electronic journal of contemporary japanese
Article 1 in 2002
First published in ejcjs on 4 April 2002
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The Nanjing Incident
Recent Research and
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
History of Ideas and Law
electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies
The Nanjing Incident remains a highly controversial episode in Sino-Japanese
relations. It remains so controversial that a neutral definition has yet to be
agreed upon. However, most would perhaps agree on the following. Sadly for the
historian, however, the Nanjing Incident is also emerging as a fundamental
keystone in the construction of the modern Chinese national identity. As a
result, the historian's interest in and analysis of this event can be
interpreted as an attack on the contemporary Chinese identity, while any
demonstrated interest in Nanjing can be viewed in some circles in Japan as
Japan bashing or self-flagellation. In this environment, the historian's
struggle to maintain objectivity can quickly fall victim to the demands of
The Nanjing (or Nanking) Incident (also known as the Rape of Nanjing, the Nanjing
Massacre and the Nanjing Atrocities) remains a highly controversial episode in
Sino-Japanese relations. Indeed, as this paper will make clear, it remains so
controversial, especially in Japan, that a neutral definition has yet to be agreed upon. However, most
would perhaps agree on the following. The Nanjing Incident refers to the killing and
raping of large numbers of Chinese over a relatively short period of time by the Japanese
military after the city of Nanjing was captured on 13 December 1937. Sadly for the
historian, however, the Nanjing Incident is not only an important episode in Sino-Japanese
relations, but is also emerging as a fundamental keystone in the construction of the
modern Chinese national identity. As a result, the historian's interest in and analysis of
this event can be interpreted as an attack on the contemporary Chinese identity, while a refusal to
accept the "orthodox" position on Nanjing can be construed as an attempt to deny
the Chinese nation a legitimate voice in international society - or, in Iris Chang's
words, as a "second rape". Moreover, any demonstrated interest in Nanjing can be
viewed in some circles in Japan as "Japan bashing" (in the case of foreign
researchers) or "self-flagellation" (in the case of Japanese). In this
environment, the debate can become highly emotionally charged, and the historian's
struggle to maintain objectivity can quickly fall victim to the demands of contemporary
The importance of the Nanjing Incident to contemporary Sino-Japanese relations can
hardly be overstated. Nanjing forms one of the core historical issues on which Japan and
China cannot agree, and continues to bedevil the bilateral relationship. It is reflected
in the controversy over Japanese history textbooks. It certainly continues to poison
Chinese opinion of Japan. Nanjing is also important in understanding contemporary domestic
Japanese politics. The debate within Japan about Nanjing (and for that matter textbooks)
is also a debate about the legitimacy of the findings of the postwar military tribunals
held in Nanjing and especially Tokyo (the Tokyo Trial, or International Military Tribunal
for the Far East). One side (the Great Massacre School: see below) is politically and
ideologically committed to arguing for the validity of these tribunals and their findings.
The Illusion School, on the other hand, is based at least to a certain extent on a
rejection of these findings as "victor's justice". The debate in Japan is thus
heavily influenced by a broader philosophical and ideological debate on history and
historiography, and in particular the debate on the legitimacy of the historical narrative
on prewar Japan that emerged from the postwar military tribunals.
Nanjing is a topic that has attracted, especially in the West, and especially on the
web, far more activists than historians. It remains a hot domestic and international
political issue both in Japan and China. There are large organisations that seem to be
involved solely in running anti-Japan and anti-Japanese campaigns about the Nanjing
Incident; there are a number of magazines and numerous websites devoted to the Nanjing
Incident; and Iris Chang (1997), The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World
War II, has enjoyed phenomenal sales. Despite all the interest in Nanjing, however, the history of
the incident remains a largely untold story. Indeed, one of the major problems with the
historical research on Nanjing in Japan, where the research is most advanced, is that it
has tended to collapse into largely meaningless semantics about whether the sum total of
atrocities committed in and around Nanjing can be defined as a "great massacre",
or what the definition of "Nanjing" is. Another problem is the obsession with
numbers, where the moral and political implications of the discourse about Nanjing are
engulfed in a reductionism that focuses solely on the number of victims. There are,
however, some encouraging signs that the situation is changing for the better. This paper
will attempt to clarify the current state of research on this incident and identify future
areas of research.
The majority of academic research on the Nanjing Incident is conducted in Japanese,
English and Chinese. Of the three language groups, Japanese has produced the most
sophisticated research, with the debate in English lagging decades behind. The most
objective Chinese language materials are the collections of various primary sources,
including the recollections of many of the Chinese military personnel in Nanjing. However, these
collections show no evidence of any vigorous critical attempt to distinguish between valid
primary materials and other materials: photographs, for instance, which are known to be
fabricated, or from different areas and different times, continue to be used to
"prove" Japanese guilt in the winter of 1937-38 at Nanjing. Moreover, because of
the limitations on free speech in mainland China, much of the secondary material merely
parrots the government line of the day, and it would be difficult to describe the
situation as a "debate". Thus, for instance, the Westerners who remained behind
in Nanjing to run the humanitarian Safety Zone have been vigorously criticised by the
Chinese government in the past. To give just one example, a group of researchers at
Nanjing University in the 1960s condemned the members of the Western community in Nanjing
for turning a blind eye to the Japanese atrocities in the city, and "misused"
the primary sources to suggest that they cooperated in the Japanese slaughter of Chinese.  According to this
Not only were the foreigners unharmed, but amidst the echoing sounds of gunfire as the
Japanese carried out their massacre, the foreigners entertained themselves with wine,
song, and dance, celebrated Christmas, and ate their fill of roast beef, roast duck, sweet
potatoes, and various other fresh food. When they had exhausted their appetites for
pleasure they went home.
It is of course true that the Westerners in Nanjing did work with the Japanese, but it
was a reluctant cooperation, and there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that it
extended to deliberately helping the Japanese kill anyone.
As Chinese concerns about "American Imperialism" diminished, and as Japan
became the target of official vitriol (partly at least because of the highly politicised
and contentious issue of Japanese textbooks), views in China dramatically changed.
Westerners were now depicted as active resistors rather than active collaborators. In
another work frequently based on a vivid imagination rather than primary sources, Iris
Chang (1997: 139) claimed that members of the international community jumped "in
front of cannons and machine guns to prevent the Japanese from firing" on unarmed
However, although that did not happen - there is documentation of only one execution of
one man that was witnessed by two members of the Western community who remained in Nanjing
after the journalists left on 15 and 16 December - the work of the community is today
highly lauded in all the literature on Nanjing and is one of the few areas about which all
researchers of the Nanjing Incident can agree.
Despite the fact that there seems to be little sign of internal debate in China, there
are indications of an emerging discourse. Several Japanese works have been translated into
Chinese, so readers have access to non-official points of view; the web provides a forum
in which all points of view can be discussed freely; and the liberal world of free debate
is open to those who can read and write in English. It is certainly possible that Chinese
researchers will increasingly come to rely on the English publishing world to discuss
Although the research in Japanese remains superior to that in English and Chinese, this
was not always the case. Ironically, perhaps, much of the primary material on Nanjing was
originally written and published in English. The two central collections of primary
materials consist of works published in English very soon after the incident itself: H. J.
