The Rape of Nanking: Fact or Fiction? (Part I)

The Rape of Nanking appears to be the work of the war propaganda in the United States and perhaps the Chinese authorities at the time.

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[Editor’s note: Yes, Iris Chang’s book is a fabricated fiction, but the Rape of Nanking very definitely happened, regardless of any postwar Sino-Japanese political machinations. One only has to study any of the very many primary sources that are readily available to see this. A good starting point is the extensive collection of correspondence from Western witnesses held by the Yale Divinity School and available online:

https://web.library.yale.edu/divinity/nanking/documents

One letter written from Nanking gives a flavour of what happened:

http://divinity-adhoc.library.yale.edu/Nanking/Images/NMP0113.pdf

“More than ten thousand persons have been killed in cold blood, Most of my trusted friends would put the figure much higher… Able German colleagues put the cases of rape at 20,000. I should say not less than 8,000 and it might be anywhere above that. On university property alone, I have details of more than 100 cases and assurance of some 300. You can scarcely imagine the anguish and terror. Girls as low as 11 and women as old as 53 have been raped on university property alone. On the seminary compound 17 soldiers raped one woman successively in broad daylight.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg of detailed primary source material that categorically proves there was a terrible massacre and mass rape in and around Nanking. This is in stark contrast to the Jewish Holocaust in Europe where primary material that supports the Jewish claims is almost entirely absent.

Other important sources of primary materials include: H. J. Timperley ed., What War Means: The Japanese Terror in China — A Documentary Record (1938), and Hsu Shuhsi ed., Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone (1939). American Missionary Eyewitnesses to the Nanking Massacre, 1937 – 1938 (1997), Timothy Brook ed., Documents of the Rape of Nanking (1999), and Zhang Kaiyuan ed., Eyewitnesses to Massacre: American Missionaries Bear Witness to Japanese Atrocities in Nanjing (2001), are all collections of primary materials long unavailable in English. Finally, John Rabe’s diary, Der gute Deutsche von Nanking (1997) — translated into English as The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe (1998) — is a crucial piece of evidence.]

[I appreciate the preliminary comment. It obviously shows that the issues are indeed controversial. I am quite aware of the sources mentioned here. In fact, Timperley’s What War Means and Rabe’s diary are discussed in the article as well as in the video at the end of the article. This will also be addressed in more details in subsequent articles. Jonas E. Alexis]

…by Jonas E. Alexis

Iris Chang’s The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II was unquestionably an incendiary and tendentious book which quickly created a storm of controversy in the United States and Japan back in 1997. It was praised by the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic Monthly, the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, etc.

The book was so successful that it prompted the 50-year-old AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis to produce the documentary film Nanking, which he called a “labor of love.”[1] The film, said Leonsis, is like Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List.[2]

Chang, who was Chinese-American, was only twenty-seven years old when she began writing The Rape of Nanking. But Chang committed suicide in 2004 near Los Gatos, California, at the age of thirty six.[3] Before she pulled the trigger and blew her head off in her own automobile, Chang left three suicide notes, one of which said in part:

I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me.”

Whether Chang’s fear was escalated by the medications that she was taken or whether some organization was actually after her is beyond the scope of this recent analysis. (Why was she thinking about being recruited or persecuted by organizations like the CIA? Could it be that they had a stake in promoting her book?[4])


In any event, what is undeniable here is that Chang’s book sparked a revival of the so-called The Rape of Nanking. In a review of the book, George Will of the Washington Post declared in 1998 that

“it has stimulated seminars and conferences at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and many other places, and is assisting those honorable Japanese who are combatting their country’s officially enforced amnesia regarding what the Imperial Army did in December 1937 and January 1938.”[5]

In the same article, Will agreed with Chang’s position and declared that

“Japanese soldiers killed tens of thousands of surrendered Chinese soldiers and almost certainly more than 300,000 noncombatants. (Civilian deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki totaled 210,000. Britain and France suffered a combined total of 169,000 civilian deaths from 1939 to 1945.) The Nanking killing continued for seven weeks in front of international witnesses, without any attempt at concealment, and with the sadism of recreational killing.

