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The Nanjing Incident: Japanese Eyewitness Accounts 4

By Ara Kenichi,

5. Other Newspapers
15) Interview with Mr. Minami Masayoshi (南正義) , Reporter for the Shin-Aichi Shimbun
I met Mr. Minami Masayoshi on July 4, 1987.
Mr. Minami served as the president of Tokai Radio, Nagoya. He must have been very busy, so I hesitated in asking for interview. Eventually, I requested an interview, and to my surprise, he quickly accepted.
When he appeared, he looked as if he was in his sixties or so. But in fact he must have been 70 or so at least because of his career as a wartime correspondent of 50 years. I have met with a number of people since I started these interviews–some were still working, more or less, but Mr. Minami was on active duty. Most interviewees looked young but Mr. Minami looked more than young—he looked brilliant.
I sent him three letters before we met, so he knew of my request very well–that I would like to hear about the Nanjing Attack and those days. He spoke freely.
Mr. Minami was born in Ise, Mie prefecture, April 1912. As he worked as reporter for the Shin-Aichi Shimbun (currently Chunichi Shimbun) the China Incident broke. As soon as the war started, the Shin-Aichi Shimbun dispatched several reporters to the battlefield. In December, it seemed that the capture of Nanjing was imminent, so four additional persons, including reporters and photographers, were dispatched. Mr. Minami was one of them.
The Kokumin Shimbun newspaper became an affiliate of Shin-Aichi Shimbun, due to its financial problems, so Mr. Minami was a reporter for the Shin-Aichi Shimbun as well as the Kokumin Shimbun. He was 25 years old.
– Which route did you take to enter Nanjing?
I entered from Zhongshan Gate (中山門). I moved with the first group of soldiers and reached Zhongshan Gate in the dark. We could not move ahead from there so we had to wait on the top of the Zhongshan Gate and watched the inside of the Castle.
It was December 13–I entered the Castle with the first group of soldiers through the Zhongshan Gate and went along Zhongshan East Road (中山東路), and there – we were shocked to see Japanese soldiers being hanged from plane trees that lined the streets.
– Japanese soldiers were hanged?
Yes. Later we realized there was a battle at either Tongji Gate (通済門) or Guanghua Gate (光華門) and Japanese soldiers were caught there. The Chinese soldiers brought them to Zhongshan East Road and killed, then hung them from the plane trees. They were burned from below.
– How many bodies were there?
I saw two to three. Immediately we lowered them down from the plane trees. The Japanese soldiers became furious. Even without this episode, they were filled with hostility.
– I heard this for the very first time.
Naturally. Only the first group of Japanese soldiers saw them and we lowered the bodies at once. This was the most impressive incident, among others, that I saw in Nanjing Castle.
After the War, I visited Nanjing again and went to the plane trees. The tree trunks then were small like this (using both forefingers and thumbs, Mr. Minami made a circle), but now they big around like this (he made a circle with both of his arms). I was deeply moved.
After we lowered the bodies, we continued to move to the Castle’s center–we were still in the middle of battle after all.
– It is said that there was massacre in the castle.
No, there was not. Nobody said and heard of such a thing. After Japan lost the War, China made up this story and started making claims.
– Did you see anything like massacre in the Castle?
Never. All things came from battle. Some soldiers may have lost their senses, but it was a battle. Japanese soldiers were not supplied with enough food, the Chinese soldiers were not well-disciplined–not everything goes by the rules in a war.
Besides in the Castle, every soldier was prohibited from Fuzimiao (夫子廟), no one was allowed to go where civilians lived.
– It is said the prisoners were killed.
In those times there was a saying, “no prisoners on the battlefield”, so I assumed that the idea of “prisoners” did not exist in the Japanese army. The Chinese burned houses, destroyed everything before they fled or became ben-i-hei, soldier in civilian clothes, to spy – they didn’t want to get caught and end up being prisoners.
Thus, both sides had no concept of “prisoners” and were in a fight to the end, so the accusation of “killing prisoners” does not make sense. This kind of thinking, of “not killing prisoners by international law” was said much later. People who have not been in a real battlefield will call killings “massacres”. Some say the killing of soldiers in civilian clothes was a massacre, but it was not.
– Some journalist has different opinions. The Asahi Shimbun says there was a “Nanjing Massacre”.
The Asahi Shimbun, oh, yes. They need to publish their newspaper elsewhere, like in Moscow.
– Where did you stay in Nanjing?
The 3rd Division of Nagoya arrived in Nanjing later and I followed the soldiers. From Shanghai, I repeatedly visited Nanjing for the purpose of reporting and visited again after
the New Year1938, mostly with Kawai Katsumi (川井克己), a photographer, who was also dispatched to Shanghai. Among war correspondents, Matsui Satoshi (松井敏), a relative of General Matsui, was there.
– You said before that you visited Nanjing after the War. When was this?
My job was a war correspondent, and I wrote a number of articles on Japanese victories, so I thought Chinese people would hate me and I didn’t want to go. In addition, I was deeply disappointed since we lost the war against China. I held such feelings until the time Nagoya City and Nanjing City established a sister-city relationship for the purpose of Japan-China friendship. In my position as president of Tokai Radio, I had no choice but to reconcile with Nanjing for the sake of the friendship program. For this, we at Tokai Radio planned some program and I took the initiative to go to Nanjing.
When we performed Tokai Radio’s program, the Chinese people liked our music a lot. So we decided to broadcast our program in Nanjing.
Additionally, we planned a jogging event using Chang Jiang Great Bridge (長江大橋), which was several kilometers long, a splendid bridge constructed across the Yangtze River. The idea was to emphasize Japan-China friendship by jogging on the bridge. This year is the third time we held this jogging event, scheduled on November 3. Last year, wearing a T-shirt, I ran together with the mayor of Nanjing City.
– When you visited Nanjing, didn’t the Chinese mention the Massacre?
– The Massacre Memorial Hall was built in Nanjing.
Was it? I visited Zhongshan Gate, Zhongshan street, and so on, but I didn’t know about the Massacre Memorial Hall.
– I heard it is located in the outside of Jiangdongmen (江東門).