Timperley ed. (1938), What War Means: The Japanese Terror in China. A Documentary
Record, and Hsū Shuhsi ed. (1939), Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone
(this second work has been reprinted in Brook ed. 1999). This head-start has not
however been maintained. The first major monograph on Nanjing to be published in
English after Hsū was the problematic work by Iris Chang (1997), The Rape of Nanking, a work that can
only be described as frequently fabricated and/or fictitious. Following the publication of
Chang, historians have at last started to write in English about this important event in
Sino-Japanese history. Joshua A. Fogel ed. (2000), The Nanjing Massacre in History and
Historiography, is by any standards an impressive work (albeit one that focuses on the
historiography rather than the history of Nanjing). Although flawed, both Honda Katsuichi
(1999), The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan's National Shame,
and Hua-ling Hu (2000), American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: The Courage of Minnie
Vautrin, are important contributions. The latest in the long run of recent publications in English
includes Masahiro Yamamoto (2000), Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity, a work that is
easily the most objective historical account of Nanjing in the English-language literature
A recent and (from the viewpoint of the historian) very welcome development has been
the publication of primary materials originally published in English but for decades now
only readily available in Japanese (and to a certain extent Chinese) translation. Martha
Lund Smalley ed. (1997), American Missionary Eyewitnesses to the Nanking Massacre,
1937 - 1938, Timothy Brook ed. (1999), Documents of the Rape of Nanking, and
Zhang Kaiyuan ed. (2001), Eyewitnesses to Massacre: American Missionaries Bear Witness
to Japanese Atrocities in Nanjing, are all collections of primary materials long
unavailable in English. Finally, John Rabe's (1998) diary, The Good German of Nanking:
The Diaries of John Rabe, is a crucial piece of documentation.
The Japanese language literature is even more impressive. Unlike the debate in English,
Japanese researchers have been debating - and truly debating - the incident for decades
rather than only the past few years, so the Japanese language materials can only be
summarised here. Recent popular interest in Japan about the Nanjing Incident has triggered
a flood of books that together form a publishing industry. This was stimulated by the
publication in English in 1997 of Iris Chang's book, together with the publication in
Japanese of John Rabe's diary.
Moreover, a conservative political movement, the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform
(Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho o
together with the Association for the
Advancement of a Liberal View of History (Jiyūshugi
Shikan Kenkyūkai), has helped foster an intellectual environment in which the
Japanese are no longer as willing as they have been in the past to have Japanese history
interpreted for them from a set of assumptions known as the Tokyo Trial View of History.
Chang's work in particular is unashamedly based on this view of history and, as is often
the case with this particular historical tradition, is fatally flawed. The intellectual
environment in Japan has changed to such a degree that Chang's work has found very little
support, even among those who argue that a "great massacre" did occur. The
reception of Rabe's diary has been, in general, much more positive. Together, these two
works have served to reopen the debate in Japan on the Nanjing Incident.
The best introductory work on the Nanjing Incident in any language probably remains
Hata Ikuhiko (1986), Nankin Jiken - "Gyakusatsu" no Kōzō (The Nanjing
Incident: The Structure of a "Massacre"). For recent monographs alone, see, for
instance, Azuma Shirō san no Nankin Saiban o Sasaerukai ed. (2001), Kagai to
Yurushi - Nankin Daigyakusatsu to Azuma Shirō Saiban (Harm and Forgiveness:
The Great Nanjing Massacre and the Azuma Shirō Trial), Higashinakano Osamichi
(1998), "Nankin Gyakusatsu" no Tettei Kenshō (A Thorough Investigation of the "Nanjing
Massacre"), Higashinakano Osamichi and Fujioka Nobukatsu (1999), Za
Reipu obu Nankin no Kenkyū - Chūgoku ni okeru "Jōhōsen" no Teguchi no Senryaku
(Research on The Rape of Nanjing: China's Methods and Strategy in the
"Information War"), Igarashi Zennojō (2000), Ketteiban Nankin Jiken no Shinjitsu (The
Truth of the Nanjing Incident: The Final Word), Itakura Yoshiaki (1999),
Hontō wa Kō datta Nankin Jiken (The Truth about the Nanjing Incident), Kasahara Tokushi (1999),
Nankin Jiken to Sankō Sakusen - Mirai ni Ikasu Sensō no Kioku (The Nanjing Incident and
the Three Alls: Remembering the War for the Future), Kitamura Minoru (2001),
"Nankin Jiken" no Tankyū - Sono Jitsuzō o motomete (An Enquiry into the "Nanjing
Incident": The Search for the True Picture), Matsumura Toshio (1998), "Nankin
Gyakusatsu" e no Daigimon (Serious Doubts about the "Nanjing
Massacre"), Nankin Jiken Chōsa Kenkyūkai ed. (1999), Nankin Daigyakustsu
Hiteiron 13 no Uso (Thirteen Lies by the Deniers of the Great Nanjing Massacre),
Suzuki Akira (1999), Shin "Nankin Daigyakusatsu" no Maboroshi
(The Illusion of the Great Nanjing Massacre: Further Thoughts), Takemoto Tadao
and Ōhara Yasuo (2000), The Alleged "Nanking Massacre": Japan's Rebuttal to China's Forged
Claims. Saishin "Nankin Daigyakusatsu": Sekai ni Uttaeru Nihon no Enzai,
and Unemoto Masaki (1998), Shinsō Nankin Jiken - Raabe Nikki no Kenshō (The
True Nanjing Incident: An Examination of the Rabe Diary). Reflecting the high interest in
Nanjing in Japan, several works have recently been republished. See, for instance, Tanaka
Masaaki (1987/2001), Nankin Jiken no Sōkatsu - Gyakusatsu Hitei no Ronkyo (The
Nanjing Incident Summed Up: The Grounds of the Denial of a Massacre), a work originally
published in 1987 and no longer easily available, and Ara Ken'ichi (1987/2002),
"Nankin Jiken" Nihonjin 48-nin no Shōgen (The "Nanjing Incident": The
Testimony of 48 Japanese), again originally published in 1987. The latest work on Nanjing
is Kasahara Tokushi (2002), Nankin Jiken to Nihonjin - Sensō no Kioku o
meguru Nashonarizumu to Gurōbarizumu (The Nanjing Incident and the Japanese: Nationalism
and Globalism in Memory of the War).
One of the great limits of much of the research on the Nanjing Incident in
English to date is that the debate in English has frequently been based on
secondary historical resources. Indeed, one of the great differences between
research in Japan and that in the English-speaking world, and one of the great
strengths of the Japanese language literature, is that the Japanese tend to rely
heavily on primary sources. Ironically, perhaps, a large number of materials
originally written in English are in fact far more readily available today in
Japanese than in English. For instance, the Nankin Jiken Chōsa Kenkyūkai ed.
