In war, it is kill or be killed, nothing more. The sergeant was obsessed by the idea of revenge but I felt he was somewhat of a coward.
– It is said that Staff Officer Cho Isamu, as you previously mentioned, ordered his solders to do this.
I don’t know. I met Staff Officer Cho just once. But from my naval reporter’s point of view, generally speaking, I felt that those army Staff Officers didn’t care much for orders coming from above. Lieutenant General Sato Kenryo (佐藤賢了) and Lieutenant General Tominaga Kyoji (富永恭次) were the typical. Cho Isamu (長勇) was one of them, I think.
– How long were you in Nanjing?
Until the entrance ceremony. I didn’t know anything about the memorial service for the next day. I heard about it later.
– When did you come to know about Nanjing-Incident?
Recently. I read a book written by Mr. Maeda Yuji (前田雄二), a Domei Tsushin reporter. In his book, he said he saw bodies at Xiaguan, but when I went there, I found no bodies.
On the other hand, one of my colleagues, Mr. Iwata Iwaji (岩田岩二), a Navy reporter who later came to Nanjing by gunboat, said that he saw many bodies floating in the Yangtze River as the boat got close to Nanjing. But whether this was due to a massacre or not, I was not sure at the time.
– The Nanjing Incident was an agenda item at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE). Did you know that?
I was drafted in 1943 and went to Harbin (哈爾濱), serving in the Special Duty Organization. As the war ended, I was detained in Siberia by the Soviet Military. I came back to Japan with the last evacuees in 1950. So, for 5 years after the War, my memory is blank. But after I returned to Japan, for long time, I never heard about a “Nanjing Massacre.” It was only in these past 10 years that this kind of talk started.
According to my experience, I feel that any “massacre” was somehow exaggerated, maybe in order to oppose the Army’s fascism or for propaganda purposes for the Chinese Communist Party’s Army.
In 1940, Mr. Taguchi joined the Ministry of the Navy. At around the same time, Germany established the PK (Propagandakompanie) under the RMVP (Reich Ministry for Information and Propaganda). They realized the importance of news from the front as well as the soldiers on the front lines. Later, the US Navy also followed in kind, but in Japan, journalists and war correspondents were not as highly valued.
Mr. Taguchi could not forget the Navy’s attitude as demonstrated by the death of Mr. Iwakura, the military artist, in Shanghai. Therefore, he approached Colonel Hiraide Hideo (平出英夫,) Chief of the Public Relations section in the Ministry of the Navy, who previously served as a resident military officer in Italy and had just returned from Italy. Mr. Taguchi tried to persuade Hiraide to realize the value of information and propaganda, and, eventually, Mr. Taguchi himself joined the Navy’s PR section to help them.
After joined the PR section, Mr. Taguchi was engaged in writing press releases and inspections. It was Mr. Taguchi who deified the nine sailors who served in the special attack submarine, sacrificed themselves in Pearl Harbor Attack.
He was drafted in 1943 and went Harbin, assigned to the Special Duty Organization. As the War ended, he was detained in Siberia and was finally returned to Japan 1950.
After returning from Siberia, he established the Marine Boy Scouts and was involved in teaching this organization for the next 10 years. Then, he continued the program “Toki no Kadai,” (Today’s Issues) which was created by former Navy Commander Baba Kinji, press section, Ministry of the Navy, continuing this until the present day. Additionally, he wrote several books, including “Fighting Navy Spirits”(戦う海軍魂) and “History of Naval Strategies”(海軍作戦史).
10) Interview with Mr. Higuchi Tetsuo (樋口哲雄), Film Operator for the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
Mr. Higuchi Tetsuo made films for Nikkatsu Motion Pictures.
In 1933, several people jumped, one after another, into Mt. Mihara on Izu Oshima Island, to kill themselves. It was big news at the time, so the Yomiuri Shimbun and Nikkatsu planned to make a film of the crater in cooperation with university professors.
Mr. Shoriki Matsutaro (正力松太郎), the president of the Yomiuri Shimubun, saw the film of the crater made by Mr. Higuchi, who was at the Nikkatsu then, recruited Mr. Higuchi for his film department at the Yomiuri Company–thus, Mr. Higuchi ended up at the Yomiuri Shimbun in 1935.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred on July 7, 1937. Mr. Higuchi and three reporters were dispatched to Beijing (北京). On the night of July 11, he departed the Tokyo station together with Mr. Magara (真柄), the head of the photographic section, and others.
For a while, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident seemed to have subsided but it eventually resulted in full-scale conflict. The film he took at the Marco Polo Bridge was soon released on July 17 as special edition news.
The Japanese military entered Beijing Castle and fighting expanded. Mr. Higuchi followed the Army. On September 16, on the way to Baoding (保定,) during a river-crossing operation, Mr. Higuchi jumped into the Juma (拒馬河) River naked, holding his Eyemo camera high overhead. Photographs of him at the time entitled “Desperate Photographer Crossing River,” were posted in newspapers and magazines and gained a lot of popularity.
On October 29, during the Taiyuan (太原) Attack, his left hand was injured by a piece of ammunition. Mr. Higuchi was 38 years old then–he was a really brave war photographer.
After this, he moved to Shanghai.
– Which troops did you follow to Nanjing?
None in particular. After leaving Shanghai, I went to Suzhou (蘇州) and through the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum I reached Nanjing and entered the Castle through Zhongshan Gate (中山門).
– What was the date when you entered the Castle?
I think it was immediately after the capture. Zhongshan Gate was surrounded by ramparts, and there was a moat in front of it. Japanese troops tried to enter by shooting the Zhongshan Gate, but breaking the gate was very difficult because there were huge amounts of sandbags and dirt stacked high–we didn’t know that.
– Where did you stay in the Castle?
Walking from Zhongshan Road (中山路) toward Zhongshan North Road (中山北路) and turning left, there was a slope and after turning left we found a private house on the left side of the slope. Mr. Kamahara (釜原), a member of our branch, and I decided to use the house as our temporary branch.
Chinese children were called shohai. We hired a shohai and we three managed well. It was not real employment, just small jobs and giving food in return. I think the shohai was satisfied with the arrangement because he was not able to find enough food for himself.
– What was the situation inside of the Castle?
Walking along Zhongshan North Road from the temporary branch office, there was Regimental Headquarters. In the headquarters’ backyard a lot of guns and pistols, which were taken from Chinese Army soldiers, were piled up to one meter in height. One Japanese soldier told me, “Take whatever you want,” but I declined. For journalists, weapons were useless.
– How many guns were there?
Hundreds or thousands. Also there were piles of Hohei (法幣,) Chinese paper money.
– Didn’t they use the money?
I think we were unable to use it. The money was left there long after. I think they burned the Hohei in the end.
– Where did you go in the Castle?
We had a car so I went here and there, everyday. One day I visited Whampoa Military Academy (黄埔軍官学校), where I found Chiang Kai-shek’s name card, 4 times bigger than a Japanese name card.
– Where did you take pictures of the entrance ceremony?
I took photos of Commander General Matsui from the opposite side of the Military Academy across Zhongshan East Road (中山東路). At the time of the entrance ceremony, the Zhongshan Gate looked clean.
– Did you deliver the photos you took, by yourself?
No. A correspondent came up to us from Shanghai and he took the photos back to Shanghai.
– What was most impressive thing in Nanjing Castle?
As I mentioned earlier, the countless number of guns and pistols at Headquarters.
– Around that time, it is said that the Japanese army committed a massacre.
I don’t know anything about that, whether that happened or not.
– Have you not seen or heard anything about that?
I know nothing about that. I did not see any traces of a massacre. People have said such a thing occurred, but where and how? The Chung Shan Mausoleum (中山廟) was not ransacked–it looked clean. Under wartime circumstances, if you don’t kill, you will be killed; some people say this was a massacre.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
After I entered the Castle, I stayed for a month or so. After the ceremony, I had nothing to do in particularly–just killing time. At a road starting from the central rotary for China Gate we found a place on the left side called Fushibyo (夫子廟), a red-light district.
The Sinjun (秦准河) River ran along the street, so it was also known as Sinjun. This was just like the Japanese Yoshiwara (吉原), where you could play with women and drink alcohol. Kamahara, my colleague, and I waited for dusk and visited there frequently.
– How many places like that existed?
Around the area, a lot. We called the women working there chansy kunyan. Usually we stayed a whole night there, leaving our car with our company flag flying high, so we got an unfavorable reputation at times.
– Did Japanese soldiers visit there as well?
No, no soldiers at all. I think they were prohibited from going there. As far as Japanese were concerned, the visitors were all reporters and news-related.
– How about other Japanese who were not news-related?
Japanese civilians had not yet entered Nanjing.
– Do you think Japanese soldiers visited comfort houses or brothels?
I don’t know whether there were such houses or not.
– Where did you go after Nanjing?
Back to Shanghai, then Tokyo. So I didn’t join Operation Xuzhou (徐州), which happened immediately after that.
Mr. Higuchi was born July 1899 and was 87 years old when I met. He had no health problem, except for his teeth–he said he just had five teeth pulled out before we met. His speech and gait were very steady.
Before I visited Mr. Higuchi, he insisted that no massacre took place in Nanjing and he had nothing to say about it. His statement concurred with his narration. Still, I asked him to talk about anything, whatever he experienced in Nanjing, and he told me what he remembered by referring to the “100 Years History Book” of the Yomiuri Shimbun.
After returning to Tokyo, Mr. Higuchi joined the Army again in the Hankou（漢口）Operation. In 1940, he moved to the Japan News Eiga-sha Movie Company. After the Greater East Asia War started, he went to Lourenço Marques, Africa on a repatriation ship, then served as Chief of the Hong Kong branch, then General Chief of the Manchuria branch.
After Japan lost the War, Mr. Higuchi quit the Japan News Eiga-sha and worked at several jobs with his friends. Then he joined Allied General Headquarters (GHQ) to make films. After GHQ disbanded, he joined an advertisement agency, a company affiliated with the Yomiuri Shimbun, and worked there until his retirement.
11) Interview with Mr. Mori Hiroshi (森博), Photographer for the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
Mr. Mori Hiroshi was a well-known photographer–he took the picture of a Navy airplane that flew with a single wing at the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War.
On December 9, 1937, just before Nanjing fell, a Type 96 carrier-based fighter plane, appeared over the Kunda (公太) airfield, Shanghai, which had lost one wing yet it kept flying. The pilot was Staff Sergeant Kashimura (樫村) of the 13th Air Corps. The 13th Air Corps had started an attack on Nanchang (南昌) and Kashimura’s Type 96 fighter clashed with a Chinese fighter over Nanchang and lost its wing. Yet the single-winged fighter managed to fly back to Shanghai. Witnessing this, Mori started to film the scene with his Eyemo, against the order of a naval officer.
In the end, the film was allowed to be shown and released to the public as a news reel, which was welcomed with cheers by the Japanese people. From the film, a photo for the newspapers was also made, which resulted in a scoop for the Yomiuri. The photo was displayed at Yasukuni shrine and Vice-Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku (山本五十六), the Under Secretary of the Navy (海軍次官) at the time, had long displayed this photo in his office.
Mr. Mori went to Nanjing immediately after this scoop.
In the beginning of August 1937, one year after he joined the Yomiuri Shimbun, he was suddenly assigned to the naval news section and went Shanghai. Several days later, in Shanghai, the Japanese Landing Force confronted the Chinese Army, so he found himself watching the second Shanghai-Incident from the very beginning. He was born in 1911 and 26 years old at the time.
– You came back from Hangzhou Bay (杭州湾) and after that you headed for Nanjing?
When I came back from Hangzhou Bay, Shanghai was quiet. Soon after, the Japanese Army headed for Nanjing and I followed them. I took films of Wu-xi’s (無錫) capture.
That time a reporter, Watanabe Mineo (渡辺峰雄) of the Yomiuri Shimbun, and a photographer, Maeda Tsune (前田恒) of the Asahi Shimbun, were killed. Watanabe was originally living in Shanghai and was hired by the Shanghai branch as a temporary reporter. He was a brave man. I was shocked to hear that Mr. Maeda was killed only one hour after we separated. He must have been the first photographer killed.
I followed the Army to Wu-xi but I came back to Shanghai later because at that time, it was not yet clear when the Nanjing attack would start.
Under the rules of the Yomiuri Shimbun, after being on the battlefield for three months, we had to go back to Tokyo. I had already stayed 3 months in Shanghai, so I returned to Tokyo.
In those days, the Asahi Shimbun and Miyako Shimbun paid extra to war correspondents, 15 yen per day, and the Mainichi Shimbun, 13 yen per day.
The Yomiuri Shimbun paid nothing extra but there was a custom–when a reporter returned to the head office Tokyo, Mr. Shoriki Matsutaro, the president of the Yomiuri Shimbun, gave 500 yen, which he personally handed us. In those times, our standard monthly pay was 60 yen. And Mr. Shoriki not only met with each reporter when reporters returned to Japan but also came to see reporters off at Tokyo Station, when reporters were leaving. Naturally, his manner gave us much encouragement.
After I returned Tokyo due to the rule, I went back to Shanghai soon after, then went to Nanjing by car for the entrance ceremony. The Nanjing Castle entrance ceremony was December 17, 1937, so I think I went there either on the 15th or 16th.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
To my memory the pictures of the entrance ceremony were taken by photographer Oshima Genjiro (大島源次郎). I took films of the Memorial Service on the next day. So I think I stayed in Nanjing until the 19th.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
There was nothing in particular. I visited Nanjing several times after that. The next year, January 1938, I went to take photos of Nanjing, which recovered its tranquility. At the time of the entrance ceremony, I found quite a few Chinese people in town, but Japanese soldiers had a lot of roles to play. But in this second visit in January, for which I caught a train, Japanese soldiers did not have major roles, just minor ones. And at my third visit, I found many Japanese civilians there, and in addition, a Japanese inn called Fukuda-ya started operation.
– At the entrance ceremony, were Chinese citizens afraid of Japanese soldiers?
They didn’t show any hostility and I think they were not scared of Japanese soldiers. On the contrary, Japanese soldiers were more alert toward Chinese because of ben-i-hei, civilian-clothed soldiers, hid among the citizens.
– It is said that Chinese soldiers were slaughtered by Japanese soldiers?
Yes, so I have heard.
– Have you seen this?
No. But I heard this from Japanese soldiers.
They brought prisoners to the Yangtze River and set them free, saying, go anywhere, but eventually they killed them all, so I heard. I also heard that the shore was full of bodies. I believed that it was true. They have did nothing to civilians but something happened to the Chinese soldiers.
– Did you hear that story while you were in Nanjing?
Yes, in Nanjing. I heard it in several places.
– Why did they do such a thing?
They captured Chinese soldiers, but there was no food for them nor places to keep them. If they released the Chinese soldiers, they would start fighting against Japan again, so they were killed, that’s what I heard. Unlike Japanese soldiers, the Chinese became soldiers, without any feeling of patriotism, because they could not eat otherwise. As a matter of fact, if they were released they would turn around and start fighting. Also, there were ben-i-hei, civilian-clothed soldiers, and Japanese soldiers were scared of them. That was another reason.
– How many prisoners were killed?
Many, so I heard.
– Did they do it under orders from the top?
I think some petty officer, such as squad leader rank, had done ordered this, on his own. It is possible that higher ranking officers had known about it. Yes, there was international law that said how to treat prisoners of war, but this grade of soldiers didn’t know how to handle them. You know, Japanese soldiers believed that they, themselves, had to die if they were captured, so they thought killing prisoners was a matter of course.
Some of the Army petty officers had long experience in the Army, they knew everything about the Army, so they paid no respect to a newly assigned superior, a second lieutenant, for example. Also they treated raw recruits quite roughly by hitting them without reason. I think that those kinds of officers did such things.
As a matter of fact, a couple of years later I myself came across the moment that a Japanese petty officer killed captured Chinese prisoners. He asked me plainly, “Why don’t you try it?” I knew it was a war, kill or be killed–that was inevitable–but they have done unnecessary things, too.
– All petty officers behaved like that?
No, no. It was just a few of them. In the Army, anyone can be a soldier, and among them were the “bad eggs” who could not fit into any ordinary community. They corrupted the Army. I believe such men corrupted the Army. Luckily, I followed the Army as photographer so I wasn’t involved in that kind of thing. I always hoped to avoid joining the Army.
Unlike the Army, the Navy looked smart, I liked the Navy. Lieutenant Shigemura Minoru (重村実) often visited a dance hall in the International Settlement and enjoyed dancing. On the other hand, if Army officers visited the hall, they drew their swords and displayed a swords dance. Just like that, there were significant differences between the Army and the Navy.
– Did these officers feel guilty for the cruel acts?
I think Japanese soldiers didn’t feel guilty killing prisoners during battle. We never thought Japan would lose the war and thought that if we lost, then it was time for all of us to die. War is win or to die, we genuinely believed that. Japanese soldiers believed this, so that’s why they did not hide the fact they killing prisoners; they didn’t feel guilty, it was done for their survival.
– About a massacre, did you see something with your own eyes?
No, just heard the stories. I had seen nothing in Nanjing, but later during an attack operation, I saw Japanese soldiers enter private house and pry the wooden floors out for cooking fires. And as they left the place, they intentionally trashed the house, sometimes setting them on fire. I asked soldiers why they did that and they said that remaining Chinese soldiers in the area would use them.
– I heard they ransacked sometimes.
I don’t know about the case in Nanjing. But to tell you the truth, it was not only soldiers but we reporters also stole food. When the operation started, we reporters, as well as the soldiers, were given food for several days by division headquarters. The food stock was heavy so we took stock only for 2 to 3 days and when it ran out, we entered private homes, looking for food. We didn’t feel guilty stealing foods, both reporters and soldiers did this.
But among the reporters, I heard someone stole something more than food, from a museum in Shanghai. Funny thing was that I heard that all of the stolen items were imitations and that the genuine articles were kept in Chongqing (重慶).
– Which division was said to have committed the massacre?
I don’t know. A powerful division, like the 6th Division, was well known by the Chinese Army and the Chinese Army fled before the 6th Division got near them. I was born in Kagoshima, so during the Hankou (漢口) Operation I followed the 6th Division, which was organized in Kagoshima. After the 6th Division went through, some Chinese soldiers may have still been active in the area, so the Japanese divisions dispatched thereafter might have attacked them.
– At that time did other reporters know about the incident in Nanjing?
We often took tea together but it was not raised as a subject. Nevertheless, I think they knew about it.
– Why they didn’t talk about it?
Because it was war, killing was normal and nobody minded about the bodies at all. It was not news so no reporter tried to collect materials. And we were told not to take pictures of bodies, whether Japanese or Chinese; corpses were off limits. So we didn’t take the kinds of photos that could not be used in a newspaper article.
Maybe I talked too much about the wrong-doings of Japanese soldiers but I’d like to emphasize that there were many good stories of them, also.
– At the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), the Nanjing-Incident became a issue. How many people knew about it at that time?
Nobody knew, I think. I don’t have a clear memory of the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) but maybe it was caused by people like Major General Tanaka Ryukichi (田中隆吉), who made accusations.
Nevertheless, I knew about the “prisoners story” in Nanjing so I assumed that they talked about that.
Mr. Mori stayed in Shanghai until the outbreak of the Greater East Asia War. He joined many operations, so his memory could have been a little bit confused–dates and times were not always accurate. However, during the interview, he showed photo albums from those times, trying to correctly place the facts. I visited him repeatedly and asked many questions when I felt his answers were not clear. He answered my questions in detail whenever I visited him.
After returned from Nanjing, Mr. Mori stayed in Shanghai to continue to make news reels around Shanghai. He joined Operations Hankou (漢口) and Yichang (宜昌), then continued to make films showing the revival of Shanghai and peace returning to Nanjing, and so on.
In 1940, the news reel sectors of Domei, Asahi, Mainich, and Yomiuri were united into Nihon News Eigasha and Mr. Mori moved to the new company as a matter of course. As he stayed in Shanghai, he shifted positions, from an employee of the Yomiuri Shimbun to an employee of the Nihon News Eigasha. At the same time, Mr. Asai Tatsuzo (浅井達三), of the Domei, also stayed in Shanghai and moved to the Nihon News Eigasha.
In 1946, at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), GHQ asked Mr. Mori to take a film of the Trials because the American photographers could not identify the Japanese defendants. At Ichigaya Court, Mr. Mori took film of the Trials as representative of GHQ and Mr. Asai took film as a representative of Nihon News Eigasha. (Refer to the section (13), Mr. Asai.)
After taking films of the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), Mr. Mori joined NHK and worked there until his retirement. The monumental film of Staff Sergeant Kashimura with a single-winged fighter is currently kept at NHK.
4. Domei Tsushin Newspaper
12) Interview with Mr. Arai Masayoshi (新井正義), Reporter for the Domei Tsushin Newspaper
When I asked Mr. Arai Masayoshi for an interview about Nanjing, he quickly said yes.
It was Autumn 1984.
“I had a war log during Nanjing but I lost it due to a US air raid during the War. Now I will try to remember those days.”
In the reminiscences written by his colleague, Mr. Maeda Yuji（前田雄二）, he said that Mr. Arai, a stout man, was a samurai type, on the other hand Mr. Horikawa was an academic type. Mr. Horikawa (堀川) was Mr. Arai’s colleague at the Domei Tsushin and a war correspondent as well. When I met Mr. Arai I felt that his description was true.
At the time, Mr. Arai worked in the politics section at the Domei Tsushin and he was 32 years old. He was dispatched to Shanghai from Tokyo as a reporter. After the War, in November 1945, the Domei Tsushin was divided into two companies, the Kyodo Tsushin and the Jiji Tsushin. He was appointed as chief of the politics department in the Kyodo Tsushin, and then in 1958, appointed as executive director of the Kyodo Tsushin, an office he retained until his retirement in 1964.
He started to talk in a brisk tone as soon as I took a seat. He was very aware of the significance of this interview so he opened his talk with the Nanjing massacre.
When we were in Nanjing, we never heard of any massacres. Several years ago, Matsumoto Shigeharu (松本重治), then the branch manager of the Shanghai Domei Tsushin, started to write his memoirs of those days, but he was in Shanghai during that time and didn’t know about Nanjing at all. So he asked the three of us, Fukazawa Kanzo (深沢乾蔵), Maeda Yuji (前田雄二) and I, who were reporters in Nanjing then, to tell him of those days.
Matsumoto invited us to dinner. At the dinner Maeda said he saw a massacre but I didn’t see anything like that at all. I saw bodies. Bodies of soldiers, including ben-i-hei, or soldiers in civilian clothing and among them maybe there were some corpses of prisoners. I didn’t check all of Nanjing, but I guess the number of bodies was 30,000 to 40,000 in total. Most were killed in battle and maybe some of them were not.
We, war correspondents, were treated well after the Xuzhou (徐州) Operation, but during our time in Nanjing, we were not included as members. We had to prepare everything by ourselves, including food and donkeys for transportation. It was really tough.
In those days, the main story was which Division would reach Nanjing first, which newspaper would report this first–it was serious competition. So, we didn’t mind the danger, we just headed straight for the front. The three of us, Horikawa Takeo (堀川武夫), who later became a professor at Hiroshima University, Maeda, who died recently, and I made a team. One stayed at army headquarters and the other two went to the frontlines. We made a schedule of our shifts. We brought a young Chinese man, whom we hired in Shanghai, to the frontlines as a messenger. If something happened, we dispatched him to headquarters. There was radio equipment at headquarters and we used this to send reports to Shanghai. The radio equipment was very heavy–we couldn’t carry it alone so we used a donkey.
After the battle of Zhabei (閘北), I returned to Tokyo, then went to Shanghai again to await further instructions. I was ordered to follow the Yanagawa Army. I caught up with the Yanagawa Army around Suzhou (蘇州). The Army arrived in Nanjing without engaging in any serious battles after they landed Hangzhou Bay (杭州湾). I don’t think they had done anything like slaughter people. A Division that fought in Shanghai later caught up with us. They had experienced serious fighting in Shanghai, losing nearly half of their comrades and were terribly agitated. If any slaughtering had occurred it might have been done by them, I guess.
Once I had heard from Commander Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke (柳川平助) that the Nanjing Capital Defense Force was estimated at around 200,000 to 250,000 soldiers. And the Japanese force totaled 100,000, including Yanagawa Army of 50,000 soldiers.
I tell you, the Yanagawa Army arrived at Nanjing without significant fighting but it didn’t mean that there were no enemy soldiers. As a matter of fact, soon after Suzhou, a reporter from Asahi Shimbun was killed. We moved along railway tracks for Nanjing, while the Yanagawa Army went around Lake Taihu (太湖). Walking on the railway tracks north, as the railroad crossed with rice fields at right angles, we found Chinese soldiers hiding in the rice field. Suddenly shooting erupted. This was repeated but we advanced.
On the way to Nanjing, we frequently met ordinary Chinese people. Some of the Chinese showed us their arm bands, which read, “This Chinese is hired by the Japanese Army,” which protected them and did not confuse them with ben-i-tai, civilian-clothed soldiers.
Around Mt. Zijin (紫金山), there was serious fighting. Between Mt. Zijin and Nanjing Castle, the exchange of gunfire became intense. On December 13, 1937, we entered Nanjing Castle through Zhongshan Gate (中山門). After entered the Castle, we began to look for a place suitable for our Domei Tsushin’s office. Every house was closed. Eventually we settled in a place close to Zhongshan Gate that night. The Chinese who remained in the Castle were only poor people–that was obvious.
We successfully entered Nanjing Castle, however, there were lot of stragglers outside so we didn’t feel like the battle was over. Fighting occurred here and there, it was still very dangerous. According to my calculation, there were around 160,000 remnants of the Chinese military.
On the 13th or 14th, I heard that Prince Asakanomiya was attacked at his headquarters in the suburbs. I rushed over to headquarters; it took 40 minutes or so by car. Hurriedly, I met the prince, His Highness murmured, “Well, well, we had a terrible night.” That was the situation at the time.
On the 15th, we entered the old branch office of the Domei Tsushin. The office was located in the middle of town and the Jin Ling Women’s College (金陵女子大学) stood nearby. The head of the College or the dormitory leader came to us, complaining that,
“We accommodated female refugees and the Japanese soldiers made advances to the women, so I came here to ask for your help: Mr. Domei, can you help us?” So we took her complain to army headquarters.
I myself hadn’t seen any slaughtering or bodies from a slaughter. At Xiaguan (下関), there must have been fighting while the Chinese soldiers crossed the Yangtze River. At Xiaguan, my colleague Horikawa, or someone, said that he saw shooting or bodies resulting from shooting.
My colleague Maeda wrote that he saw an execution on the 16th at the military academy but I doubt that – it might have been the military administration (軍政部). Anyway, I myself saw nothing. Several Japanese troops rushed in the castle at a time. They somehow checked each other so they couldn’t have done unreasonable violence. There were Chinese prisoners and I saw Japanese soldiers put rice into the prisoners’ canteens.
Soon after the entrance ceremony, we found Chinese people selling small articles and very often saw them selling sweets because Japanese soldiers craved sweets. Under such circumstances, I doubt there was a massacre. I can’t deny that there were some causalities, but 200,000 or more—that is not possible. I can’t estimate the number of victims because I didn’t see any with my own eyes.
At the entrance ceremony my colleague Maeda and I ran after General Matsui Iwane, behind of the soldiers who stood in line on the street. We still prepared for the worst, which means that it was not totally safe. After the ceremony, I remained in Nanjing for a couple of days and returned to Shanghai by a Navy ship. So, I in the end I stayed in Nanjing for a week.
I heard about the massacre for the first time in the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) after the War.
Mr. Arai narrated his story without referring to memos or documents. He told me all that he could remember. I didn’t interrupt him and wrote the above verbatim.
13) Interview with Mr. Asai Tatsuzo (浅井達三), Photographer for the Domei Tsushin Newspaper
In July 1937, with the outbreak of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Mr. Asai Tatsuzo was been employed by the Japanese branch of Metrotone News, as a press photographer.
On August 13, the Sino-Japanese War had spread to Shanghai and the Imperial Japanese Navy Landing Forces fought a fierce battle against the Chinese Nationalist Army. The Shanghai branch of the Domei Tsushin’s photo department was filming and considering the extended nature of the fighting, they hired Mr. Asai and dispatched him to Shanghai. It was late August 1937.
As soon as Mr. Arai arrived in Shanghai, he went to the frontlines. The result of his difficult work was titled “A News Camera Watched The Turbulent Showa Period,” and was shown by NHK. Since then, Mr. Asai spent 8 years on the battlefield, the hardest ever. He was 24 years old, the second youngest employed at the Domei Tsushin.
For the first 4 years, before the beginning of the Greater East Asia War, Mr. Asai took news reels of several battles across China, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Xuzhou, Hankou, and so on. The funny thing was that he remained in China during almost all this time, so he hardly saw the Domei News reels released in Japan which he filmed. In 1940, as several news reel companies were united into single company, called Nihon News Eigasha, he joined the new company.
After the War, Mr. Asai was assigned to a new job–filming the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), and for three years he visiting Ichigaya-dai, where the Trial was held. After that he returned to Metrotone News, he then joined a film making company and produced the film, “Gate of Friendship,” with China’s support. He visited China frequently before the restoration of diplomatic relations between Japan and China in September 1972. In this manner, he kept his ties with China after the War.
I interviewed him on October 21, 1985–it was the next day that Keio University won the 6-universities baseball game after several years of struggle. I interviewed Mr. Asai at his office which was located in front of the main entrance of Keio University.
– You were not only in the battle of Shanghai but also in the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation conducted by the 10th Army, on November 5.
Yes. I had been filming the battle of Shanghai, then the Army told me to film the Landing Operation so I took a ship from Shanghai over to Hangzhou. After I completed the task, I carried the film to Shanghai escorted by a platoon. We were surrounded by Chinese soldiers, so without an escort it was impossible to move alone.
– Did you go to Nanjing after that?
I stayed in Shanghai for a while and at the beginning of December, I went to Nanjing together with Araki Shuzo (荒木秀三), a photographer.
Regarding the Domei Tsushin, you can see everything in the book “In The Flow of War,” (戦争の流れの中で) written by my colleague Mr. Maeda Yuji and published by Zenhonsha (善本社). He wrote in his diary every night. His book was based on the diary so every detail is reliable. All names he mentions are correct–which we have already completely forgotten. In addition, he wrote of some serious matters, which we could not tell to the Army at the time. Also he wrote openly about arguments among our colleagues at the Domei Tsushin. Everything in it is true.
– Which Division did you follow?
There was no rule in deciding which division to follow, so I followed any group, here and there. I tried always to be at the front. Every now and then soldiers would asked me, “Hey, Mr. Newspaper, do you have a cigarette?” In those days, Ruby Quinn was the most popular brand of cigarette. At the same time, the soldiers offered us food, “Take some pig’s feet.” We knew that the food must have been confiscated but we were longing for meat.
Like the soldiers, we reporters boiled rice in a canteen, and slept fully clothed on straw. You know, straw is unexpectedly warm.
On the way to Nanjing, we found a bank. After blowing it open, a safe was full of Chinese paper money. Some soldiers used the money to make cooking fires.
– I thought using Chinese money to make cooking fires was just a story. But was this true?
Yes, it was. I didn’t see them blowing open the safe but I watched them making fires with the money. Pity, the money could have been used in the International Settlement. This happened in Changzhou (常州), to my memory.
– Which route did you take?
We went through Wuxi (無錫), Changzhou, and Zhenjiang (鎮江).
In Zhenjiang, my colleague Haraikawa Chikashige (祓川親茂), a photographer, and I met a Chinese man who was carrying something on his shoulder pole. As he saw us, he ran away, leaving the pole there. We checked the carrier and found it filled with hand grenades. Like soldiers, we reporters were constantly surrounded by danger. For example, when we were moving from Zhenjiang to Mt. Zijin, my colleague Makishima (牧島) got injured. We had to carry him out by the Mainichi Shimbun’s car.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
On the 13th. I entered from Zhongshan Gate (中山門).
– What was the situation like inside?
Walking along Zhongshan Street toward the Yangtze River, we found the Safety Zone. No Japanese were allowed to enter the Safety Zone. We wouldn’t dare enter because it was full of Chinese; too risky for us. The Red Swastika Society (紅卍字会), the charitable organization, took care of the refugees. It seemed that mostly Chinese civilians were in the Safety Zone and others stayed in their homes, daring not to venture out.
– How many people were working at the Red Swastika Society?
I am not sure. But there were so many–that’s why I remember this so well. I once saw that the staff of the Red Swastika Society confronted Japanese soldiers and explained in earnest that their refugees were not soldiers.
For a couple of days after entering, I saw fires here and there in the Castle.
– Were the fires started by Japanese soldiers?
Japanese soldiers or Chinese soldiers, I was not sure.
– Were the Chinese civilians afraid of Japanese soldiers?
I think so. It was same when we were afraid of American soldiers when they landed in Japan after the War.
– It is said that a massacre occurred.
I hadn’t seen one but heard so. I heard about it.
– Did someone witness the killings?
I heard a couple of reporters saw it. I suppose that Mr. Shirai Shigeru (白井茂), a photographer from the cultural film section at Toho (a movie studio), saw many things because unlike our place, his office was located in the middle of Nanjing. He mentioned a massacre in his book “Camera and Life”.
– Where were the bodies left?
In his book, he said in Yangtze River and Yuhuatai (雨花台).
– Were those bodies casualties from the fighting?
I don’t know. I heard they were slaughtered. I wonder how they could have cleared the bodies, but I heard the bodies were cleared before the entrance ceremony.
– Did you hear how many bodies there were?
– Did you witness a massacre with your own eyes?
In the Castle I, saw a number of lines of Chinese soldiers being dragged along. I could not forget the scene. Among them were the ben-i-hei, plain-clothed soldiers who discarded their uniforms and wore civilian clothes. There were others, farmers fled as refugees. Someone with dark tanned wrists were caught as stragglers.
– What time did this occur?
Around noon. One line consisted of 200 to 300 people and there were 2 to 3 lines like that.
– Did you take photos of the prisoners? Or other photos in the Castle?
I used a lot of film just after the Castle’s fall but once it was captured, I didn’t. Other things had no news value. I took film of the entrance ceremony. I climbed up the Zhongshan Gate and from behind took film of General Matsui Iwane marching through the gate, then hurriedly climbed down the gate and took film of him from the front.
– Did any news company take pictures of a massacre?
I do not think anyone did. There is no record at all. I didn’t want to take photos of bodies, so I didn’t even try even if I saw them. I had been in battlefields but never took photos of corpses.
And I had never done staged photos. The photos of cheering at Nanjing Castle were staged. The moment of the capture of the city was in the middle of a battle. You could not cheer at that moment. Also, photographers were hardly at the right spot at the right moment. Cheers was done later in the day. However, I think this kind of staging was acceptable in order to express excitement of the capture of Nanjing. The feeling was real.
– Among members of Domei Tsushin, did anyone talk about a massacre?
No. At that time Nanjing was full of stragglers and ben-i-hei plain-clothed soldiers and we believed, well, that was war–kill the enemy.
– I heard that several foreign journalists stayed in Nanjing.
I never saw them. Except, during the Panay Incident on December12, four reporters came to Nanjing on the 14th. They visited the Domei Tsushin to ask us to help them get to Shanghai. Reporters for reporters. There was an option to go to Shanghai by car but it was too risky because of Chinese soldiers, so we contacted the Navy and the four went to Shanghai on a Navy ship. Later, I heard that some water splashed on their photos of sinking ships, the photos were not damaged.
– Did the foreign reporters see the massacre?
At the time, nobody mentioned anything about a massacre, so I don’t think they did.
– It is said that Mr. Arthur Menken, a cameraman for Paramount, stayed in Nanjing and took pictures of the Fall of Nanjing .
I knew Menken. I met him in Shanghai. But I didn’t see him in Nanjing. After I returned to Shanghai in January 1938, I often went out to lunch with him. I always found him at a shop called “Jimmy” in the French Concession. I have a picture of me taken with him.
– Did you heard about a massacre from him?
No, I did not.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I remember that I took photos of the entrance ceremony, but after that my memory is not clear, whether I returned Shanghai soon or stayed there in Nanjing for several days. Anyway, after I returned to Shanghai, the Hangzhou Attack began and I went to Hangzhou at once.
When I returned to Shanghai in January 1938, I met Ishikawa Tatsuzo (石川達三), the novelist. He and I have the same name “Tatsuzo,” and it happened that the Domei Tsushin had another person who had same name, Murakami Tatsu (村上達). We called ourselves the three Tatsus and drank a lot together. Ishikawa Tatsuzo wrote a story that took place in China in his book titled “Ikiteiru Heitai (生きている兵隊),” or “Living Soldiers.” Also, he wrote an introduction for the book, “In The Flow of War,” written by Mr. Maeda Yuji. I think everything he wrote was true.
– Did you stay in Shanghai after that?
In February, I went back to Tokyo following General Matsui’s triumphant return. When we were leaving Shanghai, General Hata Shunroku (畑俊六) and Prince Asakanomiya came to see off General Matsui. From Shimonoseki to Tokyo, we took a train called Fuji, which was decorated with red carpet. It was a specially coupled two-vehicle train, in which six to seven people sat, including General Matsui and his adjutant, Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Hayao (馬淵逸雄), others and myself. On the way, several staff officers joined us.
Before arriving in Tokyo, we stayed overnight at–to my memory–Atami. We cleaned off our “dust from the war” before meeting the Emperor next day. When we arrived in Tokyo, we found almost all of the important military staff came over to see us.
As soon as the train stopped, I got off the train before anyone else in order to take photos of General Matsui. Then I was yelled by a military policeman to stop, but it was my job so I kept taking photos.
– What kind of person was General Matsui?
Oh no, I did not dare to speak with him. I was in the next car. But in Shanghai, especially at press interviews, I saw him several times.
– After the War you were assigned to film the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE). General Matsui was sentenced to death.
I had been filming the Trial from the beginning. When he was accused of the incidents that occurred in Nanjing, I thought the accusation was reasonable. It happened to a certain degree. General Matsui sat on the top of the military pyramid so it was his responsibility.
But concerning the number of victims I cannot believe it was 200,000. This means that the majority of the population of Nanjing was wiped out.
14) Interview with Mr. Hosonami Takashi (細波孝), Radio Operator for the Domei Tsushin Newspaper
Mr. Hosonami was born in November 1905. He joined the Dentsu Company (Nihon Denpo Tsushin-sha) in 1929 and joined the Army during the Manchurian Incident. In 1936, Dentsu merged with Rengo and became Domei Tsushin.
The next year, 1937, the North China-Incident occurred in July and fighting expanded to Shanghai in August. At first, China coverage was managed by the staff of the Shanghai branch of the Domei Tsushin, but as fighting expanded, additional reporters, radio operators and photographers were dispatched from Tokyo.
Mr. Hosonami was dispatched to the Shanghai branch in October. In order to set-up a radio system, he arrived in Shanghai prior to other reporters. He was 31 years old at the time.
Mr. Hosonami moved through Taihu Lake (太湖) and Wu-xi (無錫.). He used Wu-xi as the company’s base lodging and stayed there for a while. From there, he transmitted articles on Nanjing’s capture written by reporter Maeda Yuji and others. Naval Air Groups were based in Changzhou (常州) and reporter Matsuo Tetsuo (松尾鉄夫), who was in charge of naval news brought Navy-related articles to Mr. Hosonami. Mr. Hosonami transmitted these articles to Tokyo as well.
Thus, in those days the radio system, which was operated by Mr. Hosonami, was the frontline headquarters of the Domei Tsushin. Naturally, among war staff, he was positioned farthest away from the frontlines.
– Which route did you take to reach Nanjing Castle?
