Azuma Shiro, among the first Japanese war veterans to discuss his participation in the Nanking Massacre, said in the 1998 documentary called In the Name of the Emperor: “It would certainly be all right if we just raped them—I shouldn’t say all ideal. But we constantly stabbed and killed them. Because dead bodies don’t talk.”

Shiro was referring to the Nanking Massacre, the six-week siege in 1937 of the Chinese city of Nanking, the royal funding of the country, by the Imperial Japanese Military. The siege, likewise known as the Rape of Nanking, was part of the bigger 2nd Sino-Japanese War and was noted by a multitude of atrocities committed by the Japanese, including killing contests, mass rape and sexualized violence, torture, and the looting and also damage of property.

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The sheer scale of the atrocities committed throughout the Nanking massacre has lengthy been debated between China and Japan. The Ministry of Fopower Affairs of Japan has actually claimed that while Japan acknowledges it damaged the resides and also liberties of the citizens of Nanking, it is reluctant to estimate the variety of victims. It does not explicitly name the usage of mass rape as a crime against mankind perpetuated by its troops in the time of the siege, and also names just the killing of noncombatants and also looting as examples of Japanese transgressions.

Thousands of Chinese soldiers were executed, leaving no one to protect the citizens of Nanking. And while the rampant sexualized violence that took place in the time of those six weeks was not officially mandated by the upper echelons of the Japanese army, it was tolerated and periodically urged by police officers in order to bolster morale—as lengthy as the soldiers disposed of the proof of their crimes.


A wall in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China functions imeras of survivors. (Kevin Dooley)

One of the heritages of the Nanking massacre was the fortification of comfort stations by the Japanese high command. Instead of holding their police officers to account for the mass rape and murder of the civilians in Nanking, Japanese officials better consolidated an underground mechanism of militarized prostitution by luring, buying, or kidnapping womales and also girls into sexual slaincredibly. Many woguys were taken from Japan’s swarm of Korea, but additionally China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The first comfort station was establiburned in 1932 and also the system just finished after Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies.

The Internationwide Military Tribunal for the Far East, the battle crimes tribunal set up in 1946 by UNITED STATE authorities after Japan’s unconditional surrender after World War II, has actually shelp that roughly 20,000 cases of rape developed in the city. The death toll is hotly debated, through the Japanese claiming everywhere from numerous hundred to the Chinese claims of 300,000. The Internationwide Military Tribunal for the Far East approximated the casualties to be approximately 200,000.

The Second Sino-Japanese War lasted from 1937 to 1945 and also was predelivered by a series of occurrences between the 2 warring parties. The Mukden Incident of September 1931—in which Japanese railroad tracks in Manchuria were allegedly bombed by Japanese nationalists in order to hasten war through China—marked the formation of Manchukuo, a puppet state that fell under Japanese bureaucratic manage. Chinese authorities appealed to the League of Nations (a precursor to the United Nations) for assistance, however did not obtain a solution for even more than a year. When the Organization of Nations did eventually obstacle Japan over the intrusion, the Japanese ssuggest left the Organization and also continued through its battle initiative in China.

In 1932, in what is recognized as the January 28th Incident, a Shanghai mob struck five Japanese Buddhist monks, leaving one dead. In response, the Japanese bombed the city and eliminated 10s of thousands, despite Shanghai authorities agreeing to apologize, arremainder the perpetrators, disresolve all anti-Japanese institutions, pay compensation, and finish anti-Japanese agitation or face army action. Then, in 1937, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident offered the Japanese forces the justification they essential to launch a full-scale invasion of China. A Japanese regiment was conducting a night maneuver exercise in the Chinese city of Tientsin, shots were fired, and also a Japanese soldier was allegedly eliminated.

That November, Chinese pressures abandoned the royal capital of Nanking—prior to the Japanese even arrived. Reports say that en route to the imperial resources, 2 Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, hosted a killing dispute to determine who might kill 100 guys the fastest, making use of only a sword. This was extensively reported in Japanese newsfiles and was spanned as if it were some kind of sporting event, via documents such as the Japan Advertiser (now The Japan Times) maintaining track of the tally.

One book is uncompromising in its summary of the horrors that took place after the Japanese arrived in Nanking. Chinese-American journalist Iris Chang’s international best seller, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, counts on the testimonies of survivors, eyewitness accounts of Western observers, and also Japanese soldiers.

A huge contingent of Western observers additionally determined to continue to be in the city during the siege. Members of the Internationwide Committee of the Nanking Safety Zone, an inter-belief team led by Nazi party member John Rabe, kept comprehensive diaries of their experiences as witnesses to the massacre. The group was crucial in the development of the Nanking Safety Zone, a demilitarized area set up for the security of Chinese civilians.

Tillman Durdin, foreign correspondent for The New York Times, was one of the initially reporters to cover the Nanking siege. He and other reporters left Nanking and sent out their dispatches home, recalling the horrors that they had actually viewed. Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary and also the president of Nanking-based Ginling Women’s College of Arts and also Sciences, also continued to be behind in the city to safeguard civilians.

Yet indevelopment on the massacre continues to be fairly scarce.