I never visited that area. The Mayor of Nanjing said nothing, and to begin with, in Nanjing, nobody talked about the Nanjing-Incident at all. Naturally, the Chinese investigated my background, so they must know all about me. Or, I assume that they did not talk about it because we are getting along now.
However, if they start to insist, I would fight because the so-called Nanjing-incident did not happen. I knew Nanjing then better than the current mayor of Nanjing.
On the other hand, for Japan-China friendship, I understand that it would not be wise to deny it. It would cast an aspersion on our friendship, which I, myself, am leading. Someday, after I quit my job, I’d like to write the true story based on my old memorandum which still have on hand.
Later the Shin Aichi Shimbun merged with the Nagoya Shimbun, forming the Chubu Nippon Shimbun. In 1953, Mr. Minami left the Chubu Nippon Shimbun to establish Tokai Radio. Currently, Mr. Minami serves several roles, including president of both Tokai Radio and Tokai TV.
The preceding interview was performed in 1987. He requested that I withhold his statement for a while, so it was not printed in the earlier version of my book – Kikigaki Nankin jiken. He allowed me to publish his statement sometime later, so I decided to include this in the new version of the book.
16) Interview with Mr. Mitoma Mikinosuke (三苫幹之介), Reporter for the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun
Mr. Mitoma Mikinosuke was born 1902 in Fukuoka, Kyushu. After graduated from the Tokyo Imperial University, he joined a local newspaper, the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun (currently Nishi-Nippon Shimbun). Around 1937, he was working as an editorial writer of the local news section.
The Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun dispatched its reporters and photographers to north China as soon as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred. Then, as the battlefield extended to Central China, they dispatched staff to Central China as well–as a result 15 reporters and photographers were sent to China that year. For a local newspaper company,
they dispatched the largest number of war correspondents. Reading the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun of those times, one would find a number of special, impressive spreads that one would not see in other local newspapers.
In Central China, in order to support the Shanghai Expeditionary Army, the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation was planned and in October 1937, the 10th Army was organized. Under the 10th Army, the special 18th Division was organized in Kurume, Fukuoka. The Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun dispatched Mr. Mitoma to Central China as a war correspondent. Mr. Mitoma was 34 years old then.
On October 5, 1937, the 18th Division left Kurume, took a ship from Moji Port for Goto Island, where they were given military training and waited for a month. Then on November 5, the Division joined the Hangzhou Bay Landing Operation, to land in the area around Jinshan Acropolis (金山衛城), which was situated close to the mouth of the Qiantang River (銭塘江口).
– Did you land with the 18th Division?
Yes. In the dark, early morning haze, together with the troops I landed in the muddy and shallow downstream of the Qiantang River, soaking in salty water up to the chest. Shouldering a heavy backpack, I tried to take pictures, as many as possible, but in the end, I was thoroughly wet and only 1 or 2 blurry pictures were basely usable.
– Did the 18th Division join the Nanjing Attack?
During the Attack, the duty of the 18th Division was to cut off the enemy’s retreat, those escaping from the Nanjing Castle, and to destroy the enemy. For that purpose, after the capture of Zheijiang (湖州), the Division was deployed in the south-west, between Taihu Lake (太湖) and Yangtze River (揚子江). Surrounding Nanjing out in the distance, we waited.
Soon, we heard a report that the attack against Nanjing’s Chaina Gate (中華門) had started. Despite the fierce battle, we knew that the capture of Nanking was only a matter of time. After the capture, we had to prepare for the entrance ceremony. The 18th Division headquarters got an order to attend the ceremony as representatives of the
army. Therefore, the headquarters unit entered the Castle beforehand through Water West Gate (水西門), located on the west side of Nanjing and waited for the day of ceremony.
– So did you enter the Castle together with the 18th Division Headquarters?
No. I wanted to see the exciting attack of Nanjing, so I left the troops and walked around, then I found myself at the shore of the Yangtze River. It was at a place called Taiping (太平), and it looked like a port town. I caught sight of a transport carrying Japanese soldiers and running upstream; soon it arrived at the port. They said they were going to Nanjing. “Good luck.” I asked them to take me on board.
– So you went down the Yangtze River.
On the way down, I saw an island in the middle of the river where a Japanese unit was. I asked to stop the boat and landed on the island. According to the map, the shore on the left side of the island was called Wu Jiang (烏江), a place well-known for the old story of Ziang Yu (項羽,) Chu(楚.).
On this island in the middle of the river, Colonel Hashimoto Kingoro (橋本欣五郎), the 13th Regiment Commander of Field Heavy Artillery (野戦重砲兵第十三連隊, set up a base. He boasted triumphantly, “I got an order and just destroyed a British ship.”
– Did you enter Nanjing after that?
I went down the river on the transport and landed at the wharf of Xiaguan (下関), the front entrance to Nanjing. I am not sure of the date, maybe it was the afternoon of December 13. On December 12, the Japanese Army attacked around China Gate (中華門). The mopping-up in and out the Castle continued until the morning of the 13th, so I guess that I entered the Castle on the afternoon of the 13th. The battle was completely finished.
When I landed Xiaguan, I saw a Japanese army truck running–it was empty. I asked the driver where was he going, he said he was going to the Water West Gate (水西門) located on the west side, by passing through the inside of Nanjing Castle. I asked him to give me
a ride and when we arrived at Water West Gate, it was evening and already getting dark.
– What did you do after you arrived at Water West Gate?
Outside Water West Gate, I found the Obara Battalion, which was organized in Kagoshima, Kyushu. According to the Battalion Adjutant, they had fought fiercely, fully bloodied, until noon that day.
I went to meet Major Obara Shigetaka (小原重孝). Commander Obara had experience as military officer overseas and had a very strict manner. While I was speaking with him in a wide empty room, a reporter from another newspaper nonchalantly walked in, without knocking. Upset, the commander shouted at him in a loud voice, “Who are you? Get out!” Hearing that the adjutant jumped into the room, and the commander ordered the adjutant not to allow intruders into his room. Sensing his mood, we quickly withdrew from the room. Later the adjutant pitied us and assigned us a corner room in the building that night.
