Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact


SDHF Newsletter No.366 THE ROAD TO THE GREATER EAST ASIAN WAR Part 5: Chapter 2: The 1st Sino-Japanese War -2


Nakamura Akira, Dokkyo University Professor Emeritus

(English Translation: Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact)

Part 5: Chapter 2: The 1st Sino-Japanese War -2

After inaugurating the Meiji Renovation, the Japanese proceeded to modernize domestic law, using Western legal systems as their models. As a result, they were able to make some progress with treaty revision. In July 1894, not long before the commencement of the 1st Sino-Japanese War, they succeeded in removing the extraterritoriality clause from their treaty with the UK.

Thus, even before the 1st Sino-Japanese War commenced, Japan had demonstrated its respect for international laws and regulations. Emperor Meiji, in his imperial rescript declaring war on China wrote that “We command each and all of our competent authorities … to carry on hostilities by sea and land against China, with all the means at their disposal, consistently with the Law of Nations.”

Ordinarily it is weak or defeated nations that advocate strict observance of international law. Powerful or victorious nations tend to blithely disregard it. But the behavior of Japanese military personnel during the 1st Sino-Japanese War was different. Throughout the conflict the Japanese won victory after victory, yet they adhered faithfully to the principles of international law, and won the praise of at least one French legal scholar, Paul Fauchille, for having done so.

Facts have demonstrated that the Japanese government knows how to apply the principles of the civilization it has embraced. (…) During the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese faithfully adhered to the principles of international law, despite the fact that their enemy did not.

On the contrary, the Chinese Army resorted to long-established sadistic acts. Two war correspondents, Messrs. Ganesco and Lalo, who wrote for the French newspapers Le Figaro and L’Illustration, respectively, wrote:

Once the Chinese capture a Japanese soldier, they will use every means available to them to punish him and cause him to suffer. They will cut off his arms and legs, or decapitate him, or slash off his genitals. Only savages could behave with such cruelty.

However, strangely enough, articles appeared in some foreign periodicals reporting that the Japanese army committed atrocities in Port Arthur. They could be described as precursors to subsequent descriptions of the Nanjing Incident. According to the New York World, the Japanese murdered approximately 60,000 noncombatants, including women and children. Considering that later, when a new city sprang up in Port Arthur, there were only about 14,000 Manchurians living there, we can assume that the 60,000 figure is simply a gross exaggeration. When Nanjing fell, there were 200,000 civilians in the Safety Zone, and the population increased to 250,000. But the so-called Nanjing Massacre mythmakers insist that 300,000 people were massacred. The contentions that massacres took place in Port Arthur and Nanjing share a common central theme.


MOTEKI Hiromichi, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact