Sunday, August 7, 2016

Superman Qualifies as a God According to Webster's Dictionary

Superman (Kal-El) qualifies as a God according to Webster’s Dictionary.

This is a must read!!!!!
You have the time, what better way to waste it.

My Thesis or Hypothesis if you prefer:
by RColdguy

By the end of this Hypothesis (That I painstakingly researched for your viewing pleasure) I think you will find one very good reason to believe in this theory.

For clarity I have highlighted and underlined pertinent words and phrases from Webster’s definitions, (So as not to confuse anyone) I have separated my words and thoughts with these little arrows >>>>>>>

Let’s start with Webster’s Dictionary and how it defines God.

If you look up the word God in a Webster’s Dictionary there are 10 entries found

#1…..God (1, Noun)
#2…..God (2, Verb)
#3…..Act of God
#4…..Assembly of God]
#7…..God’s acre
#8…..Man of God
#9.….Son of God
#10…Sun God

To save time I will only hit on the pertinent ones and just skim over others.

#1: God as a noun: according to Webster.
Main Entry: 1God
Date: Before 12th century

1: supreme or ultimate reality: as
a: Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.
b: the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind

2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

3: a person or thing of supreme value

4: a powerful ruler

I think it’s evident that Superman (Kal-El) qualifies for most or all of the above!

#2: God ( As a Verb ) according to Webster.
Main Entry: 2God
Date: 1595
: To treat as a god: Idolize, Deify
Idolize According to Webster
Date: 1598
: To worship as a god
: To love or admire to excess
: To practice idolatry

Deify According to Webster

Date:14th century
1 a: to make a god of
b: to take as an object of worship
2: to glorify as of supreme worth

Now folks I think if you read on you’ll find that with a little effort we could apply all of the above to Superman (Kal-El).
But for you doubters/non believers and to avoid jumping around I will fallow the 10 entries as Webster has set them out.


#3: Act of God according to Webster
Main Entry: Act of God
: an Extraordinary interruption by a Natural cause (as a flood or earthquake) of the usual course of events that experience, prescience, or care cannot reasonably foresee or prevent

Such as a meteorite shower of the kind that happened when superman (Kal-El) came to earth as a baby cradled in a tiny space ship.
It’s all starting to fit together now so hang in there people.


#4: Assembly of God according to Webster
Main Entry: Assembly of God
Date: 1952
: a congregation belonging to a Pentecostal body founded in the United States in 1914

I only left this in to show that religions start up all the time as Webster has pointed out with the Pentecostals in 1914.

#5 God–awful, has nothing to do with this Hypothesis so I’m skipping it. You can look it up in Webster’s your self if it interest you.


#6: God-fearing according to Webster
Main Entry: God-fearing
Date 1835
: having a reverent feeling toward God: Devout
Devout according to Webster
Date:13th century
1: devoted to religion or to religious duties or exercises.
2: expressing devotion or piety.
3: Devoted to a pursuit, belief or mode of behavior.

What that’s saying people is that if we had that feeling towards superman (Kal-El) we would be devout to him, as in # 3 above.

#7God’s Acre I’m leaving this in only to show that Webster goes from #7 God’s Acre to churchyard to church to Denomination to Congregation all to say that God’s Acre is basically a bunch of people that chose to believe in the same thing.

#8 Man of God I’m leaving this in to show that even a non-Christian Religion has a man of God or as Webster puts it a Clergyman

So feel free to skip through to # 9 if you so please


#7: God’s Acre According to Webster
Main Entry: God's Acre
Date: 1617
: Churchyard
: A yard that belongs to a Church and is often used as a burial ground

Church according to Webster
1: A building for public and especially Christian worship
a: The clergy or officialdom of a religious body
3: A body or organization of religious believers: as
a: the whole body of Christians
b: Denomination
c: Congregation
4: a public divine worship
5: the clerical profession

Denomination according to Webster
1: an act of denominating
2: a value or size of a series of values or sizes (as of money)
3: Name, designation: a general name for a category
4: A religious organization who’s Congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices

Congregation According to Webster
1 a: An assembly of persons

#8: Man of God according to Webster
Main Entry: Man of God
Date: 1670
: Clergyman
Clergyman according to Webster
: a member of the Clergy
Clergy According to Webster
Main Entry: Clergy
Date:13th century
1: a group ordained to perform pastoral or sacerdotal functions in a Christian church
2: the official or Sacerdotal class of a non-Christian religion

I’m adding Benefit of Clergy here because Webster has it as the second entry when looking up Clergy
It appears what Webster’s is saying here, is that the Clergy enforces the powers of the church and that would mean the rules and regulations of a religious organization set forth by the congregation would be protected by the Clergy and there for be exempt from trial in a civil court.


Benefit of clergy According to Webster
Main Entry: Benefit of clergy
Date: 15th century
1 : clerical exemption from trial in a civil court
2 : the ministration or sanction of the church

#9 Son of God is very interesting, in the fact that the son of god is referred to by Webster as being Superhuman ( Superman (Kal-El) ??? ) and Messiah as a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause, (as in Superman’s (Kal-El’s) fight for freedom and justice.)

#9: Son of God According to Webster
Main Entry: Son of God
Date:14th century
: a superhuman or divine being (as an angel)
: a person established in the love of God by divine promise : Messiah
Messiah according to Webster
Main Entry: Messiah
Date: 1560
1:a: the expected king and deliverer of the Jews
b: Jesus
2: a: professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause

That brings us to #10 Sun God, which I think is the most interesting of all of Webster’s definitions of God.

#10: Sun God According to Webster
Main Entry: Sun god
Date: 1592:
A god that Represents or Personifies the sun in various religions

Let’s look at Represents and Personifies, According to Webster they both have the same meaning.

Main Entry: represent Date: 14th century
Main Entry, personifies Date: 1741
1: to bring clearly before the mind : a book which represents the Character of early America
2: to serve as a sign or symbol
3: To portray or exhibit in art
4: to serve as the counterpart or image of : A movie hero who represents the ideals of the culture

Let’s break this down shall we?
#1: Superman (Kal-El) comics
#2: The Big S on Superman’s (Kal-El’s) chest
#3: Pictures posters drawings all of Superman (Kal-El)
And the kicker = #4
I think #4 say’s it all don’t you agree???

Now stay with me here for a few more minutes, folks, because it is all starting to come together now.
If you look up Superman (Kal-El) in the same Webster’s dictionary you will get the following definitions.


Superman according to Webster
Main Entry: Superman
Date: 1903
1 : a Superior Man that according to Nietzsche has learned to forgo fleeting pleasures and attain happiness and dominance through the exercise of Creative power
2 : a person of extraordinary or Superhuman power or achievements
Superhuman according to Webster
Main Entry: Superhuman
Date: 1633
1: being above the human : Divine
2: exceeding normal human power, size, or capability
Divine according to Webster
Main Entry: Divine
Date: 14th century
1 a: of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God or a God
b: being a Deity
c: directed to a deity
2 a: supremely good
b: Heavenly, Godlike
Deity according to Webster
Main Entry: Deity
Date: 14th century
1 a: the rank or essential nature of a god: Divinity : God, supreme being
2: A god or goddess
3: One exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful
Godlike According to Webster’s
Main Entry: Godlike
Date: before 12th century
: resembling or having the qualities of God or a god

I think you can clearly see the similarities between Webster’s definitions for God and Superman (Kal-El).
If you need even more proof, then let’s look at the bible and the first superman (Kal-El) action comic #1 that came out in June of 1938.

The bible was written by man, as were the superman (Kal-El) comic books, unbelievable things happened in the bible, as did in the superman (Kal-El) comic books.

The Christian God comes from a man made, make believe heaven where as Superman (Kal-El) comes from a man made, make believe planet, Krypton.

God believes in good and kindness and say’s he will forgive all his little children and yet he turns right around and say’s that you will all burn in hell if you don’t fallow his 10 commandments.

Where as Supermen doesn’t push his beliefs on anyone, people just seem to feel better when they see him perform miracles or (special/feats) if you please..

The Christian God doesn’t have a wife, there for he doesn’t have sexual relations with a women of his choosing and yet, He!!!, Through his emissary’s tells people how to live their lives with their chosen partner and where when and how they should have sex with said partner.

Where as Superman knocks the shorts off Lois Lane every chance he gets and has never to my knowledge ever stuck his nose into anyone’s sexual preferences.

The Christian God contradicts his self all the time, “strike down thy enemy” in one breath and thou shall not kill” in the next, “love thy neighbor” or pluck out his eye if he plucks out yours”……. And on and on and on………

Where as Superman (Kal-El) sticks to the same thing time and time again, truth goodness and the never ending fight against evil and crime!

God doesn’t have a wife and or children unless you believe the story in the bible (written by man) about Jesus and the virgin Marry and even then ( the hypocrite that he is) didn’t wed Marry he just knocked her shorts off and then abandoned her, which I would think would be against at least one of his 10 commandments, that you (By his own words) will spend eternity in hell for breaking just one!!!

Now if you “are” gullible enough to believe the story about Jesus and Marry in the book that man wrote and said was filled with the words of a God that they them selves invented for what ever reason and called it the holly bible.

Then you shouldn’t have a hard time believing the Superman (Kal-El) comic book about Superman’s (Kal-El’s) parents, a father named Jor-El and a mother named Lara-El that came from a heavenly Planet called krypton, that loved their son Kal-El unconditionally and tried to protect him from the evil that General Zod's ( The Devil perhaps ??? ) was committing on Krypton.

Now I think you would all have to agree that a religion that is baste on honesty and good (verses evil and destruction as the religions of present day ) would be a far better religion to fallow and teach to your children and future generations to come.

With the proof I have just put before you from the Webster’s Dictionary definition of God. I think you would have to agree with me that we would have a really good chance of starting a new Religion (as did the Pentecostal back in 1914) with Superman or better yet by his given name Kal-El our God of choice and we’ll call this new religion, The New Order of Kryptonite’s.

And here my friends is the best part of the whole Hypothesis:

The people, You and I, The Congregation, the followers and believers and the clergyman of the Kryptonite’s that worship Kal-El (Superman) as their God of choice, also believe that their god of choice Kal-El,
Wants us to fallow but four simple scriptures set down by our Lord and savor Kal-El (Superman) listed in his Holly Book as follows:

The Holly Book of Kal-El (Superman)

Chapter 1: 

Verse 1: We believe that, Kal-El (Superman) put marijuana on this planet for the enjoyment of all his children.
Verse 2: We believe that, Kal-El (Superman) intended that all his children have their God given right, NOT to wear a head covering of any kind if they believe it will interfere with the mental contact they have with their Lord the one and only true God, Kal-El (Superman)

Verse 3: We Believe that, Kal-El (Supermand) intended that all his children have their God given right to bar arms, so that all his children can protect them self and their family from harm, may it be from none believers of our Lord Kal-El (Superman) or form tyranny in government. 

Verse 4: We believe that, Kal-El (Superman) intended all his children to spread the word of Goodness to all the world where ever they may be and to who ever they come in contact with on this planet and through out the universe.

We the children of our Lord and savor Kal-El (Superman) will fallow these four simple scriptures set down to us by our Lord Kal-El and defend them to our death if need be!

Praise be to our Lord KAL-El!!! (Superman)

Please feel free to join the new order of the Kryptonite’s by signing up below.

Love Always

Forever Peace

Father RColdguy self appointed Clergyman of the Kryptonite’s 


I think the fallowing article gives more credit to my Hypothesis and makes it more of a Theory than anything I have presented from the Webster’s Dictionary.

It’s quite possible that in the meteor storm that brought our savior Kal-El to earth on that fateful day, There were pieces of rock from the planet Krypton, This would explain the Kryptonite being found now by Researchers buried deep with in the planet we call earth.

This in it’s self is more proof that Kal-El is indeed a God than anything the man made bible says about it’s imaginary God from an imaginary heaven with his bastard Son, Jesus.

On this last note, I here by rest my case!

True story BBC News


Kryptonite is no longer just the stuff of fiction feared by caped superheroes.

A new mineral matching its unique chemistry - as described in the film Superman Returns - has been identified in a mine in Serbia.

According to movie and comic-book storylines, kryptonite is supposed to sap Superman's powers whenever he is exposed to its large green crystals.

The real mineral is white and harmless, says Dr Chris Stanley, a mineralogist at London's Natural History Museum.
"I'm afraid it's not green and it doesn't glow either - although it will react to ultraviolet light by fluorescing a pinkish-orange," he told BBC News.

Once the London expert had unraveled the mineral's chemical make-up, he was shocked to discover this formula was already referenced in the literature - albeit literary fiction.
"Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum in the film Superman Returns.
"The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite."

Researchers from mining group Rio Tinto discovered the unusual mineral and enlisted the help of Dr Stanley when they could not match it with anything known previously to science.

For legal purposes:

This is a new none-profit religious organization.
All moneys and donations will be used to promote and/or legalize this new found religion, under the name of “The new order of Kryptonite’s”

I here by so swear in the name of our Lord Kal-El.

Father RColdguy self appointed Clergyman of the New Order of Kryptonite’s

Note: No donation is required for membership in the New Order of Kryptonite’s!!!!
Truth, Love and Kindness towards others is all that is required.

However if you do feel the need to express your gratitude and would like to support our cause with a small donation, Please get in touch with me at the following e-mail address.

All e-mails will be answered with a special prayer in your name, to our Lord Kal-El. (superman)

In closing, I invite all my fellow Kryptonite’s, the true believers in the God of our choice Kal-El (Superman) to sign up below!

Go with Kal-El’s blessing!!! Children of the New Order of Kryptonite’s!!!
Father RColdguy self appointed Clergyman of the New Order of Kryptonite’s

I believe in God, I just spell it with two O's is all :)
Love always & Forever Peace


One World, One God, One Race
The Human Race.
Standing together to make a better world
For All Mankind!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Rape of Nanking, May the World Never Forget! In memory and in honor of Iris Chang. 1968 - 2004 (RIP)

 You will truly be missed by all!!!

Fact; The people that write the history books, Won the Wars!

Well other than Japan!  

They have successfully kept this out of their history books and they have never officially apologized for the atrocities they committed on the Chinese People of Nanking!

They have apologized for the hard ships they caused to China during the war but never admitted to the atrocities committed by them on the Chinese people during the occupation of Nanking! Some in fact still deny that it happened at all! Only 28 where ever taken to trial, two died during the trial, one had a mental brake down (but was mysteriously cured in 1948 and let go free) 25 where convicted.

NONE of the Imperial Family where ever charged or taken to court! They all had to have know about this shit happening!  Why? 

Because the American government wanted the documents from all the experiments conducted by them on the unfortunate humans that suffered during their experiments! That’s why!

 (You got it….. ASSHOLES!)

They pretty much let everyone of any importance off with a slap on the wrist!

Most experts agree that at least 300000 Chinese, died and 20000 women were raped.

 If you want to read a great book or watch a great movie, this is one of the better ones. Sickening, but all true, !

We need to remember so that it this never happens again!

From Wikipedia; The Rape of Nanking: The forgotten Holocaust of World War II; a 1997 Non-fiction, written by Iris Chang about the 1937–1938 Nanking Massacre

Her mother said the book "made Iris sad". Iris Chang suffered from depression and was diagnosed with "brief reactive psychosis" in August 2004. She began taking medications to stabilize her mood, a short while later she succumbed to her battle with depression, and took her own life in November 2004.

One of the last notes she left was this one:

I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me.

She stood up for the truth but because of a few discrepancies in her book she was ridiculed by many! Mostly by people that had something to hide or something to be afraid of.

When I read the book in 2000, I e-mailed her to thank her for bring this to the attention of the world so that something like this would never happen again!!

Iris Chang was an amazing young lady!!! 

May you rest in peace Iris, the world is a leaser place with out you!!

Read the Rape of Nanking or watch the movie!
It’s a great book written by a very gutsy girl!
That I’m sure is dearly missed by many!

This is all put to gather from my investigation into The Rape of Nanking. I’ve put links to where I got this information, if you want further reading or proof, go to the links, there is much to read on this subject and a lot of good people have put a lot of hard work and hours and hours of investigation, into collecting this information.

If anyone has a problem with my posting any of the following, let me know and I will take it out of the post!

I’m not making any money off this, I’m purely trying to give credit to a young lady that went above and beyond what most of us could endure, to bring out the truth about the atrocity’s that where committed by the Japanese army on the people of China.

Make note here that it was an unprovoked act of war!

If you can watch all the videos and read everything I have collected here and still say that these atrocities didn’t happen. Then you either had something to do with it and have something to hide or you knew about it and are ashamed that you didn’t do any thing to stop it or you are just blocking it from your mind, because you are ashamed or just can’t except that the Japanese people could commit such atrocities towards their fellow man!

Be for warned!! This is very explicit, very gory, and very, very disturbing!!!

It's not for the week of heart!!

I felt I needed to do this so that this young ladies name would never be forgotten and so that mankind never lets something like this ever happen again to anyone on this earth or any other planet in the universe!!

Thank you Iris for your determination and your undying courage to follow this through!!

You will truly be missed!!!!

Love Always
Forever Peace

RColdguy In search of the truth, in the name of freedom, for I truly believe that the truth will set us free!   


The Official Web sight for Iris Chang:

Go here to see a trailer of the Movie, cast and characters or purchase the movie. Or read the interviews with people that where there during what happened and came forward to tell theirs story; Nanking,

Xia Shu Qin,  Jiang Gen Fu,  Ni Cui Ping,  Qin Jie,  Wu Zheng XI,  Lei Gue Ying,  Chang Zhi Qiang

“I thank you all personally for you courage to come forward and tell your stories!!!” RColdguy,0,214,317_.jpgThis Documentory Nanking (2007) by Directors: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman and Writers: Bill Guttentag Dan Sturman 

"Nanking" tells the story of the rape of Nanking, one of the most tragic events in history. In 1937, the invading Japanese army murdered over 200,000 and raped tens of thousands of Chinese. In the midst of the horror, a small group of Western expatriates banded together to save 250,000 -- an act of extraordinary heroism. Bringing an event little-known outside of Asia to a global audience, "Nanking" shows the tremendous impact individuals can make on the course of history. It is a gripping account of light in the darkest of times. 

In 1937, the Japanese army invades China in a cruel war and after the fall of Shanghai, the soldiers head to the capital Nanking. A group of Western foreigners led by John Rabe, Minnie Vautrin, Bob Wilson and George Fitch create the Safety Zone, a sanctuary that was not bombed by the Japanese airplanes, to protect thousands of refugees. While the Japanese soldiers reach the town on 13 December 1937, raping, slaughtering and pillaging the civilian, the heroic group of Westerns defends the lives of about 250,000 Chinese sacrificing their own freedom, and succeeds to tell the world the crimes of war committed by the Japanese army in Nanking

Iris Chang on Rape of Nanking testified at a mock grand jury on the atrocity’s 4 min.