(1992), Nankin Jiken Shiryōshū (Materials on the Nanjing
Incident), vol. 1, Amerika Kankei Shiryōhen (American Materials),
collection contains 85 newspaper and magazine articles originally printed in
English at the time of the Nanjing Incident but now readily available in English
only to the dedicated researcher with access to a good library. In addition, this
collection contains over 150 primary documents that shed much light on the events
in Nanjing during the winter of 1937-38. Both Timperley and Hsū have long been
available in Japanese. Rabe's diary appeared in Japanese before an English
edition was published, and while a Japanese language edition of Minnie Vautrin's
diary exists, researchers are still waiting for an English language edition.
Kasahara (2001: 266-67) has in fact recently noted that "Nine different
collections of historical materials on the massacre have been published [in
Japan]. Rarely has so much documentation been compiled and published with regard
to a single historical event".
This tradition of publishing collections of primary materials in Japanese is still
thriving: for recent works, see Minnie Vautrin (1999), Nankin Jiken no Hibi - Minii Bōtorin no Nikki (Living the Nanjing
Incident: The Diary of Minnie Vautrin), and Ishida Yūji ed. (2001), Shiryō
Doitsu Gaikōkan no mita Nankin Jiken (Materials: The Nanjing Incident Witnessed by German Diplomats).
Schools of Thought, Methodologies and Sources
Since the Japanese discourse on the Nanjing Incident is the most sophisticated, the
following discussion about various schools, methodologies and sources will focus on the
situation in Japan. Schools of thought tend to be determined at least in part by
methodology and/or source(s) (or perhaps the methodology/source[s] have determined the
school), so these three issues will be tackled here together.
Interpretations of the Nanjing Incident in Japan are usually summarised as falling into
three schools of thought, defined by the number of people each argues were massacred in Nanjing (Hata
Ikuhiko 1993). They are the Nanjing Incident as Illusion School (maboroshi-ha),
which argues that at most several thousand were massacred in Nanjing; the
Middle-of-the-Road School (chūkan-ha), which argues that between 13,000 (in the
case of Itakura Yoshiaki) and 38,000-42,000 (in the case of Hata Ikuhiko) were massacred;
and the Great Massacre School (daigyakusatsu-ha), which argues, in the words of
one of its leading advocates, Kasahara Tokushi, that "over 100,000, perhaps nearly
200,000 or even more", were killed in Nanjing.  The English language debate does not have
as great a range of opinion, although Masahiro Yamamoto clearly falls within the
Middle-of-the-Road School, and Iris Chang even more clearly argues for a massacre on a far
greater scale than any member of the Great Massacre School. Chinese language sources are
closer to Iris Chang than any of the three Japanese groups.
A recent introduction to the three schools was recently provided in "Ketteiban
'Nankin Jiken' Saishin Hōkoku" (Shokun! 2001). A conservative Japanese
magazine of opinion, Shokun! sent out a questionnaire to which almost every
important (living) researcher of the Nanjing Incident in Japan replied.  The
questionnaire was sent to both academic and lay members of all three groups, and
responses were received from Ara Ken'ichi, Ōi Mitsuru, Takaike Katsuhiko, Fujioka
Nobukatsu, Fuji Nobuo, Watanabe Shōichi, Tanaka Masaaki, Matsumura Toshio and
Kobayashi Yoshinori (all from the Illusion School), Suzuki Akira (not clear, but
given here as a member of the Illusion School), Unemoto Masaki, Nakamura Akira,
Okazaki Hisahiko, Sakurai Yoshiko, Tanabe Toshio and Hara Takeshi (all of whom Shokun!
places in the Middle-of-the-Road School); and finally Eguchi Keiichi, Fujiwara
Akira, Himeta Mitsuyoshi, Inoue Hisashi, Yoshida Yutaka, Kasahara Toshushi and
Takasaki Ryūji (Great Massacre School). By any standards an impressive and
comprehensive list, this includes almost every researcher actively working on the
Nanjing Incident in Japan. The major omission, apart from Hata Ikuhiko and
Higashinakano Osamichi, who were involved elsewhere in the Shokun!
project, is Honda Katsuichi. Both Hora Tomio and Itakura Yoshiaki have recently died,
while Kitamura Minoru first joined the debate on Nanjing only after this survey was
This group of researchers and writers was asked to reply to a number of questions,
including how many Chinese each believes the Japanese illegally killed (massacred) in
Nanjing, how the Nanjing Incident should be defined in terms of both time and geography,
whether the execution of soldiers who shed their uniforms and hid among the civilian
population of Nanjing should be included in any count of a massacre, and whether the
Japanese execution of plain-clothed soldiers was forbidden by international law.
The answers to the first question about the scale of Japanese atrocities in
and around Nanjing are hardly surprising - the various schools are after all
defined by their views on the issue. Members of the Illusion School answered that
the number was zero (Fuji Nobuo), almost zero, or, in the case of Watanabe, 40 to
50. The Middle-of-the-Road School, which is given a broader definition than the
one I use, ranges from "several thousand" (Nakamura and Unemoto) through about
10,000 (Okazaki, Sakurai, and Tanabe) to about 20,000 (Hara) (I would place all
but Hara in the Illusion School). The Great Massacre School ranges from at least
100,000 (Eguchi), more than 120,000 (10 sūman), a figure which has become the
orthodox position of this school and which is advocated by Himeta, Inoue,
Kasahara and Yoshida, to the older orthodoxy, 200,000, which is still advocated
by Fujiwara and Takasaki.
The enormous differences in the various estimates of the scale of the Japanese
atrocities in Nanjing are at least partly due to the differences in definition of concepts
such as "Nanjing" and "massacre". The Illusion School has a very
different understanding of the time frame of the incident and the geographical definition
of Nanjing than that of the Great Massacre School. The majority of the Illusion School
believes that the Nanjing Incident lasted for 6 weeks, from mid-December to late January
(this definition also dominates the English-language literature). The Great Massacre
School, however, gives mid-November to late January (Eguchi and Takasaki), 6 weeks
(Fujiwara and Himeta), and 1 December, 4 December and mid-December to March (Inoue,
Kasahara and Yoshida respectively). There is also a large variation in the geographical
definition of Nanjing. Because their time frame has been pushed so far back, Eguchi and
Takasaki appear to define it to include areas such as Suzhou, 120 miles away (occupied by
the Shanghai Expeditionary Army on 19 November) and Jiaxing, which fell on the same day
and which was even further away from Nanjing. Apart from Himeta, who defines Nanjing as
the city and its suburbs, all other members of this school define Nanjing as the city and
6 surrounding xian (counties). Needless to say, by expanding the time framework
and geographical definition, it becomes possible to argue for a higher death toll; and by
narrowing it to argue for a smaller one. One of the great limits of the debate in Japan is
that these differences are rarely if ever clearly articulated, so any debate on the death
toll in "Nanjing" is meaningless if two completely different definitions are
Large differences are also seen regarding the question whether soldiers who changed
into civilian clothes and hid among the civilian population of Nanjing should be viewed as
plain-clothed soldiers, regular soldiers, civilians, or other (or in other words whether
they should be viewed as combatants or non-combatants). Of the 16 members of the Illusion
and Middle-of-the-Road Schools, 11 view such soldiers as plain-clothed soldiers and four
as regular troops (combatants). Of the seven members of the Great Massacre School, one
views such soldiers as regular troops, and six have replied "other", giving
their definition as defeated soldiers who had lost the will to fight (non-combatants).