The next day, I got up before dawn and went out. I was told to watch the roadside carefully. In the morning mist, I was surprised to find a number of Chinese bodies in indigo dyed uniforms, here and there. I counted roughly 500 to 600 of them.
– Did you find the place where the 18th Division Headquarters lodged?
The inside of the Castle was empty and quiet. I didn’t see any civilians, no one at all. I saw people occasionally, Japanese soldiers patrolling in the Castle. Each time I met with Japanese soldiers, I asked them where the 18th Division was camped, and soon I found the Headquarters. The 18th Division used an empty house called the Hokei Ginro (宝慶銀楼) as their lodging.
The Commander of the 18th Division, Lieutenant General Ushijima Sadao (牛島貞雄), knew me well–I moved with them on a poorly maintained, muddy road for many days and struggled to find a way to send my articles from the battlefield to Shanghai. Commander Ushijima had written “You had such a hard time,” and handed me his calligraphy which he had already prepared. I thought it was like a commendation given by a high-rank samurai to his subordinate in old times. In addition, Commander
Ushijima gave me a bottle of sake, a regal gift, which he kept for me, as well as a box of cigarettes with chrysanthemum crest. This demonstrated his warm, fatherly personality.
– After the capture, what was the situation in Nanjing?
I expected inside Nanjing to be a mess but I was surprised to see that was not so. Maybe around the Chaina Gate (中華門) or other gates where fierce fighting occurred there was more damage done, but I didn’t go to those places because they were too far away.
Anyway, as far as I saw, the town and the streets looked clean. Before the entrance ceremony, they must have been cleaned. Before the ceremony, I visited the Military Academy located in Zhongshan East Road (中山東路 ) and Zhongshan Gate to do a preliminary check of where the ceremony was to be held. It was clean everywhere and no abandoned bodies were seen.
– It is said that there was a massacre in Nanjing.
I saw Nanjing immediately after the capture so I am confident to say that I neither saw nor heard about a massacre; any massacre whatsoever. I cannot say anything about matters after the ceremony because after the ceremony I went back Shanghai, leaving my duties to the next reporter. I returned to Japan before the end of the year.
However, it was totally unlikely that a massacre happened after the capture of Nanjing. Nanjing citizens were evacuated to the Safety Zone long before and they were protected there. I assume that the large Chinese Army had withdrawn, leaving only a garrison in Nanjing. If large numbers of Chinese troops gathered in Nanjing, then they had no chance to survive because the Japanese Army surrounded the Castle for the attack. China is a huge country, therefore they promptly fled all the way to Hankou (漢口) before they sustained serious damage, then again to Chongqing (重慶). It was a reasonable strategy to stretch the Japanese lines, to make them long, thin and weak like a thread.
In the Spring of 1939, I was assigned to be the chief of the Nanjing branch and went to Nanjing again. Our branch office was located along Zhongshan North Road (中山北路).
Since then, I stayed in Nanjing for 6 years and then drafted into the army there and joined the army in Hankou and moved to Changsha (長沙). As the War ended, I was discharged
from military service. I stayed at a camp, an old lodging for Japanese troops which was located outside Nanjing, together with 10,000 Japanese residents for half a year then returned Japan. While I was in Nanjing, as I mentioned earlier, I had never heard about a massacre.
I heard the story of a massacre when the Tokyo Trial raised the issue. It was a frame-up by the winner. I do not believe it.
– In order to understand those times, do you have something to share?
Yes. During the period I worked at our Nanjing branch, the two-year anniversary of the Capture of Nanjing had arrived. Our head office wanted a special featured article for the anniversary and I made the following:
We, the Nanjing branch office of the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun, hired a Chinese couple as assistants. The couple has continuously lived in Nanjing, including during the conflict, and know of those times in great detail. On the condition of providing anonymity, I interviewed them for a special article. The article was published on in the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimubun on December 10, 1939, on page 7.
This article described the situation in the Safety Zone.
It was titled:
“Refugees interviewed,
Men and women in fear of kidnapping,
Painful atrocities committed by the Chinese Central Army.”
The husband’s name was Kosinmin (黄真民) (assumed name, 27 years old) and came from the southern countryside, several kilometers from Nanjing. He graduated from junior high school. His wife’s name was Chinmi (陳美) (assumed name, 26 years old) and her mother came from Suzhou.
The reporter started with the following:
– When the Japanese Army entered Nanjing where were you and what were you doing?
My wife and I were in the Safety Zone set by the International Committee,
located in Yihe Road (頤和路), deeply secluded from Shanxi Road (山西路), in the northwest part of Nanjing.
Packed into the Safety Zone were 300,000 people. Night and day, the soldiers of the Central Army came, one after another, showing off their guns, searched us, took our food, property and our last penny. The most scaring thing was that they kidnapped men and women, especially single men, who were often taken for labor, and girls for the night. Their violence was really insufferable.
– How did you know that the Japanese Army arrived?
After we entered the Safety Zone, we never left the place because the fighting was getting really serious and we felt that we were in danger. I think it was December 11, when I was chattering with my friend, when we heard some gunshots from outside. “What is that?” I exchanged a glance with my friend.
– Did you see the Japanese Army?
I saw the Japanese Army on December 18. It was the first time for me to see Japanese Military Policemen patrolling.
– Were there any Chinese soldiers among the refugees?
There were. All Chinese soldiers were found and caught.
– Didn’t the Japanese soldiers mistake you for a Chinese soldier?
They inspected my hands and head, but my color was not of a soldier and I had my wife with me so they soon recognized that I was not a soldier.
– So your wife Chinmi saved your life. You must be treating her well, and the both of you are very devoted to each other.
I was so scared when we were searched, we couldn’t imagine what would happen.
– Was there enough food in the Safety Zone?
As soon as the Safety Zone was organized, I quit my departmental job, bought 2-koku of rice, oil, salt and so on and evacuated to the Safety Zone with my wife. At first there were no residents in the Safety Zone – the former residents evacuated already – but later it became packed. For example, 12 people had to sleep together in a room as small as this office.
– Your home village was not far from Nanjing. Why didn’t you evacuate to your home village?
