The Tongzhou Massacre: Testimony of an Eyewitness
The Tongzhou Massacre:
Testimony of an Eyewitness
Edited & written by Fujioka Nobukatsu
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact©
Copyright ©2016 by Fujioka Nobukatsu
Originally published as Tsusujiken mokugekisha no shogen
by Jiyuusha, Tokyo, Japan 2016.
English language copyright ©2017 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.
The testimony of a Japanese woman who saw the Tongzhou Massacre
The Tongzhou Massacre was long concealed in postwar Japan and gradually disappeared from the collective Japanese memory.
In sharp contrast, stories of alleged atrocities committed by the Japanese military during its “invasion” of Asia, especially the “Nanking Massacre,” are endlessly repeated.
And yet, in recent years, the truth has gradually come to light. In fact, it was China that perpetrated cruelties against Japanese people, and the “Nanking Massacre” turned out to be nothing more than a fabrication used for wartime propaganda.
Eventually, the Tongzhou Massacre appeared in Japanese school textbooks.
“In the town of Tongzhou east of Beijing, a pro-Japanese government was founded, but on July 29, 1937, when its Japanese garrison was absent, the government’s Chinese military units attacked Tongzhou’s Japanese residential zone. Out of a total of 385 Japanese residents, 223 were slaughtered (The Tongzhou Massacre).” (From New History Textbook [Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho] published by Jiyusha.)
Nonetheless, many of the details of the “slaughter” itself were not really known. Most of the Japanese did not live to tell the tale, and those who did escape never saw the atrocities being carried out.
Amazingly, there was one Japanese woman present at the scene of the crime. After marrying a Chinese man, she settled down in Tongzhou and lived as a Chinese.
On the day of the massacre, she mixed into the crowds of Chinese and, over the shoulder of her husband, witnessed the whole atrocity as it unfolded from the Chinese perspective.
One elderly Japanese woman asked her to avenge her death, and then uttered the prayer “Praise be to Amida Buddha” just moments before passing away.
The elderly lady’s dying words never left this Japanese woman’s mind, and after she returned to Japan, she started going regularly to the Nishi Honganji branch Buddhist Temple in Beppu, which is where she happened to meet the late Shirabe Kanga, Head Priest at Intsuji Temple in Saga Prefecture. She eventually related to Mr. Shirabe what she had kept to herself for fifty years.
This booklet contains the full text of her eyewitness testimony.
She was brought into Buddha’s arms by the dying prayer of an elderly lady in Tongzhou, which led in turn to her encounter with Shirabe Kanga, and I, being so moved from reading her story, want the rest of the world to know it.
And you, the reader who has come across this booklet, are now also a part of this chain of unusual twists of fate.
Perhaps that elderly lady’s prayer has been answered.
-Fujioka Nobukatsu, Editor, July 2016
Table of Contents
(1) A Gift to Future Generations in Search of the Truth about the Tongzhou Massacre: The Significance of Shirabe Kanga’s Tears of the Emperor and the Testimony of Sasaki Ten – By Fujioka Nobukatsu
-My encounter with a certain book
-The reason behind the title Tears of the Emperor
-The tragedies suffered by the Japanese people in the war
-The circumstances of Tongzhou Massacre survivor Sasaki Ten
-The cruel slaying of a girl and her father
-The significance of Sasaki Ten’s testimony
-Barefoot Gen’s perversion of the truth
-The tactic of sowing unwarranted doubt
-A gift to future generations of Japanese people
-Intsuji Temple’s curious name
(2) The Tragedy of the Tongzhou Massacre – The Hellish Slaughter of Japanese Citizens – By Shirabe Kanga
-Japan’s misguided guilt complex
-Promotion of the “Tokyo Trial view of history” by the media and education system
-The truth about the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
-No act of aggression on the part of Japan
-One hundred years of Japanese history and two hundred years of Asian history
-The history of Korean aggression against Japan
-The two causes of the Tongzhou Massacre
-The planned rebellion of the Peace Preservation Corps
-The massacre of the Japanese begins
-The cruelty of meat-eating peoples
-The innate cruelty of the Chinese people
-The blood confession of a survivor
(3) The Testimony of Ms. Sasaki Ten
-Marrying a Chinese man and moving to China
-The joy of chatting with Japanese soldiers in Tongzhou
-Evil Korean slander of Japan
-The untrustworthy Peace Preservation Corps
-A futile message of warning
-Voices saying “Death to all the Japanese” and “The Japanese are devils”
-The Japanese people’s contempt for the Chinese
-A squadron of students with bayonets and Chinese broadswords
-The start of shooting at dawn on July 29
-The smell of blood from the Japanese residential zone
-The murder of a father protecting his daughter
-And then they raped the girl
-The reason I was not suspected of being Japanese
-A “human chain” even Satan could not have conceived
-Murder and rape at Asahiken
-An old lady’s dying prayer to Buddha
-Manhandling a pregnant woman
-The glorious final moments of a resisting Japanese man
-His head was scalped, his eyes gouged out, and his intestines chopped up
-An unforgivable act towards a pregnant woman and her baby
-My husband was Chinese and I was Japanese
-A final cry of “Long Live the Japanese Empire!”
-The blood red pond of Kinsuiro
-My divorce and return home impelled by hatred of the Chinese
(1) A Gift to Future Generations in Search of the Truth about the Tongzhou Massacre: The Significance of Shirabe Kanga’s Tears of the Emperor and the Testimony of Sasaki Ten
By Fujioka Nobukatsu
My encounter with a certain book
It happened about five years ago.
On the recommendation of someone who I met at a conference, I decided to purchase a certain small paperback book. Its purple cover was adorned with the Emperor’s chrysanthemum crest and the unusual title Tears of the Emperor [Tenno-sama ga Naite Gozatta]. The name of the author, “Shirabe Kanga,” was written in Japanese kana characters instead of the standard kanji. It was a strange-sounding name that had a somewhat mysterious air to it.
I checked the imprint on the back of the book and found the author’s name written in kanji, but I wondered if “Mr. Shirabe” was a pseudonym. I learned later that “Shirabe” was a family name that originated in Saga Prefecture.
The date of publication was November, 1997. The publisher appeared to have been a Tokyo-based company called “Kyoikusha,” but there was no distributor. For all intents and purposes, it was a self-published work. Still, it was a beautifully bound, 342-page book with a highly dignified appearance.
What’s more, the preface was written by former Grand Chamberlain Irie Sukemasa and former Chief Ritualist Nagazumi Torahiko, who served under Emperor Hirohito. Therefore, Hirohito was surely the emperor referred to in the book’s title.
The book’s author, who had passed away in 2007, was Head Priest at Intsuji Temple, which is located in the town of Kiyama in Saga Prefecture.
Pages 105 to 157 of the book were entitled “The Tragedy of the Tongzhou Massacre – The Hellish Slaughter of Japanese Citizens,” and it was these fifty-three pages that have been reprinted in full within this booklet.
The reason behind the title Tears of the Emperor
I would like to write in detail later about what the Tongzhou Massacre was and why this booklet was released as part of a series published by Jiyusha, but before that, I want to explain the reason behind the title of the original book, Tears of the Emperor.
After the end of the war, Emperor Hirohito toured every part of Japan to raise the spirits of the Japanese people. In May 1949, at the time of his tour of Kyushu, Hirohito personally
expressed his desire to make Intsuji Temple in Saga Prefecture his first stop. Intsuji Temple
had a strong connection to the Imperial Family. For instance, during the war, the priests of Intsuji Temple were so touched by a poem that Hirohito’s consort Empress Kojun had written in honor of the families of conscript soldiers killed in action that they began a campaign to have a cotton banner sewn with a million stitches by as many women as possible. Furthermore, Intsuji Temple was the site of Senshinryo, a support center for war orphans that Hirohito wanted to visit.
When Emperor Hirohito arrived on May 22, Senshinryo accommodated forty orphans from Japan’s former colonies. He noticed that one young girl was clutching two memorial tablets against her chest and he asked her about them. As he had feared, the tablets honored her
deceased parents, but the girl explained to the
Tears of the Emperor published by
Kyoikusha in November 1997.
Emperor in a clear voice, “My father died honorably in battle on Manchuria’s northern border, and my mother died of disease on her way to Japan, but I am never lonely because I am a child of Buddha.”
The Emperor patted the girl on the head several times, but at that moment, the tears welling in his eyes dripped onto his glasses and fell onto the carpet. The title of the book was taken from this incident.
The second half of the book Tears of the Emperor is largely devoted to elaborating connections between Intsuji Temple and Emperor Hirohito.
The tragedies suffered by the Japanese people in the war
The first half of Tears of the Emperor is a collection of stories about the unspeakable horrors suffered by the Japanese people during the war and the horrible deaths to which so many were subjected. The book deals with the Great Tokyo Air Raid, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the massacres perpetrated by the Soviet Red Army in Manchuria, and the lamentations of orphaned children, among other topics.
Shirabe Kanga perfectly related the heroism and bravery of the Japanese who endured tragedy and overcame it, all with the tender words of spoken Japanese. Reading through the book was like listening to a compelling lecture.
Mr. Shirabe felt great anger and apprehension over how the Japanese people had been indoctrinated after the war to believe that they were the ones who had launched a savage invasion of Asia and committed the worst atrocities the world had ever seen. Mr. Shirabe argued with great passion and earnestness that the most pressing task facing future generations of Japanese people would be overcoming this guilt complex over their own history. His words were so powerful that I felt as if I was listening to the sermon of an old sage who had achieved enlightenment.
Emperor Hirohito speaking to war orphans at Senshinryo on May 22, 1949. (From The Story of Intsuji Temple [Intsuji Monogatari] by Kuboyama Masakazu (2013), page 13.)
Within that sermon was the shocking testimony of an eyewitness of the Tongzhou Massacre, which forms the contents of this booklet. In introducing her account, Mr. Shirabe first discussed the context and background of the massacre, including the following passage:
“An examination of the barbaric deeds perpetrated in Tongzhou can leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about the fundamentally cruel nature of the Chinese people. They show no mercy or empathy for those who they kill, and they take an abnormally strong interest in both the killing of their victims and the mutilation of their bodies. To commit such barbaric acts towards the dead is completely alien to Japanese tradition. The ‘Nanking Massacre’, said to be the murder of 300,000 Chinese people by Japanese soldiers, is brought up again and again, but it is a total fabrication without any basis in fact. Tokyo University Professor Fujioka has explained this point with great clarity.” (page 121)
I was very honored to have been mentioned by name. Mr. Shirabe’s book was published in November 1997, and it was in January of the same year that the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform was founded. Mr. Shirabe never referred to this directly, but I wonder if he might have been closely following my campaign to reform Japan’s history textbooks.
I may be indulging in a little self-flattery here, but I would also like to think that the campaign of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform to reevaluate our history could have been what inspired Mr. Shirabe to finally publish the manuscript he had recorded long before in the form of a book. I regret that I was unable to meet Mr. Shirabe while he was alive.
But I digress. Going back to the passage quoted above, it is noteworthy that Mr. Shirabe discusses the Tongzhou Massacre and the Nanking Massacre together and contrasts them with reference to the differences between the national characteristics of the Japanese and Chinese people. I believe that this perfectly represents the perspective we must share in common if we hope to continue to fight the battle for history. Mr. Shirabe had already adopted that perspective at the time he wrote his book.
The circumstances of Tongzhou Massacre survivor Sasaki Ten
Shirabe Kanga was the sixteenth Head Priest of Intsuji Temple, which is affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Honganji School of Pure Land Buddhism. When he was given the opportunity to lecture at the Nishi Honganji branch temple in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, he encountered a devout, regular visitor to the temple, Sasaki Ten, a woman who experienced the Tongzhou Massacre firsthand. As Mr. Shirabe wrote, “One day, she looked at me as if she couldn’t hold back any longer, and then, she began to relate the following story about the whole horrible truth of the Tongzhou Massacre.” From that line, Mr. Shirabe’s book immediately followed with the complete transcript of her lengthy, first-person confession.
Sasaki Ten was born in Oita Prefecture near Mount Sobo. As one can see on a map, Mount Sobo, 1,756 meters high, is situated on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu where Oita Prefecture meets Miyazaki and Kumamoto Prefectures.
Her family was very poor, so before she had graduated from elementary school she left to work in Osaka on someone’s recommendation. She described it as “the hardest and most degrading sort of work for a woman”. When she was in her mid-20s, she met a Chinese man named Mr. Shen, who came to Osaka on business, and she agreed to marry him. That was in February 1932, and the very next month she moved with him to China.
In China, they initially lived in Tianjin, but near the start of the year 1934, they relocated to Tongzhou. Many Japanese people lived in the town of Tongzhou, and its Chinese residents treated them very kindly. Nonetheless, Ms. Sasaki noted that, “I had difficulty understanding what those Chinese people were really thinking. Though they would say very nice things one day, the next day they would completely change and spout one obscenity after another.”
It seems that Ms. Sasaki recognized the two-faced nature of the Chinese people early on. She lived in Tongzhou while retaining pride in her Japanese heritage.
Tongzhou was the headquarters of the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government. Yin Rugeng, a pro-Japanese collaborator, had broken away from the Nationalist Party-controlled Republic of China and founded this regional government in 1935. The government had a 10,000-man armed force called the “Peace Preservation Corps” for the purpose of maintaining security.
However, near the end of the spring of 1936, her husband told her that, because China and Japan would go to war, she must not associate with Japanese people any longer to ensure that, from that point on, no one else would know that she was Japanese. Eventually, the atmosphere in Tongzhou, which had once been very pro-Japanese, began to change completely. In particular, Koreans started to sow hatred of Japanese people among the Chinese residents. Ms. Sasaki, living as a Chinese woman and hiding her Japanese background as ordered by her husband, was forced to listen to anti-Japanese slander uttered by the Koreans, but the Japanese soldiers and civilians in Tongzhou were blissfully unaware of what was going on.
