Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact

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Overview of Eight Year’s Scholarly Achievements by the Japan “Nanking” Society

By SUGIHARA Seishiro,

Overview of Eight Year’s Scholarly Achievements by the Japan “Nanking” Society — Annual Report Final Installment
How Far Has The Nanking Incident Been Substantiated?
[Excerpted from the Afterword to “The Front-line of Research on the Nanking ‘Incident’,” edited by the Japan “Nanking” Society (Tendensha, 2008).]
By Sugihara Seishiro
(Translated by Norman Hu)
Launching The Japan “Nanking” Society
These are my closing remarks for the final installment of the Japan “Nanking” Society’s annual report, a review of the year’s research, entitled “The Front-line of Research on the Nanking ‘Incident’,” (formerly known as “The Front-line of Research on the Nanking ‘Massacre’” from 2002 through 2004). This somewhat lengthy presentation summarizes the scholarly achievements by the Japan “Nanking” Society over past eight-year period.
On December 6, 2007, at Tokyo’s Kudan Kaikan, a conference—The Peoples’ Gathering for the 70th Anniversary of the Fall of Nanking: The Truth Behind the Nanking Incident as Revealed in the Words of War Heroes—was convened by the Committee for the Examination of the Facts about Nanking (Kase Hideaki, chairman), and was attended by a large number of leading members of the Japan “Nanking” Society. The conference was a forum to bear witness to the final testimonies of war heroes to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nanking Incident. Mr. Kase made the following remarks in his introductory welcome to the conference. His presentationi truly brought the issue back to life:
“Seventy years ago on December 13 [1937], our troops captured Nanking, the capital of Nationalist China. Eventually Japan lost the war and the Allied nations convened the so-called Tokyo Trial; although the United States took the leading role in organizing this tribunal, the U. S. had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and had committed other massacres in violation of international law, starting with the firebombing of Tokyo on March 10 [1945], also known as the Great Tokyo Air Raid. To carry on with the Tokyo Trial, it became necessary to show that Japan had committed even more egregious atrocities—and the incident of the so-called Great Nanking Massacre was trumped up.”
The Japan “Nanking” Society was founded on October 28, 2000, and was chaired by Professor Higashinakano Shudo of Asia University. The “Nanking” Society became a platform upon which great progress was made on subsequent research on the Nanking Incident. While it could be argued that research on the Japanese side had made some progress at the time, it was generally accepted that a “massacre” had indeed occurred, though views varied on the numbers involved. However in the Afterword of the Society’s 2002 inaugural annual report, Higashinakano argued that, “the various lines of
independent research will one day converge, and will definitely produce a coherent overall picture.”ii Subsequent developments have borne this out.
As early as this 2002 inaugural edition of the Society’s annual report, Tomisawa Shigenobu published “Statistical Analysis of the ‘Nanking Incident’,”iii a thorough examination of the primary source materials concerning the Nanking Incident. The following year (2003) Higashinakano published “The Nanking ‘Massacre’—War Propaganda during the Second United Front between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang [Nationalist Party],”iv in which he uncovered “top-secret” documents from the Museum of Chinese Nationalist Party History in Taipei. He discovered that the publication What War Means: The Japanese Terror in China, edited by Harold Timperley and which was the first to announce to the world in any significant way that there had been an incident in Nanking, was, in the end, a Kuomintang (KMT) propaganda resource edited and published by the KMT; he also revealed that the anonymous source who claimed that 40,000 people had been massacred was in fact Miner Bates, an American consultant for the Nationalist Chinese government. It also became apparent that during what the Japanese side referred to at the time as “the battle to capture Nanking,” there had been no inkling in China of the so-called Nanking Incident. Even the KMT propaganda piece Record of Atrocities Committed by the Japanese Enemy published in July 1938, less than a year after the capture of Nanking, and produced in order to publicize acts of cruelty by the Japanese military, contained no criticism of any “massacre” in Nanking. As Higashinakano pointed out, it is clear there were no references to or criticism of any “massacre” in Nanking at the 300 or so press briefings, attended also by foreign journalists, held by the KMT government after the fall of Nanking. And thanks to the efforts of other “Nanking” Society members, such as Kobayashi Susumu and Fukunaga Shinjiro, it is also now clear that photographic evidence provided by China concerning the Nanking Incident contain not one single image proving that it took place.v As was pointed out by Mr. Kase, chairman of the Committee for the Examination of the Facts about Nanking, the entire affair was clearly trumped up by the so-called Tokyo Trial.
Moreover, for many years after the Tokyo Trial, the Nanking Incident was not viewed as problematic. It only flared up as an issue in 1972 when Honda Katsuichi, a reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, filed a series of articles called “China Travels” in which he reported what he saw and heard while traveling through
China built the “Memorial for Compatriots Killed in the Nanking Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression” in 1985, and at the memorial’s entrance claimed that the number of victims was 300,000. Kitamura Minoru analyzed the origins of the 300,000 figure in the “Nanking” Society’s 2003 annual report, in “Establishing the Doctrine of a Great Nanking Massacre of 300,000 — Focusing on the Timperley Strategy.”vii China recently said unofficially that this figure is unreliable, Page 2 of 19
but although the Memorial was further expanded in 2007, the sign at the entrance proclaiming the 300,000 victims has not been corrected. To mark the 70th anniversary of the “Nanking Incident,” several films were developed in the United States, funded by Chinese capital, and they were largely critical of Japan.