Through Tangshanzhen (湯山) I entered Nanjing Castle from Zhongshan Gate (中山). Coming close to Tangshanzhen, I was surprised to see many prisoners kept within walls made of bamboo.
– How many prisoners were there?
I couldn’t count them all, so to my guess, around 10,000. The place was not seen from the main road for Nanjing, but it was visible from a small path. I think I saw this by accident.
– What date it was?
I got through Tangshanzhen on the day after Nanjing’s fall, so it should be December 14. The place was a field, it looked like a golf course surrounded by trees. The Chinese soldiers were eating porridge-like food. After that we reached our frontline lodging for the Domei Tsushin, which was situated in the Castle.
– It is said that at the Domei’s lodging house, terrible fighting occurred among reporters, between the Tokyo reporters and Osaka reporters. Was this true?
Yes. A reporter named Higuchi Kenkichi (樋口憲吉), who had a black-belt in Judo, loved drinking and fighting. Others were same. I was not a drinker so watched them fighting from a distance.
There were all kinds of war correspondents and some collected the stolen goods. Hangzhou was called a temple town and it held a lot of antique art. They were abandoned, so some indiscreet persons took them freely.
– At which place did you see the entrance ceremony?
General Matsui Iwane entered through Zhongshan Gate for the ceremony and I stayed near the place where the ceremony was to be held. I think it was close to the Nationalist Government’s building. Photographer Inazu Mikiji (稲津巳喜二) took photos around the area.
– It is said that there was a massacre in Nanjing. Did you see this?
May I speak something?
– Sure, please do.
I have never spoken anyone if there was a massacre or not. There was a wide open space called Xiaguan (下関) along the Yangtze River.
– Xiaguan was a wharf at Nanjing.
Yes. It was the embankment of the riverbed leading to the Castle Gate. There were several trenches and tochkas. The tochkas mostly faced the Yangtze River but some of them were facing Nanjing. The tochka was made with concrete and looked like a square watermill. In China, they made one or two tochkas at every important place for defense purposes.
It seemed that the Chinese Nationalist Army tried to fight at that point but they eventually ran away. Chiang Kai-she also fled from Xiaguan. When I arrived at Xiaguan, I saw burning furniture, traces of killing, or so I thought.
–Did you see the killings?
No. I just assume that the killings were just completed. They wouldn’t show killings. I think they kept prisoners in the tochika and set it on fire. I have not forgotten a Chinese soldier who saw me from the crenel of a tochika, twitching his nose in agony.
– How many people were in the tochika?
It could hold 20 to 30 people. Some furniture was packed in there and there were 3 or 4 tochikas like that. I think they were burned by spreading oil over the furniture and setting it on fire. Bullets were precious, that’s why. Not only in the tochika but also along the shore of the Yangtze River, I saw bodies. Some of them were bound with wire.
– How many bodies did you see?
I am not sure. One-hundred or so. I think they were prisoners whom I saw in Tangshanzhen.
– Were they brought from Tangshanzhen ?
I think so. After I entered Nanjing, I saw Chinese prisoners who were forced marched. I think that they were the prisoners who were kept in Tangshanzhen.
– They were made to walk in Nanjing Castle?
Well, yes that was the case. I think it was down a street leading to the Zhongshan Gate. It was at night. Someone said prisoners were being moved and I went out to watch. Eight persons per line, each line separated by 50 meters. The prisoners were walking slowly, escorted by Japanese soldiers in the front and rear of the lines.
–All of the prisoners in Tangshanzhen were moved?
What I saw was just a part of them. I watched only once but I suppose they were moved separately, little by little. Moving them all at once was not easy.
–According to your story, there must have been around 10,000 bodies found in Xiaguan. Is this correct?
No, it is not.
– Did you watch the 10,000 prisoners being killed?
Under the circumstances, what I saw was the end part–maybe. Considering the significant difference between high and low tide in the Yangtze River, the bodies which were left at the shore must have been washed away by the strong central current and sent into the Yellow Sea without surfacing. That’s what I imagined happened.
Later, I heard around 20,000 prisoners were killed. So in Xiaguan, considering the place and time, it might have been 10,000 or fewer.
In Tangshanzhen, there were unseen places like hollows and some of the prisoners were killed in such areas. But this is also hearsay. When I saw the prisoners being pulled along I thought they were just being moved, but thinking back to Xiaguan, the prisoners I watched seemed pale and looked like they were prepared to die.
– Do you remember the exact date of the Xiaguan Incident?
Maybe it was the day before or the day of the entrance ceremony.
– Did you see it alone?
We went to Xiaguan by car, including a driver and other colleagues.
– What time was it?
Early in the morning. So maybe they were killed during the night.
– According to the book, “In The Flow of War,” written by Mr. Maeda Yuji, reporter Fukazawa Mikizo (深沢幹蔵) went to Xiaguan alone on the evening of the 17th and saw a number of bodies there.
Was it? Fukazawa and I always moved together and, to my memory, we went to Xiaguan together. Other than us, there were a driver and one other, someone else.
– Did you mention what you saw to other members of the Domei Tsushin?
No, I didn’t talk about it.
– Why not?
During those times, we were numbed to corpses.
– When you saw the bodies, did you think they were massacred?
I thought of International Law, that it said not to kill prisoners. This might have been a violation of International Law, but on the other hand, I thought they were casualties from an ongoing battle. Until the very last moment, before the entrance ceremony, Japanese soldiers continued mopping-up operations. Chinese soldiers who were not prisoners but stragglers and deserters would very likely try to attack us again, given any chance, at any moment.
Thinking back those times now, the bodies in Xiaguan remain with me. But in those days, if you didn’t kill, you will be killed. Fukazawa and I always kept guns. Just like soldiers, we could be killed at anytime, anywhere. Already, colleagues and other reporters were killed. Do not think about the Chinese soldier’s wife or children, do not think that they have family just as we do. In war, kill or be killed.
– Did you talk about that among members of the Domei Tsushin?
Not in particular. It was just one aspect of war.
– Did you see any other slaughter or something like that?
Around the same time, Matsumoto Shigeharu (松本重治), the manager of the Shanghai branch, arrived in Nanjing from Shanghai. Matsumoto told us something happened at a university in Nanjing City so the four of us went over. Matsumoto was very active in international society, so we thought he heard something in Shanghai. He had plenty of news sources. However, we found nothing at the university, no trace of anything at all.
There were many people within the university.
– Were Chinese people staying in certain areas?
Yes. There was an area for women only, an area for men only, and family areas. There were many people that we couldn’t distinguish between soldiers and civilians. As soon as the entrance ceremony was completed, we found that the city’s Chinese population suddenly increased. We didn’t know where they came from, from the suburbs or from hiding places.
– Were they afraid of the Japanese soldiers?
Maybe this was so in Shanghai but in Nanjing, they didn’t seem scared. And even in Shanghai, the Chinese living in the International Settlement were not afraid of Japanese soldiers or other foreign soldiers. The Chinese living in the suburbs seemed afraid of Japanese soldiers. As a matter of fact, there were not many Chinese in suburbs, where the battlefields were.
Nanjing citizens remaining in the Castle gathered into areas on Zhongshan
Road in the central part of Nanjing, and on the western side of Zhongshan
North Road. They lived in barracks-style huts. In the background are the
deserted homes of the wealthy. (December 15, 1937)
– How many days did you stay in Nanjing?
Four to five days, or a week. I went back to Shanghai together with my colleague Fukazawa. On the way back to Shanghai, we went through Tangshanzhen, but we saw no prisoners anymore. We then went through Wuxii, did some sightseeing in Suzhou and went back to Shanghai.
After one or two days in Shanghai, I was dispatched to Hangzhou as the attack started. At the end of December, I left my responsibilities to my colleague Ohoshi Ishimatsu (大星石松), who was at Domei’s Hangzhou branch, and I returned to Shanghai.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
Anyone who tried to pass through the gates needed a certificate. The certificate was issued by the military. I saw a Chinese with a certificate which read “I am a spy.” Maybe the Japanese soldier wrote it in jest.
It was October 1985, when I visited Mr. Hosonami’s house in Hodogaya, Yokohama city. Mr. Hosonami waited me with his documents in Domei Tsushin period. He was almost 80 years old, very active and chatty. While speaking, he smoked one cigarette after another.
Mr. Hosonami hadn’t read Mr. Maeda’s memoirs, “In The Flow of War,” and he had hardly took notice of the controversial subject, the so-called Nanjing Massacre. He simply told me what he had seen and what he had heard. There were, under the circumstances of the war–kill or be killed–unforgettable things he himself had experienced.
Mr. Hosonami went back to Nanjing in January 1938, and thereafter joined the Zuzhou (徐州) Operation. From Nanjing he returned to Tokyo. After that, he joined the Bias Bay Landing Operation. Later, he was assigned to Imperial Headquarters and worked under the Chief of Press Section, Mr. Matsumura Shuitsu (松村秀逸). After the War, he joined Jiji Tsushin, and lived in Saga, Kyushu for a while, where he had been evacuated, then returned to Tokyo in 1949. H worked at Jiji Tsushin until his retirement.
After I met him in person for the first time, we spoke on phone several times. On the third call, he surprised me by mentioning that Mr. Fudo died. Mr. Fudo Kenji (不動健治) was the head of the Domei Tsushin‘s photo department. After the War, he published many photos of the era.
Mr. Hosonami recommended that I meet Mr. Fudo, because Mr. Fudo also went to Nanjing and he still seemed to be active. I said, yes, I would do so at once.
After the call, I checked a newspaper and saw Mr. Fudo’s obituary.
5. Other Newspapers
15) Interview with Mr. Minami Masayoshi (南正義) , Reporter for the Shin-Aichi Shimbun
I met Mr. Minami Masayoshi on July 4, 1987.
Mr. Minami served as the president of Tokai Radio, Nagoya. He must have been very busy, so I hesitated in asking for interview. Eventually, I requested an interview, and to my surprise, he quickly accepted.
When he appeared, he looked as if he was in his sixties or so. But in fact he must have been 70 or so at least because of his career as a wartime correspondent of 50 years. I have met with a number of people since I started these interviews–some were still working, more or less, but Mr. Minami was on active duty. Most interviewees looked young but Mr. Minami looked more than young—he looked brilliant.
I sent him three letters before we met, so he knew of my request very well–that I would like to hear about the Nanjing Attack and those days. He spoke freely.
Mr. Minami was born in Ise, Mie prefecture, April 1912. As he worked as reporter for the Shin-Aichi Shimbun (currently Chunichi Shimbun) the China Incident broke. As soon as the war started, the Shin-Aichi Shimbun dispatched several reporters to the battlefield. In December, it seemed that the capture of Nanjing was imminent, so four additional persons, including reporters and photographers, were dispatched. Mr. Minami was one of them.
The Kokumin Shimbun newspaper became an affiliate of Shin-Aichi Shimbun, due to its financial problems, so Mr. Minami was a reporter for the Shin-Aichi Shimbun as well as the Kokumin Shimbun. He was 25 years old.
– Which route did you take to enter Nanjing?
I entered from Zhongshan Gate (中山門). I moved with the first group of soldiers and reached Zhongshan Gate in the dark. We could not move ahead from there so we had to wait on the top of the Zhongshan Gate and watched the inside of the Castle.
It was December 13–I entered the Castle with the first group of soldiers through the Zhongshan Gate and went along Zhongshan East Road (中山東路), and there – we were shocked to see Japanese soldiers being hanged from plane trees that lined the steets.
– Japanese soldiers were hanged?
Yes. Later we realized there was a battle at either Tongji Gate (通済門) or Guanghua Gate (光華門) and Japanese soldiers were caught there. The Chinese soldiers brought them to Zhongshan East Road and killed, then hung them from the plane trees. They were burned from below.
– How many bodies were there?
I saw two to three. Immediately we lowered them down from the plane trees. The Japanese soldiers became furious. Even without this episode, they were filled with hostility.
– I heard this for the very first time.
Naturally. Only the first group of Japanese soldiers saw them and we lowered the bodies at once. This was the most impressive incident, among others, that I saw in Nanjing Castle.
After the War, I visited Nanjing again and went to the plane trees. Time has passed–40 years–but the trees were still there. The tree trunks then were small like this (using both forefingers and thumbs, Mr. Minami made a circle), but now they big around like this (he made a circle with both of his arms). I was deeply moved.
After we lowered the bodies, we continued to move to the Castle’s center–we were still in the middle of battle after all.
– It is said that there was massacre in the castle.
No, there was not. Nobody said and heard of such a thing. After Japan lost the War, China made up this story and started making claims.
– Did you see anything like massacre in the Castle?
Never. All things came from battle. Some soldiers may have lost their senses, but it was a battle. Japanese soldiers were not supplied with enough food, the Chinese soldiers were not well-disciplined–not everything goes by the rules in a war.
Besides in the Castle, every soldier was prohibited from Fuzimiao (夫子廟), no one was allowed to go where civilians lived.
– It is said the prisoners were killed.
In those times there was a saying, “no prisoners on the battlefield”, so I assumed that the idea of “prisoners” did not exist in the Japanese army. The Chinese burned houses, destroyed everything before they fled or became ben-i-hei, soldier in civilian clothes, to spy – they didn’t want to get caught and end up being prisoners.
Thus, both sides had no concept of “prisoners” and were in a fight to the end, so the accusation of “killing prisoners” does not make sense. This kind of thinking, of “not killing prisoners by international law” was said much later. People who have not been in a real battlefield will call killings “massacres”. Some say the killing of soldiers in civilian clothes was a massacre, but it was not.
– Some journalist has different opinions. The Asahi Shimbun says there was a “Nanjing Massacre”.
The Asahi Shimbun, oh, yes. They need to publish their newspaper elsewhere, like in Moscow.
– Where did you stay in Nanjing?
The 3rd Division of Nagoya arrived in Nanjing later and I followed the soldiers. From Shanghai, I repeatedly visited Nanjing for the purpose of reporting and visited again after the New Year1938, mostly with Kawai Katsumi (川井克己), a photographer, who was also dispatched to Shanghai. Among war correspondents, Matsui Satoshi (松井敏), a relative of General Matsui, was there.
– You said before that you visited Nanjing after the War. When was this?
My job was a war correspondent, and I wrote a number of articles on Japanese victories, so I thought Chinese people would hate me and I didn’t want to go. In addition, I was deeply disappointed since we lost the war against China. I held such feelings until the time Nagoya City and Nanjing City established a sister-city relationship for the purpose of Japan-China friendship. In my position as president of Tokai Radio, I had no choice but to reconcile with Nanjing for the sake of the friendship program. For this, we at Tokai Radio planned some program and I took the initiative to go to Nanjing.
When we performed Tokai Radio’s program, the Chinese people liked our music a lot. So we decided to broadcast our program in Nanjing.
Additionally, we planned a jogging event using Chang Jiang Great Bridge (長江大橋), which was several kilometers long, a splendid bridge constructed across the Yangtze River. The idea was to emphasize Japan-China friendship by jogging on the bridge. This year is the third time we held this jogging event, scheduled on November 3. Last year, wearing a T-shirt, I ran together with the mayor of Nanjing City.
– When you visited Nanjing, didn’t the Chinese mention the Massacre?
– The Massacre Memorial Hall was built in Nanjing.
Was it? I visited Zhongshan Gate, Zhongshan street, and so on, but I didn’t know about the Massacre Memorial Hall.
– I heard it is located in the outside of Jiangdongmen (江東門).
I never visited that area. The Mayor of Nanjing said nothing, and to begin with, in Nanjing, nobody talked about the Nanjing-Incident at all. Naturally, the Chinese investigated my background, so they must know all about me. Or, I assume that they did not talk about it because we are getting along now.
However, if they start to insist, I would fight because the so-called Nanjing-incident did not happen. I knew Nanjing then better than the current mayor of Nanjing.
On the other hand, for Japan-China friendship, I understand that it would not be wise to deny it. It would cast an aspersion on our friendship, which I, myself, am leading. Someday, after I quit my job, I’d like to write the true story based on my old memorandum which still have on hand.
Later the Shin Aichi Shimbun merged with the Nagoya Shimbun, forming the Chubu Nippon Shimbun. In 1953, Mr. Minami left the Chubu Nippon Shimbun to establish Tokai Radio. Currently, Mr. Minami serves several roles, including president of both Tokai Radio and Tokai TV.
The preceding interview was performed in 1987. He requested that I withhold his statement for a while, so it was not printed in the earlier version of my book – Kikigaki Nankin jiken. He allowed me to publish his statement sometime later, so I decided to include this in the new version of the book.
16) Interview with Mr. Mitoma Mikinosuke (三苫幹之介), Reporter for the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun
Mr. Mitoma Mikinosuke was born 1902 in Fukuoka, Kyushu. After graduated from the Tokyo Imperial University, he joined a local newspaper, the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun (currently Nishi-Nippon Shimbun). Around 1937, he was working as an editorial writer of the local news section.
The Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun dispatched its reporters and photographers to north China as soon as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred. Then, as the battlefield extended to Central China, they dispatched staff to Central China as well–as a result 15 reporters and photographers were sent to China that year. For a local newspaper company, they dispatched the largest number of war correspondents. Reading the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun of those times, one would find a number of special, impressive spreads that one would not see in other local newspapers.
In Central China, in order to support the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation was planned and in October 1937, the 10th Army was organized. Under the 10th Army, the special 18th Division was organized in Kurume, Fukuoka. The Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun dispatched Mr. Mitoma to Central China as a war correspondent. Mr. Mitoma was 34 years old then.
On October 5, 1937, the 18th Division left Kurume, took a ship from Moji Port for Goto Island, where they were given military training and waited for a month. Then on November 5, the Division joined the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation, to land in the area around Jinshan Acropolis (金山衛城), which was situated close to the mouth of the Qiantang River (銭塘江口).
– Did you land with the 18th Division?
Yes. In the dark, early morning haze, together with the troops I landed in the muddy and shallow downstream of the Qiantang River, soaking in salty water up to the chest. Shouldering a heavy backpack, I tried to take pictures, as many as possible, but in the end, I was thoroughly wet and only 1 or 2 blurry pictures were basely usable.
– Did the 18th Division join the Nanjing Attack?
During the Attack, the duty of the 18th Division was to cut off the enemy’s retreat, those escaping from the Nanjing Castle, and to destroy the enemy. For that purpose, after the capture of Zheijiang (湖州), the Division was deployed in the south-west, between Taihu Lake (太湖) and Yangtze River (揚子江). Surrounding Nanjing out in the distance, we waited.
Soon, we heard a report that the attack against Nanjing’s Chaina Gate (中華門) had started. Despite the fierce battle, we knew that the capture of Nanjing was only a matter of time. After the capture, we had to prepare for the entrance ceremony. The 18th Division headquarters got an order to attend the ceremony as representatives of the army. Therefore, the headquarters unit entered the Castle beforehand through Water West Gate (水西門), located on the west side of Nanjing and waited for the day of ceremony.
– So did you enter the Castle together with the 18th Division Headquarters?
No. I wanted to see the exciting attack of Nanjing, so I left the troops and walked around, then I found myself at the shore of the Yangtze River. It was at a place called Taiping (太平), and it looked like a port town. I caught sight of a transport carrying Japanese soldiers and running upstream; soon it arrived at the port. They said they were going to Nanjing. “Good luck.” I asked them to take me on board.
– So you went down the Yangtze River.
On the way down, I saw an island in the middle of the river where a Japanese unit was. I asked to stop the boat and landed on the island. According to the map, the shore on the left side of the island was called Wu Jiang (烏江), a place well-known for the old story of Ziang Yu (項羽,) Chu(楚.).
On this island in the middle of the river, Colonel Hashimoto Kingoro (橋本欣五郎), the 13th Regiment Commander of Field Heavy Artillery (野戦重砲兵第十三連隊, set up a base. He boasted triumphantly, “I got an order and just destroyed a British ship.”
– Did you enter Nanjing after that?
I went down the river on the transport and landed at the wharf of Xiaguan (下関), the front entrance to Nanjing. I am not sure of the date, maybe it was the afternoon of December 13. On December 12, the Japanese Army attacked around China Gate (中華門). The mopping-up in and out the Castle continued until the morning of the 13th, so I guess that I entered the Castle on the afternoon of the 13th. The battle was completely finished.
When I landed Xiaguan, I saw a Japanese army truck running–it was empty. I asked the driver where was he going, he said he was going to the Water West Gate (水西門) located on the west side, by passing through the inside of Nanjing Castle. I asked him to give me a ride and when we arrived at Water West Gate, it was evening and already getting dark.
– What did you do after you arrived at Water West Gate?
Outside Water West Gate, I found the Obara Battalion, which was organized in Kagoshima, Kyushu. According to the Battalion Adjutant, they had fought fiercely, fully bloodied, until noon that day.
I went to meet Major Obara Shigetaka (小原重孝). Commander Obara had experience as military officer overseas and had a very strict manner. While I was speaking with him in a wide empty room, a reporter from another newspaper nonchalantly walked in, without knocking. Upset, the commander shouted at him in a loud voice, “Who are you? Get out!” Hearing that the adjutant jumped into the room, and the commander ordered the adjutant not to allow intruders into his room. Sensing his mood, we quickly withdrew from the room. Later the adjutant pitied us and assigned us a corner room in the building that night.
The next day, I got up before dawn and went out. I was told to watch the roadside carefully. In the morning mist, I was surprised to find a number of Chinese bodies in indigo dyed uniforms, here and there. I counted roughly 500 to 600 of them.
– Did you find the place where the 18th Division Headquarters lodged?
The inside of the Castle was empty and quiet. I didn’t see any civilians, no one at all. I saw people occasionally, Japanese soldiers patrolling in the Castle. Each time I met with Japanese soldiers, I asked them where the 18th Division was camped, and soon I found the Headquarters. The 18th Division used an empty house called the Hokei Ginro (宝慶銀楼) as their lodging.
The Commander of the 18th Division, Lieutenant General Ushijima Sadao (牛島貞雄), knew me well–I moved with them on a poorly maintained, muddy road for many days and struggled to find a way to send my articles from the battlefield to Shanghai. Commander Ushijima had written “You had such a hard time,” and handed me his calligraphy which he had already prepared. I thought it was like a commendation given by a high-rank samurai to his subordinate in old times. In addition, Commander Ushijima gave me a bottle of sake, a regal gift, which he kept for me, as well as a box of cigarettes with chrysanthemum crest. This demonstrated his warm, fatherly personality.
– After the capture, what was the situation in Nanjing?
I expected inside Nanjing to be a mess but I was surprised to see that was not so. Maybe around the Chaina Gate (中華門) or other gates where fierce fighting occurred there was more damage done, but I didn’t go to those places because they were too far away.
Anyway, as far as I saw, the town and the streets looked clean. Before the entrance ceremony, they must have been cleaned. Before the ceremony, I visited the Military Academy located in Zhongshan East Road (中山東路 ) and Zhongshan Gate to do a preliminary check of where the ceremony was to be held. It was clean everywhere and no abandoned bodies were seen.
– It is said that there was a massacre in Nanjing.
I saw Nanjing immediately after the capture so I am confident to say that I neither saw nor heard about a massacre; any massacre whatsoever. I cannot say anything about matters after the ceremony because after the ceremony I went back Shanghai, leaving my duties to the next reporter. I returned to Japan before the end of the year.
However, it was totally unlikely that a massacre happened after the capture of Nanjing. Nanjing citizens were evacuated to the Safety Zone long before and they were protected there. I assume that the large Chinese Army had withdrawn, leaving only a garrison in Nanjing. If large numbers of Chinese troops gathered in Nanjing, then they had no chance to survive because the Japanese Army surrounded the Castle for the attack. China is a huge country, therefore they promptly fled all the way to Hankou (漢口) before they sustained serious damage, then again to Chongqing (重慶). It was a reasonable strategy to stretch the Japanese lines, to make them long, thin and weak like a thread.
In the Spring of 1939, I was assigned to be the chief of the Nanjing branch and went to Nanjing again. Our branch office was located along Zhongshan North Road (中山北路).
Since then, I stayed in Nanjing for 6 years and then drafted into the army there and joined the army in Hankou and moved to Changsha (長沙). As the War ended, I was discharged from military service. I stayed at a camp, an old lodging for Japanese troops which was located outside Nanjing, together with 10,000 Japanese residents for half a year then returned Japan. While I was in Nanjing, as I mentioned earlier, I had never heard about a massacre.
I heard the story of a massacre when the Tokyo Trial raised the issue. It was a frame-up by the winner. I do not believe it.
– In order to understand those times, do you have something to share?
Yes. During the period I worked at our Nanjing branch, the two-year anniversary of the Capture of Nanjing had arrived. Our head office wanted a special featured article for the anniversary and I made the following:
We, the Nanjing branch office of the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun, hired a Chinese couple as assistants. The couple has continuously lived in Nanjing, including during the conflict, and know of those times in great detail. On the condition of providing anonymity, I interviewed them for a special article. The article was published on in the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimubun on December 10, 1939, on page 7.
This article described the situation in the Safety Zone.
It was titled:
Men and women in fear of kidnapping,
Painful atrocities committed by the Chinese Central Army.”
The husband’s name was Kosinmin (黄真民) (assumed name, 27 years old) and came from the southern countryside, several kilometers from Nanjing. He graduated from junior high school. His wife’s name was Chinmi (陳美) (assumed name, 26 years old) and her mother came from Suzhou.
The reporter started with the following:
– When the Japanese Army entered Nanjing where were you and what were you doing?
My wife and I were in the Safety Zone set by the International Committee, located in Yihe Road (頤和路), deeply secluded from Shanxi Road (山西路), in the northwest part of Nanjing.
Packed into the Safety Zone were 300,000 people. Night and day, the soldiers of the Central Army came, one after another, showing off their guns, searched us, took our food, property and our last penny. The most scaring thing was that they kidnapped men and women, especially single men, who were often taken for labor, and girls for the night. Their violence was really insufferable.
– How did you know that the Japanese Army arrived?
After we entered the Safety Zone, we never left the place because the fighting was getting really serious and we felt that we were in danger. I think it was December 11, when I was chattering with my friend, when we heard some gunshots from outside. “What is that?” I exchanged a glance with my friend.
– Did you see the Japanese Army?
I saw the Japanese Army on December 18. It was the first time for me to see Japanese Military Policemen patrolling.
– Were there any Chinese soldiers among the refugees?
There were. All Chinese soldiers were found and caught.
– Didn’t the Japanese soldiers mistake you for a Chinese soldier?
They inspected my hands and head, but my color was not of a soldier and I had my wife with me so they soon recognized that I was not a soldier.
– So your wife Chinmi saved your life. You must be treating her well, and the both of you are very devoted to each other.
I was so scared when we were searched, we couldn’t imagine what would happen.
– Was there enough food in the Safety Zone?
As soon as the Safety Zone was organized, I quit my departmental job, bought 2-koku of rice, oil, salt and so on and evacuated to the Safety Zone with my wife. At first there were no residents in the Safety Zone – the former residents evacuated already – but later it became packed. For example, 12 people had to sleep together in a room as small as this office.
– Your home village was not far from Nanjing. Why didn’t you evacuate to your home village?
Because there were many bandits on the way to my village—and the Central Army as well.
– Was it not good that the Central Army prevented banditry?
No, no. The Central Army and the bandits are the same. They never hesitated to rob–or kill us–if we have money or valuables.
That’s why we hurriedly moved to the Safety Zone which was supposed to be the safest place.
– Did you have so much money or valuables that might cause you to be killed or robbed?
We worked and had a house full of furniture. And I saved 800 Yuan, my wife 400 Yuan.
– I see. That’s why you were afraid of bandits and the Central Army.
And we were afraid of something else, too.
– What’s that?
Gangsters. There are many of these in China. An acquaintance of mine envied my money and informed one of these guys. The gangster caught me and took my money right from my pocket.
– When did this happen?
It happened when the Japanese Army had started to attack the Castle. My bad acquaintance disappeared since then but the gangster who stole my money is still walking the streets in Nanjing. Not just me, but there are many other victims of gangsters.
– Why didn’t you tell the police about it?
It is useless. The police are in with the gangsters. But the gangster who stole my money is now very poor, having had no food for a day.
– This must be Heaven’s punishment. Was Chinmi’s 400 Yuan also stolen that time?
I sewed the money tightly into a futon, so he couldn’t find it.
– Where were the fiercest battles that happened in the Castle?
It is said there were serious battles around Water West Gate (水西門), Guanghua Gate (光華門), Xiaguan (下関) and Yi Jiang Gate (挹江門). The strategy of the Japanese Army was to surround Nanjing–that worked in successfully capturing Nanjing in a short period of time. I heard that 11 Japanese soldiers caught 3,000 Chinese soldiers around Water West Gate.
– What a strange story. Why didn’t the Chinese soldiers protest?
They probably lost the will to fight and threw down their weapons.
– As a matter of fact, I [the reporter] was here, in Nanjing, at that time as a war correspondent specifically for the attack on Nanjing. I saw 500 to 600 bodies scattered outside the Water West Gate. At the time, I stayed at a building called the Hokei Ginro (宝慶銀楼), located along China Road (中華路). Now, being in Nanjing again, as soon as I arrived, I went to see the building, to see what had happened, and found the same Chinese who were there then still living there.
Oh, you were here then. I didn’t know that at all.
– And at the Attack of the China Gate, one of my colleagues, a war correspondent for the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun, was killed in the battle.
Oh. Did you volunteer for the job?
– We are dispatched by the newspaper companies. At the time 7 to 8 reporters and I were dispatched to Nanjing.
During the period of working as the chief of the Nanjing branch office, Mr. Mitomo had also brought his family to Nanjing. His daughter attended Japanese Elementary School in Nanjing from first to 5th grade. She joined the interview and I asked her about the Nanjing Massacre. She said:
I have never heard such a story. In Nanjing, I often played with Chinese children in the neighborhood, but they never mentioned it, not even a rumor.
After the War, Mr. Mitomo served as the chief of the business section in Nishi-Nihon Shimbun, and is now living in Tachiarai, a suburb of Fukuoka, with his daughter’s family. He was 83 years old yet looked 10 years younger. His mind was also such that he could very clearly remember details from those times.
17) Interview with Mr. Koike Shuyo (小池秋羊), Reporter for the Miyako Shimbun
I interviewed Mr. Koike Shuyo shortly after the beginning of the New Years’ Day, 1986. Last year, in Autumn, Mr. Koike had an acute heart problem and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. He left the hospital at the end of the year. He had been going to the hospital every other day for kidney dialysis before being hospitalized. I asked him for an interview before knowing anything about his health.
When I met him, I felt that he was not strong enough to do the interview, yet he insisted, partly because he himself was a reporter and partly, I guess, because he felt lonely, having not spoken much for a long time due to his health problem.
Mr. Koike was born in 1907. In 1928, he joined the Miyako Shimbun (currently the Tokyo Shimbun), working at the time as assistant director of the local news section. In 1937, he was dispatched to the battles of Shanghai and Nanjing together with Mr. Tsukamoto, the assistant director of the politics section, and Mr. Yoshino, photographer.
The Miyako Shimbun was a local Tokyo newspaper. The news from the Shanghai front was taken from the Domei Tsushin, but the Miyako Shimbun wanted their unique coloration of the conflict, so Mr. Koike and two others were dispatched for this purpose.
– When did you go to Nanjing?
We visited Taihu Lake (太湖) and returned to Shanghai on either December 2 or 3. Those days, Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Itsuo (馬淵逸雄) was in charge of the Army’s news section, so I visited his office and found a group of consoling visitors, 13 to 14 Diet members. They were talking about visiting Nanjing because the capture of Nanjing was only a matter of time. In the group, I saw Mr. Kato Kanju (加藤勘十), of the Japan Proletarian Party, (who was arrested a couple of weeks later due to the Popular Front Incident. After the War, he became Minister of Labor).
They invited us to go with them, so we three joined the group and headed for Nanjing.
It was on either December 5 or 6 we left Shanghai for Nanjing, through Suzhou, Wu-xi, and Changzhou, riding an Army truck.
It was around December 9 we arrived at the 16th Division Headquarters located near Ma Qunzhen (馬群鎮). Division Headquarters was deployed a distance from the frontline.
The Chinese Army continuously shot their cannons from Mt. Zijin (紫金山). The Headquarters was setup at the rear and there was no mountain in the area from which the Chinese Army could see us. It was very dangerous. When the visitors tried to take pictures of their visit, the thunder of Chinese cannon made us shudder. Terrified, the official visitors went back at once–they stayed at Headquarters for only an hour. Reporters were not able to abandon our job, so we remained with at 16th Division Headquarters.
The Commander of the 16th Division was Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago (中島今朝吾), who limped due to a bullet wound. Nevertheless, he was actively in command. When I met him for the first time, I was impressed by his softness, like a gentle old man.
We stayed at a place close to Ma Qunzhen (馬群鎮) for 3 to 4 days before we entered Nanjing. During that time the Japanese Army scattered bills advising surrender, and also they released balloon in order to gauge shooting distance to Nanjing. I heard that they attacked Xiaguan from there. Around 250,000 to 300,000 Chinese soldiers had been deployed in Nanjing but, at that time, 50,000 soldiers were left in Nanjing. The rest of the Chinese soldiers withdrew by passing through Xiaguan, so I heard.
Several kilometers behind the 16th Division Headquarters was a hot spring called Tang Shuizhen (湯水鎮). We used the hot spring several times.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
On either the 13th or 14th–my memory is not clear, but it must be 13th. We followed Division Headquarters and entered from Zhongshan Gate. Up to then, soldiers of the 16th Division completed mopping-up actions to clear Chinese soldier remnants, moving around every street of Nanjing starting from Zhongshan Gate.
We reporters walked along Zhongshan East Road (中山東路) and found that every house in the Castle was empty. It was a deathly quiet town, not even a cat or dog was seen–it was just a weird atmosphere that surrounded us. We were surprised to see the streets were perfectly in order, no trace of battle. After 200-300 meters of walking, we met a man walking toward us and then passed us, staggering as he went. His face and body were covered with blood, he looked like a ghost. He did not seem to be a soldier but ordinary civilian. Still, neither we reporters nor our soldiers offered him any help. We had no time. The place was a strange, unknown town to us. We were constantly in danger–the enemy could appear anytime, anywhere. I felt scared, and realized again that this was a real battlefield.
The 6 to 7 of us reporters, including the Hochi, Yomiuri, Shanghai Nippo, and our own Miyako, were fed by Nakajima Division Headquarters since we arrived outside of Nanjing. A monk, who joined the Division, took the job of communication between the reporters and the Division.
When we reporters walked around the Castle, somewhere behind Zhongzheng Road (中正路), a little past the rotary where the Zhongshan Road (中山路) and the Zhongzheng Road intersected, a fire broke out. The empty street was covered with black smoke, and the fire spread quickly and widely without anyone to extinguish it. As we watched the fire, several foreigners came by in two cars, racing at full speed around the street, took several pictures, then left the place at full speed again. Later, we found out that the group belonged to reporter Tillman Durdin of The New York Times, who reported the scoop–the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army in Nanjing. They ran into us and fled instantly. Considering that this battlefield was enemy territory to them as well as to us, we secretly admired their braveness and tactful manner as reporters.
Back to my story, we had to find our lodging and looked around in a luxury housing area close to Division Headquarters. We found a house that looked like the official residence of a high rank government official. We got permission from the Division and settled there. All furniture and decorations were intact. The house had a wide reception room, sunny living room and western style bathroom. I turned the faucet on and found water running. We spent more than a week on a fierce battlefield outside the Castle, so we cried with joy when we saw running water. But later we found out that the water was merely remains from the house’s water tank; we were disappointed.
The house was two-storied, the second floor was apparently the family’s private rooms. And in the perfume-scented luxurious daughter’s room, I imagined that a beautiful Chinese girl was actually in there. There was a study with full of books arranged neatly in shelves, which must also be the owner’s room. We were very satisfied with this house, which made us feel human.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
Around that time, I went to the Safety Zone and watched the assistant military policemen picked out Chinese soldier stragglers. A parent or brother of one of the soldiers who was caught by the military policemen begged them not to take him, crying, he was not a soldier. I couldn’t stand to watch the scene. But, anyway, I guessed that the policemen took him.
– How many remnants did they take away?
Ten or 20, in a group. I think the military policemen shot them.
I didn’t see it, but I suppose the policemen took them to the suburbs and shot them there.
– How was the Safety Zone at the time?
The refugees were upset while the military policemen looking for stragglers, but generally they were calm.
And there was not enough food so the people begged us for food. In our lodging, we found several bags of rice, so we brought the leaders of the refugees to our lodging and gave them rice and other food, enough for two carts. But there were 60,000 to 70,000 people in the Safety Zone, so it was almost nothing.
– Did you send articles about the people in the Safety Zone?
Yes. I wrote articles about what I myself saw while walking around. We didn’t have radio equipment so we asked a person in the Army press section, who came from Shanghai, to send my articles, using the Army’s radio system.
– What was the situation in Nanjing after that?
I visited many places in Nanjing, but we didn’t have a car so my movement was limited. At the entrance ceremony, I waited on the Zhongshan Gate and took pictures of General Matsui entering the Castle from a distance and Mr. Yoshino, who was a professional photographer, took close-up pictures of the General. The picture was displayed on the first page of the Miyako Shimbun. Also, we took pictures for the New Year – a group of soldiers cheered “banzai” on Mt. Zijin. It was set-up.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I wanted to return to Shanghai before the 24th and asked the Navy to get me passage for Shanghai on the 22nd. I stayed one night on board a ship and I suppose I arrived in Shanghai on the 23rd. Yes, I remember cerebrating Christmas Eve, the 24th, in the French Concession in Shanghai.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing. Did you see bodies from a massacre?
I don’t know whether they were the result from a massacre or fighting, but I saw several bodies in a basement of a half-constructed building near the central rotary. The basement was filled with water and the water was red with blood. When I saw the pale bodies, I was really scared.
And I think it was at Yi Jiang Gate (挹江門) – I went there on a Army truck and I saw a corpse which had been run over repeatedly by cars and it was flat.
And when I left Xiaguan, where a dock or a pan-shaped shipyard-like grandstand stood, I saw a number of bodies thrown in it.
– How many were bodies in the dock?
It was not just 5 or 10. More than that–20 or 30. I think they were battle casualties.
– Did you see any other bodies?
No, that’s all what I saw.
– Did you heard about a massacre while you were in Nanjing?
– Did you hear any rumors, of any kind at all?
I heard a story that Chinese soldiers couldn’t find any food, so they turned themselves in.
– You said that you met foreign reporters.
They each had a car, took pictures including our mopping-up operation in the Castle, the place that was on fire, and even of the Safety Zone. I was surprised they took so many pictures.
I once saw the soldiers of the 16th Division seizing something by force. It seemed that the top officers overlooked soldiers taking food. It would not be so good if foreign reporters wrote an article about this, so I reported this matter to, maybe, Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Itsuo (馬淵逸雄). He understood immediately and tried to stop foreign reporters at each Castle gate but they had already gone back to Shanghai. The article was published by several newspapers, including the Shanghai Evening Post, and the North China Daily Newspaper. In addition, as mentioned before, it was published by foreign newspapers, like The New York Times, too.
– Have you seen the Shanghai Evening Post and the North China Daily News yourself?
Yes, I read them after I returned to Shanghai. It was published, not only by neutral newspapers, but also by Chinese newspapers.
– What did the papers say?
I don’t remember exactly, it mentioned Japanese soldiers’ plundering or something like that.
Our Miyako Shimubun made the Astor House, near the Garden Bridge, our lodging. Across the Garden Bridge was the International Settlement, which housed citizens from the UK and other countries, and where we could buy English language newspapers and newspapers written in Chinese.
