Rape Of Nanking Essay, Research Paper
Although many people thought that the World War II started in Europe, it actually had roots in Asia with the rape of Nanking. Between December of 1937 and March 1938, at least 369,366 Chinese civilians and prisoners of war (POWs) were slaughtered by the invading Japanese troops. An estimated 80,000 women and girls were raped; many of them were then mutilated or murdered. Thousands of victims were beheaded, burned, bayoneted, buried alive, or disemboweled. To this day the Japanese government has refused to apologize for these and other World War II atrocities, and a significant sector of Japanese society denies that they took place at all.
It all started in the early 1930s when Japan began its industrial revolution. They were made up of 142,270 square miles, much of it barren, and they had to feed over 6 million mouths. What they couldn t understand and believed was unfair was the fact that other countries such as Australia and Canada have more than 3 million square miles to feed 6.5 million people each. They fought the injustice of it all since these countries weren t even making the most of the land that they had like the Japanese were. The Japanese felt China their manifest destiny as America did the west many years ago. They felt they needed to free Asia and allow them to prosper, since they were considered the 3rd largest power in the world at the time. With all the new technology that Japan has now, the Japanese government found itself anxious to use it to build a better society. But there was great influence by the people to use the nation s military superiority over its neighbors. They wanted to start a foreign conquest. And so it was. Every economical and political obstacle to Japan s divine mission was destroyed and the plan to free Asia was underway.
In 1932, a group of naval officers launched a terrorist attack in Tokyo that killed Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi and attempted to settle in the Martial Law. With this done, the people of Japan who were supporting the duty of Japan to become a dominant force in Asia knew they had to move fast. Earlier that century, Japan and China had many wars between each other and China was just beginning to recover from the damages. They were still weak and Japan knew that they could carry out their plan without any resistance from the Chinese government.
By the 1930s, the Japanese had launched an undeclared war with China. It was on September 18, 1931, the Japanese army blew up the tracks of a Japanese owned railway in southern Manchuria, hoping to incite an incident. Many Chinese rebelled against the Japanese for this but Japan was not going to allow the rest of the world to know about the incidents that were occurring so they took the necessary tasks to be sure of the secrecy. Japan isolated themselves from the international community and withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933.
It wasn t now that the Japanese had to prepare their country for war, for they had done it for decades before. Toyshops became virtual shrines to war, selling arsenals of toy soldiers, tanks, helmets, uniforms, rifles, antiaircraft guns, bugles, and howitzers. Schools taught their male students to hate the Chinese, how to use guns, and their textbooks became vehicles for military propaganda; one geography book even used the shape of Japan as justification for expansion: We appear to be standing in the vanguard of Asia, advancing bravely into the Pacific. At the same time we appear ready to defend the Asian continent from outside attack.
It wasn t until the summer of 1937 that Japan finally succeeded in provoking a full-scale war with China. But conquering China seemed to me much more of a task than Japan expected. Their first setback occurred when they were bringing 35,000 troops into China as reinforcements. Hidden was Chinese artillery, which opened fire killing several hundred men. Yet still the Japanese boasted that they would be able to conquer all of China within three months, but little did they know that the petite city of Shanghai would take them almost nine months to defeat. All hopes of an easy capture of China held by the Japanese were crushed. It was after this battle that the Japanese really felt their hate for the Chinese and their plans became ugly and revengeful as they headed for Nanking.
It was on the morning of December 13, 1937 that Japan, under Prince Asaka Yasuhiko, entered into China and the forgotten holocaust had officially begun. About 50,000 soldiers from Japan occupied China s capital, Nanking, and for six to eight weeks, many horrible events took place. It was noted in one man s diary that each Japanese soldier took four hundred heads a day in Nanking which was enough to leave the them exhausted at the day s end and many Japanese soldiers had to take a break midday to rest their arms. But the worse of it was the methods that the Chinese were killed.
