When Japan invaded China in 1931, capturing Manchuria and forming the puppet state of Manzhou-go there, the Chinese military-political forces were not able to organize quick and effective resistance to the Japanese invaders. This was facilitated by the civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists - the two most important military-political forces of China at that time. Only in 1937, shortly before the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, did the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang agree on joint action. However, the Chinese failed to prepare for the repulsion of the Japanese strike. September 22, 1937 Japanese aviation the beginning of the bombing of Nanjing. In general, bombs fell on civilian infrastructure and residential buildings. This provoked protests by the world community, but Tokyo was not going to stop the aggression. The attack on Nanjing was carried out by the forces of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army under the command of General Ivane Matsui. On November, 7, based on General Matsui’s Shanghai Expeditionary Army and Lieutenant General Heisuke Yanagawa’s 10 Army, the Central Chinese Front was created, and General Matsui Ivane was appointed commander.
Ivane Matsui (1878-1948) was born in the family of a samurai, received a military education in Rikugun Sikan Gakko - Military Academy of the Imperial Army of Japan. Matsui participated in the Russo-Japanese War, and in 1921-1922. He served in the headquarters of the Vladivostok Expeditionary Force and took part in the intervention in Russia. In 1929, Matsui received the rank of general and was appointed commander of the 11 division. Then he was in the service of the General Staff, and at that time was actively engaged in military-diplomatic work. In the 1935 year, 57-year-old Matsui retired from military service, but when the Second Sino-Japanese War began, he was again called to the service and appointed commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. Under the command of Matsui, the forces of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army were able to overcome the resistance of the Chinese troops and approach Nanking. However, since General Matsui fell ill in November 1937 and was forced to temporarily retire, Emperor Hirohito appointed Acting Commander of the Central China Front, Lieutenant General Prince Yasuhiko Asah. It was this man who, after the Japanese troops entered Nanjing, gave the order to begin cruel reprisals against the civilian population.
Prince Yasuhiko was a representative of one of the side branches of the Japanese imperial family. This status in itself gave him very great privileges. Yasuhiko was born on 20 on October 1887 of the year in Kyoto and was the seventeenth child of Prince Asahiko. Like many other representatives of the imperial family, Prince Yasuhiko chose a military career. In 1908, he graduated from Rikugun Sikan Gakko - Military Academy of the Imperial Army of Japan, receiving the rank of second lieutenant. In 1912, the prince was given the rank of captain, and in 1917, the major. Thus, despite the origin, the promotion of the prince in the service was quite standard - he received major straps nine years after graduating from the academy.
In 1920, Prince Yasuhiko went on to continue his military education in France - at the Special Military School in Saint-Cyr. While studying abroad, in 1922, the prince received the rank of lieutenant colonel. In the 1923 year, when the prince was in Paris, he got into a car accident. His cousin Naruhisa died in the crash, and Yasuhiko himself remained lame for the rest of his life. In 1925, he returned to Japan. A year later, Yasuhiko received the rank of colonel, and in the 1930 year - Major General. In 1933, Prince Yasuhiko was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed commander of the Imperial Guards Division. In December, 1935, the prince joined the Supreme Military Council under the Emperor Hirohito. However, as a result of internal contradictions and civil strife at court, the fifty-year-old Prince Yasuhiko fell into disgrace and in 1937 was sent to China - deputy commander of the Central China Front, commanded by General Ivane Matsui.
When Matsui fell ill, Prince Yasuhiko replaced him as commander of the front. Under the command of Prince Yasuhiko, Japanese troops entered Nanking. 1 December 1937, Emperor Hirohito ordered the Central Chinese Front to take over Nanking, and 2 December 1937, Prince Yasuhiko Asaha was appointed Commander of the invading forces. The siege of Nanking lasted more than ten days. 12 December 1937 of the year was left by the Chinese general Tang Shenzhi who commanded his defense, along with his headquarters. At around 6 in the morning of 13 in December of 1937, advanced Japanese units entered the city of Nanjing.
- participants "Contests" lieutenants Noda and Mukai
Almost from the very beginning of the "Nanking Campaign", Japanese troops behaved extremely cruelly not only towards Chinese prisoners of war, but also towards civilians. The capture of Nanking was marked by numerous war crimes of the Japanese troops. What is one of the “Killing a hundred people with a sword?” Undertaken by two Japanese officers, lieutenants Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, on the march from Shanghai to Nanjing, from November 30 to December 13 1937. Two officers of the imperial army competed in the skill of owning a sword, aiming to kill as many people as possible. The lieutenants killed more than one hundred innocent Chinese. This event was widely covered by the then Japanese newspapers as a sporting event.
After the Japanese troops entered Nanjing, the city began to purge the Chinese population. Officially, Japanese troops were looking for Chinese soldiers who were dressed in civilian clothes and were in a hurry to disappear among the inhabitants of the city. However, in fact, Japanese troops carried out a real genocide of civilians in the city. The invasion commander, Prince Yasuhiko Asahi, was directly responsible for its commencement. It was he who gave the order to “kill all the prisoners” and did not at all prevent the violence perpetrated by Japanese soldiers and officers. Note that as early as August 1937, the Emperor Hirohito personally allowed the Japanese troops, in violation of all the existing rules of warfare, to massacre Chinese prisoners of war without trial.
When Nanjing fell, Japanese troops began searching for Chinese soldiers who could remain in the city. December 18 occurred the most large-scale murder of prisoners of war on the banks of the Yangtze. Among the people captured by the Japanese, far from all were military personnel — any young men who were accused of being disguised soldiers fell under the “hot hand”. Throughout the night, Japanese soldiers tied up prisoners, and then divided them into four groups and shot them with machine guns. Survived after machine-gun fire, finished off with blows of bayonets and daggers. The bodies of the victims dropped in Yangtze. In total, more than 57 thousands of Chinese were killed in this massacre. Another 1300 of the Chinese - prisoners of war and civilians - were killed at the Taiping Gate. They were first blown up by a mine, then they were doused with fuel and burned. Eyewitnesses testified that they observed that some Japanese soldiers not only killed the Chinese, but gutted them and ate their hearts and livers.