Usually we Miyako Shimbun reporters visited the press department of the Japanese Army to get news but we have only three staff members and our capacity to get news was limited, so we tried to get information from the English language newspapers rather than going up to the front.
Therefore, starting with the Attack on Dachang Town (大場鎮攻略), it became our regular duty to read the newspapers published in the International Settlement. Other Japanese newspapermen did the same, but I believe we had the best knowledge about foreign newspapers then.
– In those newspapers you must have found a lot of anti-Japan articles. How did you take it?
Naturally, in the International Settlement, being Japanese was dangerous. On a street corner, I saw some Chinese people who were accused of being pro-Japanese traitors. There were killed and their heads put on public display. The UK was also anti-Japanese so they didn’t step in and just left the heads there. I often visited an English bookshop called Kelly, where I saw a number of anti-Japanese books.
Under those circumstances, even the so-called neutral newspapers written in English took the Chinese side. We couldn’t use those articles, literally, but we did get to know the Chinese point of view. Taking those things into consideration, I wrote my article.
– After the War, it was said there was a massacre with hundreds of thousands victims.
The bodies I saw with my own eyes were those that mentioned earlier. However, I didn’t get to see all of Nanjing, so I don’t know of anything else. If someone said there was a massacre, I cannot refute that. But even in Japanese Army’s reports, for example, when they said they killed 10,000, in fact it was 1,000. The numbers were always exaggerated.
I have no intention of taking the Chinese or the Japanese side. What I talked about today was all that I witnessed and experienced in Nanjing.
Mr. Koike stayed in Shanghai until February 1938, and returned to Tokyo. His first visit to China ignited his dream of China, of which he held for a long time. He quit his job at the Miyako Shimbun in 1939 to go China again. Pulling some strings, he joined a company called Mokyo-dengyo 蒙疆電業in Zhangjiakou (張家口), China. He worked there for 5 years and then drafted into the Japanese military in 1944.
Living in China for a total of 6 years, he made his dream come true, that is, he saw the stone Buddhist images of Yungang Grottoes (雲岡) and Longmen Grottoes (竜門), for which he had been longing. After the War, he established a company and engaged in business. During this time, he wrote three books, “Mongolia, A Country Far Away,” “Note on Yungang Grottoes,” and “Longmen Mandala.”
18) Interview with Mr. Yanai Shogoro (箭内正五郎), Reporter for the Fukushima Minpo Newspaper
In August 1937, the second Shanghai Incident broke out and the 3rd Division and the 11th Division landed at Shanghai. However, the Chinese Army fiercely resisted. Therefore, in September, the 13th Division, the 9th Division, the 101th Division and Shigefuji (重藤) Detachment were dispatched to Shanghai. The 13th Division was organized in Sendai, Aizuwakamatsu, Shibata and Takada, as a reserve unit. Within the division, the 65th Regiment was organized in Aizuwakamatu, headed by Colonel Morozumi Gyosaku (両角業作), who was just promoted to colonel.
The 13th Division landed China in the beginning of October, and fought against the Chinese Army in Lao Lu Zhai (老陸宅) and Ma Jiazhai (馬家宅). Later the Japanese Army moved north, chasing the Chinese Army along the Yangtze River and captured Jiangyin (江陰) Battery, the largest fortress in the area around the Yangtze River. After the capture of the Jiangyin Battery, the Shibata Regiment and the Takada Regiment crossed the Yangtze River, heading towards Jingjiang (靖江), while the Sendai Regiment and the Aizuwakamatsu Regiment stayed there and moved to Zhenjiang (鎮江). After the capture of Zhenjiang, the Sendai Regiment crossed the Yangtze River and moved north, while the 65th Regiment moved for Nanjing along the Yangtze River. The 65th Regiment was under Brigade Commander Major General Yamada Senji (山田栴二).
After the War, Mr. Hata Kensuke (秦賢助) wrote an article in the magazine Japan Weekly, titled by “Byakko Troop Blooded by Prisoners’ Blood”. In the article, Mr. Hata wrote that on December 15, 1937, the Byakko Troop massacred Chinese 20,000 prisoners, who were caught at Mufushan (幕府山).
Shortly thereafter, the Fukushima Minyu Shimbun started a two-year series titled “War Story of The Local Regiment”. In those times, there were many surviving soldiers who participated in the Nanjing Battle, and Brigade Commander Yamada and 65th Regiment Commander Morozumi were also alive and well. Based on various witnesses and evidence, the series “War Story of The Local Regiment” proved that Mr. Hata’s article was not based at all on fact. In addition, ten years later, journalist Mr. Suzuki Akira revealed in his book, “Nanjing Illusion of the Nanjing Massacre,” that Mr. Hata’s story was nothing more than fiction. However, the story spread widely and persisted. The 65th Regiment and the 16th Division, which remained in Nanjing after the capture, have been associated with the Nanjing-Incident.
To follow the 65th Regiment, three reporters were assigned from the Fukushima Minpo, Fukushima Minyu, and the Fukushima. These newspapers received general news from the Domei Tsushin. The three reporters instead tried to report something special, focusing on the Regiment’s soldiers, by following their local regiment.
Among the three reporters, two reporters, of the Fukushima Minyu and the Fukushima died and only Mr. Yanai Shogoro of the Fukushima Minpo, was alive.
In those time, there were five local newspapers in Fukushima prefecture and the Fukushima Minpo had the largest number of subscriptions. The Fukushima Minpo published a collection of photographs titled by “Our Local Regiment’s Photographs in the China Incident” in 1938. This book showed the battles of the 65th Regiment in Shanghai and Nanjing. Mr. Yanai, who had returned to Japan by then, edited this photo-book, using some of the photos he himself took.
Mr. Yanai was born in January 1904. He joined the Fukushima Minpo in 1928 and in September 1937, followed the 65th Regiment to Shanghai. This was to be his first and only military experience. Among other reporters he was the only reporter following the local soldiers, which suggests that he must have been the most promising reporter at the Fukushima Minpo.
After he returned from China, he was appointed chief editor in 1940 and he served in that capacity until he was purged by the American Occupation and had to leave the company in 1948. During the period from 1940 to 1944 he served Mr. Horikiri Zenbei (堀切善兵衛), the Ambassador to Italy, as the Ambassador’s secretary, keeping his status as the newspaper’s chief editor in the mean time. When he was purged after the War, he decided to join the company in which Mr. Horikiri was involved.
I interviewed him in December 1985 at his home in Fukushima City. It was a cold day. Mr. Yanai, wearing a pullover, looked plump and energetic for an 81 year-old.
– After the Zhenjiang Attack, of the 13th Division, the 65th Regiment alone went to Nanjing, is that correct?
Yes. Other regiments crossed the Yangtze River and headed north, but only the 65th Regiment moved for Nanjing along Yangtze River. The 65th Regiment had completed most of their serious battles in Shanghai. After the Shanghai battle, the last significant battle was the attack against Jiangyin Battery. The battle at Jiangyin Battery was very hard but Japanese soldiers inflicted far fewer casualties compared to the battle in Shanghai. When we arrived in Zhenjiang, we found almost nothing, the enemy had already withdrawn.
– You went to Nanjing after that. Did you go with the 65th Regiment Headquarters?
Usually we always followed Regiment Headquarters. We were under the Regiment, so they supplied us with leftover food and delivered our articles to the Army’s Press Section in Shanghai. In exchange of their support, we had to inform the adjutant of the Regiment beforehand if we wanted to leave the Regiment. The Asahi, Mainich, and other main newspapers had to manage their own food supply and delivery of their articles but they had the liberty to gather news materials from wherever they wanted. That was the difference between the local newspapers like ours and the big, main newspapers.
As I said, we followed the 65th Regiment until the battle of Jiangyin, but after that, we didn’t have any serious battles, so we left the Regiment with permission and tried to gather news materials. It so happened that we could get a ride on a transport unit’s truck from Zhenjiang to Nanjing. The transport unit was moving in the rear of the Regiment, which meant that I was apart from Headquarters.
– When did you join the 65th Regiment’s Headquarters again?
Perhaps either December 17 or 18. The Headquarters was deployed at a place two to three kilometers from the north gate of Nanjing. We found them there and joined them again.
– Did you see the entrance ceremony on December 17?
No. So I assume that I had arrived in Nanjing after the ceremony was completed. From the 65th Regiment, Brigade Commander Yamada and Regiment Commander Morozumi and several soldiers attended the ceremony, entering from the north gate. I hadn’t entered the Castle that time.
– It was said that around December 14, the 65th Regiment caught 15,000 or 20,000 prisoners.
As I mentioned before, I was in a transport unit’s truck, so I was not there the moment they caught the prisoners. I heard about the prisoners after we caught up with Regiment Headquarters.
– What did they do to the prisoners?
I guess they set them free because keeping prisoners was huge trouble. Those times, the Japanese soldiers had no other choice but to drive off the prisoners, but if they said this openly, they would have gotten a reprimand from their superiors, so they simply said they made the Chinese soldiers retreat, or were “destroyed”.
– Did you write about the prisoners?
No. The people back home wanted to know about the soldiers’ surroundings, so I wrote about their daily life. Regarding the prisoners, I think the story is in the photo-book, “Our Local Regiment’s Photographs during the China Incident published in 1938 is accurate. The book “Our Local Regiment’s Photographs in China Incident” was written based on the facts.
– Did you refrain from writing about the prisoners due to censorship?
No, it had nothing to do with censorship. I didn’t write about the prisoners because I hardly heard about it. Just like that, it was not a topic.
Speaking of censorship, we were strictly prohibited from using names of places and the soldiers. Revealing location, especially, was never allowed, as well as the name of a soldier–they were expressed as ○○. However, only when the 65th Regiment spent New Year’s in Quanjiao (全椒) (20 kilometers away, northwest of Nanjing), were we allowed to use the name of locations in our article. If a name was shown as ○○, we didn’t really feel the atmosphere of the New Year.
– According to the series of articles titled “War Story of The Local Regiment,” published by the Fukushima Minyu Shimbun after the War, most of the prisoners ran away and when the Japanese soldiers tried to set the rest of them free, approximately 3,000, they started to rebel. Therefore, the Japanese soldiers had to shoot them.
It was after the War when I heard that prisoners revolted. While I was in Nanjing, nobody raised the matter of prisoners as a subject. After the War, for the first time, I heard it was called a massacre, and that reminded me about the prisoners again.
– Mr. Hata Kensuke said the Byakko Troop massacred 20,000 prisoners.
Mr. Hata Kensuke, oh yes. Mr. Hata wrote a book called “Byakko Troop” while the 65th Regiment fought in China. The book sold well and he became well-known. I was the first reporter to follow the 65th Regiment, joining them in December 1937, and followed them as far as Shushen (滁県) and then I returned to Fukushima at the end of January 1938. Later, around February or March, an alternate reporter, Sakamoto Mutsuyoshi (坂本六良), went to China. At that time, Mr. Hata did not visit either Shanghai or Nanjing. Nevertheless, without ever visiting China, he wrote the book “Byakko Troop.”
At the time, my elder brother also joined the Japanese Army, serving as platoon leader in a machine-gun unit in the First Battalion. Until two months ago, he was fine, then he died at the age of 86. My brother joined the Army and volunteered for a second term to go to China, where he was on active duty. The 65th Regiment mainly consisted of reserve soldiers but my brother was in the center of the front line. After the War, I asked my brother if he killed prisoners, he answered that we didn’t have enough bullets to kill the prisoners. In those times, the Regiment was under-supplied. Therefore, they couldn’t waste a bullet–they had to keep their bullets for the next battle. When the prisoners got violent, then they had to shoot them–otherwise they wouldn’t.
Think about that–it was just some Japanese soldiers who were moving up front and caught Chinese soldiers. The 65th Regiment had numerous casualties in battle at Shanghai and lost many soldiers. Yes, they were filled with recruits. Nevertheless, their numbers were less than usual. How many Japanese soldiers could catch 15,000 Chinese soldiers? If 1,000 Japanese soldiers, for example, caught 15,000 Chinese soldiers and then if 15,000 prisoners attacked the Japanese soldiers, the Japanese soldiers would not be able to shoot them all. On the contrary, the Japanese soldiers would have been killed. It does not make sense from the standpoint of numbers, for one thing. Mr. Hata had no knowledge about Nanjing. The people who knew of those times never believed Mr. Hata’s story. Mr. Hata was born in Fukushima and lives in Fukushima.
– Mr. Hata died several years ago.
Did he? I didn’t see him long. Mr. Hata’s story about a massacre was not what he saw himself but what he heard from the soldiers after the War, probably while they were drinking. After the War, the soldiers wanted to talk about their war stories, often in colorful ways.
– At least something happened which was raised during drinking?
There were stories of other prisoners and ben-i-hei, plain clothes soldiers, and so on. Especially in Shanghai. One episodes which happened in Shanghai was that prisoners were paid to do odd jobs during the day, rebelled at night and threw hand grenades and set fire to our lodgings. One fire burned my cloak. Also, Japanese soldiers found ben-i-hei, or civilian-clothed soldiers, throwing grenades so the Japanese soldier killed ben-i-hei. Therefore, there were bodies in civilian-clothes. I assume such stories spread by word of mouth.
Another misunderstanding was that, stories of soldiers hunting for rabbits or birds somehow became plundering. For war stories, good stories do not spread but bad stories spread out like a ripples from a rock thrown into a pond because people love exciting stories. I think the massacre story was one of those.
– Was it not ordered from the top?
If you knew the Regiment Commander Morozumi, you could not say such a thing. Regiment Commander Morozumi had common sense, was easily moved to tears and a reliable person. He was not a graduate of the Army War College but was promoted to Regiment Commander and finally to Lieutenant General. He was so great that people naturally thought that he must have been a graduate of the Army War College.
When we landed Shanghai, Regiment Commander Morozumi instructed his soldiers at the wharf, “Weapons can be made easily but not humans. It took 20 to 30 years of time to make you as you are now. Take care of yourself. For that purpose, dig trenchs deep enough and make them perfect.”
In the battle of Shanghai, the 65th Regiment lost the largest number of soldiers–soldiers admired Regiment Commander Morozumi and they fought bravely for him. In other words, the Commander’s caring and compassion toward his soldiers killed soldiers against the Commander’s will. If soldiers had antipathy for their commander, they wouldn’t want to die for him and that would result in fewer casualties and minor injuries. I can say this according to my experience. Many soldiers died when they had caring commanders and soldiers with nagging commander survived. In the battlefield, the soldiers’ mind became simplicity itself. If you wanted to save your soldiers you must be hated by the soldiers – to his regret, Regiment Commander Morozumi said this. It is true.
I have my own memory about Commander Morozumi. I kept moving with Regiment Headquarters and had no chance to meet my brother as I mentioned before, who had joined the Regiment. Knowing this, the Commander occasionally informed me that my brother was fine. I found out later that the Commander also told my elder brother that I was doing well.
When we started the attack on Jiangyin Castle(江陰城), the Commander was ordered from his superior to capture the Castle before a certain date, but he instructed his soldiers, “Try to capture the castle before this date, but if not possible, do not push yourself too hard, do not waste your life.” Therefore, even if he got an order from his superior to kill prisoners, I am sure he would have rejected it. That was his character. And it was quite unlikely for him to order such a thing himself.
Incidentally, Mr. Morozumi Yoshihiko (両角良彦), who served as the undersecretary of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry several years ago, was the eldest son of this Commander Morozumi.
– Did you hear something about disciplinary problems in the 65th Regiment?
No. In Fukushima, there are hundreds of people who fought in the war who are still alive. If you ask them, you will see.
After the War, Mr. Hata Kensuke said that the 65th Regiment committed a massacre, but nobody believes that. A person who went to war knew very well that killing a person is not easy. Even a small war, you hear thundering sounds of cannons and gunshots that makes everything look awful and inflated. But later, when you look at that same battlefield, it looks incredibly small. Such impressions of battle multiplied and spread after the War.
Some people insist it was a massacre from an ideological point of view and some people have started to believe this, but considering the situation in Nanjing then, it was not possible.
– Did you see bodies along the shore of the Yangtze River?
In Nanjing, no. I have a stronger impression of things in Shanghai than from Nanjing. I saw a number of bodies in Shanghai. No one cleaned the battlefield so they were abandoned in the fields. I remember that very well.
– The 65th Regiment crossed the River from Xiaguan to Pukou (浦口) on December 20. Did you see any corpses at that time?
For crossing the River, I took a small Navy gunboat from a pier in Xiaguan. I think there were several piers in Xiaguan but at least I did not see any bodies at the pier where I took the gunboat.
– Have you heard about the Nanjing-Incident after the War?
Yes. After the War I, was surprised to hear that there was massacre in Nanjing. As mentioned before, compared to the fighting in Shanghai, the Nanjing front was not so severe, and reporters from the Fukushima Minyu and Fukushima Shimbun left Nanjing before the end of December 1937. I crossed the River, went to Chushen (滁県) and stayed there until January 1938, but I had never heard of that.
I believe that there was no massacre. It was a rumor spread after the War.
Nanjing, as Observed by Japanese Soldiers
“As a matter of fact, I sympathize with China. I did not agree with the establishment of Manchuria. In the Nisshi-jihen, or China Incident, Japan went too far. But as far as the refusing to surrender as advised in Nanjing, I think China was wrong. And eventually, the top commander, T’ang Sheng-chih (唐生智), himself escaped. …… This would be the same at a company. If the company’s leaders disappeared, the company would be left in chaos and their employees would steal goods and run away. Had they not refused surrender, the matter of prisoners would have never come up. If you look at international law, I think the path China had taken was the problem.” (From a statement by Mr. Okada Takashi, attached to General Matsui.)
Around the Safety Zone at Zhongshan Road, a stall for boiled gyoza started business.
The first customers were Japanese soldiers. (December 15th, 1937)
1. The Army
19) Interview with Major Yoshinaga Sunao (吉永朴), Staff Officer, 10th Army
Mr. Yoshinaga Sunao served as Staff Officer in the 10th Army, then as senior Staff Officer in the 3rd Army, then Chief of Staff in the 2nd Aviation Forces, and finally as Director of Imperial Japanese Army Air Academy, for which he is well-known today.
Mr. Yoshinaga was born in 1897, participating in the attack on Nanjing at the age of 40, and at the end of the War he was 47 years old. When I interviewed him he was 88 years old but he looked stately and fine. He did not need a hearing aid. He told me, “You are the first person to ask me to talk about Nanjing,” and tried to remember of the things from a long, long time ago.
It was December 27, 1985 when I interviewed him. Actually, I got a letter from him in the summer of that year, in which he responded my questions. His letter started by stating that the Nanjing massacre is groundless rumor. And he answered my questions, one by one, on the controversy issues regarding Nanjing and ended the letter with: “If you want to know more details I can meet you.” Encouraged, I asked him for interview at once and waited for his response. But he didn’t respond after that. Considering his age, I assumed that his health might not be so good, so I waited patiently.
Around the same time, I got responses to my questions from Mr. Matsumae Misoo (松前未曽雄), the former executive secretary to the Minister of Army. Unexpectedly, however, soon I saw Mr. Matsumae’s obituary in the newspaper, less than one month after I got his letter. I did not get any sense that he was on the verge of death from his postcard, so I was really surprised. I thought that the same thing might have happened to Mr. Yoshinaga. I inquired about his health at the Army Officer’s Club, Kaikosha (偕行社). The reply was that Mr. Yoshinaga had no health problems.
But several months already passed since I sent my letter. I decided to call him, and his wife answered the phone. She said that Mr. Yoshinaga could not meet me. She explained that immediately after he got my letter, a stranger came to meet him on a similar issue and he defrauded Mr. Yoshinaga. Mr. Yoshinaga was terribly shocked by this and so he decided not to meet strangers anymore, he could not stand further shocks.
I understood his shock but I still had many things to ask him. I sent him a letter again, and called him again–finally he agreed to meet me. The interview finally, conducted at the end of December. Under the circumstances, he was cautious, so the vice-manager of the retirement home where he lived, was present with us. Accordingly, one might imagine that there was a harsh atmosphere during the interview, but, in fact, Mr. Yoshinaga prepared a room for the interview and answered my questions politely, despite my questions focusing on the 10th Army, which may have sounded like accusation.
– Mr. Uesuna Katsushichi (上砂勝七), Chief of Military Police, 10th Army, wrote in his memoir, Military Policeman for 31 Years , the following:
After the Hangzhou Bay landing, the 10th Army had to rely on rqusition for food supply. The chief accountant of the 10th Army raged that he would go back Japan because he could not take responsibility for such an undesirable approach. Chief Staff Officer Tanabe tried to soothe him to settle the matter.
Have you heard of this argument within the 10th Army?
I knew Mr. Uesuna but never met him in face-to-face at Headquarters, I don’t think this was true. I knew Captain Fujino Ranjo (藤野鸞丈), adjacent to the Chief of Military Police, too. While I was serving as the director of Imperial Japanese Army Air Academy, Mr. Fujino was the Chief of Tokyo Military Police. Mr. Fujino and I talked many times regarding the case of Ward Chief Colonel Uehara Shigetaro (上原重太郎), so we had many chances to talk several matters but I have never heard such things from Mr. Fujino.
– I assume that the requisition was really undertaken…
As soon as the 10th Army landed at Hangzhou Bay, they had to rush across the creek zone in order to reach the rear of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army as according to plan. So the Army soldiers, including the commander, raced along a field footpath with minimum equipment. The mountain artillery was disassembled and transported. Under the circumstances, the transportation corps landed everything in Shanghai, including our heavy equipment. The horses were exhausted, some of them just stood there like statues. Even my baggage was carried to Shanghai–it was a lot of trouble for me, too. In this situation, as Sun Tzu said in his book, The Art of War, “Rely on the enemy for food”, it was an inevitable part of the job.
– In his book Military Policeman for 31 Years, it says that the 10th Army had disciplinary problems, therefore the General Chief of Staff issued admonitions. How was the discipline of the 10th Army in general?
From Hangzhou Bay Landing until the Nanjing Attack, the 10th Army fought with speed and bravery. Some confuse their brave, reckless action with disciplinary problem. I regret that Mr. Uesuna brought up an entirely unacceptable discussion of the 10th Army.
– Did you move together with Headquarters before you reached to Nanjing?
Yes, I did.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
At the Nanjing Attack, the 10th Army’s Headquarters was deployed at Hong Lanbu (洪藍埠). Then the artillerymen joined us for the first time, and on December 12, the Oita Regiment hoisted the Japanese sun-flag on the rampart. I was ordered to establish the Headquarters of the Army by the Chief Staff, Major General Tanabe Moritake (田辺盛武), so on the early morning of the 13th, I entered Nanjing through China Gate (中華門). Walking one kilometer or so from the gate, I found Shanghai Saving Bank (上海儲備銀行) at the intersection of Zhu Qiaolu (朱雀路) and Health Road (健康路), and decided to use it as headquarters and made it ready for the Commander.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
I saw bodies abandoned near the rampart. They looked miserable, some of them were run over by cars. Looking them, I thought we had to win the war, and that the country which lost was just shattered. On the way to the Saving Bank, I met a family in descent shape. I gave them my name card and wrote on it “Let them pass freely through sentry lines.” This meant that the inside of the Nanjing was settled enough such that a family could walk about. I’d like to add: the number of Japanese soldiers who were allowed to enter Nanjing was limited. I was not in charge for issuing restrictions, so I do not know the details, but before the Nanjing attack, each Division was given an order concerning troop numbers.
– What did you do after December 14?
A couple of days later, I went to Xiaguan to confer on military operations. I saw a number of corpses of Chinese soldiers at the wharf–they were submerged in the Yangtze River.
– How many is “a number of”?
I don’t know exactly, several thousand, maybe. The 10th Army attacked from the south of Nanjing and at the same time the Kunizaki detachment also attacked the Chinese army from Pukou (浦口). I think the corpses were battle casualties.
– Were they all soldiers?
There were many Chinese in civilian-clothes. I heard later that in Nanjing a large number of military uniforms were discarded, so I guess that Chinese corpses in civilian-clothes were ben-i-hei, soldiers in civilian attire. I saw hanging corpses dressed in civilian clothes.
I am not sure. To my memory, the corpses looked like they were hanged, but they might have been washed up shore due to the tide and so I thought that they had been hanged.
– Other than Xiaguan, did you visit any other place?
I climbed Mt. Zijin. I think it was December16, the day before the entrance ceremony. I was not impressed by Mt. Zijin in particular.
– Did you hear about a massacre by then?
No, not once.
– Muto Akira (武藤章), the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Central China Area Army, wrote in his memoir, From Philippines to Sugamo: “During the operations, General Matsui tried to respect Chinese standing to the extent that it was far from realistic. The General’s soft attitude frustrated some of the officers. A commander and divisional general, who considered strategy a priority, gave protest to the General. At Nanjing, being lodged in a neighboring room, I could hear them quarreling furiously.”
– I assume that this certain commander was Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke (柳川平助). Did you come across such arguments?
I don’t know what they were quarreling about, they might have been arguing about the Lady Bird (the accidental shelling of a British ship by the Japanese Army). The 10th Army had to move to attack Hangzhou immediately after the entrance ceremony, so they must have had no time for such an argument.
– When was the Hangzhou Attack decided?
I assume that the moment of Nanjing Attack, the Hangzhou Attack had already been decided. Lieutenant General Yanagawa insisted on capturing Hangzhou as well, so at his initiative, Lieutenant Colonel Terada Masao (寺田雅雄), who was in charge of strategy, planned the Hangzhou Attack. The operational plan was presented to Headquarters. Therefore, at the moment of entering Nanjing, Headquarters had already prepared to move on to Hangzhou. Lieutenant General Yanagawa’s idea was that Japan had to capture the triangular area of Shanghai – Nanjing – Hangzhou, then to wait for diplomatic negotiations. He submitted his idea again after he returned Tokyo.
– Did the Commander Yanagawa have the idea of attacking Nanjing from the beginning?
Yes, he did. At first, the 10th Army focused on the attack of Shanghai from the rear but Commander Yanagawa already had a plan to attack Nanjing. He presented his plan repeatedly. There were a lot of differences between his plan and Imperial Headquarters’.
– What kind of person was the Commander Yanagawa?
While I was in the 10th Army, I was constantly under Lieutenant General Yanagawa. He was great man and, even now, he has my deepest respect. He was a reticent person, in a word, he was a quiet hero.
Lieutenant General Yanagawa loved China. On the way to Nanjing, he gathered several of his staff in the inner courtyard of a Chinese house, and watching the harvest moon, said that it was not a desirable thing for Japan and China to fight each other, however, duty is duty.
After entered Hangzhou, the 10th Army was not engaged in battle–it was relatively peaceful. I even had time to play tennis. Shortly after, Lieutenant Colonel Terada Masao returned to Tokyo and I was ordered to become an instructor at the Military Staff College. But I had tasks to be completed, so I asked Major General Iimura Yuzuru (飯村穣), the director of the Military Staff College, to allow me to stay in China for a little longer and I did my tasks under Colonel Fujimoto Tetsukuma (藤本鉄熊).
The Headquarters of the Army was at a place called Xileng Fantien (西冷飯店) near West Lake, and Lieutenant General Yanagawa lodged at a wealthy Chinese man’s house located close to Headquarters. It was said the Commander Yanagawa recited a sutra everyday. I wrote a battle report for the 10th Army, and visited the Commander Yanagawa several times in order to get his signature. I stayed on with the last of the 10th Army soldiers and on February 26, 1938, when the Commander Yanagawa returned to Tokyo, in triumph, I accompanied him.
After the War, I met the Commander’s wife and his daughter. Still now, I keep in contact with his daughter.
– In the beginning of February Lieutenant General Honma Masaharu (本間雅晴), Chief of the Second Section of the General Staff Headquarters, visited Hangzhou. Did you meet him?
Lieutenant General Honma was my instructor at the Military Staff College who taught me current circumstances regarding the UK. He knew my brother, who was a doctor, too. But I have no memory of meeting him in Hangzhou.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing.
I have the firm belief that there was no massacre in Nanjing. Most of all, Chinese civilians escaped quickly. Only a few were left. Furthermore, if Japanese soldiers had killed hundreds and thousands of Chinese, how would they have accomplished this? Even if they had made every Chinese line-up, it still would not have been possible. The number “hundreds and thousands” is a huge amount that you cannot move through such a group of prisoners. There was not even that many people left in Nanjing (before the attack).
Like the Chinese saying, hakuhatsu sanzen-jou, or 3,000 jou of white hair, the Chinese made mentions of “massacres” much later. My conclusion is: there was no massacre.
20) Interview with Major Okada Yuji (岡田酉次), Staff, Special Duty Section of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army
In 1930, Mr. Okada Yuji, then an accounting officer, was studying in the department of economics at Tokyo University as a correspondent student. He had already realized the importance of a Japan-China economic bloc, that is, the importance of economic ties between the two countries in order to fight a modern war, which was characterized as “total war” at the time.
For 12 years, since his graduation from Tokyo University in 1933 until the end of the War, his career mainly related to China, including the China Section of the General Staff Headquarters, Shanghai Military Office, Shanghai Expeditionary Army, East Asia Development Board, adviser to the Wang Zhaoming (汪政権,) Government, and China Expeditionary Army, and so on. In Shanghai, together with the Shanghai Mayor Chou Fo-hai (周仏海), Mr. Okada heard the broadcast in which the Emperor accepted the Potsdam Declaration. He was a Major General then.
Mr. Okada’s activity in China and his Chinese friends and acquaintances are described in his memoir, Behind the Scenes – Note on the Japan-China War. In his long experiences in China, I asked him questions focused on the period of the entrance into Nanjing in 1937.
Mr. Okada was a quiet person–from his compact body, it was not easy to imagine he was once a major general. This was due in part because his responsibility was not on the battlefield but in financial matters. When I interviewed him he was 88 years old, very active and still working at a leading company in Yokohama – he travels to his office everyday from his home in Kamakura. After the War, he engaged in business, serving as vice president of his company and now as a consultant.
In April 1936, Mr. Okada moved from “the China Section of the General Staff Headquarters” to “the Office of Military Attaché to the Shanghai Embassy”. His job was to research and study the Chinese economy and he did this by creating a new office.
The next year, in August 1937, as the Shanghai Expeditionary Army landed in Shanghai, he joined the Army as a special duty member of Headquarters. The name of his position changed but his duty was same–he was responsible for financial arrangements in the Expeditionary Army. During the China Incident, economic and political matters were regarded as important as military strategy. For the purpose of economic arrangements, Mr. Okada entered Nanjing as soon as Nanjing was captured.
– Did you enter Nanjing with Headquarters?
No, I entered Nanjing following front-line troops. When Japanese troops started to attack Nanjing, the Headquarters of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army was deployed in Tang Shuizhen (湯水鎮) and I was there. The Shanghai Expeditionary Army was headed by Prince Asakanomiya. The Central China Area Army was headed by General Matsui, and Major General Tsukata was the Chief of Staff. The Headquarters of the Central China Area Army had not arrived at Tang Shuizhen yet.
I was in the Headquarters of the Expeditionary Army but I had to handle Chinese bank matters of as soon as possible, once Nanjing was captured, so I moved with the front-line troops after we expected that the capture of Nanjing was only a matter of time. We traveled by car, bullets spraying, and on the way to Nanjing we came across Chinese remnants, who escaped from Nanjing and were fleeing towards Tang Shuizhen. Also, I saw lines of prisoners tied-up and marching. It was December 12.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
In the afternoon of the 13th, through China Gate. I stayed in Nanjing for 4 days.
– What was the situation inside of Nanjing?
There were not so many bodies around the rampart, but after walking for a while, I saw a number of bodies. First, I entered the Bank of Communications, and were not so many bodies around the bank.
– Were you the first Japanese who entered the Bank of Communications?
Yes, I was the first Japanese. There was nobody in it.
– Did Japanese soldiers or anyone else use the building?
No one came in while I was there.
– What was the inside of the bank like?
It was empty. I found no important account books, nothing. No hohei, Chinese paper money–the safes were open. Perhaps as the Chinese Government fled, their people took everything. Even if they had left something, Chinese soldiers and civilians must have ransacked the place. After checking the Bank of Communications, I went to the nearest bank, China Bank. But like the Bank of Communications, this bank was also empty. So I gave up on inspection of the banks, ending with these two banks.
– According to the diary of Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago, the 16th Division Commander, there were some Japanese soldiers who ransacked the bank’s safe.
I know–that is from Lieutenant General Nakajima’s diary, published recently [November 21, 1984] by the Yomiuri Shimubun.
In the banks which I inspected, there was no money found at all. I am sure of that because I was the first to enter. I doubt the statement in Nakajima’s diary.
However, other than the 4 main banks, there were several ordinary banks in China and most of them established their main offices in Nanjing. They had also many branches in Nanjing so there might have been some money left in those branches.
– According to Nakajima’s diary, some Japanese exchanged the hohei to Japanese yen and sent them to Japan. Was it possible to exchange the hohei to yen?
This was possible in Shanghai. In the Shanghai International Settlement, the hohei was the main currency and Japanese Bank notes were also used there, so they were freely exchangeable.
– But was it possible to send them to Japan?
There was the Shokin Bank (正金銀行) in Shanghai which could transmit funds with the permission of the Vice Minister of Finance. I should add that governmental funds, which were handled either by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Army, were a different matter. I heard that Kodama Yoshio, (児玉誉士夫), [a well-known but mysterious gangster], asked the Army to handle his money as governmental funds and sent them to Japan. I guess that Kodama got permission from the Army’s finance department. Each soldier had an accounting officer, and if the officer gave permission then it was possible. I heard that some people begged the accounting officer to give permission to transmit funds to Japan.
– According to a memoir written by Mr. Maeda Yuji, a war correspondent for Domei Tsushin:
“At the end of November, in Suzhou (蘇州), Japanese soldiers never gave a second glance to piles of Chinese money, hohei.” On the other hand, according to Nakajima’s diary, less than one month after Maeda’s story, Japanese soldiers tried to get hohei by breaking into bank safes in Nanjing. Which is true?
In November, in Suzhou, Japanese soldiers were constantly in battle and, at the time, were confronted with death, so paper money meant nothing to them, I guess. If such things as breaking into safes happened in Nanjing, it means the battle was over and the soldiers had time to think about money.
– Did you enter Nanjing just to inspect the Chinese banks?
I had another important job. The soldiers had military scripts and I had to check to see if military notes would be accepted in Nanjing. It was very important to decide how to handle military scripts after that.
– You left Nanjing before the entrance ceremony. Before you left Nanjing, did you have any opportunity to see the moment that the military scripts were used for selling and buying goods?
Yes, a couple of times. It was outside China Gate, my memory is not clear but surely outside the Castle. It was not a real flea market, just several people standing outside the gate, here and there, to start their businesses. It could not be called a market, but, anyway, people were selling their used books or imitation antique goods.
– The sellers were Chinese, and the buyers were Japanese soldiers, right?
Yes. In addition to the antiques, the sellers sold cigarette, piece by piece. I watched them if they accepted military scripts or not. Unfortunately, it was not so successful. Some Japanese soldiers forced the sellers to take the military scripts. After I saw that, I went back Shanghai by car, on 15th or 16th – maybe it was the 16th .
– Have you met the Commander of the 10th Army, Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke?
Yes, I had several opportunities to meet him. In 1933, when I was to be promoted to major, I learned that I was short of the required years of army experience, because of my time spent at Tokyo University, department of economics, for study. In order to fulfill the requirement, I quickly joined the 1st Division. Lieutenant General Yanagawa was the Commander of the Division. Also, when I became a field investigator in the East Asia Development Board, Lieutenant General Yanagawa served as the Secretary-General. He was a great man.
– How about General Matsui Iwane?
I worked at the Special Duty Section in General Matsui’s Army and I met him several times in Shanghai. I was just a major and he was the top Commander, so I was not able to speak with him directly. So, my opinion at the time was that we had to get along with China for the purpose of forming an economic bloc. I studied China and I considered myself to be pro-Chinese. General Matsui had the same ideas, so I met him occasionally at meetings of people who shared the same ideas.
After the entrance of Nanjing, General Matsui wrote me a classical Chinese poem depicting the entrance of Nanjing Castle. In addition, after he returned to Tokyo in triumph, he shared with me some of gifts given to him by the Emperor. I was so impressed by his tenderness and greatly admired him.
General Matsui loved China and the Chinese people so much, yet he was accused of committing the Nanjing-incident and executed. I have no words that could console his soul and express my sorrow.
– You stayed in Nanjing for 4 day. During that time, did you see something called a “massacre”?
“Massacre” means gathering up unarmed people and shooting them or something like that, but I didn’t see such a thing. After the capture of Nanjing, I returned to Tokyo to report, and after a week, I visited Nanjing again. It was shortly after the entrance ceremony, everything was in a mess, but, generally, Nanjing city looked secure and in order.
– It is said a massacre happened.
In the Nanjing Attack I saw women among the Chinese soldiers. I myself saw female Chinese soldiers killed. Some of the Chinese army stragglers and ben-i-hei, soldiers in civilian clothes, put up unexpected resistance, and I watched them being killed. I assume that their corpses were later designated as “massacre” victims.
In battlefields, I saw Japanese soldiers set fire to Chinese huts. I asked the soldiers why they did that–I thought those huts could be used for Japanese soldiers. The soldiers replied that when they were on sentry duty, they were attacked by Chinese soldiers hiding behind the thatched huts, which were standing in front of them. This means that, in order to protect their own lives, they sacrificed their own lodgings. You have to kill the enemy before he kills you–that was more or less instinctive.
Under normal circumstances, no one could kill a person who begged for his own life. Some Japanese soldiers might have gone crazy for revenge because one of their comrades, who was alive yesterday, was killed today. Being desperate, I don’t totally discount this, they might have slaughtered some Chinese soldiers. But to make a judgment on their battlefield motivation, here and now, is not such a simple matter. In the case of Nanjing, it was not an open battlefield but an urban battle, inside the Castle, and that made matters more complicated.
I’d like to add this: in the International Settlement in Shanghai, you could buy good cameras such as a Leica and if you have the Army’s permission, you could buy those cameras cheap at what we would call today tax-free shops. After the end of the Shanghai Attack, a number of Japanese soldiers went to the International Settlement to obtain cameras. Those soldiers went to Nanjing with their cameras in hand. I myself entered Nanjing with my camera. What did these soldiers take photos of? An apricot flower? No, they took photos of unusual things, things which you could never see in normal circumstances, that is, horrible things like corpses. They asked merchants in the International Settlement to develop the photos. The merchants then gave the photos to foreigners in the International Settlement, which in turn, flowed abroad as news. Individual pictures of bodies formed an overall image–this happened often enough in Nanjing.
During the Wang Zhaoming (汪兆銘) administration, advisers of the government, including Mr. Fukuda Takeo [former Japanese prime minister], gathered together annually. All advisers, including myself, had many Chinese friends and acquaintances.
After the War, my Chinese friends told me that, in China there was a word, Han Jian (漢奸), or traitor, and every person who stood against the Government was definitely regarded as Han Jian, for whatever reason. This means that the Chinese government would never allow people to say anything wrong about China. Therefore, if we insist that the Nanjing incident was exaggerated beyond a doubt, the Chinese would consider this treason and would never accept this.
The fact is fact. It is hopeless to oppose each comment, who said this, who said that. Just pursue the facts, then someday people in next generation will arrive at the right conclusion.
21) Interview with Captain Onishi Hajime (大西一), Staff Officer of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army
Considering the Nanjing Attack, then the Nanjing Capture, the most knowledgeable people of these events in general as well as of details must be the people who were in the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and the Central China Area Army. The Shanghai Expeditionary Army, in particular, fought against the Chinese Nationalist Army as early as August, so they grasped the overall situation. In addition, after the capture of Nanjing, their Headquarters was located at Capital Hotel (首都飯店), Zhongshan North Road (中山北路), in Nanjing, at which they stayed until February. Compared to the 10th Army, which left Nanjing on December 18 in order to attack Hangzhou, and compared to the Central China Area Army, which returned to Shanghai on December 22 to administer the whole of Kangnam (江南), the Shanghai Expeditionary Army had the most experience and knowledge about Nanjing.
