Tuesday, November 22, 2005

April 18, 1938: Basket Cases

Foreign News: Basket Cases
Protestant and Jewish philanthropic groups with branches in China had by last week brought together in the U. S. fairly full eyewitness and photographic data on the butchery and rape which reigned in Nanking for over a month after this capital of China fell. There has been the most drastic shakeup by Tokyo of officers whose Japanese soldiers went berserk in Nanking. Even long-eared General Iwane Matsui, the Commander-in-Chief of the victorious Japanese offensive, has been recalled to Japan.

A typical and horrifying case history is that of a young Chinese girl brought in a basket litter on January 26 to the Mission hospital in Nanking. She said that her husband, a Chinese policeman, was seized by one of the Japanese execution squads on the same day that she was taken by Japanese soldiers from a hut in the Safety Zone to the South City. She was kept there for 38 days, she said, and attacked by Japanese soldiers from five to ten times each day. Upon examination by the Mission hospital, she was found to have contracted all three of the most common venereal diseases, a vaginal ulcer which finally ended her usefulness to the soldiers.

The doctors, surgeons, nurses and diplomats in Nanking are not in a position to have their names attached to accounts which they have written and forwarded to their superiors. These tell of countless cases in which the prestige of the white man in the Orient was still sufficient at Nanking during the worst days for a judicious word, a stern remonstrance or a gentle but firm use of physical strength to do much. More than one Japanese soldier, raping a Chinese woman in broad daylight in the streets of Nanking, was chased off by a white man.

Since many of the women raped were killed and buried indiscriminately with Chinese civilians, police and soldiers dispatched by the Japanese execution squads, there are no reliable statistics, but last week every white authority agreed that modern history does not afford another instance of such wholesale rape.

Robbery and looting also flourished in Nanking for many weeks. The number of Chinese executed, not killed in battle, totals by the most conservative Nanking estimates 20,000. Excerpt from a Nanking letter written at the worst period: "One [Chinese] boy of seventeen came in with the tale of about 10,000 Chinese men between the ages of 15 and 30 who were led out of the city on the 14th [of January] to the river bank near the ferry wharf. There the Japanese opened up on them with field guns, hand grenades and machine guns. Most of them were then pushed into the river, some were burned in huge piles, and three managed to escape. Of the 10,000 the boy figured there were about 6,000 ex-soldiers and 4,000 civilians. He has a bullet wound in the chest which is not serious."


  1. Ok, I'll bite. What are the equivalent places in US, UK, China and especially Korea? I am dying to know.
    While Yasukuni may have been around a while, war criminals have only been honoured there since the 1940's... Should Germans honour Adolf Hitler, he did after all build up their nation after the disaster of WW1...

  2. That's an interesting question. I can't say that there are any, but I would guess that if any Koreans convicted of war crimes (in World War II or the Vietnam War) were buried at the National Cemetary in Tongjak-ku, the Korean government would take seriously any request by, say, Hanoi to deal with it in an appropriate manner. Just a guess, but this is all hypothetical and speculative anyway.

  3. As long as Kushibo is happy for the posts, I suppose all is good.

    I don't know a lot about America, but I would doubt whether war criminals would ever be interred there. The National Cemetery in Seoul definitely does not, although I wonder what will happen when Jeon Du Hwan dies? Either way, he agressed against his own people. Honouring war dead is an acceptable thing and no one denies the right of the Japanese to do this. What is a problem is honouring war criminals and this has nothing / zero / 何も to do with religion. It is a worry when culture is cited as a reason to continue doing wrong.
    While there is such a thing a victor's justice, I would find it difficult to defend the actions of those in question. Do not forget that Japan and Germany were both the instigators of WW2, no one else.
    If Yasukuni has nothing to do with the government, why does Koizumi go there? He is a representative of the government and can not just turn off the responsibility when he feels like it. He knows how this offends neighbouring countries but cares little for this.
    Since WW2, Japan has prided itself on being a great force for peace in the world. This does not it well with the denial of the past. We do not accept Holocaust denial, why is it ok to debate whether the Japanese crimes in Asia happened or were as bad as has been portrayed?
    I too, have lived in Japan and have experienced what a great country it is. However, I will never accept the veneration of war criminals. What these people were in charge of is some of the most sickening acts of the 20th century. These things will not go away and the sooner they are faced in Japan, the sooner China and South Korea will look past these historical events. Of course North Korea won't, but that's a whole different matter!
    Checked out your blog, by the way, your Japanese is pretty good!

  4. I'm withholding any detailed comment on Darin's points themselves because I have a whole Yasukuni-related post coming.

  5. Well, I am glad for that Darin, although aligning yourself with the Japanese right does kind of say that you do deny such things...
    There are plenty of ways to honour war dead without going to Yasukuni. Do you think people in Kagoshima have to go to Tokyo to do it? Nah, there are plenty of memorials all over the place and none carry the problems of Yasukuni.

  6. I see one problem with your whole argument. You don't know much about Korea or China. You admit it yourself that you don't, especially about Korea. How can you keep a balanced argument when you haven't experienced both sides? Korea is a 1 hour plane flight from Tokyo, why don't you go for the weekend? You can check out for yourself...
    I have lived in both countries, there is a lot more to this than you make out. To put down Asian protest as you have is disappointing.

  7. Darin, I'd like to hear more about how your Japanese embassy worker friend had his life threatened. I ask because there is almost always a distinction between anger directed at the government and governing individuals versus people here. With rare (but notable) exceptions, even at an anti-Koizumi or anti-USFK rally, Americans or Japanese are treated with care and respect.


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