Two officers of the Japanese imperial army, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, made a bet on the way from Shanghai to Nanjing about who would quickly kill a hundred people with the help of a cold weapons. This dispute was perceived as something that could raise the morale of soldiers after heavy street fighting in Shanghai, and therefore attracted the attention of the press.
In two weeks, eight articles devoted to the original contest appeared in the two largest daily newspapers, Tokyo and Osaka. They were written in the genre of sports reporting. "Incredible record," - said one of the headlines.
Since both lieutenants exceeded the norm almost simultaneously, the winner could not be established. Then they made a new bet, and this time the bar was raised to the level of 150 people.
In both cases, it was not about fights, but about extrajudicial executions. From the point of view of the Japanese, there was nothing illegal in them.
As early as 6 August, the Ministry of the Army notified troops in Shanghai that international treaties on the treatment of prisoners of war against the Chinese can be considered invalid, and asked the army bureaucrats not to call the Chinese prisoners of war.
And on the eve of the capture of Nanking, an order was issued signed by the uncle of Emperor Hirohito - Prince Yasuhiko Asaki, who commanded the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. It was an order to kill prisoners. A number of historians claim that he was issued by the prince's adjutant - the lieutenant-general who forged Asaki's signature, but it is difficult to believe in it, and responsibility remains on the prince anyway - as a commander.
City of maniacs
As soon as Japanese troops entered Nanjing, raids on Chinese soldiers disguised as civilians began. All men of military age, who had scuffs from the shoulders of knapsacks on their shoulders or bruises in the clavicle area, were suspected. In addition, the Japanese grabbed everyone with calluses on his legs, scars on his face, straight posture or "looked impudently."
The carding took place in a formally protected from this international security zone, the captured were shot from a machine gun on the Yangtze shore.
The most massacre, known as the “straw-channel slaughter”, was on December 18. For three hours, the Japanese tied the Chinese prisoners to each other with ropes, dividing them into four columns, and then shot each of the machine guns. The wounded were subsequently finished off with bayonets, and the corpses were thrown into the Yangtze. According to average estimates, this episode killed 57 thousands of people.
So far it is only about men. In theory, about disguised soldiers. Women in such "tricks" were not suspected, but this did not save them.
The Japanese military broke into houses and raped women found there regardless of their age. At the slightest attempt to resist the victims, they were stabbed with bayonets. There are cases when sons were forced to rape mothers, and fathers - daughters. History retained photographs of dead children and evidence of sophisticated desecration of corpses.
In the Tokyo process, the total number of rapes was estimated at 20 by thousands of people. As in the case of “disguised soldiers”, women who took refuge in the safety zone did not always save her status: the Japanese came there every day, taking young girls with them. The international committee managing the zone filed 450 complaints about the actions of the military, the dry lines of each of which are more similar to the description of the actions of some serial maniac.
Nevertheless, the status of the zone and the efforts of its commandant Yon Rabe (he possessed the Japanese immunity as a member of the NSDAP) allowed to save from 200 to 250 thousands of human lives.
Nazi hero and prince-villain
In February, 1938, after the start of the Chinese collaborationist government, the number of atrocities in the city was significantly reduced. Prince Asaku and the commander of the Central Front, General Ivane Matsui, were recalled to Japan, and the security zone was eliminated.
Eight years later, the government of Chiang Kai-shek established the Nanking War Crimes Tribunal, which resulted in the death sentence of General Hisao Tani, captain Gunkiichi Tanaka, and both lieutenants who competed in killing Chinese with a sword.
General Matsui, who retired immediately after his return to his homeland, was tried in the 1948 year at the Tokyo process - the Japanese equivalent of Nuremberg. The general tried in every way to avoid responsibility, repeatedly changed his testimony, but became one of seven sentenced to death and was hanged in the prison yard. At the same time, it is known that Matsui was not present in the city at the beginning of the massacres, later he was seriously worried about what happened and even tried to bring some cautious, but public words of sympathy.
Prince Asaka, as a member of the imperial family, was granted immunity - he avoided all responsibility for his actions and inaction. The decision was taken by one of the founders and ideologists of the Tokyo Tribunal - the American General Douglas MacArthur, who became the political architect of defeated Japan. The irony is that already in 1947, Asaka lost the title of prince (henceforth only the direct heirs of the emperor were considered as such), but not immunity. This golf lover died only in the 1981 year, and answered questions about the victims of Nanking in the spirit that there were no complaints about him.
Jon Rabe, who saved more than 200 thousands of people by the mere fact of his presence, returned to Germany, where he was arrested by his comrades in the party on suspicion of sympathy for the Communists, but was soon released. In 1945, he was arrested twice - already on suspicion of involvement in Nazi crimes, and released again. Slave died in 1950, a monument was erected at the memorial to the victims of the Nanking Massacre.