In Nanking, men, women, and children were tortured and raped daily by the Japanese. Babies were thrown in the air and used as target practice as they came down. People were buried alive, sometimes only waist deep so the Japanese German Shepherds could rip them into pieces. Women s breasts were cut off and men were castrated. People were burned, frozen, mutilated, shot, decapitated, medically experimented on (without anesthesia), blown up with dynamite, and killed in every imaginable way. There was even an incident where a Japanese tank got stuck trying to get over a ditch, so they gathered the Chinese civilians, shot them, threw them into the ditch, and drove the tank over the ditch. Some were nailed to a tree, had their eyes gauged out, their noses and tongues cut off, only to be burned alive or stabbed with needles in hundreds of places on their bodies.
When the Japanese went into Nanking, they were extremely outnumbered. There were more than half a million civilians and ninety thousand Chinese troops trapped in the city by less than fifty thousand Japanese. But the Japanese went about it the smart way. They relied heavily on deception. The strategy for the mass butchery involved several steps:
1. Promising the Chinese fair treatment in return for an end to resistance.
2. Coaxing them into surrendering themselves to their Japanese conquerors.
3. Dividing them into groups of one to two hundred men, and the luring them to different areas of Nanking to be killed.
But little did the Japanese expect it to be so easy. The Chinese were literally
throwing their arms down at the invading Japanese soldiers hoping for a better outcome and lenient punishment. All the Japanese had to do was get them in chains or ropes and everything from there was easy. The Chinese just went where the Japanese told them thinking that they were just surrendering and they were repeatedly assured that they would not be harmed.
Everywhere they went, they were split into smaller groups of one to two hundred men and killed, but the other groups didn t know. One of the largest, and actually THE largest massacre was the execution of 57,000 soldiers and civilians at Mufu Mountain. The had so many men that they disarmed them, transported them to the Yangtze River where they were told they would be spending time on a small island called Baguazhou. When the got there, they waited until dark and the Japanese soldiers surrounded them in an arc and shot machine guns until every last Chinese man was dead. But now the Japanese faced the problem of disposing of the bodies. They tried to dig ditches, but couldn t make them large enough to hold 7-8 thousand bodies. They tried burning them but they didn t have enough gas. The dumped gas all over the bodies but the flame didn t last long enough to make the bodies into ashes, so all they had left were piles of burnt corpses. They eventually decided to just throw the bodies into the River and call it quits.
In killing the civilians, they plainly went through town and killed everyone. They went to shops, killed the keeper, stole what they wanted, and burned the place down. They took no mercy for anyone who couldn t speak the Japanese language and they killed every man as a potential ex-soldier of the Chinese army. The Japanese sent coal trucks to get women who were assigned to 15-20 men who raped them. Many soldiers even wore good luck charms made of pubic hair of the victims saying that it possessed magical powers against injury.
It was on December 17 that the raping stopped. The Field Marshal Matsui Iwane entered Nanking to report on the progress his troops have made. Every Japanese man stayed silent about the raping of the women, but it was the Western new media that reported that the Japanese army had formed a plan to keep him from finding out. When he discovered the rape, murder and looting of the town, he showed every sign of dissatisfaction. He told one of his aids and the press the next morning,
I now realize that we have unknowingly wrought a
most grievous effect on this city. When I think of the
feelings and sentiments of many of my Chinese friends
who have fled from Nanking and of the future of the two
countries, I cannot but feel depressed. I am very lonely
and can never get in a mood to rejoice about this victory.
I personally feel sorry for the tragedies to the people, but
the Army must continue unless China repents. Now, in
the winter, the season gives time to reflect. I offer my
sympathy with deep emotion, to a million innocent people.