As anxiety in Japan grows over these trends, the film director Mizushima Satoru raised funds from the public to finance the production of a film trilogy “The Truth About Nanking” [Nankin no shinjitsu], and the first installment “Seven Condemned Criminals” [Shichinin no shikeishu] was completed in 2008.
I would like to pose the following question: while scientific scrutiny has made it abundantly clear that the Nanking Incident was a fabrication, why does condemnation of Japan continue in China as before, and why does its tone grow ever harsher? The United States clearly acted in error when it dropped the atomic bombs, and pushed through the so-called Tokyo Trial. Nowadays though, no American public official would boast that this tribunal was just. The defense counsel Ben Blakeney, an American who was at the center of the tribunal’s proceedings, made his criticisms known regarding the atomic bombings and the Tokyo Trial. At present, no democratic country insists upon the historical interpretations found in the tribunal’s judgment that was forced on the Japanese people.
In the “Nanking” Society’s 2008 annual report, Moteki Hiromichi published “Fabricating the Theory of a Nanking Massacre of 20,000—The Correct Interpretation of Gu Weijun’s Speech to the Council of the League of Nations.”viii Moteki pointed out that many believe China has made allegations regarding the Nanking massacre ever since the battle for Nanking in 1937, but he demonstrated unequivocally that no such allegations were made in China during that time. At the February 2nd, 1938 session of the Council of the League of Nations, the Representative of China, Gu Weijun, gave a speech supporting the Council president’s resolution for a peaceful solution to the conflict in China, in which he condemned Japan for “20,000 deaths in Nanking”—and many in China use this to attest to a Nanking Incident by the Japanese military. However, this figure only emerged in articles published by the New York Times and the Times of London, and China itself certainly did not substantiate the incident, nor set about on its own initiative to clarify the allegations. Moteki also indicated that the manner in which these citations were used showed that Gu Weijun himself had no conception of a “Nanking Incident” or a “Nanking Massacre.” Any reference to “Nanking Outrages” at the time referred to the kidnappings and massacres perpetrated in Nanking by Chinese Northern Expeditionary Forces in 1927, 10 years earlier, and there was in 1937 no awareness of any “Nanking Incident” perpetrated by the Japanese military. Moreover, Moteki points out it is now quite clear that this “Nanking Incident” committed by the Japanese military was constructed for the purposes of the Tokyo trial.
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Contrasting Methods of Warfare in China and Japan
Why does China continue to use false statistics and photographs and spend huge sums of money in its condemnation of Japan? To examine this question properly, we must look at China’s ancient history and the structure of its politics and culture in particular.
China was initially unified as a nation in 221 B.C. by the first emperor of Qin. In the process of unification, chariots made up of horses and carts were used to wage war. The crossbow, a smaller version of the standard longbow, was used as a weapon to fire projectiles. The chariot’s destructive force was devastating; and the crossbow was easier to load than a normal bow, could shoot an arrow further, and had a greater capacity to kill or maim. The crossbow took longer to load though, and could not match an ordinary bow in firing arrows one after another. The first emperor of Qin addressed this problem by devising the novel method of lining up archers three rows deep to fire volleys of arrows without interruption. A comparable example in Japanese history is that of Oda Nobunaga during the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, where riflemen bearing matchlock muskets were assembled three rows deep against the army of Takeda Katsuyori.
Compared to Chinese methods of warfare, how did the Japanese wage war? When the first emperor of Qin unified China in the 3rd century B.C., people on the Japanese archipelago had no written language, and literally lead a primitive life of fishing, hunting, and gathering, and the concept of being Japanese did not yet exist. Later, when new peoples arrived on the Japanese islands, they brought rice farming with them, and this gave rise to a new culture based on the cultivation of rice. Rice was not a plant species native to Japan. Paddies were dug manually into which the rice was planted, and a bountiful harvest was produced. In order to dig paddies by hand to raise a crop that had never been grown in Japan before, people needed to form communities through harmony and hard work. And so it came to pass that a country called “Japan” was established, a unified nation cognizant of China yet revolving around the Yamato Court, which pursued the culture of rice cultivation. Of course, elements of China’s advanced culture were adopted throughout this process.
Let us now examine how war was conducted in Japan. Domestic warfare in Japan, before the establishment of the modern state by the Meiji, did not utilize the horse-driven chariot. Chariots were impractical in Japan with its many mountain ranges and few plains. Even the crossbow with its superior capacity to kill and maim was never used in Japan.
What we can deduce from this is that wars were remarkably infrequent in Japan. When they did occur they were small in scale with few casualties. Historians of Japan seldom mention this historical reality, but a keen observer would see there were actually very few wars, and very few people were killed in these limited skirmishes. It might be useful to consider some related issues, for instance the Japanese samurai’s battle dress: the kabuto helmet and the yoroi body armor. Rather than stressing practical considerations for protecting the
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body, they vied with each other to be the most ostentatious. Even the katana sword, a tool to slice through the human body, was valued for its aesthetic beauty over its utility in cutting flesh, and became the symbol of a warrior’s pride. Instead of improving someone’s skill to kill or maim, martial training to use a sword or bow was transformed into the study of ethics to discipline the body and mind. This is why wars in Japan were relatively infrequent, and precisely why few people were killed in wars.