Because there were many bandits on the way to my village—and the Central Army as well.
– Was it not good that the Central Army prevented banditry?
No, no. The Central Army and the bandits are the same. They never hesitated to rob–or kill us–if we have money or valuables.
That’s why we hurriedly moved to the Safety Zone which was supposed to be the safest place.
– Did you have so much money or valuables that might cause you to be killed or robbed?
We worked and had a house full of furniture. And I saved 800 Yuan, my wife 400 Yuan.
– I see. That’s why you were afraid of bandits and the Central Army.
And we were afraid of something else, too.
– What’s that?
Gangsters. There are many of these in China. An acquaintance of mine envied my money and informed one of these guys. The gangster caught me and took my money right from my pocket.
– When did this happen?
It happened when the Japanese Army had started to attack the Castle. My bad acquaintance disappeared since then but the gangster who stole my money is still walking the streets in Nanjing. Not just me, but there are many other victims of gangsters.
– Why didn’t you tell the police about it?
It is useless. The police are in with the gangsters. But the gangster who stole my money is now very poor, having had no food for a day.
– This must be Heaven’s punishment. Was Chinmi’s 400 Yuan also stolen that time?
I sewed the money tightly into a futon, so he couldn’t find it.
– Where were the fiercest battles that happened in the Castle?
It is said there were serious battles around Water West Gate (水西門), Guanghua Gate (光華門), Xiaguan (下関) and Yi Jiang Gate (挹江門). The strategy of the Japanese Army was to surround Nanjing–that worked in successfully capturing Nanjing in a short period of time. I heard that 11 Japanese soldiers caught 3,000 Chinese soldiers around Water West Gate.
– What a strange story. Why didn’t the Chinese soldiers protest?
They probably lost the will to fight and threw down their weapons.
– As a matter of fact, I [the reporter] was here, in Nanjing, at that time as a war correspondent specifically for the attack on Nanjing. I saw 500 to 600 bodies scattered outside the Water West Gate. At the time, I stayed at a building called the Hokei Ginro (宝慶銀楼), located along China Road (中華路). Now, being in Nanjing again, as soon as I arrived, I went to see the building, to see what had happened, and found the same Chinese who were there then still living there.
Oh, you were here then. I didn’t know that at all.
– And at the Attack of the China Gate, one of my colleagues, a war correspondent for the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun, was killed in the battle.
Oh. Did you volunteer for the job?
– We are dispatched by the newspaper companies. At the time 7 to 8 reporters and I were dispatched to Nanjing.
During the period of working as the chief of the Nanjing branch office, Mr. Mitomo had also brought his family to Nanjing. His daughter attended Japanese Elementary School in Nanjing from first to 5th grade. She joined the interview and I asked her about the Nanjing Massacre. She said:
I have never heard such a story. In Nanjing, I often played with Chinese children in the neighborhood, but they never mentioned it, not even a rumor.
After the War, Mr. Mitomo served as the chief of the business section in Nishi-Nihon Shimbun, and is now living in Tachiarai, a suburb of Fukuoka, with his daughter’s family. He was 83 years old yet looked 10 years younger. His mind was also such that he could very clearly remember details from those times.
17) Interview with Mr. Koike Shuyo (小池秋羊), Reporter for the Miyako Shimbun
I interviewed Mr. Koike Shuyo shortly after the beginning of the New Years’ Day, 1986. Last year, in Autumn, Mr. Koike had an acute heart problem and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. He left the hospital at the end of the year. He had been going to the hospital every other day for kidney dialysis before being hospitalized. I asked him for an interview before knowing anything about his health.
When I met him, I felt that he was not strong enough to do the interview, yet he insisted, partly because he himself was a reporter and partly, I guess, because he felt lonely, having not spoken much for a long time due to his health problem.
Mr. Koike was born in 1907. In 1928, he joined the Miyako Shimbun (currently the Tokyo Shimbun), working at the time as assistant director of the local news section. In 1937, he was dispatched to the battles of Shanghai and Nanjing together with Mr. Tsukamoto, the assistant director of the politics section, and Mr. Yoshino, photographer.
The Miyako Shimbun was a local Tokyo newspaper. The news from the Shanghai front was taken from the Domei Tsushin, but the Miyako Shimbun wanted their unique coloration of the conflict, so Mr. Koike and two others were dispatched for this purpose.
– When did you go to Nanjing?
We visited Taihu Lake (太湖) and returned to Shanghai on either December 2 or 3. Those days, Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Itsuo (馬淵逸雄) was in charge of the Army’s news section, so I visited his office and found a group of consoling visitors, 13 to 14 Diet members. They were talking about visiting Nanjing because the capture of Nanjing was only a matter of time. In the group, I saw Mr. Kato Kanju (加藤勘十), of the Japan Proletarian Party, (who was arrested a couple of weeks later due to the Popular Front Incident. After the War, he became Minister of Labor).
They invited us to go with them, so we three joined the group and headed for Nanjing.
It was on either December 5 or 6 we left Shanghai for Nanjing, through Suzhou, Wu-xi, and Changzhou, riding an Army truck.
It was around December 9 we arrived at the 16th Division Headquarters located near Ma Qunzhen (馬群鎮). Division Headquarters was deployed a distance from the frontline.
The Chinese Army continuously shot their cannons from Mt. Zijin (紫金山). The Headquarters was setup at the rear and there was no mountain in the area from which the Chinese Army could see us. It was very dangerous. When the visitors tried to take pictures of their visit, the thunder of Chinese cannon made us shudder. Terrified, the official visitors went back at once–they stayed at Headquarters for only an hour. Reporters were not able to abandon our job, so we remained with at 16th Division Headquarters.
The Commander of the 16th Division was Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago (中島今朝吾), who limped due to a bullet wound. Nevertheless, he was actively in command. When I met him for the first time, I was impressed by his softness, like a gentle old man.
We stayed at a place close to Ma Qunzhen (馬群鎮) for 3 to 4 days before we entered Nanjing. During that time the Japanese Army scattered bills advising surrender, and also they released balloon in order to gauge shooting distance to Nanjing. I heard that they attacked Xiaguan from there. Around 250,000 to 300,000 Chinese soldiers had been deployed in Nanjing but, at that time, 50,000 soldiers were left in Nanjing. The rest of the Chinese soldiers withdrew by passing through Xiaguan, so I heard.