By 1937, the situation became even more frightful. Around June, “students wearing very unusual clothes” began congregating in Tongzhou. They held marches while shouting slogans like “Death to all the Japanese!” Most of them wielded bayonets and Chinese broadswords, but some had guns. I note here that these students to which Ms. Sasaki was referring were the Training Brigade, an elite unit of student soldiers endorsed by Chiang Kai-shek.
On the evening of July 8, the whole town of Tongzhou was in ferment over what was said to be a crushing defeat suffered by the Japanese Army at the Marco Polo Bridge. The uproar was so bad that Ms. Sasaki couldn’t even leave her house.
It was in this context that she was to witness the terrible tragedy that unfolded on July 29.
The cruel slaying of a girl and her father
On the morning of July 29, when it was still half-dark, Ms. Sasaki was suddenly and violently awakened by her husband, Mr. Shen. After snatching up two bundles of her possessions and rushing outside, she found that the town was crowded with people, and she heard the sound of intense gunfire coming from the direction of the Japanese Army barracks. A little after 8:00, she heard people boisterously yelling, “The Japanese soldiers were defeated! They were all killed!” She felt the sudden urge to run off in order to fight and die alongside the Japanese soldiers, but Mr. Shen stopped her. By restraining her, Mr. Shen saved her life.
Shortly after 9:00, someone shouted that interesting things were starting to happen in the Japanese residential zone. It was said that women and children were being killed. She tugged on Mr. Shen’s hand, and as she ran towards the Japanese residential zone, she began to smell human blood. Amidst a crowd of Chinese residents, students dressed in black were
standing together with members of the Peace Preservation Corps. For what came next, I will quote directly from her recorded testimony.
“Soon enough, a girl was dragged out of one of the Japanese houses. She was a light-skinned girl who looked to be fifteen or sixteen years of age. A student had pulled her out of the house, and then announced that he had found her hiding and dragged her out here. The girl’s face was frozen with fear, but her body was shaking uncontrollably. The student who was holding the girl looked elated as if he were a cat that had just caught a mouse… He abruptly shoved the girl down onto the side of the road and took off her underwear. The girl screamed, ‘Help me!’
“At that moment, a Japanese man burst onto the scene. He threw himself atop the girl in order to shield her with his own body. It was probably the girl’s father. A Peace Preservation Corps soldier quickly used the butt of his rifle to deliver a brutal blow to the man’s head. I think that I heard the sound of something being crushed. Though he had cracked the man’s head, the man would still not separate from the girl’s body.” (pages 136-137)
After repeatedly stabbing him and kicking his corpse away, the soldiers and students returned to the girl, who appeared to have lost consciousness.
“The girl had already been stripped naked. She was frozen with fear as the soldiers walked up to her. They spread her legs wide apart and were about to rape her, to commit the most despicable act a human can commit in front of a crowd of onlookers. Although they were Chinese men, what they were doing were not the acts of human beings. However, their rape of the girl did not proceed easily, perhaps because she had never had any such experience before. Three students spread out her legs as much as they could, and then one of them took a gun from a Peace Preservation Corps soldier and thrust its barrel into her vagina… Then, I heard a terrible cry that was not quite a scream or a shriek. Instinctively, I opened my eyes in shock. What was it? While grinning happily, a soldier of the Peace Preservation Corps was cutting out the girl’s genitals… While shaking violently, I saw the soldiers slash her belly open lengthwise, then cut off her head with a sword. They tossed her head flippantly in the direction of the abandoned corpse of the man they had killed earlier. Her head rolled on the ground for a while before stopping at the side of the man’s corpse.” (pages 138-139)
One cannot help but feel enraged to read such ghastly cruelties. This was really what the Chinese did to the Japanese in Tongzhou.
These attacks by the student unit and the Peace Preservation Corps on the homes of Japanese people were not spontaneous. Prior to the day of the massacre, soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps had conducted a survey of every Japanese household in the Japanese residential zone and they knew everything down to the makeup of each family.
Furthermore, Tongzhou’s Japanese residential zone was not a segregated neighborhood set up for the Japanese only. The homes of Japanese and Chinese families coexisted side-by-side. It was for this reason that the Peace Preservation Corps marked the Japanese homes with chalk beforehand so that they would be easily recognizable. “Death to all the Japanese” was indeed their objective. We can see from these facts that the crimes perpetrated by the Chinese in Tongzhou were pre-planned acts of political violence directed at the Japanese.
The significance of Sasaki Ten’s testimony
Sasaki Ten’s account can be divided into a series of acts, which I will attempt to enumerate as follows.
(1.) A girl about fifteen or sixteen years of age and her father who was attempting to protect her were humiliated and murdered. (As quoted above.)
(2.) Over ten Japanese men were strung together as a human chain and later massacred.
(3.) Two women were seized, raped, and murdered.
(4.) An old woman perished on the roadside while uttering a prayer to Buddha.
(5.) The husband of a pregnant woman resisted with a wooden sword, but he was scalped, his eyes were gouged out, and his intestines were cut up.
(6.) A woman in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy was cut open at the belly and her unborn child was extracted and trampled.
(7.) Over fifty Japanese people were rounded up and shot en masse as they shouted “Long Live the Japanese Empire!”
(8.) Forty or fifty Japanese people were massacred at Kinsuiro Pond, which turned bright red with their blood.
Sasaki Ten saw all these events as she peered over her Chinese husband’s shoulder while shaking with fear that they might discover that she, too, was Japanese.
Testimonies about the Tongzhou Massacre fall into two categories. There are the stories of people who escaped Tongzhou and lived to tell the tale, and there are the reports of soldiers who came to relieve Tongzhou and recounted what they saw. The latter were presented as evidence at the postwar Tokyo Trials.
And yet, eyewitness accounts of the actual atrocities perpetrated by the Chinese are disappointingly elusive. For instance, those who were lucky enough to get out alive had no way of knowing what happened in Tongzhou following their escape. Likewise, the people who arrived on the scene after the fact could only surmise the nature of the atrocities based on the condition of the corpses. By contrast, Sasaki Ten directly witnessed the atrocities unfold before her eyes and recounted them all in great detail. Therefore, her testimony is of the highest possible historical value.
Barefoot Gen’s perversion of the truth
I would now like to present to the reader four panels from Nakazawa Keiji’s comic book Barefoot Gen, which is available at schools across Japan.
This comic book shows atrocities being committed by Japanese soldiers on Chinese women. The main character of the comic, a middle school student, cries out, “No man could forgive the Emperor who allowed tens of millions of people to die without a second thought!”
This is pure nonsense. The fiendish acts depicted here, particularly the bottom two panels, showing a pregnant
1998 Chuko Bunko Edition, Volume 7, Page 152.
woman’s unborn child being ripped from her lacerated belly and a woman’s vagina being pierced with a bayonet and violated with a foreign object, are in fact acts that were committed by Chinese mobs in Tongzhou. The same things took place at Jinan in 1928, one of the more famous sites of grotesque atrocities committed by the Chinese people, clearly demonstrating their perverse predilections.
Barefoot Gen thus condemned acts that were falsely attributed to the Japanese. Nakazawa Keiji ought to state whether he clearly understood what he was writing or whether he was ignorant and simply allowed himself to be deceived—the publisher and others who were involved should also take responsibility. It should be apparent that a book peddling such outrageous and fantastic nonsense should be removed from Japanese schools.
No Japanese person could have committed such atrocities. Rather, such atrocities are distinguishing characteristics of the Chinese culture of cruelty that has no bearing whatsoever on Japanese people. The Chinese tendency to attribute atrocities that they themselves committed on numerous occasions to the Japanese, completely blameless in this respect, is quintessentially Orwellian doublethink.
The tactic of sowing unwarranted doubt
The full text of Sasaki Ten’s testimony was also posted on the Internet by someone or other, and there are probably people who have only read her account online without knowing about the book Tears of the Emperor. However, the version posted on the Internet contains a number of typos, misspellings, and transcription errors.
Still, what concerned me more was the online commentary calling into question the reliability of her testimony that cropped up on the Internet immediately after it was released online. Perhaps partly motivated by this, some historical researchers subsequently argued that the testimony was useless as a historical source. In fact, I cannot recall having ever read an essay that cited her account as a source. The campaign to exclude Sasaki Ten’s testimony as a primary source appears to have completely succeeded.
I am somewhat hesitant to directly discuss online commentary here, but I feel that if the commentary has exerted influence on others, then it is worthy of being mentioned.
As an example, I will examine an article that I read on the Internet on the morning of May 14, 2016, entitled, “Are Japanese Testimonies of the Tongzhou Massacre Accurate? (Ms. S’s Account).”
The person who posted the article criticized Ms. Sasaki’s account on a number of grounds. For instance, he found it suspicious that the original book, which was published in 1997, would have been prefaced by Irie Sukemasa, who died in the year 1985. Actually, there is nothing suspicious about that at all. Painstaking effort was put into compiling this masterpiece, and it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which the author arranged to have Mr. Irie write the preface, but then was unable to find a publisher for the book or encountered some other sort of problem that postponed its release date. Thus, the book was ultimately published twelve years after the preface was composed. The author himself apologized for the delayed publication, but he obviously still wanted to utilize Mr. Irie’s preface in order to emphasize his connection to Emperor Hirohito. Anyone with the least knowledge of how the publication process works should have been able to surmise the details of what happened. The very fact that the writer of the article would make such quibbles exposes his ulterior motive to try to tarnish the work, by hook or crook.
The writer also criticized Sasaki Ten’s testimony for what he described as her unusual failure to mention the major events that were unfolding in Tongzhou at that time, such as the establishment of the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government. However, this criticism misses the mark. Sasaki Ten had never even completed elementary school, and furthermore, she was living in an unfamiliar country. Though she may have been able to handle day-to-day conversation, it is not at all likely that she was able to accurately read Chinese books and newspapers.
Given the status and daily activities of an undereducated, foreign person living under such limitations, it isn’t unusual at all that she would not have mentioned the broader picture, nor was there any need in the first place for her to mention such things, given the context in which she told her story and her reasons for doing so. She had not come to Tongzhou as a writer or a newspaper reporter. Such criticism thus completely misunderstands the circumstances on which it was predicated.
The writer of the article did make one valid criticism in pointing out the flaws in the following passage:
“By the year 1937, the atmosphere had become even more extreme. The Chinese were openly talking as if the Chinese Army would win a decisive victory, saying that the Japanese Army had been defeated in Shanghai, Jinan, and even Dezhou.” (page 130)
The writer noted the confused chronology of events. I won’t deny that he is correct, as I myself noticed this problem the first time I read it. Nevertheless, we must treat the daily events that one experiences directly on a separate level from the “facts” that one hears second-hand. Second-hand information is bound to contain contextual errors unless it comes from a professional reporter or researcher, though even that exception does not always apply. The existence of a few contextual errors within second-hand information is no reason to doubt the events that she experienced personally.
A gift to future generations of Japanese people
My thoughts completely contrast with those of the Internet skeptics. Naturally, verification is important, but in this case, I object to those who say that Sasaki Ten’s testimony is worthless just because her background and family history are unclear. It seems to me that there are few witnesses who can give as consistent a record of their life story as Sasaki Ten has.
As a result of her experiences in Tongzhou, Sasaki Ten realized what a dreadful place China was, so she divorced her Chinese husband and returned to Japan in 1940. After wandering from place to place, towards the end of her life she finally settled in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, where she became a regular visitor to the local branch temple of Nishi Honganji.
A motivating factor behind that was her encounter with an old lady in Tongzhou, enumerated as (4.) in the list above. According to Sasaki Ten, “Those final words she spoke to me, ‘Praise be to Amida Buddha,’ lingered on in my ears and may indeed have been the reason that I ended up coming to the Nishi Honganji branch temple in Beppu.”
For fifty years, Ms. Sasaki did not say anything about what she had seen in Tongzhou to another living soul. She never even acknowledged the fact that she had lived in Tongzhou. That should not come as a surprise. When people undergo something so traumatizing, they do not wish to reveal it to others. The same was true of other similar events such as the Great Tokyo Air Raid. An acquaintance of mine who survived the raid admitted to me that he only became able to speak about it decades after having experienced it. Moreover, as Japan wallowed in masochistic remorse after the end of the war, there was always a risk that survivors would be ignored even if they did speak up with the truth.
Then, Ms. Sasaki heard a lecture delivered by Mr. Shirabe Kanga. His lecture probably dealt, as his book does, with the terrible tragedies suffered by the Japanese people during
the war. One can certainly imagine that hearing such a lecture convinced Ms. Sasaki that a man like Mr. Shirabe would be willing to listen to her without doubting her sincerity. At that point, she looked at Mr. Shirabe “as if she couldn’t hold back any longer,” and began to tell him her story.
I have read Ms. Sasaki’s testimony many times, but each time I do, I make a new discovery, and I always feel attracted to the richness of her character. I find that, even though she had little education and lived at the bottom of the social scale, she was a woman of remarkably keen perception and good judgment.
As I noted already, she was quick to grasp the two-faced and unreliable character of the Chinese people, but on the other hand, she also cast a critical look at the condescending manner in which the Japanese treated the Chinese. Ms. Sasaki was patriotic, spirited, and pious, and in other words, an ideal Japanese woman.
On the Internet, some individuals have rendered her anonymous, using pseudonyms like “Ms. S” as if to respect her privacy. However, Ms. Sasaki Ten was not guilty of any crime, nor was she connected to any scandal. She lived her life as a proud Japanese woman, and to call her just “Ms. S” is an act of disrespect.
Indeed, I am awestruck with admiration for her. The fact that she was able to speak in eloquent detail about such a traumatic ordeal is proof of her innate and exceptional powers of self-expression. Still, I must also praise Mr. Shirabe Kanga, who demonstrated a skill for writing, transcribing her testimony and neatly organizing it into a written account. This account was produced from the meeting of these two talents to be passed on to us and to future generations of Japanese people as a true historical record of the Tongzhou Massacre.
