The Nanjing Incident: Japanese Eyewitness Accounts 3
By Ara Kenichi,
3. Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
8) Interview with Mr. Futamura Jiro (二村次郎), Photographer for the Hochi Shimbun Newspaper (Yomiuri Group newspaper)
With the outbreak of the China Incident, the major newspaper companies dispatched their reporters and photographers to the battlefield; the Hochi Shimbun (Yomiuri group newspaper) followed as well. At the time, the Shanghai branch of the Hochi Shimbun had only three members, including Chief Hyakutake (百武), and this was insufficient, so the Hochi Shimbun sent five reporters and photographers first, with the outbreak of the Shanghai Incident; then two additional reporters were dispatched to Shanghai. And on September 5, 1937, the third reinforcement arrived, that is, photographer Mr. Futamura Jiro.
Mr. Futamura joined Hochi Shimbun at the age of 16, starting as a flush-operator, and when he was dispatched to Shanghai, he was still 22 years old, the youngest in the photograph department. Like Robert Capa, who took pictures of the Spanish Civil War, war photography was a most challenging job so he was envied by colleagues. He followed numerous battles, including Zhabei (閘北), Dachang Town (大場鎮), and Zoumatang (走馬塘). On November 11, 1937, the Japanese Army took control of Shanghai. The Japanese Army moved to Nanjing and Mr. Futamura followed the Army.
Mr. Futamura stayed in Shanghai until the end of March 1938 and then returned to Tokyo. In June, he was recruited by the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun. He kept his position at the Mainichi Shimbun after the War, publishing numerous photos and eventually opened his own studio.
I interviewed Mr. Futamura in April 1986, when cherry trees were full of bloom, at his studio in Shibuya, Tokyo. Mr. Futamura showed me his last remaining album, which narrowly escaped destruction by American air raids during the War, as well as articles concerning the so-called Nanjing Massacre published by Asahi Shimbun.
Mr. Futamura told me that he had nearly forgotten about the Nanjing issue but a decade ago, Mr. Suzuki Akira, who wrote the book, “Illusion of the Nanjing Massacre” (南京大虐殺の幻) (Nankin daigyakusatsu no maboroshi), visited him and informed him that the Nanjing issue became a subject of public discussion. Since then, he has followed every and any discussion concerning the Nanjing Incident and kept an article, ‘Wanrenkeng’ (万人坑), published by the Asahi Shimbun several years ago.
– What route did you take when you moved from Shanghai to Nanjing?
At first, I walked on the railway tracks to Kunshan (崑山); needless to say, there were no trains. I didn’t follow any particular group of soldiers. Then I went to Suzhou (蘇州), where I took pictures of the troops entering the fortress. Suzhou was a big city and the pictures of the troops entering the fortress made headlines, so we sent the photos to Shanghai immediately. Magara Akinori (真柄秋徳), the head of the photo section of the Hochi Shimbun and photographer Miyakawa Katsumi (宮川克己), and Suzuki Jiro (鈴木二郎), a reporter from the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, and I, started for Shanghai.
The regimental commander, Fujii Sueyoshi (藤井末吉), I don’t remember his name very well, came up to me and said, “We could have taken the area sooner, as the enemy was asleep, but now they are awake, so your journey will be very dangerous. Take these.” And he handed us weapons. We knew that they could not spare any soldiers to protect us. The weapons we received were those captured from the Chinese army. I was given a light machine gun and the other three were given infantry rifles. I didn’t know even how to shoot so I was told to try it out first. When I shot it, I fell on my butt from its recoil. I was far from hitting the target but just having the weapon might be useful, so I carried it and headed for Kunshan.
Our luggage was carried by several coolies.
When we arrived at Kunshan there was a car waiting me, which was arranged by our company Hochi, so I took the car, leaving the other three and went back to Shanghai.
We were comrades in the battlefield but, in the end, as journalist we were competitors, so I didn’t offer them a ride. I think rides were already arranged for them as well.
– Did you head for Nanjing from Shanghai again?
Yes, of course. Reporters wrote their articles later but photos cannot wait. You must be there at the right moment. I departed right away, alone. I went to Wu-xi (無錫 ) and as far I remember, delivered my photos to Shanghai as well. After that, I decided to follow any group of soldiers and departed Shanghai for the third time–I met the 47th Regiment of the 6th Division. I was born in Oita, Kyushu, and this Regiment was the “Oita Regiment,” so I decided to follow the Regiment.
– According to my knowledge, the 47th Regiment suffered from cholera and stayed in Jiashan (嘉善) for a while.
Did it? I don’t remember that at all. Maybe I joined them after the cholera incident. I was with the 47th Regiment for a week before we arrived in Nanjing.
I moved with Regimental headquarters but later went to the front line in order to take good photos. As a matter of fact there was food at headquarters and they generously gave me their portions. But when I moved to the front, I had to find food for myself. Soon, my stock ran out and I had to eat the last of my stock, a pickled plum. I put it in my mouth and found that it was not pickled plum but candy plum. After that, I entered a nearby farmhouse and took some food. I think other solders had done the same.
– Did you move with other photographers?
For a while, I moved with Ishii Kiyoshi (石井清), a Mainich Shimbun photographer, but we separated thereafter, so later I was alone most of the time.
I heard that photographer Konoyama Kunio (此山国雄) of the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun, had been accidentally shot by a Japanese soldier at Zhonghua Gate (中華門)—I was in the area as well–because he wore a Chinese soldier’s steel helmet. In those days, Chinese soldiers hid in farms in the area, so using the enemy’s helmet made no sense. But in any event, his death should be regarded as war-related.
– It was the 47th Regiment who first put up the hinomaru flag over the fortress, wasn’t it?
Yes, it was. They climbed the rampart of Zhonghua Gate to attack and, being with the first wave, I took pictures. Actually, it was not easy to follow the first wave. Taking the best shot of capturing the castle at the right moment was quite a rare opportunity so we usually made the soldiers pose again, for a good shot.
– When did you enter the castle?
I remember that the 47th Regiment climbed over the captured rampart. It was either the 12th or 13th.
– What did you see in the Castle?
No Chinese there. I separated from the 47th Regiment and moved alone. Our Hochi Shimbun reporters moved to Nanjing separately so I tried to find my colleagues to make a temporary Hochi office and pictures of capture of the rampart were carried by airplane to Shanghai.
– Where did you make your temporary office?
I don’t remember. What I remember was, the Hochi brought staff from Japan who handled carrier pigeons.
– Have you heard about the so-called Nanjing Massacre?
During my stay in Nanjing, I never saw anything like that at all. After the War, people often asked me about this but I have no memory about it. For sure, I would want to know about this. Unlike Auschwitz, there was no designated place to kill people. It was the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) when I heard about this for the first time after the War. I thought very deeply and I remember that I saw a huge hole inside the Castle.
– When did you see this?
It was shortly after I entered the Castle. It was a rectangular hole, 20 to 30 meters long, more than 1 meter depth–it looked new. It was not located in the housing area but in the fields.
– Who made the hole, Japanese or Chinese soldiers?
I don’t know. When I heard about Nanjing Massacre I felt that the hole might have been somehow related. But this is just my guess; I know nothing about it.
– Did you go back later to check?
I was not concerned at all that time, so it never occurred to me to check again. After the War, there were claims about the Nanjing massacre so I tried to remember anything, and I finally remembered that hole.
– Someone said prisoners-of-war were killed.
I saw prisoners walking–they were tied up in rows. It was daytime.
– Did you mention this with others in your office?
In the middle of battle, I watched one or two war prisoners being killed. We reporters saw those things but it did not become a topic in particular. You might just call them prisoners but prisoners could turn to be enemy at anytime. And, practically it was impossible to bring prisoners with us. We could not move with them. Several hundred prisoners I saw in Nanjing might have been killed because we did not enough foods for them. If you can find the soldiers who led those prisoners, you might be able to find something about so-called Nanjing Massacre.
– How about civilians?
I don’t believe Japanese soldiers had done any wrong with them.
– Did you not see bodies in Nanjing?
I saw almost nothing. Had I seen hundreds of bodies, I would not have forgotten. But for the Yangtze River, I heard many reporters saying they saw countless bodies floating in the river.
– Was this the so-called massacre?
They were not massacred–but the number of bodies was large so they might have mentioned this, I think.
– What places did you visit in Nanjing?
I visited the Yangtze River myself but what I saw with my own eyes were one or two bodies. I visited a depository which kept goods of abandoned property. There were huge buildings and the inside was ransacked. Chinese soldiers or Japanese soldiers–I don’t know who did it–anyway, no valuables were left.