Among the most common crimes against civilians were rape, murder and robbery. After the defeat of Japan, the established International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated the number of women and girls who were raped in Nanking to be no less than 20 000 people. Japanese soldiers did not disdain violence against small children. Very often, women and girls after rape were killed in the most cruel ways that a normal person does not even want to hear about. They raped pregnant women, old women, and also, for the purpose of bullying, forced their sons to rape their mothers, and their fathers to have sex with their daughters. All this was accompanied by beatings and sophisticated harassment by Japanese soldiers. The officers of the imperial army at best did not hinder what was happening, and at worst they were direct participants in atrocious crimes, like lieutenants Noda and Mukai, competing in the killing of civilians.
The Japanese acted on a pipe signal called “Kill all the runaways.” In a huge trench about 300 meters long and 5 meters wide, several thousand Chinese were killed. This trench was called the “Ditch of ten thousand corpses”, and the number of people killed there by various researchers is estimated to be in numbers from 4000 to 20000 people. The most commonly called number in 10-12 is thousands of dead.
By the time of the Japanese invasion of Nanjing, foreigners were also in the city. Among them was a German entrepreneur, director of Siemens China Co Jon Rabe (1882-1950). Despite the fact that this man was a member of the Nazi Party, and Hitler's Germany at that time was already considered an ally of Japan, it was he who played the most important role in organizing the rescue of many civilians in Nanking. On the initiative of Rabe, the Nanking Security Zone was created, in which at least 200 000 Chinese survived. The International Committee created by Jon Rabe tried to complain to the command of the Japanese army about the lawlessness perpetrated by the soldiers and junior officers, but to no avail. Slave could not even use his status as a member of the Nazi Party, through which he tried to influence the Japanese command. By the way, subsequently participation in saving the civilians of Nanking cost Yonah Raba dearly - after returning to Germany he was arrested by the Gestapo, suspecting that he sympathized with the communists, but then Raba was released. Jon Rabe left valuable testimony about the crimes of the Japanese troops in Nanjing.
The crimes of the Japanese army struck even battered general Ivane Matsui, who returned to command of the front after an illness. He even told his assistant that he was deeply depressed and could not even rejoice at the victory. However, to stop what is happening orgy Matsui could not. Violence began to subside only after the world community began to put pressure on the Japanese government. The resonance from the crimes in Nanjing was immense. Finally, in February 1938, General Ivane Matsui and Lieutenant General Prince Yasuhiko Asaha were recalled to Japan. Since it was already impossible to conceal the events in Nanking, the Japanese authorities reacted by removing the generals from command. Moreover, General Ivane Matsui, who, by and large, had no relation to the massacre at all, was dismissed. Prince Asaha remained in the composition of the Supreme Military Council, but no longer held command positions in the armed forces.
The defeat of Japan in World War II forced the Allies to recall all the war crimes of the Tokyo regime. Of course, the Nanking Massacre was not overlooked. The officers of the imperial army Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, participants of the bloody “Kill of a hundred people with a sword” were extradited to China, where they were tried by the Nanjing Tribunal in the same 1948 year, sentenced to death and executed by 28 January 1948. General Ivane Matsui, who had been retired for almost ten years, was arrested by Allied forces and charged with war crimes in China. He was tried at the Tokyo Trials International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Former General Ivane Matsui was sentenced to death by hanging. 23 December 1948, eleven years after the tragedy in Nanjing, seventy-year-old Ivane Matsui was hanged in Tokyo prison.
However, Prince Yasuhiko Asah, who directly commanded the Japanese forces that had broken into 13 in December of 1937, in Nanjing, completely avoided any punishment. After the defeat of Japan and the introduction of occupation troops into Japan, the High Command of the occupying forces launched an investigation into the involvement of General Prince Yasuhiko Asahh in war crimes in Nanjing. However, the American commander, Army General Douglas MacArthur, the Commander-in-Chief of the occupying forces, intervened in the situation. He decided to grant immunity to all members of the Japanese imperial family. Therefore, neither the emperor nor the princes have ever appeared before the tribunal at the Tokyo trial. General Prince Yasuhiko also avoided this fate. Thus, the main culprit of the Nanking Massacre went unpunished.
The American occupation of Japan led only to the confiscation of Prince Yasuhiko’s palace and the deprivation of its privileges, which all members of the imperial family used to use. The Americans decided to leave them exclusively for the emperor and his direct descendants. Nevertheless, Prince Yasuhiko lived at a high level - he played golf, rested. He lived to a ripe old age and died in the 1981 year at the age of 93, having survived thousands of victims of the Nanking Massacre by more than forty years. His fate is an example of flagrant injustice, when the real perpetrators of war crimes could not only escape punishment in court, but also safely live to a ripe old age and die by dying in prosperity and surrounded by close relatives.
Much worse was the fate of Jon Rabe - the man who saved more than 200 000 civilians from Nanking from death. When Germany was defeated, it was already arrested by the Gestapo and was arrested by Soviet troops as a member of the Nazi Party. Then the Soviet command Jon Rabe was released, but soon he was arrested by the British occupation authorities - they checked him for involvement in war crimes, but then they also released him. Jon Rabe died in the 1950 year, just five years after the end of the war, at the age of 67. Grateful Chinese put in Nanking a monument in honor of Yon Rab, several films were shot about this noble man, articles and books were written.