If one other person deserves due credit, it would be the old woman who said “It’s regrettable” and “Avenge my death” to Sasaki Ten moments before passing away. It was her dying prayer to Buddha that brought Ms. Sasaki to the Nishi Honganji branch temple in Beppu after the end of the war, leading directly to her fateful encounter with Shirabe Kanga. That old woman’s prayer was answered.
Through a chain of people and events, that old woman’s sentiments were transmitted to the present day. The publication of this booklet was part of the chain, as are you, the reader. That is why I have called this historical record a gift. It is a precious gift that was bequeathed from these people for the benefit of all future generations.
Intsuji Temple’s curious name
On December 15, 2015, I visited Intsuji Temple in Kiyama, Saga Prefecture, for the first time. As I was guided about the historic site, I came to understand that the temple possessed a far richer history than the one incident I was already familiar with. I met with Shirabe Junsei, the current head priest, and asked him about the achievements of his predecessor. He readily agreed that the book’s testimonies should be treated as historical sources.
Then, on the plane back to Tokyo, I looked at a book he gave me. Though I felt somewhat fatigued from the trip, my eyes happened to gaze at the curious-sounding word “Intsuji,” and in a flash, I realized something amazing.
Intsuji Temple (in Kiyama, Saga Prefecture), affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Honganji School of Pure Land Buddhism.
The in of Intsu comes from the word “karma” [inga]. The spiritual principle of karma, summed up in the phrase “What comes around goes around,” is a central tenet of Buddhist philosophy.
What’s more, the tsu of Intsu is pronounced tong in Chinese, as in the town of Tongzhou.
I would like to think that perhaps Intsuji was a temple imbued with the purpose of revealing to the world the truth about the Tongzhou Massacre, and its “destiny,” if we can call it that, was finally fulfilled by the author of Tears of the Emperor. Yet again, I find myself struck with wonder at the mysterious bonds of fate that tie human beings together.
(2) The Tragedy of the Tongzhou Massacre – The Hellish Slaughter of Japanese Citizens
By Shirabe Kanga
Japan’s misguided guilt complex
Though the horrible disasters that have befallen the Japanese people in times of war are many, one which we must absolutely remember is the Tongzhou Massacre, which marked the starting point of the Greater East Asia War. It would be fair to call it an atrocity of truly unparalleled cruelty in the annals of world history, and yet, today the incident has become so forgotten that it seems that most Japanese people have never even heard of it. Of course, there was also the Nikolayevsk Incident of 1920, the tragic massacre perpetrated by Bolshevik forces in Siberia, involving numerous spine-chilling acts of savagery against Japanese people, but the Tongzhou Massacre was an even greater tragedy than that.
To talk about the Tongzhou Massacre, I have to start with the circumstances of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. It was the Marco Polo Bridge Incident that motivated a Japanese delegation to visit Beijing on what was actually an apology tour. They humbly apologized to Chinese politicians for the Japanese military having provoked the war and having brought China and Japan into a state of hostilities, but the Chinese people received the apology in haughty manner, treating it as the very least the Japanese should have done given the magnitude of the crimes they obviously committed. Japanese people who didn’t know the truth, or rather who were never told the truth, likewise blithely assumed that it was all too natural for representatives of Japan to apologize to China given the evil things that Japan did abroad, and when Japanese newspapers reported on the event, they further reinforced this perception.
That is how severely Japan’s postwar education system has alienated the Japanese people from historical reality. This trend is especially strong among university and college graduates and appears to have been the work of their professors, who identified themselves as so-called “progressive intellectuals”. A surprisingly large number of these unabashedly left-wing intellectuals had been brainwashed by the propaganda of the Comintern, an arm of the Soviet government founded in 1919 to spread communism. The Comintern-influenced “progressive intellectuals” were terrified at the prospect of the Japanese people discovering the truth about their own history. To avert this danger, they wrote school textbooks embracing the “Tokyo Trial view of history” and began to brainwash the Japanese people. Because their interests coincided with those of the United States, which at the time occupied Japan by force of arms, their campaign was amazingly successful. Thus, lies were built upon lies, and Japanese people wrote countless terrible slanders about their own country and taught them in classes. Consequently, many Japanese were indoctrinated with historical falsehoods, and most came to believe that Japan had done evil things, made terrible mistakes, and would have to apologize and make amends. In this
manner, the Japanese people came to hold a deep-rooted guilt complex over their own history. Once instilled with this historical guilt complex, they abandoned their faith in their own country, became mistrustful of their countrymen, and lost all hope for the future. In other words, they had absorbed a worldview based on a cynical, bleak outlook on Japanese history.
Promotion of the “Tokyo Trial view of history” by the media and education system
Thus, some may want to know who bears responsibility for making Japan this way. Perhaps they will point the finger at their Japanese forefathers who fought the war, but that would be a serious error. Ultimately, the ones who forced this way of thinking upon the Japanese people are the occupation forces that dominated Japan after the end of the war and undertook the Tokyo Trials to prosecute Japanese “war criminals”. Using the Tokyo Trials, they concocted the “Tokyo Trial view of history” that continues to pervade Japanese society to this day. As is common knowledge, the order to go ahead with the Tokyo Trials was laid down by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.
And yet, in 1951 MacArthur himself appeared before the US Senate and told the Joint Committee on Armed Services and Foreign Relations that Japan’s attack on the United States was not an act of aggression, but rather “was largely dictated by security.” Such being the case, one would imagine that Japan’s mass media and educators ought to have promoted the fact that the “war of aggression” that most Japanese people seem to believe that their country waged was expressly denied by General MacArthur from his authoritative position as the supreme commander who prosecuted the war with Japan and oversaw the occupation. In fact, they never even brought it up. As I have said already, this was because most of Japan’s most influential journalists and educators had been brainwashed by the Comintern. Thus, their principles were to conceal the truth about Japan’s history, to erase the national consciousness of the Japanese people, and to only teach and report lies, and on the basis of these principles, they remodeled Japan in their own image. Then, whenever a brave man or woman spoke even a word of criticism against their deluded outlook on Japan’s history, the media and educators clamored in dissention. However, when even their power failed them and their deception seemed on the verge of being exposed, they had China and South Korea fly to their rescue. Chinese and Korean politicians and journalists have embarked on a wave of Japan-bashing, especially on the school textbook problem and similar issues.
Some believe that if Japan were to utter anything resembling criticism against the textbooks used in China and Korea, it would be silenced by force of arms. Thanks to the influence of Japan’s own “progressive intellectuals,” who were brainwashed by the Comintern and control the media and education system, Japan is completely forbidden from criticizing China or Korea in any way, even as they aggressively meddle in Japan’s internal affairs, including Japanese textbooks and public opinion. It pains me to think that the many Japanese people who were prevented by the corrupted education system from learning the reality still believe, and might carry on believing for the rest of their lives, that these lies are true.
The truth about the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Therefore, I want the Japanese people to know the truth for what it is, including the truth about the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the clash between Japanese and Chinese forces that occurred at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Currently, most Japanese people seem to believe that the Marco Polo Bridge Incident was planned and provoked by Japan, but this is yet another product of our distorted education system. It is proof that the Japanese people have confused lies with truth, and eventually, the Japanese people will have to learn the truth. Though the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the various events leading up to it are explained in detail in the book The Road to the Greater Asian War [Daitoa Senso e no Michi] by Nakamura Akira, those who are familiar with what was going on at the time are likely aware that Japan suffered numerous, outrageous provocation at the hands of the Chinese.
On July 7, 1937, the soldiers of the 8th Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment of the Japanese China Garrison Army undertook nighttime military exercises on the left bank of the Yongding River. They were on the north side of Marco Polo Bridge, at a site located twelve kilometers west of Beijing. Shortly after 10:00 PM, their military exercises ended and they prepared to return to their unit. Just at the moment, that they were about to march out, they suddenly came under a hail of gunfire, originating from Chinese soldiers at Longwangmiao, a position atop an embankment along the shore of the Yongding River. Shimizu Setsuro, the company commander, ordered Noji, the commander of the 1st Platoon, to have all his men fall to the ground. Then, as they stared in the direction of the source of the firing, Shimizu, the men of the 1st Platoon, and several other soldiers witnessed flashlight signals being exchanged between the Chinese soldiers on Marco Polo Bridge and those stationed on the embankment. As soon as they had finished exchanging signals, they fired several dozen more shots at the Japanese side. This leaves little doubt that the Chinese had planned the operation in advance and were signaling to each other the order to launch the attack. Even so, the Japanese soldiers did not fire any shots back at that time. Shimizu ordered all his men to assemble on the spot, and then had Sergeant Iwatani and another soldier race on horseback to Fengtai in order to report to Ichiki Kiyonao, the battalion commander. Ichiki in turn phoned Mutaguchi Renya, the regimental commander who was in Beijing. Mutaguchi told Ichiki to wait until dawn and then attempt to negotiate with the Chinese battalion commander stationed on Marco Polo Bridge. At the same time, he also got in contact with the Japanese Army’s Special Service Agency and arranged for the Japanese Army to have military envoys from both sides meet up and discuss a peaceful resolution of the matter. The military envoys representing the Chinese side were Wang Lengzhai, Magistrate of Wanping County, and Lin Gengyu, a member of the Hebei-Chahar Political Council, whereas those from the Japanese side were Major Sakurai Tokutaro, an advisor to the 29th Army, Teradaira Tadasuke, an intelligence aide, Major Akahuji Soji, and Lieutenant Colonel Morita Tetsu.
Meanwhile, Shimizu and his men moved two kilometers east to West Wulidian where they joined the 3rd Battalion, which had departed from Fengtai. The 3rd Battalion occupied Ichimonji-yama, but at 3:25 AM they were again subjected to fire from the direction of
Longwangmiao. Ichiki immediately reported to Mutaguchi by phone, and he was told, “At 3:25, you can see the area clearly. If you receive one more attack of this nature after that, I give you permission to fight back in self-defense.” The call ended at 4:20 AM. By this time, Beijing Mayor Qin Dechun had spoken to Sakurai Tokutaro and even given him the green light to attack. The Mayor told Sakurai, “There is not one Chinese soldier stationed outside the ramparts of Marco Polo Bridge. The ones who fired on those Japanese soldiers were probably just bandits, so it would be fine for the Japanese Army to attack them.”
No act of aggression on the part of Japan
In consideration of these circumstances, Ichiki was about to hand down an order to attack the Chinese soldiers around Longwangmiao, but at that moment, the team of military envoys reached Ichimonji-yama. Lieutenant Colonel Morita, the Japanese military envoy representing the regimental commander, ordered that his men not load their guns. When other officers protested on the grounds that they had been given permission to attack from the regimental commander and were preparing to launch an offensive, Morita stood before them and told them firmly, “If you are going to attack the Chinese, shoot me first.” Therefore, the Japanese units were unable to launch an offensive. Having received such a strict directive from Morita, Ichiki abandoned his planned attack and instead decided to let his men have breakfast. Apparently, the Chinese noted that the Japanese Army had never fired a single shot back at them and took it as a sign that the Japanese were weak and afraid. While eating breakfast, the Japanese soldiers were attacked with withering bursts of gunfire. The Chinese and Japanese military envoys were meeting on Marco Polo Bridge, and it seems that this latest attack took place just as Jin Zhenzhong, the battalion commander, insisted that there were no Chinese soldiers anywhere outside the ramparts of Marco Polo Bridge. This time, after having had their breakfast interrupted by intense gunfire, the Japanese immediately readied a counterattack. This occurred at 5:30 AM. Once on the offensive, the Japanese Army promptly drove the enemy from Longwangmiao before advancing as far as the right bank of the Yongding River, repulsing the Chinese soldiers there.
When the Japanese Army examined the bodies of the Chinese soldiers abandoned after the battle, they discovered that they were regular soldiers of China’s 29th Army subordinate to the army commander. Indeed, they appeared to be the unit’s elite forces. The line that the Chinese side had maintained so adamantly before the attack, that the shooters on Longwangmiao were bandits and not soldiers, was thus exposed as the blatant lie that it was. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, a series of planned attacks on soldiers of the Japanese Army, including an attack while they were eating breakfast, proved to be a highly characteristic example of Chinese treachery. Obviously, no act of aggression was undertaken by Japan. The Japanese Army, which had demonstrated a remarkable degree of restraint, only to be attacked by the Chinese who mistook its restraint for weakness, cannot possibly be labeled as an aggressor. And yet, why was the Japanese Army in China at all? Some seem to believe that this alone constitutes a sort of aggression, but this is an argument that completely ignores history.
One hundred years of Japanese history and two hundred years of Asian history
The very fact that the war was fought on foreign soil fifty years ago is taken by some in Japan today as proof that it was a war of aggression. Why, they ask, was the Japanese military in a foreign country at all? However, these people are looking only at the past fifty years of history and are closing their eyes to what came before. Anyone who wants to clearly understand why the Japanese Army was in China needs to know the past one hundred years of Japanese history. Criticizing the Japanese Army for being in China without the full context of one hundred years of Japanese history is simple ignorance. Furthermore, knowing one hundred years of Japanese history requires one to know two hundred years of Asian history. Such senseless condemnation of Japan as an aggressor by people who haven’t attempted to learn any of this can only be described as foolish and despicable.
What becomes clear through examination of one hundred years of Japanese history is that, since the Meiji Restoration of the nineteenth century, the people of Japan have been continuously shedding their precious blood and sweat for the benefit of the people of Korea. The Korean people have become indoctrinated so thoroughly with anti-Japanese education that they obliviously assume that Japan historically behaved aggressively towards Korea. This is fundamentally incorrect. Japan has made great sacrifices for the sake of Korea and the Korean people. I will refrain from providing a detailed historical background, suffice it to say that, on closer consideration, the reason why Japan fought both the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War was to protect Korea. However, the Japanese public was incensed when Prince Ito Hirobumi, whose utmost desire was to maintain Korea’s independence, was shot dead by the Korean An Chung-gun at Harbin Railway Station. A troubling chorus of voices calling for Korea to be punished rose up throughout Japan. Fearing that Korea would be destroyed, the Koreans voluntarily sought annexation by Japan, and with that, Korea became a part of Japan. Nevertheless, Korea developed by leaps and bounds during its thirty-five years of union with Japan. One can’t help but be dumbfounded by the fundamental historical illiteracy of the Korean people who continue, even now fifty years later, to hate Japan and insist that it was an aggressor nation.