Needless to say, this difference has large implications in terms of the legality of the
executions of these soldiers. There is in fact also a clear fault line regarding the
questions whether the execution of these soldiers was legal: all members of the Great
Massacre School declare that it was not; almost all others believe that it was.
This questionnaire provides the most detailed summary of the debate in Japanese circles
about the Nanjing Incident that I am aware of. It was an impressive coup to have gained
replies from so many researchers in Japan, and to have made it possible to paint a picture
of an emerging consensus about Nanjing in Japan. It is clear that the Great Massacre
School has begun to revise its figures for the scale of the killings quite dramatically
downwards. It is also clear that the various schools share a very different set of
assumptions about the time and geographical framework of the Nanjing Incident. What would
be of great interest would be to ask members of the Illusion School what they believe the
death toll would be if the time span and geography of "Nanjing" were expanded,
and at the same time to ask the Great Massacre School the same question if the definition
were narrowed. My own assumption is that the differences between the Middle-of-the-Road
School member, Hata Ikuhiko, and Great Massacre School member, Kasahara Tokushi, for
instance, would disappear if this were done.
The survey does not, however, provide more information on the schools themselves, or on
their major characteristics. A summary of these characteristics will be attempted below.
The Illusion School mainly consists of conservative thinkers who are not professional
historians, and of the three groups is easily the one with the largest number of lay
members. It has, however, been given an enormous boost with the recent publication of
Higashinakano Osamichi (1998), "Nankin Gyakusatsu" no Tettei Kenshō (A
Thorough Investigation of the "Nanjing Massacre"), one of the most important
works on the Nanjing Incident as a whole to emerge since the publication of Hata Ikuhiko's
authoritative Nankin Jiken in 1986. Despite its many flaws in objectivity,
Higashinakano's work will continue to influence the debate in Japan for the foreseeable
Higashinakano has also teamed up with Fujioka Nobukatsu to publish a series of articles
that mercilessly examine Iris Chang's work. These articles were subsequently brought
together as Za Reipu obu Nankin no Kenkyū - Chūgoku ni okeru "Jōhōsen" no
Teguchi no Senryaku (Research on The Rape of Nanjing: China's Methods and Strategy
in the "Information War") (Higashinakano and Fujioka, 1999). The Illusion School
publishes through a number of small conservative publishers, frequently appears in the
pages of right-wing magazines such as Seiron and Shokun! and has found
support in the mainstream (albeit clearly conservative) press, the Sankei Shinbun.
To the best of my knowledge, this school has no academic supporters in either the
English-language or the Chinese-language discourse.
Although there are problems with the Rabe Diary, it has tended to support the work of
the Middle-of-the-Road School. The last (posthumous) work by Itakura Yoshiaki (1999),
Hontō wa Kō datta Nankin Jiken (The Truth about the Nanjing Incident), is an impressive
summary of the work of someone who devoted his life to researching the Nanjing Incident.
It brings together much of the research that Itakura has done in the area, and will serve
to bolster the Middle-of-the-Road School. Itakura also played a major role in editing one
of the most important pieces of research on the Nanjing Incident, the three volume Nankin
Senshi work, which consists of an overview of the battle for Nanjing and a
collection of diaries and official battle reports of the various Japanese
military units that took part in the attack on Nanjing (Nankin Senshi Henshū
Iinkai ed. 1993a; 1993b; 1993c). The latest individual to join the debate on
Nanjing, Kitamura Minoru, sees himself as a member of this school (although he
quite deliberately refuses to make any estimate of the death toll - arguably a
sensible option for Japanese researchers). As an academic who specialises in
modern Chinese history, Kitamura has much to offer the debate, and it is to be
hoped that he will continue his research.  The authority on the Nanjing Incident, Hata Ikuhiko, is
also a member of this school. I see Masahiro Yamamoto as clearly belonging to it, although
his estimate of the total number of victims is a little high. (I would also count myself
as a member.) To the extent that this school is defined as consisting of professional
historians rather than ideologues (or myth-makers), and to the extent that it is defined
as accepting the premise that the story of Nanjing can only be told through a
reconstruction of the primary documents, I would also tend to count many of the
professional Western-based historians in this group too. However, as long as the estimate of the
number of victims remains the yardstick used to divide individual theorists into separate
schools, and as long as Western scholars refrain from making any such estimate, this would
perhaps be a little premature.
Ironically, perhaps, the Great Massacre School can be said to share much with the
Illusion School. Both can be highly ideological and dogmatic, both can be extremely
violent in the language they use, and both can be more than careless with the historical
facts and sources.
Of the two, however, the Great Massacre School is clearly the more sophisticated, counting
among its members a large number of academics who bring a great deal of authority to their
findings. This school has been relatively quiet recently.  As even Kasahara (2001: 266)
(polemically) notes, "In recent years more books questioning the massacre have
been published [in Japan] than those confirming the facts of the incident". Iris
Chang's work has clearly dealt the Great Massacre School a severe blow. Members
of this school translated her book into Japanese but, through their publisher,
the left-wing Kashiwa Shobō, had a public (and embarrassing) falling out with the
author when she refused her translators permission to correct the enormous amount
of mistakes her book is riddled with or to add translator's footnotes, and also
objected to the publisher putting out a sister volume in which the mistakes would
have been explained. Rather than concentrating on those who argue for a smaller
death toll than what it sees as acceptable, the Great Massacre School has thus
been forced into the (unusual) position of criticising a work that argues for a
larger death toll, and in doing so has to a certain extent blurred the clear
lines that separated it from (or at least introduced some ambiguity in the
relationship with) the Middle-of-the-Road School.
The Great Massacre School has recently published a volume that violently
criticises the work of the Illusion School (Nankin Jiken Chōsa Kenkyūkai ed.