Japan, too, went through a time in the 15th and 16th centuries—the Sengoku (or Warring States) period—which was known for its cruelty and incessant wars. Those associated with Oda Nobunaga were particularly vicious. Still, they cannot compare with the cruelty of warfare in China. Indeed, the way Oda waged all his wars was in fact based on examples from Chinese history. Even the institutional framework for the economic stratagem of rakuichi rakuza—“free market, free guild”—was modeled on the nation-building methods of the Chinese dynasties of Qin and Yuan.
On the other hand, exactly how violent was the history of warfare in China? In 1368 Zhu Yuanzhang adopted the reign name of Hongwu when he toppled the Yuan Dynasty and established the Ming. Zhu became suspicious, though, of Hu Weiyong, a retainer who distinguished himself during the dynasty’s founding, and had him executed along with 15,000 others associated with him. Other loyal retainers were executed too, and a total of 50,000 others associated with them were also executed. Perhaps an example in Japan where the innocent were killed merely for being linked with someone who was executed, were those associated in 1595 with Toyotomi Hidetsugu, nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Thirty-nine people were killed because of their ties with Hidetsugu. In any case, Hideyoshi was later criticized for this unjust act, and it became a factor behind the downfall of his regime.
Bushido represented a way of life for Japan’s privileged samurai (or warrior) class, and while it sometimes called for moments of extreme violence like sword duels, such spirit could only occur in a society where indiscriminate and savage murders were rare. A society where unjust killings were widespread could not give rise to Bushido. The samurai code was possible in Japan because there was social order and few unjust killings.
What about China though? China has been perpetually at war. There have been few undisturbed periods of peace. In 2007, Taiwanese-born Ko Bunyu, vice chairman of the Japan “Nanking” Society, published A History of Warfare—Japan and China.ix This book makes you realize that China is unrivaled amongst all nations when it comes to the frequency, scale, ferocity, and cruelty of its wars. The more often wars were fought, the crueler they were waged.
Returning to the issue of chariots, their use in China was not limited to the unifying Qin Dynasty; they seemed to have been used before that during the founding of the Shang (c. 1600 B.C.) and Zhou (c. 1050 B.C.) Dynasties, and brought to China by nomads from Mesopotamia. Natural disasters in China happen on a grand scale, and it is easy to
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become desensitized to the cruelty of war. However, in an expansive continent surrounded by nomadic peoples who might invade at any time, wars were prone to happen, and when they did the cruelty that ensued defied description. Armies would resort to wide-scale plundering to obtain food and provisions for their men and horses. Those who were plundered would suffer total impoverishment.
The Chinese word for “slaughter” is tusha (or tosatsu, in Japanese.) The top entry in the definition of the first half of this term, tu (or to, in Japanese), found in volume 4 of Morohashi Tetsuji’s classic dictionary reference Great Chinese-Japanese Dictionary reads as follows: “To kill everything. To attack the enemy, destroy the city, and slaughter its inhabitants.” The entry for tusha says: “To take a city. After the city is taken, to slaughter all the people in the city.”x When war broke out and a city was attacked, there were civilians in the city as well as soldiers. The side which sacked a city, in which ordinary people were barricaded together with soldiers, killed everyone in that city, including those ordinary people. This was done not only as an act of reprisal, but also to appropriate provisions and to conserve their use.
In China, where savage warfare of this sort took place all the time, the consumption of human flesh was inevitable. With a history of such cruel warfare, cannibalism became entrenched in Chinese culture. Ko Bunyu’s History of Warfare cited above describes how in recent times it also occurred during the Great Cultural Revolution.xi Confucius apparently consumed human flesh too.
We have mentioned how cannibalism occurred during the Great Cultural Revolution. In Japan, Confucius is known as one of the world’s four great sages and teachers of humanity, along with Shakyamuni, Socrates and Christ. Confucius established in China an enduring guide to morality and good government, which later became known as Confucianism, but it is said that he too consumed human flesh. For the Japanese, who embraced the teachings of Confucius, this is something that no-one would want to believe, but it seems to be true.
Kitamura Yoshikazu published “On the Strategy to ‘Bolt the Fortress Gates and Clear the Fields’—An Examination from the Comparative History of Civilizations Perspective” in the “Nanking” Society’s 2003 annual report.xii In China, when a city was barricaded with ordinary people remaining inside, the city would be secured from within while people’s homes and assets in the areas surrounding the city would be completely destroyed—as Kitamura observes in his article, this was called the strategy to ‘bolt the fortress gates and clear the fields’ (jianbi qingye, in Chinese). When barricading a city, the practice of strengthening the city’s defenses by “bolting the fortress gates” would have been universally accepted, but the strategy of “clearing the fields” by destroying the homes and assets of natural allies living in the surrounding areas was surely counterintuitive. It was done to deny the attacking enemy access to supplies and to make it difficult for
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them to find shelter. In China, where such extreme warfare was an everyday occurrence, KMT troops carried out the policy of ‘bolting the fortress gates and clearing the fields’ in the areas surrounding Nanking when the Japanese military implemented its campaign to take that city.