Several kilometers behind the 16th Division Headquarters was a hot spring called Tang Shuizhen (湯水鎮). We used the hot spring several times.
– When did you enter Nanjing?
On either the 13th or 14th–my memory is not clear, but it must be 13th. We followed Division Headquarters and entered from Zhongshan Gate. Up to then, soldiers of the 16th Division completed mopping-up actions to clear Chinese soldier remnants, moving around every street of Nanjing starting from Zhongshan Gate.
We reporters walked along Zhongshan East Road (中山東路) and found that every house in the Castle was empty. It was a deathly quiet town, not even a cat or dog was seen–it was just a weird atmosphere that surrounded us. We were surprised to see the streets were perfectly in order, no trace of battle. After 200-300 meters of walking, we met a man walking toward us and then passed us, staggering as he went. His face and body
were covered with blood, he looked like a ghost. He did not seem to be a soldier but ordinary civilian. Still, neither we reporters nor our soldiers offered him any help. We had no time. The place was a strange, unknown town to us. We were constantly in danger–the enemy could appear anytime, anywhere. I felt scared, and realized again that this was a real battlefield.
The 6 to 7 of us reporters, including the Hochi, Yomiuri, Shanghai Nippo, and our own Miyako, were fed by Nakajima Division Headquarters since we arrived outside of Nanjing. A monk, who joined the Division, took the job of communication between the reporters and the Division.
When we reporters walked around the Castle, somewhere behind Zhongzheng Road (中正路), a little past the rotary where the Zhongshan Road (中山路) and the Zhongzheng Road intersected, a fire broke out. The empty street was covered with black smoke, and the fire spread quickly and widely without anyone to extinguish it. As we watched the fire, several foreigners came by in two cars, racing at full speed around the street, took several pictures, then left the place at full speed again. Later, we found out that the group belonged to reporter Tillman Durdin of The New York Times, who reported the scoop–the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army in Nanjing. They ran into us and fled instantly. Considering that this battlefield was enemy territory to them as well as to us, we secretly admired their braveness and tactful manner as reporters.
Back to my story, we had to find our lodging and looked around in a luxury housing area close to Division Headquarters. We found a house that looked like the official residence of a high rank government official. We got permission from the Division and settled there. All furniture and decorations were intact. The house had a wide reception room, sunny living room and western style bathroom. I turned the faucet on and found water running. We spent more than a week on a fierce battlefield outside the Castle, so we cried with joy when we saw running water. But later we found out that the water was merely remains from the house’s water tank; we were disappointed.
The house was two-storied, the second floor was apparently the family’s private rooms. And in the perfume-scented luxurious daughter’s room, I imagined that a beautiful Chinese girl was actually in there. There was a study with full of books arranged neatly in shelves, which must also be the owner’s room. We were very satisfied with this house, which made us feel human.
– What was the situation in Nanjing then?
Around that time, I went to the Safety Zone and watched the assistant military policemen picked out Chinese soldier stragglers. A parent or brother of one of the soldiers who was caught by the military policemen begged them not to take him, crying, he was not a soldier. I couldn’t stand to watch the scene. But, anyway, I guessed that the policemen took him.
– How many remnants did they take away?
Ten or 20, in a group. I think the military policemen shot them.
– Where?
I didn’t see it, but I suppose the policemen took them to the suburbs and shot them there.
– How was the Safety Zone at the time?
The refugees were upset while the military policemen looking for stragglers, but generally they were calm.
And there was not enough food so the people begged us for food. In our lodging, we found several bags of rice, so we brought the leaders of the refugees to our lodging and gave them rice and other food, enough for two carts. But there were 60,000 to 70,000 people in the Safety Zone, so it was almost nothing.
– Did you send articles about the people in the Safety Zone?
Yes. I wrote articles about what I myself saw while walking around. We didn’t have radio equipment so we asked a person in the Army press section, who came from Shanghai, to send my articles, using the Army’s radio system.
– What was the situation in Nanjing after that?
I visited many places in Nanjing, but we didn’t have a car so my movement was limited. At the entrance ceremony, I waited on the Zhongshan Gate and took pictures of General Matsui entering the Castle from a distance and Mr. Yoshino, who was a professional photographer, took close-up pictures of the General. The picture was displayed on the first page of the Miyako Shimbun. Also, we took pictures for the New Year – a group of soldiers cheered “banzai” on Mt. Zijin. It was set-up.
– How long did you stay in Nanjing?
I wanted to return to Shanghai before the 24th and asked the Navy to get me passage for Shanghai on the 22nd. I stayed one night on board a ship and I suppose I arrived in Shanghai on the 23rd. Yes, I remember cerebrating Christmas Eve, the 24th, in the French Concession in Shanghai.
– It is said there was a massacre in Nanjing. Did you see bodies from a massacre?
I don’t know whether they were the result from a massacre or fighting, but I saw several bodies in a basement of a half-constructed building near the central rotary. The basement was filled with water and the water was red with blood. When I saw the pale bodies, I was really scared.
And I think it was at Yi Jiang Gate (挹江門) – I went there on a Army truck and I saw a corpse which had been run over repeatedly by cars and it was flat.
And when I left Xiaguan, where a dock or a pan-shaped shipyard-like grandstand stood, I saw a number of bodies thrown in it.
– How many were bodies in the dock?
It was not just 5 or 10. More than that–20 or 30. I think they were battle casualties.
– Did you see any other bodies?
No, that’s all what I saw.
– Did you heard about a massacre while you were in Nanjing?
– Did you hear any rumors, of any kind at all?
I heard a story that Chinese soldiers couldn’t find any food, so they turned themselves in.
– You said that you met foreign reporters.
They each had a car, took pictures including our mopping-up operation in the Castle, the place that was on fire, and even of the Safety Zone. I was surprised they took so many pictures.
