Sunteți pe pagina 1din 12

Alexandra Parady

February 2, 2015
SSO 306 77
The Rape of Nanking
The U.N. Convention on Genocide defines genocide as "acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group" ("Convention on Genocide"). From
these standards, what has been researched this semester would seem
to constitute as genocide, though many would argue against this. The
possible genocide being studied this semester is the Nanking
Massacre, otherwise known as the Rape of Nanking. This massacre
began and happened in its entirety during World War II, shortly after
America declared war on Japan on December 7, 1937. The Japanese
had a large superiority complex, believing they should be in control.
Because of this, the Japanese and Chinese had been fighting on
Chinese soil since September 1931, long before America came into
conflict with Japan (Vautrin, Shui-fang, Hualing, and Lian-hong, 1).
There are many questions that can be asked about why these horrific
acts of violence happened. How low did the Japanese view the Chinese
in comparison to themselves to feel that they deserved this treatment?
Why are these gruesome acts seemingly swept under the rug or
forgotten in todays culture?

The Japanese generally kept to themselves more often than not.

After being basically forced to open their ports by the United States,
the Japanese were already displeased with the other countries. Japan
thrust itself into a revolution, quickly becoming strong and powerful
economically, militarily, and scientifically. Japan initially decided to use
their newfound skills on Korea. This ended with Japan in a struggle
with China over Korea, with whom the two countries had decided to
share a few years prior. Eventually, war broke out between the Chinese
and Japanese. This war is known as the First Sino-Japanese War. The
Japanese won this war against the Chinese, but the tension between
the two did not cease (Chang, 24).
Much research has been done on this subject and no one knows
for sure the motives behind the gruesome brutality and violence
brought upon the Chinese, though we do know why the conflict itself
happened. The Nanking Massacre occurred in a six-week period
beginning with the fall of the Chinese Nationalist capital of Nanking on
December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World
War II. Japan had a strong and powerful military organization. Japan
also had a massive master-race mindset and mentality, much like that
of Nazi Germany and the Aryan race. It seemed that the Japanese
thought they were better than all other races, not just the Chinese,
and deserved to be in complete control. The Japanese at this time

believed they should be in power of all of their bordering countries.

They began by taking Manchuria, then moving on to other neighboring
places such as Shanghai. Six years after the initial invasion and
conquest of Manchuria in 1931, the Japanese overthrew the Chinese
capital of Nanking (Chang, 3-4).
Rumors flew around China about the Japanese Soldiers Three
Alls policy: Kill All, Burn All, and Loot All (Nanking). After a few days
of the Japanese occupying China, Nanking had become what some
referred to as a hell on earth (Vautrin, Shui-fang, Hualing, and Lianhong, 1). The looting, of course, was the least brutal of the things that
happened during The Rape of Nanking, though obviously it was still
destructive. The Japanese would loot the stores and homes of the
Chinese people, ruining all in their wake. All stores closed in fear of the
soldiers looting and nothing was for sale in the streets any longer
(Vautrin, Shui-fang, Hualing, and Lian-hong, 27). Reverend James
McCallum, an American missionary in Nanking during World War II,
expressed in a letter to his family about the state of the city of
Nanking after the Japanese soldiers had been occupying the city for a
At the time the Japanese Army entered the city little harm
had been done to buildings. Since then the stores have
been stripped of their wares and most of them burned.

Taiping, Chung Hwa and practically every other main

business road is a mass of ruins. In south city much of the
area back of main street was also burned. We see new
fires every day and wonder when such beastly destruction
will cease. (McCallum and Carroll)
The ruthlessness that happened in Nanking was revolting and
closely resembled the brutality of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. The
soldiers took groups of civilian men to use as target practice with
bayonets or just to mass execute (Chang, 4). These soldiers would tie
up young men who were or were presumed to be Chinese soldiers, line
them up at the riverbank, and empty their machines guns in to them
(Nanking). Other times these soldiers would cover these prisoners of
war or civilians in gasoline and light them on fire (Chang, 4). Hakudo
Nagatomi, a Japanese soldier stationed in China during the invasion,
talked about the invasion in an interview. He said he remembered
having to prove his courage by killing twenty Chinese civilians by
beheading. He also stated that he remembers, feeling proud of Japan
There was no one seeming to take control of the Japanese
soldiers, there was no discipline in response to their actions from any
type of higher-ups. The soldiers wandered where they pleased and
often were drunk (McCallum and Carroll). No one is completely sure