Toronto, TV-Iris Chang the Rape of Nanking movie crew interview -2007

A 58 min. Interview with Iris Chang about her last book, Chinese in America.

Japanese War Crimes; The Rape of Nanking;   (GRAPHIC) 7 min.

Rape of Nanking Atrocities in Asia Nanjing;  (Massacre, Graphic) 1.17 min.

Unit 731 Japanese Torture & Human Medial Experciments (Graphic)19 min.

Nanking Massacre; 70 years later Part 1/11

The Amarican Government should have hung the whole royal family over this!!!

“But then they wouldn’t have been able to get all that information on the experiments now would they”

Look it up! It’s not bullshit it is all TRUE!!!

Iris Chang (10-28-68 -- 11-09 04 (RIP) “You will truly be missed by All!!”

Taken from: The Asia-Pacific Journal:

Look Back in Anger. Filming the Nanjing Massacre

David McNeill

A crop of new movies released to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre is set to again dredge up the controversy about one of the 20th Century’s most notorious events. How will
Japan react?

One way to learn what happened in one of history’s most noxious but disputed episodes is to ask Mizushima Satoru. After what he calls “exhaustive research” on the seizure of the then Chinese capital by Japanese troops in 1937, estimated to have cost anywhere from 20,000 to 300,000 lives.

Mizushima offers a very precise figure for the number of illegal deaths: zero. “The evidence for a massacre is faked,” explains the president of right-wing webcaster Channel Sakura. “It is Chinese communist propaganda.”

For support, he brandishes a book containing what he says are dozens of doctored photos. One shows a beheaded Chinese corpse with a cigarette stuck in its mouth. “Japanese people don’t mistreat corpses like that,” he says, stabbing the page for emphasis. “It is not in our culture.”

The world will soon have a chance to assess these claims when Mizushima’s movie, The Truth of Nanjing hits the cinemas. The documentary is supported by over a dozen lawmakers, including Nariaki Nakayama, a former education minister under ex-Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and a panel of academics led by Higashinakano Shudo, a history professor at
Asia University in Tokyo who provides much of its thin intellectual gruel.

Courts in
China and Japan recently ruled that Higashinakano libeled survivors (Xia Shuqin and Li Xiuying) of the massacre in two books that documented their experiences of atrocities in Nanjing as fantasies.

Arguments over what occurred in
Nanjing began almost as soon as Imperial soldiers marched into the city on Dec. 13, 1937 and have only grown in ferocity since. They are played out for the digital generation on YouTube, where hundreds of clips, including Who Witnessed Nanjing and China Could Not Prove Nanjing Massacre Happened (sic) are posted, along with the foulest racist comments.

These smoldering disputes are finally set to cross over into mass “entertainment” on the 70th anniversary of the massacre, with nearly a dozen new movies backed by US, European and Chinese money set to pick again at
Nanjing’s scabs. Most are still being filmed or are in post-production so it is too early to say what to expect, but one thing is certain: Japanese neo-nationalists have little hope of winning the propaganda war second time around.

Mizushima’s reputed $2-million budget for The Truth (funded by a network of 5,000-odd supporters) is dwarfed, for example, by the $53-million Purple Mountain (named after the picturesque peaks around the east of Nanjing) currently filming in China. Adapted from the bestseller The Rape of Nanking by the bête noire of Japanese conservatives, Iris Chang, the US-Chinese production is aiming for nothing less than an Asian version of Schindler’s List, Director Simon West (of Con Air fame) told Variety magazine in the summer.

Award-winning Japanese actors Kagawa Teruyuki and Emoto Akira will appear in John Rabe, a German movie also starring Steve Buscemi and Ulrich Tukur (The Lives of Others) as the eponymous Nazi, dubbed the “Schindler of China” for his role in rescuing thousands of Chinese civilians in the so-called Nanjing Safety Zone.

Rabe is also the subject of another German documentary, “John Rabe: The Schindler of Nanjing,” produced by public service broadcaster ZDF. “There is a lot of fascination with Rabe right now,” says director Annette Baumeister. “For us, we are interested in whether it was possible to be a good Nazi, you know?” As yet, her movie has no Japanese distributor. “We tried to sell the movie to (public service broadcaster) NHK in Japan,” “They said they will make their own movie about the subject. And maybe they will, someday (laughs).”

 The $35-million Nanking Xmas 1937, helmed by Hong Kong art-house director Yim Ho, meanwhile, will depict the efforts of the small community of foreigners in the wartime city to protect civilians from rampaging Japanese troops. Then there is Nanking! Nanking!, reportedly starring some of the biggest names in Chinese cinema, including Liu Ye and Feng Wei.

The fact that various arms of the Chinese state are involved in all these productions will doubtless fuel the suspicions of Japanese neo-nationalists that this is a Beijing-steered plot designed to drag
Japan through the international mud. Some are already muttering darkly about Chinese “black propaganda.” “China is trying to control what the world thinks of Japan,” said Mizushima.

But the directors and writers behind the movies claim they were forced to tone down content by nervous Chinese censors fretting about their impact on relations with the country’s biggest Asian trading partner.

The makers of  Nanking!, for example, reportedly endured months of vetting before getting permission to shoot, and then on condition that the state-owned China Film Group be allowed to jump aboard. “The movie touches on the sphere of diplomacy,” Director Lu Chuan recently told the Associated Press, hinting that his script was shuffled across the desks of the Foreign Ministry and the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department before being given the green light.
Beijing faces a tricky balancing act. Nanjing occupies a central place in the foundational myths of post-1949 China and the success of the Communists in defeating both the Japanese invaders and the nationalists who failed to protect the country from them. The government hopes -- quite legitimately – to ensure an event that was for decades all but ignored in popular culture is not forgotten, while harnessing it to its own nationalist ends. At the same time it must avoid damaging bilateral ties just as its growing power in Asia butts up against a declining Japan.

Only time will tell if it succeeds. But one sign that the horrific events of December 1937 to March 1938 are no longer only a bilateral issue is the growing interest of foreign filmmakers. Oliver Stone is reportedly in script development for a movie about
Nanjing, and James Bond director Roger Spottiswoode is in post-production with The Bitter Sea, about a British journalist who witnesses the massacre. The movie, which stars Brendan Fraser, is scheduled for release in March next year.

The powerful Documentary film Nanking, directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (Twin Towers) and released earlier this year, is already the most watched documentary in Chinese film history, claim its makers. The movie will make extremely uncomfortable viewing for deniers: it is constructed entirely from archive footage of atrocities and witness accounts of survivors narrated by actors such as Woody Harrelson and Muriel Hemingway.

“I know about the book’s controversy in
Japan,” explains producer Ted Leonsis, who was inspired to put the movie together after reading Chang’s book. “So we hired 38 people who spent 18 months all over the world doing research. Our conclusion was we should have no point of view, to just document what happened.”

“We felt we should only have words from people who were there. We were able to interview Chinese and Japanese survivors and these accounts are so rich. You know, Minnie Vautrin wrote 1,100 letters home. So we had all that material.

Leonsis was motivated to make the movie after reading about Iris Chang’s account of the Rape. “Chinese people and Western people teamed up to defend thousands of civilians and their story had never been told. At a time when we’re not very popular outside the
US I thought it was fascinating that here were Americans who are considered gods and goddesses in China.”

Most frustrating of all for Mizushima and co., however, is a documentary by Canadian husband-and-wife team William Spahic and Anne Pick. The Woman Who Couldn’t Forget: The Iris Chang Story, focuses on the author of the book credited with dragging what she called “the forgotten holocaust” back into the daylight and igniting a movement to remember the massacre among the Chinese Diaspora in
North America.

Chang, who committed suicide three years ago, is the inspiration and unofficial patron saint to most of the new movies, a galling development for her enemies in Japan. Her book was picked apart by conservatives here who accused her of exaggerating, sloppy research and – the biggest sin -- failing to distinguish between the truth and wartime Chinese propaganda. She also largely ignored the work of courageous Japanese scholars and journalists such as Honda Katsuichi, who authored a Seventies (Japanese) bestseller based on interviews with survivors and witnesses, and Fujiwara Akira, until his death the dean of Nanjing scholars. Japanese publishers cite her errors as the reason why the book, released in 1997, has never been translated into Japanese.

The damage runs deep, say historians. “Iris Chang reopened the issue and brought it to the attention of the international community,” says Mark Selden, research associate in the East Asia Program at
Cornell University. “But her careless research and overstatements opened the way for neo-nationalists to discredit (in Japan) not only the book but - guilt by association - much of the solid scholarship that Japanese researchers were producing,”

Whatever about the book’s faults, it did dig up a stinking political corpse that had been buried for years, and drew attention to the overlooked Rabe diaries, another key source for many of the new film projects. “The
Nanking holocaust was swept under the carpet by all concerned for geo-political reasons,” Spahic told journalist Thomas Podvin this year. “Her book more than any other event changed that forever.”

For better or worse then, Chang has helped push the issue out of academia and into popular culture, where its impact will be far less predictable, or manageable. At the very least, anti-Japanese sentiment is likely to be inflamed in
China, where nationalist passions are already high. A tsunami of bad publicity is also certain to come from Europe and America, as Tokyo is fully aware.