The history of Korean aggression against Japan
Even though Korea continues to claim that it was the victim of Japanese aggression, in fact, it is Japan that has been repeatedly subject to brutal invasions from Korea. The best historical examples are the First and Second Mongol Invasions of 1274 and 1281. These are said to have been invasions of Japan by the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan, but that was not actually the case. Whenever Kublai Khan’s armies occupied another nation, they had the soldiers of the occupied nation attack its neighbors. The “Mongol” Invasions were actually Korean invasions of Japan that took place after Korea was occupied by the Mongols. The First “Mongol” Invasion, though intended partly as reconnaissance, had devastating consequences for Japan. Korean forces first landed on Tsushima Island and massacred all its inhabitants. Then, they landed in North Kyushu where they laid waste to everything between Hakata and Kokura. Some have calculated that the number of Japanese people who were killed, including on Tsushima Island and Iki Island, surpassed one million.
Even if they were the pawns of Kublai Khan, it was still the Koreans who invaded Japan, a truly ruthless act of aggression. In order to denounce Japan, Koreans have characterized their own country’s long history as a series of one-sided aggressions by Japan, but by doing so, they only expose their own ignorance of history. They do this in spite of the fact that Japanese people have given their lives to defend Korea. As I mentioned earlier, this includes both the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. These are facts that no Japanese person can afford to forget. And so, Japanese blood was spilled time and again for the people of Korea, who repaid the favor by betraying Japan.
The two causes of the Tongzhou Massacre
It appears that the Tongzhou Massacre had had two major root causes. The first was the violent conflict between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party, led by Chiang Kai-shek, which engulfed China at that time following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The Comintern was founded in 1919 and turned its attention to China as a stepping stone in its plan to achieve global domination. Under Comintern guidance, the Red Army of the Chinese Communist Party began to resist the government throughout China, but Chiang Kai-shek responded by forming the Nationalist Party to wipe out the communists. Any examination of real history will show that these are obvious historical facts, and not the warped conception of history espoused by a communist-inspired educational system. One comment that I must add here is that because the Comintern, or Third International, advocated violent revolution and a dictatorship of the proletariat, its ideology and activities were extremely dangerous. Any communist idea that adheres to the line of the Comintern, no matter how lovely it appears to be in theory, can be proven in the light of history to be, in practice, the epitome of pure evil and inhumanity. Chiang Kai-shek was committed to fighting this evil, and for that reason, there were no means he was not willing to pursue and no sacrifice too great. Though he was speaking from his own standpoint when he asserted that he would make any sacrifice, he also forced sacrifices upon other people, and the Tongzhou Massacre was one instance of such a sacrifice.
The second cause was the outrageously treasonous activities undertaken by Koreans against the Japanese. It is true that their treason was inspired by the bitterness and anger some Koreans felt following the 1910 union of Japan and Korea, but, if the tragedy of the Tongzhou Massacre resulted from their hatred of the Japanese and desire for vengeance, that is absolutely no justification for it. When the pro-Japanese Yin Rugeng established the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government in 1935, the Republic of China resorted to various means to undermine him, including slandering him to as many people as possible. More than any other group, it was the Koreans that the Republic of China utilized to spread such propaganda. However, the Koreans entrusted with this task did not limit the smear campaign to pro-Japanese Yin Rugeng. Instead, they extended it against all Japanese. As Sasaki Ten’s testimony makes clear, the Koreans were truly skillful in spreading slander against Japanese people and accelerated the upsurge in anti-Japanese sentiment, but while doing so, they were oblivious to the risk that they themselves would become targets of the hatred they were inciting. It seems that most Chinese people became passionately
convinced that Japan should be crushed and the Japanese people massacred. To reiterate, the Koreans played a major role in fomenting a toxic atmosphere among the Chinese.
The planned rebellion of the Peace Preservation Corps
The Tongzhou Massacre broke out once these conditions were in place, but the actual trigger of the incident was Yin Rugeng. Yin founded the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government and set up the 10,000-man Peace Preservation Corps as its army. In response, China’s 29th Army deployed soldiers to Baotong Temple, situated a short distance from Tongzhou. At the same time as the anti-Japanese passions of the people were being inflamed and denunciation of Japan was on the rise, some of the soldiers stationed at Baotong Temple began undertaking noticeably suspicious maneuvers. Therefore, because units of the Peace Preservation Corps were in the same area, Japan requested that the 29th Army temporarily withdraw from Baotong Temple. In spite of this, not only did the Chinese units there show no sign that they would respond to the request, they even assumed threatening positions towards the Japanese units and civilians in Tongzhou. It appears that the 29th Army was heavily influenced by misinformation disseminated by the Chinese side, including daily radio broadcasts from Nanking proclaiming that “The Chinese Army has won a great victory! Japanese forces have been crushed and the Japanese have been wiped out.” Clearly, these constant broadcasts and the anti-Japanese slander spread by the Koreans were having the desired effect. In addition, Chinese soldiers were, to varying degrees, coming under the influence of communist ideology. The ultimate objective of the Comintern’s central leadership was to dominate Japan by force and install a communist revolutionary government based on their key principle of “dictatorship of the proletariat.” However, an urgent prerequisite to achieving this goal was the elimination of all Japanese forces deployed in China. In pursuit of this aim, the communists infiltrated moles into Chiang Kai-shek’s armies and plotted to use them to fight the Japanese. The annihilation of the Japanese in Tongzhou was just one step in a bigger plan. Yin Rugeng was pro-Japanese, and one would have expected his Peace Preservation Corps to be pro-Japanese as well, but in fact, its ranks were riddled with numerous Comintern infiltrators eager to spark a red revolution. Moreover, these infiltrators were always in close contact with their counterparts in the 29th Army, who were communist revolutionaries supporting a “popular front” against Japan. All these developments set the stage for the terrible massacre that was about to unfold in Tongzhou.
The events directly preceding the massacre were as follows. In order to avert a clash with hostile units of the 29th Army stationed at Baotong Temple, the Japanese Army requested that they withdraw temporarily to Beijing, but instead they attacked the Japanese Army. On July 27, the Japanese Army launched a counterattack. No sooner had the Japanese Army made up its mind to switch to the offensive than the Chinese soldiers lost their nerve and scattered. However, when a bomber from Japan’s Kwantung Army joined the attack on Baotong Temple, it accidentally hit a nearby unit of the Peace Preservation Corps. Hosoki, the Chief of the Special Service Agency, lost no time in hurrying to Yin Rugeng’s residence and offering an official apology from the Japanese side. He also personally delivered his condolences to the families of the deceased. Nonetheless, the Nationalist Government in
Nanking did everything possible to exploit the incident to foment an uprising against Yin Rugeng and trigger the plan to slaughter the Japanese.
The massacre of the Japanese begins
The Peace Preservation Corps began their rebellion in the early hours of July 29, starting by kidnapping Yin Rugeng. The kidnapping of Yin, their own founding father and godfather who had built the Peace Preservation Corps up from scratch, was an act absolutely abhorrent to Chinese morality, and yet, such deeds were in fact committed time and time again. Though the minds of the individuals who committed the crime were tainted even further with communist ideology, this was the moment heralding the demise of the Chinese notion of morality. After kidnapping Yin, the Peace Preservation Corps launched a determined attack on the Japanese soldiers left in Tongzhou on guard duty, who were eventually all killed. At the same time, they started to systematically massacre the Japanese residents of Tongzhou. Tragedies as heartbreaking as the one that occurred in Tongzhou are rarely seen in the world’s history of cruelty. The words of Sasaki Ten fully expose what really happened on the day of the calamity, but first, I will present a few of the surviving official records of the massacre.
Kayajima Takashi, who in 1937 was commander of the Tianjin Infantry Unit, which was the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Japanese China Garrison Army, delivered the following testimony at the time of the postwar Tokyo Trials:
“I saw a restaurant called Asahi-ken. There 7 or 8 women aged between 17 or 18 and 40 had all been stripped of their clothing, raped, and shot to death. The private parts of 4 or 5 of them had been thrust through with bayonets… The corpses of Japanese men who had been shot or stabbed to death remained in the buildings which had housed business firms and public offices. Almost all of them seemed to have been pulled about with ropes around their necks. Blood was splattered on the walls. Those scenes were beyond description.”
Kayajima’s testimony was proof that the Japanese were subject to truly sadistic tortures before being killed.
Katsura Shizuo, acting unit commander in the 2nd Infantry Regiment that relieved Tongzhou, gave the following testimony about the horrific atrocity at Kinsuiro Inn:
“At the entrance, I found a corpse of a woman who seemed to have been the hostess of the Kinsuiro Hotel. Nearly naked, she was lying on her back along the passage near the entrance, with her feet stretched toward the door and with a sheet of newspaper placed over her face. She seemed to have made a strong resistance, for she was lying on the floor, stripped off her clothes. I remember that both the upper and lower halves of her body were exposed, revealing four or five bayonet wounds, which I thought to have been fatal to her. Her private parts seemed to have been scooped out with a sharp instrument, for there were scattered marks of blood. The counter and kitchen were so ransacked that there was no room for me to step in, showing unmistakable signs of looting. I saw four corpses of Japanese women who
appeared to be maid servants lying in the maid servants’ room on the right side of the passage. It seemed that they had died in an extreme agony, but they were lying one upon another, in comparative order perhaps on account of shooting, except one lying dead on her back with her private parts exposed… When we entered the counting room and the kitchen, where a man and two women were found lying dead on their face or back. I didn’t know whether they had outraged or not, but were evidences of struggles having been made; the man had his eyes gouged out and the upper half of his body honeycombed with bayonet thrusts and two women had on their backs marks of bayonet stabs. Next we stepped into the passage. In a room downstairs two corpses of women were seen lying nearly naked, with marks of bayonets thrusts on their private and other parts… I went to the café where I had been a year before… But stepping into the room, I found in a box a women’s corpse, nearly naked and strangled with a rope. At the back of the café was a Japanese house, where a child and its parent had been cruelly murdered and the former had all its fingers cut off… There was a Japanese shop near the southern castle gate. A corpse of a man who seemed to be the master of the shop was lying on the road, having been dragged out and killed. He had his bones exposed on the breast and belly, and his entrails scattered about.”
There was also Sakurai Fumio, a platoon commander in the 2nd Infantry Regiment who arrived to relieve Tongzhou on July 30 and later gave the following statement about what he saw:
“As we moved out the east gate of the garrison camp, we witnesses bodies of men and women of our residents laying scattered, every few KEN [TN: 2 yards). Our indignation reached its climax but as we would not find any enemy soldiers about, we exclusively engaged ourselves the accommodation of those who we still alive until midnight. As we examined each house crying loudly, ‘Are there any Japanese?’, from here and there, crawling out one after another from garbage-bins, trenches, or from behind a wall, a child whose nose was pierced crosswise with wire as an ox, an old woman whose one arm was cut off, or a pregnant woman whose abdomen was stabbed with bayonets etc. came forth. Inside a certain restaurant, I witnessed the remains of an entire family massacred, with each of the individuals with the heads and arms cut off. All and any women more than 14 or 15 years of age were all raped. It was indeed unbearable sight. When we entered an eating-house called the ‘ASAHIKEN’, we found the corpse of seven or eight women completely stripped, raped, and shot or bayoneted. Among them, there were those whose private parts had a broom inserted, those whose mouth were stuffed with sand, those whose abdomen were cut open lengthwise, etc., it was indeed unbearable to see. There was a pond near a shop kept by a certain Korean in the neighborhood of the east gate. In this pond, whose water was dyed red with blood, were found the six corpse of an entire family; their necks were tied together with rope and their two hands tied together and pierced with no. 8-iron-wire as beads in a rosary. Evidence was quite clear that they had been dragged about.”
This was the scene of a truly cold-blooded crime, one that perhaps even Satan himself could not have borne to watch. These testimonies give vivid depictions of vile deeds that we ought to call utterly demonic, but which even demons themselves might not have been
capable of. (The above information on the Tongzhou Massacre comes largely from the book The Road to the Greater Asian War [Daitoa Senso e no Michi] by Nakamura Akira.)
The cruelty of meat-eating peoples
The Japanese people have no capacity to engage in the sort of cruel acts seen in Tongzhou. By contrast, cruelty is a fundamental characteristic of other races, including the Chinese, Koreans, Americans, and Europeans. The reason for this is that they are meat-eating peoples, whereas the Japanese are a rice-eating, and therefore herbivorous, people. If we were to compare it to the animal world, we would note that carnivores are naturally savage, cruel, and combative, whereas herbivores are peaceful, cooperative, and compassionate. In the animal world, lions, tigers, and wolfs behave in an extremely aggressive and cruel manner towards other animals and never show a shred of compassion towards them. When they subdue an opponent in a fierce fight, they view that opponent as their property, and as such, they are free to do anything they wish with it. Indeed, the fact that they will torture and mistreat others as much as they can is something like the instinctive behavior or the fundamental nature of carnivorous animals, without which they would cease to be what they are.
On the other hand, herbivores such as rabbits, sheep, and goats show no such predilection towards cruelty. Herbivores need not overpower any other creatures, for they live off of plant life, a blessing of nature. They acquire sustenance from plants, and thus are happy to live together with one another in peace. In this manner, one can say that humans are the same way. Unsurprisingly, most people who regularly eat meat are aggressive, and they feel that their right to commit any cruelty imaginable to the people they subdue through violence is ordained by God.