I visited the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (中山陵), of which I have still pictures, together with my colleagues from the Hochi Shimubun. There were hundreds of stone steps and the journey took a whole day. I remember that there were Japanese soldiers acting outrageously, throwing papers into a room and setting it on fire. So all of us had to carry water to put out the fire.
Also I visited buildings of the Nationalist Party’s Government and took a picture of the Japanese flag being hoisted there.
– Did you take pictures of the two ceremonies, the triumphant entry and memorial service?
Yes, I did. The memorial service was especially impressive. At the time, it was not easy to get near Commander General Matsui but I was able to take close-up photos of him. I remember that I was trembling because I was so nervous, to see him so close.
Commander General Matsui Iwane, full of tears, mourned the dead and I found myself crying as well. Even now, I have not forgotten the feeling.
– Were you back to Shanghai soon after the memorial service?
Maybe I stayed Nanjing for a couple of days. We returned to Shanghai by car, and the car fell into a rice paddy but luckily nobody was injured at all.
– Did you stay in Shanghai after that?
After I returned to Shanghai, I went to Hangzhou (杭州). After the New Year, in January or February 1938, I went to Nanjing in order to take the Tianjin-Pukou line (津浦線).
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
There were no Chinese soldiers and the town was quiet. Regarding Japanese soldiers, only sentries were posted. I went to the Tianjin-Pukou line and stayed for a while, since the Xuzhou (徐州) Operation was going to start, but there was no progress with the operation, so I came back to Shanghai and later returned to Tokyo. I arrived in Tokyo on April 1.
Thinking back those days, I feel strange – we didn’t know how or when we will die. During the battle of Somatou (走馬塘 ), I took pictures at the front and came back in one piece. But my backpack, which I left in a shelter, was hit by a bomb. Later, in Tokyo, my backpack was exhibited to the public as a backpack carried by a war correspondent, as well as my light machine gun, as I previously mentioned.
Mr. Iwakura Tomomasa (岩倉具方) (painter and the third son of Duke Iwakura), who joined the Navy as an artist/reporter for the Hochi Shimbun, was a very quiet person. He said that he would never go to out to a battlefield because he was really afraid and never left Shanghai. However, the Chinese army bombarded Shanghai, and Mr. Iwakura, who lived on Woosung Road (呉松路), where many Japanese lived and a supposedly safe place took a direct hit by a bomb. I think he was the first reporter casualty in Shanghai. At the time, I thought we would die wherever we were, in a town or on the battlefield, when the time came.
9) Interview with Mr. Taguchi Risuke (田口利介), Reporter for the Hochi Shimbun Newspaper
On August 13, 1937, at the outbreak of the Shanghai Incident, Mr. Taguchi Risuke was a reporter from the social department of the Hochi Shimbun and was assigned to the Ministry of the Navy. At that time, 7,000 Japanese citizens lived in Shanghai, and in order to protect them, 4,000 members of Imperial Japanese Navy Landing Forces stood up against 30,000 Chinese troops. Accordingly, the Kuroshio-kai (黒潮会), a reporters’ association which was assigned to the Ministry of the Navy, reporters were sent to Shanghai, from the Domei Tsushin, Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, and Hochi newspapers. Reporters sent were Mr. Taguchi from the Hochi and Mr. Hayashi (林謙一) from the Mainichi. Mr. Hayashi Kenichi , later wrote “Ohan-han,” which became a popular TV program. They left Tokyo on September 12. Mr. Taguchi was 26 years old.
When they arrived in Shanghai, the Japanese Army had just arrived at Kunda (公太) Airfield as well. Thereafter, they attacked Nanjing from September 19 to 25, with a total of 300 airplanes, 11 times. The Nanjing air-raid was internationally condemned.
– Did you go to Shanghai to report on naval activity?
Yes. Ten days after the attack, the Imperial Japanese Navy Landing Forces defended Headquarters at all cost, and when we arrived in Shanghai, they confronted the Chinese Army at North Sichuan Road (北四川路).
Military artist Iwakura Tomomasa (岩倉具方) (Duke Iwakura’s son and Tomomi Iwakura’s great-grandson) from the Hochi Shimbun, took a mortar round to the head as walked in the International Settlement. He died on October 14.
He was indeed dedicated to the Navy, so I asked the Navy to spare a couple of sailors for his cremation. I guessed that the Landing Forces or its press section did not have any sailors on hand, so I went to the Third Fleet. “We do not have anyone available for such purpose,” they simply told me. They didn’t care for war correspondents or military artists at all. After we died, we were nothing to them; chilly. So, in the early morning, we placed Mr. Iwakura’s body into a coffin, which the Japanese residents’ society prepared, and went to a mulberry field near the airfield, and two persons, a Chinese and a driver, burned the coffin with petroleum.
– The fighting by the Landing Forces was over with the battle of Zhabei (閘北), is that correct?
While the Landing Forces won the battle of Zhabei, the Japanese Army also won the battle of Dachang (大場鎮). After that, the main force shifted to the Army. So I began reporting news mainly on the Army.
A number of creeks and lakes dotted the suburbs of Shanghai and the Chinese military used them to build their pillboxes. Chiang Kai-shek called it the “Von Seeckt Line”. German commander von Seeckt used these creeks to build a solid defensive line connected to Suzhou (蘇州), which was regarded as firm as the Maginot Line. Japanese Naval Aviation had command of the air but it was not easy to defeat the Chinese.
– When you went to Nanjing, you followed Japanese Army troops?
The Shanghai Expeditionary Army attacked from both directions, against Kunshan (昆山) and Suzhou (蘇州). We followed, but not with any particular unit. While we moved to Suzhou and Wu-xi (無錫), we came across the 16th Division and after that we followed the 16th Division. We continued to move to Changzhou (常州), then Danyang (丹陽), and I wrote several stories about Colonel Katagiri (片桐), the Commander of the 9th Regiment.
In those days, I traveled by jeep and delivered my reports to Shanghai by jeep. But as we got closer to Nanjing, we found that the Chinese military had burned down a bridge before they disappeared, so our jeep could not go any further, and that report became my last article.
– Did you move with divisional Headquarters?
I moved at the company level, so I didn’t know anyone such as the Division Commander or his staff officers.
On either December 8 or 9, we were at, if my memory is correct, Jiangsu (句容) – several consoling visitors from the House of Representatives came to Headquarters and left Japanese sake for Prince Asakanomiya. That night, a staff officer, a lieutenant colonel, in the Asakanomiya Army, brought the sake to us. We lit a candle in a small box, trying not to leak the light out, and sipped the sake. “The Prince doesn’t experience hardships – it is you, reporters, who face the hoary front, who deserve the sake,” said the lieutenant colonel. I think then that the lieutenant colonel acted like yakuza or a gangster. His name was Lieutenant Colonel Cho Isamu (長勇), who later committed harakiri (suicide) at the battle of Okinawa. This well describes his character.
– Did you move with Staff Officer Cho (長) after that?
No. I met him only once, that night.
The next day, I went to a place called Kirinmon (麒麟門.). It was called mon (gate) but it was not one of Nanjing Castle’s gate. The place I stayed at hardly looked like a village–it was just a cluster of several houses, where the front-line company was deployed. Nanjing Castle stood firmly despite Japanese field gun attacks. We spent 3 to 4 days there.
Incidentally, this is after the fact–at around the same time when we were there, the Mainichi Shimbun printed a special edition on the start of the attack on Nanjing Castle. I heard about this after I returned to Shanghai. “What have you been doing?” the desk yelled at me. But in fact, the Japanese military just reached Nanjing Castle!
Back to the story at Kirinmon–in the middle of night, a voice suddenly awakened me, “Okinto yakemasse–wake up or you will be burned!” in a Kyoto dialect that sounded somewhat peaceful to my sleepy head. At first I didn’t understood what had happened. The next moment, my eyes caught scarlet fire past the windows. It was unlike the situation of yakemasse, like a baked potato, so I rushed out of our lodging immediately. The battle had started.
Several days like that passed. Then one morning, when I got up, I realized that there were no more sounds of shooting. Nanjing fell that day.
Just over one night the world had completely changed. I entered Nanjing that day. What I only had in my rucksack then was a handful rice and three dried sardines.
– Did you enter from Zhongshan Gate (中山門)?
Yes. There were a lot of sandbags clogged up the inside the gate. Those sandbags had been partially removed before I entered so I climbed up. The inside of the Castle was quiet, no sound of guns. I felt strange–only a short while ago we had been surrounded by noisy gunfire.
Zhongshan Gate led to a big street, Zhongshan East Road (中山東路,), where I saw nothing, not even a kitten. Walking along the deserted street, I found buildings of the Nationalist Party’s Government. I entered and was surprised to see that it remained intact, as if Chiang Kai-shek was there. On his desk were pencils, pens and other things, as if he were ready to go to work. I heard he had escaped around December 7 – it seemed that he in fact ran away in a hurry.