Rape was historically silenced in the time of World War II despite it being committed on all sides, according to a 1998 United Nations report on sexualized violence and armed dispute. An estimated 2 million German women were raped by the invading Red Military, and also French woguys were raped by Amerihave the right to GIs, according to What Soldiers Do, a 2013 book published by Mary Louise Roberts. The 2nd Sino-Japanese War finished in 1945 just after Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies adhering to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and also Nagasaki.

Some Japanese government officials have actually denied the scale of the massacre, ssuggest saying that such clintends of Japanese-perpetrated atrocities in Nanking ainstalled to little more than anti-Japanese sentiment. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sassist in 2013 that the post-World War II trials Japan underwent were nopoint more than “victor’s justice,” according to reports.

But unfavor the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and also Nagasaki, the devastation of Pearl Harbor in the USA, or the Holocaust in Europe, the events at Nanking are all but forgotten and also essentially airbrumelted out of background, seemingly overshadowed by the innumerable horrors of World War II, Chang argued in her book. Many type of revisionist Japanese officials, scholars, and public figures have denied outideal that the massacre ever before taken place. On February 6, 2014, the governor of Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, flatly said the massacre never took location, according to the BBC.

Neglected by historic literary works, denied by leading Japanese figures, and also existing seemingly just in the cumulative memory of those directly affected, the Nanking massacre sank right into obscurity.

How Sexualized Violence Is Used as a Weapon of War

To exert power: As the Chinese military had surrendered prior to the Japanese had also arrived in Nanking, the city and its citizens were in a very fragile place. Japanese troops raped, tortured, and also killed civilians and soldiers via exceptionally little consequence.

Japanese troops witnessed the woguys as bit even more than pets and also of little to no worth, according to the testimonies of the perpetrators. One previous Japanese soldier Azuma Shiro shelp in a letter to Chang: “Perhaps as soon as we were raping her, we looked at her as a womale, yet once we killed her, we just thought of her as somepoint favor a pig.”

To humiliate: Womales were raped in the street in front of large crowds, in their own dwellings, and also in front of their families. Womales of all periods were raped, including elderly womales and babies, according to the Internationwide Military Tribunal for the Far East.

A Chinese eyewitness in Chang’s book defines the body of an 11-year-old girl who had actually been raped repetitively for 2 days: “…The blood-stained, swollen and also ruptured area in between the girl’s legs created a disgusting scene challenging for anyone to look at straight.”

To terrorize: The incidents of rape in the time of the siege were enormous in their scale and intensity, Chang sassist. One soldier, Takokoro Kozo, recalled to Chang: “Womales endured a lot of. … No matter just how young or old, they could not escape the fate of being raped. We sent coal trucks from Hsiakwan to the city roads and villeras to seize most woguys. And then each of them was alsituated to 15-20 soldiers for sexual intercourse and also abusage.”

To “protect” soldiers: Author and also journalist George Hicks, in The Comfort Women: Japan’s Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War, claimed that Japanese soldiers frequently wore amuallows made from the pubic hair or personal possessions of victims in order to protect themselves in battle. The prevailing army superstition was that having sex before any type of major armed forces incursion would certainly work as a type of protective cinjury.

To enforce “duty”: Hicks likewise wrote that the actions of the Imperial Japanese Military were possible because of the prevailing concept at that time that masculine demands took precedent and that it was a woman’s duty to serve men. As Japanese heritage has it, the woguy have to walk 2 actions behind the man; as Confucianist approach has actually it, a woman have to obey first her father, then her husband, and ultimately her son, Hicks shelp.

Patterns of Violence

Japanese troops forced families to commit incest, according to Chang. Fathers were compelled to rape their daughters; sons, their mothers. Those that refprovided were killed instantly.Some of the many despicable forms of torture leveled at the civilian populace, according to Chang, had being buried waist-deep in the earth and also then attacked by German shepherd dogs; being hidden alive; and being doused in gasoline and also set on fire.


The International Military Tribunal of the Far East, the war crimes tribunal put up by U.S. authorities after World War II, estimated that more than 20,000 women and girls were raped during the conflict. Yet in The Rape of Nanking, Chang recognized that it was impossible to calculate the real variety of woguys and also girls raped during the siege of 1937 but estimated the range to be in between 20,000 and also 80,000. The BBC has actually reported that between 250,000 and 300,000 Chinese civilians were eliminated in the siege, many type of of them woguys and children.

Yet debate rages on about the statistics, which are regularly discussed by revisionist academics, historians, and also political leaders, who regularly strain diplomatic connections between Japan and China by stating the massacre never before happened.

One of the even more well known revisionist accounts of the Nanking Massacre, What Really Happened in Nanking: A Refutation of a Common Myth by Masaaki Tanaka, was publimelted in 1984. It claimed: “You won’t discover one instance of planned, organized murder in the whole background of Japan.” Unsurprisingly, the book was met with accusations of historic distortion.