The members of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army Headquarters were the Commander, and under the Commander, the Chief of Staff Major General Iinuma Mamoru (飯沼守), Vice of Chief Staff Colonel Uemura Toshimichi (上村利通), and several staff officers. Among Headquarters staff, only Staff Officer Onishi is alive today.
Mr. Onishi was born in December 1902, graduating from the 36th Class of the Military Staff College. In 1935, one year after graduated from Military Staff College, Mr. Onishi was assigned to General Staff Headquarters’ China Section, and in August 1937, he became a staff officer of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. He was captain and 34 years old.
In February 1938, after the Shanghai Expeditionary Army was disbanded, he was assigned to the Central China Expeditionary Army, as the Chief of Special Duty Organization in Nanjing and stayed in Nanjing. One year later, in 1939, Mr. Onishi returned to Tokyo to staff the Military Affairs Bureau. At the end of the War, he was in Nagoya where the Headquarters of the 13th Area Army was deployed. By then he was a colonel.
The Headquarters of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army had 15 staff officers in its three sections. The First Section was in charge of strategy, the Second was in charge of intelligence, and the Third was in charge of logistics.
The head of the Second Section was Lieutenant Colonel Cho Isamu (長勇), under him were Major Hongo Tadao (本郷忠夫), Major Mikuriya Masayuki (御厨正幸), and Captain Onishi Hajime. The duty of the Second Section was to collect information on the Chinese Army and to know of the deployment of the Chinese division. The Chinese Army was an aggregate of military cliques, therefore differences among of each division’s strength was significant. Knowing the disposition of Chinese troops was vital.
Naturally, persons who were familiar with China were assigned to the Second Section. Captain Onishi worked for two years in the military geography group of the China branch in the Second Section of General Staff Headquarters. The leader of the military geography group was Lieutenant Colonel Cho Isamu. Captain Onishi and Lieutenant Colonel Cho had worked in China-related sections in the Army. In December 1936, Cho lived in Hankou as a resident military officer. Captain Onishi remained in Japan. The next year, 1937, Captain Onishi was appointed assistant military attaché to the Shanghai Embassy and prepared to go China in August–he was officially appointed and already given traveling expenses.
However, fighting occurred at the Marco Polo Bridge in July, which spread to Shanghai in August and in response, the Shanghai Expeditionary Army was organized. Under the circumstances, his appointment as assistant military attaché was dropped, and Mr. Onishi went to Shanghai under a different status, that is, as a staff officer in the Expeditionary Army.
Lieutenant Colonel Cho, who was resident military officer in Hankou, went to Shanghai as well. Major Hongo, who served as resident researcher in Changsha, also came to Shanghai, as their offices in Hankou and Changsha were abolished due to the all-out confrontation between Japan and China.
The Third Sexction was mainly in charge of supply and correspondence, plus prisoners. Under Lieutenant Colonel Chief Teragaki were 4 staff members, Kushida (櫛田), Sakakibara (榊原), Kitano (北野), and Sasaki (佐々木). Among them, Accountant Major Sakakibara (榊原) was mainly in charge of prisoners.
I started by asking Mr. Onishi about the Chief of the Second Section, Cho Isamu, on whom several rumors were pinned.
– According to the magazine Kaiko (a monthly magazine published by Kaiko-sha) published in March 1985, Major Sumi Yoshiharu (角良晴), who was a senior adjutant to General Matsui Iwane, stated that Lieutenant Colonel Cho ordered the massacre.
I served under Staff Officer Cho, but I have never seen nor heard him issuing such an order. In Sumi’s statement, he said that Lieutenant Colonel Cho gave an order to the 6th Division, but the 6th Division was under the 10th Army, not under the Shanghai Expeditionary Army.
It is impossible for the Shanghai Expeditionary Army to issue an order to a division which was under the 10th Army. Also, Lieutenant Colonel Cho was in charge of intelligence, and it is not likely a person in charge of intelligence issued such an order. Someone said Lieutenant Colonel Cho served as a staff officer in the Central China Area Army as well, but I have not heard that he held such a concurrent post.
– Major Tanaka Ryukichi wrote a book, A History to be Judged, in which he said Lieutenant Colonel Cho had ordered the massacre.
I have a story about Mr. Tanaka Ryukichi: when he was working as the chief of the Troop Office, I was working at the Military Affairs Section of the Military Affairs Bureau. During the time we had to settle a matter of Yen Hsi-shan (閻錫山,) a Chinese warlord, in Shanxi Province (山西省), and Mr. Tanaka, the chief of the office, who was good at handling such matters, went to meet Yen Hsi-shan.
But Chief Tanaka was unable to meet him after all–instead, he met a messenger of the warlord. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Japanese Army was to give rifles to Yen Hsi-shan’s army. The problem was that the amount of the rifles they demanded was equal to the annual amount produced in Japan. Totally unacceptable–I repeated this to Chief Tanaka. As shown in the episode, I was unable to trust him since then.
Also, considering his statement at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) after the War, I cannot believe his story concerning Staff Officer Cho.
– According to the book, Illusion of Nanjing Massacre written by Mr. Suzuki Akira, Major General Yamada Senji (山田栴二), of the 13th Division, was given the order of massacre by Staff Officer Cho.
As the time for the attack on Nanjing approached, headquarters was deployed in Tang Shuizhen (湯水鎮), a stone hut standing in a basin was used as the headquarters’ office. At that time, I was in Jurong (句容), but as the Nanjing Attack approached, I was ordered back to Tang Shuizhen on the 11th. This happened during my stay in Tang Shuizhen: when I got up one morning I found a number of Chinese soldiers appeared in the surrounding mountains. Headquarters hurriedly gathered all of its available soldiers and started to fight. We, staff officers, also surrounded the room of the Prince in order to protect His Highness. Normally protecting His Highness was the duty of adjutants but that time all of us were prepared to die. Soon the Tsuruga Regiment Commander and his battalion rushed over by truck and we were saved.
Just after the 13th Division captured prisoners, we had just received Prince Asakanomiya as Commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, so even someone like Staff Officer Cho was very nervous to serve the Prince. Under these conditions, it was quite unlikely for Cho to issue such an order.
Staff Officer Cho belonged to the so-called right-wing, and in Shanghai he wore a jinbaori, or a classical Japanese surcoat, which was given to him by the Elder Toyama Mitsuru, who was assumed to be the founder of a Japanese right wing group. His right-wing followers followed Staff Officer Cho to Shanghai, and Staff Officer Cho once offered me to use his followers freely. He was that kind of man, so he could not, in front of the Prince, issue an order to kill the prisoners.
– What was his personality like?
I had worked with him twice, at the China Section of General Staff Headquarters and the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. He had a hot temper but understood China very well. Not an unreasonable man. All staff working in the Second Section knew China very well and were sympathetic towards China.
Staff Officer Onishi entered Nanjing in the afternoon of December 13, 1937. Around the area of Capital Hotel (首都飯店), which stood on Zhongshan North Road, the battle still continued. It was 10 days later that the Headquarters of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army entered the Capital Hotel. Lieutenant General Prince Asakanomiya entered as well. They stayed until February 1938, when the Shanghai Expeditionary Army was disbanded after completed its duty. All orders during the occupation were issued from Headquarters.
– According to the diary of Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago, the Commander of the 16th Division, it was said that “Because of our policy not to take prisoners,” and this was interpreted as evidence of a massacre.
It meant: confiscate their weapons and let them go. Chinese soldiers were gathered from all over the country, but since it was their own country, they should return home on foot.
– Was it not the Army’s order?
The Army had never issued an order to massacre.
– Was it the Third Section that was in charge of prisoners?
Yes. Lieutenant Colonel Teragaki Tadao (寺垣忠雄) was the chief of the Section. He was a quiet man. And it was Major Sakakibara who was in charge. He was more quiet than his chief, the most quiet person in the Army. This Section never issued such an order. Staff Officer Sakakibara was alive until only recently, and he visited the Kaikosha to join in publishing the book “Nanjing War History Based on the Testimony”. At the meeting, he left us quickly due to his wife’s illness, but ironically, he died before his wife.
– There are many rumors about Nakajima, the Commander of the 16th Division. What was he like?
Commander Nakajima was a lieutenant general, and I was just a captain then. I had no opportunity to talk to him directly. So, personally, I don’t know.
– But the 16th Division was under the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, so it is likely you had some contact with the Commander?
Personally, I remember being uneasy about seeing him wearing a ring. The Commander studied in France, that’s why he adapted such a custom, but I felt uneasy seeing his ring in the battlefield.
– It is said that General Matsui criticized Commander Nakajima’s command. Is this true?
I heard the Commander said that it was no problem to burn Chinese homes. This was not said in front of General Matsui, of course. But on hearing that remark, General Matsui instructed me to speak to Commander Nakajima, to warn him not to do such a thing.
So it was true that General Matsui had criticized Commander Nakajima.
So I went to the 16th Division, but I was just a captain, and it was not possible for me to give a direct warning to the commander. Fortunately, I found a staff officer in the 16th Division with whom I made an acquaintance during the Shanghai landing, and passed him the General’s message.
– I assume that usually a commander would not give warning to other commander. Didn’t General Matsui say something to the Commander Nakajima face-to-face?
It would be an exceptionally important occasion for the General to say something to a division commander directly.
– Lieutenant General Nakajima was eventually promoted to Commander of the Army and a representative of the Japanese Imperial Army.
One of my classmates, who served under Regiment Commander Nakajima, tried to apply to take the Military Staff College examination but couldn’t get his permission. Without the Commander’s permission, he couldn’t apply to take the examination. My classmate was very upset. It seemed the Commander Nakajima very clear liked and disliked certain people. Regarding Commander Nakajima, I heard only negative stories.
– After the occupation of Nanjing, the 16th Division took charge of garrisoning Nanjing.
After the capture of Nanjing, the 10th Army left, and the Shanghai Expeditionary Army remained in Nanjing. Among the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, the 9th Division, the 13th Division and the 16th Division joined the Nanjing Attack, and the 13th Division had already crossed Yangtze River after the capture.
The matter of who will garrison Nanjing was discussed within the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. The 13th Division was already gone, so the choice was either the 9th Division or the 16th Division. There were many people who didn’t like Mr. Nakajima and tried to avoid him, so I proposed to leave garrison duty to the 9th Division and it was decided so. Therefore, I was ordered to give the instruction and went to the 9th Division, which was situated at the Guanghua Gate. However, the Chief of Staff of the 9th Division, Colonel Nakagawa Hiroshi (中川広), said that they had come to Nanjing before clearing their own battle in Shanghai, that they wanted to go back to Shanghai and to clear the battlefield, so he declined Nanjing garrison duty. As a result, the 16th Division took the charge of Nanjing garrison duty.
– Were you performing liaison duties between divisions?
I was performing the duty of staff officer not only within the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, but also within the Third Fleet, where I had an office in the Izumo Fleet, too. So I did liaison work with the Navy as well. I acted as liaison among the staff of the Expeditionary Army so my duty was to inform on the acts and the intention of each Division to Headquarters.
–Major General Sasaki Toichi (佐々木到一), Brigade Commander, who commanded the 16th Division, was appointed to Garrison Commander of Nanjing Castle.
Major General Sasaki was a well-known expert of China, but his behavior was not good when he was drinking.
– Colonel Muto Akira (武藤章), the Vice Chief Staff of the Central China Area Army, wrote in his memoir, From Philippines to Sugamo [prison] :
“During the operations, General Matsui tried to respect Chinese standing to the extent that it was far from realistic. The General’s soft attitude frustrated some of the officers. A commander and divisional general, who considered strategy a priority, gave protest to the General. At Nanjing, being lodged in a neighboring room, I could hear them quarreling furiously.”
– Were you there in the middle of the argument?
I don’t know of such a thing at all. Chief of Military Affairs Muto looked after me a lot while I was working in the Bureau of Military Affairs for 6 years. I have never heard of this story from him. But Mr. Muto became the Vice Chief of Staff of the Area Army when the Area Army was established, and he worked together with Mr. Matsui, so I think this was true.
– I assume that the certain Commander was Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke, and the certain Division Commander was Lieutenant General Nakajima.
The Division Commander must be Lieutenant General Nakajima, and the Army commander was no one else but Lieutenant General Yanagawa. But I doubt there was any furious argument with General Matsui. They had some differences of opinions but I can’t imagine a serious argument between them.
– What was the situation in Nanjing after December 13?
On the 13th, the battle was still ongoing and we could not move ahead from the area around the Capital Hotel. When I went to Yi Jiang Gate (挹江門) it was full of bodies on both sides. On either the 17th or 18th, I went to Xiaguan, where I found a lot of bodies in Yangtze River. Not on the riverbank but in the River. This was a result of the sweeping nature of the battle. The bodies were left there until the end of 1937.
– How long were the bodies at Yi Jiang Gate left there?
They were left there at least until the 18th, the day of the memorial service for casualties from both sides. After that, maybe there were bodies that remained until the 20th or so.
Later a memorial service for Chinese victims was held by the Special Duty Organization inside the Yi Jiang Gate. At that time, the area around Yi Jiang Gate was cleared. I hosted the service and Chinese people related to the City Office Government, Japanese authorities and ordinary Chinese attended the memorial service, 400 to 500 people in total.
– Within the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, did you hear any stories of a massacre?
Never. After we entered Nanjing, the Second Section patrolled the inside of the Castle to control military discipline and public decency. I myself patrolled by car.
– Did you see anything?
I saw one rape.
– In the daytime?
Yes. We caught the soldier in the act. He was the soldier of the 16th Division, so I delivered him to the Division. Several cases of rape occurred, other than the one that I witnessed. At first, we opposed setting up a ian-jo, or brothel, but after seeing these incidents, we decided to establish a facility. The Third Section was in charge of making the ian-jo.
– Did you see anything else, such violence or ransacking?
No. After that, I was in Nanjing for a year as the Head of the Special Duty Organization.
During the period, I visited many areas, in addition to Nanjing, including Wuhu (蕪湖), Taiping (太平), Jiangning (江寧)、Jurong (句容)、Zhenjiang (鎮江)、Jintan (金壇), Danyang (丹陽),Yangzhou (揚州), Shushen(滁県), twice for each area, but neither saw nor heard of a massacre.
During the period that the Japanese Army headed for Nanjing until its fall, the Army’s Central Authorities dispatched several staff members to the battlefield, including Chief of Strategic and Tactical Operations Section Kawabe (河辺), and the Vice Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Tada Shun (多田駿), and after the capture, Chief of Personnel Affairs Major General Anami Korechika (阿南惟幾) and Chief of the Second Section of General Staff Headquarters Major General Honma Masaharu (本間雅晴).
After the War, dispatches of these inspections, sent by the Army’s Central Authorities, raised the possibility that the Central Authorities had known about the Nanjing-incident.
– On one of those days, Staff Officer Hongo visited the US Embassy to explain the actual situation.
In General Staff Headquarters’ Second Section, Staff Officer Hongo was most experienced, so, naturally, negotiations with foreign countries were handled by Major Hongo. After we arrived in Nanjing, I remember him visiting the US Embassy, though I don’t know the details of his business. Since September, when we were in Shanghai, the Central Authorities repeatedly instructed us that we must respect American and British interests. During the battle conducted by the 3rd Division at Suzhou River, we saw machine guns at American and British factories, on left side of the river, pointed at us. However, due to the warnings about American and British interests, we could do nothing; it was very frustrating.
– Did you know that Lieutenant Colonel Nishi Yoshiaki (西義章) went to Nanjing?
I don’t remember. When I moved back to the Bureau of Military Affairs, Mr. Nishi was in the Intelligence Section of General Staff Headquarters. I don’t know why he went to Nanjing, if he went at all.
– Second Section Chief Honma went to Nanjing at the beginning of February.
I didn’t know that.
– According to records then, he visited Nanjing in order to protect US interests, but some people said he visited because of a massacre.
If he did go, I believe that he went to Nanjing in regard to American interests.
– Lieutenant Colonel Hirota was dispatched to the Shanghai Expeditionary Army.
Yes, I remember that. But he was very senior to me, and I don’t remember any casual conversation, even if we did manage to meet.
– Have you met Eastern Area Defense Staff Officer Koga Takeshi (古閑健)?
No, I didn’t know him then.
In February 1938, the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and the 10th Army were disbanded, leaving the Central China Area Army in place, and personnel were reassigned to their new responsibilities, because operations were completed by capturing Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hangzhou. The name of the new army was the Central China Expeditionary Army. Staff Officer Onishi remained in Nanjing as the Chief of Special Duty Organization of the Central China Expeditionary Army.
In the Nanjing Experience Report, which was published in 1938, names such as “Major O”, or “young chief of Special Duty Organization”, appear frequently, which refer to Mr. Onishi.
Major Sakata Shigeki (佐方繁木) was appointed as the first Chief of Special Duty Organization in Nanjing, on December 14, 1937, immediately after the capture of Nanjing. In February of the following year, Colonel Usuda Kanzo (臼田寛三) was appointed. However, only 10 days later, Major Usuda was replaced by Captain Onishi.
Mr. Onishi worked in the Special Duty Organization with the rank of captain, so he was called the Chief Assistant Officer of the Special Duty Organization, because other chiefs in Shanghai and Hangzhou usually held a higher rank, such as colonel or lieutenant colonel. One month later, in March, Mr. Onishi was promoted to major, and thereafter was called the Chief of Nanjing Special Duty Organization for the first time.
Mr. Onishi was in charge of Nanjing and 9 other prefectures around Nanjing. He assigned 5 to 10 Special Duty staff to each prefecture and directed all of them. Staff members were civilians employed and dispatched by the Ministry of the Army. Mr. Onishi stayed mostly in Nanjing and served as negotiator with the Chinese.
During Mr. Onishi’s service as the Chief of the Special Duty Organization, a Chinese civilian complained to him that Japanese soldiers were destroying their homes. He went out with the Chinese and found that his home and neighboring homes, which were near Nanjing Station, were being demolished. He questioned the Japanese soldiers who were demolishing the homes and the soldiers replied that Colonel Tanida Isamu’s (谷田勇) ordered the demolition. Mr. Onishi ordered the soldiers to stop and went to see Colonel Tanida. It so happened that Colonel Tanida was Mr. Onishi’s instructor at a military engineers’ class when Mr. Onishi a student at the Military Staff College. Colonel Tanida was now staff officer in charge of Logistics of the Central China Expeditionary Army.
Mr. Onishi asked the Colonel Tanida why the houses were being demolished and the Colonel said that they were continuously receiving munitions from Shanghai, and the munitions must be stored around the Nanjing Station, so they had to demolish those homes. So, the reason was based on war necessity. As a solution, Mr. Onishi built 20 barracks outside of the Castle and let the Chinese live there.
As you can see, the Chief of Nanjing Special Duty Organization had to handle these kinds of matters, as representative of Japan in China. He was in the best position to know of the real situation of the people of Nanjing.
– So, since February your duty for a year in Nanjing was Chief of Nanjing Special Duty Organization?
Yes. All staff in China-related sections of General Staff Headquarters were expected to go to China, in one way or another. Under the circumstances, I remained in China as the Chief of Nanjing Special Duty Organization.
– Were the bodies of Japanese soldiers who were killed in the Nanjing Attack cremated by the Japanese?
Yes, all of them were cremated by the Japanese. In the Shanghai battle, some of them were left there, but after the Nanjing battle, there were no Japanese corpses remaining.
– Burial of the bodies of Chinese soldiers was performed under instruction of the Japanese army?
The bodies of Chinese soldiers were buried by the Chinese. They didn’t particularly inform us of when they were buried. The Japanese army, however, did ask the Red Swastika Society to bury bodies which were abandoned here and there.
– Are you familiar with the Red Swastika Society?
Yes, they worked very well, wearing their red mark.
– According to records, the Self-Government Committee was engaged in the burials as well.
The Self-Government Committee also did some but didn’t do many burials. The burials were mainly done by the Red Swastika Society. And you mentioned a group–what was name?–who also did burials.
– Chongshantang (崇善堂) ?
Yes. But, at the time, I never heard of such a group. I didn’t know them at all, but after the War, in the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), they claimed to have done a lot of work. At the time, I never knew about them at all.
– When the year 1938 began, were the suburbs of Nanjing safe?
They were almost completely safe.
– The Japanese started to come to Nanjing to do business.
The matters of the Japanese people were handled by the Consulate General. The duty of the Special Duty Organization was to assist with Chinese administration. The Consulate General was operated by Mr. Fukuda Atsuyasu (福田篤奏), alone first, then Mr. Kasuya Takao (粕谷孝夫), the Consular Assistant, arrived. Our Special Duty Organization was on the second floor of the Bank of Communications, and before the Consulate General was opened, they used its first floor, which was empty then, as temporary office for the Consulate General.
– Did you hear of the Nanjing-incident after the War?
Yes. I heard that General Matsui was charged and prosecuted for it and I offered to be a witness for him, since I was in Nanjing as the Chief of the Special Duty Organization after General Matsui returned, and was very well aware of matters within Nanjing.
However, at the time, I was also accused of being a war criminal, relating to the 13th Area Army, and so I was told that a “war criminal” would not be suitable as a witness, so I was unable to testify.
– Do you think you are the most knowledgeable person about Nanjing during the period from 1937 to 1938?
I think so. A decade ago, the Asahi Shimbun published the series, ‘Journey in China’ . Its depiction of the Japanese army during those times was far from the truth. I once met reporter Honda Katsuichi and denounced his claims.
The Nanjing-incident was raised in the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), but after that it was almost forgotten. Then, as the series of ‘Journey in China’ was published, the Japanese started to say there was a “massacre”. I know the truth–I, who knows the truth, must write the truth, so I thought and tried to write the truth. However, people around me told me that it was too late, that people would simply look at this as an excuse and nobody would believe me anymore, so I was discouraged.
Since the series ‘Journey in China’ was published by the Asahi Shimbun, Mr. Onishi lost his trust in the mass media and, as a matter of fact, he at first refused my request for an interview. That’s why his name is not mentioned in the mass media, despite the fact that he is the most qualified person to inform about the Nanjing-incident.
After I interviewed Mr. Onishi, I interviewed several people who were in Nanjing at the time. Some of them, including Mr. Okada Takashi (岡田尚) who served under General Matsui, Mr. Terasaki Ryuji (寺崎隆治), Captain of Gunboat Seta, and Mr. Yoshikawa Takeshi (吉川猛), Staff Officer of the Central China Area Army, assured me that Mr. Onishi was the most knowledgeable person about Nanjing, and his statements are totally reliable.
I want to again emphasize the importance of Mr. Onishi’s statements.
22) Interview with Mr. Okada Takashi (岡田尚), Assistant to Army Commander Matsui
From the Meiji through the Showa era, a number of people, such as Toyama Mitsuru (頭山満) and Kayano Nagatomo (萱野長知), assisted in the Chinese Revolution and Mr. Okada Takashi’s father, Mr. Okada Aritami (岡田有民) was one of them. Mr. Okada Aritami supported the Xishan clique of the Nationalist Party and when the Fujian People’s Government was established, Mr. Okada, together with General Matsui Iwane, then-Commander of the Taiwan Army of Japan, tried to mediate between the Fujian People’s Government and the Nationalist Party Government. Therefore, Mr. Okada Aritami was very close to General Matsui, and consequently, Mr. Okada Takashi, Aritami’s son, knew of General Matsui during his childhood.
In August 1937, General Matsui was appointed Commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. Invited to General Matsui’s house, Mr. Okada Takashi was ordered to accompany the General as non-regular-staff of Army Headquarters, and to serve under his command. Mr. Okada could speak the Shanghai dialect and was acquainted with Chinese VIPs, so the General Matsui needed him to communicate with these VIPs in order to hasten a peace agreement with China.
Thus, Mr. Okada worked in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hong Kong, under General Matsui’s special orders of, until the end of February 1938, when General Matsui returned to Japan in triumph.
Due to their close ties, General Matsui shared with Mr. Okada his feelings that could not be expressed in public. Since General Matsui entry into Nanjing, Mr. Okada was with him the whole time. Therefore, through Mr. Okada, we can see General Matsui’s thinking, what did he thought about the Nanjing Attack and what he saw in Nanjing. Considering these things, I asked Mr. Okada what he himself saw in Nanjing, as well as what General Matsui was thinking and what he saw in Nanjing.
As the capture of Nanjing became merely a matter of time, Mr. Okada followed General Matsui to Suzhou, where Mr. Okada translated the advisement for surrender into Chinese, which was to be scattered within Nanjing Castle. The handbills calling for surrender were scattered within the Castle on the 9th, setting the deadline for a reply for the 10th.
However, the Chinese Army refused to surrender and the Japanese Army began an all-out attack.
After the capture of Nanjing, General Matsui entered Nanjing. While in Nanjing, Mr. Okada followed General Matsui, and on December 22, General Matsui and Mr. Okada returned to Shanghai by the torpedo boat Ootori. Thereafter, Mr. Okada engaged in political maneuverings within the International Settlement. At the end of February, General Matsui returned to Japan in triumph but Mr. Okada remained in Shanghai, and when the Reformed Government of the Republic of China was established, Major General Harada Kumakichi (原田熊吉) became the Supreme Adviser of the Reformed Government and Mr. Okada served as Secretary-General of the Advisers Department.
After the War, Mr. Okada managed his medical books publishing company for a long period of time. When I met him, he was 78 years old, yet he was still working at his company twice a week.
The interview started with events on December 8, 1937 when Army Headquarters was located in Suzhou.
– Who did make the advisement of surrender?
General Matsui. In the battle of Shanghai and later battles, incredibly large numbers of Japanese soldiers were killed and all soldiers were really riled up with anger, not just the lower ranks but Regiment Commanders were as well. There was insufficient equipment, insufficient numbers of soldiers, so the damage we took was inevitable. Under such circumstances, General Matsui wanted a peaceful entry into Nanjing, the capital of China, so he decided to demand that they surrender.
– Were the Japanese soldiers in a rage?
Yes. They didn’t expect enemy resistance to be so strong—more than they imagined. In addition, their comrades, brothers-in-arms, were killed. General Matsui knew of his soldiers’ feelings and worried about it; therefore, the General advised the Chinese to surrender.
– The designated deadline was noon on December 10, wasn’t it?
Yes. The four of us, Chief of Staff Major General Tsukada Osamu (塚田攻), Staff Officer Lieutenant Colonel Kimihira Masatake (公平匡武), Staff Officer Major Nakayama Neito (中山寧人), and I, went to the designated spot near Zhongshan Gate. At the time, a cease-fire was issued but in fact fighting continued at Mt. Zijin. Under such a condition, we went to the Zhongshan Gate. No military messenger appeared, so we hurried back to Suzhou in order to decide what to do after that. Then, our all-out attack started. Hearing that the enemy refused our advice to surrender, General Matsui was very disappointed.
– How long did you stay in Suzhou?
I stayed Suzhou for 2 days and as Nanjing was almost captured, Lieutenant Colonel Murakami Soji (村上宗治) of the Management Division and I went to Tang Shuizhen (湯水鎮). On the way to Tang Shuizhen, I saw Japanese soldiers stabbing prisoners to death on the bank of a creek.
– What date was it?
I think it was the 12th, around 1 p.m. One thousand to 2,000 Chinese soldiers were made to sit in the empty area, female soldiers were among them. They lined several prisoners on the bank and stabbed them to death. Lieutenant Colonel Murakami got out the car and told the officer in command, maybe it was a first lieutenant or second lieutenant, that that was cruel. The commanding officer said that they were in the middle of battle, that they had no other choice. We had nothing further to say.
The commanding officer told Lieutenant Colonel Murakami that they could not waste a single bullet, and that they didn’t ask headquarters for permission. They couldn’t think but to kill the Chinese soldiers and go on to Nanjing. As I mentioned earlier, they were so enraged that they did not know what to do with the prisoners.
– Did they kill them all?
I don’t know. We left there quickly.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
My memory is not clear, it might have been the 13th or 14th, maybe 13th. Lieutenant Colonel Murakami and I stayed in Tang Shuizhen overnight, then went to Nanjing by car. We had to prepare for lodging of the Army Headquarters and the entrance ceremony.
– At that moment, was holding of the entrance ceremony decided?
Yes. The 17th was not fixed but holding of the ceremony itself was decided. So I entered Nanjing and chose the Nationalist Government’s building as the place for ceremony preparation. For the lodging, I chose the Capital Hotel for Army Headquarters and prepared a room and so on for General Matsui.
– What was the situation inside Nanjing?
An amazing number of military uniforms, gaiters, caps and so on were scattered around the town. That was most impressive. The Chinese soldiers abandoned their uniforms and slipped themselves in with the civilians. From the Chinese soldiers’ point of view, this was reasonable because if they wore their uniform, then they would be killed by Japanese soldiers. On the ramparts around Zhongshan Gate hung many gaiters (puttees)–the Chinese soldiers used their gaiters to climb the wall and run away.
Under the instruction of Captain Onishi Hajime, a bearded man called Son (孫) organized an autonomous safety association to dispose of the abandoned uniforms and gaiters.
The shops in the Castle were empty—they were ransacked either by Chinese soldiers during their escape or by Japanese soldiers after they entered; anyway there were traces of plundering. I assume the Japanese soldiers stole foods, but the other things were stolen mostly by Chinese soldiers.
In March 1938, when the Reformed Government was established, I visited Nanjing again, and I found a flea market full of luxurious carpets and antiques. I believe that they were goods that were previously plundered. At the flea market, I bought a carpet for my house.
– It is said that immediately after the capture, Japanese soldiers had massacred civilians. Did you see a massacre?
No. There were no corpses in the Castle. Therefore, I believe that there was no massacre of the general population. I am not saying that nothing happened. There were so many soldiers that a couple of rapes or robberies must have occurred. But the incidence of such cases was very small.
At the time, Japanese diplomats were already in Nanjing. If a rape or something happened, the victim reported it to the Consulate. The Consulate had an idea of the numbers, which were very limited. A massacre could not have happen. In those days, Mr. Fukuda Tokuyasu (福田篤泰), Consular Attaché (later Director General of the Japan Defense Agency), was in charge of those kind of matters.
In addition, it is said that fires broke out in Nanjing but I don’t remember any. When I visited Nanjing in March 1938, I found all of large buildings standing there, and other buildings, which we used for lodging directors and officers of the Reformed Government. I was also given a house. Therefore, it was not true that fires burned down a large number of buildings.
– You didn’t see a massacre. But did you hear about one?
I heard about the prisoners. At Xiaguan, Japanese soldiers tried to make the prisoners cross the River – they just wanted to drive off the prisoners, far away from Nanjing, by any means. During the crossing, a disturbance occurred and they shot the prisoners–that’s what I heard.
– It is said a great massacre took place.
About 140,000 to 150,000 civilians stayed within the Safety Zone safely but some of the prisoners or stragglers must have been killed, like those I saw in Tang Shuizhen. Japanese soldiers were totally exhausted and worn out—I could say they had no energy left to care for prisoners.
Also, Chinese soldiers who slipped into the Refugee Safety Zone were caught. Investigation was done by the military police and they said they could identify a Chinese soldier by checking for traces of wearing a cap. Those Chinese soldiers were killed but I doubt that this should be called a “massacre”. You can say anything now in peaceful surroundings, but you cannot say that given the circumstances of those days.
One thing I wonder about is why the Chinese soldiers did not accept our call for surrender. They were obviously already defeated. Nothing else to do but surrender. It was not the surrender of the entire nation—it was the surrender of Nanjing only. During the Russo-Japanese War, General Anatoly Stessel surrendered to General Nogi when Port Arthur fell. Same as that. After the capture of Port Arthur, the Russo-Japanese War continued. In the case of Nanjing, they could have surrendered, just Nanjing.
As a matter of fact, I sympathize with China. I did not agree with the establishment of Manchuria. During the China Incident, Japan went overboard. But as far as the refusal to surrender in Nanjing is concerned, I think China was wrong. And eventually the highest commander himself, T’ang Sheng-chih (唐生智), escaped. This was wrong of China and same thing happened in the Boxer Rebellion, in which, in the end, the highest commander of Qing dynasty fled. It is the same for a company—if the person responsible for the company fled, then the company would fall into chaos and their employees would loot and run off.
If they had surrendered the matter of prisoners would never have arose. If you cite International Law, I think the route that China had taken was the problem.
– Did you see Xiaguan?
I went to Xiaguan, together with General Matsui. Xiaguan was a place where Nanjing Station was situated. Many bodies were left. General Matsui and I saw this.
– How many bodies?
I can’t say exact number, but several hundreds. I assume some of them had been cleared away before General Matsui arrived.
– Major Sumi Yoshiharu (角良晴), who was the General’s adjutant stated that he saw hundreds of thousands of bodies.
Concerning the bodies in Xiaguan, Mr. Sumi, General Matsui and I saw the same bodies, but it couldn’t have been hundreds of thousands. I moved to Tokyo in the Taisho era in order to enter junior high school and I experienced the Great Kanto Earthquake . After the Earthquake, I saw 1,000 – 2,000 bodies with my own eyes, but there were not so many bodies at Xiaguan. Mr. Sumi came from Kagoshima, he was very quiet man—the impression of bodies at Xiaguan was exceptionally strong to him. He kept this impression and expressed it as “hundreds of thousands”. For a person who saw bodies for the first time, it likely looked greater than it actually was.
At the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), it was said that 100,000 to 200,000 Chinese were massacred. These are inconceivable numbers. Of course, in the suburbs there were hundreds and thousands of bodies. During fighting in the suburbs, a considerable number of Japanese soldiers were also killed. But in town, I didn’t see bodies. The things that I saw and heard and the incident which was called the Nanjing-incident after the War are not consistent.
If you want to know about the Chinese soldiers who fled to the Yangtze River, I think the people in the Navy know better about this than we do.
– It is said that Staff Officer Cho issued the “massacre order”.
Yes, I heard the rumor that Mr. Cho said, “Kill the prisoners,” “We are in war, kill them,” or something like that.
– Did he issue such order?
No, no. At Headquarters the issue of prisoners was discussed and Mr. Cho uttered such wild words. Naturally, these were not orders. He was just a staff officer, so he had no power to issue an order. People around him didn’t take it seriously. Mr. Cho had no idea what to do—he just used violent words. Later, people exaggerated his remarks.
– Did anybody reprimand Lieutenant Colonel Cho? Deputy Chief Muto Akira, for example?
We knew Mr. Cho often used empty words. I don’t think Mr. Muto said about that.
– What did General Matsui think of Lieutenant Colonel Cho?
I think General Matsui didn’t appreciate him. General Matsui’s main concern was what to do after we won the war, that he wanted to establish a stable Chinese government and to bring stability to the Chinese peoples’ lives. He was planning to use Colonel Wachi Takaji (和知鷹二) for the planning. Anyway, Mr. Cho had been appointed as Information Staff Officer so General Matsui used him partly for planning.
– Do you think General Matsui knew about Lieutenant Colonel Cho’s wild words?
I don’t know. I have never heard anything about this from General Matsui. I don’t know whether General Matsui knew of the rumor or not, but I remember he ordered someone to summon Cho to him.
– Did Mr. Matsui know of the rumor of the shooting the prisoners at Xiaguan?
I don’t know. He might have known about this. Even if he knew, he would have thought that it was a battlefield-related matter. Otherwise, he would have said something about it. General Matsui was not easy-going person, never blindly signed anything. You could see his personality during the Aizawa Incident . He took responsibility and withdrew from his post. As shown in this episode, he was a man who took responsibility seriously, therefore if he didn’t like something he would make his displeasure known.
– Who was the General’s source for news? Chief of Staff Tsukada?
General Matsui got information not only from him but also from several other staff officers. I saw him speaking often with Mr. Kimihira, and Mr. Nakayama. And in Nanjing, Mr. Muto always followed General Matsui, so he got information from Mr. Muto, too.
Other news sources were the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and the 10th Army.
The Central China Area Army had only an administration department and staff officers, and they didn’t have a legal department. So matters on prisoners or others were handled by the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and the 10th Army, from which General Matsui might have heard something about prisoners.
– Who were serving closely to General Matsui?
Senior adjutant Lieutenant Colonel Murakami, and Mr. Sumi, who was an executive adjutant. Mr. Saito Yoshie (斉藤良衛), an expert in International Law, gave advice about international matters. In addition, the interpreter Fujiki (藤木), who was a Chinese language teacher, and Dr. Sasakawa (笹川), Chief of Army Surgeons, the Paymaster Lieutenant Kuruma (車), Pay Officer, etc.
– According to the book Age of Shanghai, written by Mr. Matsumoto Shigeharu, after the memorial service on the 18th, General Matsui chastised all commanders, including General Prince Asaka [Asakanomiya]. What did he say?
I think General Matsui called the commanders’ attention to general matters. He started to speak “On procedures to maintain the order of battle,” and he mentioned disciplinary problems. The memorial service was not the only time—General Matsui always warned discipline.
– Did he know there were disciplinary problems?
He heard of a couple of cases—as I mentioned earlier, he was informed by staff officers. However, in those days nobody heard about a massacre. General Matsui didn’t hear of one either. He simply was upset about general discipline.
At first glance, General Matsui looks like an easy-going person but he was very strict and had a strong personality. He spoke his mind and would not act disobediently. Even Mr. Cho became helpless in front of him.
General Matsui graduated from the Army Academy with General Araki Sadao, and General Matsui acted as go-between at Mr. Araki’s daughter’s wedding. General Matsui complained that Mr. Araki was easily flattered by young people. Just like that, General Matsui openly said what was on his mind, even of small matters.
– It seemed that General Matsui was not satisfied with Divisional Commander Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago’ command. Did you see something related with that in Nanjing?
In Nanjing, I saw nothing between the two. But after returned to Shanghai, General Matsui complained that, “Division Commander Nakajima is not good, he is reckless, gives no consideration to matters, and, as superior, too imprudent in controlling others.”
– Muto Akira (武藤章), Deputy Chief of Staff of the Central China Area Army, wrote his memoir, From the Philippines to Sugamo (prison):
“During operations, General Matsui tried to respect Chinese standing to the extent that it was deemed far from realistic. The General’s soft attitude made some officers frustrated and an Army commander, someone, and some Division commanders, who considered strategy should be the priority, protested to the General. Lodging in the next room, at Nanjing, I heard them quarreling furiously.”
I assume that this “Army Commander” was Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke (柳川平助) and the Division Commander was Lieutenant General Nakajima. Were you there in the argument?
No, I was not. If Mr. Muto wrote this, I think it is true. It was very likely that General Matsui argued with Mr. Yanagawa. In Shanghai, he did not speak well of Mr. Yanagawa.
– Did General Matsui disagree with Commander Yanagawa about the Ladybird Incident ?
General Matsui and Mr. Yanagawa did not get along from the beginning. General Matsui was in the same Academy class as General Mazaki Jinzaburo (真崎甚三郎) and those two did not getting along. Mr. Yanagawa belonged to Mr. Mazaki’s group.
– According to a memoir written by Lieutenant General Kawabe Torashiro (辺虎四郎), then Chief of Operations, General Matsui had read an admonition written by the General Chief of Staff immediately after the Capture of Nanjing, and cried, “I am terribly sorry.” Some people said this was the proof of a “Nanjing Massacre”. Did you know about that?
No. I never heard that General Matsui cried. It was likely that the admonition might have been issued from the Central Authorities if it was related with general discipline. But if it was related with a massacre that happened in Nanjing, an admonition from Central Authorities was quite unlikely.