“It is a delicate issue so we hope filmmakers will not create negative emotional reactions,” says government press secretary Sakaba Mitsuo. He says a joint academic committee set up with
China to study the issue in a “non-political way” will clarify what happened in Nanjing. “We expect much of this study group, so we hope the movies don’t make the work of the experts difficult.”

That seems unlikely. Few of the millions who will see the movies are likely to appreciate that much of the most sophisticated research on the atrocities committed by Japanese troops during World War II occurs in Japanese academe, although only a tiny fraction appears in English. Or that decades of official censorship and fudging have left many young Japanese woefully ignorant of what took place. No doubt the movie makers will retort that
Japan is reaping what it sows by allowing a small clique of ultra-nationalists, emboldened by support in Kasumigaseki, to hold sway over the debate about Nanjing.

As for Mizushima and other deniers, how will they react to taking such a monumental beating in the propaganda war? “I think that it will reinforce their siege mentality,” says Nakano Koichi, a political scientist at
Tokyo’s Sophia University. He says that many of the people behind Mizushima's production overlap with those who took out a full-page paid advertisement in the Washington Post in June this year, rebutting accusations made against the Japanese government and on the issue of sex slaves.

“They seem to think that they are the sole possessor of "truths" and "historical facts" under siege (by the anti-Japan Chinese among others), and that those "truths" will prevail, if only they are widely and correctly disseminated in the international community, particularly to the American audience. Of course, they are only deluding themselves, and they end up digging a deeper hole for themselves.”

Will any of these movies be seen in
Japan? As yet, none is scheduled. A spokesman for a major distribution company, who wished to remain anonymous, said releasing them here would be “difficult” though not impossible. “It will depend on the impact they have abroad.”

Sakura’s Mizushima, meanwhile, says his movie does not have an official release date, although the company plans to show the first two-hour installment to invited journalists in mid-December. The documentary is one of a three-part series, starting with the disputed Tokyo Trials and the 1947 execution of seven war criminals by the
US occupation, including Matsui Iwane, the man accused of orchestrating the Nanjing invasion. Mizushima could be found filming the executions in a Tokyo studio this month in the Nikkatsu Studios. His set designer had recreated the execution gallows and actors were rehearsing by being dropped through trapdoors. “It is very emotional. I hope this will make the Americans regret what they did,” he said. “But I don’t suppose it will.”

What might we expect from parts 2 and 3? He gives some hints in his reply to a key question: Was the Imperial Japanese Army guilty of any war crimes? “None,” he replies. “In war, atrocities will always be carried out by a small number of individuals, but did the Japanese army systematically commit war crimes? Absolutely not.”

While the details and the number of deaths continue to be debated, most historians agree that the Nanjing massacre — also known as the "Rape of Nanjing" — was an atrocity, in which 80,000 or more Chinese civilians and surrendered soldiers were killed (the International Military Tribunal on the Far East in 1946 considered credible a figure of 200,000) and tens of thousands of women raped following the Japanese capture of the city. Despite compelling documentary evidence, eyewitness accounts – including some by Japanese soldiers -- and photographic evidence, Japanese revisionists continue to reject charges that war crimes and atrocities occurred there. The country's undigested war history continues to poison one of the world's most important bilateral relationships. Recent anti-Japanese riots in
China have forced Beijing and Tokyo to set up a joint education panel to narrow major differences of interpretation over wartime events. Some on the Japanese side argue that Nanjing has become so politicized — particularly the often-cited figure of 300,000 deaths inscribed in the Nanjing memorial — that measured academic discussion has become almost impossible. "It is very difficult indeed," says Kitaoka Shinichi, a law professor at Tokyo University who is part of the Japanese delegation to the panel. "But we have to find some way of narrowing the gap between us.

"Neo-nationalist scholars such as Higashinakano and Fujioka Nobukatsu oppose such discussions, arguing that Japanese academics have nothing to gain by talking to their Chinese counterparts. "There is no point in talks," says Fujioka. "The Chinese government has decided there was a massacre — so what good can come out of them?"

Higashinakano and Fujioka are the leading figures in what critics have called the maboroshi-ha, or illusion school, of Nanjing and Asia Pacific War research which rejects all allegations of war crimes in the taking of the city and indeed the fifteen-year war. Higashinakano says 30,000 published photos of events from the massacre are faked. The two professors' work is criticized by many academics in
Japan and even by some within the revisionist school, who say that while the casualty figures remain disputed, their research lacks credibility. "There are a lot of crazy people on both sides who collect around the Nanjing debate," says Hata Ikuhiko, a history professor at Nihon University who wrote the seminal 1986 book Nankin Jiken (The Nanjing Incident). Hata argues that roughly 40,000 Chinese died in the taking of the city, although he disputes the application of the term "massacre" to the simultaneous killing of captured soldiers and says wartime Chinese propaganda inflated the casualty figures.

The following lawmakers are listed as supporters of The Truth of Nanjing on the Sakura Channel’s website:

House of Representatives
Nishimura Shingo (ex-DPJ), Matsubara Jin (DPJ), Toida Toru (LDP), Watanabe Atsushi (LDP), Akaike Masaaki (LDP), Washio Eiichiro (DPJ), Ryu Hirofumi (DPJ), Matsumoto Yohei (LDP), Inada Tomomi (LDP)

House of Councilors
Matsushita Shimpei (independent), Oe Yasuhiro (DPJ), Nakayama Nariaki (LDP)

David McNeill writes regularly for a number of publications including the Irish Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a Japan Focus coordinator.


From Wikipedia, Nanking Massacre:

The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, is a mass murder and  war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing, the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period, hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000–80,000 women were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The massacre remains a contentious political issue, as various aspects of it have been disputed by some historical revisionists and Japanese Nationalist who have claimed that the massacre has been either exaggerated or wholly fabricated for propaganda purposes. As a result of the nationalist efforts to deny or rationalize the war crimes, the controversy created surrounding the massacre remains a stumbling block in Sino-Japanese relations, as well as Japanese relations with other Asia-Pacific nations such as South Korea and the Philippines.

An accurate estimation of the death toll in the massacre is never achieved because most of the Japanese military records on the killings were deliberately destroyed or kept secret shortly after the surrender of Japan in 1945. The International Military Tribunal of the Far East estimates more than 200,000 casualties in the incident; China's official estimate is about 300,000 casualties, based on the evaluation of the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. Estimates from Japanese historians vary widely, in the vicinity of 40,000–200,000. Some Japanese scholars even deny that a widespread, systematic massacre occurred at all, claiming that any deaths were either justified militarily, accidental or isolated incidents of unauthorized atrocities. These negationists claim that the characterization of the incident as a large-scale, systematic massacre was fabricated for the purpose of political propaganda.

Although the Japanese government has admitted the acts of the killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other violence committed by the Imperial Japanese Army after the fall of Nanking, some Japanese officials have argued that the death toll was military in nature and that no such crimes ever occurred. Denial of the massacre (and a divergent array of revisionist accounts of the killings) has become a staple of Japanese nationalism. In Japan, public opinion of the massacres varies, and few deny the occurrence of the massacre outright. Nonetheless, recurring attempts by negationists to promote a revisionist history of the incident have created controversy that periodically reverberates in the international media, particularly in China, South Korea, and other East Asian nations.

Military situation

In August 1937, the Japanese army invaded Shanghai and there they met strong resistance and suffered heavy casualties. The battle was bloody as both sides faced attrition in urban hand-to-hand combat. By mid-November the Japanese had captured Shanghai with the help of naval bombardment. The General Staff Headquarters in Tokyo initially decided not to expand the war due to heavy casualties incurred and the low morale of the troops. However, on December 1, headquarters ordered the Central China Area Army and the 10th Army to capture Nanking, then-capital of the Republic of China.

Relocation of the Chinese capital

After losing the Battle of Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek knew the fall of Nanking would be simply a matter of time. He and his staff realized that he could not risk annihilation of their elite troops in a symbolic but hopeless defense of the capital. In order to preserve the army for future battles, most of them were withdrawn. Chiang Kai-shek's strategy was to follow the suggestion of his German advisers to draw the Japanese army deep into China utilizing China's vast territory as a defensive strength. Chiang planned to fight a protracted war of attrition by wearing down the Japanese in the hinterland of China.
Leaving General Tang Shengzhi in charge of the city for the Battle of Nanking, Chiang and many of his advisors flew to Wuhank, where they stayed until it was attacked in 1938.

Strategy for the defense of Nanking

In a press release to foreign reporters, Tang Shengzhi announced the city would not surrender and would fight to the death. Tang gathered about 100,000 soldiers, largely untrained, including Chinese troops who had participated in the Battle of Shanghai. To prevent civilians from fleeing the city, he ordered troops to guard the port, as instructed by Chiang Kai-shek. The defense force blocked roads, destroyed boats, and burnt nearby villages, preventing widespread evacuation.

The Chinese government left for relocation on December 1, and the president left on December 7, leaving the fate of Nanking to an International Committee led by John Rabe.

The defense plan fell apart quickly. Those defending the city encountered Chinese troops fleeing from previous defeats such as the Battle of Shanghai, running from the advancing Japanese army. This did nothing to help the morale of the defenders.

One of the articles published in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun.on the contest to kill 100 people using a sword"

The headline reads, "'Incredible Record' in the Contest to Cut Down 100 People, Mukai 106 Noda 105 Both 2nd Lieutenants Go Into Extra Innings".

The sword used in the "contest" is on display at the Republic of China Armed Forces Museum in Taipei, Taiwan.