What was the situation like in Japan? Fortresses, in which a city was surrounded by walls, did not exist. While Japan had castles, in principle ordinary people would not be barricaded within them. Only the samurai fought wars, and ordinary people were generally not put in harm’s way. When soldiers entered enemy territory, violent acts of vandalism were not inconceivable, but such acts would be immediately subjected to sharp criticism, and would undermine the side whose soldiers had committed them. In Japan’s Warring States period, wars were relatively larger in scale, and were fiercer and crueler; but unlike China, ordinary Japanese people were not attacked or killed, nor were their assets seized. In China, no heed was paid whatsoever to the welfare of the general populace. Wars were waged purely for victory, and were conducted violently and cruelly without consideration for the welfare of ordinary people.
Thus, China lagged behind progress made by human civilization. This is why every single war in China costed so many people their lives and resulted in so much property being lost and destroyed.
What happened in Japan? When the first emperor of Qin unified China and established his dynasty, the people living on the Japanese archipelago lead primitive lives and the concept of being Japanese did not exist. Subsequently, though, the Yamato Court unified the nation and under its governance there were very few wars. And because Japan had been administered in this manner it was relatively free of warfare; by the latter half of the 19th century, during the Meiji Restoration, Japan surpassed China in many areas, for instance in literacy rates, in which it ranked as high as that of European countries.
Compare the situation in China and Japan with that in Europe. Historians have observed how Europe has experienced many wars. Cities were surrounded by walls and ordinary people were sometimes barricaded inside them. European culture evolved though around the three pillars of Greek philosophy, Roman jurisprudence, and the Christian faith. Roman jurisprudence in particular had a significant influence on the structure of society, and contributed in a major way to the question of warfare. Specifically, ordinary people were acquainted with the concepts of legal freedoms and rights. With the arrival of the modern era, the standing of ordinary people was raised at the same time a body of international law was developed to regulate warfare. Since war itself is probably unavoidable, rules of warfare were codified and international laws were developed to keep the number of casualties to a minimum once the outcome of a war was decided. Warfare was codified and restricted, and when a war was over its outcome was subject to certain conditions. History thereby evolved to reduce the number of victims of war.
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The situation in China has been quite different. China evolved to the present day under the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” (ekisei kakumei). Let’s examine the case of Zhu Wen, the man who brought about the downfall of the Tang Dynasty. Zhu was a brigand under the command of the rebel Huang Su, but when Huang found himself in a disadvantageous position Zhu turned on him and joined troops loyal to the Tang. In recognition, he was bestowed the honorary name of Zhu Quanzhong (Zhu “the Completely Loyal”). But in the end, he killed the emperor who succeeded the one he had previously supported; later he destroyed the Tang, and founded the Later Liang Dynasty. The Tang, who had vaunted their prosperity, also came to a miserable end. It was an egalitarianism of sorts if even a common thief could win a war and become powerful enough to be emperor—but the precedent was set in that warfare would be unencumbered by rules, and victory could be won using any method, regardless how cruelly the war unfolded. This is how the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” came about, where anything was permitted to ensure victory, and the winner could do as he pleased. It is the most elegant of all principles, and is, in fact, a natural law seen throughout the animal kingdom. It was inevitable that warfare would become a creature of endless cruelty.
While it is true that international law was largely developed in Europe, in the end, it goes without saying that it was only paid lip service. Europeans employed every guile when invading Africa and Asia, but even under these circumstances, they complied with international law, at least for appearance’s sake. When Spanish troops crushed the Incas, they formally invoked “international law” and employed legal institutions such as the court system to sentence the Incan king to death and destroy the Incan Empire. Therefore, when threatened with invasion, those African and Asian countries which could make a case under international law were somehow able to stave off any immediate danger. The Meiji Restoration in Japan was a successful example of how this could be done.
China reacted differently, though. It was as though the natural law found in the animal kingdom was accepted at face value, that winners could do as they pleased, but losers forfeited the means to resist and had to accept any sort of treatment without question, including death. This was the principle by which political power would be attained, and it further led to the principle that ordinary people would be forcibly cut off from political power.
However, under the Yamato Court, cruel governance did not emerge in Japan; the political rulers stood relatively close to the people, and the connection between the two was stronger than that in China. Before the arrival of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese army under Qing Dynasty rule and KMT control was completely outclassed by Japan’s military. A disunited political class commanded the Chinese military, and Chinese troops would not put themselves in harm’s way for those who ruled. In contrast, the bold fighting spirit of Japanese troops surprised the world during the Second World War. This spirit
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was the purified essence of unity between the nation and the people, between the rulers and the ruled. This is why Japan’s troops fought bravely for the cause of “self-existence and self-defense” (jison jiei), and for the liberation of Asia.
We should probably further examine why the Japanese people, with little experience of warfare, fought as fiercely as they did during the Greater East Asia War. There were few domestic wars in Japan, so conversely this meant that there was little discord between the rulers and the ruled, and it can be said that the nation and the people were united. It ought to be noted that there was some narrow-mindedness, but if we accept that at the time global issues such as self-existence and self-defense and the liberation of Asia were accepted by many, it is only natural that in a country where the nation and the people are united, soldiers and ordinary people would fight bravely.