“Chinese were used for bayonet practice and beheading contests. People were roasted alive, hanged by their tongues from hooks, mutilated, drowned in icy ponds, buried up to their waists and then torn apart by German shepherds, buried up to their necks and run over by horses or tanks. In addition to pandemic rape by Japanese soldiers even of young children, some of them tied to beds or posts for days, fathers were forced to rape their daughters, sons their mothers.”[6]

Those brutal acts of violence, we are told, occurred within less than two months. The unspoken assumption here is that Japanese soldiers were killing about 5,000 civilians every single day! In an obituary in the New York Times, we are told that “In less than two months they [the Japanese] murdered more than 300,000 civilians and raped more than 80,000 women.”[7] Chang placed the number of people who were raped between 20,000 to 80,000, not “more than 80,000.” Chang wrote:

“Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced, such as hanging people by their tongues on iron hooks or burying people to their waists and watching them torn apart by German shepherds. So sickening was the spectacle that even Nazis in the city were horrified.”[8]

That is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, and one is forced to ask these preliminary questions: Why didn’t Mao, who had Jews fighting with him[9] and who ended up liquidating at least forty million Chinese,[10] use this alleged evidence against Japan? Why did he fail to even remotely suggest that the Japanese were raping at least 1,300 women every single day? Does Chang mean to tell us that Mao didn’t know about any of this? Was he that ignorant?

Why did Chiang Kai-shek—who received ideological support from both the Soviet and anti-Japanese propagandists like Morris Cohen and Harold Isaacs in the United States—never discuss these issues? Didn’t Isaacs in particular want Asia to be bolshevized? Wasn’t Isaacs a comrade of Leon Trotsky?[11] Or is it possible that Chang has exaggerated on what actually happened?

In any event, Chang’s central thesis is not intellectually satisfying for numerous reasons. And unlike rigorous historical and archival studies such as R. M. Douglas’ Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War or Bryan Mark Rigg’s Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military or David Irving’s Hitler’s War or even Giles MacDonogh’s After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation,[12] Chang’s ambitious work isn’t largely based on primary sources and archival artifacts. It is filled with secondary sources which perpetuate what Chang set out to prove. This is not to say that secondary sources are false, but a book such as The Rape of Nanking requires massive archival evidence.

In all honesty, assessing Chang’s The Rape of Nanking is almost like scrutinizing Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, a fraudulent book which was quickly denounced for its lack of historical accuracies and truthful balance. Hitler’s Willing Executioners is indeed filled with citations, but they were largely distortions of the actual facts.

In fact, Goldhagen made things up whenever possible in order to prove the preposterous thesis that ordinary Germans were responsible for what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany. When scholars exposed his blatant errors and deliberate deceptions, Goldhagen did not issue an apology but did want to sue those scholars—a move that is completely foreign to any scholarly or historical endeavor![13] The Holocaust establishment, of course, did have an interest in promoting Goldhagen’s thread-bare hoax.

Like Goldhagen’s book, the establishment in the United States almost certainly had an interest in promoting Chang’s The Rape of Nanking. After all, didn’t Japan attack Pearl Harbor?[14] Didn’t Japan ally with Germany? Wasn’t Japan one of the bad guys?

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Iris Chang

What’s so amazing about this controversial debate is that Chang deliberately excluded important issues in her book. Those issues would have thoroughly weakened her thesis. For example, she never mentioned the Tongzhou incident, which occurred in the same year in which the alleged Nanking Massacre took place. In July 29, 1937, a group of some 3,000 Chinese soldiers ambushed Japanese garrison’s barracks

“and proceeded to raid Japanese shops, inns, and private homes. Approximately 200 of the 380 Japanese residents of Tongzhou were slaughtered. The 120 who survived did so only because they fled to the barracks, seeking refuge, before they were surrounded.