1999). In doing so, however, it merely reinforces the perception that it is no
longer positively advancing new theories and interpretations, but is merely
fighting a defensive rearguard action. The works of this School are published by
left-wing publishers such as Aoki Shoten and Ōtsuki Shoten, which serves to
emphasise its increasing marginalisation. Kasahara Tokushi did publish Nankin Jiken from the left-wing, but much more mainstream, Iwanami Shoten
as recently as 1997. This work, however, inadvertently used a fabricated photograph, and
Kasahara was forced to make an embarrassing and public apology (typically, Iris Chang used
the same photograph in her work after it had been exposed in Japan as a fake). One of the
great strengths of this school has been its continued efforts to bring together, translate
and publish the primary sources on the Nanjing Incident. Moreover, a large group within
this school has begun to revise its numbers downwards (I believe that this is due to the
publication of Rabe). This perhaps indicates that it is possible that the school might
split into two, with a small group of hard-line ideologues maintaining the old orthodoxy
and a larger group of professional historians moving towards the Middle-of-the-Road
These three schools are well established in Japan, and this categorisation will
therefore continue to be useful when discussing the debate there. However, in analysing
the debate outside Japan, these categories are far less useful. I believe that a better
way to divide the various positions that exist may be produced from an examination of the
basic mindset of each researcher that divides the debate into the "historians"
and the "myth-makers". Both the Great Massacre School and especially the
Illusion School are frequently far more interested in the present than the past. Both
construct mythologised narratives of the past that serve the political, ideological and
emotional needs of the present. The Middle-of-the-Road School, on the other hand, rather
than taking a position that lies between the other two, argues instead for the integrity
of the historiographical process of reconstructing history based on an informed and
self-critical interpretation of the primary materials. In a triangulation of the debate,
it emphasises the process used to draw conclusions rather than adopting an ends-oriented
approach that begins with an understanding of the past that is pressed into the service of
the present. The strength of the Middle-of-the-Road School is the focus on the primary
materials, which allows (and actually forces) members to change their minds and draw
different conclusions as new sources emerge. The strength of a classification that looks
at the mindset of the researcher is that when it is used to analyse the debate on Nanjing,
it clarifies and highlights the similarities between some members of the Great Massacre
and the Middle-of-the-Road Schools. It can also be used to a far greater extent in
examining the debate in English.
The individual methodologies used to discuss the Nanjing Incident have been summarised
by Hata Ikuhiko according to the four methods by which he believes the number of victims
in Nanjing can be counted: oral history, burial records, data sampling, and Japanese army
field reports (Hata 1998b). I will next give a brief summary of my views of each.
Oral history has provided some important insights, but it must be emphasised that it is
arguably the most problematic methodology in researching the incident. Those who rely
mainly on Chinese sources (Iris Chang to a certain extent and Honda Katsuichi) produce one
set of figures on the scale of the massacre and the brutality of the Japanese that cannot
be substantiated by any other methodology, whereas some of those who rely solely on
Japanese oral sources have denied that any massacre occurred, again a claim that cannot be
substantiated. Given the fact that the Incident itself occurred over 60 years ago, the
opportunities for new research in this area are quickly fading.
The second methodology is to examine the burial records. Although any such examination
is doubtless an important step in any overall reconstruction of the events in Nanjing,
this methodology also has its limits, the main one being that the lack of complete
contemporaneous records (primary materials) makes for much guess-work. In a previous
paper, I have attempted such an examination, juxtaposing the various primary sources
against the burial records in order to shed light on their reliability. Although these
records are almost certainly not accurate, an examination of the primary sources does
allow a far more objective picture of the burial effort in and around Nanjing to be drawn.
My own research demonstrates that it can be shown with a great deal of reliability that
roughly 17,500 plus or minus 2,500 Chinese bodies were buried in and around the city, and
that there are some grounds for arguing that as many as 32,000 bodies may have been
(although this later figure is based to a far greater degree on conjecture). Apart from my
own research, the only other author in the English language to spend any time on these
records is Masahiro Yamamoto.  The most detailed pieces of research in Japanese have all
been authored by Inoue Hisashi (1987; 1988).
The third methodology is data sampling, of which there is only one case. This was L. S.
C. Smythe (1938), War Damage in the Nanking Area: December 1937 to March 1938.
Smythe was an academic and sociologist, and conducted an extensive survey of Nanjing in
early 1938 in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese atrocities. He was well qualified to
conduct such a survey, having received his PhD in sociology from the University of
Chicago, and with experience in conducting at least two similar surveys in 1931 and 1932.
Smythe's survey was conducted in two areas: within the city walls of Nanjing and in the
surrounding rural areas. In the City Survey, investigators surveyed every 50th inhabited
house. The survey covered the whole of the city inside the walls, together with areas just
outside some of the gates, and was conducted from 9 March 1938 to 2 April 1938, with some
supplementary work from 19 to 23 April. The Agricultural Survey was conducted over 2,438
square miles in 4.5 xian (counties) around Nanjing. These surveys produced an enormous
amount of data that has not yet been properly analysed. Needless to say, no other survey
was carried out in and around Nanjing so soon after the city fell. Surprisingly few
authors have made extensive use of this piece of documentation. Both the Great Massacre
and the Illusion Schools - for obvious reasons, perhaps - tend to dismiss it, but why the
historians have not made greater use of it is a puzzle.
The final methodology, the examination of Japanese army field reports, also has its
limits. The Japanese military was very strict and objective with regard to some aspects of
what it reported (how many rounds of ammunition were used on any particular day, for
instance, or how many Japanese soldiers died), but at the same time individual units
regularly inflated the number of enemy soldiers left killed on the battlefield (an
examination of the rounds of ammunition expended may in some cases shed some light on the
Chinese death toll). This methodology has been extensively utilised by Hata Ikuhiko,
Masahiro Yamamoto, and the authors of Nankin Senshi.
The above methodologies can be defined by the sources they use. The other primary
sources that exist are the diaries, letters and other documents authored by members of the
three major groups in Nanjing: the "bystanders", members of the international
community in Nanjing, the Chinese "victims", and the Japanese
"perpetrators" (Yang 2000: 138). Hata does not believe that a close analysis of
this set of sources can provide a means by which the number of victims in Nanjing can be
counted. I am however convinced that he is wrong. The various documents authored by
members of the international community in particular provide a great deal of (reasonably
objective) information, but again have not been adequately utilised in the English
language literature. Indeed to the best of my knowledge, I am the first to have exactly
identified the membership of the Western community in Nanjing at the time in any language
There are a number of accounts in Chinese that are said to be authored by Chinese
individuals who were in Nanjing during the early occupation. Some of these
at least are clearly false in parts (reporting conversations with members of the
International Committee who had left the city, for instance), and almost certainly were
the products of Chinese government propaganda. More work needs to be done to identify the
work that is genuine, and to make a greater use of it in telling the story of occupied
Nanjing as experienced by the Chinese residents of the city. The diaries of a large number
of Chinese military personnel have been brought together and published, and so for the
first time it is now possible to review the Chinese military experience of fighting the
Japanese. None of this material is available in English, and Yamamoto and myself are
perhaps the only authors to have begun to use this treasure trove of information in
reconstructing the history of Nanjing in English. Japanese accounts only began to appear long
after the event, and in many cases have to be treated with some caution:
"diaries" are not always products of the winter of 1937-38, for instance, but
reconstructions authored decades later with particular political objectives in mind.
A final source is provided by the records of the Tokyo Trial (many of the burial
records were in fact drawn up for the postwar military trials of the Japanese responsible
These records again have to be treated with some caution. The perpetrators, the
Japanese on trial, obviously had very strong motives for giving false testimony, but some
aspects of the testimony of other witnesses can also easily be shown to be false. This can
be explained perhaps by the long lapse of time between the events and the trials, although
a desire for revenge cannot be completely ruled out. As a result, secondary materials
based solely or mainly on the postwar military tribunals held in Tokyo and Nanjing have to
be treated with some caution and scepticism (the work of Hora Tomio, for example, is a
case in point).