I once saw the soldiers of the 16th Division seizing something by force. It seemed that the top officers overlooked soldiers taking food. It would not be so good if foreign reporters wrote an article about this, so I reported this matter to, maybe, Lieutenant Colonel Mabuchi Itsuo (馬淵逸雄). He understood immediately and tried to stop foreign reporters at each Castle gate but they had already gone back to Shanghai. The article was published by several newspapers, including the Shanghai Evening Post, and the North China Daily Newspaper. In addition, as mentioned before, it was published by foreign newspapers, like The New York Times, too.
– Have you seen the Shanghai Evening Post and the North China Daily News yourself?
Yes, I read them after I returned to Shanghai. It was published, not only by neutral newspapers, but also by Chinese newspapers.
– What did the papers say?
I don’t remember exactly, it mentioned Japanese soldiers’ plundering or something like that.
Our Miyako Shimubun made the Astor House, near the Garden Bridge, our lodging.
Across the Garden Bridge was the International Settlement, which housed citizens from the UK and other countries, and where we could buy English language newspapers and newspapers written in Chinese.
Usually we Miyako Shimbun reporters visited the press department of the Japanese Army to get news but we have only three staff members and our capacity to get news was limited, so we tried to get information from the English language newspapers rather than going up to the front.
Therefore, starting with the Attack on Dachang Town (大場鎮攻略), it became our regular duty to read the newspapers published in the International Settlement. Other Japanese newspapermen did the same, but I believe we had the best knowledge about foreign newspapers then.
– In those newspapers you must have found a lot of anti-Japan articles. How did you take it?
Naturally, in the International Settlement, being Japanese was dangerous. On a street corner, I saw some Chinese people who were accused of being pro-Japanese traitors. There were killed and their heads put on public display. The UK was also anti-Japanese so they didn’t step in and just left the heads there. I often visited an English bookshop called Kelly, where I saw a number of anti-Japanese books.
Under those circumstances, even the so-called neutral newspapers written in English took the Chinese side. We couldn’t use those articles, literally, but we did get to know the Chinese point of view. Taking those things into consideration, I wrote my article.
– After the War, it was said there was a massacre with hundreds of thousands victims.
The bodies I saw with my own eyes were those that mentioned earlier. However, I didn’t get to see all of Nanjing, so I don’t know of anything else. If someone said there was a massacre, I cannot refute that. But even in Japanese Army’s reports, for example, when they said they killed 10,000, in fact it was 1,000. The numbers were always exaggerated.
I have no intention of taking the Chinese or the Japanese side. What I talked about today was all that I witnessed and experienced in Nanjing.
Mr. Koike stayed in Shanghai until February 1938, and returned to Tokyo. His first visit to China ignited his dream of China, of which he held for a long time. He quit his job at the Miyako Shimbun in 1939 to go China again. Pulling some strings, he joined a company called Mokyo-dengyo 蒙疆電業in Zhangjiakou (張家口), China. He worked there for 5 years and then drafted into the Japanese military in 1944.
Living in China for a total of 6 years, he made his dream come true, that is, he saw the stone Buddhist images of Yungang Grottoes (雲岡) and Longmen Grottoes (竜門), for which he had been longing. After the War, he established a company and engaged in business. During this time, he wrote three books, “Mongolia, A Country Far Away,” “Note on Yungang Grottoes,” and “Longmen Mandala.”
18) Interview with Mr. Yanai Shogoro (箭内正五郎), Reporter for the Fukushima Minpo Shimbun
In August 1937, the second Shanghai Incident broke out and the 3rd Division and the 11th Division landed at Shanghai. However, the Chinese Army fiercely resisted. Therefore, in September, the 13th Division, the 9th Division, the 101th Division and Shigefuji (重藤) Detachment were dispatched to Shanghai. The 13th Division was organized in Sendai, Aizuwakamatsu, Shibata and Takada, as a reserve unit. Within the division, the 65th Regiment was organized in Aizuwakamatu, headed by Colonel Morozumi Gyosaku (両角業作), who was just promoted to colonel.
The 13th Division landed China in the beginning of October, and fought against the Chinese Army in Lao Lu Zhai (老陸宅) and Ma Jiazhai (馬家宅). Later the Japanese Army moved north, chasing the Chinese Army along the Yangtze River and captured Jiangyin (江陰) Battery, the largest fortress in the area around the Yangtze River. After the capture of the Jiangyin Battery, the Shibata Regiment and the Takada Regiment crossed the Yangtze River, heading towards Jingjiang (靖江), while the Sendai Regiment and the Aizuwakamatsu Regiment stayed there and moved to Zhenjiang (鎮江). After the capture of Zhenjiang, the Sendai Regiment crossed the Yangtze River and moved north, while the 65th Regiment moved for Nanjing along the Yangtze River. The 65th Regiment was under Brigade Commander Major General Yamada Senji (山田栴二).
After the War, Mr. Hata Kensuke (秦賢助) wrote an article in the magazine Japan Weekly, titled by “Byakko Troop Blooded by Prisoners’ Blood”. In the article, Mr. Hata wrote that on December 15, 1937, the Byakko Troop massacred Chinese 20,000 prisoners, who were caught at Mufushan (幕府山).
Shortly thereafter, the Fukushima Minyu Shimbun started a two-year series titled “War Story of The Local Regiment”. In those times, there were many surviving soldiers who participated in the Nanjing Battle, and Brigade Commander Yamada and 65th Regiment Commander Morozumi were also alive and well. Based on various witnesses and evidence, the series “War Story of The Local Regiment” proved that Mr. Hata’s article was not based at all on fact. In addition, ten years later, journalist Mr. Suzuki Akira revealed in his book, “Nanking Illusion of the Nanking Massacre,” that Mr. Hata’s story was nothing more than fiction. However, the story spread widely and persisted. The 65th Regiment and the 16th Division, which remained in Nanjing after the capture, have been associated with the Nanjing-Incident.
To follow the 65th Regiment, three reporters were assigned from the Fukushima Minpo, Fukushima Minyu, and the Fukushima. These newspapers received general news from the Domei Tsushin. The three reporters instead tried to report something special, focusing on the Regiment’s soldiers, by following their local regiment.