“These acts were flagrant violations of international law relating to the conduct of war (hereafter referred to as ‘international law’). Four days after the incident, the aforementioned director officially condemned the Chinese troops for the abduction, rape, and slaughter of Japanese citizens. Defense attorneys submitted his statement to the Tokyo Trials, but it was rejected by William Webb, the presiding justice, without explanation. The Allies were unwilling to allow any mention of the Tongzhou Massacre in the courtroom.”[15]

In April of 1947, “defense attorney Levine called Kayashima Takashi (a former lieutenant-general in the Japanese Army) to the witness stand.” Takashi testified that the Chinese were committed brutal acts of rape and murder. His soldiers were called to Tongzhou in order to rescue the Japanese settlers. His accounts obviously make one wonders why Chang completely dismissed the entire incident in her book:

“The scene inside the town was ghastly. Brutally murdered bodies of Japanese settlers were lying everywhere. Most of them had ropes tied around their necks. I had to force myself to look at the mutilated corpses of women and innocent children.

“I no longer have the report I wrote at the time. I have relied on my memories for this statement. But I assure you that what I witnessed was so horrifying that I will never be able to forget it.

“I went to a restaurant (I think it was called Asahiken) to investigate. There were seven or eight women there, ranging in age from 17 or 18 to 40. They had all been raped, and then shot to death as they lay naked on the floor. Four or five of them had been stabbed in the genitals with bayonets. … The living quarters had been ransacked, and all the furniture, bedding, and clothing stolen. The situation was virtually the same at the homes of the other Japanese victims.

“The scene at the Kinsuiro Inn was gruesome. Since many of the Japanese had gathered there, sensing danger, there had been mass carnage. … The owner of Kinsuiro and the maids had been tied together, raped, and decapitated.”[16]

Similar incidents happened in other places such as Tanggu and Tianjin. The Japanese made several attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully, all to no avail. In fact, by August 9 they scheduled a peace conference in Shanghai with the Chinese, but the conference never took place because the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps soldiers murdered Navy Sublieutenant Oyama Isao and 1st Class Seaman Saito Yozo on that very day.[17] Edouard Helsey, China’s correspondent for a Paris newspaper, wrote back in 1938:

“An unfortunate incident occurred on August 9, in which a Japanese naval officer was murdered by Chinese sentinels from the Rainbow (Hong) Bridge Airfield. Perhaps the Japanese officer should have been more cautious, but there is no denying that this was a Chinese plot. It is clear that the Nanking government had decided to go to battle in Shanghai at least 15 days prior to this incident.

“Their plan was not simply to split the Japanese forces in South China, but also to entice them into the Neutral Zone, which act would certainly cause international problems. It was a malicious trick, this engineering of incident upon incident, the misinterpretation of which would sway public opinion in the West.

“Chiang Kai-shek himself concurred that that was his intention, and he seemed rather pleased with himself. When I met with him at the end of October (1937) in Nanking, I asked him the following question.

“‘That was a clever ploy, since Shanghai is a thorn in Japan’s side. Until it is extracted, the Japanese will be paralyzed, will they not?’ Chiang replied, through an interpreter: ‘You are right. I believe it was successful.’ At that time, the Japanese government and military authorities were attempting to avoid a war. They viewed an attack on Shanghai as a real danger.”[18]

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, about 22,000 Japanese living around the Yangtze River “evacuated to Shanghai.” It was agreed that the Japanese government had the right to protect those Japanese citizens in that area. In fact, there was a batch of foreigners from the United States, Britain, France, and Italy living in Shanghai during that time. Because of the Boxer Rebellion which happened around 1900, each government signed a contract with the Chinese government which explicitly gave them the right to protect their citizens in Shanghai. So by August 11,

“Japan dispatched a naval landing party of 4,000 to Shanghai, to protect the lives and property of Japanese citizens. But by then, the Chinese force, shielded by pillboxes and creeks, had already swelled to 150,000. Therefore, the Japanese government decided to send two more divisions from Japan to Shanghai on August 13.

“On the night of August 14, five days after Sublieutenant Oyama was assassinated, as hostilities and tension heightened, Chinese Air Force planes bombed Shanghai. Several aircraft flew toward Shanghai at 10:00 a.m., and dropped bombs on the Japanese Consulate, Naval Landing Force Headquarters, Japanese warships, and on the streets of Shanghai. At about 4:00 p.m., a dozen aircraft bombed the moored warship Izumo, the French Settlement, and the International Settlement.

