Nanjing Massacre Easy Explanation

1. A Simple Break-Down of the Nanjing Incident

The countless provocative shootings by the Chinese soldiers, led to the turmoil and confusion of the Sino-Japanese War which started with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The majority of the Chinese soldiers who fought the Japanese Imperial Army were from Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-Shek. The KMT deployed the Japanese Imperial Army who were in Manchuria southward, which later led to the Second Battle of Shanghai. The KMT lost this battle but were still not defeated; they fled to Nanjing which was the capital of the KMT government. The leaders of the Japanese Imperial Army thought they could end the war if Nanjing falls and decides to attack the capital. At the time there was a “safety zone” known as the”Special Refugee Ward” where civilians were moved and protected from the battle.

In December 1937, the attack on Nanjing started. The gates of Nanjing eventually were broken through and Nanjing fell. There were many deaths on both sides; the death toll for the Chinese army was said to be around 20,000.

What concerned General Matsui (who led the Japanese army in Nanjing) the most was the existence of those who were called “ben-i-hei” in Japanese, or plain-clothes soldiers.; soldiers who have taken off their military uniforms. According to the International Military Law, soldiers were required to wear their military uniforms. The eliminating process of these “ben-i-hei” may be what is referred to as the so-called “Nanjing Massacre” or “Nanjing Incident”; an incident where the Japanese Imperial Army is said to have massacred, abused, tortured, and raped the civilians of Nanjing over a span of 6 weeks following its fall. Whether the massacre occurred or its scale is still debated by scholars to this day.

Here is a number by George Fitch, a member of the Nanjing Foreigners Society, calculating the food supply for the population of Nanjing, which was around 200,000. At that time, there were not only Chinese in Nanjing but also, British and Americans and their media, who were searching for scoops. However, none of these foreign media groups could provide any evidence of the atrocities by the Japanese Imperial Army . Also, evidence provided by the Chinese Communist Government or photographs in the book “The Rape of Nanjing” by Iris Chang, were proven to be modified or composite photographs.

1946, after the end of World War II, the military trial for Nanjing and the Tokyo Trials were held. The head judge, the judges, and the clerks were all Chinese, which clearly lacked fairness. Usually, the judges of a trial must be people from neutral nations, or otherwise it will lack legal fairness. During this trial, no defense or evidence for disproof were accepted, nor were there any witnesses to testify to the crimes of the Japanese Imperial Army. The trial consisted of a repetition of one-sided claims by the Chinese. Even though this trial was unjust, it was concluded by recognizing the claims of the Chinese side, which state the number of victims in Nanjing were over 300,000. This conclusion is the basis of the claim the Chinese Communist Government makes today.

On the other hand, the conclusion of the Tokyo Trial stated the civilian and prisoner victims of Nanjing to be 200,000. The basis of this number is due to testaments of witnesses and the reports by Harold Timberly (a reporter at the time for the Manchester Guardian) and L. Smithe (a professor who was teaching at the University of Jingling). Both of them were funded by the public relations division of the KMT to write these reports. However, Timberly was not present at the trial.

Therefore, we ask our readers, please refer to primary and secondary documents, and also verifiable and objective evidence when searching for the truth of the Nanjing Incident.

2. The Official Position and Apology by the Japanese Government

“As the government of Japan, we cannot completely deny the fact that there may have been murder of non-combatants and looting; However, for the actual number of deaths, there are several theories. As the government, it is very difficult to determine which of these theories is true.”

(Refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs homepage;[] searched last on June 29th,2018)

In conclusion, the Japanese Government admits the fact that there were murders of civilians and P.O.W.s during the entering of Nanjing. However, for the claim of 300,000 deaths, it is difficult for the government to conclude that it is an accurate number. The Japanese Government comments “for uncovering the truth, we entrust the historians and researchers in the future”.

As for the official apology by the Japanese Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs homepage states, “For the conducts done during the war, grave reflection and apologies are consistently held by every Prime Minister after the war. These deep feelings of apology were expressed in what is referred to as the Murayama Conference, 50 years after the war. Also this was passed onto the Koizumi Cabinet in the Koizumi Conference held 60 years after the war. The deep feelings of apology have been passed down. This has been clarified in the Conference with the Prime Minister held on August 14th, 2015”.

(quoted from [ ] last searched June 29th, 2018).

As stated above, the Japanese Government has apologized by successive Prime Ministers.

3. War-time Compensations by the Japanese Governments

The Government of China (the Republic of China at the time led by Chiang Kai-Shek) renounced the compensation. The reason for the renunciation is not clear. Shortly after the end of the Sino-Japanese War, a civil war occurred between the Kuomintang led by Chiang Kai-Shek and the Communist Party led by Mao Ze-Dong.

The war ended with the victory by the Communist Party in October 1949, and the People’s Republic of China was founded. The Kuomintang led by Chiang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan. There was a period where there was no diplomatic relations between Japan and the PRC but on September 29th, 1972, diplomatic relations were restored by the joint statement by the Japanese and Chinese governments. At this time, the Japanese Government offered to pay compensations for its war time conducts once again but this was also renounced by Mao. The reason for this renunciation is not clear either.

However, Japan financially supported China’s development. In total, a loan of 3 trillion 133 billion yen (approximately 37 billion dollars Canadian). a grant of 115 billion 700 million yen (approximately 1 billion 373 million dollars Canadian), and 144 billion 600 million yen (approximately 1 billion 760 million dollars Canadian) were given towards technology development. A total of over 3 trillion yen was implemented by the Japanese government as Official Development Assistance (ODA). These ODAs are currently still implemented to China as of 2018.

Masafumi Yamauchi (LLB, Researcher of International Political Science)


Higashinakano Shudo, Kobayashi Susumu, Shinji Fukunaga (2005). Nanking jiken shoko shashin wo kensho suru. [The Nanjing Incident validating the photographical evidences] .So-Shi-Sha Inc.

“Rekishi Mondai Q&A.”[History Issues Q&A] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, (final access June 29th, 2018)

Endo, Homare. “Nihon wa chuugokuni 25 kai mo sensou shazai wo shita. Soredemo tainichi hihan wo tsuyomeru riyu wa?” [Japan has apologized 25 times for the war. what is the reason behind them still strengthening their criticism towards Japan?] – Yahoo! News,

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