The Japanese went so far as to a have contests on who could kill the most the fastest. Many Chinese men, women and children were lined up next to a ditch, where they were the part of the contest. One woman was a pregnant woman, who was taken from the line raped, and then killed. The soldier took his bayonet, stabbed her multiple times, and not only ripped out her intestines, but also took the squirming fetus and stabbed it with the end of his gun. For sake of time, the game went from slashing heads off and keeping count to just slicing throats. They killed hundreds of Chinese soldiers in an hour, only one surviving. The one who survived was a man named Tang. He was standing in line when the person in front of him was killed and the corpse fell into him. He was knocked into the pit with the corpse and presumed dead for the Japanese didn t notice. Later the soldiers would throw their bayonets into the ditch to make sure everyone was dead, and Tang suffered 5 bayonet wounds without a sound. He was the sole survivor of that particular massacre.
Almost every woman in all of Nanking was raped and usually followed by a massacre of the entire family afterwards. One story is of six Japanese men going into a home, after killing the landlord. They first raped and killed the woman who answered the door. Next they went into the first bedroom and murdered an aunt s husband and then her for refusing rape. Next was the murder of the husband of the mother of the house. The mother then had her vagina cut open to ease the rape and was then murdered. Next to be raped and murdered were the fourteen and sixteen year old children in the room. The fourteen year old was raped 4 times and then killed, and the sixteen year old was raped 6 times, to death. The soldiers made their way to the next room, but on the way, the saw a woman hiding under a table protecting her 1-year-old child. The killed the woman, and bayoneted the one-year-old child after raping her, twice. In the room were the grandparents and three more children. The grandfather threw his body over his wife and was killed immediately, and the grandmother was harassed. She put up enough fight that the soldiers didn t rape her, but they instead put pieces of bamboo in her vagina, and then shot her. They also shot the young boy immediately. The two girls, six and eight, were hiding under the blanket and the soldiers found them. They only noticed the six-year-old child who was raped and killed. The other child, the only survivor of the massacre stayed under the covers for so long, that she had permanent brain damage from lack of oxygen. When she came out, she sat there for 6 days next to the body of her mother, eating only rice grains her mother had made before the siege.
But all the while, there was a bright side to this massacre , if it could be called that. Small groups of Men and women from American and European countries set up what they called the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone. W. Plumer Mills, a Presbyterian missionary, originated and ran the Safe Zone which was designed only for innocent civilians who were caught up in the cross fire between the two countries. The only problem was that the Japanese didn t honor it and often times raided the zone and killed many of the occupants. But little did they know that eventually the refugees would begin to range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of members. They fell short on supplies and shelter and many refugees went days without sleeping as they waited for more shelters to be produced.
But more importantly this group was the one who left a written record and made a broadcast in Western civilization of the massacres they were witnessing. But there was one man who stood out the most when it came to the safety zone; a German businessman name John Rabe. He saved over 100,000 men and was considered by the Chinese as the living Buddha of Nanking but to the Japanese, he was a strange and unlikely savior. Not only was Rabe a German national, a country allied with Japan, but also he was the head of the Nazi party in Nanking. He said he reason for not leaving was because he was behind the Nazi system 100% and they preached to stay behind the workers and never leave in time of crises. He felt he owed the Chinese his help for they were the ones who were running his monetary, x-ray machine, and lighting. He arranged from Germany for two ton of rice and ten thousand bags of flour to feed the refugees but the food was kept out of the city, and they lacked proper transportation for the food. Many people began to steal the food so Rabe and other leaders of the Zone took their own cars to begin to transport the food themselves. They got + ton of rice and 1000 bags of flour. This was only a fraction of the food given to them, but it worked to stop some of the hunger present.
Reporters made it into Nanking on December 26, 1937 and they were appalled at what they saw. They sent report back to their countries to tell what is happening. But even though they knew what was happening, to a minor extent, they didn t take action on the Japanese. To the government, it was just a regular war where one country was taking over another, and they didn t want to interfere with them for they could start a war with themselves. So long as they didn t hear of unfair torture, they would remain out. So Japan for now did a very good job at keeping word of rape and murder away from the public. They had guided tour (which were carefully planned) to reporters to show that all was well in Nanking and there was nothing to worry about. They even went so far as to have a parade with the Chinese people holding flags of Japan and children getting medical treatment from Japanese surgeons, but only when they were on camera. Many articles were printed in the local papers in China saying that the reason that Japan was taking over was because thousands of Chinese hoodlums were ransacking the stores and stealing all the goods. They were then killing the storekeepers. So Japan played it off blaming it on China, and therefore had a reason to do what they were doing and they stated that the Japanese government was not feeding 300,000 Chinese refugees .