“An entry in The China Year Book 1938 reads ‘Chinese planes drop bombs in International Settlement.’ Those bombs killed 1,741 persons and wounded 1,868. Most of the victims were Chinese. The Chinese Air Force had intentionally dropped bombs on its own people, setting a world record, however disgraceful.”[19]

All of these historical backdrops have been completely omitted in Chang’s The Rape of Nanking! Chang claims that Nanking’s population was around 600,000 when it fell, but independent consensus confirmed that it was about 200,000 to 250,000. “The population did not reach 600,000 until June 1940, 30 months after the Japanese occupied the city.”[20] It gets more interesting. As historian Higashinakano Shudo convincingly puts it,

“If 300,000 were indeed massacred over a period of two months, then 5,000 people would have been killed each day, at a rate of three or four per minute, for a period of 60 days…. The total area of the Safety Zone was only 3.86 square kilometers. If, in such a small space, 100,000, or 300,000, individuals were massacred, there would have been corpses everywhere.”[21]

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If Chang is wrong, then what is the historical truth or debate? Is it historically accurate to say that the Japanese mercilessly tortured and massacred more than 300,000 noncombatants and raped between 20,000 to 80,000 women? What did they have to gain from doing so? And is it safe to say that the international community knew that these things were taking place and did nothing?

Japanese historian Shudo Higashinakano of Asia University, Tokyo, has written in his historically rigorous and documented work The Nanking Massacre: Fact versus Fiction that Chang’s book “relies on faked photographs and hugely exaggerated accounts.”[22] Higashinakano did send Penguin, the publisher of The Rape of Nanking, no less than ninety historical errors in just the first sixty pages of the book, and Penguin did actually correct some of those errors.[23]

Higashinakano is not the only historian to point out factual errors in Chang’s book. Shortly after the book was published, Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata of Nihon University in Tokyo wrote a lengthy article pointing out flagrant deceptions in at least eleven photos in the book. As the San Francisco Chronicle put it one year after Chang’s book was published:

“One photo, which the book credits to the military Politburo of the Chinese Nationalist government, shows women and children walking across a bridge with Japanese soldiers, and carries the caption: ‘The Japanese rounded up thousands of women. Most were gang-raped or forced into military prostitution.’

“The truth is, Hata said, that, although the photo was published with a similar caption by the Chinese Nationalists in 1938, apparently as anti-Japanese propaganda, it originally appeared the previous year as one of four in a Japanese newspaper, Asahi Gurafu, showing peaceful scenes of Chinese villagers under Japanese occupation, with women and children returning home from the fields.

“In the sharper original photo, it is possible to see that two of the villagers are smiling, and there is a woman pulling a cart of freshly harvested cotton that was cropped out of the Nationalist Chinese version. The cropped photo appeared in a recent book on Nanjing by a Japanese professor as an illustration of Japanese army atrocities in China. But after its interpretation was challenged, the publisher of his book apologized and retracted it.

“Other mistakes occur in Chang’s book, which quotes as ‘compelling evidence’ a secret telegram by Japan’s foreign minister admitting that Japanese troops, ‘in a fashion reminiscent of Attila and his Huns,’ had slaughtered ‘not less than 300,000 Chinese civilians.’ This was, in fact, a quotation from the cable of a British reporter, and concerned deaths not only in Nanjing but elsewhere.

“The book also describes Japan as the first nation to use air power ‘as a means of terrorizing civilian populations,’ a distinction generally attributed to the Germans in World War I.”[24]

Chang’s thesis is now falling apart. Historian David M. Kennedy of Stanford University saw similar things. Although Kennedy praised the book, particularly for producing numerous photos (Kennedy probably did not know that the photos were largely forgeries), he however went so far as to say that the book is filled with “intellectually insufficient” assertions.[25] In a similar vein, historian Roger B. Jeans of Washington and Lee University declared that Chang’s book is “half-baked history.”