What I found next was a bidet in the bathroom. At first, I wondered what it was, but then I realized that this was bidet. I had heard of bidets but it was the first time I actually saw one.
– What was it like inside Nanjing Castle?
I saw just 2 or 3 bodies. I heard that the Chinese Military fled from Xiaguan (下関), so I visited Xiaguan. Xiaguan was a harbor town along Yangtze River. To reach it, you have a lot of choices of gates to go through–I didn’t know which gate they used.
I found nothing at Xiaguan. Maybe it was because they had long since fled.
– Did you find anything impressive in Nanjing?
One day, I visited the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (中山陵 ) at Mt. Zijin (紫禁山). I climbed up more than 300 spacious, gentle steps made with white granite. The Sun-Yat-sen Mausoleum looked magnificent. Incredibly, I saw no traces of gunfire there and felt relieved.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing.
I never heard of that then–nobody mentioned such a thing.
– Did the 16th Division keep discipline?
As far as I saw, there were no big problems. Except on the way to Nanjing, a sergeant from the 16th Division declared that he would kill 100 Chinese with his sword on the way to Nanjing. I don’t know if he actually did that. He said he would do it to avenge his comrades and it was said that whenever he met Chinese he used his sword to kill them. It was said that he killed not only uniformed Chinese soldiers but also ben-i, plain-clothed soldiers.
– What did other soldiers think of him?
I am sure that no one else thought that this was good. In war, it is kill or be killed, nothing more. The sergeant was obsessed by the idea of revenge but I felt he was somewhat of a coward.
– It is said that Staff Officer Cho Isamu, as you previously mentioned, ordered his solders to do this.
I don’t know. I met Staff Officer Cho just once. But from my naval reporter’s point of view, generally speaking, I felt that those army Staff Officers didn’t care much for orders coming from above. Lieutenant General Sato Kenryo (佐藤賢了) and Lieutenant General Tominaga Kyoji (富永恭次) were the typical. Cho Isamu (長勇) was one of them, I think.
– How long were you in Nanjing?
Until the entrance ceremony. I didn’t know anything about the memorial service for the next day. I heard about it later.
– When did you come to know about Nanjing-Incident?
Recently. I read a book written by Mr. Maeda Yuji (前田雄二), a Domei Tsushin reporter. In his book, he said he saw bodies at Xiaguan, but when I went there, I found no bodies.
On the other hand, one of my colleagues, Mr. Iwata Iwaji (岩田岩二), a Navy reporter who later came to Nanjing by gunboat, said that he saw many bodies floating in the Yangtze River as the boat got close to Nanjing. But whether this was due to a massacre or not, I was not sure at the time.
– The Nanjing Incident was an agenda idem at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE). Did you know that?
I was drafted in 1943 and went to Harbin (哈爾濱), serving in the Special Duty Organization. As the war ended, I was detained in Siberia by the Soviet Military. I came back to Japan with the last evacuees in 1950. So, for 5 years after the War, my memory is blank. But after I returned to Japan, for long time, I never heard about a “Nanjing Massacre.” It was only in these past 10 years that this kind of talk started.
According to my experience, I feel that any “massacre” was somehow exaggerated, maybe in order to oppose the Army’s fascism or for propaganda purposes for the Chinese Communist Party’s Army.
In 1940, Mr. Taguchi joined the Ministry of the Navy. At around the same time, Germany established the PK (Propagandakompanie) under the RMVP (Reich Ministry for Information and Propaganda). They realized the importance of news from the front as well as the soldiers on the front lines. Later, the US Navy also followed in kind, but in Japan, journalists and war correspondents were not as highly valued.
Mr. Taguchi could not forget the Navy’s attitude as demonstrated by the death of Mr. Iwakura, the military artist, in Shanghai. Therefore, he approached Colonel Hiraide Hideo (平出英夫,) Chief of the Public Relations section in the Ministry of the Navy, who previously served as a resident military officer in Italy and had just returned from Italy. Mr. Taguchi tried to persuade Hiraide to realize the value of information and propaganda, and, eventually, Mr. Taguchi himself joined the Navy’s PR section to help them.
After joined the PR section, Mr. Taguchi was engaged in writing press releases and inspections. It was Mr. Taguchi who deified the nine sailors who served in the special attack submarine, sacrificed themselves in Pearl Harbor Attack.
He was drafted in 1943 and went Harbin, assigned to the Special Duty Organization. As the War ended, he was detained in Siberia and was finally returned to Japan 1950.
After returning from Siberia, he established the Marine Boy Scouts and was involved in teaching this organization for the next 10 years. Then, he continued the program “Toki no Kadai,” (Today’s Issues) which was created by former Navy Commander Baba Kinji, press section, Ministry of the Navy, continuing this until the present day. Additionally, he wrote several books, including “Fighting Navy Spirits,”(戦う海軍魂) and “History of Naval Strategies”(海軍作戦史).
10) Interview with Mr. Higuchi Tetsuo (樋口哲雄), Film Operator for the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
Mr. Higuchi Tetsuo made films for Nikkatsu Motion Pictures.
In 1933, several people jumped, one after another, into Mt. Mihara on Izu Oshima Island, to kill themselves. It was big news at the time, so the Yomiuri Shimbun and Nikkatsu planned to make a film of the crater in cooperation with university professors.
Mr. Shoriki Matsutaro (正力松太郎), the president of the Yomiuri Shimubun, saw the film of the crater made by Mr. Higuchi, who was at the Nikkatsu then, recruited Mr. Higuchi for his film department at the Yomiuri Company–thus, Mr. Higuchi ended up at the Yomiuri Shimbun in 1935.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred on July 7, 1937. Mr. Higuchi and three reporters were dispatched to Beijing (北京). On the night of July 11, he departed the Tokyo station together with Mr. Magara (真柄), the head of the photographic section, and others.
For a while, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident seemed to have subsided but it eventually resulted in full-scale conflict. The film he took at the Marco Polo Bridge was soon released on July 17 as special edition news.
The Japanese military entered Beijing Castle and fighting expanded. Mr. Higuchi followed the Army. On September 16, on the way to Baoding (保定,) during a river-crossing operation, Mr. Higuchi jumped into the Juma (拒馬河) River naked, holding his Eyemo camera high overhead. Photographs of him at the time entitled “Desperate Photographer Crossing River,” were posted in newspapers and magazines and gain a lot of popularity.
On October 29, during the Taiyuan (太原) Attack, his left hand was injured by a piece of ammunition. Mr. Higuchi was 38 years old then–he was a really brave war photographer.
After this, he moved to Shanghai.
– Which troops did you follow to Nanjing?
None in particular. After leaving Shanghai, I went to Suzhou (蘇州) and through the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum I reached Nanjing and entered the Castle through Zhongshan Gate (中山門).
– What was the date when you entered the Castle?
I think it was immediately after the capture. Zhongshan Gate was surrounded by ramparts, and there was a moat in front of it. Japanese troops tried to enter by shooting the Zhongshan Gate, but breaking the gate was very difficult because there were huge amounts of sandbags and dirt stacked high–we didn’t know that.
– Where did you stay in the Castle?
Walking from Zhongshan Road (中山路) toward Zhongshan North Road (中山北路) and turning left, there was a slope and after turning left we found a private house on the left side of the slope. Mr. Kamahara (釜原), a member of our branch, and I decided to use the house as our temporary branch.
Chinese children were called shohai. We hired a shohai and we three managed well. It was not real employment, just small jobs and giving food in return. I think the shohai was satisfied with the arrangement because he was not able to find enough food for himself.
– What was the situation inside of the Castle?
Walking along Zhongshan North Road from the temporary branch office, there was Regimental Headquarters. In the headquarters’ backyard a lot of guns and pistols, which were taken from Chinese Army soldiers, were piled up to one meter in height. One Japanese soldier told me, “Take whatever you want,” but I declined. For journalists, weapons were useless.
– How many guns were there?
Hundreds or thousands. Also there were piles of Hohei (法幣,) Chinese paper money.
– Didn’t they use the money?
I think we were unable to use it. The money was left there long after. I think they burned the Hohei in the end.
– Where did you go in the Castle?
We had a car so I went here and there, everyday. One day I visited Whampoa Military Academy (黄埔軍官学校), where I found Chiang Kai-shek’s name card, 4 times bigger than a Japanese name card.
– Where did you take pictures of the entrance ceremony?