Among the three reporters, two reporters, of the Fukushima Minyu and the Fukushima died and only Mr. Yanai Shogoro of the Fukushima Minpo, was alive.
In those time, there were five local newspapers in Fukushima prefecture and the Fukushima Minpo had the largest number of subscriptions. The Fukushima Minpo published a collection of photographs titled by “Our Local Regiment’s Photographs in the China Incident” in 1938. This book showed the battles of the 65th Regiment in Shanghai and Nanjing. Mr. Yanai, who had returned to Japan by then, edited this photo-book, using some of the photos he himself took.
Mr. Yanai was born in January 1904. He joined the Fukushima Minpo in 1928 and in September 1937, followed the 65th Regiment to Shanghai. This was to be his first and only military experience. Among other reporters he was the only reporter following the local soldiers, which suggests that he must have been the most promising reporter at the
Fukushima Minpo.
After he returned from China, he was appointed chief editor in 1940 and he served in that capacity until he was purged by the American Occupation and had to leave the company in 1948. During the period from 1940 to 1944 he served Mr. Horikiri Zenbei (堀切善兵衛), the Ambassador to Italy, as the Ambassador’s secretary, keeping his status as the newspaper’s chief editor in the mean time. When he was purged after the War, he decided to join the company in which Mr. Horikiri was involved.
I interviewed him in December 1985 at his home in Fukushima City. It was a cold day. Mr. Yanai, wearing a pullover, looked plump and energetic for an 81 year-old.
– After the Zhenjiang Attack, of the 13th Division, the 65th Regiment alone went to Nanjing, is that correct?
Yes. Other regiments crossed the Yangtze River and headed north, but only the 65th Regiment moved for Nanjing along Yangtze River. The 65th Regiment had completed most of their serious battles in Shanghai. After the Shanghai battle, the last significant battle was the attack against Jiangyin Battery. The battle at Jiangyin Battery was very hard but Japanese soldiers inflicted far fewer casualties compared to the battle in Shanghai. When we arrived in Zhenjiang, we found almost nothing, the enemy had already withdrawn.
– You went to Nanjing after that. Did you go with the 65th Regiment Headquarters?
Usually we always followed Regiment Headquarters. We were under the Regiment, so they supplied us with leftover food and delivered our articles to the Army’s Press Section in Shanghai. In exchange of their support, we had to inform the adjutant of the Regiment beforehand if we wanted to leave the Regiment. The Asahi, Mainich, and other main newspapers had to manage their own food supply and delivery of their articles but they had the liberty to gather news materials from wherever they wanted. That was the difference between the local newspapers like ours and the big, main newspapers.
As I said, we followed the 65th Regiment until the battle of Jiangyin, but after that, we didn’t have any serious battles, so we left the Regiment with permission and tried to gather news materials. It so happened that we could get a ride on a transport unit’s truck
from Zhenjiang to Nanjing. The transport unit was moving in the rear of the Regiment, which meant that I was apart from Headquarters.
– When did you join the 65th Regiment’s Headquarters again?
Perhaps either December 17 or 18. The Headquarters was deployed at a place two to three kilometers from the north gate of Nanjing. We found them there and joined them again.
– Did you see the entrance ceremony on December 17?
No. So I assume that I had arrived in Nanjing after the ceremony was completed. From the 65th Regiment, Brigade Commander Yamada and Regiment Commander Morozumi and several soldiers attended the ceremony, entering from the north gate. I hadn’t entered the Castle that time.
– It was said that around December 14, the 65th Regiment caught 15,000 or 20,000 prisoners.
As I mentioned before, I was in a transport unit’s truck, so I was not there the moment they caught the prisoners. I heard about the prisoners after we caught up with Regiment Headquarters.
– What did they do to the prisoners?
I guess they set them free because keeping prisoners was huge trouble. Those times, the Japanese soldiers had no other choice but to drive off the prisoners, but if they said this openly, they would have gotten a reprimand from their superiors, so they simply said they made the Chinese soldiers retreat, or were “destroyed”.
– Did you write about the prisoners?
No. The people back home wanted to know about the soldiers’ surroundings, so I wrote about their daily life. Regarding the prisoners, I think the story is in the photo-book, “Our
Local Regiment’s Photographs during the China Incident published in 1938 is accurate. The book “Our Local Regiment’s Photographs in China Incident” was written based on the facts.
– Did you refrain from writing about the prisoners due to censorship?
No, it had nothing to do with censorship. I didn’t write about the prisoners because I hardly heard about it. Just like that, it was not a topic.
Speaking of censorship, we were strictly prohibited from writing names of places and the name of troops. Revealing location, especially, was never allowed, as well as the name of a troop–they were expressed as ○○. However, only when the 65th Regiment spent New Year’s in Quanjiao (全椒) (20 kilometers away, northwest of Nanjing), were we allowed to use the name of locations in our article. If a name was shown as ○○, we didn’t really feel the atmosphere of the New Year.
– According to the series of articles titled “War Story of The Local Regiment,” published by the Fukushima Minyu Shimbun after the War, most of the prisoners ran away and when the Japanese soldiers tried to set the rest of them free, approximately 3,000, they started to rebel. Therefore, the Japanese soldiers had to shoot them.
It was after the War when I heard that prisoners revolted. While I was in Nanjing, nobody raised the matter of prisoners as a subject. After the War, for the first time, I heard it was called a massacre, and that reminded me about the prisoners again.
– Mr. Hata Kensuke said the Byakko Troop massacred 20,000 prisoners.
Mr. Hata Kensuke, oh yes. Mr. Hata wrote a book called “Byakko Troop” while the 65th Regiment fought in China. The book sold well and he became well-known. I was the first reporter to follow the 65th Regiment, joining them in December 1937, and followed them as far as Shushen (滁県) and then I returned to Fukushima at the end of January 1938. Later, around February or March, an alternate reporter, Sakamoto Mutsuyoshi (坂本六良), went to China. At that time, Mr. Hata did not visit either Shanghai or Nanjing. Nevertheless, without ever visiting China, he wrote the book “Byakko Troop.”