Chang, said Jeans, was “greatly inflating the population of Nanjing (Nanking) at that time and uncritically accepting the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and contemporary Chinese figures for the numbers of Chinese civilians and soldiers killed.”[26] Historian Timothy M. Kelly put the final nail in the coffin. When academics and the media were praising Chang’s book, Kelly wrote:

“In light of the discrepancies I found in Chang’s book, it makes me wonder whether any of the reviewers know enough about the subject (Chinese and Japanese history, WWII, war crimes, historiography, not to mention the pertinent scholarly literature) to venture an informed opinion about the merits of Chang’s book… The mass media and those who write for it are often incredibly irresponsible and they need to be told so.”[27]

Kelly argued that the problem with the book can be placed in four categories: “simple carelessness, sheer sloppiness, historical inaccuracies, and shameless plagiarism.”[28] Kelly produced multiple cases to back up his accusations, too much to detail them all here. We will mention just a few. Chang writes on page 166 of her book: “The Westerners themselves were often sprayed with Lysol upon entering the city.” Kelly responded,

“It’s incredulous that Chang would use a brand name here. Does she expect her readers to believe that Japanese authorities really sprayed foreigners with the particular product called Lysol? Surely the generic word ‘disinfectant’ would have been more adequate, not to mention accurate.”[29]

On page 13, Chang says: “In the documentary In the Name of the Emperor, one Japanese historian dismisses the entire Rape of Nanking with these words: ‘Even if twenty or thirty people had been killed, it would have been a great shock to Japan.” Kelly responded: “Chang does not identify this historian here or in the Notes section. Who is this historian? Is he/she a major or minor player? What impact has this historian had?”[30]

Chang: “When Shanghai finally fell in November, the mood of the imperial troops had turned ugly, and many, it was said, lusted for revenge as they marched toward Nanking.” Kelly: “Chang does not document the source of this statement, that is, who said it. This rhetorical device only gives the appearance that Chang is reporting fact.”[31]

Chang: “In July 1853, he (Matthew Perry) sent two ships belching black smoke into Tokyo Bay — giving the people of Japan their first glimpse of metal-clad, steam-powered ships. Surrounding himself with some sixty to seventy aggressive-looking men armed with swords and pistols, Perry strode through the capital of the Shogun and demanded meetings with the highest-ranking officials in Japan.”

Kelly: “The capital Chang refers to here is Edo, the present-day Tokyo. The historical truth is that Perry never set foot in the capital. He was officially, though reluctantly received, after some delay, on the beach at Uraga, some 35 miles from Edo at the entrance to Edo Bay, which has since been renamed Tokyo Bay. At the completion of the ceremonies Perry ordered his fleet of four vessels to a new anchorage about ten miles into the Edo Bay. He later proceeded in the Mississippi further into the bay to a point where he could see the Shinagawa area of Edo.”[32]

Chang: “In March 1944, the United Nations created the Investigation of War Crimes Committee …” Kelly: “How is this possible? The United Nations was not chartered until October 24, 1945. Chang again has her facts wrong.”

Once again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And if you think that Chang’s book is accurate, Kelly’s meticulous details will completely shock you. Even historian Takashi Yoshida (of Western Michigan University), who does not even espouse the Japanese interpretations of what happened in Nanking, admits that Chang’s book is plagued with “numerous errors inaccuracies.”[33]

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Even if we grant Chang the unsatisfying thesis that the Rape of Nanking is factually accurate, it still wouldn’t square with what the Allies actually did to Japan after World War II. Chang could never discuss that the Allied forces, most specifically the United States, raped thousands upon thousands of Japanese civilians after World War II. Chang was asking Japan to apologize and pay reparation, but she said nothing about what the US did to Japan after they bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Moreover, Chang never discussed the fact that Chinese soldiers would even rape Chinese women and put the blame on Japanese soldiers. Even the New York Times, hardly a Japanese propaganda machine, ran an article in 1938 entitled, “Ex-Chinese Officers Among U.S. Refugees: Colonel and His Aides Admit Blaming the Japanese for Crimes in Nanking.” It stated:

“The ex-Chinese officers in the presence of Americans and other foreigners confessed looting in Nanking and also that one night they dragged girls from the refugee camp into the darkness and the next day blamed Japanese soldiers for the attacks.”[34]

When the American professors who had shielded those ex-Chinese officers realized those officers were bad guys, those professors ended up being “seriously embarrassed.”[35] Chang mentioned none of these. Shudo argues:

“20 days before and immediately prior to the fall of Nanking, the city’s population was 200,000, according to Europeans and Americans who were there at the time. Eight days after the fall and on Christmas Eve, it was still 200,000. No one indicated a vast decrease in population due to mass slaughter. Confronted by these facts, how can anyone claim that 300,000 noncombatants were murdered in Nanking?

