Japan, China still at odds over ‘Rape of Nanking’

Feb 1, 8:50 AM EST
Japan, China still at odds over ‘Rape of Nanking’

Associated Press Writer

AP Photo

TOKYO (AP) — Japan acknowledged its wartime military caused tremendous damage to China in the “Rape of Nanking” massacre, but the two sides failed again to agree on the death toll, a joint study obtained Monday said.

The massacre was one of the worst incidents during Japan’s invasion of China in the first half of the 20th century, with Beijing claiming as many as 300,000 people died, but Tokyo saying the toll was far less.

The report was written by Japanese and Chinese historians appointed by the two governments. In it, Japanese scholars confirmed Japan’s Imperial Army “massacred” war prisoners, soldiers and citizens in the city of Nanking, now called Nanjing, in the December 1937 attack, and committed repeated rapes of women, arson and looting.

But the two sides failed to agree on the death toll.

The Japanese listed figures ranging from 20,000 to 200,000, citing differences on the definition of “massacre,” the area and the span of the event. China, which compiled data from records of domestic and international tribunals, put the death toll at more than 300,000.

The report cited many pending lawsuits filed by victims of Japan’s brutalities, including using and abandoning poison gas weapons, and forcing women to serve as sex slaves for front-line soldiers and men as slave laborers.

Japan invaded or colonized large parts of Asia in the first half of the 20th century. Many Chinese believe that Japan hasn’t shown sufficient remorse for atrocities committed, a sense of resentment that has flared repeatedly after attempts by conservative Japanese lawmakers to defend their country’s wartime actions.

Japanese ultraconservatives typically claim the death toll in the Rape of Nanking massacre was grossly inflated.

Japan and China agreed the 1937-1945 Sino-Japanese War was an “act of aggression,” defining Japan as the aggressor. “We must admit that the Japanese side was responsible for creating most of the causes,” the report said.

Sumio Hatano, professor of the University of Tsukuba and one of 10 historians involved, said “a spate of unlawful actions” by the Japanese military inflicted a heavy toll on China’s civilian population, leaving “a deep scar that has prevented the peoples of Japan and China from establishing a new relationship after the war.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada welcomed the report, despite delays and differences that still remain. He said it was just the first step and suggested a second round.

“If two sides could gain mutual understanding just a little, we can call it a success,” Okada said.

The report concludes a project launched in 2006 to promote mutual understanding on parts of the history that have often strained ties between the two neighbors. The study was issued over the weekend and obtained Monday.

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