Although the Nanking Massacre is generally described as having occurred over a six-week period after the fall of Nanking, the crimes committed by the Japanese army were not limited to that period. Many atrocities were reported to have been committed as the Japanese army advanced from Shanghai to Nanking.

According to one Japanese journalist embedded with Imperial forces at the time, "The reason that the 10th Army is advancing to Nanking quite rapidly is due to the tacit consent among the officers and men that they could loot and rape as they wish.
Novelist Ishikawa Tatsuzo vividly described how the 16th Division of the Shanghai Expeditionary Force committed atrocities on the march between Shanghai and Nanking in his novel Ikiteiru Heitai (Living Soldiers)  which was based on interviews that Tatsuzo conducted with troops in Nanking during January 1938.

Perhaps the most notorious atrocity was a killing contest between two Japanese as reported in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun and the English language Japan Advertiser. The contest was covered much like a sporting event with regular updates on the score over a series of days. In Japan, the veracity of the newspaper article about the contest was the subject of ferocious debate for several decades starting in 1967.

In 2000, historian Bob Wakabayashi concurred with certain Japanese scholars who had argued that the contest was a concocted story, with the collusion of the soldiers themselves for the purpose of raising the national fighting spirit. In 2005, a Tokyo district judge dismissed a suit by the families of the lieutenants, stating that "the lieutenants admitted the fact that they raced to kill 100 people" and that the story cannot be proven to be clearly false. The judge also ruled against the civil claim of the plaintiffs because the original article was more than 60 years old. The historicity of the event remains disputed in Japan.

Flight of Chinese civilians

As the Japanese army drew closer to Nanjing, Chinese civilians fled the city in droves. The people of Nanking fled in panic not only because of the dangers of the anticipated battle but also because they feared the deprivation inherent in the scorched earth strategy that the Chinese troops were implementing in the area surrounding the city.

On July 31, the KMT had issued a statement that they were determined to turn every Chinese national and every piece of their soil into ash, rather than turn them over to the opponent. The Nanking garrison force set fire to buildings and houses in the areas close to Xiakuan to the north as well as in the environs of the eastern and southern city gates. Targets within and outside of the city walls—such as military barracks, private homes, the Chinese Ministry of Communication, forests and even entire villages—were burnt to cinders, at an estimated value of 20 to 30 million (1937) US dollars.

Establishment of the Nanking Safety Zone

Many Westerners were living in the city at that time, conducting trade or on missionary trips. As the Japanese army approached Nanking, most of them fled the city, leaving 27 foreigners. Five of these were journalists who remained in the city a few days after it was captured, leaving the city on December 16. 15 of the remaining 22 foreigners formed a committee, called the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone German businessman John Rabe was elected as its leader, in part because of his status as a member of the Nazi party and the existence of the German-Japanese bilateral Anit-Comintern Pact.

The Committee established the Nanking Safety Zone in the western quarter of the city. The Japanese government had previously agreed not to attack parts of the city that did not contain Chinese military forces, and the members of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone managed to persuade the Chinese government to move their troops out of the area.

On December 1, 1937, Nanking Mayor Ma Chao-chun ordered all Chinese citizens remaining in Nanking to move into the “Safety Zone”. Ma fled the city on December 7, and the International Committee took over as the de facto government of Nanking.

Prince Asaka appointed as commander (Prince Yasuhiko Asaka: 1940)

In a memorandum for the palace rolls, Hirohito had singled Prince Asaka Yasuhiko out for censure as the one imperial kinsman whose attitude was "not good." He assigned Asaka to Nanking as an opportunity to make amends.

On December 5, Asaka left Tokyo by plane and arrived at the front three days later. Asaka met with division commanders, lieutenant-generals Kesago Nakajima and Heisuke Yanagawa, who informed him that the Japanese troops had almost completely surrounded three hundred thousand Chinese troops in the vicinity of Nanking and that preliminary negotiations suggested that the Chinese were ready to surrender.

Prince Asaka allegedly issued an order to "kill all captives," thus providing official sanction for the crimes which took place during and after the battle. Some authors record that Prince Asaka signed the order for Japanese soldiers in Nanking to "kill all captives" Others claim that lieutenant colonel Isamu Cho, Asaka's aide-de-cam, sent this order under the Prince's sign manual without the Prince's knowledge or assent. However, even if Chō took the initiative on his own, Prince Asaka, who was nominally the officer in charge, gave no orders to stop the carnage.

When General Matsui arrived in the city four days after the massacre had begun, he issued strict orders that resulted in the eventual end of the massacre.

While the extent of Prince Asaka's responsibility for the massacre remains a matter of debate, the ultimate sanction for the massacre and the crimes committed during the invasion of China were issued in the Emperor Hirohito’s ratification of the Japanese army's proposition to remove the constraints of  international lawon the treatment of Chinese prisoners on August 5, 1937.

The Battle of Nanking

Siege of the city

On December 7, the Japanese army issued a command to all troops, advising that because occupying a foreign capital was an unprecedented event for the Japanese military, those soldiers who "[commit] any illegal acts", "dishonor the Japanese Army", "loot", or "cause a fire to break out, even because of their carelessness" would be severely punished.

The Japanese military continued to move forward, breaching the last lines of Chinese resistance, and arriving outside the walled city of Nanking on December 9.

Demand for surrender

At noon on December 9, the military dropped leaflets into the city, urging the surrender of Nanking within 24 hours, promising annihilation if refused. Meanwhile, members of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone contacted Tang and suggested a plan for three-day cease-fire, during which the Chinese troops could withdraw without fighting while the Japanese troops would stay in their present position.

General Tang agreed with this proposal if the International Committee could acquire permission of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who had already fled to Hankow to which he had temporarily shifted the military headquarters two days earlier.

German businessman and chairman of the International Committee, John Rabe, boarded the U.S. gunboat Panay on Dec. 9 and sent two telegrams, one to Chiang Kai-shek by way of the American ambassador in Hankow, and one to the Japanese military authority in Shanghai. The next day he was informed that Chiang Kai-shek, who had ordered that Nanking be defended "to the last man," had refused to accept the proposal.

Assault and capture of Nanking

Iwane Matsui enters Nanking, The Japanese awaited an answer to their demand for surrender but no response was received from the Chinese by the noon deadline on December 10. General Matsui Iwane waited another hour before issuing the command to take Nanking by force. The Japanese army mounted its assault on the Nanking walls from multiple directions; the SEF’s 16th Division attacked three gates on the eastern side, the 6th Division of the 10A launched its offensive on the western walls, and the SEF’s 9th Division advanced into the area in-between.

On December 12, after two days of Japanese attack, under heavy artillery fire and aerial bombardment, General Tang Sheng-chi ordered his men to retreat. What followed was nothing short of chaos. Some Chinese soldiers stripped civilians of their clothing in a desperate attempt to blend in, and many others were shot by the Chinese supervisory unit as they tried to flee.

On the 13th of December, the 6th and the 116th Divisions of the Japanese Army were the first to enter the city, facing little military resistance. Simultaneously, the 9th Division entered nearby Guanghua Gate, and the 16th Division entered the Zhongshan and Taiping gates. That same afternoon, two small Japanese Navy fleets arrived on both sides of the Yangtze River. Nanking fell to the Japanese by nightfall.

Pursuit and mopping-up operations

Soldiers from the Imperial Japanese Army enter Nanking in January 1938, Japanese troops pursued the retreating Chinese army units, primarily in the Xiakuan area to the north of the city walls and around the Zijin Mountain in the east. Although the popular narrative suggests that the final phase of the battle consisted of a one-sided slaughter of Chinese troops by the Japanese, some Japanese historians maintain that the remaining Chinese military still posed a serious threat to the Japanese. Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, SEF commander, told a war correspondent later that he was in a very perilous position when his headquarters was ambushed by Chinese forces that were in the midst of retreating from Nanking east of the city. On the other side of the city, the 11th Company of the 45th Regiment encountered some 20,000 Chinese soldiers who were making their way from Xiakuan.

The Japanese army conducted its mopping-up operation both inside and outside the Nanking Safety zone.   

Since the area outside the safety zone had been almost completely evacuated, the mopping-up effort was concentrated in the safety zone. The safety zone, an area of 3.85 square kilometers, was literally packed with the remaining population of Nanking. The Japanese army leadership assigned sections of the safety zone to some units to separate alleged plain-clothed soldiers from the civilians.


Eyewitness accounts of Westerners and Chinese present at Nanking in the weeks after the fall of the city state that over the course of six weeks following the fall of Nanking, Japanese troops engaged in rape, murder, theft, arson, and other war crimes. Some of these accounts came from foreigners who opted to stay behind in order to protect Chinese civilians from harm, including the diaries of German John Rabe and American Minnie Vautrin. Other accounts include first-person testimonies of the Nanking Massacre survivors, eyewitness reports of journalists (both Western and Japanese), as well as the field diaries of military personnel. An American missionary, John Magee, stayed behind to provide a 16 mm film documentary and first-hand photographs of the Nanking Massacre.

A group of foreign expatriates headed by John Rabe had formed the 15-man International Committee on November 22 and mapped out the Nanking Safety Zone in order to safeguard civilians in the city, where the population numbered from 200,000 to 250,000. Rabe and American missionary Lewis S. C. Smythe, secretary of the International Committee and a professor of sociology at the University of Nanking, recorded the actions of the Japanese troops and filed complaints to the Japanese embassy.