I took photos of Commander General Matsui from the opposite side of the Military Academy across Zhongshan East Road (中山東路). At the time of the entrance ceremony, the Zhongshan Gate looked clean.
– Did you deliver the photos you took, by yourself?
No. A correspondent came up to us from Shanghai and he took the photos back to Shanghai.
– What was most impressive thing in Nanjing Castle?
As I mentioned earlier, the countless number of guns and pistols at Headquarters.
– Around that time, it is said that the Japanese army committed a massacre.
I don’t know anything about that, whether that happened or not.
– Have you not seen or heard anything about that?
I know nothing about that. I did not see any traces of a massacre. People have said such a thing occurred, but where and how? The Chung Shan Mausoleum (中山廟) was not ransacked–it looked clean. Under wartime circumstances, if you don’t kill, you will be killed; some people say this was a massacre.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
After I entered the Castle, I stayed for a month or so. After the ceremony, I had nothing to do in particularly–just killing time. At a road starting from the central rotary for China Gate we found a place on the left side called Fushibyo (夫子廟), a red-light district.
The Sinjun (秦准河) River ran along the street, so it was also known as Sinjun. This was just like the Japanese Yoshiwara (吉原), where you could play with women and drink alcohol. Kamahara, my colleague, and I waited for dusk and visited there frequently.
– How many places like that existed?
Around the area, a lot. We called the women working there chansy kunyan. Usually we stayed a whole night there, leaving our car with our company flag flying high, so we got an unfavorable reputation at times.
– Did Japanese soldiers visit there as well?
No, no soldiers at all. I think they were prohibited from going there. As far as Japanese were concerned, the visitors were all reporters and news-related.
– How about other Japanese who were not news-related?
Japanese civilians had not yet entered Nanjing.
– Do you think Japanese soldiers visited comfort houses or brothels?
I don’t know whether there were such houses or not.
– Where did you go after Nanjing?
Back to Shanghai, then Tokyo. So I didn’t join Operation Xuzhou (徐州), which happened immediately after that.
Mr. Higuchi was born July 1899 and was 87 years old when I met. He had no health problem, except for his teeth–he said he just had five teeth pulled out before we met. His speech and gait were very steady.
Before I visited Mr. Higuchi, he insisted that no massacre took place in Nanjing and he had nothing to say about it. His statement concurred with his narration. Still, I asked him to talk about anything, whatever he experienced in Nanjing, and he told me what he remembered by referring to the “100 Years History Book” of the Yomiuri Shimbun.
After returning to Tokyo, Mr. Higuchi joined the Army again in the Hankou（漢口）Operation. In 1940, he moved to the Japan News Eiga-sha Movie Company. After the Greater East Asia War started, he went to Lourenço Marques, Africa on a repatriation ship, then served as Chief of the Hong Kong branch, then General Chief of the Manchuria branch.
After Japan lost the War, Mr. Higuchi quit the Japan News Eiga-sha and worked at several jobs with his friends. Then he joined Allied General Headquarters (GHQ) to make films. After GHQ disbanded, he joined an advertisement agency, a company affiliated with the Yomiuri Shimbun, and worked there until his retirement.
11) Interview with Mr. Mori Hiroshi (森博), Photographer for the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper
Mr. Mori Hiroshi was a well-known photographer–he took the picture of a Navy airplane that flew with a single wing at the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War.
On December 9, 1937, just before Nanjing fell, a Type 96 carrier-based fighter plane, appeared over the Kunda (公太) airfield, Shanghai, which had lost one wing yet it kept flying. The pilot was Staff Sergeant Kashimura (樫村) of the 13th Air Corps. The 13th Air Corps had started an attack on Nanchang (南昌) and Kashimura’s Type 96 fighter clashed with a Chinese fighter over Nanchang and lost its wing. Yet the single-winged fighter managed to fly back to Shanghai. Witnessing this, Mori started to film the scene with his Eyemo, against the order of a naval officer.
In the end, the film was allowed to be shown and released to the public as a news reel, which was welcomed with cheers by the Japanese people. From the film, a photo for the newspapers was also made, which resulted in a scoop for the Yomiuri. The photo was displayed at Yasukuni shrine and Vice-Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku (山本五十六), the Under Secretary of the Navy (海軍次官) at the time, had long displayed this photo in his office.
Mr. Mori went to Nanjing immediately after this scoop.
In the beginning of August 1937, one year after he joined the Yomiuri Shimbun, he was suddenly assigned to the naval news section and went Shanghai. Several days later, in Shanghai, the Japanese Landing Force confronted the Chinese Army, so he found himself watching the second Shanghai-Incident from the very beginning. He was born in 1911 and 26 years old at the time.
– You came back from Hangzhou Bay (杭州湾) and after that you headed for Nanjing?
When I came back from Hangzhou Bay, Shanghai was quiet. Soon after, the Japanese Army headed for Nanjing and I followed them. I took films of Wu-xi’s (無錫) capture.
That time a reporter, Watanabe Mineo (渡辺峰雄) of the Yomiuri Shimbun, and a photographer, Maeda Tsune (前田恒) of the Asahi Shimbun, were killed. Watanabe was originally living in Shanghai and was hired by the Shanghai branch as a temporary reporter. He was a brave man. I was shocked to hear that Mr. Maeda was killed only one hour after we separated. He must have been the first photographer killed.
I followed the Army to Wu-xi but I came back to Shanghai later because at that time, it was not yet clear when the Nanjing attack would start.
Under the rules of the Yomiuri Shimbun, after being on the battlefield for three months, we had to go back to Tokyo. I had already stayed 3 months in Shanghai, so I returned to Tokyo.
In those days, the Asahi Shimbun and Miyako Shimbun paid extra to war correspondents, 15 yen per day, and the Mainichi Shimbun, 13 yen per day.
The Yomiuri Shimbun paid nothing extra but there was a custom–when a reporter returned to the head office Tokyo, Mr. Shoriki Matsutaro, the president of the Yomiuri Shimbun, gave 500 yen, which he personally handed us. In those times, our standard monthly pay was 60 yen. And Mr. Shoriki not only met with each reporter when reporters returned to Japan but also came to see reporters off at Tokyo Station, when reporters were leaving. Naturally, his manner gave us much encouragement.
After I returned Tokyo due to the rule, I went back to Shanghai soon after, then went to Nanjing by car for the entrance ceremony. The Nanjing Castle entrance ceremony was December 17, 1937, so I think I went there either on the 15th or 16th.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
To my memory the pictures of the entrance ceremony were taken by photographer Oshima Genjiro (大島源次郎). I took films of the Memorial Service on the next day. So I think I stayed in Nanjing until the 19th.
– What was the situation in Nanjing?
There was nothing in particular. I visited Nanjing several times after that. The next year, January 1938, I went to take photos of Nanjing, which recovered its tranquility. At the time of the entrance ceremony, I found quite a few Chinese people in town, but Japanese soldiers had a lot of roles to play. But in this second visit in January, for which I caught a train, Japanese soldiers did not have major roles, just minor ones. And at my third visit, I found many Japanese civilians there, and in addition, a Japanese inn called Fukuda-ya started operation.
– At the entrance ceremony, were Chinese citizens afraid of Japanese soldiers?
They didn’t show any hostility and I think they were not scared of Japanese soldiers. On the contrary, Japanese soldiers were more alert toward Chinese because of ben-i-hei, civilian-clothed soldiers, hid among the citizens.
– It is said that Chinese soldiers were slaughtered by Japanese soldiers?
Yes, so I have heard.
– Have you seen this?
No. But I heard this from Japanese soldiers.
They brought prisoners to the Yangtze River and set them free, saying, go anywhere, but eventually they killed them all, so I heard. I also heard that the shore was full of bodies. I believed that it was true. They have did nothing to civilians but something happened to the Chinese soldiers.
– Did you hear that story while you were in Nanjing?
Yes, in Nanjing. I heard it in several places.
– Why did they do such a thing?
They captured Chinese soldiers, but there was no food for them nor places to keep them. If they released the Chinese soldiers, they would start fighting against Japan again, so they were killed, that’s what I heard. Unlike Japanese soldiers, the Chinese became soldiers, without any feeling of patriotism, because they could not eat otherwise. As a matter of fact, if they were released they would turn around and start fighting. Also, there were ben-i-hei, civilian-clothed soldiers, and Japanese soldiers were scared of them. That was another reason.
– How many prisoners were killed?
Many, so I heard.
– Did they do it under orders from the top?
I think some petty officer, such as squad leader rank, had done ordered this, on his own. It is possible that higher ranking officers had known about it. Yes, there was international law that said how to treat prisoners of war, but this grade of soldiers didn’t know how to handle them. You know, Japanese soldiers believed that they, themselves, had to die if they were captured, so they thought killing prisoners was a matter of course.