The innate cruelty of the Chinese people
An examination of the barbaric deeds perpetrated in Tongzhou can leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about the fundamentally cruel nature of the Chinese people. They show no mercy or empathy for those who they kill, and they take an abnormally strong interest in both the killing of their victims and the mutilation of their bodies. To commit such barbaric acts towards the dead is completely alien to Japanese tradition. The “Nanking Massacre,” said to be the murder of 300,000 Chinese people by Japanese soldiers, is brought up again and again, but it is a total fabrication without any factual basis. Tokyo University Professor Fujioka has explained this point with great clarity. Moreover, the fact that the massacre of 300,000 people in Nanking is a lie is evident from two other angles.
Firstly, the soldiers and civilians of Japan held dear the poem composed by Emperor Meiji that goes, “Even if you break your enemies for your country, do not forget also to love them.” In other words, even though we must fight our opponents with all our might, after the war is over, we also have an obligation to treat those who are mourning the casualties of war with kindness and help them back onto their feet. The soldiers and civilians of Japan strongly sympathized with this idea. How could Japanese soldiers who upheld such ideals
have possibly killed innocent people? From this perspective, the “Nanking Massacre” could not possibly have occurred.
Secondly, one must consider the Chinese people’s deeply engrained penchant for distorting facts. In literature, this penchant is epitomized in the famous expression “an old man with 20,000 feet of gray hair” [baifa sanqian zhang] that comes from a poem by Li Bai, but such hyperbole is commonplace in Chinese discourse. If a person’s hair is two feet long, the standard practice of the Chinese is to express that as 20,000 feet. Taking such exaggeration into account, the true death toll of the Nanking Massacre falls to only thirty people. I find it astonishing how far the people of Japan have been duped by the misinformation of the Tokyo Trials and news reports based on just these sorts of fabrications and lies.
The blood confession of a survivor
I will now present the story of Sasaki Ten, a woman who experienced the massacre firsthand and lived to tell the tale. She was born in Oita Prefecture near Mount Sobo, but due to various circumstances, she married a Chinese man named Mr. Shen in 1932 and moved to China. Eventually, she settled down in Tongzhou around the year 1934. After experiencing the Tongzhou Massacre, she came to recognize China as the frightful place it was, and in the end, she got a divorce and returned to Japan in 1940. After moving from place to place, late in her life she came to Beppu, and she ultimately passed away in Minamiamabe District, Oita Prefecture. What Sasaki Ten had seen in Tongzhou was so harrowing that she kept silent about it even after returning to Japan, refusing to admit to anyone that she had even been to Tongzhou.
When she lived in Beppu, she came regularly to the Nishi Honganji branch Temple. One day, she looked at me as if she couldn’t hold back any longer, and then, she began to tell me the following story about the whole horrible truth of the Tongzhou Massacre.
(3) The Testimony of Ms. Sasaki Ten
Marrying a Chinese man and moving to China
I was born deep in the mountains of Oita Prefecture.
I was extremely poor, and before I had graduated from elementary school I ended up going to Osaka to look for a job on someone’s recommendation. I had wanted normal work, but because it was the hardest and most degrading sort of work for a woman, I couldn’t possibly have gone back to my hometown. To make matters worse, while I was working there, I was swindled time and time again by other people. Still, I suppose that was bound to happen to someone like me without even an elementary school education.
Around six months after my twentieth birthday, my work had become so unpleasant to me that I lost all interest in working and in everything else in my life, and I contemplated running off, maybe to some foreign country. At right around that time, I happened to meet a Chinese man named Mr. Shen.
Mr. Shen was a very interesting man who always made other people laugh. He said that he had come to Osaka on business, and after seeing him several times, he took to telling me, “Why don’t you marry me, Ten?” I thought that these were jokes at first, and so I replied, “Okay, I’ll be your bride whenever you want!” However, in February of 1932, he brought over a friend named Mr. Yang and told me that we would have the wedding now.
I was flabbergasted. Although I had thought he was joking, he had brought his friend here. Because he said we would have the wedding now, initially I did not think he was serious.
And yet, Mr. Yang spoke to me with a very serious expression. He said that Mr. Shen had asked me many times before if I would marry him, and I had always said “yes”. Therefore, Mr. Shen had thought seriously about marrying me, and had been preparing to do so. Mr. Yang strongly emphasized to me that, because of this, all the arrangements for the wedding that day had already been made.
When I protested that I would have to consult with my employer first, Mr. Shen responded that my employer had already given his consent and would be attending the wedding. When Mr. Shen told me that he would also pay off my debts left, I made up my mind and went to the wedding. That was the first time I had seen a Chinese wedding ceremony, so I felt very confused.
However, once the wedding was safely over, Mr. Shen told me that we would return to China right away. I wanted to go once more to my hometown in Oita, and there were people who I needed to inform about my wedding, but he would hear nothing of it. He told me that once I married him, I became his possession and so would have to do whatever he
ordered from then on. With that, there was nothing more I could do, and in March of that year, I moved to China with Mr. Shen in accordance with his wishes.
The joy of chatting with Japanese soldiers in Tongzhou
It was a long boat ride, but after arriving in China, I worked for a while in Tianjin. Because I didn’t speak any Chinese I had a really hard time, but thankfully Mr. Shen acted as my go-between, so it wasn’t too bad. Before long, I had managed to learn some Chinese, broken though it may have been, and at that point Mr. Shen told me that we would move to Tongzhou.
When I asked him what was so good about Tongzhou, he told me that there were many Japanese people there, as well as many kind Chinese people. So, as Mr. Shen wished, I decided to go with him to Tongzhou.
That was around the start of the year 1934. Just like Mr. Shen had said, many Japanese people lived in Tongzhou, and the Chinese people were very friendly to them.
And yet, I had difficulty understanding what those Chinese people were really thinking. Though they would say very nice things one day, the next day they might change completely and spout one obscenity after another.
In Tongzhou, we initially lived close to a school. There was also a Japanese Army barracks nearby, and I ended up doing business exclusively at Japanese Army facilities. When the Japanese soldiers realized that I was also Japanese, they were all too happy to buy up the goods that I brought to them.
Even after I married Mr. Shen, I continued to wear a Japanese kimono often, but he did not fancy that kind of clothing much, so I started wearing Chinese clothes from around the time we left Tianjin. I dressed myself completely in Chinese clothing and was even becoming quite proficient with the Chinese language.
Nonetheless, I had missed talking to Japanese people so much that I chatted with them in Japanese. There is no greater joy than encountering the language of your hometown in a far-off land. I also chatted with the Japanese soldiers whenever I visited their barracks, as it was just so wonderful to be able to speak Japanese again. The soldiers had mistaken me for a Chinese woman because of my clothes, but they were delighted to learn that I was Japanese. We enjoyed various conversations about our homeland.
Business also picked up. Mr. Shen’s business mostly sold general supplies, but if needed, he would sell just about anything. His business was thus very convenient for buyers. He could get his hands on anything if you requested it in advance, so our business gradually began to prosper. Mr. Shen also went all the way to the vicinity of the north gate and made very good business with the Japanese people there.
Back then, most of the Japanese people lived on the east side of town. Because Mr. Shen and I lived on the west side of town, I did not see the Japanese on the eastern side often.
At that time, the town of Tongzhou was controlled by the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government. This government was founded by Mr. Yin, and I had heard that it had an army exceeding 10,000 men. He was very pro-Japan, which made me proud to be Japanese.
Evil Korean slander of Japan
However, near the end of the spring of 1936, Mr. Shen instructed me to make sure that no one else knew that I was Japanese from then on. I asked him why, and he replied that China and Japan were going to go to war, and when that happened, it would cause serious trouble for others to know that I was Japanese. Because of that, he said that we must avoid associating with Japanese people so that people would not say that I was Japanese.
Privately, I felt very aggrieved, but I could not disobey Mr. Shen. Henceforth, I endeavored as far as possible to do as Mr. Shen told me. The hardest part of all was running into soldiers who I was acquainted with in the streets and being asked by them why we had stopped going to army facilities.
Before long, the atmosphere in pro-Japanese Tongzhou began to change everywhere. I started to feel a sort of chill towards Japan and the Japanese people. Somehow, I felt an understanding of what Mr. Shen might have meant when he told me to make sure that other people did not know that I was Japanese. Subsequently, I thought a lot about what might have been the cause in a place like Tongzhou of this chill towards Japan and the Japanese, but it was never really made clear to me.
However, the Koreans were eagerly telling the Chinese horrible things about Japan and the Japanese people. Koreans who did not know that I was Japanese told me also that Japan was an evil country that had conquered Korea and enslaved the Korean people. They said that Japan’s next move would be to conquer China and enslave the Chinese, and therefore, we would have to drive the Japanese soldiers and civilians from Tongzhou. Better yet, they said, we had to kill them all. I was just about to blurt out, “You’re wrong!”, but if I had spoken to them they would have realized that I was Japanese, so I kept quiet and listened to them.
When Mr. Shen arrived there, he heard a lot of slander from the Koreans, and asked them, “But aren’t you Japanese too?”
The Koreans became livid and shouted at us, “We are not Japanese, we are Koreans, and we’re going to settle scores with the Japanese soon enough!” They spoke enthusiastically about a man named An Chung-gun who had assassinated a great villain named Ito Hirobumi. They said that they were going to join forces with Chinese like us in order to kill the Japanese people and destroy the Japanese garrison.
I couldn’t help but shudder reflexively. These Koreans were saying truly frightful things. I thought to myself that the Japanese would be in danger as long as these Koreans were here. Mr. Shen quietly listened to them without saying another word.
I heard the same sorts of things time and again, and gradually the atmosphere in the town changed.
Nevertheless, the Japanese soldiers and civilians knew nothing about it. I wanted to inform the Japanese right away, but Mr. Shen strictly forbade me from speaking to any Japanese people and would not allow it. The grim feelings that I kept bottled up inside me seemed to be growing stronger and stronger.
While walking through the streets, I wanted to say “Please be careful!” to the Japanese soldiers who I met, but the words did not come out. I gave them signals with my eyes as far as I could, but they did not understand me. Eventually the only people in Tongzhou who knew that I was Japanese were two or three of Mr. Shen’s friends. Because the Japanese soldiers gradually returned home or transferred to other places, over time very few people still knew that I was Japanese.
The untrustworthy Peace Preservation Corps
Meanwhile, the soldiers of the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government in Tongzhou began to act in a way that seemed somewhat strange. The army of the East Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government was officially called the “Peace Preservation Corps”, but the people in town just called it “the army”. Tongzhou’s Peace Preservation Corps appeared to get along very well with the Japanese military, but after Chiang Kai-shek began fighting with the Communist Party, some of the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps started furtively whispering that the Communist Party would make China great and that Chiang Kai-shek was Japan’s lackey. From that point, I steadily lost my trust in the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps.
When I was out peddling, I encountered Japanese people, but I made sure to not speak to them much in accordance with what Mr. Shen had said. Then, as they walked away, the Koreans glared at them from behind and told the Chinese, “Those people are devils. They’re murderers. Someday, we’ve got to wipe them out!”
In the beginning, even the Chinese did not pay much attention to what the Koreans were saying, but as the Koreans kept on repeating their message over and over, expressions that were somehow sinister came to steadily appear on the faces of the Chinese. Especially when the men of the Peace Preservation Corps began to say the same sorts of things as the Koreans, the expressions of the townspeople appeared completely different.
I became so worried that at one point I pleaded with Mr. Shen to let me inform the Japanese soldiers about this ominous mood, but he turned pale and, as if taken aback, insisted to me
again and again that he absolutely forbid it and that I absolutely could not speak to them. With that, I lost my last chance to tell the Japanese soldiers about the mood of the town.
A futile message of warning
Near the end of the year 1936, the Chinese people’s hatred of Japan deepened even further. Some said that this was because so many Japanese soldiers had been stationed across China, but it seemed like there was also more to it than that.
Though it felt horrible to act behind Mr. Shen’s back, I wrote in detail on a piece of paper about what was happening with the Chinese and Koreans in Tongzhou and closed the message with a warning to please take precautions. Then, I threw the piece of paper into the Japanese barracks. This way, I could notify the Japanese soldiers about the situation in Tongzhou without speaking to them. I did the same thing two or three more times, but I never saw the Japanese soldiers change their behavior.
I couldn’t leave things like that, so I had to think of some other way to let the Japanese soldiers know about the perilous atmosphere enveloping Tongzhou. When I heard that there was an inn named Kinsuiro in the Japanese residential zone on the east side of town that was frequented by Japanese soldiers, I dropped the same message about three times in front of Kinsuiro’s back door. Even then, there was no change.
It may have been partly because I never completed elementary school and could not write very well. Perhaps the Japanese soldiers took one look at the messy writing and concluded that the messages were not reliable. Never had I felt so sorry for not having studied.
Voices saying “Death to all the Japanese” and “The Japanese are devils”
By the year 1937, the atmosphere had become even more extreme. The Chinese were openly talking as if the Chinese Army would win a decisive victory, saying that the Japanese Army had been defeated in Shanghai, Jinan, and even Dezhou. With each passing day, anti-Japanese feelings rose and the many Chinese voices calling for “Death to all the Japanese! Wipe them out!” grew more and more enthusiastic. At that time, people often told me, “The Japanese are devils. China will punish those devils.” Whenever I heard those words, I had to listen while firmly biting down on my lip.
The Chinese children sang a song with the lyrics, “The demons will be defeated and the devils will be destroyed.” Though it was a song about China destroying demons and devils, it was clear enough the Chinese were referring to Japan. It pained my heart deeply to have to endure day after day of these intolerable insults against Japan.
Still, my one consolation back then was Mr. Shen who encouraged me by telling me that if I patiently put up with it, the storm would pass soon enough. He also talked to me about Osaka a lot. Because I was homesick, there was even one time that I spent the whole night listening to him while adding my own remarks occasionally.
At the end of March, Mr. Shen abruptly suggested going back to Japan. I was astonished. Why was Mr. Shen, who had insisted that I not speak to Japanese people and forget the fact that I was Japanese, suggesting that we go back to Japan? When he proposed going to Osaka, I thought that perhaps it was because the mood in Tongzhou, or rather in all of China, had turned so strongly against Japan.