Cultural Gender Attitudes

Hicks, a journalist and also writer of The Comfort Women, created that the prevailing notion at that time was that masculine needs took precedent and also that it was a woman’s duty to serve guys. Classic ideals, he shelp, that cherished women’s chastity and also purity were likewise the factor why many woguys, especially “comfort womales,” continued to be silent about their ordeals. It was highly likely, Hicks said, that beliefs regarding the sanctity and also virtue of women, and their duty in culture in general, probably added to the society of silence after the Nanking massacre.

In a 2005 report called “Justice for survivors of Japan’s armed forces sex-related slaextremely device,” Amnesty Internationwide shelp that in many societies, “as a result of social injustices and patriarchal norms, loss of virginity and also incapability to bear children make womales unmarriageable; womales that have been raped are not regarded as ‘virtuous’; as soon as shed, this perceived virtue can never before be respanned.”


Nazi party member John Rabe composed in a report to Hitler, according to writer Iris Chang:

“They would proceed by raping the womales and also girls and killing anything and anyone that offered any resistance, attempted to run away from them or ssuggest taken place to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. There were girls under the age of 8, and womales over the age of 70 who were raped and also then, in the most brutal means feasible, knocked down and also beat up. We discovered corpses of womales on beer glasses and others that had actually been lanced via bamboo shoots. I witnessed the victims via my own eyes—I talked to some of them ideal before their deaths and also had actually their bodies lugged to the morgue at the Kulo hospital so that I could be personally encouraged that all of these reports had touched on the reality.”

The irony of a Nazi being appalled by Japanese atrocities was not lost on commentators. But it was often this incredibly association that conserved the resides of many Chinese civilians, as Germany type of was officially allied through Japan in the time of World War II.

Amerihave the right to missionary Minnie Vautrin, president of Ginling Women’s College of Arts and also Sciences, was also critical in saving the lives of countless Chinese civilians—specifically women and also girls—during the siege.

On December 16, 1937, she listed in her diary:

“There most likely is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from the language college last night, and this particular day I have heard scores of heart-breaking stories of girls who were taken from their dwellings last night ... among the girls was but 12 years old.”

Tillman Durdin, the Times correspondent, discovered himself in Nanking once it was inhabited by the invading Imperial Japanese Army. Upon witnessing numerous days of atrocities, he left the city for Shanghai in order to send a dispatch home:

“Just prior to boarding the ship for Shanghai, the writer watched the execution of 200 men. The killings took simply ten minutes. … The conduct of the Japanese army as a whole in Nanking was a blot on the reputation of their country. Their victory was marred by barbaric cruelties, by the whole sale execution of detainees, by the looting of the city, rapes, killing of civilians and by basic vandalism.”

Chu-Yeh Chang, a survivor of the Nanking massacre, proficient and also witnessed the violence sweeping with Nanking firsthand:

“On New Year’s Eve of 1937 … five Japanese soldiers charged right into our house, compelled my father and also me out, and then raped my mother, my 80-year-old great-grandmommy, and my 11-year-old-sister.”


Chang has declared that we will certainly never understand the complete psychic toll that the mass rapes had on the womales of Nanking. She likewise declared that many women were impregnated by their rapists, yet this has never been completely stupassed away.Multiple rapes left many women via life-lengthy injuries such as sterility and various other physical problems. In an intercheck out with Chang, Li Xouying describes just how in 1937, recently married at 18 and also greatly pregnant, she managed to fight earlier against a Japanese attacker however experienced 37 sepaprice bayonet wounds, leaving her with a gaping wound in the side of her face. She miscarried as a result of her injuries.

Legal Precedents

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, produced by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, began on April 29, 1946, in Tokyo to prosecute the leaders of Japan for war crimes. Emperor Hirohito and also all members of the imperial household were immune from prosecution to ensure the Japanese administration’s participation during the tribunal.

The Nanking War Crimes Tribunal, which was led by Chinese authorities in 1946, tried 4 Imperial Japanese officers accprovided of committing battle crimes, including the two police officers involved in the killing challenge of 100 human being.

General Iwane Matsui was organized primarily responsible for failing to soptimal the mass violence and rape that befell Nanking upon Japanese occupation, despite the truth that the general, suffering from tuberculosis, had actually arrived late to Nanking. While rape charges were component of the indictment versus Matsui, victims were not dubbed to offer their testimonies, according to the UN report on sexualized violence in problem. Matsui was convicted of battle crimes and sentenced to fatality by hanging.

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Chang provided that Western news outlets at the time reported that Japanese forces had tried to prevent Matsui from learning the true range of the atrocities that took area in Nanking. But upon hearing of the innumerable crimes that had taken place, Matsui allegedly said: “I currently realize that we have unknowingly wrought a a lot of grievous effect on this city.”

Other high-profile defendants included Hideki Tojo, previous prime minister of Japan and also general of the Imperial Japanese Military, who was likewise sentenced to fatality for his involvement in Japanese-led battle crimes. Altogether, salso high-ranking officers (consisting of Matsui and Tojo) of the Imperial Japanese Military were convicted of war crimes and also sentenced to death at the Tokyo tribunal. They were not particularly charged via sexualized violence or rape. More than 100 Japanese military personnel were convicted and also executed by Chinese authorities at the Nanking War Crimes Tribunal.