how many people were raped and killed during this massive massacre.
Some estimate that roughly two hundred thousand prisoners of war
and civilians were killed during this short time period (Cheung). Others
believe the numbers are prominently higher, ranging from the two
hundred thousands to well into the three hundred thousands
(Yamamoto, 1).
Most of the time rape isnt about sex, rape is about power;
exactly what the Japanese had been after the entire war. The Japanese
soldiers sexually assaulted many Chinese women during this time.
There were accounts of the soldiers breaking in to peoples homes and
raping women, sometimes abducting them as well (Yamamoto, 135136). During the day the Japanese soldiers would prowl the safety
zone looking for women, at night the soldiers would come back and
take the women they found desirable, some of them being girls of no
more than eleven or twelve (McCallum and Carroll). Sometimes in just
one night over a thousand women would have been raped (Parachin).
When there were no women to be found nearby, the soldiers would
assault teenaged boys. One of the civilians in Nanking during this time
said that they witnessed Japanese soldiers force a living man to have
sex with a dead woman in the street (Nanking). In the 2007
documentary Nanking, Zhang Xiu Hong, who was age 12 in 1937,

recalled some of the events she witnessed of the rapes during the
They would capture dozens of young girls and line them
up, and they would choose the pretty ones. But I had an
idea. I shaved my hair off. The Japanese still kept
harassing me. One of them said, You are a girl, I want to
[makes sexual hand gesture]! I saw them capture
young girls, and these girls always resisted them. After
they had their fill, they would stab the girl in her abdomen
and move the bayonet around in her belly until she finally
died. I saw this happen before my own eyes quite a few
From the other side of the conflict, Japanese soldier Teramoto
Juhei, who is still alive today, didnt seem remorseful for his or the
other soldiers actions during this atrocity during an interview in a
documentary. He actually laughed and smiled while saying the
following quote:
We all drew straws and the man who pulled out the one
marked first, he brushed off her face tenderly and treated
her pretty, and then proceeded to rape her. As their
daughter was being raped, the parents would come outside
and gesture to us, Please spare her! Theyd bang their

heads on the ground and plead with us. Wed take the girl
and five of us would hold her down. Its like that Shed be
foaming at the mouth. (Nanking)
Women became frightened and began taking refuge and hiding
together but this seemed to have only made it easier for the soldiers
to catch and rape many of them at once (Yamamoto, 135-136). The
amount of women raped is also unknown. Some researchers estimate
that approximately twenty thousand Chinese women were gang-raped
by the Japanese soldiers during the Rape of Nanking (Cheung). Others
have estimated that these numbers are drastically greater, projected
to range from twenty thousand to eighty thousand (Yamamoto, 1).
Nanking was the capital of China and therefore had a lot of
people from all around the world, a lot of missionaries from other
countries stayed to help during the Nanking Massacre. One man who is
an example of this is John Rabe, a member of the Nazi party from
Germany. He is quoted to have once said, I have to see these
atrocities with my own eyes so that in the future I can bear witness
and tell others what happened. One must not be silent facing such
cruel deeds. He used his membership in the Nazi party to protect
himself and those he was helping shelter. As soon as the Japanese
soldiers saw his swastika they would immediately leave him alone.
Rabe made films and kept diaries of what he witnessed and once he

left China and went home to Germany, he sent these to Adolf Hitler
himself. The Gustapo arrested Rabe not long after he sent this
information to Hitler (Parachin).
In the 1970s began the Japanese revisionism. All information
on the Nanking Massacre was distorted or completely taken out of
mention in textbooks. The Nanking Massacre was described as a
minor incident by officials, making it out to seem as if what
happened was not important or immoral in any way (Cheung).
Japanese school textbooks were edited and rewritten, saying that the
Nanking Massacre occurred when Japan occupied Nanking, but not
saying what exactly had happened while they were there. The
Japanese word used that is most closely translated to the English
occurred is a word usually used to convey a natural phenomenon, as
if this genocide on the Chinese citizens of Nanking could not have been
stopped (Barnard, 159). The rapes that occurred were described as
something that always happens in wars, as if that excused what had
happened (Cheung).
In a study done by Christopher Barnard from Teikyo University in
Tokyo, only one of the eighty-eight textbooks he studied portrays the
Japanese as the wrongdoers during the Nanking Massacre (Barnard,
165). A lot of books will say the conflict in Nanking did happen, but do
not say to what extent. According to Joanna Pitman, the texts gloss