Falsification of History
The reasons for such perverted cruelty of Japanese soldiers against the peaceful population of Nanking are not precisely defined and cause heated debates among historians.
The Shanghai battle turned out to be much more difficult than the Japanese command expected: approximately every fourth Japanese soldier died. Against this background, the expeditionary army was severely criticized by the authorities. The transition from Shanghai to Nanking also turned out to be difficult - instead of unconditional surrender, the city had to fight for it for three more days. But this does not explain the brutality of the Japanese, who overstepped in their actions all sorts of ideas about human morality.
The Nanking Massacre still remains one of the most critical moments in relations between China and Japan, and without that - extremely conflict. No wonder: for the PRC, especially since the second half of the 1980's, this is one of the events, the memory of which unites all sectors of society.
A simple and understandable illustration: in Nanjing, on the 13 December, a memorial event is planned for the victims, in which Chairman Xi Jinping will take part. Three weeks before the memorial was closed for reconstruction - especially to prepare for the ceremony. The live broadcast will be conducted by state television and radio stations of the People's Republic of China, as well as on the Xinhua agency website.
As is often the case with national tragedies, estimates of the total number of victims for the entire time of the massacre vary greatly - they call numbers from 40 thousand to 300 thousand people. At recent memorial events in San Francisco, jointly organized by the Chinese, Korean and Philippine diaspora, i. about. Consul General of the People's Republic of China Zha Li'yu insisted on a maximum assessment:
"The Japanese army flagrantly violated international conventions and committed crimes of excessive cruelty in Nanking, where about 300 thousands of Chinese civilians were killed and about a third of houses were burned."
At the same time, the Chinese demand only one thing from the Japanese authorities - public repentance.
The first, back in 1972 year, on the eve of establishing diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing, a similar speech was made by the then Prime Minister of Japan, Kakway Tanaka. In July, 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama made a separate apology for the existence of “consolation stations” (military brothels, where sex slaves were brought from all the territories conquered by the Japanese) and for mass rape during the Nanjing massacre. When in August he again repented for war crimes in China, it seemed that relations between the countries would improve steadily.
But in 2001, the Japanese Society for the Reform of History Textbooks with the approval of the government released the New History Textbook, which silenced almost all Japanese war crimes since 1910, and about the Nanjing Massacre, it was written: “The Japanese Army occupied Nanking in December 1937 of the year". The answer to this was the thousands of demonstrations in the PRC and South Korea.
Subsequently, a number of high-ranking Japanese politicians voiced frankly revisionist theses — to all appearances, to attract the right-wing part of the electorate. Thus, the mayor of Nagoya, Takashi Kawamura, stated that “There may never have been a Nanjing massacre,” and said this not to anyone, but to the Chinese delegation from Nanking.
Four days after that, the governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara shared the opinion that "it is impossible to kill so many people in such a short time."
Six months later, on the eve of the 80 anniversary of the Mukden incident, which started the war between Japan and China, and in the wake of the crisis around the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands, mass demonstrations took place in China, one of the slogans of which was “Japan must repent”. In those days, the Chinese destroyed Japanese flags, overturned Japanese cars, beat the windows of Japanese restaurants, and even burned the limousine of the American ambassador, confusing it with the Japanese limousine.
Moreover, in the Japanese society as a whole and in the professional historical community in particular, the Nanking massacre is recognized, moreover, the number of recognized victims roughly coincides with the one declared in the Tokyo process. In 2010, even a joint Sino-Japanese military historical study on this topic was published.
Obviously, there is a certain break in consciousness. Prior to the beginning of the zero, the loudest war crimes - the Nanking Massacre, "consolation stations" and the experiments of the 731 squad - in Japan were disputed only by the extreme right. And in 2014, the assertion that there was no Nanking massacre even Naoki Hyakuta, chairman of the NHK television and radio broadcasting corporation (in fact, the main one in the country and one of the largest in the world), of which the state is one of the owners, allowed himself.
With such introductions it is difficult to say how much time must pass before events of 80-year-olds cease to be decisive in the relations between the two countries. At the moment, reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness of the Japanese are not beneficial to Japanese nationalists who regard the memory of Nanjing as an act of national self-flagellation, nor to a Chinese society that instantly rallies in the face of a universally hated enemy, or, for example, South Korea, whose leadership sees the rapprochement of its position with the PRC on historical issues an occasion for soft pressure on Japan, the US and even on the DPRK, which, as it were, intercepts its main ally.
But the fact that China will not forget the Nanking atrocities and will not forgive, can be affirmed as confidently as in the case of Russia and its victims of the Great Patriotic War.
It remains to add that two days before this jubilee at the age of 100 years, the oldest witness of those events died - tinker Guan Guangjin. The family handed over to the victims of the Nanking Massacre his personal belongings - a fan, a clock and a tea jar.