Shanghai was an international city so we were constantly warned about discipline, but we heard nothing about a massacre–it was not possible that Central Authorities got information before we did and warned us. Concerning third countries’ interests, General Matsui repeatedly warned the soldiers to protect the interests of uninvolved parties.
– According to the note “Efforts for Peace” written by Prime Minister Konoe after the War; when General Matsui was about to leave Tokyo Station he said to the Prime Minister that he would go to Nanjing. Was he already intending to go as far as Nanjing?
I doubt that story. In a war we don’t know how far we go or where to stop. The war might have ended in Shanghai. I think that he didn’t think about going Nanjing at first. If he thought that he had to go Nanjing, it must be for the purpose of peace. General Matsui held Japan-China peace in high regard and had a close relationship with Chiang Kai-shek.
At the end of February 1938, the night before General Matsui was leaving for Shanghai for his triumphant return, General Matsui invited Ri Takuichi (李択一), Mine
Tokuhiro (岑徳広,), Major General Harada (原田), Colonel Usuda (臼田), and me, for dinner. At the dinner, he said “I will go back Japan tomorrow but I would like to come to China again as ambassador and discuss peace.” That was his cherished dream.
When he left Tokyo, General Matsui required at least five Divisions. He knew that the Chinese Nationalist Party was more powerful than they used to be. He made his request to Minister of Army Sugiyama (the former General). He asked Prime Minister Konoe, too. Mr. Sugiyama, based on successful experiences in the Manchurian-Incident and the first Shanghai-Incident, said General Matsui’s demand was too great. General Matsui complained that Mr. Sugiyama hardly knew anything about China.
– After the War, the Nanjing-Incident was raised by the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE).
I was totally astonished. As I was very close to General Matsui, I started helping his lawyers Mr. Ito Kiyoshi (伊藤清) and Mr. Ueshiro Takuzen (上城琢禅 ).
I never expected the sentence of death by hanging at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE). Every defendant was unable to predict what accusations and decisions would be made. After all, the charge against General Matsui was a single count, that is, the Nanjing Incident.
I knew a person called Mr. Yamada Junzaburo (山田純三郎 ) who helped in Sun Yat-sen’s Chinese Revolution. More than anything, Junzaburo’s brother, Mr. Yamada Yoshimasa (山田良政) was killed by the Qing, at the beginning of the Revolution. Because of such a background, Sun Yat-sen admired Mr. Yamada Junzaburo, and Chiang Kai-shek did as well. Chiang Kai-shek treated Mr. Yamada Junzaburo respectfully at his departure from China to Japan after the War.
Mr. Yamada Junzaburo knew General Matsui, so during the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), I counted on Mr.Yamada’s friendship with Chinag Kai-shek and asked him to plead to Chiang Kai-shek to help General Matsui. But the answer from Chiang Kai-shek was “NO”—General Matsui was the representative Japanese who had to take responsibility.
So General Matsui was responsible for everything, with or without a “Nanjing Massacre”. Nanjing was the capital and they tried to make Nanjing a symbol for everything and it happened when General Matsui was the supreme commander. He was sacrificed for the convenience what was then Chinese policy.
Anyway, Japan attacked China and lost, and there was some misconduct in the war. For misconducts, General Matsui had to take responsibility. He understood this very well.
Before the execution, General Matsui’s wife, their foster daughter, and his (major general) brother Nanao’s wife and I visited him at Sugamo Prison.
23) Interview with the Colonel Tanida Isamu (谷田勇) , Staff Officer of the 10th Army
Mr. Tanida Isamu graduated from the 27th Army Academy class with an excellent performance record. Also he graduated from Artillery and Engineering School with excellent performance, as well as the Army War College—which means, he was, no doubt, an elite of the 27th class.
However, he did not move to the sunny side of the Army. A reason for this was that he belonged to the Imperial Way Faction. Since the 1936 2.26 Incident , people who were thought to belong to the Imperial Way Faction were expelled from the Army and young people who narrowly escaped banishment remained in the Army but had no chance to get important positions. Mr. Tanida was one of these.
However, it happened that Mr. Tanida’s father, Lieutenant General Tanida Fumie (谷田文衛), and Tojo Hideki’s father, Lieutenant General Tojo Hidenori (東条英教), had shared a similar background, of attending the Army War College, and Mr. Tanida was favored by General Tojo. This might be the reason that he was promoted to lieutenant general despite the fact he belonged to the Imperial Way Faction. He was the last lieutenant general of the Imperial Way Faction.
Mr. Tanida held his position as nonconformist after the War, and kept in contact with Major General Tanaka Ryukichi (田中隆吉), who was completely ignored by the entire Imperial Army after the War. At the death of Major General Tanaka, while almost no member of the Imperial Army attended his funeral, Mr. Tanida did. Also in 1957, he visited the People’s Republic of China, together with Lieutenant General Endo Saburo (遠 藤三郎,), who also was treated coldly by the Imperial Army.
In October 1937, Mr. Tanida, then working as an instructor of tactics at the Army War College, was assigned as staff officer of the 10th Army. At the time, Mr. Tanida was 43 years old and he received the radio notice of his promotion to colonel, onboard the warship Isuzu, which was on the way to Hangzhou Bay.
After participating in the Attack on Nanjing, Mr. Tanida moved to suppress Hangzhou. In February of the next year, 1938, after the 10th Army was disbanded, he remained in China as Staff Officer, Chief of Logistics, in the Central China Expeditionary Army and participated in the Battle of Xuzhou, then the Hankou Operation. After that, Mr. Tanida served as the Chief of Staff of the 38th Division, then the Chief of the Second Section of Technical Headquarters.
And in May 1943, due to being accused of joining the peace movement by the Imperial Way Faction, Mr. Tanida was demoted by the Commander of the Signal Corps of the 8th Area Army, and sent to Rabaul, where he remained for the duration of the War.
Mr. Tanida contributed articles to the monthly magazine Kaiko every now and then and completed a great work, A Battle between Dragon and Tiger, in 1984 as well. When a book written by former Major General Tanaka Ryukich, was re-published, Mr. Tanida contributed his article to the book as well. With Mr. Tanida being as energetic as he was, I asked him for an interview. He answered that he would wait for me at 10 a.m., July 17, 1985. He was 92 years old and, needless to say, he was the oldest of the Imperial Soldiers who participated in the Attack on Nanjing.
At the time of the Nanjing Attack, Colonel Tanida was the Chief of the Third Section, which was in charge of in the 10th Army. Practically, he was the responsible person in charge of logistics. Some have stated that disciplinary problems of the 10th Army was due to poor supply, so I was going to ask him about this. Furthermore, this section was in charge of prisoners as well, plus it was said that Mr. Tanida was friendly with Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke, the Commander of the 10th Army. This was the best opportunity to ask Mr. Tanida all about that.
On the day of interview, I was led to a room and I waited for him. In the room were portraits of Mr. Tanida and his father, Lieutenant General Tanida Fumie (谷田文衛) and I felt a little bit intimidated. Soon, Mr. Tanida appeared. He looked dignified in his kimono—even in his 90s, he no trace of senility. I was full of questions, so after exchanging short greetings we began:
– It is said that the Commander Yanagawa, when landed at Hangzhou Bay, told soldiers that even mountains, rivers, plants and trees, all were enemies…
To my sudden question, Mr. Tanida looked surprised and put his hand on his face.
I had requested that Mr. Tanida allow me to interview him, and in my letter, I wrote that I wanted to hear about Nanjing in 1937. To my request he responded simply, “Please come.” He knew nothing about me, and didn’t expect such questions, so his surprise was quite understandable. Mr. Tanida contemplated for a while, 10 seconds or so. Then, suddenly, he said, “Let’s start with my story.” He said this without answering my first question. Then he took his book, A Battle between Dragon and Tiger, from his bookshelf and said “Let’s start with this story in this book.”
Each of his stories were concise and to the point. And his memory was very clear. I visited him 10 a.m., and when he completed his first part it was around 11 a.m. He kept up his monologue for one hour without fatigue. Eventually the interview lasted for three hours, I felt a little tired, but Mr. Tanida did not show any sign of fatigue up to the end.
The first part of Mr. Tanida’s story is outlined as follows:
Within the Central Authorities of the Imperial Army during the Showa era, two factions struggled against each other due to differences in belief and philosophy—they were the Control Faction and the Imperial Way Faction.
Originally the Japanese Imperial Army regarded the Soviet Union as the biggest threat, against which Japan could not fight alone, so they believed that Japan, Manchuria and China must combine forces. The Imperial Way Faction was idealist, which believed that they could subsume China if they contacted them in friendly manner based on the Imperial Philosophy. On the other hand, the Control Faction was theoretically rationalist and insisted that against current-day China, with anti-Japanese and Japanophobia feeling running high, talk wouldn’t work, so teaching them a lesson first, then enter into an agreement. This was the main difference between the two Factions on the matter of foreign policy.
In the March 1932 Shanghai-Incident, the Japanese Imperial Army destroyed the Chinese Army around Shanghai and returned to Japan quickly before May, without leaving any soldiers there. And during the “Within the Great Wall” Operation in April 1933, the Japanese Army advanced to Huairou (懐柔), which was situated within hailing distance of Beijing, but the Japanese Army concluded a cease-fire in Tanggu (塘沽) and withdrew to the Great Wall. These two operations were performed during the term of the Minister of Army Araki Sadao (荒木貞夫), which expressed the philosophy of the Imperial Way Faction, that is, they would not touch the mainland of China except Manchuria.
Mr. Tanida stated all this to me and then went back to my first question:
– It is said that the Commander Yanagawa, when landed at Hangzhou Bay, told soldiers that even mountains, rivers, plants and trees, all were enemies…
No. The top members of the Imperial Way Faction were the General Mazaki Jinzaburo and Lieutenant Generals Araki Sadao, Yanagawa Heisuke and Obata Toshishiro (小畑敏四郎). Lieutenant General Yanagawa, a member of the Imperial Way Faction, did not say things like “even mountains, rivers, plants and trees in China, all were enemies.” If such a statement was made somewhere, I can be sure that the article was written by a person belonged to the Control Faction or a person who favored the Control Faction.
Among the top members of the Imperial Way Faction, Mr. Yanagawa was most devoted to deities, and regarded the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki as sacred texts. Wherever he went, he visited the local shrine first and prayed to the local deity.
Thus, my first question was answered. At times laughing out and at times thinking deeply, Mr. Tanida’s facial expression was very rich. Being relaxed, I dared to ask all of my questions.
Mr. Tanida continued;
Mr. Yanagawa’s idea was based on his firm faith—once the triangle zone of central China was suppressed, the Japanese Army should withdraw from China as they did in the first Shanghai Incident. Mr. Yanagawa did not hesitated to state this idea.
Mr. Yanagawa made great contribution to battles, nevertheless his picture was always prohibited by instruction of the Central Authorities. Even in a photo of the entrance ceremony, General Yanagawa’s face was defaced and displayed. Seeing the photo, members of the Imperial Way Factions were upset, saying it was dirty revenge.
– Who would have instructed defacing a picture? Army Minister General Sugiyama Gen? Or Vice Minister Lieutenant General Umedu Michirou (梅津美治郎,)?
Persons of superior rank would never suggest such things.
– So a leader of the press group or someone in the Ministry of Army suggested this?
Yes, that is likely.
– According to a memoir written by Lieutenant General Kawabe Torashiro (河辺虎四郎 ), then Chief of the Operations Section of General Staff Headquarters, General Matsui and Lieutenant General Yanagawa did not get along.
As I mentioned earlier, one belonged to the Control Faction and the other belonged to the Imperial Way Faction, so naturally their relationship was not friendly. However, during operations they had to act as ordered by their superiors. I don’t think anything happened in particular.
– According to the book, Military Policeman for 31 Years, written by Mr. Katsushichi Uesuna, who was the Chief of Military Police of the 10th Army: the work of unloading food, etc. was very slow and without permission, the soldiers’ requisition increased. The Chief of the Accounting Section couldn’t take it, saying in a rage that he could not take responsibility for such terrible planning and he would quit. The Chief Staff Officer, Major General Tanabe Moritake, tried to soothe him to settle the matter.
Concerning the supply, the Third Section was in charge, and I was the head of the Section. If the Accounting Section had a complain, it should have been passed to me. At meetings between various levels, the senior staff of the Accounting Section should have talked to me if there was such problem. But I have no memory of that.
The chiefs of the sections of the 10th Army were mostly major generals on reserve duty and the Chief of the Accounting Section was on reserve duty also. The party to whom the Chief of the Accounting Section himself must consult, was the Chief Staff Officer, me, so such a story could not have possibly happened without my knowledge.
– Was the plan for supplies a feasible one?
At the beginning, the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation was successful, but after the landing, unloading was not completed for 4 to 5 days. Hangzhou Bay was shallow and the tidal range was significantly great, therefore gun carriages and other vehicles could not be landed. Even if unloading was successful, the road was so terrible that heavy vehicles could not proceed. How about the Shanghai route? We decided on a new plan around November 10: move the ships to Shanghai and unload equipment in Shanghai where the road was good and also we could use creeks to carry the equipment.
To change the place of landing and logistics station was an important matter but I decided this on my own because we couldn’t contact Headquarters. So I dispatched Staff Officer Lieutenant Colonel Obata Nobuyoshi (小畑信良) to Shanghai. The Shanghai Expeditionary Army understood my plan at once and gave their port Nanshi in Shanghai to us, the 10th Army. I myself had landed Hangzhou already but returned to the ship and went to Shanghai. So we landed in Shanghai, followed after Headquarters and caught up Headquarters in Jiaxing (嘉興) where we got necessary supplies.
After that we stayed in Huzhouz (湖州) and waited for the order to attack Nanjing. So we were able to get supplies as well as considerable provisions and food, plus ammunition. Therefore, except at the first stage of landing, we generally had no difficulty with regard to supply.
– According to the book, Military Policeman for 31 years, the 10th Army had disciplinary problem.
It is common in any military all over the world, including the Japanese military, that strong troops have a high standard of discipline, and weak troops tend to raise disciplinary problems. It is a matter of human psychology – the weak tend to take out his own frustration toward those who are weaker, the people.
In case of the Japanese Army, soldiers who came from Tohoku and Kyushu were strong and soldiers who came from Kyoto and Osaka were weak. The Tohoku soldiers were characterized by obedience and the Kyushu soldiers were characterized by being proud. The 10th Army mainly consisted of the 6th Division and the 18th Division, both of which came from Kyushu, and I didn’t hear that they had disciplinary problems.
– Lieutenant General Endo Saburo, Chief Staff of the First Section of General Headquarters then said in his book that the 6th Division didn’t get a citation of merit for their achievement in the Battle of North China, and added that Chief of Operations was Colonel Sato Kotoku (佐藤幸徳). Due to the above two reasons he writes as if they committed a massacre.
Lieutenant General Endo could not have known about the 10th Army first hand. Since Huzhou (湖州), the Headquarters of the 10th Army followed the route of the 6th Division and we found no trace of a massacre at all. We saw bodies but all of them were Chinese soldiers. Besides, Colonel Sato was already transferred out of the 6th Division by this time. Concerning the 6th Division, they didn’t commit any massacres.
– According to a battle report written by troops in the 114th Division, it is said that they received Brigade’s order to kill the prisoners.
I cannot believe that at all. I don’t know Major General Akiyama Juuzaburo (秋山充三郎), the Brigade Commander, but I knew Lieutenant General Suematsu Shigeharu (末松茂治), Division Commander. He was called from reserve duty and had very gentle personality—it was not likely that he would issue such an order.
– The Third Section was in charge of prisoners. What thoughts did you have on the prisoners?
I thought we had to treat them in accordance with International Law, not be cruel, not show favor. As a matter of fact, during the Operation, we met no problems with prisoners, so I never dreamed that Nanjing would be raised as an issue after the War. There were prisoners in Nanjing but in the Wuhan Operation, the enemy scampered far, far away, hardly any remaining.
– What was the situation inside Nanjing?
Headquarters entered Nanjing Castle on the 14th shortly before noon, 11:30 a.m. We entered through China Gate, hardly any corpses around there. Around 3:00 p.m., as the Chief of Logistics, I needed to inspect the condition of occupied places and I looked around the Castle by car, with a squad of guard from Headquarters.
When I went Xiaguan, I saw a warship anchored in the Yangtze River and met the Captain of the warship. At wharf’s shore, I saw a number of bodies. There were more than 1,000, maybe more accurately 2,000 to 3,000. More than half of the bodies wore military uniforms and there were ordinary people’s bodies, too.
– Were they killed in battle?
I thought that they had fled from the Castle and the 16th Division cornered them and shot them. I suppose that this was the so-called Massacre of decades later.
In saying so, Mr. Tanida took out his photo albums. In those days, Mr. Tanida was crazy about photography and during military service he took many photos of battlefields and everyday activity. Therefore, he had many important photos, every photo was indicated with a date and the circumstances.
Among the photos on December 14, there were photos of the entrance and inspection of the Castle as talked about. There were photos of Xiaguan, too. In the photos you can see burning buildings off in the distance, and in the foreground were 20 to 30 bodies.
When we arrived Xiaguan, it was around 4:00 p.m., the buildings were still burning, and we saw those bodies, 2,000 or so.
In his albums I found photos of the Headquarters of the 10th Army, in Lishui on December 8. One was a picture of a strategy meeting between the Army and its subordinate divisions before the Nanjing Attack, in which you can see the General Yanagawa and the 6th Division Commander Tani Yasuo (谷寿夫).
During the meeting, the General Yanagawa repeatedly warned Lieutenant General Tani about discipline. This shows Mr. Yanagawa’s personality.
On the 16th, the Sanmei Company of the 47th Infantry Regiment from Oita, which arrived first at the rampart, reported details of their moment, in front of the Commander of the Army, then the Commander and others started to climb the rampart. Inside the Castle, we found several bodies of Chinese soldiers.
It was the 6th Division that occupied the rampart of Nanjing Castle first. Nevertheless the Wakisaka Regiment of the 9th Division, which attacked Guanghua Gate, got more publicity because the 9th Division had their own reporters. I knew Colonel Wakisaka Jirou very well–he was a senior adjutant while I was working as a strategy instructor at the Army War College.
After the entrance ceremony on the 17th, I left Nanjing on the 19th in order to suppress Hangzhou, so I don’t know anything after the 19th, but I do know of the situation in Nanjing until the 19th. The number of bodies was several thousand to 10,000, including in the area surrounding Nanjing, and no trace was found of a “massacre”. Therefore, I am sure that after the War, at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, that 200,000 or 300,000, which was pushed by the Chinese side, must be intentional exaggerations.
– You wrote an article in the magazine Kaiko that the number of soldiers who were allowed to enter the Nanjing Castle was restricted to 8,000.
The Central China Area Army issued the instruction anew to the Shanghai Expeditionary Army as well as to the 10th Army, that they must restrict the number of units entering the Castle. From that we understood that the Central China Area Army wanted to avoid chaos in the Castle.
– How was the situation of Nanjing, other than Xiaguan?
I saw more than 10 bodies in Mo Chouhu (莫愁湖). In three places in Nanjing, I saw bodies.
– Were the bodies you saw in Mo Chouhu soldiers or civilians?
I am not sure now, whether they were soldiers or civilians. It might have been half-and-half. The bodies found in two places, Xiaguan and Mo Chouhu, were now considered as a “massacre”, I assume.
– It is said there were bodies at Yi Jiang Gate ( 挹江門) as well. Did you see them?
In some documents, there is mention of some bodies at Yi Jiang Gate, too. I passed the gate in the afternoon of the 14th, but there was nothing there that time.
In so saying, Mr. Tanida opened his album again. He showed me a photo of Yi Jiang Gate on the 14th. In the picture, we can see all of Yi Jiang Gate with its three arches, but there were no body-like shapes visible.
Some said they were killed at Yuhuatai (雨花台) too, but there were no bodies at all.
– In the book, The History to be Judged, written by Major General Tanaka Ryukichi, he said that Staff Officer Cho of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army confessed that he gave an order to massacre. You were close to Mr. Tanaka, what do you think of this?
Cho Isamu was one year junior to me–he was in the 28th class and graduated from the Army War College with excellent performance. He was a man of angular, patriotic, righteous indignation and never hesitated to pursue his belief. Together with Lieutenant Colonel Hashimoto Kingoro (橋本欣五郎,), he was one of main members of Sakura-kai, the third biggest cross-sectional faction in the Showa era. At the October Incident, in 1931, the Sakura-kai’s plot (an attempted coup d’etat) was uncovered before it happened and it is said that failure was partly because of Cho’s reckless behavior. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Colonel Cho was surprisingly modest and polite when he associated with friends, and he was very kind to me, maybe because we had same name, Isamu.
Considering his personality, the above story might be not groundless. However, if he tried to issue a military order to a subordinate unit he must first obtain clearance from the Commander. It was not likely he had issued an official order without permission. Perhaps he gave it orally to military staff of a subordinate unit who came to get an order. I heard such a persistent rumor in the Central China Area Army. I knew they actually killed prisoners by sword.
– What kind of person was Division Commander Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago?
I heard many stories about the 16th Division. The 16th Division came from Kyoto, so, as I said before, they were weak, so it was not unlikely they might have caused trouble. Lieutenant General Nakajima was stationed in France for a while, being sophisticated, so I don’t think he could have performed such a thing as the rumor suggested, but on the other hand, I could say he was not strong enough to control it. As a matter of fact, the bodies I saw in Xiaguan were the work of the 16th Division.
– At the end of January 1938, Colonel Hirota Yutaka (広田豊,) together with Chief of the Second Section of the General Staff Headquarters, Honma Masaharu, visited Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou. It is said that the purpose of their visit was to handle the matter of foreign countries’ interests.
Hirota and I were in the same graduating class at the Army Academy. He was not so good at the Academy but it seems that he studied very hard at the Army War College, hard enough to get into the Army Saber Club.
After the inspection, Mr. Honma returned to Tokyo, while Hirota was assigned to the Headquarters of the Central China Expeditionary Army and opened an office in Shanghai, where he handled matters concerning foreign countries’ interests. I also served as the Chief of Logistics in the Central China ExpeditionaryArmy Headquarters, and frequently negotiated with resident foreigners. I think Hirota’s duty was not so difficult then compared to issues arising in later years.
In November 1938, the Central China Expeditionary Army captured all of Wuhan. Without any sign of a Chinese Army’s counterattack, the Japanese Army completed post-battle procedures and disbanded the Battle Command Base in Hankou, then returned to Nanjing to shift the troops to a defensive posture.
During this period, the Japanese government established the Central China Development Company in Shanghai as the top organization for financial development, as well as a number of Japan-China National Policy Joint Ventures for the management of railway, ships, communication, national land development, electricity and water business, and so on. The Headquarters of the Central China Expeditionary Army directed these local businesses and afterwards returned to Nanjing, the duty of Headquarters not only being military matters but also political and economical matters, which gave them new functions. The Third Section, in particular, which was in charge of logistics, had to direct the previously mentioned economical matters. Therefore we were terribly busy. Naturally, our staff and I, the Chief, had a lot of occasions to spend time with Japanese and Chinese businessmen and officials in which we received deep understandings of Central China’s traditions.
During that time, I had many opportunities to talk with Chinese businessmen and officials on friendly terms, but even during drinks, I never heard about a Nanjing Massacre–not at all. Therefore, I have a strong belief that the truth is nothing like that as the current Chinese government insists, decades after the fact.
24) Interview with Captain Kaneko Rinsuke (金子倫助), Staff Officer of the 10th Army
In the middle of October 1937, Captain Kaneko Rinsuke, who worked in the Maintenance Bureau of the Ministry of the Army, was appointed staff officer in charge of logistics for the 10th Army, and participated in the Nanjing Attack. The 10th Army had 14 staff officers and Captain Kaneko was youngest, 32 years old at the time. The Third Section, which was in charge of logistics, had three members, Colonel Tanida Isamu, the Chief, Lieutenant Colonel Obata Nobuyoshi (小畑信良), and Captain Kaneko.
Next year, 1938, at the end of February, Captain Kaneko returned to his former position at the Maintenance Bureau of the Ministry of the Army. He joined the 10th Army as soon as the Army was organized and returned to Japan as soon as the 10th Army was disbanded.
After returned to Tokyo, Captain Kaneko worked at the Maintenance Bureau, then the Third Section of General Staff Headquarters, then in the early summer of 1941 he was appointed as resident officer in the US.
He was repatriated to Tokyo in the summer of 1942 by ship. After that, he served as staff officer of the 8th Area Army, then senior staff officer of the 4th Air Force and at the end of the War, he served as munitions officer, the Ministry of Munitions – he was 40 years old then, a colonel.
In those days, he was the youngest and now he is 80 years old. He is fine but his wife has had health problem, so three years ago the couple moved to a private residential home that prepares meals and doctors on call. Mr. Kaneko now takes care of his wife and goes the company twice a week. I met him in December 1985 at the lobby of said senior home.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
I was terribly busy with matters concerning supply and guarding in rear areas so I had no impression when I entered Nanjing. Perhaps I was engaged in other jobs at that time because I was of the lowest rank. One thing I remember–before entering Nanjing Castle, it happened that I was in the Headquarters at Yuhuatai for some reason, I saw the flag of rising sun hoisted over the rampart and champagne was opened. I remember that moment at Headquarters at Yuhuatai clearly.
Also, I attended a meeting in the room of the Area Army Commander, where a sergeant of the 6th Division, who first raised the rising sun flag over the rampart, reported to the Commander, Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke. The sergeant said that he threw a rope with hook and started to climb and during the climb someone shook his rope. The time that the sergeant hoisted the flag was 12 o’clock, December 12, so the meeting was probably on the 13th or 14th.
– When you entered Nanjing, what was the situation in there?
The date that I entered Nanjing was 13th or 14th. I saw no corpse in the Castle nor heard any shooting. I entered Nanjing but I had the task of moving to Hangzhou so I stayed just one night, or maybe two nights, and departed for Hangzhou. I had no clear memory about the inside of Nanjing. No memory means nothing happened; I think so.
– Did you see the entrance ceremony performed by General Matsui Iwane and Lieutenant General Yanagawa.
No memory of it at all. I believe I had already headed for Hangzhou .
– It is said there was massacre in Nanjing. Did you see something?
I remember well the bodies I saw between Hangzhou Bay and Nanjing. I saw the first bodies at the place of where the landing took place at Hangzhou Bay. Wearing new military uniforms, the bodies of Japanese soldiers lay in an orderly line. Their fresh, new uniforms were very impressive.
At the same place, I saw bodies of Chinese soldiers in a trench, too. And on the way to Nanjing, I saw a Chinese solder’s corpse run over by car, revealing the internal organs, a Chinese soldier’s body sitting dead along the road, like Jizo or Kshitigrbha, and at a place around 10 km before Yuhuata, a swollen body. I remember these clearly. I saw no other bodies.
– The 10th Army was engaged in heavy fighting at Jinshan (金山) immediately after the landing, as well as at Yuhuata, outside Nanjing Castle.
I was always in the rear and moved through the logistics route. The bodies that I saw were all that I saw, as I said before. There were battles and there were bodies–maybe before I arrived there they were cleared already.
– So, you never heard of a Nanjing-Incident?
Never. After the War, I was totally surprised to hear about it at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE). I am not hiding anything. I am not hesitating to say–I did not see anything in Nanjing, really. There was nothing impressive that happened.
– Did you go straight to Hangzhou after you left Nanjing?
Yes. There was no order to attack Hangzhou yet. Moving to Hangzhou was the first order, so I had to prepare the logistics line, and so on and went there. During the move to Hangzhou no significant battle occurred.
– In Hangzhou, you joined the Headquarters again?
Yes. The Headquarters was situated by a lake called Lake Xi (西湖) which had an island in the middle, and we met the New Year there. In Hangzhou, I had arranged for prostitutes–it was one of my jobs, concerning logistics. I found a contractor and negotiated with him on the highest price, that is, to my memory, 50 sen; to preserve the soldiers morale–that was the nominal purpose. I think it helped to reduce fighting between soldiers.
– In the beginning of February, the Chief of the Second Section of the General Staff Headquarters, Major General Honma Masaharu, visited Hangzhou for the matter of foreign countries’ interests. Did you meet him?
I knew nothing about his visit.
25) Interview with Mr. Okada Yoshimasa (岡田芳政), official, Cabinet Planning Board
Mr. Okada Yoshimasa was a civil servant, an official of the Cabinet Planning Board. Prior to this, he was a military officer and temporarily transferred from the Ministry of the Army to the Cabinet Planning Board. Mr. Okada was a member of the 36th graduating class of the Army Academy. According to the book, “Army Operation Counterfeit Note,” written by Mr. Yamamoto Keizo (山本景蔵):
Mr. Okada Yoshimasa was a cheerful and magnanimous man who was in the same graduating class as Mr. Tsuji Masanobu (辻政信) at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy as well as the Army War College and both were known for their excellent performance. After graduating from the Military Staff College, Mr. Okada was assigned to the China Department of General Staff Headquarters, and after two years, he went to China as a resident officer. He was in Beijing from January until April 1935, in Nanjing from May 1935 to February 1936, and then in Canton from February to December 1936. During the Nanjing period, in autumn of 1935, he saw the grand cerebration of Chiang Kai-shek’s 50th birthday.
Mr. Okada returned to Japan in January 1937 and entered the Department of Economics, Tokyo Imperial University. In those times, as was customary, each year, two to three persons in the Military Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of the Army were sent to Tokyo Imperial University to study for 3 years. Captain Okada was selected to enter Tokyo Imperial University. But shortly after he entered University, the China Incident broke out. Thus, he had to terminate his studies at the University and was temporarily transferred to the Cabinet Planning Board, under the same status he held at the Military Affairs Bureau. In those days, the Cabinet Planning Board prepared and drew up the most important national policies, and so the best people were recruited from each ministry. The Cabinet Planning Board established the Third Committee for the research and planning for Chinese Economic Development in the old Parliament Building, which was situated at Hibiya Park, to which the Ministry of the Army, the Ministry of the Navy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent someone–the Ministry of the Army sent Mr. Okada. During the time described above, Mr. Okada went to Nanjing. He was 34 years old.
After completing his duties at the Cabinet Planning Board for over a year, Mr. Okada returned to his old position, the 8th Department of General Staff Headquarters in March 1939 and engaged in strategizing against China. In September 1939, he was appointed as staff officer of the China Expeditionary Army and continued to engage in strategic operations as an Information Staff Officer. At the end of the War, he held rank as a colonel and served as the Chief of the Second (Intelligence) Section of the 6th Area Army (Hankou).
Mr. Okada was born in 1903 and when I interviewed him he was 82 years old. He was in fine health and walked everyday. I interviewed several times and he always designated the Kazan-kai Club, located at Toranomon, as the place for interviews. The Club was established by members of the Dong A Dong Wen Shu Yuen Da Xue, the East Asian Literary School, and the name of the Club was derived from Prince Konoe Kazan (Atsumaro) (近衛篤麿), the founder of the School, who used the pseudonym “kazan”. This Club has very close ties with China.
– You were in Nanjing for a year before the China Incident. What was the situation in Nanjing then?
When I was in Nanjing from 1935 to 1936, new government buildings had just been constructed in the northern half and most of the citizens lived in the southern half. It was the capital of the Nationalist Government, but the real center was still Shanghai, so on the weekends, the management class went to Shanghai—there was no one in Nanjing. This was understandable as Shanghai was a lively town whereas Nanjing had no entertainment. Chiang Kai-shek knew this very well so he made his home at the Military Academy and never left Nanjing, either on weekdays or weekends. Wang Zhaoming (汪兆銘) and He Yingqin (何応欽) followed his example–their homes were in Nanjing. Those buildings stood alone in an empty field. Nonetheless, the management class continued to visit Shanghai over the weekends.
– You visited Nanjing the year shortly after the capture of Nanjing. What was your purpose?
When Shanghai fell into the hands of the Japanese Army, the Third Committee was assigned to inspect Shanghai for its economic recovery. I was a member of the Third Committee and went to Shanghai. Based on the Committee’s report, the Central China Development Company was established the following year, in 1938.
We completed the inspection of the Shanghai area on December 23– at that time, Nanjing was already captured. I had stayed in Nanjing for a year as a resident officer. The New Year holiday was coming, so I asked for permission to go to Nanjing. I got permission and then went to Nanjing.
– What date was it?
The morning of December 24. Lieutenant Colonel Sasaki, who was sent from the Ministry of the Navy, helped me to get a surface boat and we went to Nanjing by boat. There were several people from other Ministries who also wanted to go to Nanjing. We arrived up-stream of Nanjing in Yangtze River. We asked the boat to stay there and in the afternoon of the next day, the 25th, we returned to Shanghai.
– What was the situation of Nanjing?
We found war casualties, 10 or so, floating in the Yangtze River. We heard that there were more bodies but they drifted away. We landed at a place near Yi Jiang Gate, a car waited for us, and we entered Nanjing through this gate by car. The officer who received us said that Japanese soldiers encircled the Chinese soldiers around the Yi Jiang Gate, so many bodies were found there. But when I visited, I found just a few.
I visited the Headquarters at the Capital Hotel (首都飯店) and heard the story of the capture.
In the evening, I visited the Special Service Agency to meet Major Sakata Shigeki (佐方繁木) who was my superior at the China Department in General Staff Headquarters – I had heard beforehand that he had arrived Nanjing as the Head of Special Service Agency. At the cross-section of Zhongshan Road and Zhongshan East Road stood the three-storied China Bank building. The building was terribly ruined but Mr. Sakata used the second floor of the building. A bottle of sake was delivered from Headquarters, so we set up candles and sipped sake, chatting until midnight. It was Christmas Eve. Mr. Sakata said nothing but later I heard that his child died that day.
The next day, with Mr. Sakata’s guide, we drove around Nanjing. I visited Guanghua Gate and China Gate, where intensive battles took place. At the China Gate, a couple of Chinese street stalls were open for business. After that, I went to the northern area, which became a battlefield, and found Japanese soldiers, Japanese civilians, and reporters, I guessed, walking around. Several houses had burned. In Nanjing, I remember one house smoldering.
I visited the place where I used to lived, it stood as it was, looking peaceful, no trace of damage from battle. There was Jin Ling Women’s College nearby, where I found many refugees, who looked very calm. The Chinese gatekeeper of the College, who knew me, welcomed me with a big smile.
– I thought you could not freely access areas where refugees were.
Nobody stopped me, in particular. I entered–perhaps because the gatekeeper knew me.
– It is said that there was a massacre. Did you see any other bodies?
I saw only a few bodies on the shore of the Yangtze and outside Yi Jiang Gate. When I drove around in the city I did not see any battle casualties. The city was calm and quiet. I assumed that battle casualties had already been cleared away.
At any rate, the Japanese Army entered Nanjing on the 13th and there was still fighting on that day. I visited Nanjing only 10 days after that. How many bodies could they take away? Even if there were bodies, there must have been several hundred or several thousand. I doubt, number of bodies which the Red Swastika Society stated they themselves had buried.
–After that, you were engaged in formulating strategy for China. You must have had frequent opportunities to meet Chinese people. Did you not hear from them that there was massacre in Nanjing?
No. Never. For the first time, I heard about it after the War. I was totally surprised to hear this. I lived for a long time in China and I knew Chinese people well, and I saw Nanjing before its capture and after its capture, too. That’s why I am convinced that the “Nanjing-Incident” is Chinese propaganda. After the War, at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), China quickly claimed that hundreds of thousands were killed and their claim spread all over the world. That is the reality of the Nanjing-Incident–the impression of which is so strong that it will not easily go away. The Nanjing-Incident is one tale in the propaganda war, a war which China was engaged in before the War and is still waging even today.
China is very good at propaganda. Japanese people cannot understand this, but in China, the country of Hakuhatsu 3,000 jo , this is an everyday occurrence. Japan lost the propaganda war.
In those times, we didn’t have an accurate number of the Chinese population, we didn’t know who were soldiers–it is impossible to get an exact number. Therefore, no matter how hard the Japanese side tries to show the truth, by collecting reports of the army’s activities and witnesses’ testimonies, it is impossible to overcome this huge work of propaganda. Besides, China is a county of “FACE”, they would never take back what they once said, since it means losing “face”. So there will never be a solution to the Nanjing-Incident.
– We don’t have any means by which to reveal the truth of the Nanjing-Incident?
Admit defeat, quite simply. We lost the propaganda war. Nothing else. Arguing over the numbers is silly.
What I wanted to discuss with Mr. Okada was matters concerning Nanjing but Mr. Okada always converged on the present: how to maintain Japan-China friendship. I met him three times, got 5 letters and frequent phone calls before I wrote his statement above. Japan-China friendship–that was his highest concern.
In those days, as a member of group that plotted against China, Mr. Okada could have used abundant secret military funds to operate the organization but now, empty-handed, he must feel helplessness in the conflict against China. He was deeply involved in China from the beginning and still now, he tries to contribute to various matters and to friendship between Japan and China.
26) Interview with Colonel Isayama Haruki (諌山春樹) , Chief of the General Affairs Bureau, General Staff Headquarters
Since the landing of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army in September 1937, the Central Authorities frequently sent their staff to Army units dispersed throughout China, for the purpose of inspecting them and communications.
At the end of December 1937, Colonel Isayama Haruki, the Chief of General Affairs Bureau in General Staff Headquarters was dispatched to Shanghai, and then in the New Year, to Nanjing. He was accompanied by Major General Anami Korechika (阿南惟幾), the head of the Bureau of Personnel Affairs of the Ministry of the Army, Lieutenant Colonel Nukata Hiroshi (額田担), Senior Officer of the Personnel Assignment Section, Lieutenant Colonel Inada Masazumi (稲田正純), Senior Officer of the Military Affairs Bureau, and Major Arao Okikatsu (荒尾興功), staff officer in the Operations and War Plans Section of General Staff Headquarters. Among these men, only Mr. Isayama is alive today. I interviewed Mr. Isayama in September 1987 and asked him what the Central Authorities thought about the dispatch of troops and Nanjing.
– According to a 1937 report prepared by the General Affairs Bureau:
“On December 26, Colonel Isayama was dispatched to the central China area in order to communicate with the headquarters of the Army and Divisions regarding personnel affairs and staff officers’ duties.”– Specifically, what was the objective of this trip?
The purpose of this trip was to check the situation of dispatched troops and the relationship between the Army and the Divisions.
– Was the purpose to inspect disciplinary problems?
No, it was not. The purpose was to grasp the situation of the troops there and the activities of staff officers; nothing further than that. It was standard.
– The Chief of the Office of Personnel Management, Anami, and Senior Staff in the Office of Personnel Management, Nukata, were sent together with you as well.
Originally, personnel affairs of the General Staff Headquarters were handled by the General Affairs Bureau and other personnel affairs were handled by the Personnel Affairs Office of the Ministry of the Army. However, since the February 26 Incident in 1936, all personnel affairs were handled by the Personnel Affairs Office.
Concerning personnel affairs of staff officers, the General Affairs Bureau of the General Staff Headquarters made the original plan, then the Personnel Affairs Office approved it and received the final decision. Accordingly, the Chief of the General Affairs Bureau and the Personnel Affairs Office in the Ministry of the Army related with each other. I remember I was with the Chief of the Personnel Affairs Office Anami, but I have no memory of Mr. Nukata.
– Did you visit Nanjing, too?
I went to Nanjing around the New Year. I inspected several places in the city and found a woman’s body,–that’s all. Nevertheless, Chief Staff Officer Tsukada Osamu (塚田攻) told me that General Matsui Iwane was extremely worried about outrages committed by Japanese soldiers. It was not a specific remark but just general one, and did not suggest a massacre or anything shocking like that, so I didn’t take it too seriously. It was not a matter of a massacre, of which it is currently argued, and it did not occur to anyone to ask of a “massacre”.