In China, on the other hand, there was no such unity between the nation and the people. Under such conditions it is not surprising that soldiers and ordinary people were reluctant to fight. In the previously cited book History of Warfare, “Nanking” Society vice-chairman Ko Bunyu explains how Chiang Kai-shek lamented the shortcomings of the Chinese troops, who could not maintain any discipline and would not protect Chinese civilians.xiii Nor would these civilians fight alongside Chinese troops. China’s history of “revolution through dynastic change” did not take the people into consideration, so neither the people nor the military could be expected to fight bravely. Soldiers in so-called supervisory units, who were bunkered down in concrete pillboxes, used machine guns to mow down friendly troops fleeing the battlefield during the battle for Nanking, and were actually locked inside those pillboxes with their legs shackled. The very existence of these “supervisory units,” which fired upon retreating troops to ensure no soldier could escape the battlefield, represents a bizarre aspect of Chinese warfare; but the fact that those with the machine guns were also locked inside pillboxes with their legs shackled to prevent them from escaping too, attests to just how anomalous Chinese warfare was.
What Is The Nanking Massacre Memorial?
Let us revisit the issue of the “Memorial for Compatriots Killed in the Nanking Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression.” Why does China stubbornly persist with its accusations that the Nanking Incident occurred, even though it has become clear there is no evidence to support this?
In 2007, the aforementioned Committee for the Examination of the Facts about Nanking sent a letter with open questions regarding the Nanking Incident to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who was visiting Japan on April 11th. The following question appeared in the beginning of that letter:xiv
“During his lifetime the late Chairman Mao Zedong never spoke of a massacre in Nanking. The only time he recorded his observations about the Battle of Nanking was during a lecture in Yenan six months after the battle, later reprinted
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in On Protracted War (a compilation of his speeches published in 1938), which contained the criticism that ‘Japanese troops surrounded many, but killed few.’ If Nanking had actually been the scene of the massacre of the century where 300,000 civilians were slaughtered, it would have been highly unnatural and quite inconceivable that Mao would not have uttered a single word about it. What are His Excellency’s thoughts on this fact?”
It is crucial to closely examine Mao’s statement that “Japanese troops surrounded many, but killed few.” Wasn’t he saying, in essence, that although a city might be sacked, military gains would be paltry if there was no widespread killing? For Mao Zedong, who always claimed that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” war was a vicious affair; what he may have meant was that only those who surpassed all others in ferocity and endurance could seize political power.
We need no reminders of how Communism gave rise to tremendous numbers of casualties in the 20th century. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of Mao Zedong was no exception when it came to bringing about enormous death tolls. Although these vast numbers may have been unavoidable during its civil war with the KMT, even after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 millions of Chinese died because of the Great Leap Forward and the Great Cultural Revolution.
However, in China’s case, it would be unfair to blame this phenomenon on Communism alone. We must also apportion some responsibility for all these deaths on the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” which has been handed down from ancient times in China. Nakagaki Hideo edited “A Photographic Survey of the Guangdong Communist Party Incident,” published in the “Nanking” Society’s 2007 annual report.xv In 1927, when Communist troops occupied the city of Guangdong, they perpetrated every kind of evil deed, including arson, looting, rape and murder. However, when other troops entered the city and defeated the Communist army, the civilian population of Guangdong vented their anger and brutally murdered 2,500 Communist soldiers, including women fighters. During this period, there were reports of women with wooden poles rammed into their sexual organs. While all these acts cannot be blamed solely on Communist troops, it can certainly be argued that this was an instance of Chinese-style armies acting under the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.”
We should certainly scrutinize the term tosatsu (tusha, in Chinese) meaning “massacre” which appears in the name of the museum that was constructed to condemn Japan, namely the “Memorial for Compatriots Killed in the Nanking Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression,” and to condemn the Nanking Incident based on the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” As explained above, the walled city fortresses which appeared in China did not exist in Japan, thus the term tosatsu in Japan did not mean slaughtering everyone, including civilians, inside such a fortress when Page 10 of 19
sacking a city, as it does in the Chinese sense of the word. Written characters were invented in China, and these came into common usage in Japan after being introduced there; but the term tosatsu was only used in Japan to describe the process of producing meat for human consumption in which animals had to be slaughtered. The term was used reluctantly because the process was unavoidable.
In other words, when China built this museum to condemn Japan, it did so with a Chinese perspective on warfare, since this perspective clearly did not exist in Japan. It is imperative that we clearly recognize this difference in attitudes towards warfare.
In war-torn China, the defeated were treated in a distinctly different way. Rarely was any compassion shown for the losers. For instance, during the Spring and Autumn period (722–481 B.C.) Wu Zixu avenged his father and brother, who were executed by Pingwang, the king of Chu, by digging up the king’s corpse and having it horse-whipped 300 times. During the more recent war between Japan and China, it is worthwhile examining the case of Wang Jingwei, who was allied with Japan. Wang cooperated with Japan and established a government in Nanking, but he died in 1944 in Japan, far away from his homeland, and was repatriated for burial in the outskirts of Nanking at Plum Blossom Hill. His grave was later violated and replaced with a statue of Wang on his knees with hands tied behind his back, and he is spat upon by visitors.