“Prior to the capture of the city, Chinese troops stripped off their uniforms and mingled with the civilian population. By doing so, they became unlawful combatants not protected by the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land annexed to the Hague Convention.

“No Chinese military personnel inside the city walls surrendered to the Japanese. Accordingly, during the 11-year period spanning December 13, 1937, the day Nanking fell, to December 1948, when the Tokyo Trials ended, no one accused Japanese troops of having killed prisoners of war in violation of the aforementioned regulations. Confronted with these facts, how can anyone claim that the Japanese murdered prisoners of war?

“The Japanese are accused of having murdered 7,000 persons each day, i.e., 300,000 persons over a period of six weeks. But according to ‘Daily Reports of Serious Injuries to Civilians,’ the only killing witnessed by a European or American in Nanking was one ‘lawful execution.’

“The contents of these reports (issued on a daily basis and submitted to the Japanese Embassy in Nanking) are corroborated by data gathered from the testimonies of European, American and Chinese residents in Nanking, and from Japanese military records (all of which data has been computerized and analyzed). How do we explain a massacre with no witnesses?”[36]

Harold Timperley, a British reporter for the Manchester the Guardian, wrote the book What War Means. It contributed to the prevailing lie that the Japanese were murdering civilians frequently. But again What War Means contained no documented accounts that this was the case. Shudo continued:

“Rev. Miner Searle Bates and George Fitch submitted material for What War Means (both used pseudonyms). The ostensible intent of the book, edited by Timperley, was to impress upon the reader the horrors of war via accounts written by disinterested parties (European and American residents of Nanking).

“But Timperley was, in fact, an advisor to the Nationalist government’s Ministry of Information. Rev. Bates, a famous Christian missionary who taught at the University of Nanking, was also an advisor to the Ministry of Information. And Mrs. Fitch was a close friend of Mme. Chiang Kai-shek.

“It has also become clear that What War Means is a propaganda book compiled and published by the Counterintelligence Division of the Nationalist Ministry of Information’s International Propaganda Section. Timperley was paid by the Ministry of Information for editing the book. Thus, What War Means, perceived as proof of the ‘Nanking Massacre,’ was not written from an impartial standpoint. On the contrary, it can be viewed only as war propaganda.”[37]

Chiang Kai-shek, as you recall, was in agreement with Joseph Stalin with respect to destabilizing or defeating Japan. In fact, as scholar Li Yuzhen has put it, Chiang Kai-shek made several attempts “to secure the direct participation of Soviet forces in China.” Yuzhen argues that Chiang’s collaboration with Stalin led to the defeat of Japan during World War II.[38]

Both the Soviets and Chiang “were committed to defeat the Axis powers of Germany and Japan…War necessity compelled two men [Stalin and Chiang] who had every reason to distrust each other to overcome a long history of mutual suspicion and animosity to find common ground.”[39]

In other words, Chiang and Stalin had their differences, but they were on the same ideological plane with respect to defeating Japan and Germany. As Yuzhen puts it:

“As the threat of Japan to China increased, and that of Germany and Japan to the Soviet Union, China and the Soviet Union moved gingerly toward an accommodation. While Chiang hoped for Soviet material aid and actual Soviet military involvement in China’s war with Japan, Stalin’s strategy was to trap Japan in China so as to be able to concentrate on Europe and avoid a war with Japan on its eastern frontier.

“Stalin had the best cards, including a far more powerful army. He resisted China’s pressure to throw Soviet forces into China’s war with Japan until the last two weeks of the war.”[40]

It was Stalin himself who pressured the communist party in China to accept Chiang as their leader. “Soviet financial and military aid was instrumental in sustaining China’s war effort during the first five years of the war against Japan. Even though it is fair to say that the Soviets gained the most, the accommodation between Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek paid dividends for both sides.”[41]

Anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty would say that it would have been in Chiang’s favor to spread the so-called the Rape of Nanking. Yet he never mentioned it.

