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One of the most violent crimes of the twentieth century was the subject of speculation

One of the most violent crimes of the twentieth century was the subject of speculation

13.12.2017
Tags: Japan, China, War, History

Exactly 80 years ago the Japanese army entered the Chinese Nanjing, which resulted in one of the most brutal, sophisticated and unexplained war crimes of the 20th century. Now the events of those years are trying to be audited, and it's hard not to notice parallels with what is happening in Europe with the memory of the Second World War. But who benefits?

Two officers of the Japanese imperial army - Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda - on the way from Shanghai to Nanjing made wagers about who would quickly kill a hundred people with 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.

For two weeks in the two largest daily newspapers Tokyo and Osaka, eight articles appeared on the original competition. They were written in the genre of sports reporting. "An incredible record," read 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 Asaka, commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army. It was an order to kill prisoners. A number of historians claim that he was published by the adjutant of the prince - Lieutenant-General, forging the signature of Asaka, but it is difficult to believe in this, and the responsibility remains with the prince in any case - as the commander.

City of maniacs

As soon as the Japanese troops entered Nanjing, raids began on Chinese soldiers dressed in civilian clothes. Under suspicion, all men of draft age were caught, who had been found worn from knapsacks on the shoulders or bruises in the area of ​​the clavicle. In addition, the Japanese grabbed everyone with calluses on their feet, scars on their faces, straight posture, or "looked boldly."

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 mass murder, known as "the massacre at the straw duct," was at 18 December. For three hours, the Japanese tied the Chinese prisoners to each other with ropes, dividing into four columns, after which they shot each of the machine guns. The wounded were later finished off with bayonets, and the corpses were dropped into the Yangtze. According to average estimates, this episode killed 57 thousand people.

So far, it's only about men. In theory - about disguised soldiers. Women in such "cunnings" did not suspect, but it did not save them.

The Japanese military broke into homes and raped the women there, regardless of their age. At the slightest attempt at resistance, the victims were pierced with bayonets. There are cases when sons were forced to rape mothers, and fathers - daughters. The history has kept photos of the killed children and certificates of the refined outrage over corpses.

At the Tokyo trial, the total number of raped was estimated at 20 thousand people. As with the "disguised soldiers" who hid in the security zone, women did not always save its status: the Japanese came there daily, taking young girls with them. The international committee that ran the zone filed 450 complaints against the military, the dry lines of each of which are more like a 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 beginning of the work of the Chinese collaborationist government, the number of atrocities in the city has significantly decreased. Prince Asak and the commander of the Central Front, General Ivane Matsui, were recalled to Japan, and the security zone was liquidated.

Eight years later, the Chiang Kai-shek government established the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal, which resulted in the death of General Hisao Tani, Captain Gunkichi Tanaka, and both lieutenants who competed in the Chinese assassination of the sword.

Prince Asaka as a member of the imperial family was granted immunity - he avoided all responsibility for their actions and inaction. The corresponding decision was made by one of the founders and ideologists of the Tokyo Tribunal - 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 to be such), but not immunity. This lover of golf died only in 1981 year, and answered questions about the victims of Nanking in the spirit that no complaints were received to him.

General Matsui, resigned immediately after the recall to his homeland, in 1948 year was already judged at the Tokyo trial - the Japanese analogue of Nuremberg. The general tried in every possible way to avoid responsibility, repeatedly changed his testimony, but became one of seven sentenced to death and was hanged in the courtyard of the prison. At the same time, it is known that Matsui was not present in the city at the beginning of the massacres, later hard to worry about what had happened and even tried to bring cautious but public words of sympathy.

Yon Rabe, who saved more than 200 thousand people with one fact of his presence, returned to Germany, where he was arrested by his party comrades 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 again released. Rabe died in 1950 year, at the memorial to the victims of the Nanking massacre he installed a monument.

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 was much more difficult than the Japanese command expected: then one in four Japanese soldiers died. Against this background, the expeditionary army was severely criticized by the authorities. The transition from Shanghai to Nanking was also difficult - instead of unconditionally surrendering the city had to fight for him for three more days. But this does not explain the brutality of the Japanese, overstepping in their actions all sorts of ideas about human morality.

The Nanking massacre still remains one of the most acute moments in the relations between China and Japan, and already - extremely conflict. No wonder: for the PRC, especially from the second half of the 1980-ies, this is one of the events, the memory of which unites all segments of society.

A simple and understandable illustration: in Nanjing on 13 December in the Victims Memorial, solemn events are planned, in which Chairman Xi Jinping will take part. Three weeks before that, the memorial was closed for reconstruction - specifically to prepare for the ceremony. The live broadcast will be conducted by the state TV and radio stations of the People's Republic of China, as well as on the website of the Xinhua News Agency.

As is often the case with national tragedies, estimates of the total number of victims during the whole massacre vary greatly - numbers from 40 thousand to 300 thousand people are called. At recent memorial events in San Francisco, organized jointly by the Chinese, Korean and Philippine diaspora, and. about. Consul General of the People's Republic of China Zhang Liu insisted on the maximum assessment:

"The Japanese army has flagrantly violated international conventions and committed excessively violent crimes in Nanjing, where about 300 thousand Chinese civilians were killed and about a third of houses were burnt."

At the same time, the Chinese demand from the Japanese authorities only one - public repentance.

The first, back in 1972, on the eve of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing, a similar speech was made by the then Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. In July 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologized for the existence of "consolation stations" (military brothels, where sex slaves were taken from all areas conquered by the Japanese) and for mass rape during the Nanking massacre. When he repented in August for war crimes in China, it seemed that relations between the countries would improve steadily.

But 2001, the "Japanese Society for the reform of history textbooks", with the approval of the government, issued a "New history textbook" in which almost all the war crimes of the Japanese were suppressed since 1910, and the following was written about the Nanking massacre: "The Japanese army took Nanjing in December 1937 of the year". The response to this was the thousands-strong demonstrations in the PRC and South Korea.

Subsequently, a number of high-ranking Japanese politicians have publicly announced revisionist theses - apparently, to attract the ultra-right section of the electorate. Thus, the Mayor of Nagoya, Takashi Kawamura, stated that "there may never have been a Nanking massacre" - and he did not say this to anyone, but to a Chinese delegation from Nanking.

Four days later, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara shared his 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 marked the beginning of the war between Japan and China, and in the wake of the crisis around the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands, massive speeches were held in the PRC, one of the slogans was "Japan Must Repent." In those days, the Chinese destroyed Japanese flags, overturned Japanese cars, beat showcases of Japanese restaurants and even burned the limo of the American ambassador, confusing him with a 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, a certain fracture of consciousness takes place. Prior to the onset of zero, the most notorious war crimes - the Nanking massacre, "comfort stations" and the 731 detachment experiments - were only contested by the ultra-right in Japan. And in 2014, the statement that there was no Nanking massacre, Naoki Hiakuta, chairman of the board of directors of the NHK television and radio broadcasting corporation (in fact, the main one in the country and one of the largest in the world), allowed himself, one of whose owners is the state.

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 anniversary at the age of 100 years, the oldest witness of those events died - tinker Guan Guangjin. The family handed over to the Memorial to the victims of the Nanking Massacre his personal belongings - a fan, a clock and a tea flask.

Viktor Sukhotin
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