The debate in Japan appears to have quietened down to a certain extent as the full
implications of Rabe's diary are digested (Hata among others speaks of the "Rabe
effect"). Although the flood of publications continues, there are real signs of an
emerging consensus. Rabe has clearly destroyed much of the basis for the arguments of the
Great Massacre School, but also makes it absolutely clear that he was convinced that the
Japanese army was responsible for looting, arson, rape and the execution of thousands of
men identified as "ex-soldiers". He has thus been most vigorously denounced by members of
the Illusion School, but it must be said that the greatest impact in the long term will
probably be felt among the ranks of the Great Massacre School, members of which have
already begun to revise their numbers downwards. In the recent English translation of
Honda Katsuichi's The Nanjing Massacre, Honda, for instance, has significantly
reduced his estimate of the scale of the Japanese atrocities in and around Nanjing. As
Frank Gibney notes in his introduction, Honda now believes that "a bit over
100,000" is the true figure for the scale of the massacre during the Nanjing Incident
(Honda 1999: xiii). Although Gibney does not say so, this figure is probably based on
Rabe's estimate of 50,000 to 60,000 for both civilians and soldiers, including soldiers
killed in action, to which is then added a second figure of 80,000 soldiers (this assumes
that 90,000 soldiers died, of whom 10,000 died in action, and 80,000 were executed). In
other words, at least some members of the Great Massacre School appear to have accepted
Rabe's estimate, but apply it to civilians only, despite the fact that Rabe clearly states
that at least 30,000 of this estimate were soldiers killed in combat, and despite the fact
that his estimates of the civilian death toll in an official report to the German Embassy
was "thousands". Although Honda's revised estimate is a product of the Rabe
Diary, the text itself contains an earlier, pre-Rabe estimate. Honda here asserts that
"we need to treat as a single phenomenon the approximately three months from November
through January of the assault on Nanjing" - an assertion that matches his later
arguments - but then goes on to state that, once the time-frame is thus broadened,
"we are dealing with too much time to say anything specific about the numbers of
people killed, but no one can deny that the victims of the massacre numbered in the
hundreds of thousands" (Honda 1999: 285). The English translation of his work thus
contains both the "old" orthodox figure of "hundreds of thousands" in
the main text and the new orthodox figure of 100,000 plus.
Perhaps partly in an effort to placate Chinese sensitivities, members of the Great
Massacre School (including Honda) are clearly becoming increasingly willing to openly
broaden their definition of "Nanjing" so as to encompass a large enough space
and long enough time to increase the death toll. Kasahara's position that "over
100,000, perhaps nearly 200,000 or even more" were killed in "Nanjing" can
be viewed as an attempt to maintain his integrity as a historian, but at the same time to
avoid offending political sensitivities.
A second trend in Japan is the internationalisation of the debate. Honda's
work was the first to be translated into English, but was quickly followed by one
of the major figures in the Illusion School, Tanaka Masaaki (2000). In another
sign of the internationalisation of the debate in Japan, one of the recent works
on Nanjing was originally published in both English and Japanese (Takemoto Tadao
and Ōhara Yasuo 2000). Unfortunately, none of the historians has yet been
translated, although Masahiro Yamamoto is reasonably close to Hata Ikuhiko's
A third trend is the increasing interest shown in the debate by Western academics who
are aware of and well-versed in both the Japanese-language and Chinese-language
literature. The work edited by Joshua Fogel is perhaps the best example of this, but
others such as Timothy Brook and Bob Wakabayashi are also doing highly original research
that is bound to change general perceptions of Nanjing in the West. Wakabayashi, for
instance, has recently published a paper on the competition between two Japanese officers
to see who could first kill (decapitate) a hundred Chinese with their swords (Wakabayashi
2000). This competition has become a major part of the myth of Nanjing in both the English
and Chinese language literature, but is clearly false. Wakabayashi's paper is the best
piece of academic research on this competition in any language, and demonstrates the
advantages of having professional historians outside Japan research and publish on
Nanjing. A related trend is, as noted above, the increasing number of edited volumes of
primary materials that are being published in English.
A fourth trend has been the recent attempt by some to shed light on aspects of Nanjing
long ignored in the Japanese debate and its fixation on the number of victims. An
outstanding example of this is Timothy Brook who, in an as yet unpublished paper, examines
the first collaborationist regime established in Nanjing, the Autonomous Government
Committee, and in particular one of its members, Jimmy Wang (Brook, unpublished
manuscript). Elsewhere, Brook examines the Reformed Government (Weixin Zhengfu)
that replaced the Autonomous Government Committee (Brook 2001a). The story of occupied
Nanjing, and the links established between Japanese rulers and Chinese ruled, has long
been overlooked in the debate, and Brook's work opens new doors that expand our
understanding of the event. I have written two papers on a related topic, the
International Committee for the Nanking [Nanjing] Safety Zone and its experience of
The discussion of the entire discourse on Nanjing and comparison with the
discourse on the holocaust - in other words an analysis not of the history of
Nanjing but of the historiography - is again a relatively new theme that is
providing new and fruitful insights. The work of Daqing Yang (2000) and Joshua
Fogel (unpublished manuscript) here is especially sophisticated. Kanemaru Yūichi
(2000) has recently published a path-breaking piece of research on the fate of
many of the books and other cultural treasures in areas of Central China,
A related trend is the recent attempt to overcome some of the limits of the mindsets
that underlie much of the previous literature on Nanjing. For instance, one common (if
subconscious) assumption that can be seen behind much of the English-language literature
on Nanjing is the notion of Chinese as feminised and Orientalised "passive"
non-actors. To give a single example, a large part of Nanjing was destroyed by fire during
the early weeks of occupation. Despite the official Chinese scorched-earth policy, the
well-known existence within the walls of Nanjing of large numbers of Chinese military
personnel, and the fact that it was in the interests of the Japanese to maintain a viable
urban centre once they had captured it (just as much as it was in the interests of the
Chinese government to deny the Japanese this centre), this arson has long been implicitly
if not explicitly assumed to be the sole responsibility of the Japanese. The examination
of the possibility of a Chinese resistance movement within Nanjing also remains virgin
The existing literature has been very reluctant to examine certain topics that will (I
suspect) increasingly become the focus of attention. For instance, the basic assumption
that the Japanese were all evil and the Chinese all innocent victims, while emotionally
satisfying, does not provide for a complete historical account. To reach a deeper
understanding of the events in and around Nanjing, a number of disturbing questions will
have to be asked. Was the Chinese decision to make a stand at Nanjing, despite the large
numbers of civilians trapped within its walls, the correct one? Did the Chinese custom of
using units of what were known as "plain-clothes soldiers" (soldiers fighting in
civilian clothes) contribute to the execution of plain-clothed male civilians of
weapons-carrying age? Did the Chinese military decision to change out of military uniform
after Nanjing fell and hide among the civilian population contribute to such executions?
Was the Japanese decision to execute men in civilian clothes found (in some cases at
least) with weapons hiding among the civilian population legal? The English language
literature here may well come into its own. The Japanese clearly would be extremely
reluctant to tackle these issues, and many of these questions will remain taboo in the
Chinese-language discourse for the foreseeable future. To ask these questions is not to
deny the events that occurred in and around Nanjing, but merely to demonstrate that the
causes of this incident are more complex than a black-and-white good-versus-evil position
might initially assume.