Case 5 of John Magee's film: on December 13, 1937, about 30 Japanese soldiers murdered all but 2 Chinese of 11 in the house at No. 5 Xinlukou. A woman and her two teenager daughters were raped, and Japanese rammed a bottle and a cane in the vagina. An eight-year old girl was stabbed but she and her younger sister survived. They were found alive, two weeks after the tragedy by an old lady shown in the photo. Bodies of the victims can also be seen in the photo.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that 20,000 women were raped, including infants and the elderly. A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped. The women were often killed immediately after the rape, often through explicit mutilation or by stabbing a bayonet, long stick of bamboo, or other objects into the vagina.

On 19 December 1937, Reverend James M. McCallum wrote in his diary:

I know not where to end. Never I have heard or read such brutality. Rape! Rape! Rape! We estimate at least 1,000 cases a night, and many by day. In case of resistance or anything that seems like disapproval, there is a bayonet stab or a bullet ... People are hysterical ... Women are being carried off every morning, afternoon and evening. The whole Japanese army seems to be free to go and come as it pleases, and to do whatever it pleases.

On March 7, 1938, Robert O. Wilson, a surgeon at the American-administered University Hospital in the Safety Zone, wrote in a letter to his family, "a conservative estimate of people slaughtered in cold blood is somewhere about 100,000, including of course thousands of soldiers that had thrown down their arms".

Here are two excerpts from his letters of 15 and 18 December 1937 to his family:

The slaughter of civilians is appalling. I could go on for pages telling of cases of rape and brutality almost beyond belief. Two bayoneted corpses are the only survivors of seven street cleaners who were sitting in their headquarters when Japanese soldiers came in without warning or reason and killed five of their number and wounded the two that found their way to the hospital.

Let me recount some instances occurring in the last two days. Last night the house of one of the Chinese staff members of the university was broken into and two of the women, his relatives, were raped. Two girls, about 16, were raped to death in one of the refugee camps. In the University Middle School where there are 8,000 people the Japs came in ten times last night, over the wall, stole food, clothing, and raped until they were satisfied. They bayoneted one little boy of eight who have [sic] five bayonet wounds including one that penetrated his stomach, a portion of momentum was outside the abdomen. I think he will live.

In his diary kept during the aggression to the city and its occupation by the Imperial Japanese Army, the leader of the Safety Zone, John Rabe, wrote many comments about Japanese atrocities.

For the 17th December:

Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden wall and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital ... Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling College Girls alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they're shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers.

There are also accounts of Japanese troops forcing families to commit acts of incest. Sons were forced to rape their mothers, fathers were forced to rape daughters. One pregnant woman who was gang-raped by Japanese soldiers gave birth only a few hours later; although the baby appeared to be physically unharmed (Robert B. Edgerton, Warriors of the Rising Sun). Monks who had declared a life of celibacy were also forced to rape women.

Murder of civilians

On 13 December 1937, John Rabe wrote in his diary:

It is not until we tour the city that we learn the extent of destruction. We come across corpses every 100 to 200 yards. The bodies of civilians that I examined had bullet holes in their backs. These people had presumably been fleeing and were shot from behind. The Japanese march through the city in groups of ten to twenty soldiers and loot the shops (...) I watched with my own eyes as they looted the café of our German baker Herr Kiessling. Hempel's hotel was broken into as well, as almost every shop on Chung Shang and Taiping Road.

On 10 February 1938,

Legation Secretary of the German Embassy, Rosen, wrote to his Foreign Ministry about a film made in December by Reverend John Magee to recommend its purchase. Here is an excerpt from his letter and a description of some of its shots, kept in the Political Archives of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

During the Japanese reign of terror in Nanking – which, by the way, continues to this day to a considerable degree – the Reverend John Magee, a member of the American Episcopal Church Mission who has been here for almost a quarter of a century, took motion pictures that eloquently bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Japanese .... One will have to wait and see whether the highest officers in the Japanese army succeed, as they have indicated, in stopping the activities of their troops, which continue even today.

On December 13,

About 30 soldiers came to a Chinese house at #5 Hsing Lu Koo in the southeastern part of Nanking, and demanded entrance. The door was open by the landlord, a Mohammedan named Ha. They killed him immediately with a revolver and also Mrs. Ha, who knelt before them after Ha's death, begging them not to kill anyone else. Mrs. Ha asked them why they killed her husband and they shot her. Mrs. Hsia was dragged out from under a table in the guest hall where she had tried to hide with her 1 year old baby. After being stripped and raped by one or more men, she was bayoneted in the chest, and then had a bottle thrust into her vagina. The baby was killed with a bayonet. Some soldiers then went to the next room, where Mrs. Hsia's parents, aged 76 and 74, and her two daughters aged 16 and 14. They were about to rape the girls when the grandmother tried to protect them. The soldiers killed her with a revolver. The grandfather grasped the body of his wife and was killed. The two girls were then stripped, the elder being raped by 2–3 men, and the younger by 3. The older girl was stabbed afterwards and a cane was rammed in her vagina. The younger girl was bayoneted also but was spared the horrible treatment that had been meted out to her sister and mother. The soldiers then bayoneted another sister of between 7–8, who was also in the room. The last murders in the house were of Ha's two children, aged 4 and 2 respectively. The older was bayoneted and the younger split down through the head with a sword.

Pregnant women were a target of murder, as they would often be bayoneted in the stomach, sometimes after rape. Tang Junshan, survivor and witness to one of the Japanese army’s systematic mass killings, testified:

The seventh and last person in the first row was a pregnant woman. The soldier thought he might as well rape her before killing her, so he pulled her out of the group to a spot about ten meters away. As he was trying to rape her, the woman resisted fiercely ... The soldier abruptly stabbed her in the belly with a bayonet. She gave a final scream as her intestines spilled out. Then the soldier stabbed the fetus, with its umbilical cord clearly visible, and tossed it aside.

According to Navy veteran Sho Mitani,

The Army used a trumpet sound that meant "Kill all Chinese who run away"». Thousands were led away and mass-executed in an excavation known as the "Ten-Thousand-Corpse Ditch", a trench measuring about 300m long and 5m wide. Since records were not kept, estimates regarding the number of victims buried in the ditch range from 4,000 to 20,000. However, most scholars and historians consider the number to be more than 12,000 victims.

Execution of Chinese POWs


On August 6, 1937,

Hirohito had personally ratified his army's proposition to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners. This directive also advised staff officers to stop using the term "prisoner of war".

Immediately after the fall of the city, Japanese troops embarked on a determined search for former soldiers, in which thousands of young men were captured. Many were taken to the Yangtze River, where they were machine-gunned. What was probably the single largest massacre of Chinese troops occurred along the banks of the Yangtze River on December 18 in what is called the Straw String Gorge Massacre. Japanese soldiers took most of the morning tying all of the POWs hands together and in the dusk divided them into 4 columns, and opened fire at them. Unable to escape, the POWs could only scream and thrash in desperation. It took an hour for the sounds of death to stop, and even longer for the Japanese to bayonet each individual. Most were dumped into the Yangtze. It is estimated that at least 57,500 Chinese POWs were killed.

The Japanese troops gathered 1,300 Chinese soldiers and civilians at Taiping Gate and killed them. The victims were blown up with landmines, then doused with petrol before being set on fire. Those that were left alive afterward were killed with bayonets.

F. Tillman Durdin and Archibald Steele, American news correspondents,

Reported that they had seen bodies of killed Chinese soldiers forming mounds six feet high at the Nanking Yijiang gate in the north. Durdin, who was working for the New York Times, made a tour of Nanking before his departure from the city. He heard waves of machine-gun fire and witnessed the Japanese soldiers gun down some two hundred Chinese within ten minutes.

Two days later, in his report to the New York Times, he stated that the alleys and street were filled with civilian bodies, including women and children.

According to a testimony made by missionary Ralph L. Phillips to the U.S. State Assembly Investigating Committee, he was "forced to watch while the Japs disembowled a Chinese soldier" and "roasted his heart and liver and ate them".

Theft and arson

One-third of the city was destroyed as a result of arson. According to reports, Japanese troops torched newly-built government buildings as well as the homes of many civilians. There was considerable destruction to areas outside the city walls. Soldiers pillaged from the poor and the wealthy alike. The lack of resistance from Chinese troops and civilians in Nanking meant that the Japanese soldiers were free to divide up the city's valuables as they saw fit. This resulted in the widespread looting and burglary.

On 17 December, John Rabe wrote as chairman a complaint to Kiyoshi Fukui, second secretary of the Japanese Embassy.

The following is an excerpt:

In other words, on the 13th when your troops entered the city, we had nearly all the civilian population gathered in a Zone in which there had been very little destruction by stray shells and no looting by Chinese soldiers even in full retreat ... All 27 Occidentals in the city at that time and our Chinese population were totally surprised by the reign of robbery, raping and killing initiated by your soldiers on the 14th. All we are asking in our protest is that you restore order among your troops and get the normal life city going as soon as possible. In the latter process we are glad to cooperate in any way we can. But even last night between 8 and 9 p.m. when five Occidentals members of our staff and Committee toured the Zone to observe conditions, we did not find any single Japanese patrol either in the Zone or at the entrances!

Nanking Safety Zone and the role of foreigners

The Japanese troops did respect the Zone to an extent; no shells entered that part of the city leading up to the Japanese occupation except a few stray shots. During the chaos following the attack of the city, some were killed in the Safety Zone, but the crimes that took place in the rest of the city were far greater by all accounts.

The Japanese soldiers committed actions in the Safety Zone that were part of the larger Nanking Massacre.

The International Committee appealed a number of times to the Japanese army, with John Rabe using his credentials as a NSDAP member, but to no avail.