Let us compare this with the situation in Japan. The Mongol invasion in the 13th century was an unprecedented national disaster for Japan. The Japanese side had done nothing in particular to provoke this, but was subjected to a one-sided onslaught and all manner of cruelties. Nevertheless, when the fighting ended prayers were said for all the deceased including enemy soldiers from China and Korea, in the spirit of “equality for friend and foe alike” (onshin byodo). Enkakuji, a vast temple complex in Kamakura, was built especially for this purpose. With this historical perspective on warfare, there was no way Japan, or its troops, when capturing the city of Nanking, would have committed the “massacre” envisioned by China.
In other words, China’s continued condemnation of a “massacre” by Japanese troops attests to the workings of its own political principle of “revolution through dynastic change,” and is a projection upon Japan of China’s perspective on warfare. China assumes, based on its own political principles, that a “massacre” must have occurred in Nanking when the city was taken by China’s military, and applies that assumption to its condemnation of Japan’s military.
Jiang Zemin, the former president of China, habitually admonished Japan to “reflect on history,” but, in fact, China itself should heed these words. China should reflect on its past and carefully examine its history. China must get over the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change,” and also the perspective on warfare which supports that principle.
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Japan is Poles Apart From A China Under the Sway of “Revolution Through Dynastic Change”
China adopted a natural law found in the animal kingdom as a political principle, namely that winners could do as they pleased in order to win, but losers forfeited the means to resist and had to accept any sort of treatment without question, even death. As a result, China became the dominant power in the region.
Why, on the other hand, did Japan evolve in the other direction and develop a culture diametrically opposed to this “revolution through dynastic change”? We must also consider this when looking at Chinese condemnation of Japan for the Nanking Incident.
As mentioned above, when the Qin emperor first unified China at the end of the 3rd century B.C., the culture of rice cultivation had found its way to some areas of the Japanese archipelago, but for the most part Japan was inhabited by people who led primitive lives of fishing, hunting, and gathering, with no awareness of being Japanese. Eventually, though, the culture of rice cultivation spread throughout the archipelago. A crop never before grown in Japan was cultivated in paddies, which were manually dug, and Japan became a wealthy nation, truly “the land of the vigorous rice harvest.” The cultivation of rice required attention to detail through group efforts, and both collective harmony and hard work were essential. This heralded the birth of the Yamato Court and gave rise to a unified nation.
Due to its enormous size and relatively advanced culture, China placed itself at the center of the world. Neighboring countries were considered barbaric, and were designated as subject states, or tributary states obliged to offer tribute. In antiquity, Japan was also a tributary state for a time, but at the beginning of the 7th century, Prince Shotoku sent a formal state letter to Emperor Yang of Sui, declaring “The Emperor of the land where the Sun rises sends a letter to the Emperor of the land where the Sun sets.” This established Japan as China’s equal, and in a position independent of China.
Under the rule of the Yamato Court, control of real political power was handed down through the generations; but although this dynasty lost its political power long ago, it still survives intact to the present day. Clearly this is a result of the rejection of China’s political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.”
The significance of this point can be illustrated by a comparison with Korea. Unlike China, Korea experienced relatively few dynastic changes, so to this extent it did not completely embrace the principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” Ancient Korea was divided into the three kingdoms of Koguryo, Silla and Paekche, but was later unified by Silla in the 7th century. Silla sought military assistance from the Chinese Tang Dynasty, and so was no longer able to develop a relationship with China of equality and independence. In the 10th century, power passed peacefully from Silla to Koryo, which was clearly not a case of “revolution through dynastic change.” However at the turn of the 14th century, the Yi Dynasty wrested control
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from the Koryo when Yi Song-gye, a Koryo retainer, successfully mounted a coup d’état, a typical example of “revolution through dynastic change.” To root out all the surviving Koryo loyalists who had gone into hiding, Yi called for them to come forward and take sanctuary on Cheju Island; but en route the boat transporting them there was sunk, killing everyone on board.
Established in this manner, the Yi Dynasty was unable to win the loyalty of the people. Paradoxically, it also made the Yi Dynasty more concerned with maintaining its own power than seeing to the welfare and prosperity of the people. Over time, it became impossible for the Yi Dynasty to win the allegiance of the people, and this is what brought about the appalling developments in the final years of the Yi.
What was the situation in Japan? While the Yamato Court faced a number of crises in its long history, let’s consider a situation from more recent times, for instance the case of Oda Nobunaga from Japan’s Warring States period of the 16th century. We may never know what Oda ultimately had in mind for the Japanese emperor; but if, for example, he had copied China and committed regicide, Oda probably wouldn’t have been able to become emperor himself, given Japan’s history and the resolute rejection of the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” The Yamato Court survived beyond this period, and in the mid-19th century played the central role in a restoration that saved the nation.