– Did you discuss this with Headquarters?
No, I think we spoke at a restaurant in Shanghai. The Chief of Staff was a strict man, he spoke in a serious tone.
– Did you meet General Matsui?
I met General Matsui at the Headquarters. We just exchanged greetings.
– What kind of person was General Matsui ?
He was my boss when I was assigned to the Second Section of General Staff Headquarters after I graduated from the Army Staff College. Since then I met him every now and then. The Chief of the Section was Colonel Tatekawa Yoshitsugu (建川美次). Mr. Tatekawa was carefree man but under Mr. Matsui he restrained himself.
During World War I, Mr. Matsui was in France as a resident officer, and his achievement then was said to be remarkable. After serving the Chief of the Second Section, he attended the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, as a plenipotentiary. I was in Paris then and served with him.
In Shanghai, he looked deeply matured and like a greatly experienced man.
– In the Special Services Agency in Shanghai, Colonel Kimura Matsujiro (木村松次郎), who was in the same class as you, served as the head of publicity.
I didn’t meet him.
– On January 4, 1938, the General Chief of Staff Officers gave an admonition on disciplinary problems and on January 9, Chief Staff Officer Tsukada Osamu, of the Central China Area Army, issued a notice of discipline to subordinate troops.
I don’t remember.
– While you were in General Staff Headquarters, didn’t you hear about disciplinary problems of dispatched troops?
No, I didn’t.
– Were there order issued to hush-up the Nanjing-Incident?
All the reports which came to the General Staff Headquarters were received first by the General Affairs Bureau, including daily telegrams, then divided into two; one for the main affairs section and another for the related affairs section, which were mimeograph at the time and then copies were delivered to the two departments. I checked all the documents, therefore it was not possible that I was not at all unaware. I served as the Chief of General Affairs until March 1939, all the while nothing of a massacre story arose; there was no order to hush things up at all.
– The Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred in July 1937. How did the General Staff Headquarters respond?
The Chief of Strategic Operations Bureau, Major General Ishihara Kanji (石原莞爾), applied a non-expansion policy but in general others did not support the non-expansion policy.
– It is said the China Section insisted that they could defeat China with a single blow.
I don’t know. I was not involved in that matter directly.
– In January 1938, the US claimed that the Japanese Army violated American interests in Nanjing and the Chief of the Second Section Honma Masaharu went to Nanjing together with Lieutenant General Hirota Yutaka (広田豊).
On hearing this, I vaguely remember that the US accused us of this then, but I don’t remember Mr. Honma’s visit. If he made the trip as the Chief of the Second Section it seems strange that he did not bring his subordinate but brought Lieutenant General Hirota.
By the way, Hirota and I were in the same graduating class of the Army Academy.
– According to the diary written by Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago, commander of the 16th Division, “Our policy is not to take prisoners,” What did this mean?
Take their weapons and let them go. The prisoners were to be freed but before that their weapons must be confiscated–otherwise they would come back to attack us.
– What thoughts did you have concerning prisoners?
Nothing in particular. We Japanese didn’t think that we would be taken alive so we had no thoughts about being prisoners. In March 1939, I went to Datong as the Regimental Commander of the 26th Division, and as far as I remember, not many prisoners were taken. And I didn’t know whether they were prisoners or not, but some Chinese were used as labor. I followed this practice as the former Regiment Commander did.
– At the time, did anyone talk about a Nanjing Incident?
I didn’t know there was such an incident at all. When we lost the War, I was the Chief Staff Officer in the Taiwan Army of Japan and after the evacuation was completed I was brought in front of an American trial charged with the execution of a B-29 pilot and sentenced to life imprisonment. I was kept in Shanghai and then later in Sugamo. So I didn’t know that the Nanjing Incident became a topic then. I was taught about the Incident recently and that is how I came to know about it.
Since 1985, Mr. Isayama sent me letters on several occasions to teach me what the Central Authorities were doing then. I wrote the gist of his statement in my book, “Nanjing-Incident – they told us “聞き書き 南京事件” published in 1987. Shortly after the book was published Mr. Isayama sent me a letter in which he spoke about the army in general, and I met him in person for the first time. In fact, at first, he had declined my request to interview him, saying that he had no documentary evidence about the Nanjing-Incident.
During the interview, he brought up everything that was in his memory, including the Central Authorities and the trip to Nanjing. When he went to Nanjing, he was 43 years old–now he is 93 years old; 50 years had passed since his trip to Nanjing. Mr. Isayama is well-known for his gentle characteristics – when I met him, I was treated to his kindness.
In 1933, he returned from France and was assigned to the Second Section of the General Staff Headquarters. He was just a major, nevertheless serving as senior staff in the General Affairs Bureau. In August, he joined the Fukuoka Regiment, and one year later he returned to General Staff Headquarters as senior staff again. Because of his neutral and calm personality, he was definitely needed for managing matters related to personnel.
In November 1937, he was promoted to Chief of the General Affairs Bureau and served in this position until March 1939.
27) Interview with Major Otsuki Akira (大槻章), Member of the Army Affairs Formation Team, Military Affairs Bureau, the Ministry of the Army
Mr. Otsuki Akira went to Nanjing shortly after its capture, as a staff of the Army Affairs Section of Military Affairs Bureau, in the Ministry of the Army.
He was a major then. In the previous year, 1936, he was transferred from the post of adjutant of the Ministry of the Army to the Military Affairs Formation Team, Military Affairs Bureau. Since then, for 6 years before interruption by World War II in 1941, he worked in the Formation Team except for a period of time when he worked as a staff officer in the Central China Expeditionary Army, and in 1940 he was appointed as Chief of the Formation Team. At the end of 1941, he moved over to the South Area Army to serve as a staff officer, then as a staff officer of the 14th Army. At the end of the War, he was a senior staff officer of the 36th Army which was deployed on the Japanese home land.
In 1989, I visited Mr. Otsuki’s home in Hachioji, Tokyo to interview him.
– What was your position when you arrived at Nanjing?
The Military Affairs Section staff took occasional trips to view current military circumstances. We made trips to Japan as well as China. So at the end of December 1937, I went to Nanjing, to inspect Nanjing.
– At the end of December 1937, Major General Anami Korechika, the Chief of Personnel Affairs, also visited Nanjing with his staff. Did you accompany them?
No. I went alone. At that time, I went to Nanjing and Hangzhou and returned to Tokyo, then went to North China as well.
– Where did you stay in Nanjing?
It was such a long time ago, I don’t remember too well. I stayed overnight at a logistics inn. I went over to a bed and found that it was only the steel frame, no mattress, not even a straw mat. I spent the night covered with a single blanket – it was freezing cold. That was what I remember most.
– It is said that there was a massacre. Did you see or hear something?
I saw no trace of anything. Nothing. I discussed many things with staff officers at Headquarters, they didn’t mention this at all. I believe that the massacre story is a lie.
After that I went to Hangzhou and visited the Headquarters of the 10th Army. As soon as I arrived in Hangzhou, there was heavy snowfall, all transportation stopped, including airplanes. I was trapped at Headquarters. All other Headquarters staff officers could do nothing as well.
In the 10th Army I met Major Yamasaki Masao (山崎正男), an operations staff officer. Mr. Yamazaki was from my home town, senior to me, and I knew him from Military Preparatory School. Mr. Yamazaki worked at the Military Affairs Section, being in charge of formation. I went there as his replacement. Therefore, we talked a lot. But issues such as a “massacre” was never raised in our discussions.
– Did you hear from other staff?
We were trapped in Hangzhou for a week or 10 days, we talked about many things because we had nothing to do. Lieutenant Colonel Terada Masao joined our discussions. And so did Colonel Tanida Isamu and Lieutenant Colonel Yoshinaga Sunao. I heard nothing from them.
– A massacre did not happen?
The massacre story is a lie. I went to Nanjing the next year, 1938, as a staff officer of the Central China Expeditionary Army, but I heard nothing then either. Without an order such a thing as a massacre couldn’t have happened. If there was massacre, which was claimed after the War, I should have heard of this as a staff officer when I went to Nanjing. The massacre story is beyond belief.
– If there was massacre you should have heard of it?
Yes. The Commander who attacked Nanjing was General Matsui, then General Hata Syunroku (畑俊六) succeeded him. I worked with General Hata in the Central China Expeditionary Army, and when I returned to the Military Affairs Section of the Ministry of the Army he was Army Minister. In addition, in 1943 when I was appointed as staff officer of a Brigade, which was deployed near Nanjing, he was the General Commander. So I was able to speak frankly with General Hata, but I never heard about a massacre. It is a downright lie.
28) Interview with Colonel Mikuni Naofuku (三国直福), Commander of the 22th Field Artillery Regiment
Mr. Mikuni Naofuku was born in 1893, and when I interviewed him he was 92 years old. He worked at a company in Tokyo until he was 85 years old. He lost his wife when he was 79 years old. Since then, he lived alone. At the age of 85, he quit his job and moved to Chiba where his son lived. I visited him at his home in Chiba. He had a good complexion and looked very healthy. He did, he said, have a little problem with walking, so if he needed to go to Tokyo he goes by car. I visited him three times, we spoke for two hours each time. During the interview he sat on a zabuton cushion with his back straight. I, half his age, couldn’t sit still long and moved my knees restlessly, looking for a comfortable position but Mr. Mikuni didn’t show any sign of fatigue. I admired his attitude and felt guilty for letting him speak for as long as two hours.
Mr. Mikuni had a clear memory and well remembered matters that occurred in Nanjing, including dates. He was working at the Newspaper Unit in the Ministry of the Army and had a great appetite for knowledge about the mass media and for information in general, so he was well informed of current events. He knew what I wanted to hear from him before my visit, so he was prepared to speak in detail.
After serving as Commander of the 22th Field Artillery Regiment, he was appointed as Chief Staff Officer of the 15th Division, then Chief of Nanjing Special Services Agency, and at the time of outbreak of the Greater East Asia War, he served as the Chief of the Research Section of the Ministry of the Army, that is, on the staff of Political Information under Prime Minister Tojo. He met the end of the War in Hanoi, when he was at the time Commander of the 21st Division.
– You went to Nanjing in January 1938.
I arrived in Nanjing on the 15th and stayed until the 22nd. I arrived in the evening of January 15 and on the 22nd, took a boat for my return, so I stayed in Nanjing in total for 6 days.
I visited Division Headquarters the next day to report my return. Divisional Headquarters was located in the splendid buildings of the Nationalist Government. I apologized to the Divisional Commander for my absence due to illness.
– At that time, did you hear anything about disciplinary problem or the Nanjing-Incident at Division Headquarters?
I heard nothing. After I visited the Divisional Commander I went to the Chief of Staff, and I heard nothing there either. When I returned to my job, the 16th Division was planned to move to North China again and, a couple of days later, the Divisional Commander came to our Regiment for an inspection. The inspection took either a half day or all day. I spoke about many things with the Divisional Commander but it was nothing special.
– Did you hear something from lower ranking soldiers in the 22nd Regiment?
Usually, I made a report on officer performance evaluations in December, but I was hospitalized that time so I couldn’t do that, therefore I had to collect information about the battle for Nanjing and other things as soon as I arrived Nanjing. I got a number of reports from subordinates and found no special incidents.
– Did you hear any talk about disciplinary problems from the other divisional commanders or regimental commanders?
I had opportunities to talk to my own Divisional Commander and our Chief of Staff, but rarely with the other divisional commanders and regimental commanders. This was common in the army.
The 16th Division was mobilized in August 1937 and I stayed with the 16th Division until July 1938. On the battlefield, I never met Mr. Noda Kengo (野田謙吾), the Commander of the 33rd Regiment, nor Mr. Sukekawa Seiji (助川静二), Commander of the 38th Regiment. Mr. Noda was a year senior to me and later was substituted by Yamada Kizo (山田喜蔵), who was in the same graduating class as me. I had often shared the same battles with Mr. Katagiri Goro (片桐護郎), the Commander of the 9th Regiment, yet I talked to him in person only a couple of times. And I have no memory of meeting Mr. Oono Noriaki (大野宣明), of the 20th Regiment.
It was same with the Brigade Commanders, I met Mr. Sasaki Toichi (佐々木到一), Commander of the 30th Brigade, only once and Mr. Kusaba Tatsumi (草場辰巳), Commander of the 19th Brigade, more often yet a couple of times at most. And I never heard of the Nanjing-Incident from them.
– Who grasped the Division’s situation as a whole?
I think the Chief of Staff did, Colonel Nakazawa Mitsuo (中沢三夫). After Nanjing, the 16th Division moved to North China again and around Zuzhou they were in continuous battle, for as long as 29 days. During the battle, an adjutant from each Regiment regularly visited the Chief of Staff to receive orders. And the Chief of Staff himself gave them orders. So the Chief of Staff knew everything in the Division. Mr. Nakazawa Mitsuo lived in Fukakusa, Kyoto, and it so happened that his house was one house over from mine. He was a quiet man.
– What was the situation of Nanjing, when you arrived on 15th January?
It was a battlefield so I accepted that. It was wretched and empty. Nevertheless, I felt good because I could catch up with my troops, finally, after my sick leave.
– Were there bodies in the street then?
There might have been, but I didn’t see any. I didn’t have time to make careful observations.
– Did you look around Nanjing City?
Yes. I inspected my subordinates’ battle area. At Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, I received an explanation from an officer who was in charge of observation, and inspected the area for a couple of days. But I didn’t see any bodies that looked like they were the result of a massacre.
– When you headed for North China, you must have left from Xiaguan. What was the situation in Xiaguan?
I don’t remember anything in particular.
– So, among the top officers in the 16th Division, nobody talked about a Nanjing-Incident?
No one did. Not only among top-level soldiers but also lower ranking soldiers, I heard nothing from them. I myself didn’t see anything.
During battle in North China again, I was appointed Chief of Staff of the 15th Division in Nagoya, Japan, and went to Nagoya in July 1938. Later, this Division was ordered to garrison Jiangning (江寧), therefore, I returned to Nanjing in August. Here again, I heard nothing about a massacre. At that time a number of Japanese merchants had already arrived in Nanjing, many from Nagasaki, so we call Nanjing “Nanjing City of Nagasaki Prefecture”. I knew that people couldn’t speak out against the Japanese army but the Nanjing streets atmosphere was very lively.
After that, I served in Nanjing as Chief of Staff of the 15th Division until August 1939, then was appointed to Chief of the Nanjing Special Service Agency and stayed on until May of the next year, 1940. My duty as the Chief of the Special Service Agency was completely different from my past military duties. I had to meet and negotiate with Chinese people every day in order to consider their point of view. So I spoke with Chinese people in town in a friendly manner, but never heard from them about a massacre story.
I met frequently with Mr. Liang Hongzhi (梁鴻志), Premier of the Restoration Government, but I heard nothing from him about a massacre. Mr. Liang Hongzhi was a literary man and I still have his calligrapher which he wrote for me.
– The Chief of Special Service Agency – Captain Onishi Hajime, I think —was also the Chief of the Agency.
Yes, Mr. Onishi replaced Colonel Akiyama Yoshitaka (秋山義隆), then I succeeded Mr. Akiyama.
– Around that time it is said that Mr. Gao Guanwu (高冠吾), the Mayor of Nanjing, buried around 3,000 abandoned bodies found in the suburbs of Nanjing and built a monument.
Is that so? I didn’t know that. Mr. Kokango drank well and we met often but I never heard reproachful words from him.
– There were many stories about Divisional Commander Nakajima, what did you think of him?
In short, he was keen and tactful in war. He was an expert in artillery; I had no bad feelings toward him. I was often with him – in 1933 when I became Lieutenant Colonel to the 22nd Regiment of the 16th Division, Lieutenant General Nakajima was the Commander of Maizuru Fortress, Kyoto. The Commander of Maizuru Fortress was under the 16th Division so I met him several times. During a military exercise we stayed at the same local inn for a couple of nights.
At the time of the February 26 Incident in 1936, I was staff officer at the Martial Law Headquarters and later, Mr. Nakajima became Commander of the Military Police. During that time, Mr. Nakajima went to General Ugaki Kazushige (宇垣一成) to stop him to form a cabinet–that was so well-known a story. I think it happened that Mr. Nakajima was in the position to do the job; it was a turn of fate.
In December of the same year, 1936, I was appointed Commander of the 22nd Field Artillery Regiment and in August 1937, the next year, I received Mr. Nakajima, who became Divisional Commander. As I received Divisional Commander Nakajima, he asked me about the field artillery regiment in detail. I had 8 months experience as the Regiment Commander and when I mentioned that he said, “Only 8 months, so you know nothing. OK, don’t worry, I will teach you.”
Less than a month later, our regiment was scheduled for live fire exercise in Aibano, Shiga, so, on the night before we expected the Divisional Commander’s inspection. The next day, we were suddenly ordered to mobilize. I stopped the training schedule and hurried to Division Headquarters. It was 3 o’clock in the morning, August 25.
The Divisional Commander was there, he saw my tensed face and said, “Artillery man, don’t worry.” I was touched.
Divisional Commander Nakajima was very devoted on battlefield, I was surprised that in North China, the Divisional Commander himself moved ahead to the front of the line.
Those days I left all shooting matters to the chief of the company. The Divisional Commander asked the company commander to “Show me the target lists,” and asked many questions and gave instructions. It so happened that the company commander had just completed his training at artillery school, so he could answer all of his questions; I felt relieved.
During the moving from North China to Central China, the Divisional Commander instructed us to do live fire training whenever we had leisure time. We had once done a complete live fire exercise – all 12 companies laid out before the Divisional Commander. Divisional Commander Nakajima was well-known as an expert in artillery–he was really devoted. In the attack on Nanjing, he moved to the frontline artillery base and got injured.
I went to Nanjing to return to my duty after the attack on Nanjing was completed. The Divisional Commander scolded me, “The shooting performance by the 22nd Field Artillery Regiment was terrible.” He was expert in artillery–that’s why he was not satisfied with our performance.
He paid attention to details on operations, so some infantry regimental commanders complained about this – in a favorable view he was a very attentive person, and in an unfavorable view he was a meticulous person.
On the other hand, Divisional Commander Nakajima had a sensitive aspect. In Shunde (順徳), which was located in north China, a superior of a soldier showed me a letter which was sent to the soldier in my regiment from his mother in which the soldier’s mother worried for her son, from the beginning to the end. I showed the letter to Commander Nakajima, he read it and shed many tears.
And during the battle at Taierzhuang (台児荘), when a transportation corps was in trouble due to the loss of their horses, the Divisional Commander himself came to me asking to give some of the artillery units’ horses to the transportation corps. We were running low on artillery shells so our load was lighter, so I made our horses 6-in-hand to 4-in-hand and managed to give some of our horses to the transportation corps. Soon the Divisional Commander came to me again and said that the transportation corps was very pleased.
He cared for me as well. I have a hemorrhoid problem and during the training he worried about my problem in a friendly manner. After a battle in Xuzhou, I got a message tube, thrown from a plane, in which I was ordered to be the Chief of Staff of the 15th Division. Therefore, after the battle was settled, I went to Divisional Commander Nakajima to report that I was leaving my current position. He told me then, “Mr. Mikuni is a man of sentiment, rather than rationality.” I thought surely this applied to Divisional Commander Nakajima.
–Both you and Divisional Commander Nakajima were artillerymen, his demands were high, nevertheless, there was understanding between each other, I suppose?
That was one reason. But there was another reason: commanders of artillery regiments and military engineers regiments must stay near the Divisional Commander– that was a rule. In case of the 16th Division, the brigade commanders and commanders of infantry regiments deployed far away so they could communicate only via radio. On the other hand I was always with the Divisional Commander. I think I was most near to him.
The Chief of Staff was always busy issuing orders and plans, and the Divisional Commander was often alone so I acted something like a conversationalist or entertainment. For this performance, Chief of Staff Nakazawa, greatly appreciated that. Also, the senior adjutant, whose duty was to serve the Divisional Commander, was in the same graduating class as me, told me often enough, “You helped my job a lot.”
– It is said that General Matsui criticized the Divisional Commander’s command in Nanjing.
As I mentioned earlier, the Lieutenant General was very keen in battle. His main concern was battle. And for a person in the position of lieutenant general, he handled matters of detail himself so people thought every result was attributed to him.
Generally speaking – around 1913, when I graduated from the Military Academy– “Depend on the enemy for food” and “Only reasonable number of prisoners” were commonly stated so I cannot deny those rough ideas existed.
– What kind of person was Brigade Commander Sasaki, who served as the Commander of the Nanjing Garrison?
As you know, he was an expert of China. I first met him at the Jinan (済南) Incident, 1928. In Jinan, the Japanese 6th Division and Chiang Kai-shek’s Northern Expedition, clashed. I was working with the newspaper team in the Ministry of the Army then and was ordered to join the 6th Division immediately. Lieutenant General Sasaki was in Nanjing then and he came to Jinan together with Chiang Kai-shek. In those days, Lieutenant General Sasaki had very friendly relationship with Chiang Kai-shek and he was posted in Nanjing as an adviser to Chiang Kai-shek. Later 1937, the Lieutenant General came to Nanjing again and that time he was in the position to attack Chiang Kai-shek. I wonder what he felt then.
While I was in the 16th Division, I had hardly opportunities to speak with Brigadier General Sasaki.
– General Matsui was sentenced to death at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) and executed, due to the Nanjing Trials.
The War Trial was problematic. When the War ended, I was in Hanoi where I was about to leave by ship, but I was forced off the ship by a US military officer. Then, Chief of Staff Shishido (宍戸) and I were brought to Canton and charged as war criminals. The trial then was totally unreasonable, I was charged with creating the “puppet government” of Wang Zhaoming (汪兆銘), and that my soldiers used violence against civilians. Yes, I served as the Chief of Special Service Agency in Nanjing when the Wang Government was established but I was not deeply involved with them. Concerning the violence of my soldiers, my Division was involved in almost no battles and was strictly warned about discipline and so we had no problems at all. As a matter of fact, I awarded branch units for their good behavior.
When I was accused of using violence against civilians, I demanded for them to show evidence. They brought me a file as evidence, in which I found statements from people who were ordered by the Chinese army to make statements. In the file, the order of the statements was left as is–the dates shown in the file were of the lunar calendar and places and dates hardly matched that of the Division’s movements. That was the extent of the Chinese “evidence”.
Also, in some trials there was neither a prosecutor nor an attorney. I heard that in a determination of the death sentence, the defendant’s appearance played an important role. I don’t know how the sentence and personal looks are related.
It was rumored that I would get a death sentence but I protested against every accusation. My trial was set towards the end but in the earlier trials, there so many people sentenced death, so beginning with the person tried before me, they handed out life imprisonment sentences and I got a sentence of life imprisonment, too. I was imprisoned in Canton for two years, then in a Shanghai prison for one–and-a-half years, and furthermore in Sugamo Prison for three-and-a-half years, until 1952.
That was how war trials were conducted by China after the War.
– When did you learn about the Nanjing-Incident?
After I was released from Sugamo Prison. But I knew that General Matsui had been executed, maybe I heard the news in prison in Shanghai. There were Chinese newspapers and someone who could read Chinese told me about it.
2. The Navy
29) Interview with Lieutenant Commander Terasaki Takaharu (寺崎隆治), Captain of the gunboat Seta
In 1937, Lieutenant Commander Terasaki Takaharu was an instructor at the Naval War College. On August 13, as the second Shanghai-Incident broke out, Lieutenant Commander Terasaki asked Deputy Head Rear Admiral Sato Ichiro (佐藤市郎) [the oldest brother of former prime ministers Kishi Nobusuke and Sato Eisaku] to allow him to go China and in October he was appointed captain of the gunboat Seta.
In the Shanghai area, the Third Fleet, headed by Vice Admiral Hasegawa Kiyoshi (長谷川清), was deployed and the Seta belonged to the 11th Squadron under the Third Fleet.
– Before reaching Nanjing, were you heavily attacked from both shores?
On December 9, we were attacked by the Chinese army by the Guishan (亀山) Battery, which was situated downstream near Zhenjiang (鎮江). There was fierce shelling and the Seta was hit by three shells, but without taking casualties. So we withdrew and then bombed the battery by airplane.
Next, after the battle of Guishan Battery subsided, we were attacked from Doutianmiyao (都天廟), which was in front of us–fierce shooting and bombardment began, fire from machine guns and rifles from both sides continued until we reached Nanjing. In addition, a number of underwater mines lay in the water, which made navigation very difficult.
In the evening of 11th, as we broke into Zhenjiang, the Seta had no fuel and we quickly pulled up to the enemy’s wharf to take on coal and continued up river.
– Where was Rear Admiral Kondo Eijiro (近藤英次郎), Commander of the 11th Squadron, at the time?
Commander Kondo was on board the Ataka, 10 miles to the rear in the Fleet, and commanding the Fleet.
On the 12th, we underwent a fierce attack from an artillery battery at Mt. Wulong (烏龍) in Nanjing, as well from Liu Zikou (劉子口), from the opposite shore, and we encountered a choke point right before Mt. Wulong. The choke point was made by 12 sunken ships that were tied to each other with wires. At 11 p.m., the demolition team, guarded by the Seta, dismantled the wires, and, at 3 a.m. on the 13th, opened the waterway.
At 10 a.m. on the 13th, the Seta initially navigated the waterway opened by the demolition. After confirming passage, 100 meters behind the Hodu, the Seta advanced to Nanjing. The Hodu’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Ueda Mitsuhiro (上田光浩), was five grades above me, so the Hodu went ahead of us.
The Yangtze River separated into two streams before Nanjing and we took the left stream. Heavy attacks by Chinese soldiers from both shores continued. Around that time, we found a number of Chinese soldiers floating on junks and rafts, and their numbers gradually increased over time. The Seta had 4 sets of 25 mm machine guns and we shot at them as they moved.
– Were they Chinese soldiers who had fled from Nanjing?
Yes. It was the 13th when the Army entered Nanjing, so I assumed that Chinese soldiers tried to escape down the Yangtze River by junks and rafts.
– Didn’t they think that Japanese troops would come upstream?
At first, they tried to escape to Pukou (浦口), on the opposite bank, but Japanese troops soon arrived at Pukou, so they had no choice but to either flee up or down the Yangtze.
As we neared Nanjing, we found Chinese soldiers using not only junks and rafts, but also clinging to doors; the Yangtze River became full of Chinese soldiers. They never expected the Japanese fleet from downstream.
– How many people were on board a junk?
Around 100 people, I think.
– How many Chinese soldiers tried to escape by junk or raft?
Several thousands. The Seta shot at them as went by, and the ships in convoy shot at them as well. There were approximately 20 junks and rafts in total. We just happened to encounter them.
In the Jiangnan Grand Canal near
Danyang, civilians fled in junks in
order to avoid gunfire.
(December 2, 1937)
– When did you arrive at Nanjing?
It was at 3:15 p.m. on the 13th. As we reached Zhongxing (中興) Wharf, we saw the Japanese Army waving hinomaru flags. We were ordered by the Commander to make contact with the Army when we arrived at Nanjing. Therefore, we sent a message to the Hodu that the Seta was going to go Zhongxing Wharf for that purpose, but the Hodu, which was in the vanguard, quickly moved into Zhongxing Wharf before us. So as a result, the Seta became the lead and headed for the next wharf, Xiaguan (下関).
As we reached Xiaguan Wharf, we saw a number of soldiers waving at us. I used a pair of binoculars and saw that they were Chinese soldiers. The Chinese soldiers did not expect that the Japanese fleet would come so quickly and thought that we were a Chinese fleet. We shot at them with 25 mm machine guns as we moved into the wharf.
– How many Chinese soldiers were there?
We saw around 500 and there were many in the rear. We were shooting as we reached the wharf, so the Chinese soldiers in the rear escaped upstream.
The Seta entered Nanjing in the vanguard, so I sent a telegram: “We broke through Nanjing 1515”. Using code would take about half an hour, so I sent it un-coded. Right away, the telegram was received by Commander Kondo of the Third Fleet, the Naval General Staff, and the Ministry of the Navy.
– After the 14th, what did you do?
The Panay Incident (a mistaken attack by a Japanese plane on a US gunboat), occurred before the Nanjing Attack. The Hodu was tasked for rescue and the Seta remained in Nanjing.
– According to the New York Times, the Seta left Nanjing, headed for Shanghai, with foreign reporters on board, on the 15th.
No, this did not occur. I never saw any foreign reporters. We didn’t leave Nanjing until the entrance ceremony on the 17th.
– According to the New York Times, when foreign reporters, who remained in Nanjing, boarded the Seta, they saw Japanese soldiers execute 300 prisoners on the quay.
We stayed at Xiaguan, but I never saw anything like that.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
There was a senior officer on the Seta, Lieutenant Sekiguchi Kozo (関口鑛造), who was a relative, and I sent him to inspect Nanjing on the 14th. He reported to me that Nanjing was calm, that there were no special incidents. Later on, there was nothing special to report.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
The Seta remained at Xiaguan and, under orders, we captured an ammonium sulfate factory, which was on the shore opposite from us.
Once, Captain Okamura Motoharu (岡村基晴), a combat aircraft veteran, who was in the same graduating class as me, came to Nanjing, and we lit candles and gave a toast at Xiaguan.
The day I entered Nanjing for the first time was the 17th, the day of the entrance ceremony, I think. I attended the ceremony which was held in the square of the Nationalist Party Government, and together with General Matsui and Vice Admiral Hasegawa Kiyoshi, we made a banzai-sansho, or three cheers. Next to me, Commander Doi Shinji (土井申二) was there and Mr. Doi gave me a Chinese poem which he wrote.
Guided by the Army, I visited Mt. Zijing and China Gate but no corpses were found there. I saw bodies only at the shore of the Yangtze, that is, around Xiaguan and Pukou.
– How many bodies did you see on the shores of the Yangtze?
I think 4,000 to 5,000.
– What bodies did you see?
As Chinese troops tried to escape the Yangtze, the Japanese Navy stopped them and as they tried to escape to Pukou, the Japanese Army stopped them. The bodies were result from these battles.
– Was this the basis of a “massacre”?
They started to call it a “massacre” at the War Trial after the War. At the time there was a war, therefore, we shot Chinese soldiers in the ensuing chaos and some citizens and residents who were struggling to escape or fight against us might have been included. It was a consequence of war. I believe they called those casualties of war, resulting under such circumstances, “massacre” victims. China is a propaganda expert–they used their style of exaggeration, hakuhatsu sanzen-jo.
To my knowledge, it was totally impossible to massacre 300,000 in the small confines of Nanjing Castle.
Lieutenant General Tani Hisao (谷寿夫), Commander of the 6th Division, was executed in Nanjing. Lieutenant General Tani was a man with international thinking and familiar with international law–such a person would not have ordered a massacre.
After the War Trial, China stopped making claims. Nevertheless, some Japanese visited China, 40 years since the end of the War, for the opportunity to blame ourselves for igniting the Nanjing Incident. That’s why China has started to make these claims.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I stayed Nanjing until July 1938. I often met with Army personnel. I was given a consolation gift from Lieutenant General Prince Asaka-no-miya, the Commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army.
In the New Year, 1938, I was in Zhenjiang, where Major General Uchiyama Eitaro (内山英太郎), Commander of a Artillery Brigade, was deployed. We exchanged visits, Major General Uchiyama visited the Seta several times.
In those days, Captain Onishi Hajime was a staff officer in the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and served as the liaison officer between the Army and the Navy. Later, he was appointed to Chief of the Special Service Agency, so Mr. Onishi knew the most about matters concerning Nanjing.
Mr. Onishi was a student at the Military Academy at the time I was a student at Naval Academy, and we had done an orienteering exercise together. He has a strong sense of justice and is an honest man. He never pays lip service and I am sure he is a highly reliable person. Many things have been said about the Nanjing massacre, I really want to reveal the truth.
Mr. Terasaki was born in November 1900. When he attacked Nanjing, he was 37 years old. After the Yangtze Operation, he joined the Canton-Hainan Island Operation as a staff officer in the Fifth Fleet. In the Greater East Asian War, he participated in the Malayan Campaign as a staff officer in the Southern Expeditionary Fleet, then served as staff officer in the Second Aviation Squadron, then as staff officer in the Combined Fleet. At the end of the War, he was a captain.
I interviewed Mr. Terasaki in February 1986–he was 85 years old. Even at his age he was very busy, studying war history, meetings with Suikokai, a Japanese naval officers’ organization, and meeting with a service memorial society honoring the Tokkotai, the special attack units. He spared time out of his busy day for me. During the interview, he spoke of dates and years without any trouble. I was surprised by his clear memory, and at times, when I encountered unfamiliar Chinese places, he wrote the names down for me.
30) Interview with Commander Doi Shinji (土井申二), Captain of the Gunboat Hira
As the Marco Polo Bridge Incident broke out in 1937, the Third Fleet headed for Shanghai in order to protect Japanese residents there and to secure Japanese interests. The 11th Squadron, which had guard duty in the Yangtze River, started withdrawing Japanese residents who lived all across China, including Chongqing (重慶), Yichang (宜昌), Shashi (沙市), and Hankou (漢口). The gunboat Hira boarded Japanese people from Chongqing and returned to Shanghai, that was its last departure from Chongqing. Mr. Doi Shinji was the Captain of the Hira. The Hira left Chongqing on August 1 and arrived in Shanghai on August 8. A couple of days later, 52 Japanese who fled Hankou were unable to reach Shanghai and made it as far as Nanjing.
On August 13, five days after the Hira arrived at Shanghai, the Japanese Naval Landing Force clashed with the Chinese Army in Shanghai, which turned into a full-scale war.
In the middle of November, as Japanese Troops captured most of Shanghai, the 11th Squadron, including the Hira, started to open the waterway of the Huangpu (黄埔) River, then headed for the Yangtze River.
On December 1, the 11th Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral, Kondo Eijirou, consisted of 24 gunboats and mine sweepers, moved up the Yangtze for Nanjing.
China already gave notice of the closure of the Yangtze to foreign countries. They sunk ships to obstruct passage in key areas, and laid underwater mines to close the Yangtze River completely. In addition, they had several fortresses along the shores of the Yangtze, including Jiangyin (江陰), Zehenjiang (鎮江) and Mt. Wulong. Under such conditions, the 11th Squadron advanced up the Yangtze for Nanjing.
I interviewed Mr. Doi Shinji in January 1986, he was over 89 years old. He had no health problem in particular, and spent his life creating his favorite kanshi, classical Chinese poetry. Also, he has no problem getting around and attended meetings of the Suikokai.
In Mr. Doi’s room, there were photos of him during his years in the navy, as a naval ensign, and a photo of the Emperor and Empress. Furthermore, his bookshelves were full of books and documents relating to the Navy. He spends all of his time surrounded by these things, so he is aware of these times, but that was, after all, a long time ago; some of his recollections were not entirely clear.
Mr. Doi was born in 1896 and graduated from the 45th class of the Naval Academy. While he served as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, and then as a Lieutenant, he was assigned to garrison duty in China, and in January 1937, he was appointed captain of the gunboat Hira.
He worked to protect Japanese residents mainly in Changsha (長沙), Yichang, and Chongqing, and then he joined the Nanjing Attack. In February 1938, he returned to Tokyo as a temporary on-active-duty instructor, but in 1939, he went China again to participate in the Southern China Operation as captain of the gunboat Saga.
“Biographies of China-Related Persons in the Imperial Japanese Navy” – this was a booklet composed by Mr. Okino Matao (沖野亦男), a China expert in the Navy who served as an assistant officer to the resident military officer in China. Mr. Doi was included in the list of China-related Navy personnel who loved China, and he was described as follows; “Mr. Doi served 5 years in Chang Jiang and his soul was kindled by the beautiful scenery of South and Central China that resulted in him becoming an aesthetic poet.”
At the end of the War, Mr. Doi had the rank of captain.
– You moved up the Yangtze heading for Nanjing?
Yes. Around November 10, we started work to open the Huangpu River, and then went up the Yangtze, it was December 1, I think. On the way, we landed at Jiangyin. Then, we advanced to Zhenjiang, where our Hira remained for several days, in order to cover the river crossing operation by the Amagaya Brigade. In the meantime, the Hodu and the Seta continued up the River.
– When the Seta attacked Nanjing on the 13th, was your Hira still in Zhenjiang?
I don’t remember the date well, but when the Seta went to Nanjing we stayed in Zhenjiang. The Hira arrived in Nanjing a day or two before the entrance ceremony.
– Did you arrive at Xiaguan?
No, a little bit downstream of Xiaguan, at a place called Zhongxing Wharf. It might have been Xiaguan but we didn’t call it Xiaguan; we called it Zhongxing Wharf. I think the Seta arrived up-stream of Xiaguan.
– What was the situation at Zhongxing Wharf?
The area was called Pagoda Bridge Town, which was used as the Chinese army’s military materials base. There were a lot of military materials and railroad siding was installed for carrying such materials.
At the Paul Temple I saw 6,000 to 7,000 refugees.
– At Pagoda Bridge Town, only the Navy was there?
No, the Army already arrived, though not so many.
– Did you see any corpses in Pagoda Bridge Town?
The battle had started when the Army went in the town, so naturally I saw some war casualties. And they said they shot thieves who were trying to steal–there were 10 or so bodies.
– Were you at the entrance ceremony on the 17th?
I attended the ceremony.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
The inside of Nanjing was almost clean.
– It is said there were bodies around Xiaguan.
When I was headed for the entrance ceremony, we went from Xiaguan to Yi Jiang Gate, where I saw 5 to 6 bodies near the gate.
At the entrance ceremony, I suggested to Commander Kondo Eijiro that Pagoda Bridge Town must be organized and secured. He gave me permission to do so, therefore I returned to Zhongxing Warf on the 26th and started to organize Pagoda Bridge Town.
– Until when did you stay in Pagoda Bridge Town?
I stayed until the 28th, when I departed to rescue Minesweeper No. 1 which sank off the shores of Mt. Wulong.
Before I left Pagoda Bridge Town, we worked to rebuild the town by clearing the streets and reconstructing the bridges. A man called Chen Hansen (陳漢森) of the Red Swastika Society was head of the refugee camp, so I enlisted him to bury bodies.
Also, we tried to return the refugees to their homes. While we were there, the town seemed well-settled, and I ordered Chen Hansen to change the name Pagoda Bridge Town to Heiwagai, or Peace Town.
– What role did Chen Hansen play in the Red Swastika Society?
He was the president, or the chairman. He called himself the director of the Nanjing Branch of the World Red Swastika Society.
I rescued injured sailors from Minesweeper No. 1 and went back to Shanghai. Then I went to Third Fleet Headquarters to tell the Commander that I could not allow Pagoda Bridge Town to be neglected, from a humanitarian point of view. Commander Hasegawa Kiyoshi was pleased to hear what we had done in Pagoda Bridge Town and provided us with medicines and food for the people. I quickly headed for Pagoda Bridge Town and on New Year’s Day, 1938, we arrived at Zhongxing Wharf again. That time, the citizens as well as Chen Hansen welcomed us with firecrackers. The next day, Chen Hansen visited me and gave me a letter of gratitude.
After Peace Town became calm, the Hira was ordered to guard Wuhu and left Zhongxing Wharf. Chen Hansen gave me another letter of gratitude and we kept correspondence with each other until the end of the War. I admire his gratitude.
Mr. Doi kept personal letters, thank-you letters, receipts, and so on that Chen Hansen sent him. In addition, a large calligraphy, the size of one tatami mat, sent by Chen Hansen, was mounted and displayed in his room.
Copy of a letter of gratitude to Commander Doi,
with Mr. Chen Hansen’s
signature and stamp.