Rabe wrote that from time to time the Japanese would enter the Safety Zone at will, carry off a few hundred men and women, and either summarily execute them or rape and then kill them.

By February 5, 1938, the International Committee had forwarded to the Japanese embassy a total of 450 cases of murder, rape, and general disorder by Japanese soldiers that had been reported after the American, British and German diplomats had returned to their embassies.

"Case 5- On the night of December 14th, there were many cases of Japanese soldiers entering houses and raping women or taking them away. This created panic in the area and hundreds of women moved into the Gingling College campus yesterday."

"Case 10- On the night of December 15th, a number of Japanese soldiers entered the University of Nanking buildings at Tao Yuen and raped 30 women on the spot, some by six men."

"Case 13 – December 18, 4 p.m., at No. 18 I Ho Lu, Japanese soldiers wanted a man's cigarette case and when he hesitated, one of the soldier crashed in the side of his head with a bayonet. The man is now at the University Hospital and is not expected to live."

"Case 14 – On December 16th, seven girls (ages ranged from 16 to 21) were taken away from the Military College. Five returned. Each girl was raped six or seven times daily- reported December 18th."

"Case 15 – There are about 540 refugees crowded in #83 and 85 on Canton Road... More than 30 women and girls have been raped. The women and children are crying all nights. Conditions inside the compound are worse than we can describe. Please give us help."

"Case 16- A Chinese girl named Loh, who, with her mother and brother, was living in one of the Refugee Centers in the Refugee Zone, was shot through the head and killed by a Japanese soldier. The girl was 14 years old. The incident occurred near the Kuling Ssu, a noted temple on the border of the Refugee zone.

"Case 19 – January 30th, about 5 p.m. Mr. Sone (of the Nanking Theological Seminary) was greeted by several hundred women pleading with him that they would not have to go home on February 4th. They said it was no use going home they might just as well be killed for staying at the camp as to be raped, robbed or killed at home. One old woman 62 years old went home near Hansimen and Japanese soldiers came at night and wanted to rape her. She said she was too old. So the soldiers rammed a stick up her. But she survived to come back."

It is said that Rabe rescued between 200,000 – 250,000 Chinese people.

Matsui's reaction to the massacre

On December 18, 1937 as Matsui began to comprehend the full extent of the rape, murder, and looting in the city, he grew increasingly dismayed. He reportedly told one of his civilian aides: "I now realize that we have unknowingly wrought a most grievous effect on this city. When I think of the feelings and sentiments of many of my Chinese friends who have fled from Nanking and of the future of the two countries, I cannot but feel depressed. I am very lonely and can never get in a mood to rejoice about this victory."

He even let a tinge of regret flavor the statement he released to the press that morning: "I personally feel sorry for the tragedies to the people, but the Army must continue unless China repents. Now, in the winter, the season gives time to reflect. I offer my sympathy, with deep emotion, to a million innocent people." On New Year's Day, Matsui was still upset about the behavior of the Japanese soldiers at Nanking. Over a toast he confided to a Japanese diplomat: "My men have done something very wrong and extremely regrettable."

End of the massacre

In late January 1938, the Japanese army forced all refugees in the Safety Zone to return home, immediately claiming to have "restored order".

After the establishment of the “weixin zhengfu” (the collaborating government) in 1938, order was gradually restored in Nanking and atrocities by Japanese troops lessened considerably.

On February 18, 1938, the Nanking Safety Zone International Committee was forcibly renamed "Nanking International Rescue Committee", and the Safety Zone effectively ceased to function. The last refugee camps were closed in May 1938.

Recall of Matsui and Asaka

In February 1938 both Prince Asaka and General Matsui were recalled to Japan. Matsui returned to retirement, but Prince Asaka remained on the Supreme War Council until the end of the war in August 1945. He was promoted to the rank of general in August 1939, though he held no further military commands.

Death toll estimates

Estimates of the number of victims vary based on the definitions of the geographical range and the duration of the event.

According to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, estimates made at a later date indicate that the total number of civilians and prisoners of war murdered in Nanking and its vicinity during the first six weeks of the Japanese occupation was over 200,000. These estimates are borne out by the figures of burial societies and other organizations, which testify to over 155,000 buried bodies. These figures do not take into account those persons whose bodies were destroyed by burning, drowning, or other means.
According to the verdict of the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal on 10 March 1947, there are "more than 190,000 mass slaughtered civilians and Chinese soldiers killed by machine gun by the Japanese army, whose corpses have been burned to destroy proof. Besides, we count more than 150,000 victims of barbarian acts buried by the charity organizations. We thus have a total of more than 300,000 victims."

The extent of the atrocities is debated, with numbers ranging from some Japanese claims of several hundred, to the Chinese claim of a non-combatant death toll of 300,000. A number of Japanese researchers consider 100,000–200,000 to be an accurate estimate.

Other nations believe the death toll to be between 150,000–300,000, based on the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal verdict, and another estimate of the civilian toll (excluding soldiers and POWs) is about 40,000–60,000, which corresponds to the figures from three sources; one is the Red Army's official journal of the time, Hangdibao and another is that of Miner Searle Bates of the International Safety Zone Committee, and the third is the aforementioned figure written by John Rabe in a letter. The casualty count of 300,000 was first promulgated in January 1938 by Harold Timperley, a journalist in China during the Japanese invasion, based on reports from contemporary eyewitnesses.

Other sources, including Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking, also conclude that the death toll reached 300,000. In December 2007, newly declassified U.S. government show that a telegraph of U.S. ambassador to Germany in Berlin sent one day after the Japanese army occupied Nanjing, stating that he heard Japanese Ambassador in Germany boasting that Japanese army killed 500,000 Chinese people as the Japanese army advanced from Shanghai to Nanking.

Range and duration

The most conservative viewpoint is that the geographical area of the incident should be limited to the few km2 of the city known as the Safety Zone, where the civilians gathered after the invasion. Many Japanese historians seized upon the fact that during the Japanese invasion there were only 200,000–250,000 citizens in Nanking as reported by John Rabe, to argue that the PRC's estimate of 300,000 deaths is a vast exaggeration.

However, many historians include a much larger area around the city. Including the Xiaguan district (the suburbs north of Nanking, about 31 km2 in size) and other areas on the outskirts of the city, the population of greater Nanking was running between 535,000 and 635,000 civilians and soldiers just prior to the Japanese occupation. Some historians also include six counties around Nanking, known as the Nanking Special Municipality.

The duration of the incident is naturally defined by its geography: the earlier the Japanese entered the area, the longer the duration. The Battle of Nanking ended on December 13, when the divisions of the Japanese Army entered the walled city of Nanking. The Tokyo War Crime Tribunal defined the period of the massacre to the ensuing six weeks.

More conservative estimates say the massacre started on December 14, when the troops entered the Safety Zone, and that it lasted for six weeks. Historians who define the Nanking Massacre as having started from the time the Japanese Army entered Jiangsu province push the beginning of the massacre to around mid-November to early December (Suzhou fell on November 19), and stretch the end of the massacre to late March 1938.

Various estimates

Japanese historians, depending on their definition of the geographical and time duration of the killings, give wide-ranging estimates for the number of massacred civilians, from several thousand to upwards of 200,000.

Chinese language sources tend to place the figure of massacred civilians upwards of 200,000. For example, a postwar investigation by the Nanking District Court put the number of dead during the incident as 295,525, 76% of them men, 22% women and 2% children.

A 42-part ROC documentary produced from 1995 to 1997, entitled An Inch of Blood For An Inch of Land, asserts that 340,000 Chinese civilians died in Nanking City as a result of the Japanese invasion, 150,000 through bombing and crossfire in the five-day battle, and 190,000 in the massacre, based on the evidence presented at the Tokyo Trials.

War crimes tribunals

Shortly after the surrender of Japan, the primary officers in charge of the Japanese troops at Nanking were put on trial. General Matsui was indicted before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for "deliberately and recklessly" ignoring his legal duty "to take adequate steps to secure the observance and prevent breaches" of the Hague Convention. Hisao Tani, the lieutenant general of the 6th Division of the Japanese army in Nanking, was tried by the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal.

Other Japanese military leaders in charge at the time of the Nanking Massacre were not tried. Prince Kan'in, chief of staff of the Japanese Army during the massacre, had died before the end of the war in May 1945. Prince Asaka was granted immunity because of his status as a member of the imperial family. Isamu Cho, the aide of Prince Asaka, and who some historians believe issued the "kill all captives" memo, had committed suicide during the defense of Okinawa.

Grant of immunity to Prince Asaka

On May 1, 1946, SCAP officials interrogated Prince Asaka, who was the ranking officer in the city at the height of the atrocities, about his involvement in the Nanking Massacre and the deposition was submitted to the International Prosecution Section of the Tokyo tribunal. Asaka denied the existence of any massacre and claimed never to have received complaints about the conduct of his troops.

Whatever his culpability may have been, Asaka was not prosecuted before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East at least in part because under the pact concluded between General MacArthur and Hirohito, the Emperor himself and all the members of the imperial family were granted immunity from prosecution.

The prosecution began the Nanking phase of its case in July 1946. Dr. Robert O. Wilson, a surgeon and a member of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, took the witness stand first.
Other members of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone who took the witness stand included Miner Searle Bates and John Magee. George A. Fitch, Lewis Smythe and James McCallum filed affidavits with their diaries and letters.