Some of the Army petty officers had long experience in the Army, they knew everything about the Army, so they paid no respect to a newly assigned superior, a second lieutenant, for example. Also they treated raw recruits quite roughly by hitting them without reason. I think that those kinds of officers did such things.
As a matter of fact, a couple of years later I myself came across the moment that a Japanese petty officer killed captured Chinese prisoners. He asked me plainly, “Why don’t you try it?” I knew it was a war, kill or be killed–that was inevitable–but they have done unnecessary things, too.
– All petty officers behaved like that?
No, no. It was just a few of them. In the Army, anyone can be a soldier, and among them were the “bad eggs” who could not fit into any ordinary community. They corrupted the Army. I believe such men corrupted the Army. Luckily, I followed the Army as photographer so I wasn’t involved in that kind of thing. I always hoped to avoid joining the Army.
Unlike the Army, the Navy looked smart, I liked the Navy. Lieutenant Shigemura Minoru (重村実) often visited a dance hall in the International Settlement and enjoyed dancing. On the other hand, if Army officers visited the hall, they drew their swords and displayed a swords dance. Just like that, there were significant differences between the Army and the Navy.
– Did these officers feel guilty for the cruel acts?
I think Japanese soldiers didn’t feel guilty killing prisoners during battle. We never thought Japan would lose the war and thought that if we lost, then it was time for all of us to die. War is win or to die, we genuinely believed that. Japanese soldiers believed this, so that’s why they did not hide the fact they killing prisoners; they didn’t feel guilty, it was done for their survival.
– About a massacre, did you see something with your own eyes?
No, just heard the stories. I had seen nothing in Nanjing, but later during an attack operation, I saw Japanese soldiers enter private house and pry the wooden floors out for cooking fires. And as they left the place, they intentionally trashed the house, sometimes setting them on fire. I asked soldiers why they did that and they said that remaining Chinese soldiers in the area would use them.
– I heard they ransacked sometimes.
I don’t know about the case in Nanjing. But to tell you the truth, it was not only soldiers but we reporters also stole food. When the operation started, we reporters, as well as the soldiers, were given food for several days by division headquarters. The food stock was heavy so we took stock only for 2 to 3 days and when it ran out, we entered private homes, looking for food. We didn’t feel guilty stealing foods, both reporters and soldiers did this.
But among the reporters, I heard someone stole something more than food, from a museum in Shanghai. Funny thing was that I heard that all of the stolen items were imitations and that the genuine articles were kept in Chongqing (重慶).
– Which division was said to have committed the massacre?
I don’t know. A powerful division, like the 6th Division, was well known by the Chinese Army and the Chinese Army fled before the 6th Division got near them. I was born in Kagoshima, so during the Hankou (漢口) Operation I followed the 6th Division, which was organized in Kagoshima. After the 6th Division went through, some Chinese soldiers may have still been active in the area, so the Japanese divisions dispatched thereafter might have attacked them.
– At that time did other reporters know about the incident in Nanjing?
We often took tea together but it was not raised as a subject. Nevertheless, I think they knew about it.
– Why they didn’t talk about it?
Because it was war, killing was normal and nobody minded about the bodies at all. It was not news so no reporter tried to collect materials. And we were told not to take pictures of bodies, whether Japanese or Chinese; corpses were off limits. So we didn’t take the kinds of photos that could not be used in a newspaper article.
Maybe I talked too much about the wrong-doings of Japanese soldiers but I’d like to emphasize that there were many good stories of them, also.
– At the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), the Nanjing-Incident became a issue. How many people knew about it at that time?
Nobody knew, I think. I don’t have a clear memory of the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) but maybe it was caused by people like Major General Tanaka Ryukichi (田中隆吉), who made accusations.
Nevertheless, I knew about the “prisoners story” in Nanjing so I assumed that they talked about that.
Mr. Mori stayed in Shanghai until the outbreak of the Greater East Asia War. He joined many operations, so his memory could have been a little bit confused–dates and times were not always accurate. However, during the interview, he showed photo albums from those times, trying to correctly place the facts. I visited him repeatedly and asked many questions when I felt his answers were not clear. He answered my questions in detail whenever I visited him.
After returned from Nanjing, Mr. Mori stayed in Shanghai to continue to make news reels around Shanghai. He joined Operations Hankou (漢口) and Yichang (宜昌), then continued to make films showing the revival of Shanghai and peace returning to Nanjing, and so on.
In 1940, the news reel sectors of Domei, Asahi, Mainich, and Yomiuri were united into Nihon News Eigasha and Mr. Mori moved to the new company as a matter of course. As he stayed in Shanghai, he shifted positions, from an employee of the Yomiuri Shimbun to an employee of the Nihon News Eigasha. At the same time, Mr. Asai Tatsuzo (浅井達三), of the Domei, also stayed in Shanghai and moved to the Nihon News Eigasha.
In 1946, at the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), GHQ asked Mr. Mori to take a film of the Trials because the American photographers could not identify the Japanese defendants. At Ichigaya Court, Mr. Mori took film of the Trials as representative of GHQ and Mr. Asai took film as a representative of Nihon News Eigasha. (Refer to the section (13), Mr. Asai.)
After taking films of the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), Mr. Mori joined NHK and worked there until his retirement. The monumental film of Staff Sergeant Kashimura with a single-winged fighter is currently kept at NHK.
4. Domei Tsushin Newspaper
12) Interview with Mr. Arai Masayoshi (新井正義), Reporter for the Domei Tsushin Newspaper
When I asked Mr. Arai Masayoshi for an interview about Nanjing, he quickly said yes.
It was Autumn 1984.
“I had a war log during Nanjing but I lost it due to a US air raid during the War. Now I will try to remember those days.”
In the reminiscences written by his colleague, Mr. Maeda Yuji（前田雄二）, he said that Mr. Arai, a stout man, was a samurai type, on the other hand Mr. Horikawa was an academic type. Mr. Horikawa (堀川) was Mr. Arai’s colleague at the Domei Tsushin and a war correspondent as well. When I met Mr. Arai I felt that his description was true.
At the time, Mr. Arai worked in the politics section at the Domei Tsushin and he was 32 years old. He was dispatched to Shanghai from Tokyo as a reporter. After the War, in November 1945, the Domei Tsushin was divided into two companies, the Kyodo Tsushin and the Jiji Tsushin. He was appointed as chief of the politics department in the Kyodo Tsushin, and then in 1958, appointed as executive director of the Kyodo Tsushin, an office he retained until his retirement in 1964.
He started to talk in a brisk tone as soon as I took a seat. He was very aware of the significance of this interview so he opened his talk with the Nanjing massacre.
When we were in Nanjing, we never heard of any massacres. Several years ago, Matsumoto Shigeharu (松本重治), then the branch manager of the Shanghai Domei Tsushin, started to write his memoirs of those days, but he was in Shanghai during that time and didn’t know about Nanjing at all. So he asked the three of us, Fukazawa Kanzo (深沢乾蔵), Maeda Yuji (前田雄二) and I, who were reporters in Nanjing then, to tell him of those days.
Matsumoto invited us to dinner. At the dinner Maeda said he saw a massacre but I didn’t see anything like that at all. I saw bodies. Bodies of soldiers, including ben-i-hei, or soldiers in civilian clothing and among them maybe there were some corpses of prisoners. I didn’t check all of Nanjing, but I guess the number of bodies was 30,000 to 40,000 in total. Most were killed in battle and maybe some of them were not.
We, war correspondents, were treated well after the Xuzhou (徐州) Operation, but during our time in Nanjing, we were not included as members. We had to prepare everything by ourselves, including food and donkeys for transportation. It was really tough.
In those days, the main story was which Division would reach Nanjing first, which newspaper would report this first–it was serious competition. So, we didn’t mind the danger, we just headed straight for the front. The three of us, Horikawa Takeo (堀川武夫), who later became a professor at Hiroshima University, Maeda, who died recently, and I made a team. One stayed at army headquarters and the other two went to the frontlines. We made a schedule of our shifts. We brought a young Chinese man, whom we hired in Shanghai, to the frontlines as a messenger. If something happened, we dispatched him to headquarters. There was radio equipment at headquarters and we used this to send reports to Shanghai. The radio equipment was very heavy–we couldn’t carry it alone so we used a donkey.
After the battle of Zhabei (閘北), I returned to Tokyo, then went to Shanghai again to await further instructions. I was ordered to follow the Yanagawa Army. I caught up with the Yanagawa Army around Suzhou (蘇州). The Army arrived in Nanjing without engaging in any serious battles after they landed Hangzhou Bay (杭州湾). I don’t think they had done anything like slaughter people. A Division that fought in Shanghai later caught up with us. They had experienced serious fighting in Shanghai, losing nearly half of their comrades and were terribly agitated. If any slaughtering had occurred it might have been done by them, I guess.