However, Mr. Shen looked into various circumstances in Japan in order to return there, and he heard that Japan was buzzing with voices labeling China the enemy and calling for an attack on it. Upon learning this, Mr. Shen indicated at the end of April, “Let’s try holding out in Tongzhou for a little while longer, and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll definitely move to Tianjin instead.” With that, I made up my mind to do as Mr. Shen told me.
It had seemed like every day was a series of events stifling and suppressing me, but I was relieved a little to hear him say that we would move to Tianjin. He decided that we would move to Tianjin next year, and we agreed to make a renewed effort to build up his business.
However, by that time conditions in Tongzhou had made it impossible to make much profit from our business. Even so, our top priority was to make enough money to go on eating, so we strived to stay in business anyway. During this period, I walked through every corner of Tongzhou alongside Mr. Shen, from east to west and north to south, in order to do business.
The Japanese people’s contempt for the Chinese
I often went to the Japanese residential zone, always accompanied by Mr. Shen. I was absolutely forbidden from conversing with the Japanese residents in Japanese. I really loved talking in Japanese, but Mr. Shen would not allow it. Consequently, I had to use Chinese even when speaking to the Japanese people in the Japanese residential zone. As could be expected, whenever I was speaking Chinese, the Japanese people treated me as being Chinese. Those were very depressing experiences for me.
Whenever I spoke to Japanese people as a Chinese woman, what I felt keenly was the Japanese people’s sense of superiority over the Chinese. That is to say, the Japanese held the Chinese in contempt. They assumed that the Chinese people did not know any Japanese, and so often referred to me among their fellow Japanese people as a “chink” [chankoro] or a “brute” [kongedo]. Even though many Chinese people did not know the meaning of those words, they still implicitly understood the Japanese people’s condescending attitudes towards them.
In light of this, it was perhaps inevitable that anti-Japanese feelings grew progressively stronger. This made me very unhappy. The Japanese people could insult me as much as they liked, but I did not want them to take that sort of attitude towards the Chinese living in Tongzhou. However, one could discern that some of the Japanese arrogantly believed that they could get away with treating the Chinese like that because they had a strong army protecting the Japanese residential zone.
Mr. Shen was particularly worried that Japanese arrogance and Chinese anger would soon rise to the point of no return.
Because Mr. Shen had also spent time in Osaka, he bore no ill will towards the Japanese, and indeed, since he had married me, half his heart was Japanese. That was precisely why he was more troubled than anyone about the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment among the Chinese of Tongzhou. After returning home from a day’s work, he told me at dinnertime, “It’s hopeless, hopeless. Once the hearts of the Japanese and Chinese have grown this dark, anything could happen at any time.”
The mood of the Chinese became worse and worse, but by the time that they began to curse the Japanese, the Koreans toned down their own aspersions against Japan and the Japanese people. In fact, as Chinese anger towards Japan steadily reached extreme levels, the standard slander from the Koreans stopped entirely. At the same time, some Koreans enlisted in the Japanese Army and became soldiers, so perhaps they were also starting to consider what was happening.
A squadron of students with bayonets and Chinese broadswords
By the end of May, antipathy to Japan had reached a fever pitch in Tongzhou.
At that point, Mr. Shen forbade me from going outside. Before I was able to go out for business as long as I was with Mr. Shen, but now, I was not allowed to do even that. He told me, “It’s too dangerous, it’s too dangerous.” Then, when I asked him what was so dangerous, he told me that he didn’t know whether the Chinese or the Japanese were going to be killed, and that I should make preparations to flee Tongzhou at any time.
In June, my strange feelings of gloom continued. While I stayed put in the house, my unease seemed to grow even stronger and I became extremely anxious, but there was no way to escape.
Around then, students wearing very unusual clothes gathered in Tongzhou and held a procession through the town while yelling, “Destroy Japan and drive the Japanese out of China!”
In July, they marched while howling slogans like “Death to all the Japanese!”, “The Japanese are not human!”, and “Kill the inhuman Japanese!” Some of the students were holding guns, but most were brandishing bayonets and Chinese broadswords.
Then, on I think the evening of July 8, the Chinese were whooping and hollering. When I asked Mr. Shen why they were making such a great fuss, he told me that the Japanese Army had been attacked by the Chinese Army near Beijing and had been completely defeated and put to flight. The Chinese were loudly celebrating their victory. I was astonished to hear that, but thought to myself that it seemed the day we had all been expecting had finally arrived. Nonetheless, two or three days later I heard that, though the
Japanese Army had been defeated following a confrontation at Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing, the Japanese subsequently brought a massive force to bear and counterattacked. A huge battle was taking place.
Given these circumstances, the men of the Peace Preservation Corps and the students joined forces in mid-July, and I was completely unable to go outdoors.
About that time, people started whispering that many Japanese had been killed in Shanghai. Rumors also circulated that many Japanese had been killed in Jinan as well. People were saying, apparently sincerely, that Chiang Kai-shek would crush the Japanese with an army of two million men, kill all the Japanese, conquer Korea, and even occupy Japan.
Mr. Shen was restless and nervous, and he told me to be sure that we could flee at any time. I, too, steeled myself mentally and collected together all my personal belongings so that I would be prepared no matter what happened or when it happened.
Around then, the Japanese soldiers that were always stationed in Tongzhou largely vanished. Had they gone to fight somewhere else?
The start of shooting at dawn on July 29
It happened on the morning of July 29 while it was still half-dark.
I was suddenly and violently awakened by Mr. Shen. It seemed that something terrible had happened. He told me that we were leaving immediately, so I grabbed two bundles of our possessions and flew out the door. Mr. Shen held onto my hand and we started to run through the town.
The streets were filled with people. Then, I heard the sound of fierce gunfire erupting from the direction of the Japanese Army barracks, but it was still half-dark and I had no idea what was going on. The only thing I did see were plumes of fire shooting up from the vicinity of the barracks.
While fleeing with Mr. Shen, I felt a conviction grow within me telling me that, “The Japanese Army will definitely win! There is no way that we could lose!” Around the time dawn broke, I could no longer hear the sound of gunfire, and I was certain that the Japanese Army had won.
Shortly after 8:00, I heard a noisy rabble of Chinese yelling out, “The Japanese soldiers were defeated! They were all killed!” Suddenly, it felt like blood was rushing to my head. Although I hadn’t gone to the Japanese barracks very much recently, I had visited it many times in the past and had fond memories of it. I was seized with the thought of charging off to fight with the Japanese soldiers. No matter what, I would end my life fighting together with them.
At that moment, I tried to shake free of Mr. Shen’s grasp and run off, but he was holding onto my hand tightly and would not let go. I felt him tighten his grip on my hand, and then he embraced me in his arms and said, “No! No! You can’t leave!” When I tried again to escape him, he suddenly struck my cheek hard.
That seemed to forcibly jolt me back to my senses. As I came to, Mr. Shen pulled me into the shade of a house while embracing me. He strongly scolded me, saying that he couldn’t imagine what would be my fate if the others discovered at this moment that I was Japanese. Now, for the first time, I realized that he was right.
When I married Mr. Shen I became Chinese, but even so, I could never forget that my heart was Japanese. If no one had held me back at that moment, I probably would have run off into the Japanese Army barracks. Clearly, I have the blood of a Japanese woman, or perhaps a Kyushu woman, coursing through my veins. By restraining me, Mr. Shen saved my life.
The smell of blood from the Japanese residential zone
The sound of gunfire began to die down close to 9:00. The thought that the terrible incident might be over made me feel somewhat relieved. One person shouted that something interesting was happening in the Japanese residential zone. Because the residential zone was some distance from our home, I had no real sense of what he meant.
Before long, someone else said that women and children were being killed in the Japanese residential zone. Though I felt a shudder run down my spine, I wanted to see the morbid sight for myself. That is a normal human response. I tugged on Mr. Shen’s hand and we ran in the direction of the Japanese residential zone. I cannot clearly explain why I did such a thing. It seems that I was perhaps acting purely on instinct. The reason why Mr. Shen was led here by me was also perhaps due to the mysterious bond of husband and wife.
As I got nearer to the Japanese residential zone, I detected an unusual smell. I thought that it might have been the smell of the Japanese Army barracks burning after the recent gunfight, but it wasn’t only that. There was also another grisly odor. It was blood. The smell of human blood was wafting from the Japanese residential zone.
And yet, having come this far, it seemed hardly surprising that I would smell blood. There were many Chinese people on the side of the road, and standing among them were the strange-looking students from earlier dressed in black outfits. In fact, they were standing with the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps.
The murder of a father protecting his daughter
Soon enough, a girl was dragged out of one of the Japanese houses.
It was a light-skinned girl who looked to be fifteen or sixteen years of age. A student had pulled her out of the house, and then announced that he had found her hiding and dragged her out here. The girl’s face was frozen with fear, but her body was shaking uncontrollably.
The student who was holding the girl looked elated as if he were a cat that had just caught a mouse. He said something to the Peace Preservation Corps soldier at his side. When the soldier shook his head, the student grinned broadly and then slapped her where she stood five or six times. After that, he suddenly ripped her clothes.
In China, too, July is the height of summer and the weather is hot. The light summer clothing that the girl was wearing was easily ripped off, exposing her snow-white skin.
The girl was saying something to the student in desperation, but the student just sneered back at her and did not listen. She clasped her hands together and pleaded with him frantically. Several other students and soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps started to gather near them. The eyes of the assembled students and soldiers sparkled as they waited to see what the student would do next.
He abruptly shoved the girl down onto the side of the road and took off her underwear. The girl screamed, “Help me!”
At that moment, a Japanese man burst onto the scene. He threw himself atop the girl in order to shield her with his own body. It was probably the girl’s father.
A Peace Preservation Corps soldier quickly used the butt of his rifle to deliver a brutal blow to the man’s head. I think that I heard the sound of something being crushed. Though he had cracked the man’s head, the man would still not separate from the girl’s body. The Peace Preservation Corps soldier said something or other to him and pulled him away.
The blood of the man who appeared to be her father was pouring down the girl’s face. The Peace Preservation Corps soldier who had pulled him away struck him on the head again with his rifle. Something sprayed from him violently in all directions, probably his cerebral fluids.
Next, two or three soldiers and two or three students began kicking and trampling his body. They tore through his clothes and exposed his skin, which was oozing with blood. In spite of this, they did not stop kicking and trampling him.
Soon one of the soldiers stabbed the man’s stomach area with the bayonet affixed to his gun. Blood spurted out and flew onto the girl, who was laying, apparently unconscious, at his side.
Perhaps the soldier thought that just stabbing him in the belly was not enough. Next, he stabbed him in the chest. Just when I thought it might be over, the gruesome spectacle
continued. The soldier stabbed him in the belly again, and then in the chest again. He kept on stabbing him over and over again.
Although many Chinese people were watching, they never said “ooh” or “wow” or anything else. They just quietly observed what the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps were doing. Their brutal acts were not like anything I can describe. I could liken them to the acts of beasts or demons, acts of abject, pitiless cruelty, but it seems that there are no words that can truly express such inhumanity.
The students and soldiers kicked the corpse of the man who was probably the girl’s father over the ground for a distance of about three meters as if they were rolling a log, and then returned to the girl who seemed to be unconscious.
And then they raped the girl
The girl had already been stripped naked. She was frozen with fear as the soldiers walked up to her. They spread her legs wide apart and were about to rape her, to commit the most despicable act a human can commit in front of a crowd of onlookers. Although they were Chinese men, what they were doing were not the acts of human beings.
However, their rape of the girl did not proceed easily, perhaps because she had never had any such experience before.
Three students spread out her legs as much as they could, and then one of them took a gun from a Peace Preservation Corps soldier and thrust its barrel into her vagina.
Although there were many Chinese people observing this nearby, none of them tried to stop the student or raised their voices. They did nothing more than watch the cruel acts of the students in complete silence.
From that point on, I could not see precisely what was happening because Mr. Shen and I were standing at a spot twenty meters away from the students. Or rather, it was because I could no longer open my eyes and face the horror. I clung firmly onto Mr. Shen’s hand and closed my eyes tight.
Then, I heard a terrible cry that was not quite a scream or a shriek. Instinctively, I opened my eyes in shock.
What was it? While grinning happily, a soldier of the Peace Preservation Corps was cutting out the girl’s genitals. My body was literally rattling as I shook at the unbelievable sight. Mr. Shen embraced my body tightly to comfort me.
I couldn’t look! Still, even as I told myself that, my eyes would not close.
While shaking violently, I saw the soldiers slash her belly open lengthwise, then cut off her head with a sword. They tossed her head flippantly in the direction of the abandoned corpse of the man they had killed earlier. Her head rolled on the ground for a while before stopping at the side of the man’s corpse.
The idea flashed in my mind that, if the man was the girl’s father, at least the parent and his child were together now, and I reassured myself with that thought. And yet, it is strange that I would have thought of something like that after seeing such a macabre scene, and even stranger that I still remember that thought so long after it all happened.
The reason I was not suspected of being Japanese
I was so exhausted that I became unable to stand. My body somehow felt paralyzed, and I could no longer move. I stared fixedly at their savage act.
Blood was still slowly flowing from the gaping wound in the girl’s belly, even though her body had no head. It was a truly bizarre sight. The sight of something so unimaginable may have deranged my mind a little, because I just stared at it blankly as if I had forgotten who I was.
It was then that Mr. Shen, who was still embracing me, said “Hey!”, and shook me abruptly to bring me back to my senses. However, I felt a sudden pain shoot through my stomach and seemed to be about to vomit.
I squatted down by the roadside and tried to vomit, but nothing came out. Though Mr. Shen massaged my back, I was still not able to. Nonetheless, my stomach pains did not go away. Mr. Shen grunted and suggested that we return home. Even while desiring in my mind to return home right away, I shook my head.