At the time, my elder brother also joined the Japanese Army, serving as platoon leader in a machine-gun unit in the First Battalion. Until two months ago, he was fine, then he died at the age of 86. My brother joined the Army and volunteered for a second term to go to China, where he was on active duty. The 65th Regiment mainly consisted of reserve soldiers but my brother was in the center of the front line. After the War, I asked my brother if he killed prisoners, he answered that we didn’t have enough bullets to kill the prisoners. In those times, the Regiment was under-supplied. Therefore, they couldn’t waste a bullet–they had to keep their bullets for the next battle. When the prisoners got violent, then they had to shoot them–otherwise they wouldn’t.
Think about that–it was just some Japanese soldiers who were moving up front and caught Chinese soldiers. The 65th Regiment had numerous casualties in battle at Shanghai and lost many soldiers. Yes, they were filled with recruits. Nevertheless, their numbers were less than usual. How many Japanese soldiers could catch 15,000 Chinese soldiers? If 1,000 Japanese soldiers, for example, caught 15,000 Chinese soldiers and then if 15,000 prisoners attacked the Japanese soldiers, the Japanese soldiers would not be able to shoot them all. On the contrary, the Japanese soldiers would have been killed. It does not make sense from the standpoint of numbers, for one thing. Mr. Hata had no knowledge about Nanjing. The people who knew of those times never believed Mr. Hata’s story. Mr. Hata was born in Fukushima and lives in Fukushima.
– Mr. Hata died several years ago.
Did he? I didn’t see him long. Mr. Hata’s story about a massacre was not what he saw himself but what he heard from the soldiers after the War, probably while they were drinking. After the War, the soldiers wanted to talk about their war stories, often in colorful ways.
– At least something happened which was raised during drinking?
There were stories of other prisoners and ben-i-hei, plain clothes soldiers, and so on. Especially in Shanghai. One episodes which happened in Shanghai was that prisoners were paid to do odd jobs during the day, rebelled at night and threw hand grenades and set fire to our lodgings. One fire burned my cloak. Also, Japanese soldiers found ben-i-hei, or civilian-clothed soldiers, throwing grenades so the Japanese soldier killed
ben-i-hei. Therefore, there were bodies in civilian-clothes. I assume such stories spread by word of mouth.
Another misunderstanding was that, stories of soldiers hunting for rabbits or birds somehow became plundering. For war stories, good stories do not spread but bad stories spread out like a ripples from a rock thrown into a pond because people love exciting stories. I think the massacre story was one of those.
– Was it not ordered from the top?
If you knew the Regiment Commander Morozumi, you could not say such a thing. Regiment Commander Morozumi had common sense, was easily moved to tears and a reliable person. He was not a graduate of the Army War College but was promoted to Regiment Commander and finally to Lieutenant General. He was so great that people naturally thought that he must have been a graduate of the Army War College.
When we landed Shanghai, Regiment Commander Morozumi instructed his soldiers at the wharf, “Weapons can be made easily but not humans. It took 20 to 30 years of time to make you as you are now. Take care of yourself. For that purpose, dig trenchs deep enough and make them perfect.”
In the battle of Shanghai, the 65th Regiment lost the largest number of soldiers–soldiers admired Regiment Commander Morozumi and they fought bravely for him. In other words, the Commander’s caring and compassion toward his soldiers killed soldiers against the Commander’s will. If soldiers had antipathy for their commander, they wouldn’t want to die for him and that would result in fewer casualties and minor injuries. I can say this according to my experience. Many soldiers died when they had caring commanders and soldiers with nagging commander survived. In the battlefield, the soldiers’ mind became simplicity itself. If you wanted to save your soldiers you must be hated by the soldiers – to his regret, Regiment Commander Morozumi said this. It is true.
I have my own memory about Commander Morozumi. I kept moving with Regiment Headquarters and had no chance to meet my brother as I mentioned before, who had joined the Regiment. Knowing this, the Commander occasionally informed me that my brother was fine. I found out later that the Commander also told my elder brother that I
was doing well.
When we started the attack on Jiangyin Castle(江陰城), the Commander was ordered from his superior to capture the Castle before a certain date, but he instructed his soldiers, “Try to capture the castle before this date, but if not possible, do not push yourself too hard, do not waste your life.” Therefore, even if he got an order from his superior to kill prisoners, I am sure he would have rejected it. That was his character. And it was quite unlikely for him to order such a thing himself.
Incidentally, Mr. Morozumi Yoshihiko (両角良彦), who served as the undersecretary of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry several years ago, was the eldest son of this Commander Morozumi.
– Did you hear something about disciplinary problems in the 65th Regiment?
No. In Fukushima, there are hundreds of people who fought in the war who are still alive. If you ask them, you will see.
After the War, Mr. Hata Kensuke said that the 65th Regiment committed a massacre, but nobody believes that. A person who went to war knew very well that killing a person is not easy. Even a small war, you hear thundering sounds of cannons and gunshots that makes everything look awful and inflated. But later, when you look at that same battlefield, it looks incredibly small. Such impressions of battle multiplied and spread after the War.
Some people insist it was a massacre from an ideological point of view and some people have started to believe this, but considering the situation in Nanjing then, it was not possible.
– Did you see bodies along the shore of the Yangtze River?
In Nanjing, no. I have a stronger impression of things in Shanghai than from Nanjing. I saw a number of bodies in Shanghai. No one cleaned the battlefield so they were abandoned in the fields. I remember that very well.
– The 65th Regiment crossed the River from Xiaguan to Pukou (浦口) on December 20. Did you see any corpses at that time?
For crossing the River, I took a small Navy gunboat from a pier in Xiaguan. I think there were several piers in Xiaguan but at least I did not see any bodies at the pier where I took the gunboat.
– Have you heard about the Nanjing-Incident after the War?
Yes. After the War I, was surprised to hear that there was massacre in Nanjing. As mentioned before, compared to the fighting in Shanghai, the Nanjing front was not so severe, and reporters from the Fukushima Minyu and Fukushima Shimbun left Nanjing before the end of December 1937. I crossed the River, went to Chushen (滁県) and stayed there until January 1938, but I had never heard of that.
I believe that there was no massacre. It was a rumor spread after the War.