Once I had heard from Commander Lieutenant General Yanagawa Heisuke (柳川平助) that the Nanjing Capital Defense Force was estimated at around 200,000 to 250,000 soldiers. And the Japanese force totaled 100,000, including Yanagawa Army of 50,000 soldiers.
I tell you, the Yanagawa Army arrived at Nanjing without significant fighting but it didn’t mean that there were no enemy soldiers. As a matter of fact, soon after Suzhou, a reporter from Asahi Shimbun was killed. We moved along railway tracks for Nanjing, while the Yanagawa Army went around Lake Taihu (太湖). Walking on the railway tracks north, as the railroad crossed with rice fields at right angles, we found Chinese soldiers hiding in the rice field. Suddenly shooting erupted. This was repeated but we advanced.
On the way to Nanjing, we frequently met ordinary Chinese people. Some of the Chinese showed us their arm bands, which read, “This Chinese is hired by the Japanese Army,” which protected them and did not confuse them with ben-i-tai, civilian-clothed soldiers.
Around Mt. Zijin (紫金山), there was serious fighting. Between Mt. Zijin and Nanjing Castle, the exchange of gunfire became intense. On December 13, 1937, we entered Nanjing Castle through Zhongshan Gate (中山門). After entered the Castle, we began to look for a place suitable for our Domei Tsushin’s office. Every house was closed. Eventually we settled in a place close to Zhongshan Gate that night. The Chinese who remained in the Castle were only poor people–that was obvious.
We successfully entered Nanjing Castle, however, there were lot of stragglers outside so we didn’t feel like the battle was over. Fighting occurred here and there, it was still very dangerous. According to my calculation, there were around 160,000 remnants of the Chinese military.
On the 13th or 14th, I heard that Prince Asakanomiya was attacked at his headquarters in the suburbs. I rushed over to headquarters; it took 40 minutes or so by car. Hurriedly, I met the prince, His Highness murmured, “Well, well, we had a terrible night.” That was the situation at the time.
On the 15th, we entered the old branch office of the Domei Tsushin. The office was located in the middle of town and the Jin Ling Women’s College (金陵女子大学) stood nearby. The head of the College or the dormitory leader came to us, complaining that,
“We accommodated female refugees and the Japanese soldiers made advances to the women, so I came here to ask for your help: Mr. Domei, can you help us?” So we took her complain to army headquarters.
I myself hadn’t seen any slaughtering or bodies from a slaughter. At Xiaguan (下関), there must have been fighting while the Chinese soldiers crossed the Yangtze River. At Xiaguan, my colleague Horikawa, or someone, said that he saw shooting or bodies resulting from shooting.
My colleague Maeda wrote that he saw an execution on the 16th at the military academy but I doubt that – it might have been the military administration (軍政部). Anyway, I myself saw nothing. Several Japanese troops rushed in the castle at a time. They somehow checked each other so they couldn’t have done unreasonable violence. There were Chinese prisoners and I saw Japanese soldiers put rice into the prisoners’ canteens.
Soon after the entrance ceremony, we found Chinese people selling small articles and very often saw them selling sweets because Japanese soldiers craved sweets. Under such circumstances, I doubt there was a massacre. I can’t deny that there were some causalities, but 200,000 or more—that is not possible. I can’t estimate the number of victims because I didn’t see any with my own eyes.
At the entrance ceremony my colleague Maeda and I ran after General Matsui Iwane, behind of the soldiers who stood in line on the street. We still prepared for the worst, which means that it was not totally safe. After the ceremony, I remained in Nanjing for a couple of days and returned to Shanghai by a Navy ship. So, I in the end I stayed in Nanjing for a week.
I heard about the massacre for the first time in the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE) after the War.
Mr. Arai narrated his story without referring to memos or documents. He told me all that he could remember. I didn’t interrupt him and wrote the above verbatim.
13) Interview with Mr. Asai Tatsuzo (浅井達三), Photographer for the Domei Tsushin Newspaper
In July 1937, with the outbreak of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Mr. Asai Tatsuzo was been employed by the Japanese branch of Metrotone News, as a press photographer.
On August 13, the Sino-Japanese War had spread to Shanghai and the Imperial Japanese Navy Landing Forces fought a fierce battle against the Chinese Nationalist Army. The Shanghai branch of the Domei Tsushin’s photo department was filming and considering the extended nature of the fighting, they hired Mr. Asai and dispatched him to Shanghai. It was late August 1937.
As soon as Mr. Arai arrived in Shanghai, he went to the frontlines. The result of his difficult work was titled “A News Camera Watched The Turbulent Showa Period,” and was shown by NHK. Since then, Mr. Asai spent 8 years on the battlefield, the hardest ever. He was 24 years old, the second youngest employed at the Domei Tsushin.
For the first 4 years, before the beginning of the Greater East Asia War, Mr. Asai took news reels of several battles across China, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Xuzhou, Hankou, and so on. The funny thing was that he remained in China during almost all this time, so he hardly saw the Domei News reels released in Japan which he filmed. In 1940, as several news reel companies were united into single company, called Nihon News Eigasha, he joined the new company.
After the War, Mr. Asai was assigned to a new job–filming the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE), and for three years he visiting Ichigaya-dai, where the Trial was held. After that he returned to Metrotone News, he then joined a film making company and produced the film, “Gate of Friendship,” with China’s support. He visited China frequently before the restoration of diplomatic relations between Japan and China in September 1972. In this manner, he kept his ties with China after the War.
I interviewed him on October 21, 1985–it was the next day that Keio University won the 6-universities baseball game after several years of struggle. I interviewed Mr. Asai at his office which was located in front of the main entrance of Keio University.
– You were not only in the battle of Shanghai but also in the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation conducted by the 10th Army, on November 5.
Yes. I had been filming the battle of Shanghai, then the Army told me to film the Landing Operation so I took a ship from Shanghai over to Hangzhou. After I completed the task, I carried the film to Shanghai escorted by a platoon. We were surrounded by Chinese soldiers, so without an escort it was impossible to move alone.
– Did you go to Nanjing after that?
I stayed in Shanghai for a while and at the beginning of December, I went to Nanjing together with Araki Shuzo (荒木秀三), a photographer.
Regarding the Domei Tsushin, you can see everything in the book “In The Flow of War,” (戦争の流れの中で) written by my colleague Mr. Maeda Yuji and published by Zenhonsha (善本社). He wrote in his diary every night. His book was based on the diary so every detail is reliable. All names he mentions are correct–which we have already completely forgotten. In addition, he wrote of some serious matters, which we could not tell to the Army at the time. Also he wrote openly about arguments among our colleagues at the Domei Tsushin. Everything in it is true.
– Which Division did you follow?
There was no rule in deciding which division to follow, so I followed any group, here and there. I tried always to be at the front. Every now and then soldiers would asked me, “Hey, Mr. Newspaper, do you have a cigarette?” In those days, Ruby Quinn was the most popular brand of cigarette. At the same time, the soldiers offered us food, “Take some pig’s feet.” We knew that the food must have been confiscated but we were longing for meat.
Like the soldiers, we reporters boiled rice in a canteen, and slept fully clothed on straw. You know, straw is unexpectedly warm.
On the way to Nanjing, we found a bank. After blowing it open, a safe was full of Chinese paper money. Some soldiers used the money to make cooking fires.
– I thought using Chinese money to make cooking fires was just a story. But was this true?
Yes, it was. I didn’t see them blowing open the safe but I watched them making fires with the money. Pity, the money could have been used in the International Settlement. This happened in Changzhou (常州), to my memory.
– Which route did you take?
We went through Wuxi (無錫), Changzhou, and Zhenjiang (鎮江).
In Zhenjiang, my colleague Haraikawa Chikashige (祓川親茂), a photographer, and I met a Chinese man who was carrying something on his shoulder pole. As he saw us, he ran away, leaving the pole there. We checked the carrier and found it filled with hand grenades. Like soldiers, we reporters were constantly surrounded by danger. For example, when we were moving from Zhenjiang to Mt. Zijin, my colleague Makishima (牧島) got injured. We had to carry him out by the Mainichi Shimbun’s car.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
On the 13th. I entered from Zhongshan Gate (中山門).
– What was the situation like inside?
Walking along Zhongshan Street toward the Yangtze River, we found the Safety Zone. No Japanese were allowed to enter the Safety Zone. We wouldn’t dare enter because it was full of Chinese; too risky for us. The Red Swastika Society (紅卍字会), the charitable organization, took care of the refugees. It seemed that mostly Chinese civilians were in the Safety Zone and others stayed in their homes, daring not to venture out.