They say that there is no cure for curiosity. Perhaps my curiosity ultimately proved stronger than my fear. After I shook my head, it seems that Mr. Shen resigned himself to carry on. He held my body in his arms and guided me further towards the Japanese residential zone.
It may have looked like my mind had gone blank, but each cruel sight was engraved deeply in my memory. Mr. Shen continued to cradle me in his arms, and this may have been the major reason why I was never noticed by the strange-looking students and the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps.
Even though I was married to Mr. Shen, if the students and soldiers had realized that I was Japanese, they would certainly not have spared my life. Because I was walking unsteadily in the arms of a Chinese man, the students and soldiers noticed nothing suspicious about me and thus let me pass by them without objection.
A “human chain” even Satan could not have conceived
As we continued on towards the Japanese residential zone, even more horrible sights awaited us. It appeared that most of the Japanese had already been killed, but the students and soldiers were scouring the area like mad bulls in search of Japanese people. A man in the distance shouted, “There are Japanese people here!”, and the soldiers and students around us immediately stampeded in that direction.
While supporting me in his arms, Mr. Shen followed them, and we saw a group of Japanese men being made to stand in front of five or six soldiers. The men were brought forward one by one. Once the Chinese soldiers and students had about ten Japanese men, they wound wire around their fingers so that each Japanese man’s left hand was bound tightly to his right hand. After that, the Chinese took the bayonets that were fastened to their guns and plunged them into their bound palms to make holes in their hands.
In the face of such extreme pain, most of the men let out bloodcurdling shrieks. These were definitely not the acts of human beings. I thought to myself that even Satan could not have conceived of something so cruel, and yet, the Chinese students and soldiers were doing this evil deed quite casually.
No, not casually. Rather, the soldiers and students were positively joyous as they carried out tortures that would have appalled Satan himself. In the Japanese mind, to commit such an atrocity would be inconceivable, but what is inconceivable to the Japanese is quite normal to the Chinese. I learned for the first time that cruelty is normal behavior to the Chinese.
Among the roughly ten Japanese men who had been rounded up, there was a young boy who looked to be still a child. There was also an old man who looked to be over sixty years of age. In China, “respect the elderly” is a popular adage, but the students and soldiers did not seem to think that an elderly Japanese man was worthy even of being treated as a human being.
After having bound together the palms of each of the ten or so Japanese men with wire and gouged holes in them, the students and soldiers brought a much longer wire and strung it through the palms of all ten of them to form a human chain.
The Japanese men cried and wailed as this was being done. What I witnessed was so bizarre that it beggared description. Even today, fifty years later, it remains etched indelibly in my memory.
And that was not all. The students and soldiers took off all their underwear and then, of course, removed their shoes and socks as well. One of the students who was wielding a Chinese broadsword approached a Japanese man who looked to be about twenty years of age. The student made him spread his legs apart, and then he raised his sword and slashed off the man’s penis.
The Japanese man had screamed “Help!”, but the student had paid no heed. When the student slashed off his penis, the man screamed and probably lost consciousness just like that. Even so, he could not fall over. He could not fall because he was tied to the other men in the human chain. The students and soldiers saw this and chuckled.
On impulse, I tightened my hold on Mr. Shen. It seemed that Mr. Shen was also becoming agitated, because he was embracing my body even more strongly than before. Then he whispered in my ear, “Stay quiet and don’t utter a single word.” Naturally, there was nothing that I would have been able to say anyway, so I simply nodded in response.
Numerous Chinese people had gathered around Mr. Shen, but they were only watching what was happening and did not say anything. On their faces, I saw expressions that seemed to show an indifference that was as cold as ice. Although the students and soldiers were grinning and laughing happily, the ordinary Chinese watching them remained completely silent and expressionless. I thought to myself how incredible it was to see such a large number of Chinese people gathering here, and yet, not one of them tried to stop the students and soldiers or even smiled as the students and soldiers were. The ordinary Chinese just observed impassively and nothing more. Of course, even though they were Chinese, they may have been uncertain about what would happen to them if they spoke out, and thus they safely opted to do nothing more than look on coldly. This, too, was a sight so bizarre that it beggared description.
The huge crowd of Chinese gradually began to move. There were both men and women in the crowd, and I was believed to be one of the Chinese women. Together with Mr. Shen, I obeyed the flow of the crowd and kept on moving towards the Japanese residential zone.
Murder and rape at Asahiken
The closer we got to the Japanese residential zone, the more I perceived something eerie in the atmosphere.
When we were near Asahiken, which was both an eatery and a brothel, two women were brought forward by soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps. Both of their faces were deathly pale. The shirt of one of the women was unbuttoned, exposing her chest. Because I had also been involved in that sort of work, I knew exactly what they had done to her. I also understood from the appearance of her open shirt that she had been treated in a very violent manner. Though I felt pity for her, I was helpless to act. There was truly nothing I could do. I could not even speak a word.
One of the two women had most likely resisted fiercely. Her cheeks were badly swollen and were even bleeding in places. Her hair was in disarray. She was in such a miserable state that I almost could not bear to look at her directly.
The soldier of the Peace Preservation Corps who had captured the two women forced the one with the swollen cheeks to stand before him, and then cut open the front side of the clothes she was wearing with one slice of his bayonet.
When the woman instinctively attempted to cover her chest with her hands, the soldiers suddenly slashed at her hand with his bayonet. Her left arm from the elbow down was lopped clean off, but she never shrieked or cried out. All I heard from her was what sounded like a faint moan before she dropped straight to the ground.
Even then, the soldier dragged her back into a standing position and stabbed her full force in the chest with his bayonet. The woman fell right where she stood as if her body had caved in on itself. For good measure, the soldier stabbed the collapsed woman a second time in her belly.
In spite of myself, I was on the verge of shouting “Stop it!”, but at that moment, Mr. Shen caught me tightly in his arms and whispered, “You mustn’t, you mustn’t”, into my ear. I felt like my whole body was about to explode with fear and anger.
The soldier stabbed her five or six times in quick succession, before turning towards the other woman and flashing an evil grin. In front of all the onlookers, he swiftly tore off all the clothes she was wearing. Then, he pinned her on the ground and immediately started to rape her as everyone else watched.
I believe that such human acts ought to be sacred, but when I saw the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps raping that girl I could not imagine anything more depraved and repulsive.
After one soldier was finished, the next soldier raped her. Once about three soldiers had finished, a student took his turn to pounce on her. One man after another repeated this depraved, beyond beastly act.
Still in Mr. Shen’s arms, I continued watching all this while wondering if I was asleep and having some sort of nightmare. Finally, it seemed that the foul Chinese beasts were sufficiently satisfied. Several of them drew together and seemed to be talking about various things. After a while, one of the soldiers raised his gun and aimed it in her direction.
Naturally, the Chinese were still observing this event unfold, but at that moment, voices that seemed to be murmuring “Whoa!” swept through the crowd. Perhaps frightened by the noise of the crowd, two soldiers and a student dragged the woman back inside of Asahiken.
Shortly afterward, we heard the shriek of a woman. Most likely the soldiers and students had lost their interest in the Japanese woman and had the ones who carried her away kill her. Still, the Chinese onlookers couldn’t do a thing about it, and neither could Mr. Shen or I.
By this point, I did not want to go on, but though I thought about returning home, Mr. Shen was still embracing me tightly and showed no signs of loosening his grip. Pulled onward by Mr. Shen, I entered the Japanese residential zone.
An old lady’s dying prayer to Buddha
What awaited us in the Japanese residential zone was beyond description, like a scene straight out of Hell. Many Japanese people had been killed, or rather, were still in the process of being killed. There were sounds that seemed like shrieks echoing from various directions, and then I heard the unmistakable sound of someone screaming, “Aah!”
I suppose that that person screamed many times. I tried not to listen, but I couldn’t help but hear it. Even when I covered my ears, I could hear it. When I tried to cover my ears again, Mr. Shen stayed my hands as if to tell me that I should not do that.
At that time, we were close to Shozanro, an inn located midway between Asahiken and Kinsuiro.
We saw an old lady running towards us while struggling to maintain her balance, but a student was in close pursuit. The student brandished his broadsword, and suddenly brought it down upon her.
Because the old lady was fleeing desperately from him, the strike missed her head and instead chopped off her left arm at the shoulder. She fell to the ground facing upwards. The student stabbed her once in the belly and once in the chest, and then left her for dead.
Because no one else had seen the murder but Mr. Shen and I, I ran over to her and gently put my hand on the old lady’s forehead. The old lady slowly opened her eyes and mumbled, “It’s regrettable”, before adding, “Avenge my death.”
I caressed her forehead without saying a word. “Ichizo, Ichizo”, she called out. That must surely have been the name of her son or grandson. I was helpless to save her, and so I just caressed her forehead silently.
Finally, the old lady uttered the prayer, “Praise be to Amida Buddha”, before she stopped breathing.
Those final words she spoke to me, “Praise be to Amida Buddha”, lingered on in my ears and may indeed have been the reason that I ended up coming to the Nishi Honganji branch temple in Beppu.
Manhandling a pregnant woman
At the time that I put my hand on the old lady’s forehead, I heard a clamor of voices somewhere nearby. Mr. Shen held onto my body and we walked in the direction of the noise.
When we got there, we saw a large crowd of Chinese, including a total of roughly ten students and soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps. There were also several soldiers, not from the Peace Preservation Corps, but from the Republic of China Army. They had all gathered there because a Japanese woman had been captured.
The woman had a very large belly. It looked like she was seven or eight months pregnant.
The students and the soldiers from both the Peace Preservation Corps and the regular army were chatting noisily while dragging a woman beside the entranceway of a house. The woman was unable to speak a word.
I suppose that she was too scared to even open her mouth. Even though I am a woman, as I observed her shuddering with fear I was taken by how beautiful she was.
However, when one of the students attempted to rip off the clothes she was wearing, she fought back fiercely. She kicked and screamed through clenched teeth over and over. A student struck her in the cheek two or three times, but she just kept up her stubborn resistance. Periodically, she let out tearful cries.
The soldiers and students huddled together again to confer. Even the crowds of Chinese who had gathered there were increasingly unnerved at such excessive violence against a pregnant woman.
The glorious final moments of a resisting Japanese man
At that very moment, a Japanese man carrying a wooden sword leapt forth. The man shouted, “What are you doing to my wife and child? Stop it now!”
With that, the situation changed dramatically. If that man had never burst onto the scene, maybe they would have spared the pregnant woman’s life, but now her prospects looked unambiguously bleak.
Without responding to the Japanese man’s command, one of the students lunged at him with his Chinese broadsword, but the man nimbly dodged the attack. Then, the man struck a tremendous blow to the student’s shoulder with his wooden sword. The student let out a moan and fell to the ground.
Next, the soldiers of the Republic of China Army and the Peace Preservation Corps affixed their bayonets to their guns and charged towards him. As I was watching this, in my heart I was cheering, “Hang in there, Japanese man! Hang in there!”, but of course I couldn’t possibly have said that aloud.
Though seven or eight Chinese soldiers were steadily surrounding him, the man showed no fear. He readied his sword in attack position and never took a step back. I could only think to myself, “What gallantry! That is truly a Japanese man!”
However, a soldier of the Republic of China Army who was circling behind him swiftly thrust his bayonet at the man’s backside.
What was he going to do? Once more, the Japanese man easily dodged his opponent’s blow before delivering a stunning riposte with his wooden sword to the soldier’s shoulder. The soldier dropped his gun and cowered on the ground.
Unfortunately, that was the Japanese man’s last move. Just when the man struck down the soldier, a member of the Peace Preservation Corps approached him from the side and plunged his bayonet into the man’s waist. As soon as the Japanese man fell over, the remaining soldiers and students converged on him and began to kick and punch him mercilessly.
The man groaned once, and then fell silent. He never let out any dying cries, but it seemed that was because he had already completely lost his capacity to vocalize. The man lay motionless even while the soldiers and students continued to beat him. Still, it was what came next that was a truly heartbreaking act of savagery.
His head was scalped, his eyes gouged out, and his intestines chopped up
First, one of the students flayed the man’s scalp off with his Chinese broadsword. I had never seen anything so cruel. This was not the act of a human being. It was more like the act of a devil, though I think that even a devil would not have done something so barbaric.
After the student had scalped him, next he gouged out his eyes. It appeared that the Japanese man was still alive up to that moment, as I saw his arms and legs twitch faintly while his eyes were being cut out.
Once the student had gouged out his eyes, he stripped off all the man’s clothes. Then, the student flipped the body on its back and used his Chinese broadsword to rip open the belly. He sliced the man’s belly sideways and lengthwise, and from there tugged on his intestines. When the man’s intestines emerged with a sickening slurp, the student quickly proceeded to have them stretched out.
I did not know that a human’s intestines were so long. They looked to be close to ten meters. The student shouted something, but I was not listening. Though I was still clinging to Mr. Shen, I felt as if I had been pulled into another world. Somewhere in my head, I thought earnestly that if Hell existed, this was Hell.
At that point, I heard someone shout, “Ha!”, and when I raised my eyes once more in shock, the student had brought his Chinese broadsword down on the man’s intestines. He didn’t stop there. The man’s intestines, which had been stretched out with the help of the other students, were hacked again and again into pieces.
Once the student had chopped the man’s intestines into roughly foot-long slices, he flung the minced intestines in the direction of the pregnant woman who had been steadfastly watching the whole gruesome spectacle. When a piece of her husband’s intestines struck the face of the woman, whose belly was swollen with his child, she shrieked and fainted.
The soldiers and students who saw this clapped gleefully. They then tossed two or three of the remaining slices towards the crowds of Chinese onlookers and shouted to them, “A Japanese man’s intestines! They’re really tasty! Cook ‘em up and eat ‘em!”
Nonetheless, not one of the Chinese observing this attempted to pick up any of the chopped intestines. The soldiers and students were no longer human beings. They had become wild animals, demons, or prehistoric beasts. However, the other Chinese ultimately could not bring themselves to join in on their inhuman acts. They were willing to watch, but were not ready to abandon their humanity.