Japan’s rejection of the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” was not only significant in the narrow sense of the nation’s political development. It was also extremely beneficial for the development and evolution of Japanese culture. This is quite apparent if we look at the development of Buddhism in Japan. Buddhism flourished in China and Korea in the 6th century, and as a result Japan also enthusiastically embraced Buddhism. Today, though, China and Korea are no longer Buddhist nations with Buddhist temples wherever you go. These countries were subject to “revolution through dynastic change” and experienced extended periods in which Buddhism was capriciously destroyed. In Korea, when the Koryo Dynasty replaced Silla, it zealously preserved Buddhism; and despite outrages perpetrated by Yuan invaders, Buddhism was still maintained under the protection of the Koryo Dynasty. However the Yi Dynasty, which overthrew Koryo with military assistance from the Ming, was unable to gain the trust of the Buddhist world. This brought about a great suppression of Buddhism by the Yi. In Japan, though, those who ruled the country with real political power were bestowed with that authority by the Yamato Court, which was devoutly Buddhist, thus, the motive or need to suppress Buddhism did not arise.
As a result, cultural remnants accumulated from the past were rarely deliberately destroyed, and new culture developed alongside pre-existing culture. Consequently, in the 19th century during the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan had become a cultured nation with a people whose literacy rate was comparable to those in Europe and the United States, and greatly surpassed
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those in China or Korea. And it was this which enabled Japan to keep its independence when confronted by the United States and the European powers.
Political Principles in China Versus Europe
As previously discussed, the phenomenon in China of “revolution through dynastic change”— where victory can be attained by any means necessary, the winner may do as he pleases, and the loser has no choice but to accept any treatment including death—has transformed a natural law seen in the animal kingdom into a political principle. But in the 21st century, this political principle is clearly unacceptable to humanity. It is unacceptable, not only for China’s neighbors and the citizens of the world, but also for the people of China. The Chinese people cannot trust a government that is bound by the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” That is why the people of China invariably pursue immediate gains, and seldom demonstrate civic virtues. However, the Chinese people must ask themselves what sort of government they want to rule them and what sort of country they desire. Under a national polity for which the people take no responsibility, every individual is forced to pursue immediate gain.
We should acknowledge that, of all China’s successive dynasties, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has done the most for the people’s welfare; however it still won’t transfer to the people authority to form a government.
With the reader’s forbearance, I should like to mention one of my own publications here. In 2005, I wrote a book titled Time For a Democratic Party [of Japan] to Emerge,xvi in which I argued that Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping opened up the economy and built the foundation which enabled China to be the economic power that it is today. Nevertheless, Deng should have liberalized the political system rather than the economy. It may have been problematic to transform a Communist regime overnight into a democratic country based on free elections by the entire population; but it should have been possible to take gradual steps towards democracy, for instance, by allowing the people to cast votes in support of representatives to the National People’s Congress. Economies will develop spontaneously if people are allowed to enjoy freedom and public order, so in order to encourage economic development, Deng should also have freed up the political system wherever necessary.
However, when the Tiananmen Incident occurred, Deng rejected political liberalization by saying that “if we give way, the People’s Republic of China will be lost.” Clearly he was still under the sway of the principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” Deng encouraged economic liberalization, something which surely betrays Communist ideals, but could not tolerate political liberalization; so it is quite clear he was more influenced by the principle of “revolution through dynastic change” than by Communism. Even if China is democratized and one-party rule by the CCP crumbles, the country and the
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people will not cease to exist. For the CCP, which holds the Chinese people dear, surely its ultimate goal for its citizenry is precisely that a sound nation and prudent people will emerge. By encouraging economic liberalization, which betrays Communist ideals, yet rejecting political liberalization, we must conclude that the current regime under the CCP is following the principle of “revolution through dynastic change.”
To make matters worse, in order for the CCP regime to maintain itself today, it finds it necessary to adopt a hostile policy towards Japan. Even if for argument’s sake the Nanking Incident indeed resulted in 300,000 victims, the CCP feigns ignorance of its own enormous death toll which in fact vastly exceeds this number; the CCP continues to condemn Japan for the Nanking Incident despite the proven lack of credible evidence, because the regime’s goal is to maintain itself based on the principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” This reflects China’s perspective on warfare, something which humanity should abandon. Furthermore, people in democratic countries around the world should resolutely reject this condemnation of Japan.
Europe has striven to advance civilization and society based on the three pillars of Greek philosophy, Roman jurisprudence, and the Christian faith. Wars may be unavoidable, but efforts have been made to keep their number to a minimum, and to minimize the number of their victims as well; efforts continue to be made to improve the way of life for humanity and for society. Countries have placed the basis for sovereignty with the people, thereby producing democratic nations.
Japan evolved independently of both Greek philosophy and Roman jurisprudence, which are occupied with freedoms and rights, and was largely untouched by the tenets of Christianity. Yet there were relatively few wars in Japan, and those that did occur caused very few casualties; the first principle of government was to act on behalf of the people, and the result was that Japan, like Europe evolved towards universal principles for a way of life for humanity and society. Japan maintained a discrete distance from its giant neighbor China, neither staying too close nor straying too far, and was seldom invaded because it was surrounded by water; the Yamato Court came into being based on the culture of rice cultivation, namely growing a crop not previously found in Japan, and survives to this day without ever being endangered by the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” Progress continues towards universal principles for the existence of humanity and for society.
Let’s consider the situation in Korea. Although Korea felt intimidated by China, it was surrounded by water on three sides so could relatively easily reject outside interference; compared to China it was able to avoid the path of “revolution through dynastic change” for the most part. However its common border with China to the north meant it couldn’t set aside this political principle entirely. With China as a neighbor that believed that the powerful could do as they pleased precisely because they were strong, Korea too essentially followed this Page 15 of 19
principle and just barely stayed clear of the path of “revolution through dynastic change.”