“As the flames of war spread over Eastern Asia and engulf the Continent, warships are going back and forth on the Yangtze River, and now, heading a fleet, Your Excellency arrived in Nanjing. Under such circumstances, a number of refugees from Nanjing and Shanghai gathered here. In order to help these refugees, a branch of the International Red Swastika Society was established at Baokuo (保国寺) Temple, and I, humbly, was appointed to the head of the branch. When you anchored your battleship at Jiangbinfu (江浜府), Your Excellency understood the people’s need for food and gave us bags of flour and cooking oil that saved a number of people’s lives. Also, you ordered maintenance work for roads and construction of bridges and took command yourself. Later you named the town Peace (平和) and made a poem for the occasion. The meaning of the poem is warm like incoming spring sunlight. Soon, you will go back to Japan to report and before that you gave us a photo of yourself. We displayed the photo on a wall and always admire your greatness and are praying for the friendship between neighboring countries, Japan and China. The sea between the two countries, Japan and China, is not so wide that fishes and birds always come and go freely, but unfortunately I am not able to cross the sea to visit you, I can do nothing but give a sigh upon seeing the ocean. Consequently, I write you this humble letter for our recollection.
“To Commander Doi, the former Captain of the Gunboat Hira
the head of the Nanjing Branch of the International Red Swastika Society”
– It is said there was massacre in Nanjing.
I don’t believe there was a massacre. It was battlefield, therefore, corpses were present, but I didn’t see the bodies of a massacre. As shown in the letter of gratitude, which I got from the Chinese, the Chinese people tend to express things in an exaggerated way.
Before I published his statement I sent him the manuscript for his confirmation. Surprisingly, his family told me he died a month after I met with him. When I met him, he looked very fine; I am truly remorseful.
31) Interview with Lieutenant Shigemura Minoru (重村実), Member of the Japanese Navy Press Bureau, Shanghai Military Office
Since the summer of 1936, Lieutenant Shigemura Minoru served as Gunnery Lieutenant on the destroyer Fumiduki, then as the Division Leader on the Light Cruiser Tenryu for garrison duty in Shanghai and the Qingdao area. Then he was transferred to Japan to serve as Squad Leader of the Heavy Cruiser Mikuma, but on July 8, 1937, the day after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, he was moved to the Military Office of the Navy in Shanghai. The title of the official appointment was: Staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff Office and Staff of the Office of the Commander of the Third Fleet in Shanghai.
Lieutenant Shigemura arrived at his office in Shanghai, and was given a room on the second floor of the Military Office. In the city of Shanghai, a number of wild rumors were in the air and people were panic-stricken. In an area that was usually guarded by a Chinese peace keeping force, soldiers of the Chinese regular army inconspicuously appeared. Soon thereafter, surrounding the International Settlement, sandbagged trenches were being conspicuously built.
Soon, Japanese people withdrew from the upper Yangtze and Japanese residents from several areas gathered and landed at Shanghai. In the Military Office, there were many new faces, of military officers who withdrew from various areas in China. In addition, Dr. Shinobu Junpei (信夫淳平), an international law expert, was invited from Japan by Fleet Headquarters and stayed for several days. It was a time of turmoil.
In the afternoon of August 9, Fleet Headquarters got a call from adjutant Chin at Guard Headquarters in Songhu (松滬), “Something happened.” Assistant officer Okino (沖野), adjutant Chin, and Lieutenant Shigemura rushed to the place and found the body of Lieutenant Junior Grade Oyama Isao (大山勇夫), machine-gunned to death, on a road that was on the Extension of the International Settlement. This was the so-called Oyama Incident.
That night, when Lieutenant Shigemura was to lead a group of Naval Landing Force sailors in order to examine and collect the bodies, he invited Japanese and foreign reporters and correspondents to accompany them. Since then, he has been involved in public relations. In those times, even within the Ministry of the Navy, a press bureau did not exist–it was called the military affairs publicity section.
Since August 13, which was the day after funerals for Lieutenant Junior Grade Oyama and Seaman Apprentice Saito Yozo (斉藤与蔵) were held, Shanghai was turning into a battlefield. On the 14th, Chinese attacks increased, and when Lieutenant Shigemura went back to his Military Office he found it that it was burned down from the shooting. The Military Office was moved into the International Settlement and Lieutenant Shigemura lived in the Pierce Apartments in the International Settlement.
– When did you go to Nanjing?
On December 17, from Yangshupu (楊樹浦), by airplane. I think I was with Rear Admiral Honda Tadao (本田忠雄), a resident officer.
– Did you go to Nanjing for the entrance ceremony?
Yes, I stood in line and received General Matsui Iwane and Vice Admiral Hasegawa.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I left there that day by airplane, so I didn’t attend the memorial service, which was held the next day.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
As far as I could see, there was nothing out of the ordinary. From the airfield, which was located outside of the Castle, I went to the ceremony by car and I didn’t see any corpses on the way. Inside of Nanjing, maybe it was already cleaned, it looked to be in order.
– Do you have any special recollection of Nanjing?
It was the outside Nanjing, near the airfield, where I found several Chinese entering private homes to steal. It looked like they stole anything, whatever they found–one of them carried a stool for a toilet. One of my colleagues jokingly said that it might be toilet stool of Soong May-ling, Chiang Kai-shek’s wife.
– It is said that Japanese soldiers had performed acts of cruelty.
I doubt it. I stayed only a day but I didn’t see anything.
– Did you hear any rumors?
I heard a story that, in Nanjing, an amazing number of uniforms were found which were abandoned by Chinese soldiers. This meant that the remnants of the Chinese army sneaked into the civilian population. Therefore, Japanese soldiers caught plain-clothed soldiers and killed them; that’s what I heard later. To identify a suspect, whether he was a soldier or a civilian, the Japanese soldiers used Chinese people to point them out. At times, wives of men who were pointed out as a soldier desperately denied such a charge. Also, I heard from a reporter that a Chinese who was hired by his newspaper company was taken away by the Japanese military police so the reporter went to the military police and narrowly saved the Chinese in time. I am afraid that on occasion there were arrests made without substantial evidence.
While I was in Shanghai I saw an incident: a Japanese Army soldier caught a Chinese and I asked him what he was going to do to him. The soldier said, “If this mas is suspicious, I will kill him.” I asked him how he could tell whether the Chinese was suspicious or not. He said he knew based on the man’s look.
On the other hand; during the first Shanghai-Incident, I was serving as platoon leader in the landing force, and I caught a Chinese man for scrutiny and told him to raise his hands. It was winter and the Chinese man wore heavy Chinese clothes, and as soon as he lowered his hands, a pistol fell out from his clothes. There were many incidents like that from the first Shanghai-Incident, so Japanese soldiers must have experienced many difficulties in the second Shanghai-Incident.
– Did you receive any questions about Nanjing from reporters?
I do not recall being asked questions.
– Some of the reporters said that there were atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers, such as Imai, from the Asahi Shimbun.
“Reporter Imai” refers to Mr. Imai Seigo (今井正剛), I think. He is a fine writer, and I knew him. But I do not remember hearing such a story from him. Mr. Imai came to Shanghai from Tokyo and I met him often in Shanghai. He was one of the best writers at the Asahi.
There was an episode: The newspaper usually made a special article for the New Year and for the New Year of 1947 or 1948, he was selected as one of the writers to report the news from the north-end of Japan and the south-end of Japan. In those days, the southern most end of Japan was Yakushima and he wrote about Yakushima. Yakushima is a wonderful place where you can catch a lot of fish. In the end, he quit the Asahi company to start a business in Yakushima, which ended unsuccessfully. Then he worked in Hyogo Prefecture as director of public affairs under Mayor Sakamoto Masaru. During the Hyogo period he wrote a lot about Hyogo Prefecture–they were wonderful writings. Mr. Imai and I were friendly after the War, too, but I have never heard about a massacre from him.
– Who else did you know at the Asahi?
Other than Mr. Imai, Mr. Nakamura Shogo (中村正吾), who was firm, handsome man. I met Mr. Imai and Mr. Nakamura at the entrance ceremony in Nanjing. Mr. Nakamura stayed in Shanghai and when the 10th Army was going to land at Hangzhou Bay, he went there and followed the 10th Army to Nanjing.
The Asahi branch office was headed by Mr. Shirakawa Ikai (白川威海), and staff members included Mr. Moriyama Takashi (森山喬) and Mr. Saito Torao (斉藤寅郎). Among the Shanghai branch offices of newspaper companies, the Asahi boasted the largest number of staff and cars – they had a solid system.
One day, Hayashi Kenichi (林謙一), a reporter from the Mainichi Newspaper, suggested that we view a Chinese anti-Japan movie. I guessed that Mr. Hayashi was asked by the intelligence sector to watch the movie – Mr. Hayashi had a wide range of acquaintances and someone in the intelligence sector who knew Mr. Hayashi thought that it would be better to ask him rather than members of the Japanese Embassy to see the movie. Thus, the two of us went to a movie theater over the Garden Bridge. In those times, the theaters over the Garden Bridge frequently played such movies.
The inside of the theater was surrounded by an eerie atmosphere. Shortly, on the screen, the character for “KILL” (殺) appeared, which became bigger and bigger. A man, supposedly Japanese, but we Japanese did not see him as Japanese, cut off the head of a Chinese with one blow. That was the kind of movie it was, definitely not a documentary. In those days, these kinds of movies were often made to incite anti-Japan feelings and after the War, similar pictures were often used as so-called evidence of cruel acts committed by the Japanese army.
In the Yomiuri Shimbun, they called their Shanghai branch the “Daitoa branch” or “Great Eastern Asia branch”, but, as a matter of fact, the branch actually was managed by Mr. Tanaka Yukitosh (田中幸利) alone and later, after the flames of battle extended to Shanghai, two more staff, Mr. Hara Shiro (原四郎) and Mr. Furuta Tokujiro (古田徳二郎) were additionally dispatched.
The Domei Tsushin was headed by Mr. Matsumoto Shigeharu (松本重治) and his staff included Mr. Sakata Jiro (坂田二郎), Mr. Horiguchi Mizunori (堀口瑞典), Mr. Tonoki Keiichi (殿木圭一), and Mr. Maeda Yuji (前田雄二). Mr. Sakata came from the Navy’s reporters’ club called Kuroshiokai, the Black Current Society. After the War, I found something in Mr. Sakata’s book, which stated that there was massacre in Nanjing. He had a strong sense of justice and righteous indignation, if he had known about it then he must have mentioned it – strangely enough I have never heard about this from him.
Mr. Matsumoto wrote things from those days in his book, Shanghai Sojourn, which nicely expressed the facts and the sentiment as a person involved in journalism.
– In Shanghai Sojourn, it said that General Matsui gave a sharp reprimand at the memorial service.
Yes. That time I was back to Shanghai already but I heard later that General Matsui gave an admonition at the memorial service.
– From whom did you hear this?
I don’t remember well, but everyone knew this. I thought the troops had done something so bad–that’s why General Matsui warned his troops. General Matsui said repeatedly that we should treat the Chinese with affection. The troops had done what he hated most.
– What do you mean by “so bad”?
I heard about the plain-clothed soldiers, so I thought the troops killed them. I thought “so bad” meant several hundred of them.
– It is said that there were hundreds and thousands.
After the War, people started to say “hundreds and thousands”, but if that were true, it was not just “so bad” but far from it. The thinking in those times was quite different from the thinking that existed after the War. It was true, as reported after the War, that the Navy shot Chinese soldiers with machine-guns at Xiaguan, but it was battle and there were not many casualties.
– Have you ever met General Matsui?
Once, in Shanghai. He was not a person to make boasts.
– Does this mean that General Matsui’s intensions were not conveyed to his subordinates?
We cannot say simply that the troops committed excesses. If you were not in battle, you cannot understand individual thinking under battlefield conditions. I will give you one example: it was in the first Shanghai-Incident, a petty officer in my platoon, who was a very brave man, was on sentinel duty after a battle, and one of his subordinates got injured. I ordered him to watch the operation on his subordinate. In the operating room, the petty officer, such a brave man on the battlefield, was pale and trembling.
In those days, the Navy had many volunteers who were trained well, organized in small groups, orders from the top were conveyed smoothly – they were professionals. But in the Army they were not professionals. The Army consisted mostly of draftees, the number of soldiers was too unwieldy, spread out over wide areas, orders from the top were not conveyed well, and showed their natural behaviors, as is. The Army men were typical Japanese; Japanese they were.
– Have you heard about Army staff officer Cho Isamu at the time?
I have never met him, but heard a rumor. The rumor was that he was like Ban Dan’emon, a boasting samurai, in a kodan story.
– Did foreign reporters ask something about Nanjing?
When the Lieutenant Junior Grade Oyama Incident happened, I brought along foreign reporters to the scene, and they understood it was not of our doing. Since then, it was decided that a position dedicated to foreign reporters was needed and Mr. Isobe Taro (磯部太郎), of the 31st class of the Naval Engineering College, was appointed to the position. Mr. Isobe and I lived at the Pierce Apartments and had dinner together every night unless we had special business. While we had dinner we chatted about things but I had never heard from him that he got questions from foreign reporters about Nanjing. If he had, he would have told me during our daily discussions.
– At the time, the accidental shooting incident of British Ambassador Knatchbull-Hugessen and the accidental sinking of the Panay occurred. How did you handle these matters?
Such important matters were handled by Military Resident Officer Honda and the Third Fleet.
– How long did you stay in Shanghai?
I stayed there until March 1938, when I was transferred to Japan.
As I asked Mr. Shigemura for an interview, he declined my request at first, saying that he saw nothing particular, saying that he was not of any use. In those times, information on Nanjing flowed from Shanghai to Japan and to the rest of the world. To the Naval Press Bureau in Shanghai, where Mr. Shigemura worked, the information on Nanjing must have flowed to him. What kind of information on Nanjing did the Navy received? The information might have been different from the information that the Army received. In order to check this, I asked Mr. Shigemura for another interview. He accepted my third request. It was the end of December 1985.
After the War, Mr. Shigemura was actively engaged in the broadcast industry, including Nippon Hoso, Yamaguchi Hoso, and Radio Kanto.
32) Interview with Lieutenant Commander Genda Minoru (源田実), Staff Officer of the 2nd Combined Air Group
Lieutenant Commander Genda Minoru, a staff officer of the 2nd Combined Air Group was involved in the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941, then was a staff officer of the 1st Air Fleet, and in 1945 he was Commander of the 343rd Sky (Matsuyama) Naval Air Group, shooting down incoming B-29 in his fighter plane Shidenkai – he was well-known for this.
After the War, he served as the Chief of Staff of the Air Self-Defense Force, and then from 1962 to 1986 he served as a member of the House of Councilors.
I interviewed Mr. Genda in his office at the Diet Members’ Hall.
On December 3, 1937, the 2nd Combined Air Group advanced its front base to Changzhou, in concert with the Army which started to attack Nanjing. The Group bombed Nanjing. The 2nd Combined Air Group attacked Nanjing everyday and on December 12, the 13th Air Group, under the 2nd Combined Air Group, accidentally struck the US gunboat Panay in the Yangtze.
– When the 2nd Combined Air Group moved its front base to Changzhou, did you move to Changzhou too?
No, I stayed in the Kunda (公大) base and visited Changzhou only when necessary. Air Rear Admiral Mitsunami Teizo (三並貞三), the Commander, remained at Kunda base as well.
– Upstream of Nanjing, the Panay Incident occurred.
The air corps mistook the Panay as a Chinese warship and accidentally attacked it–it was not intentional.
We never expected a US gunboat there. Nanjing was war zone and the US had many options to avoid it, like going further upstream. I felt that they stayed in Nanjing in order to provoke us, somehow.
The person who hit the Panay was Lieutenant Murata Shigeharu (村田重治), nicknamed Butsu. He was the leader of the thunderbolt corps, in the Pearl Harbor Attack. He was a great man.
– Did the 2nd Combined Air Group know that the Panay was in the Yangtze?
My guess is that they knew.
– It was a big diplomatic issue, wasn’t it?
Yes, it surely was. Due to that the Commander Mitsunami was admonished.
– For the investigation of the incident, Lieutenant Colonel Nishi Yoshiaki (西義章) from the Army went to Nanjing. From the Navy, who went there?
No one in particular.
– On the next day, Nanjing fell. What did the Flying Corp do?
The Flying Corps was still in battle, so remained in Changzhou and after a week, we moved our base to an airfield in Nanjing. I also operated airplanes to go to Nanjing.
– Did you attend the entrance ceremony?
No, I didn’t. I went to Nanjing after the ceremony was completed.
– What was the situation in Nanjing City?
We set the Headquarters near the airfield and I went to and fro every day, between the airfield and Headquarters, so I knew nothing about the city. Also, after we arrived at Nanjing, we started bombing Nanchang and Hankou, so we were very busy during those operations.
–The Shanghai Expeditionary Army and Navy gunboats came to Nanjing. Did you meet those people?
The Flying Corps was involved only in limited matters, which were related aviation, so I never met anyone who was not related with aviation.
– In those days, a “Nanjing massacre” was said to have occurred.
I knew nothing about this. As far as the Navy was concerned, such an act was against Bushido, the samurai spirit, and this would never have happen.
– Did you hear any rumors?
Not at all.
– In the Army someone said it happened.
I don’t know about Army. Generally speaking, in those days the Japanese people vividly remembered the earlier Nanjing-Incident, that is; in 1927, the Japanese Consulate in Nanjing was attacked and plundered. And Japan fought against China so we had hostile feelings toward Chinese. I myself called Chinese Chankoro then, it was such a time.
However, in the Navy, I warned my soldiers that we should not kill prisoners or anyone who could not resist, and if such things happened, then they would be punished heavily. At the Pearl Harbor attack, someone said we should attack the town as well, but I definitely said NO.
And after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 1st Air Fleet attacked the British fleet in the Indian Ocean and at the eastern shore of Ceylon, sank the aircraft carrier Hermes. At that time we found an enemy soldier floating near the aircraft carrier Akagi and picked him up. In the course of battle, it was not easy to save a person at sea. It took time but, anyway, we saved him. Some of the sailors were furious with anger and tried to hit him. I stopped him and inspected the enemy myself. I found that he was a Canadian sailor. He troubled me at first by refusing to eat, but later he ate curry rice. Like that, some soldiers did not control themselves, but in the Navy, the treatment of prisoners was clearly defined.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
The 2nd Combined Air Group set its base in Nanjing for a while but I was appointed to Chief of the Yokosuka Flying Corps and went back to Japan in January. I operated planes to go back to Japan from Nanjing. So my stay in Nanjing was 3 weeks or so.
– What was the situation around the base in Nanjing?
I think there was no severe damage in the suburbs around the airfield. It looked ordinary and I met the New Year, 1938, in Nanjing quietly.
Nanjing as Observed by Artists and Photographers
…..Chinese soldiers who were left behind later attacked Japanese troops. ….
Also, Chinese soldiers who escaped from Nanjing by crossing the Yangtze battled against Japanese troops during the Zuzhou Operation in April. Under such a circumstance, Japanese soldiers needed to clear out Chinese soldiers. That was war. Otherwise, Japanese soldiers would be killed. Without knowing the entire picture, one would never know the reality by taking in a single segment. This holds for the so-called Nanjing Massacre as well. (Statement by Mr. Sumitani Iwane (住谷磐根), Artist and Naval Correspondent.)
Out on the streets, Chinese civilians sold vegetables they grew in their
own gardens. (December 15, 1937)
33) Interview with Mr. Sumiya Iwane (住谷磐根), Artist and Naval Correspondent
I interviewed artist Sumiya Iwane about the Nanjing Attack at a museum in Ueno. It was spring of 1986, and the 25th anniversary exhibition of Daichowa-ten, initiated by Mushanokoji Saneatsu, was held at the Ueno-no-mori Museum. Mr. Sumiya was a member of the Japanese Paintings Section for the exhibition and he also exhibited his own work. When I asked him for interview he offered to speak to me about Nanjing within the environment of paintings that he appreciated.
Mr. Sumiya was born in 1902, won an award from the Nikaten, a well-known Japanese artists organization, at the age of 22. Despite receiving an award from the Nikaten, he started a movement against the Nikaten. In 1937, with the outbreak of the China Incident, he heard from someone that the Navy wanted combat artists. Mr. Sumiya jumped at the chance to go to China and paint, and applied for the position. His application, however, was quickly turned down. His family in Gunma prefecture was rich but his eldest brother Sumiya Etsuji (住谷悦治), a professor of Doshisha University then, later the Dean of the University, was regarded as an unfavorable person who had “dangerous thoughts”. Mr. Sumiya sent a letter directly to the Minister of the Navy Yonai Mitsumasa. On September 8, three combat artists, Kobayakawa Atsushiro (小早川篤四郎), Yoshihara Yoshihiko (吉原義彦), and Iwakura Tomokata (岩倉具方) left for Shanghai as the first combat artists-correspondents. The letter to the Minister didn’t work, so Mr. Sumiya went to Colonel Mori Tokuji (森徳治), the head of the fourth department of military affairs, and made an appeal in person, He was finally accepted. Mr. Sumiya was the 8th combat artist. He was 35 years old then.
In November 1937, Mr. Sumiya arrived in Shanghai, at the Naval Officers’ office. The 10th Army had already landed at Hangzhou Bay, and the situation around Shanghai changed rapidly. Mr. Sumiya used the Press Bureau of the Military Officers office of the Navy as his base and visited the Landing Forces and warships. In the beginning of December, when he was on the warship Izumo, which was anchored near the Japanese Consulate, he heard news that the capture of Nanjing was only a matter of time. So he boarded the gunboat Toka (栂), which was about to leave for Nanjing.
– When did you arrive in Nanjing?
The Toka, on which I was on board, was under the 11th Squadron and its departure from Shanghai was delayed for some reason. It took 2 to 3 days after leaving the Huangpu River in Shanghai to arrive in Nanjing.
As we reaching Nanjing—from far away we saw that Nanjing was in flames—and as we neared, within 1,500 or 2,000 meters, I saw Chinese soldiers on boats trying to escape toward Pukou. The Toka shelled them, and the Chinese soldiers who held onto planks or something that floated, here and there, were shot at by rifles. The distance was short, 4 to 5 meter from the deck to the water surface, no one missed a shot. It was winter, so if they were not shot, they would have died soon enough anyway. I saw a soldier look at us and pray.
When we arrived in Nanjing, it was night and in upstream of Xiaguan Wharf, where we arrived, I found the gunboat Atami. I stayed overnight on the gunboat Atami and the next morning, I transferred to the Atago (愛宕), the flagship of the 11th Squadron.
– When did you land in Nanjing?
I think it was the day when I moved over to the Atago. I went to Nanjing and was surprised to see a number of ropes hanging over the rampart, which looked like a curtain. I thought that the Chinese soldiers used those ropes to escape.
– How many ropes were hanging?
One to two hundred at least. There was the Lion Rock (獅子山) in Nanjing. I entered Nanjing through Xing Zhong Gate (興中門), which was closest to the Lion Rock. Around the gate, I found a number of steel helmets and bodies of Chinese soldiers and I almost slipped on the blood.
– How many bodies did you see?
Dozens of them. I assumed a battle occurred there, too.
– What was the situation inside of Nanjing?
A day or two afterward, I found a bicycle in Nanjing near the Xing Zhong Gate and I cycled around Nanjing with the bicycle and made sketches. There were fields and hills in Nanjing; it was quiet, I saw no Chinese, and there were also very few Japanese soldiers.
I entered the municipal administration hall and the military officers’ headquarters and was surprised to find that the second floor and third floor were used as stables. If they had left their horses outside, Japanese airplanes would have found them so they kept horses inside. Just then, I came across Shimizu Toshi (清水登之) who was sketching. It seemed he came to Nanjing after I did. He had no bicycle, but I had one so I could go here and there–even outside Nanjing Castle I make sketches.
In those days, I wore knickerbockers and fur, and carried a shoulder bag; I have looked suspicious. Suddenly, someone far away shouted “Oo-i” to me, so hurriedly I grabbed a rising sun flag and waved it. As I went closer, I found three Japanese soldiers who said that they thought I was Chinese soldier and were about to shoot me. They told me that the Chinese soldiers would shoot at them from anywhere – they were very scared of Chinese soldiers. Also, I saw several dogs fighting each other over the body of a Chinese soldier.
That day, after I made sketches in many places, I was on my way back, 5 to 6 dogs – I was not sure if they were from same group that I saw in the afternoon – tried to follow me. I fled for my life by pedaling the bicycle but the pedals were only the stems, it was really hard work. I shook off the dogs at last, then I found myself at a different gate, not the one I saw in the morning, so I had to make a U-turn to head for Xing Zhong Gate. While I was cycling, I was singing a part of popular song, “For His Majesty the Emperor,” which was very popular then, in a loud voice because I worried that Japanese soldiers might mistake me for a Chinese soldier. As expected, when I came close to Xing Zhong Gate, the soldier on sentry duty told me he was about to shoot me as he thought I was a Chinese soldier. The song saved me.
– It is said there were many prisoners in Nanjing.
That day when I came back in dark, I saw dark shadows ahead of me as I came to close Xing Zhong Gate. The road would have looked white, had there been no shadows from the buildings. So I wondered what was going on. I passed over the shadow at the Xing Zhong Gate, and found that the shadow was a group of Chinese soldiers walking slowly.
When I went back the Ataka, the staff officers had just finished their meals and were chatting. They told me that they were worried that I might have been mistaken for a Chinese soldier and killed. Then I went to the staff officers’ room and heard the radio operator: Chinese stragglers were caught in Nanjing, that had already been reported to the Third Fleet. Responding to the report the radio operator asked what happened to the stragglers. It seemed that said stragglers were the Chinese soldiers I saw hours ago.
Then, a Junior Grade Lieutenant stood up with his military sword, saying he was going to test his sword, and I followed him. On the top of the wharf, an iron fence stood, beyond it was a breakwater with concrete, where Japanese soldiers lined up 4 to 5 Chinese soldiers, stabbed them in the back and pushed them down to the concrete below. There were 20 or so Japanese soldiers and there were just under about 1,000 Chinese soldiers. Seeing that, the Junior Grade Lieutenant lost the energy to test his sword. I turned a flashlight on to see, then the Japanese soldiers warned me I would get splashed by blood if I stood there, and I went back.
Next morning, I got up early and went to see the bodies. On the concrete were a number of bodies–I counted 800 or so. Among them, some moved their hands or were rustling; not yet quite dead. They had been stabbed in the back with swords and some of the wounds were not fatal. I believe that was what was later called the so-called Nanjing Massacre.
– Were there any rules regarding captured stragglers?
I don’t want to say this, but the Japanese soldiers lost their comrades, their war brothers; so in their mind, they were after revenge.
– Was there any other option?
The Japanese Army moved to Nanjing very quickly, therefore, on the way to Nanjing they overtook a significant number of Chinese soldiers. Chinese soldiers who were left behind later attacked Japanese troops.
In March of the following year, 1938, when I was in Wu-xi, I heard that Japanese troops at Taihu Lake were surrounded by 10,000 Chinese soldiers and the Toyohashi troop rushed over to help them. Also, Chinese soldiers who escaped from Nanjing by crossing the Yangtze battled against Japanese troops during the Zuzhou Operation in April. Under such a circumstance, Japanese soldiers needed to clear out Chinese soldiers. That was war. Otherwise, Japanese soldiers would be killed. Without knowing the entire picture, one would never know the reality by taking in a single segment. This holds for the so-called Nanjing Massacre as well.
The Chinese soldiers who fought to the end at Nanjing Castle were best soldiers and most of them were killed in the battle. The remaining soldiers were mob as written in the book The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. I witnessed several times such things myself. Commander Hasegawa Kiyoshi, Vice Admiral, demanded that the valuable historical ruins along the Yangtze be preserved. However, when we went Jiujiang (九江), Wuhan San Zhen, and so on, we found that Chinese soldiers always fled into the ruins without concern for their historical value; those were Chinese soldiers.
Besides, in those times, we did not have enough food so there was no other choice. In the staff officers’ room on the Ataka, a staff officer offered me yokan, a traditional Japanese sweet if I liked sweets or whiskey if I liked alcohol. I declined his offer because I had just finished my meal, but he insisted, “Please take them,” so I did. The next day, I gave the food to people at Air Corps Nango, Shiota and Wada, the airfield in Nanjing. They were very pleased because the Air Corps did not have a lot of food either. Only on naval warships did you find any food.
– Did you see any other executions?
The only execution I saw was at the wharf.
– It was said that civilians were gathered in one place in Nanjing.
Yes. At first, I didn’t see any Chinese at all, but a couple of days later, I found a sign, “Refugee Zone,” which was written in large letters so that it could be seen from far away. I went in and found many civilians. The people there were Chinese who could not escape from Nanjing. They knew the Japanese army would attack Nanjing and they thought that they would be killed. Still, they remained in Nanjing because they were helpless.
Access to this area was strictly limited and even other Chinese couldn’t come in. The civilians who remained in Nanjing stayed in the Refugee Zone. Chinese soldiers escaped and hardly any remained. Therefore, a so-called massacre could not have occurred in Nanjing. Later, I went to many places by bicycle and made a lot of sketches but never saw anything like a “massacre” at all.
– Did you see the entrance ceremony?
Yes. I attended both the entrance ceremony and the memorial service.
– Until when did you stay in Nanjing?
While the 11th Squadron was in Xiaguan, I visited each warship and got the signatures of the commanders and vice commanders on my shikishi, hard poetry card. The shikishi were donated to the Togo Shrine after the War.
The next year, 1938, on January 8, the train between Shanghai and Nanjing started running so I took the train to go back to Shanghai. We closed all windows as a precaution against any remaining enemies, but Matsui Suisei (松井翠声), a comic-chat artiste, who visited to consol us, entertained us along the way. The next day, the 9th, I visited the gunboat Izumo to salute Commander Hasegawa. After I came back to Shanghai, I visited Taihu Lake on the Artillery Boat Unit of the Navy, and returned Japan in April. So I was in Central China for 6 months in total.
After that, artist Sumiya went to China again and continued drawing in China until the outbreak of the Greater East Asian War. After the outbreak of the Greater East Asian War, Mr. Sumiya became non-regular staff, treated the same as a captain, and went to the Southern area.
The interview with Mr. Sumiya at the Museum in Ueno lasted four and half hours. For his age, 84, Mr. Sumiya showed no fatigue and his story was not yet over. I also wanted to hear more but Mr. Sumiya said he had to prepare supper so we made a promise to talk again at the next opportunity.
Mr. Sumiya’s long discussion was done for caution–in order to avoid misunderstanding. He was afraid that if discussion focused solely on Nanjing, then the so-called Nanjing Incident could not be understood. So he started with the Navy in those times – we needed to know about the battle before anything else. His four-and-a-half hour talk was mainly dedicated to the understanding of the battlefield and he emphasized that the battle of Nanjing was an extension of the battle of Shanghai.
34) Interview with Mr. Watanabe Yoshio (渡辺義雄), Photographer, Information Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the beginning of the Showa era (1926 –1989), new photographers were created, one after another. The word “press photos” was first created in those times and Natori Yonosuke (名取洋之助), who studied in Germany, started an English language graphic magazine, “NIPPON”, in 1934. In 1936, the photo-magazine Life started in the US, which gained tremendous popularity. After the outbreak of the China Incident, photography attracted attention as an important medium for journalism–cameras were very popular among the soldiers, too.
Mr. Watanabe Yoshio was 30 years old then, and he was already well-known as a rising renowned photographer, as were Natori Yonosuke and Kimura Ihei (木村伊兵衛).
In those days, China made efforts to make world opinion favorable to China by using various means of propaganda. As soon as the China Incident broke out, China provoked anti-Japan sentiment and spread photos to win the world’s sympathy–this was completely successful. Therefore, the Information Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needed to give foreign countries the real story behind the China Incident and for that purpose they organized a film crew team to take photographs and make news films, and took film of Shanghai and Nanjing. Mr. Watanabe Yoshio and Mr. Kimura Ihei were selected as the photographers of the film crew team.
On December 12, 1937 the film crew team left Nagasaki, took film of Shanghai and Nanjing and returned to Nagasaki the next year, on January 14, 1938. They took a one-month journey for filming. During that time, Mr. Watanabe visited Nanjing twice to take films.
Mr. Watanabe was born in 1907. In 1933, he held a private exhibition at the age of 26 years old, and in 1934, together with Mr. Kimura Ihei, established the International Press Photographs Society. The photo “Bunraku” was a representative work before the War.
After the War, while teaching at Nihon University, he took many photos of buildings including “Katsura Rikyu” and “Ise Jingu”, for which he received the Mainichi Art Award. In 1958, he was appointed to Chair the Japan Photographers Society and served until 1981. He has a round face, round body and “round” personality.
Currently, Mr. Watanabe serves as the Honorary Chairperson of the Japan Photographers Society, a giant in the photography industry, yet he is still active as a photographer.
He said he talks a lot about photography but rarely talks about Nanjing. Putting his finger on his forehead, he tried to remember Nanjing and started to talk.
– What was the purpose of the film trip?
As soon as the out break of the China Incident, a photo in which a Chinese baby was crying at a Shanghai train station was published in US newspapers and became a topic of discussion. Japan was terrible, they did wrong even to such a young child. This kind of public opinion arose in the US and the US increasingly sympathized with China against Japan.
However, this photo was not the original photo, and in the original, there was an adult, who looked like the father, standing nearby, who was trying to hold the child or adjust him, but the father was brushed out and the photo, of the child crying alone, was created. The retouched photo was sent to the US through an unknown route and became a sensation. In those times, a shocking picture like this was not common, so it was tremendously effective in the beginning of the war. After the War, a photo-magazine in the US published the original photo, with the father. Retouching techniques were well-known as early as the Taisho era (1912-1926), they could have known about this if they had checked carefully. I was teaching photojournalism at Nihon University after the War, and this revelation of the real photos was very impressive.
At the time, China often used these kinds of strategies. So the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to take photos and films, and deliver them worldwide in order to show the real Japanese Army. They wanted to show the actual state of our holy war, especially to the US. One of activities in the holy war was to help the refugees, which was performed by the Pacification Unit and my job was to take film of their work.
Headed by the first secretary, Ogawa Noboru, who had earlier served as the chargé d’affaires ad interim in Czechoslovakia, and that time worked at the Information Bureau, our team went to Shanghai and Nanjing. Mr. Ogawa was a very talented person—he could even perform Joruri, which made our trip quite fun. Members were: Mr. Goto Kotaro (後藤光太郎), who was in charge of office work in the Information Bureau and handling photos as well as taking care of us, plus two photographers and two cinematographers, so there were a total of six of us.
1937, a photo of a crying baby, who appeared to be abandoned in rubble resulting from Japanese bombing, appeared in the American magazine Life(left). However, in the original photo, you can see a father-like adult beside the baby, who seems to be watching the baby (right). From History of the 20th Century – vol. 5, World War II – Scenes of Battle Fire, edited by J. Campbell, Heibon-sha)
– In some reports at the time, they stated that the group had 12 members.
No, I think it was only 6 members. The photographers were Mr. Kimura and me, the cinematographers were Mr. Nakayama, who came from a movie studio, and one other (and Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Goto). I can say this because I have a photo form the time and everyone is in it.
– Did you go to Nanjing at once?
To my memory, we stayed at an inn in Shanghai the night we arrived, and the next day we headed for Nanjing. We went up the Yangtze on a minesweeper. In the minesweeper, I found Saijo Yaso (西條八十), a poet, and other war novelists and combat artists.
– When did you arrive at Nanjing?
We stayed overnight in the minesweeper and we arrived at Nanjing next day. I don’t remember well but it was a couple of days before the entrance ceremony.
– Did you arrive at Xiaguan Wharf?
Yes. As we arrived at Xiaguan, a soldier told us that they were doing decapitations at a place 300 meters or 500 meters ahead, cutting the heads along the shore and dropped them into the river. “Soon the River will become red,” he continued, then added, “Why don’t you come and see?” Mr. Kimura hated to see even ordinary dead bodies and he said “NO.”
– Did the soldier say the river would turn red?
Yes. Actually the river did not turn red, but he said so.
– Did you not dare to take a look?
Like Mr. Kimura, I didn’t like such things, so if Mr. Kimura didn’t go, then I didn’t go; I did not want to go alone. Mr. Ogawa, too, didn’t say he would go.
Thinking about this now, I should have gone and seen it as a journalist, even if I didn’t take photos. Things that you saw and things that you heard about are quite different.
Some photographers tried to take photos of crimes for the purpose of making accusations or for exposure, but I didn’t have such a thought, so even if I went to see, I wouldn’t have taken photos.
– Was the beheading done openly?
The soldier asked me, “Why don’t you watch? Why don’t you take photos?” – he never tried to hide. Those soldiers were filled with anger because their comrades, or war brothers, had just been killed so they were out for revenge. They said, “Serves you right! Revenge taken! Feels good!”
– Did you think that they didn’t think that they themselves had done something cruel?
I think they didn’t feel that way then. Revenge taken—that was all in their minds. Words such as cruel and massacre were used starting after the War.
– What did you feel when you heard that they were cutting heads off?
On the previous day, I saw the result of a furious battle in Dachang Town, Shanghai, so when I heard what those soldiers said, I somehow agreed with them. It was cruel yet understandable. At the time, I thought killing by sword was reasonable punishment for Chinese soldiers.
– Were the Chinese who were cut to death prisoners?
A couple of days later, I met two Japanese soldiers, an officer and petty officer, and asked them about the prisoners. They said they caught the prisoners and kept in a prison in Nanjing, but there were too many of them to be kept at the prison. Besides, they didn’t have food for the prisoners, so they had no choice but to kill them. The two solders snapped at me – “How would you manage feeding them?” Hearing that, I agreed with them; there was no other choice.
– How many prisoners were caught?
I heard around 10,000 including prisoners and criminals. Some of them were killed, but I don’t know whether they killed only criminals or not and if prisoners were included, I didn’t know how many.
– Did you see something else the day you arrived in Nanjing?
All the doors of the street shops were opened and the showcases were empty. I believe that the Chinese stole the goods. The rich Chinese had already escaped and the poor remained, who ransacked the shops.
– Was this not done by Japanese soldiers?
I don’t think so. The houses in the streets were empty so Japanese soldiers used them for their lodgings. And I found something then – Chinese people used special paper money for funerals. They put them in the coffin with the body. You could not use this paper money as if it was real. This money was spread all over the streets. Some Japanese soldiers didn’t know that and collected them as if they were valuables.
That night, we went to the embassy, which was managed by three Chinese and stayed the night there. However, there was no food in the embassy so we went to a commanding officer, with whom Mr. Ogawa was acquainted, and got food. We believed that we could get food in Nanjing. But, as a matter of fact, the Japanese soldiers entered Nanjing without food or water. Had we known this beforehand, we could have brought food from Shanghai; we regretted this. I remember, that night, we slept on the floor on blankets in a spacious room of the embassy.
– Was there any consulate staff from Shanghai?
I don’t think so. Only our group. There were only the three Chinese who were hired.
On the morning of the next day, a woman from the Refugee Zone came to the Embassy and complained that a Japanese soldier took a woman away. We stayed two nights at the Embassy, both days we got the same complains. The soldiers came here without enough food or water, so maybe the head of the unit was ignoring this – I had mixed feelings on hearing this.
– Have you seen with your own eyes any acts of cruelty by Japanese soldiers?
I didn’t see any real moments of cruelty done by Japanese soldiers.
As far as bodies were concerned, I saw bodies thrown into the bushes, which were planted in the center of a rotary at a crossing of two wide streets – one was of a Chinese soldier with a cut in the middle of his forehead, and a couple of bodies with their heads cut from the back. The blood stopped running but their faces were dark with blood, it was terrible. I was scared to even look.