An unforgivable act towards a pregnant woman and her baby
Once the soldiers and students were finished chucking around the minced intestines, they began to gather around the pregnant woman who was lying unconscious on the ground.
It looked like the woman was already about to deliver her child. She was also starting to bleed. Perhaps it was the first time that the soldiers and students had seen something like this, but their excitement had far from cooled. They assembled beside her and chatted noisily amongst themselves. It appeared that they had taken her underwear and were now attempting to extract the baby that was on the verge of being born. Because the soldiers and students were surrounding her and making a great commotion, I was unable to grasp exactly what was going on. However, I discerned that they may have been looking for something like a wire in order to extract the baby.
At that moment, it seems that the pregnant woman came to and realized what was happening. She staggered to her feet and made a frantic bid to escape. Even the Chinese people looking on privately rooted for her, but none of them would say that aloud, let alone save her from her fate. They were all afraid of being killed just as the pregnant woman’s husband had been.
One of the students who saw the woman get up shoved her and sent her flying back to the ground.
A soldier immediately rushed towards her and turned her onto her back. Because her underwear had already been taken from her earlier, she was exposed in the most
humiliating way that a woman can be, made only worse by her huge belly in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy.
The soldier, who looked to be a member of the Republic of China Army, stood directly beside her. I wondered what he would do. I kept on praying fervently from the bottom of my heart that, as a fellow human being, he would do no more harm to her.
However, the Chinese soldier had no shred of humanity left in his heart. He drew his blade and immediately plunged it into the woman’s stomach.
Red blood gushed out of her belly. It spurted out of her with such force that I believed that the streams of blood would fly into my face and I instinctively shut my eyes.
In fact, I was situated over ten meters away, so it could not possibly have reached my face, though the surge of blood that erupted from her belly when it was cut open was incredible indeed.
Even the woman’s final death scream was the most tragic cry imaginable. I was amazed that she had had that much energy left in her.
The soldier who had sliced open her belly sunk his hand in, searching for her baby. He didn’t seem to be able to find it, because next he tried to cut into her from her vagina. Finally, he pulled the baby out and beamed with joy.
The soldier, who held the baby in one hand, tossed it like a ball in the direction of the students and soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps. However, none of them bothered to catch it, and it struck the ground with what sounded like a wet thud. The soldiers and students standing around the place where the baby had landed made a great commotion, and it seemed like they then trampled it under their boots.
The sight of such unfathomable ruthlessness seemed to have astonished even the Chinese onlookers. After the soldiers and students had left, one of the Chinese brought a newspaper and gently covered her face and eviscerated belly with it. This was the only act of compassion I ever saw from them.
My husband was Chinese and I was Japanese
After that horrible experience, I felt too exhausted to even stand. When I told Mr. Shen that I wanted to go home, he agreed and we began to head back.
Before long, we heard someone shout, “Japanese people are being executed!” I thought to myself, “On top of everything else, do they still have to execute them?” And yet, if the students and soldiers were involved, I suppose that it would be inevitable. I did not want to see it, and at any rate, I wanted to go home. Nevertheless, Mr. Shen said, “Let’s go”, and carried me off in the direction of the execution grounds.
It was at that moment that I suddenly realized something. My husband, Mr. Shen, was Chinese. Because I had married him at our wedding and became his wife, I had assumed that I, as the wife of a Chinese man, was also Chinese. Both when we were doing business and when we were living at home together, I persisted throughout in thinking that I was Chinese and gradually convinced myself of it. Until now, my goal had been to become a true Chinese as soon as possible. Within one or two years, I was able to speak good Chinese and, by all appearances, I was a Chinese woman. In fact, all of Mr. Shen’s new friends saw me only as Chinese, and I had many conversations with them about Chinese matters.
Now, I felt a surge of unbearable emotion at the prospect of seeing more Japanese people subject before my eyes to the Chinese people’s cruel methods of killing. Something, call it my Japanese blood or perhaps my Japanese sentimentality, was starting to stir within me.
I had already seen more than enough inhumanity towards Japanese people and had tried to go home, but Mr. Shen was Chinese. He couldn’t understand what was in my heart. I wanted to tell him that I did not want to see any more acts of cruelty against Japanese people, but as a Chinese man, it seemed that he simply could not feel the same profound sorrow as I did when I saw a Japanese person being killed. Even though I wanted to go home, he took me to the plaza where the Japanese were being executed. It was an empty lot of land on the east side of the Japanese residential zone.
A final cry of “Long live the Japanese Empire!”
Dozens of Chinese people who were neither soldiers nor students had already begun to congregate at that place. There looked to be probably over fifty Japanese people crowded onto one spot of the execution grounds. There were also many soldiers of the Republic of China Army. The students and soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps stood behind them.
The Japanese people assembled there had few possessions on their bodies. They had probably been robbed by the students or the soldiers of the Republic of China Army or Peace Preservation Corps. One can perhaps assume that men who carry nothing with them are victims of robbery.
Soon enough, the soldiers of the Republic of China Army yelled out something. The students and soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps promptly rushed to the rear area where two machine guns were set up.
That was when I understood what the Chinese soldiers intended to do. The fifty-odd Japanese people surely also understood everything as soon as they saw the machine guns. Their faces were all frozen with fear.
Before anyone was able to say a thing, the soldiers of the Republic of China Army kneeled down before the machine guns. If they touched the triggers, it would all be over. An indescribable chill of horror filled the plaza.
At that moment, one of the Japanese people shouted, “Long live the Japanese Empire!” Most of the other Japanese immediately followed suit and began to shout, “Long live the Japanese Empire”, but before they had finished shouting, fire shot forth from the machine guns.
The Japanese fell in rapid succession. When they were hit by the machine gun bullets, they winced briefly and remained standing for a time. After a while, they tumbled to the ground. “A while” might give the impression that it was a long time, but I suppose that it was actually just two or three seconds. And yet, to the people who were watching, the time between when the bullet hit and the man fell seemed terribly long indeed.
It was a true scene of carnage, but I could find no words to express it. I just stared in shock until the sound of the machine guns stopped.
All the fifty-odd Japanese people were strewn out on the ground. I heard faint moaning from some of them, but most seemed to be dead.
However, the soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps came forward and proceeded to walk through the piles of corpses. Just as I was wondering what they were doing, they began using their bayonets to stab, one by one, all the people who were not yet dead from machine gun fire. The soldiers gave the bodies of the Japanese a kick to check if they were dead, and if the soldiers detected even a slight movement from a body, they would instantly plunge their bayonet into it. I wondered if I could accept such a horrible thing, but there was nothing I could do anyway. Once they had made sure that the Japanese people were dead, all the students and the soldiers from both the Peace Preservation Corps and the Republic of China Army withdrew.
No sooner had they left than the Chinese onlookers poured down to the place where the corpses lay. When I looked to see what they would do, they started to search the corpses and steal any of the various possessions they still had on them.
What was the world coming to? I had no idea what to make of this. Rather than just being afraid, I abhorred to stay at that place another minute or even another second, so I pulled on Mr. Shen’s arm and left with him. I could no longer fathom any of the thoughts rushing through my mind.
I did not want to be in the town any longer, so, as I pulled on Mr. Shen’s arm, I started walking away from the east side of town in the hopes of leaving on the north side. There was a road inside the city walls that led back to my house, and because it was the closest path, I entered through the North Gate where I passed close to Kinsuiro.
The blood red pond of Kinsuiro
There was a pond near Kinsuiro where I saw forty or fifty Japanese people being forced to stand.
Shocked to have stumbled upon yet another tragic sight, I tried to turn back, but because there were several Chinese people nearby, I wasn’t able to. If I had told Mr. Shen that I didn’t want to see this and had turned around, the other Chinese people would certainly have found that to be suspicious. The Republic of China Army had been telling everyone that the Japanese were wicked people who should be killed, and the Communist Party had echoed the same message. Therefore, the majority of the Chinese people living in Tongzhou undoubtedly believed that Japanese people were evil demons. If I had left right then to avoid having to see Japanese people get killed, the Chinese people of Tongzhou would certainly have found that unusual. It would not have been good if even Mr. Shen was looking at me strangely. That’s how I ended up having to stand by at the Kinsuiro pond and watch what would surely be yet another massacre of Japanese people.
There appeared to be forty or fifty Japanese people gathered there, mostly men, though there were a few women who looked to be over age fifty. Among them were also the roughly ten Japanese people from earlier whose hands were tied with wire and then all strung together with a large wire that ran through the holes that were cut in their palms. The students and soldiers of both the Peace Preservation Corps and the Republic of China Army were also present.
A Japanese man of about fifty years of age was the first one to be brought forward by the Chinese soldiers and students. One of the students struck him with his Chinese broadsword, aiming at his neck, but he missed and hit the man’s shoulder instead. A man who appeared to be an officer of the Republic of China Army immediately snatched away the student’s sword and, with the help of two other soldiers, lifted the injured Japanese man who had fallen to the ground back upright. He made the Japanese man stick out his head further, and lopped it off with one blow of the broadsword.
The officer grinned as the man’s head fell to the ground in front of him with a plunk. A soldier of the Peace Preservation Corps kicked the Japanese man’s head as if it were a football and sent it flying into the nearby pond.
Then, the officer pulled his next victim from the group, and this time, he brought his broadsword straight down onto the man’s forehead with all his might. The man’s forehead was split wide open and his brain fluids exploded in all directions. After killing these two Japanese men, the officer raised his hand and made a signal to the other Chinese, then departed in a hurry.
As soon as the soldiers and students saw the officer’s signal, they immediately pounced upon the rest of the Japanese people. The forty or fifty Japanese were butchered one by one,
and their bodies were all cast into the pond. It took them less than ten minutes to slaughter and dispose of all the Japanese.
Before my eyes, the water in the pond was turning the color of blood. By the time that all the Japanese were thrown in, it had become completely red.
My divorce and return home impelled by hatred of the Chinese
I couldn’t bear it any longer. I pulled on Mr. Shen’s hand and started to run away from that place, but without wanting to, I cast one parting glance at the pond. Floating on the surface of the bright red water, there was a single lotus flower in bloom. Seeing that made me think that perhaps many of the dead would be carried safely to Buddha’s realm where lotus flowers bloom in abundance.
By the time that I arrived back at home with Mr. Shen, I was unable to speak a word. Mr. Shen tried his best to comfort me. Even so, the more he tried to console me the more my conviction grew that he, too, was Chinese.
It was a little past noon. A single Japanese aircraft flew overhead and someone shouted, “The Japanese Army is here!” One could hear the distant sound of stamping army boots. All the Chinese soldiers of the Peace Preservation Corps and the Republic of China Army, as well as the students, left Tongzhou when they heard that the Japanese Army had arrived.
The soldiers and students who had committed such unspeakable atrocities, atrocities beyond anything that even a demon or wild beast would commit, bolted from Tongzhou like startled hares the moment that somebody told them that the Japanese Army was here. And yet, as I listened to the frantic footsteps of the fleeing Chinese, I felt no sense of triumph over their cowardly retreat, only anger that the Japanese Army had not come sooner.
In fact, the Japanese Army did not arrive until the following day. The Chinese soldiers had fled at the mere mention of the Japanese Army. How did these Chinese soldiers, who would not stand a chance against Japan in a war, manage to play the role of cat burglars and pull off such a crime right under the nose of the Japanese Army?
It was said that over 300 and close to 400 Japanese people were killed at that time by the Chinese. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The actual number was around 250.)
Because of that incident, I gradually became embittered against the Chinese people. Even though my husband was Chinese, I came to hate them.
As a result, I ultimately separated from Mr. Shen and returned to Japan in 1940.
However, I could never forget my haunting memories of July 29, 1937. Even today, I remember each and every thing I witnessed as vividly as if it was yesterday, and I know now that a Hell just as real as that described in any religious text does exist in this world.
The bulk of this booklet’s contents were reprinted from a work composed by Shirabe Kanga. Properly speaking, Mr. Shirabe ought to have been credited as the author of this booklet, but due to various circumstances, it ended up being released as an edited work with myself as the editor. The following is a profile of the life of the late Shirabe Kanga.
Shirabe Kanga was born on October 7, 1920. He was the sixteenth Head Priest of Mount Senshin Intsuji Temple, which is affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Honganji School of Pure Land Buddhism and is located in the town of Kiyama in Saga Prefecture. While studying at Ryukoku University, he was conscripted into the army and was sent to the frontlines alongside his fellow students. After being demobilized, he worked with his father, Shirabe Ryuei, to found and manage “War Orphan Aid and Education Center Senshinryo”, which was visited by Emperor Hirohito in May, 1949.
In 1989, while travelling in Asia on refugee relief work, Shirabe Kanga met an elderly Thai monk who lamented that, “Not a single man has come to pray for the Japanese soldiers who perished here.” As a result, he founded the Memorial Committee for War Dead of the Thai-Burma Front in order to gather the remains of deceased soldiers and support local schools. Its work was later carried on by the Eto Foundation. In 1997, he published Tears of the Emperor. Shirabe Kanga passed away on January 30, 2007.
The basic process of compiling this booklet was the following.
I took pages 105 to 157 of Shirabe Kanga’s original 342-page work Tears of the Emperor (Tokyo: Kyoikusha, 1997) that dealt with the subject of the Tongzhou Massacre, and I reprinted them as Parts 2 and 3 of this booklet.
Because Part 2 was Mr. Shirabe’s personal analysis of the Tongzhou Massacre, I made no alterations or corrections to either the text or the paragraph structure. However, I did insert subheadings in appropriate places to improve readability.
The testimony of Sasaki Ten became Part 3. I again inserted subheadings for reader convenience, and I also added more paragraph breaks while preserving the paragraph breaks of the original. I made the font size of some of the letters larger than that of Part 2.
In a very small number of cases, I did make my own alterations to the original text in order to remove obvious typos.
Finally, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Intsuji Temple and all the others who helped me to have this booklet published.
-Editor Fujioka Nobukatsu, July 2016