– How many people were working at the Red Swastika Society?
I am not sure. But there were so many–that’s why I remember this so well. I once saw that the staff of the Red Swastika Society confronted Japanese soldiers and explained in earnest that their refugees were not soldiers.
For a couple of days after entering, I saw fires here and there in the Castle.
– Were the fires started by Japanese soldiers?
Japanese soldiers or Chinese soldiers, I was not sure.
– Were the Chinese civilians afraid of Japanese soldiers?
I think so. It was same when we were afraid of American soldiers when they landed in Japan after the War.
– It is said that a massacre occurred.
I hadn’t seen one but heard so. I heard about it.
– Did someone witness the killings?
I heard a couple of reporters saw it. I suppose that Mr. Shirai Shigeru (白井茂), a photographer from the cultural film section at Toho (a movie studio), saw many things because unlike our place, his office was located in the middle of Nanjing. He mentioned a massacre in his book “Camera and Life”.
– Where were the bodies left?
In his book, he said in Yangtze River and Yuhuatai (雨花台).
– Were those bodies casualties from the fighting?
I don’t know. I heard they were slaughtered. I wonder how they could have cleared the bodies, but I heard the bodies were cleared before the entrance ceremony.
– Did you hear how many bodies there were?
– Did you witness a massacre with your own eyes?
In the Castle I, saw a number of lines of Chinese soldiers being dragged along. I could not forget the scene. Among them were the ben-i-hei, plain-clothed soldiers who discarded their uniforms and wore civilian clothes. There were others, farmers fled as refugees. Someone with dark tanned wrists were caught as stragglers.
– What time did this occur?
Around noon. One line consisted of 200 to 300 people and there were 2 to 3 lines like that.
– Did you take photos of the prisoners? Or other photos in the Castle?
I used a lot of film just after the Castle’s fall but once it was captured, I didn’t. Other things had no news value. I took film of the entrance ceremony. I climbed up the Zhongshan Gate and from behind took film of General Matsui Iwane marching through the gate, then hurriedly climbed down the gate and took film of him from the front.
– Did any news company take pictures of a massacre?
I do not think anyone did. There is no record at all. I didn’t want to take photos of bodies, so I didn’t even try even if I saw them. I had been in battlefields but never took photos of corpses.
And I had never done staged photos. The photos of cheering at Nanjing Castle were staged. The moment of the capture of the city was in the middle of a battle. You could not cheer at that moment. Also, photographers were hardly at the right spot at the right moment. Cheers was done later in the day. However, I think this kind of staging was acceptable in order to express excitement of the capture of Nanjing. The feeling was real.
– Among members of Domei Tsushin, did anyone talk about a massacre?
No. At that time Nanjing was full of stragglers and ben-i-hei plain-clothed soldiers and we believed, well, that was war–kill the enemy.
– I heard that several foreign journalists stayed in Nanjing.
I never saw them. Except, during the Panay Incident on December12, four reporters came to Nanjing on the 14th. They visited the Domei Tsushin to ask us to help them get to Shanghai. Reporters for reporters. There was an option to go to Shanghai by car but it was too risky because of Chinese soldiers, so we contacted the Navy and the four went to Shanghai on a Navy ship. Later, I heard that some water splashed on their photos of sinking ships, the photos were not damaged.
– Did the foreign reporters see the massacre?
At the time, nobody mentioned anything about a massacre, so I don’t think they did.
– It is said that Mr. Arthur Menken, a cameraman for Paramount, stayed in Nanjing and took pictures of the Fall of Nanjing .
I knew Menken. I met him in Shanghai. But I didn’t see him in Nanjing. After I returned to Shanghai in January 1938, I often went out to lunch with him. I always found him at a shop called “Jimmy” in the French Concession. I have a picture of me taken with him.
– Did you heard about a massacre from him?
No, I did not.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I remember that I took photos of the entrance ceremony, but after that my memory is not clear, whether I returned Shanghai soon or stayed there in Nanjing for several days. Anyway, after I returned to Shanghai, the Hangzhou Attack began and I went to Hangzhou at once.
When I returned to Shanghai in January 1938, I met Ishikawa Tatsuzo (石川達三), the novelist. He and I have the same name “Tatsuzo,” and it happened that the Domei Tsushin had another person who had same name, Murakami Tatsu (村上達). We called ourselves the three Tatsus and drank a lot together. Ishikawa Tatsuzo wrote a story that took place in China in his book titled “Ikiteiru Heitai (生きている兵隊),” or “Living Soldiers.” Also, he wrote an introduction for the book, “In The Flow of War,” written by Mr. Maeda Yuji. I think everything he wrote was true.
– Did you stay in Shanghai after that?
In February, I went back to Tokyo following General Matsui’s triumphant return. When we were leaving Shanghai, General Hata Shunroku (畑俊六) and Prince Asakanomiya came to see off General Matsui. From Shimonoseki to Tokyo, we took a train called Fuji, which was decorated with red carpet. It was a specially coupled two-vehicle train, in which six to seven people sat, including General Matsui and his adjutant, Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Hayao (馬淵逸雄), others and myself. On the way, several staff officers joined us.
Before arriving in Tokyo, we stayed overnight at–to my memory–Atami. We cleaned off our “dust from the war” before meeting the Emperor next day. When we arrived in Tokyo, we found almost all of the important military staff came over to see us.
As soon as the train stopped, I got off the train before anyone else in order to take photos of General Matsui. Then I was yelled by a military policeman to stop, but it was my job so I kept taking photos.
– What kind of person was General Matsui?
Oh no, I did not dare to speak with him. I was in the next car. But in Shanghai, especially at press interviews, I saw him several times.
– After the War you were assigned to film the Tokyo Trial (IMTFE). General Matsui was sentenced to death.
I had been filming the Trial from the beginning. When he was accused of the incidents that occurred in Nanjing, I thought the accusation was reasonable. It happened to a certain degree. General Matsui sat on the top of the military pyramid so it was his responsibility.
But concerning the number of victims I cannot believe it was 200,000. This means that the majority of the population of Nanjing was wiped out.
14) Interview with Mr. Hosonami Takashi (細波孝), Radio Operator for the Domei Tsushin Newspaper
Mr. Hosonami was born in November 1905. He joined the Dentsu Company (Nihon Denpo Tsushin-sha) in 1929 and joined the Army during the Manchurian Incident. In 1936, Dentsu merged with Rengo and became Domei Tsushin.
The next year, 1937, the North China-Incident occurred in July and fighting expanded to Shanghai in August. At first, China coverage was managed by the staff of the Shanghai branch of the Domei Tsushin, but as fighting expanded, additional reporters, radio operators and photographers were dispatched from Tokyo.
Mr. Hosonami was dispatched to the Shanghai branch in October. In order to set-up a radio system, he arrived in Shanghai prior to other reporters. He was 31 years old at the time.
Mr. Hosonami moved through Taihu Lake (太湖) and Wu-xi (無錫.). He used Wu-xi as the company’s base lodging and stayed there for a while. From there, he transmitted articles on Nanjing’s capture written by reporter Maeda Yuji and others. Naval Air Groups were based in Changzhou (常州) and reporter Matsuo Tetsuo (松尾鉄夫), who was in charge of naval news brought Navy-related articles to Mr. Hosonami. Mr. Hosonami transmitted these articles to Tokyo as well.
Thus, in those days the radio system, which was operated by Mr. Hosonami, was the frontline headquarters of the Domei Tsushin. Naturally, among war staff, he was positioned farthest away from the frontlines.
– Which route did you take to reach Nanjing Castle?
Through Tangshanzhen (湯山) I entered Nanjing Castle from Zhongshan Gate (中山). Coming close to Tangshanzhen, I was surprised to see many prisoners kept within walls made of bamboo.
– How many prisoners were there?
I couldn’t count them all, so to my guess, around 10,000. The place was not seen from the main road for Nanjing, but it was visible from a small path. I think I saw this by accident.
– What date it was?
I got through Tangshanzhen on the day after Nanjing’s fall, so it should be December 14. The place was a field, it looked like a golf course surrounded by trees. The Chinese soldiers were eating porridge-like food. After that we reached our frontline lodging for the Domei Tsushin, which was situated in the Castle.
– It is said that at the Domei’s lodging house, terrible fighting occurred among reporters, between the Tokyo reporters and Osaka reporters. Was this true?
Yes. A reporter named Higuchi Kenkichi (樋口憲吉), who had a black-belt in Judo, loved drinking and fighting. Others were same. I was not a drinker so watched them fighting from a distance.