over the Rape of Nanking, referring only to Japan's advance through

Asia, a benevolent campaign of friendship, designed to liberate the
continent from the evil grip of Western imperialism. Many of the
younger generations in Japan believe the Nanking Massacre was not
bad because this is what they grew up learning. Former Japanese
soldier Hakudo Nagatomi said, Few know that soldiers impaled babies
on bayonets and tossed them still alive into pots of boiling water
(Pitman). Today, a lot of the horrors that happened during this time
were made out to be something that was either inevitable or the
importance of it brought down so significantly that no one was to think
twice about the events that took place.
Eventually some of Japan had begun to deny that the Nanking
massacre had ever even happened, though there was so much
evidence proving it had. Some famous Japanese people as well as
some Japanese ministers in the 1990s all began publically stating that
the Nanking massacre never happened. People began to say that the
entire massacre was completely fictitious and fabricated by the
Chinese. Japan eventually started to try to play the victim part in the
conflict; saying that the Chinese began the war, thought Japan had
invaded China. The Japanese leaders also stated that what the
Japanese had done during that time was save China from white
colonization and that the Japanese should be thanked for everything

they did (Cheung). Today, many Japanese people still believe that the
reports from The Rape of Nanking are exaggerations or fabrications
(Nanking). Even while researching the Nanking Massacre or Rape of
Nanking, many articles come up in response to the search that say the
Nanking Massacre was not an actual incident, that the whole thing was
made up by the Chinese or was some kind of strange and bizarre
Its hard to find much information that is unquestionably
completely accurate on the Rape of Nanking. A big part of this is
probably because of the denial of the severity of what happened or the
complete denial of this atrocity ever happening. The Japanese thought
they should be in charge of all other countries and saw themselves as
above everyone else. The Japanese seemed to have the same type of
mindset as the Aryan race during the holocaust and treated their own
race as such. Though a lot of the information on this subject is skewed
and not completely known, whether you believe in what happened was
as bad as described or not it is fair to say that a lot of people suffered
because of what happened in Nanking in 1937. Today it is up to us to
make sure nothing like this can ever happen again, and especially to
make sure that the information on brutalities such as this isnt

Works Cited
Barnard, Christopher. The Rape of Nanking In Japanese High School
Textbooks: History Texts as Closed Texts. Canaria Journal of
English Studies, n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
Chang, Iris. "The Rape of Nanking." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 02
Feb. 2015. <
Cheung, Chiu-yee, Dr. "The Nanjing Massacre." The Nanjing Massacre.
IEARN, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2015.
"Convention on Genocide." Convention on Genocide. N.p., n.d. Web.
06 Feb. 2015. <>.
McCallum, James, and Andrew Carroll. "An American Missionary
Describes 'Beastly' Atrocities in Nanking." Letter. N.d. Reeves
Nanking. Dir. Bill Gutentag and Dan Sturman. Perf. Hugo Armstrong
and Rosalind Chao. 2007. Netflix.
Parachin, Victor M. "Nazi Party Member John Rabe, the 'Good Man of
Nanking,' Saved Thousands of Lives." World War II 15.5 (n.d.):
n. pag. Reeves Library. Jan. 2001. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Pitman, Joanna. "Repentance." New Republic 206.6 (1992): n. pag.
Reeves Library. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.
Vautrin, Minnie, Shui-fang Tsen, Hualing Hu, and Lian-hong Zhang.
The Undaunted Women of Nanking: The Wartime Diaries of

Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang. Carbondale: Southern Illinois

UP, 2010. Proquest. June 2010. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
Yamamoto, Masahiro. Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity. Westport, CT:
Praeger, 2000. Greenwood Press, Aug. 2000. Web.