So the Nanking issue is much more complicated than what has been portrayed by the New York Times and the Chicago Daily News. Numerous important documents around the time of the alleged massacre in Nanking never mentioned the event either. In fact,

“the International Information Department (a branch of the Ministry of Information established not long before the fall of Nanking) sponsored 300 press conferences for foreign journalists between December 1, 1937 and October 24, 1938. During that time, emergency press conferences were called whenever important news broke (even in the dead of night, according to reports), and the news was transmitted all over the world. But no press conference was ever called to announce a massacre in Nanking.”[42]

So the Rape of Nanking appears to be the work of the war propaganda in the United States and perhaps the Chinese authorities at the time. In the next articles, we will be interviewing a number of Japanese writers and historians and hear their views on this vitally important issue.


  • [1] Thomas Heath, “Ted Leonsis Takes a Sharp Turn,” Washington Post, July 31, 2006.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Heidi Benson, “Historian Iris Chang won many battles / The war she lost raged within,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 17, 2005; Kathleen E. McLaughlin, “Iris Chang’s suicide stunned those she tried so hard to help,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 20, 2004. The prevailing vision is that hate mail and threatening notes from Japanese ultranationalists may have contributed to her death. Implausible. First of all, the Chang family never told us who those “ultranationalists” were. The fact is that Chang’s book was widely criticized by Japanese academics for its lack of historical accuracy and intellectual honesty. Furthermore, Chang must have known that writing books like The Rape of Nanking was a huge enterprise which had the potential to create enormous controversy and historical debates. It sounds like she was not prepared to faced criticism and the complete historical inaccuracies in her book.
  • [4] In my humble opinion, I don’t believe Chang wrote the entire book. Chang’s formal training was in journalism, not in history. As previously suggested, she was only twenty seven years old. The book is filled with secondary sources. So she was already working on such a provocative book while she was an undergraduate? Hardly.
  • [5] George Will, “Wartime Sadism: Nanking Remembered,” Washington Post, February 19, 1998.
  • [6] Ibid.
  • [7] “Iris Chang, Who Chronicled Rape of Nanking, Dies at 36,” NY Times, November 12, 2004.
  • [8] Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 6.
  • [9] Tom Segev, “The Jews Who Fought With Mao,” Haaretz, July 27, 2012.
  • [10] See Frank Dikötter, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010).
  • [11] For a meticulous study on these issues, see Joshua Blakeney, Japan Bites Back:: Documents Contextualizing Pearl Harbor (Non-Aligned Media, 2015).
  • [12] R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012); Brian Mark Rigg, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military (Lawrence: The University Press of Kansas, 2002); David Irving, Hitler’s War and the War Path (London: Focal Point Publications, 1991).
  • [13] See Norman G. Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (New York: Verso, 1998).
  • [14] See Jonas E. Alexis and Mark Dankof, “Was Pearl Harbor a false flag operation? (Part I),” Veterans Today, November 10, 2017.
  • [15] Shudo Higashinakano, The Nanking Massacre: Fact versus Fiction (Minato-ku, Tokyo: Sekai Shuppan, Inc., 2005), 5.
  • [16] Ibid., 6.
  • [17] Ibid., 10.
  • [18] Ibid., 12.
  • [19] Ibid., 13.
  • [20] Ibid., 191.
  • [21] Ibid., 150.
  • [22] Ibid., i.
  • [23] https://web.archive.org/web/20070705013557/http://www.jiyuu-shikan.org/nanjing/errors.html.
  • [24] Charles Burress, “Wars of Memory / When Iris Chang wrote ‘The Rape of Nanking,’ to memorialize one of the bloodiest massacres of civilians in modern times, she wasn’t prepared for the firestorm she started,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 1998.
  • [25] David M. Kennedy, “The Horror: Should the Japanese atrocities in Nanking be equated with the Nazi Holocaust?,” Atlantic, April 1998 issue.
  • [26] Roger B. Jeans, “Victims or Victimizers? Museums, Textbooks, and the War Debate in Contemporary Japan,” Journal of Military History, January 2005: 149-195.
  • [27] Timothy M. Kelly, “Book Review: The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang,” Edogawa Joshi Tanki Daigaku Kiyô no.15, March 2000: http://www1.edogawa-u.ac.jp/~tmkelly/research_review_nanking.html.
  • [28] Ibid.
  • [29] Ibid.
  • [30] Ibid.
  • [31] Ibid.
  • [32] Ibid.
  • [33] Takashi Yoshida, The Making of the “Rape of Nanking”: History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 146.
  • [34] Higashinakano, The Nanking Massacre, 179.
  • [35] Ibid.
  • [36] Ibid.
  • [37] Ibid., iii.
  • [38] Li Yuzhen, “Chiang Kai-shek and Joseph Stalin During World War II,” Hans van de Ven and Diana Lary, eds., Negotiating China’s Destiny in World War II (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014), chapter 8.
  • [39] Ibid., 142.
  • [40] Ibid., 141.
  • [41] Ibid., 142.
  • [42] Higashinakano, The Nanking Massacre, v.