– Anything else?
The only bodies that I saw with my own eyes were at that rotary.
– What places did you visit in Nanjing?
I went to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. I strolled around the city, but without a car, my range was limited to walking distance.
– What kind of photos did you take?
I went to the Refugee Zone and took pictures of the Japanese soldiers who were giving the refugees food. The Japanese army had the idea of helping the refugees as soon as they captured the city, so in the Refugee Zone in Nanjing, too, soldiers distributed to the refugees a portion of rice or handed out comfort bags, one by one. I took pictures of that.
– As you mentioned earlier, it was claimed that women in the Refugee Zone were being kidnapped. Was the Refugee Zone in order?
Nothing happened during the daytime. I saw Japanese soldiers in charge and refugees in the Refugee Zone chatted and I took pictures of them. Photographers were allowed to enter the Refugee Zone but ordinary soldiers were not. So perhaps some soldiers sneaked into the Refugee Zone at night and did such things.
– Did you take pictures of the entrance ceremony?
I took photos of General Matsui entering Nanjing. I took the picture at the Zhongshan East Road, and Mr. Kimura took pictures of the place of the ceremony, the Nationalist Government’s former headquarters. At that time, I met a photographer from the Asahi Shimbun, Kojima Tadao (小島忠郎).
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
To my memory, I took pictures of the entrance ceremony and then the next day, went back to Shanghai. After I returned to Shanghai, I stayed at a hotel close to Garden Bridge, where reporters from the Mainichi Shimbun stayed were as well..
Once, in Shanghai, I was invited by a Chinese who was acquainted with Mr. Ogawa. He was a broad-minded man, and had no hostile feeling toward the Japanese. This Chinese man said that he regarded this war as a war between the Japanese Army and Chiang Kai-shek’s Army. Not just him, but other Chinese people living in the International Settlement behaved as if they had nothing to do with the war. Shanghai was lively and bustling and Mr. Kimura and I often went out for enjoyment.
I visited Nanjing in the new year, 1938, again. At that time, the Head of the Information Bureau, Kawai Tatsuo (河相達夫), arrived in Shanghai and he wanted to go to Nanjing, so we went to Nanjing by a Navy flying boat from Yangshupu. At that time, Mr. Kimura remained in Shanghai, so three from my group, Mr. Ogawa, Mr. Goto and I, went to Nanjing. I remember we felt terribly chilly in the flying boat.
– Did you take any pictures of Nanjing again?
I did, but I didn’t go there to take anything in particular.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
Most of troops left Nanjing so no soldiers were left for a photo opportunity.
The refugees were still in the Refugee Zone. I heard gunshots occasionally from the direction of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, but there did not seem to be enemies there.
– What did you do with the photos you took?
Those photos were exhibited at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in March, titled, “Nanjing – Shanghai Press Photo Exhibition,” and that it was very successful, so I was told.
I sent my photos to foreign countries, their ministries of foreign affairs, as well as the magazine Life but nothing was published – so I heard later. In those times, the US’s anti-Japan feeling was quite obvious and they knew that the photos were taken by the Japanese so rejection was just a matter of course.
All the photos that I took were burned during the US air raid on March 9, 1945.
35) An Interview with Mr. Koyanagi Jiichi (小柳次一), Member of the Army Press Team
In March 1937, Mr. Koyanagi Jiichi, who was active as freelance photographer, was introduced to Natori Yonosuke by Wada Hidekichi (和田日出吉), who was a manager of the Chugai Shogyou Shinpo (currently the Nihon Keizai Shimbun), and Mr. Koyanagi decided to join Nihon Kobo. At the time, Natori Yonosuke had returned from Germany where he realized the importance of press photos, and established Nihon Kobo to launch the magazine NIPPON in order to introduce Japan overseas. At first, Domon Ken (土門拳) was the only staffer, shortly thereafter, Fujimoto Shihachi (藤本四八) joined.
Soon the China Incident occurred. At the time, Natori Yonosuke, who had seen how Japan was negatively regarded in the western media, insisted that Japan must report news from the Japanese perspective. He went to Army Central Authorities but they didn’t listen to Natori’s idea. Then Natori Yonosuke went to Shanghai and repeatedly explained his idea. At last, he was able to successfully persuade Major Kaneko Toshiharu (金子俊治), who was in charge of publicity of the Headquarters of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. Thus, Nihon Kobo was assigned the job of taking films, and Mr. Natori Yonosuke and Mr. Koyanagi went to Shanghai. Mr. Koyanagi was 30 years old then.
– What was your position then?
At first, when Natori went to the Army as well as the Navy to talk about the importance of press pictures, they didn’t want to listen at all. So Natori went to Major Kaneko, who was in charge of propaganda operations towards China in the Army’s Special Service Agency in Shanghai, and successfully convinced Major Kaneko the importance of publicity and media. Some Army heads even stated that war correspondents were useless. Under such circumstances, if we officially belonged to the Army, then we would be strictly bounded by their orders, so we asked Major Kaneko that our position be non-paying and that we’d be non-regular staff in order retain freedom to take photos. The position was supposedly non-paying but actually I got an allowance from the Army’s secret service fund. The conditions were all negotiated by Natori. So my position in those days was as a member of the Press Team in the Special Service Agency as well as an employee of Nihon Kobo.
Mr. Natori was a photographer who was well-known abroad, and we sent and sold our photos under Natori’s name to photo-magazines, newspapers, and publishers all over the world.
Shortly, it was decided to publish photos under the name of the photographer who actually took the photo, and in March 1938, the photo of the executing of a spy in Nanjing appeared in Life under my name.
– When did you go to Nanjing?
As soon as Natori concluded negotiating our status, Natori and I left Japan at the end of December 1937 and we arrived in Shanghai in 1938. I knew nothing about military service–everything was new to me.
Nanjing had just been captured so we decided to go to Nanjing. We left Shanghai on January 2, stopped at Suzhou, and arrived in Nanjing, to my memory, on the evening of the 4th. We arrived at Nanjing Station.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
The first sight of Nanjing was a number of ropes hanging over the rampart. We entered Nanjing through the Yi Jiang Gate. On the right side we found a big wooden memorial monument standing upright. I found no bodies there then, but I heard that at the time of the capture, bodies were piled up around the gate. Japanese warships used all available ammo, simply because they engaged the enemy and shot at them. The number of bodies was said to be enormous.
The night we arrived, a fire occurred. They said that plain-clothed soldiers set the fire.
The next day, I started taking photos. The Chinese people were used to war and everyone lived calmly. In those days, 20,000 to 30,000 people lived in the Refugee Zone and no young girls were walking the streets. In Jin Ling Women’s College, which was situated in the Refugee Zone, I found young girls. I tried to take pictures of them but a Japanese guard who was standing by the gate did not allow me to do so, saying that no one was allowed to enter.
In addition, I saw Japanese merchants, who came from Shanghai, were keen to do business.
– Didn’t you see any acts of cruelty done by Japanese soldiers?
Nanjing was quiet, I never saw such thing.
– How about a rumor?
I never heard of such a thing as a “massacre”. I heard that 300 or so were killed down by the Yangtze and bodies were thrown into the river. Those kinds of stories were often said on the battlefield but I never heard such thing as a “massacre”—mention of that started after the War.
Later, I was fully involved on the battlefield and went to the frontlines at Xuzhou and Hankou to take photos. Aside from the story of Nanjing, I don’t deny some criminal assaults occurred but the soldiers who did such things were one and the same and rare.
– Were you with Mr. Natori in Nanjing?
Natori moved to and fro between Shanghai and Nanjing. He visited Nanjing with a fleet vehicle. Natori was surprised to find how news of Japan was incorrectly reported in the west and decided that we had to do something. In the west, public relations and propaganda prevailed, and make-believe had been perpetuated as well. Based on his own experience, he was convinced of the importance of media.
– The photo of the baby in Shanghai, which caused a sensation.
Yes. The photo appeared full page in the magazine Life, which became famous, well-known throughout the world.
After the War, during the Korean War, press photographers gathered in Seoul from all over the world. I found a photographer in the UN photographers group who took the baby’s photo. I talked him about that. His name was Wong, a Chinese photographer, who was senior to me.
– The press-photos were not always as is?
Of course, they should report facts in photos, but photographer took pictures with their country’s position in mind and many make-believe photos were found everywhere.
After the War, shortly after the US Army came to Japan, an American photographer asked me, “Koyanagi, you have taken pictures of war, what do you think about the photo of the Spanish soldier taken by Capa?”
– Was it the famous photo by Robert Capa?
Yes. Among American photographers, there was doubt whether the photo was taken on a battlefield or not. That’s why he asked me. I told him, I also had doubt – this photo could not have been taken in a battlefield, based on my experience. “You think so, too?” He looked satisfied with my answer. Americans were good for taking pictures of, posing for photos just the way the photographer wanted. So the issue of set-up was a subject of discussion.
– So Capra’s photo from the war was doubted then?
I think so.
– The Nanjing Incident is still controversial today.
There were bodies because it was a battlefield. They talked about those battlefield bodies. From my experience, being in Nanjing for long time, I can say this.
It may be meaningless to talk about battlefields today–I don’t think Japanese soldiers were especially cruel. For example, Chinese soldiers stabbed Japanese soldiers so that they looked like a beehive. It might have had a purpose for demonstration—but it was not a Japanese characteristic. The US Army, too, during the attack on The Philippines, we reporters heard stories from an American prisoner, who was caught in Bataan, who said that they ran over the corpses of Japanese soldiers. Hearing that, we got upset, “Goddamn you,” we said. I thought back to those times when Japanese soldiers captured Chinese cities, they often gave Chinese people Japanese goods. After the War, US soldiers, too, came to Japan and gave us chocolates and so on. The difference was that Japanese soldiers gave things to Chinese people with affection and often they became fond of us, on the other hand, the US soldiers just threw them from a high place–no Japanese were fond of them.
Reporter Honda Katsuichi of the Asahi Shimbun said the Japan had done wrong in Nanjing, but such things often happened in war, he just pick-up one of them. If you don’t know anything about war, you can easily say anything about it. Reporter Honda wrote another book, The Road to Nanjing , recently. I cannot read books due to my deteriorated eyesight, but I cannot ignore this book, so I slowly started to read his book. The Road to Nanjing was the same route novelist Hino Ashihei (火野葦平) walked during his military service. If Hino Ashihei was alive today, he could debate and make things interesting. I was with Hino in Hangzhou when Kobayashi Hideo (小林秀雄), the critic, brought the Akutagawa Prize to Hino in Hangzhou.
Facts are twisted by ideology and twisted facts are accepted today.
Soon, the Army realized the importance of media and, with the help of Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Itsuo (馬渕逸雄) in the Central China Expeditionary Army, the Press Bureau was established. Nihon Kobo established the company Press Union Photo Service and began supplying photos abroad. Mr. Koyanagi continued working in China. After the Great Eastern Asia War, they had no need for overseas appeal and their focus shifted from news photos to documentary photos.
Mr. Koyanagi worked actively as a photographer after the War. In the first postcard that I received from Mr. Koyanagi, he said “I wrote this postcard with a groping hand because my eyesight is almost gone now.” I almost canceled his interview but then I asked him again, then he said “OK”.
Mr. Koyanagi lives in Kawaminami, Miyazaki. He had been living in Tokyo and Kamakura for more than 50 years, however about 10 years ago his friend living in Miyazaki recommended that he move to Kawaminami—and so he moved. One reason is that as the War was about to end he took pictures of the Tokkotai, the kamikaze, in Kyushu. He wanted to console their souls–those who departed from an airfield in Miyazaki and died young. Mr. Koyanagi is now 79 years old. He visits Tokyo once a year to meet his old friends.
Nanjing, as Observed by Diplomats
….. Major General Sasaki was the top China expert in the Army, had friendly relationships with most of the main leaders of the Chinese Nationalist Party, including Chiang Kai-shek, and understood the Nationalist Party’s Revolution. He loved China….. He knew the most about Nanjing before and after its capture. I believed Major General Sasaki’s statement expressed the correct view on Nanjing then. I have never seen nor heard a so-called Nanjing massacre. It is said something happened in Nanjing but I think that what Major General Sasaki described in his book was the fact. (Statement by Mr. Iwai Eiichi, Assistant Consul)
Near Chong Shang Road in Nanjing. A Japanese soldier found a carriage, to which he attached the Japanese flag, and ran it with a Chinese riding along.
(December 23, 1937)
36) Interview with Mr. Iwai Eiichi (岩井英一), Assistant Consul
Mr. Iwai Eiichi, a China expert in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, graduated from the Dong A Dong Wen Shu Yuen or East Asian Literary School. It was said that he had a strong network of acquaintances in the military world. His name appeared in the context of several incidents that occurred in China, including the Chengdu Incident and the Xingyi Construction Movement.
I heard that he was in Shanghai in the beginning of 1938 and asked him for interview about the Nanjing incident. Unexpectedly, he sent me a long letter, in which he asked me to call him before the interview. I called him at once and he said he was going to take a trip to Nagoya so we set the interview for the following week. It was 1984.
Mr. Iwai was born in 1899. When we met he was 85 years old yet in very fine health. He practiced judo in the old days and his firm body proved it. His memory was splendid, he remembered China-Japan diplomacy before the War in detail and he talked about those times for an hour. He wrote the book Memory of Shanghai, but he spoke to me about things that were not in the book.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should try to get to know the Army and encourage the sharing of information with them,” that was Mr. Iwai’s idea. So, he proposed this to Mr. Kawai Tatsuo (河相達夫), the Director of the Information Bureau, to hold a dinner meeting with Army once a month. Attendees were, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kawai, Mr. Tanaka Shigetoku (田中重徳), the Chief of the First Department of the Information Bureau, and Mr. Iwai, and from the Army, Mr. Kagesa Sadaaki (影佐禎昭), the Chief of the China Section, and the selection of other members was up to Mr. Kagesa. The first meeting was scheduled for August 13 at a Japanese restaurant in Akasaka. That day, in Tokyo, the decision to dispatch two Divisions to Shanghai was finalized, while in Shanghai, the Chinese Army and Japanese Landing Force initiated battle. Both the Army and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were in a great stir. They waited for Mr. Kagesa at the restaurant and he eventually appeared. Mr. Kagesa brought with him from the Army, Major Kawamoto Yoshitaro (川本芳太郎) of the Military Affairs Department of the Military Affairs Bureau, who came with Mr. Kagesa, but the other invitee, Lieutenant Colonel Watari Sakon (渡左近), Chief of the China Department of the General Staff Headquarters, could not make it.
During dinner, opposed to the idea of an all-out attack, which Mr. Iwai insisted on, Mr. Kagesa said, “We decided to dispatch two Divisions to Shanghai, and one Division to Qingdao.” Mr. Iwai protested, “All available Divisions should be dispatched to Shanghai, attack Nanjing, and then we can conclude a peace treaty.”
Mr. Iwai believed that if Japan attacked Nanjing, China would surrender. Mr. Kagesa eventually agreed with him. After that, Mr. Iwai visited Beijing and Tianjin in August and September, then Shanghai and Nanjing in December.
– Did you think, at the time, that if Japan captured Nanjing China would have surrendered?
In the previous year, I went to Chongqing from Nanjing to my new appointment, consul- general in Chengdu. Before reaching Chongqing, I had to change to smaller boats a couple of times. The Chang Jiang was a serpentine river and during the week-long trip I felt as though I was in the same place as I was from the previous day. Chengdu was situated in a far, far-off place. China declared already they would keep fighting even if they had to run into the depths of their huge country, so I knew that if we started a war against China, it would get serious. As I met Mr. Kagesa, I knew that the war would not end anytime soon. Nevertheless, to capture the enemy’s capital was a main wartime objective.
I guessed that the discussion at the meeting on the 13th was conveyed to General Matsui, the Commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, by Mr. Kagesa, the Chief of the China Department, because I heard that, when General Matsui was leaving for China, at the platform at Tokyo Station, he said to the Prime Minister Konoe, who had come to see General Matsui off, that he would advance as far as Nanjing. This meant that Mr. Kagesa gave General Matsui this advice, which was the thought that I shared with Mr. Kagesa. This struck me as I read the Note written by the Prime Minister Konoe. I didn’t write this story in my book because it might sound self-serving, but this was very likely what had happened.
– At the end of December 1937, you went to Shanghai and Nanjing.
Mr. Kawai went to inspect the occupied areas and I accompanied him. We left Tokyo on December 31.
– Did someone else accompany you?
No, it was only the two of us.
– After that, did you go to Nanjing?
I went to Nanjing with Mr. Kawai. We stayed in Nanjing for a couple of days. It was three weeks after the capture, so we were unable to find a decent hotel or inn–maybe we stayed somewhere in Nanjing, or found an inn in Xiaguan and stayed there.
– Did you visit the consulate-general?
Well, no. I didn’t know in what situation the consulate-general was. We had no particular plan for the consulate-general, but just to inspect the place that we had occupied.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
The city was a battlefield; it looked like as battlefields do.
– Did you see any scene of a massacre or hear about a massacre?
I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear anything. Also, in Tokyo, I never heard of such a thing. Mr. Kawai had a strong personal sense of justice and was very keen to those kinds of rumors. I suspected that the purpose of his Nanjing visit was to investigate the rumor himself.
– Probably after you returned to Shanghai, Chief Kawai talked with reporters Hallett Abend of The New York Times, and David Fraser of The Times of London. Did you know that?
No, I didn’t know that. Mr. Kawai could speak English so he spoke with foreign reporters. I couldn’t understand English, as my specialty was Chinese, so we worked separately, in those cases.
– You were working at the Information Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
After returned to Tokyo, did you hear something in the Ministry about a massacre?
I stayed in China for about two weeks and returned to Japan on January 13. I have no recollection of such talk in Tokyo as well. It might be possible that I heard something but I had no interest in it so I don’t remember.
In 1965, “Biography of a Military Man,” was published, which was a diary written by Major General Sasaki Toichi (佐々木到一), who performed brilliantly as the Brigadier Commander of the Nanjing Attack Forces. Major General Sasaki was the top expert on China in the Army, had friendly relationships with most of the main leaders of the Chinese Nationalist Party, including Chiang Kai-shek, and understood the Nationalist Party’s Revolution. He loved China. Nevertheless, Major General Sasaki joined in on the Nanjing Attack, and after its capture, he served as the Commander of the Nanjing Garrison. He knew the most about Nanjing before and after its capture. I believed Major General Sasaki’s statement expressed the correct view on Nanjing then.
I have never seen nor heard a so-called Nanjing massacre. It is said something happened in Nanjing but I think that what Major General Sasaki described in his book was the fact.
– Mr. Ishii Itaro (石射猪太郎), the Chief of the East Asia Bureau, wrote in his memoir after the War that stories of atrocities in Nanjing quickly spread around the world, causing a sensation, and all accusations focused on the Japanese Army. And he described the relationship between Japan and China, as “China-Japan”, or the “China-Japan” War, China coming first. What was his intention?
Mr. Ishii graduated from the Dong A Dong Wen Shu Yuen, or the East Asian Literary School, like I did. He was senior to me. When Mr. Ishii became consul-general, the news was greatly welcomed and Mr. Ouchi, the head of the Dong A Dong Wen Shu Yuen, held a party for him.
Mr. Ishii thought of himself as an expert on China. However, his ideas were not acceptable to the Army, and I have also a difference of opinion from him. The Axis Powers gradually gained support from members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, yet Mr. Ishii was different from them in that respect, too. The expression “Japan-China” was changed to “China-Japan” after the War because China won.
– You went Shanghai again in February, as the Vice-Consul of the Shanghai Consulate-General. In Shanghai then, did you hear something about a massacre?
I left Tokyo on February 25, 1938 and arrived in Shanghai on the 28th. I will say again that I heard nothing about a massacre.
37) Interview with Mr. Kasuya Yoshio (粕谷孝夫), Assistant Consul
Mr. Kasuya Yoshio was born in 1909, joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1934, and in July 1937 his duty station changed from the London Embassy to the Consulate-General in Shanghai. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident had already occurred, and in Shanghai confrontation between Japan and China was expected as well.
Five months after he was assigned to the Shanghai Consulate-General, Nanjing fell. Several members of the Shanghai Consulate-General entered Nanjing as soon as Nanjing was captured, and in the following year, Mr. Kasuya was appointed Nanjing Consul-General. He was 28 years old.
In January 1938, in Nanjing, several issues arose concerning US interests . In the middle of January, the American consulate complained that Japanese soldiers trespassed on US property. Also, on January 26, an assault occurred on Consul John Allison. The story was that a Chinese woman who claimed that she was raped by Japanese soldier tried to find the offender. Together with Consul Allison, Professor Riggs of Ginling College and Japanese military policeman they tried to enter the Japanese soldiers’ barracks. A Japanese soldier started to argue with Consul Allison and the soldier struck Consul Allison. Remember that in the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), during this very period, the Tribunal accused Japanese soldiers of committing atrocities. Assistant Consul Kasuya went to Nanjing during this period to handle matters pertaining to the interests of foreign countries, including those of the US.
After the War, Mr. Kasuya served as Ambassador to Peru and Thailand. After retiring in 1971, he joined Matsushita Electric Industrial. I interviewed him in autumn 1985, at his office at Matsushita Electric Industrial, which was located in the World Trade Center Building. Mr. Kasuya was 75 years old, with fine silver-gray hair. He was friendly and smiled during our discussion.
– When Nanjing fell, were you in Shanghai?
Yes. We had the embassy and consul-general in Shanghai but both of them were situated in the same building and their duties were not clearly separated.
Staff included Mr. Okamoto Suemasa (岡本季正), Mr. Tajiri Akiyoshi (田尻愛義), Mr. Sone Eki (曽称益), Mr. Okumura Katsuzo (奥村勝蔵), and Mr. Wajima Eiji (倭島英二).
I was very busy with matters related to the Shanghai area.
– It is said that when the Japanese army entered Nanjing, a massacre occurred. You were at the Shanghai Consulate-General then. Did you hear about the incident?
I never heard anything directly. It is often called a massacre, but I don’t understand this. I had been in Shanghai and so busy with matters related to Shanghai.
– At the time, The New York Times and Chinese newspapers wrote about Nanjing.
Did they? I didn’t read The New York Times or Chinese newspapers.
– Americans and Germans who were in Nanjing at the time established the International Committee for Nanjing Safety Zone to demand and protest against the Japanese Consulate. Those demands and protests were sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Shanghai. Did you hear about these things when you were at the Shanghai Consulate- General?
I didn’t hear about these things either.
– According to a memoir written by Mr. Uemura Shinichi (上村伸一), who was the Chief of the First Department of the East Asia Section at the Ministry, protests, reports and photos from Nanjing piled up in a room.
He wrote this? This is the first time I have heard of this.
– The following year, 1938, you went to Nanjing.
In January. I don’t remember the exact date. I was in Nanjing until October of the same year.
– Who else were at the Nanjing Consulate-General?
Mr. Fukui Atsushi (福井淳), was, to my memory, the acting consul-general. He was later replaced by Mr. Hanawa Yoshitaka (花輪義敬). Also, Mr. Tanaka Shoichi (田中正一) and Mr. Fukuda Tokuyasu (福田篤泰) were there. Mr. Tanaka spoke fluent Chinese. In addition, a couple of young staffers were there. The Consulate compound had a consulate area and a residence and I lived in the residential area.
– Was Mr. Hidaka Shinrokuro (日高信六郎) there?
When the Consulate was closed in August, I saw him there but after that he returned to the Embassy in Shanghai. Mr. Hidaka was the Chief of the Personnel Department when I joined the Ministry.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
Uneventful and nothing special. The shops were open and Japanese merchants were there. There was no such thing as a massacre.
– What was your duty in Nanjing?
My duty was to contact and negotiate with foreign countries. There were many foreign consul-generals, and my duty was to negotiate with them. With foreigners there, that means their interests were there as well, so troubles occurred as a matter of course.
The American Consul was Mr. Allison, who was later appointed Ambassador to Japan. He spoke Japanese fluently.
– In Nanjing, the International Committee for Nanjing Safety Zone was organized by the third-party nationals like Mr. Rabe and Mr. Bates. Did you see them?
I knew nothing of them.
– The incident, that Consul Allison was struck, happened at the end of January.
Yes. Mr. Allison went to the Japanese soldiers’ barracks to either confirm his suspicion or to investigate, and tried to cross a sentry line despite the guard’s warning and he was hit– that’s what I heard.
– Was it a significant matter?
It was said that the Consul made a claim against Japan and the main office of the Ministry handled it well–thus the matter was soon resolved.
– What kind of person was Consul Allison? Pro-Japanese? Or Anti-Japanese?
He was knowledgeable about Japanese. It seemed that he didn’t take the incident badly in particular.
– As an Assistant Consul, you must have performed many negotiations with the Army.
Major Hongo Tadao (本郷忠夫), who was in charge of Army information, handled the responsibility of negotiations. When I got a claim against the Army from a foreign consulate, I negotiated with Major Hongo. He was a son of General Hongo Fusataro (本郷房太郎.). Later, Major Hongo died in New Guinea; he was a good man.
Later, Colonel Hirota Yutaka (広田豊) arrived as the Chief of the Negotiations Department. Mr. Hirota had an office in Shanghai, he was a calm person. Mr. Hirota could speak English, he lived in the US at one time and he was a so-called globally minded person. He knew the US well. I assumed that he belonged to the “common sense” group. Later, he transferred to the aviation sector and became a divisional commander.
And, though it was only once, I met Colonel Muto Akira (武藤章). He had an ear for listening. His attitude, of hearing people voice themselves, might be related with his high position, but anyway, he was not an arrogant person.
– From the end of January to the beginning of February 1938, Major General Homma Masaharu visited Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hangzhou, from Tokyo. At that time Colonel Hirota accompanied him.
At the time, Mr. Honma was the Chief of the Second Department in General Staff Headquarters. I heard Mr. Honma had arrived. It was said that he came to inspect specific areas in China. I didn’t know Mr. Hirota arrived with him.
– Have you ever heard about the Nanjing incident?
– According to Mr. Johnson, the American Ambassador to China, the Japanese embassy tried to send a telegram and the Army prevented this. Did this really happened at the Nanjing General-Consulate?
No such things happened. I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had their own telegraph equipment.
I (Ara) couldn’t meet half of the survivors, mostly because of declining health. Nevertheless, they sent me letters and postcards concerning the situation in Nanjing at the time. I exchanged letters with some of them for a number of years. Statements from those whom I could not meet in person are as follows.
38) Major Yoshikawa Takeshi (吉川猛), Staff Officer of the Central China Area Army
The Central China Area Army had six staff officers and Mr. Yoshikawa Takeshi, the youngest of them, was the only one still alive. When I asked him for an interview, he was undergoing repeated hospitalized, so he was not able to talk to me personally. But he was able to answer my questions with detailed letters. At times, due to his illness, his letters stopped but over three years we exchanged eight letters, in which he wrote the following replies:
One dog barked a lie and millions of dogs spread it as truth – once a thing is thought of as true, it is tough to argue and correct it. The first impression deeply pierces into humans’ emotion.
In December 1937, as we moved the Headquarters of the Central China Area Army to Suzhou, Staff Officer Ninomiya, the Chief of Logistics, and I, a Staff Officer of the General Affairs Section, were called in by General Matsui. General Matsui gave us a severe scolding, that our treatment of the bodies were wrong, that only the bodies of Japanese soldiers were being handled properly but the bodies of Chinese soldiers were being neglected–this was not acceptable. That was the kind of person Excellency Matsui was.
39) Lieutenant Colonel Terada Masao (寺田雅雄,), Staff Officer of the 10th Army
Lieutenant Colonel Terada Masao served as a leading staff officer of the Strategy Department in the 10th Army and later became well-known as the Chief of Strategy Department in the Kwantung Army during the Nomonhan Incident, that is, the Soviet-Japanese border conflicts.
When I asked him for an interview he was over 90 years old and I was unable to meet him. But he answered my questions in his letters below:
Due to the fact that the Operation in the Shanghai Area seemed deadlocked, Imperial Headquarters planned to land the 10th Army at Hangzhou Bay. The 10th Army was very cautious not to take the same path as the Shanghai Area Army took, so they simply focused on strategy.
The 10th Army adopted the strategy to advance in a rush as soon as they landed at Hangzhou Bay. Therefore, they understood that it would be impossible to get supplies from the rear. That’s why we had to manage to get food wherever we can. The strategy adopted by the 10th Army was so tough and brave that the enemy in the Shanghai Area quickly withdrew.
Regarding disciplinary problem, it was said that we were wrong to rely on local areas for food. But I don’t think discipline of the 10th Army was especially bad.
I never heard of the “Nanjing incident” in those days.
Mr. Terada lived in Obama City, Fukui. When I went to Fukui, I tried meeting with him, but he was bedridden, so I was unable to meet him.
40) Captain Sento Shunzo (仙頭俊三), Staff Officer of the 10th Army
The 10th Army had the Kunizaki Detachment (mainly 9th Brigade, 5th Division). The Kunizaki Detachment was instructed to cut off the enemy’s retreat by crossing the Yangtze at around Wuhu and advancing to Pukou. Mr. Sento, a Strategy Staff Officer in the 10th Army, joined the Detachment.
Due to his health conditions, I was unable to see Mr. Sento Shunzo in person but he replied to my letters as well as showed me his memos from the time. His recollection of those days was as follows:
On December 12, 1937 as we advanced to Pukou, which was on the opposite side of the Yangtze from Xiaguan, I saw that our artillery was shooting a number of 15 centimeter high explosive shells over Pukou. The bodies of the enemy, which were floating along both sides of Yangtze, was in the order of several hundreds by my estimate. Bodies were hardly found in midstream. I saw that the quay wall of Xiaguan had turned red, and bodies seemed to have had their hands and feet tied.
I knew nothing about a massacre then. Regarding discipline, as far as the Kunizaki Detachment was concerned, there were no disciplinary problems.
41) Lieutenant Colonel Goto Mitsuzo (後藤光蔵), Military Attaché
Lieutenant Colonel Goto Mitsuzo went to the 10th Army’s front line as a Military Attaché and entered Nanjing. He was known as the last Konoe Division Commander.
Due to his health, I could not meet him but he described in his letter the situation when he entered Nanjing.
Nanjing was an empty town–no one there. I stayed at an empty home, nothing happened.
He died in December 1986.
42) Captain Okamura Tekizo (岡村適三), Shanghai Military Police
While Mr. Okamura Tekizo was in Shanghai, the Shanghai incident occurred. He then went to Nanjing as soon as Nanjing was captured.
He had a health problem, senile ischemia, and I was unable to meet with him, but he did answer my questions in his letter, as shown below:
I didn’t hear about Nanjing incident at the time. Regarding disciplinary problem of the troops, I heard nothing in particular from Lieutenant Colonel Yokota Masataka (横田昌隆), Chief of Military Police of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, Major Uesuna Katsushichi (上砂勝七), Chief of Military Police of the 10th Army, and Lieutenant Fujino Ranjo (藤野鸞丈), Sub-Chief.
I heard the Japanese Army acted arrogantly.
Because he was a military policeman he must have been familiar about disciplinary matters relating to the Japanese Army. I wanted to hear in detail of this from him in person and after several letters were exchanged, he agreed.
On the day of meeting, when I called him from Fukuoka Airport to announce my arrival, one of his family members told me, “He said something in the morning and completely forgot about it in the afternoon, so an interview is impossible.” I shrugged and went back home.
43) Mr. Horikawa Takeo (堀川武夫), Reporter for the Domei Tsushin
Mr. Horikawa Takeo joined the 16th Division and after the War he taught at Hiroshima University.
I was unable to meet him due to his illness, but I listened to him say the following:
As for your question, I didn’t see nor hear anything in particular.
44) Mr. Fujimoto Kame (藤本亀), Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun
Mr. Fujimoto Kame entered Nanjing through Guanghua Gate on December 13.
After the War, he served as the director of the Sanyo Shimbun and as the president of Sanyo Hoso Broadcasting. Due to his health, I was unable to meet him, but he wrote me:
I want to inform you that during the time I joined the Army I didn’t see nor hear of anything in particular.
45) Mr. Asami Kazuo, Reporter for the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun
Mr. Asami Kazuo entered Nanjing on December 13. I asked him for an interview, but he declined my request, saying that he had no clear memory of that time. At the same time he stated:
I wish that this fact, of the massacre of the century, will never be denied and denial will not be an occasion to praise–an accompaniment to–militarism.
46) Mr. Nishino Gen (西野源,), Reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun
Mr. Nishino Gen joined the Army from the Nagoya general office of the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, and entered Nanjing through Guanghua Gate with the 9th Division.
As to your questions, unfortunately I heard nothing. It is common that a number of groundless rumors fly on the battlefield.
47) Mr. Otani Kosho大谷光照, Chief Abbot of Nishi-Honganji Temple
Chief Abbot Otani Kosho visited Shanghai in November 1937 as consolation visit for the Imperial Army in Shanghai, then went to Nanjing to attend the entrance ceremony on December 17. On the 18th, the next day, a memorial service, which was held at an airfield within the Castle, was performed by the Chief Abbot.
He described the situation of Nanjing as follows;
I arrived in Nanjing on the evening of the 14th, it was the next day after the final capture of the city, and I lodged in Nanjing and stayed for 4 days. I entered the Castle several times and I saw no massacre and heard no rumor of one at all. At that time, the battle was entirely over, the town was calm, no citizens were found there – it was not a circumstance under which a massacre occurred. The Japanese Army lodged inside and outside of the Castle, getting their rest in peace.
48) Mr. Ishikawa Tatsuzo, War Correspondent
Mr. Ishikawa Tatsuzo was awarded the first Akutagawa prize for his novel, “Sobo (蒼氓),” in 1935 and in 1937 he was dispatched by the magazine Chuo Koron to Nanjing, immediately after its capture. He left Tokyo on December 21, 1937 and visited Shanghai, Suzhou, and Nanjing, and returned to Tokyo at the end of January 1938.
During his visit, he mainly met soldiers of the 16th Division and, based on his experience during that time, he wrote the novel, “Soldiers Being Alive,” and published it in the magazine Chuo Koron, which was released on February 18. However, on the day of release, Chuo Koron was banned from sale under the Newspapers Regulation Law and Mr. Ishikawa was prosecuted,. In September, he was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for three years.
After the War, his novel, “Soldiers Being Alive,” was said to have described the Nanjing incident.
In October 1984, I asked him for an interview but I was unable to meet with him. Later, I found the reason–three months after he declined, in January 1985, he died of pneumonia. At the time I asked him for interview, his gastric ulcer was improving, yet his condition was not good enough to withstand an interview. However, he responded to my letter at that time:
When I entered Nanjing, it was two weeks after the entrance ceremony. I didn’t see any trace of a massacre.
It is impossible to clear out hundreds and thousands bodies within a couple of weeks.
I have never believed that Nanjing massacre story and I don’t believe now.
People the author contacted and received no reply due to death or illness, are:
Colonel Matsuda Chiaki (松田千秋), Staff Officer of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army
Major Yonihana Utakichi (米花宇太吉), Chief of the Press Team, Shanghai Expeditionary Army
Mr. Isshiki Tatsuo (一色達夫), Chief of the Photo Team, Shanghai Expeditionary Army
Mr. Kojima Tomou (小島友宇), Nanjing Special Service Agency
Major Yamazaki Masao (山崎正男), Staff Officer, 10th Army
Captain Shimizu Takeo (清水武夫), Staff Officer, 10th Army
Lieutenant Colonel Miyamoto Seiichi (宮本清一), Staff Officer, Central District Army
Mr. Fukuda Atsuyasu (福田篤泰), Assistant Consul, Nanjing Consulate
Mr. Goto Mitsutaro (後藤光太郎), Staff in the Information Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Ikeno Seikyu (池野清躬), Interior Ministry official, Ministry of the Interior
Mr. Maeda Yuji (前田雄二), Reporter for the Domei Tsushin
Mr. Fudo Kenji (不動健治), Chief of the Photography Department for the Domei Tsushin
Mr. Kato Sho（加藤松, Reporter for the Domei Tsushin
Mr. Haraikawa Chikashige (祓川親茂), Photographer for the Domei Tsushin
Mr. Takasaki Osamu (高崎修), Photographer for the Domei Tshushin
Mr. Kikuchi Hisataro (菊池久太郎), Radio Operator
Mr. Tabata Masashi (田畑雅), Photographer for the Asahi Shimbun
Mr. Endo Tshuyoshi (遠藤毅), Chief of Field Senior Post, Transportation and Communications Director General’s Office
Interviews with those who were at the front during the Battle of Nanjing were conducted with reporters, officers, artists and diplomats are compiled in this book. These interviews were carried out more than 40 years after the Battle of Nanjing. Reporters and staff officers, who were free to walk wherever they wanted to and to observe whatever they wanted to in Nanjing, told me about Nanjing then.
Listening to them speak, I began to realize that Nanjing, in their eyes, was totally different from what was presented at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, or the Tokyo Trial.
During the Tokyo Trial, Nanjing was supposedly full of civilian corpses and a verdict was given based on this account. However, reporters and others who I interviewed, never saw civilian corpses. No one could have imagined at the time that a so-called Nanjing massacre would take hold of peoples’ minds decades after it supposedly occurred and spread around the world.
The statements in the book are not new. Those statements were given at the Tokyo Trial. The trial was only nine years after the Battle of Nanjing. Therefore statements concerning Nanjing were vivid and detailed. But the statements of the defense were buried under a pile of false statements and fake evidence, which were presented by the prosecutor. The defense appropriately objected that statements by the prosecutor were not real and that the so-called “Nanjing Incident” was Chinese propaganda. However, the Tokyo Trial was a victor’s court: the victors did not heed the defense at all. The defense was eager to counter the prosecution’s allegation with facts, but going to China to investigate was impossible.
But around the time when I started to interview the witnesses, the claim of the defense began to be supported by the facts. A fact, for example, is that Tinperley, who made the so-called Nanjing incident news and initiated its first worldwide spread, was an advisor to the Nationalist Party’s Central Propaganda Bureau. This finding is based on concrete evidence.
In addition, Professor Bates, who stated at the Tokyo Trial that there was elimination of civilians, was an advisor to the Nationalist government. Also Zeng Xubai (曾虚白), the chief of International Information Division of the Central Propaganda Bureau of the Nationalist Party, implemented a propaganda strategy in order to discredit the Japanese army. These facts have been revealed recently, which make it clear that the Nanjing incident is nothing but a fantasy and wartime propaganda.
Despite the intervening 30 years, the statements in my book are almost same as the statements of Japanese who gave their statements in the Tokyo Trial. “The Nanjing Incident: Testimony from 48 Japanese” has now been reappraised after the revelation of these facts. The key people mentioned earlier actually carried out the Chinese strategy for propaganda.
While I was doing my interviews, I asked the same questions to hundreds of soldiers as well. Ordinary soldiers are restricted to actions based on their designated responsibilities. Therefore, their knowledge about general condition of Nanjing was not always accurate. What soldiers tended to discuss, in graphic detail, was the furious battles against the Chinese army and cruel killings. Those stories are very common in war. However, taking stories out of context and fabricating victims, the stories form the basis of the incident, like the so-called Nanjing incident.
November 5, 2020.
This book is full of names, ranks, military organizations, places, political incidents, etc., which might not be familiar to you. It is likely difficult for non-Japanese, as well as for modern Japanese, to comprehend Japan and the world in 1937 and 1938.
If there is difficulty in understating the times described in the book, a few videos may be helpful, which I found after I completed translation of this book. I have added English language narration and subtitles.
YouTube Channel: Cinema Japan Retrospective
Documentary Film Nanjing 1938
The Greater East Asia Conference 1943 Nov.4-5