In this paper, I have attempted to shed some light on the state of research of the
Nanjing Incident today. In conclusion, I would like to make a number of points about
First, to put it mildly, Nanjing is a controversial topic. Although our understanding
of the events of Nanjing do not even begin to approach our understanding of the holocaust,
it is certainly possible to demonise anyone who budges from the orthodox position as being
a denier on par with a David Irving. The problem is that the orthodox position is
completely different in China and Japan, and within Japan itself there are three distinct
orthodoxies. Although there is real debate in Japan, no one there now accepts the figure
of 300,000 victims as plausible, while in China the figure is set in concrete (in both
senses of the word) at the entrance of the Memorial for the Compatriot [Chinese] Victims
of the Japanese Massacre in Nanjing. Unless the debate is to continue to run on parallel
lines, never to come together to produce a deeper, more complete and transnational
understanding of this historical event, this is not a situation to be welcomed. How to
overcome it, on the other hand, poses a dilemma. As long as much of the debate is
dominated by ideologues, the sensible option for historians may well be to keep their
heads low and research other topics. That, however, cannot be a desirable outcome.
Historians surely have an obligation to combat the trend to use Nanjing as a weapon in
contemporary ideological and international contests.
Secondly, too many Japanese researchers in particular are either completely ignorant
of, or do not care about, the fact that Nanjing for better or for worse has become a
central plank in the construction of the modern self-identity of the Chinese. To discuss
Nanjing is to threaten this self-identity. Once aware of this fact, all who participate in
the debate need to show some sensitivity to it. I am not arguing that the Chinese
orthodoxy needs to be accepted without question because the feelings of so many will be
hurt if it is questioned. Indeed, I strongly believe that human beings have to come to
terms with the "real" past and accept it, and that it is more dangerous (at
least in the long term) to found national identity on a lie than to discover the truth and
live with it. However, some effort does need to be made (on both extremes of the debate)
to avoid the use of inflammatory language, and to show a much greater awareness of and
sensitivity to the moral implications of historical inquiry.
Thirdly, as historians, it is our obligation to examine calmly the primary materials
and reconstruct the history of Nanjing on the basis of what those materials say. Some
clearly want to absolve the Japanese of all blame, while others want to depict the
Japanese as a uniquely brutal and ruthless race. Neither position should form the starting
point of any discussion of the events in Nanjing - although, of course, either might be
the conclusion of any such examination. The publication of as many primary materials as
possible is clearly a basic condition for this approach, so we need to encourage the
discovery and publication of as much as possible.
Finally, a dialogue between historians working on the Nanjing Incident needs to be
promoted. Again, I have great hopes for the forum provided by the English language, where
researchers from both Japan and China can debate with researchers from third-party
countries such as the USA, Canada and Australia. The problem with the Chinese and Japanese
language discourses is that they are both so insular and the political environments are so
charged. It is in the market of ideas and through constant debate (and perhaps the
mediation provided by "neutral", third-party historians), that the truth will be
researching the Nanjing Incident, I have been very fortunate in having received the
support and encouragement of Timothy Brook, Joshua Fogel and Bob T. Wakabayashi. All have
allowed me to read various unpublished papers on Nanjing they have written, and have
consistently provided the warmest support to my own endeavours. In completing this paper,
I benefited from the comments of two anonymous referees. I would like to take this
opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all.
is true even as regards what term to use for the incident itself. Of the various
terms that have been used, "Nanjing Incident" is used in Japan by all three
schools examined here. It is, I believe, the most neutral term, and one that is
particularly beneficial in combating the arguments of the deniers. While it is
possible, after all, to deny that a "Great massacre" occurred (depending on one's
definition of "great" and "massacre", it is impossible to deny that an "incident" occurred.
 On this point,
see, for instance, Ian Buruma (1999). The Chinese diaspora has played a major role in
bringing the Nanjing Incident to international attention. There is no simple explanation
for the fact that overseas Chinese in countries such as the USA have felt the need to
place so much emphasis on the atrocities at Nanjing. The desire for a strong national
identity is understandable, but it is difficult to explain why victimhood should play such
a crucial role in the construction of this identity. It is possible that a shared sense of
outrage and victimhood helps create links between members of the community. It is perhaps
even possible that, as at least one American journalist has speculated, within a system of
preferential treatment, there are social, political and economic gains to be had from
being defined as a member of an ethnic group that has suffered a mass atrocity.
 For an example
of the anti-Japan and anti-Japanese sites that exist, see Hate Japan (cited in Hoffman 2001). For other
organisations, see, for instance, The Chinese
Alliance for Memorial and Justice, the Society for Studies of Japanese Aggression
against China (Riben Qin-Hua Yanjiu Xuehui), and the Alliance for Preserving the Truth of the
Sino-Japanese War. For journals, see Kang-Ri Zhanzheng Yanjiu (Research on the
Chinese War of Resistance against the Japanese) and, Riben Qin-Hua Yanjiu (Studies
of Japanese Aggression against China). One of the best sites on Nanjing (authored by a
Japanese) is http://www.geocities.co.jp/CollegeLife-Labo/8596,
while another superb site is Online
Documentary: The Nanking Atrocities by Masato Kajimoto. For major Chinese sites, see http://www.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/NanjingMassacre/NM.html
(Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre), and http://www.ww2.org.hk (The Chinese Alliance for
Commemoration of the Sino-Japanese War Victims), a Hong Kong based organization. Also see http://cnd.cnd.org/njmassacre/njm-tran/
(the Nanjing Massacre) and the The
Association for Victims of Japanese War Crimes.
some of the better collections, see, for instance, Zhongyang dang'anguan, Zhongguo
dier lishi dang'anguan, and Jilinsheng shehui kexueyuan eds., (1995) and especially Zhongguo dier lishi dang'anguan and
Nanjing shi dang'anguan eds., (1997), and finally "Nanjing datusha" shiliao bianji weiyuanhui and Nanjing tushuguan (eds.), (1997). Also see Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi
xieshanghuiyi quanguo weiyuanhui wenshi ziliao yanjiu weiyuanhui "Nanjing
baoweizhan" bianshenzu ed., (1987).
 See Gao Xingzu et
al. (1962). A copy of this work was smuggled out of China and translated by Robert
Gray. See http://cnd.cnd.org/njmassacre/njm-tran/.
The word "misused" is from Mark Eykholt (2000: 25).
 Gao et al.
(1962: chapter 11). The "imperialist and fascist" members of the Western community
had been accused a decade previously of helping the Japanese massacre innocent
Chinese. See Xinhua Yuebao, 1951, cited in Yang (2000: 178, note 93). Also see
Eykholt (2000: 24-25).
 Chang (1997:
139). Chang has not misused her sources here: this is pure fiction. The issue of Iris
Chang and the Japanese reception of her work requires further research. Her book has been
used by deniers of the massacre to discredit all those who argue that atrocities took
place. Given that Chang is so obviously wrong, the conclusion drawn by some is that if
Chang is wrong, then all who would argue that atrocities took place are equally wrong. As
rhetoric, this methodology is very effective, but is clearly inappropriate. For an
example, see Higashinakano Osamichi and Fujioka Nobukatsu (1999).