5 COMMENTS

  1. *Chang could never discuss that the Allied forces, most specifically the United States, raped thousands upon thousands of Japanese civilians after World War II. Chang was asking Japan to apologize and pay reparation, but she said nothing about what the US did to Japan after they bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.*

    Why should she do something like that?!
    She isn’t japanese but chinese and chinese, as far as I know, did never make war against Japan.

    You write this way because of your stance about civilians of warring states being innocent. But this isn’t completely true for the civilians of the aggressor nation.
    Further, why shouldn’t chinese people try to denounce and blacken the reputation of the japanese, even with forged stories, when they have been attacked by them?
    I’mean, not because they are japanese but because they are aggressors.
    Except China posed for them an immediate threat they wanted to forestall. But I never found anything backing this possibility.

  2. This Facts interview had whitewash as time goes by. Rubbish. Japanese had done definitely app 300K Chinese got killed brutally.
    “Japanese soldiers killed tens of thousands of surrendered Chinese soldiers and almost certainly more than 300,000 noncombatants. (Civilian deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki totalled 210,000. Britain and France suffered a combined total of 169,000 civilian deaths from 1939 to 1945.) The Nanking killing continued for seven weeks in front of international witnesses, without any attempt at concealment, and with the sadism of recreational killing.
    “Chinese were used for bayonet practice and beheading contests. People were roasted alive, hanged by their tongues from hooks, mutilated, drowned in icy ponds, buried up to their waists and then torn apart by German shepherds, buried up to their necks and run over by horses or tanks. In addition to pandemic rape by Japanese soldiers even of young children, some of them tied to beds or posts for days, fathers were forced to rape their daughters, sons their mothers.”[6]
    Those brutal acts of violence, we are told, occurred within less than two months. The unspoken assumption here is that Japanese soldiers were killing about 5,000 civilians every single day! In an obituary in the New York Times, we are told that “In less than two months they [the Japanese] murdered more than 300,000 civilians and raped more than 80,000 women.

  3. One thing that I am certain of – the Japanese definitely got a bad press before and after WW2. My father was on Fiji through 1941 and the boogieman thing was put to rest when two Japanese Gentlemen from the Meiji University Rugby team came to stay in this house in 1973. The Fakery of the Corporate Controlled Mainstream Mass Media and their work in conjunction with International Bankers to forment and start war is now fully documented. C.G.Jung postulated the “Shadow Boxing” idea that individuals or nations can project their dark side onto “Other” to create a Boogieman. Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays and others were able to Propagandise on many levels and in many fields and media to cynically manipulate whole populations. Don’t start me on the “Education” system.

    • Yes Chris, the “bad press” is a prerequisite to gaining control/manage of the future “victim”. Had the Germans and the Japanese won the same tick would have pulled off but in reverse.

  4. “…Why didn’t Mao, who had Jews fighting with him…”
    Every place and time on hisotry where there is a big lie and innocent people killed, there’s joo’s…… joo’s everywhere

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