There were all kinds of war correspondents and some collected the stolen goods. Hangzhou was called a temple town and it held a lot of antique art. They were abandoned, so some indiscreet persons took them freely.
– At which place did you see the entrance ceremony?
General Matsui Iwane entered through Zhongshan Gate for the ceremony and I stayed near the place where the ceremony was to be held. I think it was close to the Nationalist Government’s building. Photographer Inazu Mikiji (稲津巳喜二) took photos around the area.
– It is said that there was a massacre in Nanjing. Did you see this?
May I speak something?
– Sure, please do.
I have never spoken anyone if there was a massacre or not. There was a wide open space called Xiaguan (下関) along the Yangtze River.
– Xiaguan was a wharf at Nanjing.
Yes. It was the embankment of the riverbed leading to the Castle Gate. There were several trenches and tochkas. The tochkas mostly faced the Yangtze River but some of them were facing Nanjing. The tochka was made with concrete and looked like a square watermill. In China, they made one or two tochkas at every important place for defense purposes.
It seemed that the Chinese Nationalist Army tried to fight at that point but they eventually ran away. Chiang Kai-she also fled from Xiaguan. When I arrived at Xiaguan, I saw burning furniture, traces of killing, or so I thought.
–Did you see the killings?
No. I just assume that the killings were just completed. They wouldn’t show killings. I think they kept prisoners in the tochika and set it on fire. I have not forgotten a Chinese soldier who saw me from the crenel of a tochika, twitching his nose in agony.
– How many people were in the tochika?
It could hold 20 to 30 people. Some furniture was packed in there and there were 3 or 4 tochikas like that. I think they were burned by spreading oil over the furniture and setting it on fire. Bullets were precious, that’s why. Not only in the tochika but also along the shore of the Yangtze River, I saw bodies. Some of them were bound with wire.
– How many bodies did you see?
I am not sure. One-hundred or so. I think they were prisoners whom I saw in Tangshanzhen.
– Were they brought from Tangshanzhen ?
I think so. After I entered Nanjing, I saw Chinese prisoners who were forced marched. I think that they were the prisoners who were kept in Tangshanzhen.
– They were made to walk in Nanjing Castle?
Well, yes that was the case. I think it was down a street leading to the Zhongshan Gate. It was at night. Someone said prisoners were being moved and I went out to watch. Eight persons per line, each line separated by 50 meters. The prisoners were walking slowly, escorted by Japanese soldiers in the front and rear of the lines.
–All of the prisoners in Tangshanzhen were moved?
What I saw was just a part of them. I watched only once but I suppose they were moved separately, little by little. Moving them all at once was not easy.
–According to your story, there must have been around 10,000 bodies found in Xiaguan. Is this correct?
No, it is not.
– Did you watch the 10,000 prisoners being killed?
Under the circumstances, what I saw was the end part–maybe. Considering the significant difference between high and low tide in the Yangtze River, the bodies which were left at the shore must have been washed away by the strong central current and sent into the Yellow Sea without surfacing. That’s what I imagined happened.
Later, I heard around 20,000 prisoners were killed. So in Xiaguan, considering the place and time, it might have been 10,000 or fewer.
In Tangshanzhen, there were unseen places like hollows and some of the prisoners were killed in such areas. But this is also hearsay. When I saw the prisoners being pulled along I thought they were just being moved, but thinking back to Xiaguan, the prisoners I watched seemed pale and looked like they were prepared to die.
– Do you remember the exact date of the Xiaguan Incident?
Maybe it was the day before or the day of the entrance ceremony.
– Did you see it alone?
We went to Xiaguan by car, including a driver and other colleagues.
– What time was it?
Early in the morning. So maybe they were killed during the night.
– According to the book, “In The Flow of War,” written by Mr. Maeda Yuji, reporter Fukazawa Mikizo (深沢幹蔵) went to Xiaguan alone on the evening of the 17th and saw a number of bodies there.
Was it? Fukazawa and I always moved together and, to my memory, we went to Xiaguan together. Other than us, there were a driver and one other, someone else.
– Did you mention what you saw to other members of the Domei Tsushin?
No, I didn’t talk about it.
– Why not?
During those times, we were numbed to corpses.
– When you saw the bodies, did you think they were massacred?
I thought of International Law, that it said not to kill prisoners. This might have been a violation of International Law, but on the other hand, I thought they were casualties from an ongoing battle. Until the very last moment, before the entrance ceremony, Japanese soldiers continued mopping-up operations. Chinese soldiers who were not prisoners but stragglers and deserters would very likely try to attack us again, given any chance, at any moment.
Thinking back those times now, the bodies in Xiaguan remain with me. But in those days, if you didn’t kill, you will be killed. Fukazawa and I always kept guns. Just like soldiers, we could be killed at anytime, anywhere. Already, colleagues and other reporters were killed. Do not think about the Chinese soldier’s wife or children, do not think that they have family just as we do. In war, kill or be killed.
– Did you talk about that among members of the Domei Tsushin?
Not in particular. It was just one aspect of war.
– Did you see any other slaughter or something like that?
Around the same time, Matsumoto Shigeharu (松本重治), the manager of the Shanghai branch, arrived in Nanjing from Shanghai. Matsumoto told us something happened at a university in Nanjing City so the four of us went over. Matsumoto was very active in international society, so we thought he heard something in Shanghai. He had plenty of news sources. However, we found nothing at the university, no trace of anything at all.
There were many people within the university.
– Were Chinese people staying in certain areas?
Yes. There was an area for women only, an area for men only, and family areas. There were many people that we couldn’t distinguish between soldiers and civilians. As soon as the entrance ceremony was completed, we found that the city’s Chinese population suddenly increased. We didn’t know where they came from, from the suburbs or from hiding places.
– Were they afraid of the Japanese soldiers?
Maybe this was so in Shanghai but in Nanjing, they didn’t seem scared. And even in Shanghai, the Chinese living in the International Settlement were not afraid of Japanese soldiers or other foreign soldiers. The Chinese living in the suburbs seemed afraid of Japanese soldiers. As a matter of fact, there were not many Chinese in suburbs, where the battlefields were.
Nanjing citizens remaining in the Castle gathered into areas on Zhongshan
Road in the central part of Nanjing, and on the western side of Zhongshan
North Road. They lived in barracks-style huts. In the background are the
deserted homes of the wealthy. (December 15, 1937)
– How many days did you stay in Nanjing?
Four to five days, or a week. I went back to Shanghai together with my colleague Fukazawa. On the way back to Shanghai, we went through Tangshanzhen, but we saw no prisoners anymore. We then went through Wuxii, did some sightseeing in Suzhou and went back to Shanghai.
After one or two days in Shanghai, I was dispatched to Hangzhou as the attack started. At the end of December, I left my responsibilities to my colleague Ohoshi Ishimatsu (大星石松), who was at Domei’s Hangzhou branch, and I returned to Shanghai.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
Anyone who tried to pass through the gates needed a certificate. The certificate was issued by the military. I saw a Chinese with a certificate which read “I am a spy.” Maybe the Japanese soldier wrote it in jest.
It was October 1985, when I visited Mr. Hosonami’s house in Hodogaya, Yokohama city. Mr. Hosonami waited me with his documents in Domei Tsushin period. He was almost 80 years old, very active and chatty. While speaking, he smoked one cigarette after another.
Mr. Hosonami hadn’t read Mr. Maeda’s memoirs, “In The Flow of War,” and he had hardly took notice of the controversial subject, the so-called Nanjing Massacre. He simply told me what he had seen and what he had heard. There were, under the circumstances of the war–kill or be killed–unforgettable things he himself had experienced.
Mr. Hosonami went back to Nanjing in January 1938, and thereafter joined the Zuzhou (徐州) Operation. From Nanjing he returned to Tokyo. After that, he joined the Bias Bay Landing Operation. Later, he was assigned to Imperial Headquarters and worked under the Chief of Press Section, Mr. Matsumura Shuitsu (松村秀逸). After the War, he joined Jiji Tsushin, and lived in Saga, Kyushu for a while, where he had been evacuated, then returned to Tokyo in 1949. H worked at Jiji Tsushin until his retirement.
After I met him in person for the first time, we spoke on phone several times. On the third call, he surprised me by mentioning that Mr. Fudo died. Mr. Fudo Kenji (不動健治) was the head of the Domei Tsushin‘s photo department. After the War, he published many photos of the era.
Mr. Hosonami recommended that I meet Mr. Fudo, because Mr. Fudo also went to Nanjing and he still seemed to be active. I said, yes, I would do so at once.
After the call, I checked a newspaper and saw Mr. Fudo’s obituary.