It wasn t until March 1944 that the United Nations was official informed of the actual conditions that Nanking was facing. They created the Investigation of War Crimes Committee to check the situation out. They found everything they heard about and there were trials held for the members of the Japanese establishment. Thousands of witnesses went forth to present their grievances and their evidence of war crimes. Photographs were presented as proof. Only 28 officers in the war were found guilty and sentenced to death by a firing squad, a death much more humane then what they imposed on their victims.
When it is seen that only 28 men were tried and executed, it seems almost inefficient to the cause. The numbers of men that they killed, or ordered to kill, were extraordinary.
The Chinese military Specialist Liu Fang-chu proposed the
figure of 430,000. Officials at the Memorial Hall of the Victims
of the Nanking Massacre by Japanese Invaders and the procu-
rator of the District Court of Nanking in 1946 claimed at least
300,000 were killed. The IMTFE judges concluded that more
than 260,000 people were killed in Nanking. Fujiwara Akira, a
Japanese historian, give the figure of approximately 200,000.
John Rabe, who never conducted a systematic count and left
Nanking in February, before the slaughter ended, estimated
that only 50,000-60,000 were killed. The Japanese author
Hata Ikuhiko clains that the number was between 38,000 and
42,000. Still others in Japan place the number as low as 3,000.
In 1994 archival evidence emerged from a former Japanese-
owned Railway Company in Manchuria to reveal that one burial
squad alone disposed of more than 30,000 bodies in Nanking
between January and March 1938.
But perhaps the most detailed and thorough study was from a historian at the Jiangsu Academy of Social Sciences named Sun Zhaiwei. He calculate that there was a total of around 600,000, maybe even 700,000 people in Nanking at the time of the massacre. Sun in a later paper he writes give his estimate on how many died in Nanking. He researched the topic through records from private families, charitable organizations, and the Chinese puppet government under the Japanese. Sun discovered that charitable organizations in Nanking alone buried at lead 185,000 bodies, private families and individuals 35,000, and the Japanese-controlled local government more than 7,400, making an estimated total of 227,400 buried. Four years before Sun did his report, a Japanese major wrote a 40-page confession to the government telling of the criminal acts of his army. He admitted that from December 15, 1937 to December 18, his army unit dumped 19,000 bodies of Chinese victims into the Nanking River, while a neighboring unit disposed of 81,000 bodies and other units got rid of 50,000 a total of 150,000 bodies which when added to Sun s research, making a total of 377,400.
Japan today not only caries the legal burden but also the moral obligation to acknowledge the evil it perpetrated at Nanking. Japan at least need to make a written formal apology to China and to the families of the deceased and it needs to pay reparations to the victims who had their lives destroyed when Japan took over Nanking. But Japan also needs to incorporate the Rape of Nanking into their history books, which at this point they have refused to do. They won t admit to what has happened and won t teach their younger generations of the mistakes they have made in the past. These long overdue steps are crucial for Japan if it expects to deserve respect from the international community and to achieve closure on a dark chapter that stained its history.
The survivors never officially got an apology from Japan for their actions and it isn t believed that they will. But the fury and nightmares they will have to live with for many years to come is never-ending. John Rabe became ill, and when this got to the survivors, over $2000 American dollars were raised in support of him and they eventually built a Memorial Hall in Jiangdongmen in the 1980s in memory of the victims and the help received. He died many years later. But the people he helped survive, where were their lives going? They have lived through a terrifying period that will forever haunt their dreams.