The Nanking Massacre

Japan began to embark on its own imperialistic endeavors in Asia. First, Japan took over the southern part of the Korean Peninsula during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). In 1905, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) and gained control of Manchuria. Defeating a European nation empowered Japan to renegotiate its trade treaties with the United States and Europe as equals. Japan took over southern Manchuria, legitimized its control of Korea, and absorbed the southern half of Sakhalin Island. By 1910, Japan had colonized the entire Korean Peninsula.

During World War I, Japan joined the Allied Powers and sent ships to fight Germany. In 1914, while the European powers were embroiled in conflicts at home, Japan became an industrial power. In 1931, the Mukden Incident ceded Manchuria to Japan. In 1937, Japan invaded China during the second Sino-Japanese War. By 1940 it had consolidated its control of Vietnam. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to draw the United States into World War II. By 1942, Japan controlled the islands of Indonesia and the Philippines.

Several of these events remain controversial. Many Japanese historians believe Japan was responding to U.S. and European hostility during this period. Meanwhile, Chinese, European, and American historians accused the Japanese Imperial Army of massacring 50,000 to 300,000 civilizations and raping 20,000 women during the Nanking Massacre, also called the Rape of Nanking. Many Japanese historians deny this massacre occurred or believe the number of casualties has been exaggerated.

Read this article to examine arguments for and against the validity of the Nanking Massacre.


  1. Please see The Huffington Post 
  2. There are three movies about unethical human experimentation conducted by Japanese before Black Sun: the Nanking Massacre was released: 1) Men Behind the Sun 731 (1988), 2) Laboratory of the Devil 731- (1992), 3) A Narrow Escape 731- (1994).
  3. According to Article I of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) signed by the Japanese government "The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another". War cannot be used as a solution for international controversies and the second Sino-Japanese War was not supposed to happen in the first place. 
  4. George Godwin once said that: "the Japanese people are the race of races, the Herrenvolk of Herrenvolk; that they are of divine origin, and that their Emperor is god made manifest as man. The whole life of Japan centres about this anthropomorphic dogma, and it is probably true to say that Japan is the most united, the most homogeneous, nation on earth under the surface differences of her domestic political life". 
  5. The Emperor's rescript about the declaration of war was announced on December 8th, 1941. This declaration of war was on the United States and Great Britain, not to the Republic of China.
  6. The direct English translation in the film is 'directive', however, it is the Imperial Rescript.
  7. The annotation of the Emperor's rescript, uses the term, Japan–China Incident. Compared with "invasion" the term China uses, these terms lessen Japan's responsibility and holds China also responsible.
  8. Soldiers who committed rape were usually punished according to the general criminal code as Japanese civilians. According to the law, the victim was responsible to press charges on the crime of rape. Since rape victims are mostly murdered, it will be impossible for them to press charges against their assailants. As a result, the criminal code against rape was not able to stop rape from happening, and the actual numbers of rape cases must be higher than reported rape cases during the second Sino-Japan War. See Sexual Violence of the Army.
  9. Author's translation.  Thanks to my dear colleague Mrs. Rieko Hattori, lecturer in Japanese at Dalarna University, helped correcting my English translation of the Japanese Army Criminal codes in Japanese.
  10. Asakanomiya Hatohikoo, i.e. Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, was thought as the person who made an order to kill all people in Nanking. In the film he only shows up as the Emperor's representative.
  11. In 1929, a document called the Tanaka Memorial was published in Shishi Yuebao in Nanking. A Chinese translation of a Japanese original, Tanaka Memorial is said to reveal the Japanese Empire's intention of conquering China. However, many scholars contend that it is a forgery.
  12. Passed in 1935, the Nuremberg laws contained racist and anti-semitic regulations concerning the German flag, citizenship in the German Reich and the 'Protection of German Blood and German Honour'.
  13. As Milgram experiment (1961) shows that when someone's moral senses are taken out by the authority, and when someone is free from taking responsibility for his behaviours, around 65% of volunteers would shock the shock the victim with the highest level of 450 volts. Of course, the results of different Milgram's experiments are subject to different variation controls.