Through the ages, Europe and Japan had hardly any contact at all, and followed distinct historical paths determined by different circumstances; yet in the end, both are conflict-free, both have discovered the shared ideals of government conducted on behalf of the people, and both have advanced along a common universal direction.
However, today, in the 21st century, the time has come again to reconsider matters. In ancient times, when there was thought to be no world beyond Asia, China, the largest country in the known world, followed the political principle in which the powerful could do as they pleased precisely because they were strong, and its neighbors were forced to conform to this. Today, though, the known world extends to the entire planet and comprises all the continents including Europe, the Americas, Africa, etc. In today’s world, China and Korea have the capacity to resist any natural law, including the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change.” Although the Chinese people at the present time sometimes have trouble with ethics, we should try to understand that to a degree this is an unavoidable consequence of the pressure of this political principle, and for the sake of the Chinese people as well, we must help bring about political liberalization and democratization in China. And the people of China must try to understand that part of the hostility currently directed towards Japan has actually been fabricated by the CCP regime to suit its own purposes.
The Japanese Government Has A Duty to Translate and Disseminate the Research Findings of The Japan “Nanking” Society
The Japan “Nanking” Society was established on October 28th, 2000, and at that time no-one could have anticipated the volume of solid research that would be achieved. However, great strides were made in this research, thanks, in particular, to the work of our Society’s chairman Higashinakano Shudo, and it has now become clear that, while legal executions were carried out in Nanking, there were certainly not enough illegal killings to warrant calling it a “massacre.” In his article “How Should We View Executions Conducted by the Japanese Military?” in the Society’s most recent annual report (2008), Higashinakano methodically settles this final doubt about the Nanking Incident. For Chinese soldiers to be disarmed and placed under the jurisdiction of the Japanese military, and then, nonetheless, to have been executed, was extremely regrettable, and certainly brought no credit to the Japanese military, even if there had been no other viable alternative; but it is now virtually unmistakable that, in the strictest sense, no large-scale illegal killings occurred., General Tang Shengzhi, charged with the defense of Nanking, abandoned his troops and fled, which caused much of the chaos, but he was never held to account for this, despite increasing the number of victims. Responsibility must also be extended to Chiang Kai-shek. There was clearly a disparity between the KMT troops, who were under the sway of the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change,” and Japanese
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troops, who were not; yet the present CCP regime, which still operates under that political principle, continues to condemn Japan’s prewar troops who were not at all operating under that principle.
The Chinese government wants to register the “Memorial for Compatriots Killed in the Nanking Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression” as a World Heritage Site. Present research developments, directed largely by the Japan “Nanking” Society, show how ridiculous these moves by the Chinese government are, but we should recognize that this government is under the sway of the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change,” which people world-wide should try to eradicate, and that it is a reflection of China’s cruel perspective on warfare. We must also acknowledge that efforts to eradicate this ought to be made in concert with people from the democratic nations of the world. We should bear in mind that the divide between Chinese condemnation of Japan over the Nanking Incident, and the Japanese rebuttal that there was no incident in Nanking, is in fact a struggle between the shortsighted political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” and universal tenets which challenge “revolution through dynastic change.”
We should remember that, throughout the world, strength is the ultimate key to political power. When an extremely powerful China makes false accusations, the political repercussions reverberate because of that power. When a weak country makes false statements it usually ends up being the laughing stock, but the falsehoods of a powerful country yield political results. This is clearly the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” at work.
In the face of all this, what options are open to Japan, which lacks vast reserves of power? When the powerless resort to simple tricks, contrary to expectation, this can leave them open to being manipulated. It is essential that, rather than spending energy on perfecting mere tricks, we must say what needs to be said in a consistent manner, and continue to disseminate accurate information at all times. And when doing so, we should always take the broader perspective that we need to eradicate the political principle of “revolution through dynastic change” which gives rise to China’s irrational criticisms, for the sake of both the people of China in the 21st century and the people of the world.
At the annual meeting of the “Nanking” Society held on December 4th, 2007, a resolution was passed to “request budget allocations for the production of translated materials to defend the honor of Japan,” and was addressed to Hiranuma Takeo, Chairman of “The Committee of Diet Members Seeking the Removal of Incorrect Photos from China’s Anti-Japanese Memorial Museum.” This resolution was handed to Inada Tomomi, Secretary-General of this Diet committee, on April 14th, 2008. Even though Japan’s reputation has been severely damaged because of allegations regarding the Nanking Incident, the fact that the Japanese government has not come up with any translated materials to counter or explain these allegations, clearly reveals its negligence. The case
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must be made that the government has a responsibility to translate the research results of the Japan “Nanking” Society. This is essential, not just for our own people in Japan, but also for the people of the world, including those of China. I cannot emphasize this enough in concluding this final edition of the “Nanking” Society’s annual report, which has produced such outstanding results.
Lastly, although the “Nanking” Society will work in the future on publishing primary source materials such as detailed reports from the battlefield and staff diaries, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude on behalf of the Society to Mr. Imamura Hiroshi, editor at Tendensha Publishers, who has been in charge of editing these annual reports over the past six years.