Askew (2000), I have discussed what I see as the major flaws of Honda's work - in
particular his over-reliance on and uncritical acceptance of oral sources.
this paper, I have endeavoured to give the author's names as they appear in the
works I cite: the work I cite here by Masahiro Yamamoto, for instance, gives his
name in this order, rather than Yamamoto Masahiro.
in Japanese as Nankin no Shinjitsu (The Truth of Nanjing) (John Rabe 1997).
 For this
division, see Hata Ikuhiko (1993).
Tokushi, unpublished paper distributed at the Nanjing Incident Symposium held at Princeton
University on 21 November 1997, cited in Hata Ikuhiko (1998a: 12).
 For a
review of this questionnaire, see David Askew (20001b).
Kasahara's latest work (Kasahara 2002) contains a chapter that highlights the
flaws in Higashinako's work.
 For my own
views on Kitamura, see Askew (forthcoming b).
This is not to deny the inherent role ideology plays in all the social sciences,
including history. For a stimulating work on the historians' approach to
reconstructing history as compared with those interested in ideology and myths,
see Paul A. Cohen (1997).
Yoshiaki, among others, has identified a number of cases where members of both groups have
fabricated materials and stories on the incident.
Honda Katsuichi's Nankin e no Michi (The Road to Nanjing) has recently been
published in English. It may be that the Great Massacre School, having arguably lost the
intellectual debate in Japan over the Nanjing Incident, has decided to concentrate on
English. See Honda (1999).
 I have
interviewed and am corresponding with one surviving member of the Nanjing Special Services
Agency that was entrusted with the task of overseeing the Chinese collaborationist regimes
in Nanjing, and have started to interview a surviving member of the Sixth Division, but
doubt that there can be many more individuals who were there and who are still with us.
 See Askew,
(unpublished manuscript a).
Yamamoto (2000: 110-13, 192-93). Iris Chang does mention the records, but there is no
 I did
utilise this survey in establishing the size of the civilian population of Nanjing from
December 1937 when the city fell through to February the next year. See Askew (2001a).
 See Askew
(2002; unpublished manuscript b). Kasahara (1995) is a good introduction to the
international community that goes a long way in fully utilising the various sources that
For a collection of these recollections, see "Nanjing datusha" shiliao bianji
weiyuanhui and Nanjing tushuguan (eds.), 1997.
Yamamoto (2000) and Askew, "The Military Death Toll in Nanking: An Examination of
the Fate of the Capital Garrison Forces" (unpublished manuscript c). Also see Itakura Yoshiaki,
"Nankin Senshi to Nankin Jiken no Sūryōteki Haaku" (Nankin Senshi
[A History of the Battle of Nanking] and a Mathematical Grasp of the Nanking Incident), in
Itakura (1999), Hontō wa Kō datta Nankin Jiken (The Truth of the Nanking
Incident), Nihon Tosho Kankōkai, 1999, Kasahara (1992), "Nankin Bōeisen to
Chūgokugun" (The Battle to Defend Nanking and the Chinese Army), in Hora Tomio,
Fujiwara Akira and Honda Katsuichi eds., Nankin Daigyakusatsu no Kenkyū (Research
into the Great Nanking Massacre), Tokyo: Banseisha, 1992, and Nankin Senshi
Henshū Iinkai ed. Nankin
Senshi (A History of the Battle of Nanking), expanded and revised edition,
 For a
stimulating and highly sophisticated discussion of the Tokyo Trial as it related to
Nanjing, see Brook (2001b).
 For a more
detailed discussion of Rabe, see Askew (forthcoming a).
Askew, "The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone: An Introduction"
(2002). Also see Askew, "Western Cooperation and Resistance in Occupied Nanking:
The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, December 1937 - February
1938" (unpublished manuscript b).
 I have
started to examine this possibility and tentatively concluded that there almost certainly
was some form of organised resistance.
Ara Ken'ichi, 1987/2002, "Nankin Jiken" Nihonjin 48-nin
no Shōgen (The "Nanjing Incident": The Testimony of 48 Japanese), Tokyo:
Askew, David, 2000, "Honda Katsuichi, The Nanjing
Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan's National Shame", Asian
Studies Association of Australia (Electronic Journal: http://www.uws.edu.au/social/asaa/news.html),
no. 10, August.
-- 2001a, "The Nanjing Incident: An Examination of the Civilian
Population", Sino-Japanese Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, March, pp. 2-20.
-- 2001b, "The Japanese Debate on the Nanjing Incident: An
Overview", Asian Studies Association of Australia (Electronic Journal),
no. 15, May.
-- 2002, "The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone:
An Introduction", Sino-Japanese Studies, vol. 14, March.
-- (forthcoming a), "The Rabe Diary and the Nanking Incident", Ritsumeikan
Journal of Asia Pacific Studies.
-- (forthcoming b), "Kitamura Minoru, 'Nankin Jinken' no Tankyū
-- Sono Jitsuzō o motomete", Japanese Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Studies
Association of Australia.
-- (unpublished manuscript a), "The Scale of Japanese Atrocities in
the Nanking Incident: An Examination of the Burial Records".
-- (unpublished manuscript b), "Western Cooperation and Resistance
in Occupied Nanking: The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, December
1937 - February 1938".
-- (unpublished manuscript c), "The Military Death Toll in Nanking:
An Examination of the Fate of the Capital Garrison Forces".
Azuma Shirō san no Nankin Saiban o Sasaerukai (ed.), 2001,
Kagai to Yurushi - Nankin Daigyakusatsu to Azuma Shirō Saiban (Harm and
Forgiveness: The Great Nanjing Massacre and the Azuma Shirō Trial), Tokyo: Gendai
Brook, Timothy (ed.), 1999, Documents of the Rape of Nanking,
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
-- 2001a, "The Creation of the Reformed Government in Central China,
1938", in David P. Barrett and Larry N. Shyu (eds.), Chinese Collaboration with
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About the author
David Askew studied for both his undergraduate
and postgraduate degrees at the Faculty of Law, Kyoto
University. After working and teaching in the Faculty of Law at Kyoto and then at Dōshisha University, he moved to Australia in
mid-1996, and has recently been appointed to teach legal studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
(APU). He now shares his time between teaching at
APU and at Monash University in
At present, he is working on a number of projects. First,
he hopes to finish and publish a monograph on jurisprudence in the near future.
Second, he has completed a number of papers on the Nanjing Incident and hopes to
bring these together as a single monograph some time soon. Third, he is currently
editing a book on Australia-Japan relations and is interested in writing further
on Australian studies in Japan during the 1941-44 period. Fourth, he is editing a
monograph on the history of Japanese language education in Australia, which he
hopes to publish in 2002. He is interested in and has published on Japanese
intellectual history, most recently a book chapter on Ōsugi Sakae, and intends to
develop his interests in this area further.
e-mail the Author
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