Another piece of evidence that was submitted to the tribunal was Harold Timperley's telegram regarding the Nanking Massacre which had been intercepted and decoded by the Americans on January 17, 1938.
One of the books by Hsü, Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone, was also adduced in court.

According to Matsui's own diary, one day after he made the ceremonial triumphal entry into the city on December 17, 1937, he instructed the chiefs of staff from each division to tighten military discipline and try to eradicate the sense of disdain for Chinese people among their soldiers.

On February 7, 1938, Matsui delivered a speech at a memorial service for the Japanese officers and men of the Shanghai Expeditionary Force who were killed in action. In front of the high-ranking officers, Domei News Agency reported, he emphasized the necessity to "put an end to various reports affecting the prestige of the Japanese troops."

The entry for the same day in Matsui's diary read, "I could only feel sadness and responsibility today, which has been overwhelmingly piercing my heart. This is caused by the Army's misbehaviors after the fall of Nanking and failure to proceed with the autonomous government and other political plans."

Matsui's defense

Matsui's defence varied between denying the mass-scale atrocities and evading his responsibility for what had happened. Eventually he ended up making numerous conflicting statements.

In the interrogation in Sugamo prison preceding the trial Matsui admitted that he heard about the many outrages committed by his troops from Japanese diplomats when he entered Nanking on December 17, 1937.

In court, he contradicted the earlier testimony and told the judges that he was not "officially" briefed at the consulate about the evildoings, presumably to avoid admitting any contact with the consulate officials such as Second Secretary (later Acting Consul-General) Fukui Kiyoshi and Attaché Fukuda Tokuyasu who received and dealt with the protests filed by the International Committee.

In the same interrogation session before the trial Matsui said one officer and three low-ranking soldiers were court-martialed because of their misbehavior in Nanking and the officer was sentenced to death.
In his affidavit Matsui said he ordered his officers to investigate the massacre and to take necessary action. In court, however, Matsui said that he did not have jurisdiction over the soldiers' misconduct since he was not in the position of supervising military discipline and morals.

Matsui asserted that he had never ordered the execution of Chinese POWs. He further argued that he had directed his army division commanders to discipline their troops for criminal acts, and was not responsible for their failure to carry out his directives. At trial, Matsui went out of his way to protect Prince Asaka by shifting blame to lower ranking division commanders.


In the end the Tribunal connected only two defendants to the Rape of Nanking
Matsui was convicted of count 55, which charged him with being one of the senior officers who "deliberately and recklessly disregarded their legal duty [by virtue of their respective offices] to take adequate steps to secure the observance [of the Laws and Customs of War] and prevent breaches thereof, and thereby violated the laws of war."

Hirota Koki, who had been the Foreign Minister when Japan conquered Nanking, was convicted of participating in "the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy" (count 1), waging "a war of aggression and a war in violation of international laws, treaties, agreements and assurances against the Republic of China" (count 27) and count 55.

Matsui was convicted by a majority of the judges at the Tokyo tribunal who ruled that he bore ultimate responsibility for the "orgy of crime" at Nanking because, "He did nothing, or nothing effective, to abate these horrors."

Organized and wholesale murder of male civilians was conducted with the apparent sanction of the commanders on the pretext that Chinese soldiers had removed their uniforms and were mingling with the population. Groups of Chinese civilians were formed, bound with their hands behind their backs, and marched outside the walls of the city where they were killed in groups by machine gun fire and with bayonets. --- From Judgment of the International Military Tribunal

Radhabinod Pal, the member of the tribunal from India, dissented from the conviction arguing that the commander-in-chief must rely on his subordinate officers to enforce soldier discipline. "The name of Justice," Pal wrote in his dissent, "should not be allowed to be invoked only for ... vindictive retaliation."


On November 12, 1948, on the basis of a simple majority of the eleven judges, Matsui and Hirota, with five other convicted Class-A war criminals, were sentenced to death by hanging. Eighteen others received lesser sentences. The death sentence imposed on Hirota, who was apparently sent to the gallows on the basis of a bare six votes, shocked the general public and prompted a petition on his behalf, which soon gathered over 300,000 signatures, but to no avail.
General Hisao Tani was sentenced to death by the Nanking War Crimes Tribunal.


In 1985, a memorial hall was built by the Nanking Municipal Government in remembrance of the victims and to raise awareness of the Nanking Massacre. It is located near a site where thousands of bodies were buried, called a "pit of ten thousand corpses," or "wan ren keng."

In 2005, John Rabe's former residence in Nanking was renovated and now accommodates the "John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall", which opened in 2006.


Main article: Nanking Massacre controversy and denial

Further information: “Historiography of the Nanking Massacre”

China and Japan have both acknowledged the occurrence of wartime atrocities. Disputes over the historical portrayal of these events continue to cause tensions between Japan on one side and China and other East Asian countries on the other side.

Cold War

Before the 1970s, China did relatively little to draw attention to the Nanking massacre. In her book Rape of Nanking Iris Chang asserted that the politics of the Cold War encouraged Mao to stay relatively silent about Nanking in order to keep a trade relationship with Japan. In turn, China and the United States occasionally used Nanking as an opportunity to demonize one another.

Debate in Japan

The major waves of Japanese treatment of these events have ranged from total cover-up during the war, confessions and documentation by the Japanese soldiers during the 1950s and 1960s, minimization of the extent of the Nanking Massacre during the 1970s and 1980s, official Japanese government distortion and rewriting of history during the 1980s, and total denial of the occurrence of the Nanking Massacre by some government officials in 1990.

The debate concerning the massacre took place mainly in the 1970s. During this time, the Chinese government's statements about the event were attacked by the Japanese because they were said to rely too heavily on personal testimonies and anecdotal evidence. Aspersions were cast regarding the authenticity and accuracy of burial records and photographs presented in the Tokyo War Crime Court, which were said to be fabrications by the Chinese government, artificially manipulated or incorrectly attributed to the Nanking Massacre.

During the 1970s, Katsuichi Honda wrote a series of articles for the Asahi Shimbun on war crimes committed by Japanese soldiers during World War II (such as the Nanking Massacre). The publication of these articles triggered a vehement response from Japanese right-wingers regarding the Japanese treatment of the war crimes. In response, Shichihei Yamamoto and Akira Suzuki wrote two controversial yet influential articles which sparked the negationist movement.

Apology and condolences by the prime minister and emperor of Japan

See also: List of war apology statements issued by Japan

On August 15, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the Surrender of Japan, the Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama gave the first clear and formal apology for Japanese actions during the war. He apologized for Japan's wrongful aggression and the great suffering that it inflicted in Asia. He offered his heartfelt apology to all survivors and to the relatives and friends of the victims. That day, the prime minister and the Japanese Emperor Akihito pronounced statements of mourning at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan. The emperor offered his condolences and expressed the hope that such atrocities would never be repeated. Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking, criticized Murayama for not providing the written apology that had been expected. She said that the people of China "don't believe that an... unequivocal and sincere apology has ever been made by Japan to China" and that a written apology from Japan would send a better message to the international community.

Denial of the massacre by the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan
In 2007, a group of around 100 Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) lawmakers again denounced the Nanjing Massacre as a fabrication, arguing that there was no evidence to prove the allegations of mass killings by Japanese soldiers. They accused Beijing of using the alleged incident as a "political advertisement".


Effect on international relations

The memory of the Nanking Massacre has been a stumbling block in Sino-Japanese relations since the early 1970s. Bilateral exchanges on trade, culture and education have increased greatly since the two countries normalized their bilateral relations and Japan became China’s most important trading partner.

Trade between the two nations is worth over $200 billion annually. Despite this, many Chinese people still have a strong sense of mistrust and animosity toward Japan that originates from the memory of Japanese war crimes such as the Nanking Massacre. This sense of mistrust is strengthened by the belief that Japan is unwilling to admit to and apologize for the atrocities.

Takashi Yoshida described how changing political concerns and perceptions of the "national interest" in Japan, China, and Western countries have shaped collective memory of the Nanking massacre. Yoshida asserted that over time the event has acquired different meanings to different people.

Many Japanese prime ministers have visited the Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine for dead Japanese soldiers of World War II, including some war criminals of the Nanking Massacre. In 2006 former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi made a pilgrimage to the shrine despite warnings from China and South Korea. His decision to visit the shrine regardless sparked international outrage. Although Koizumi denied that he was trying to glorify war or historical Japanese militarism, The Chinese Foreign Ministry accused Koizumi of "wrecking the political foundations of China-Japan relations". An official from South Korea said they would summon the Tokyo ambassador to protest.

As a component of national identity

Takashi Yoshida asserts that, "Nanking has figured in the attempts of all three nations [China, Japan and the United States] to preserve and redefine national and ethnic pride and identity, assuming different kinds of significance based on each country's changing internal and external enemies."


Main article: Japanese history textbook controversies

In Japan, the Nanking Massacre touches upon national identity and notions of "pride, honor and shame." Yoshida argues that "Nanking crystallizes a much larger conflict over what should constitute the ideal perception of the nation: Japan, as a nation, acknowledges its past and apologizes for its wartime wrongdoings; or . . . stands firm against foreign pressures and teaches Japanese youth about the benevolent and courageous martyrs who fought a just war to save Asia from Western aggression." Recognizing the Nanking Massacre as such can be viewed in some circles in Japan as "Japan bashing" (in the case of foreigners) or "self-flagellation" (in the case of Japanese).

The majority of Japanese acknowledge the atrocities committed during the Nanking Massacre. Some negationists and Japanese officials have openly denied the incident, claiming it propaganda designed to spark an anti-Japan movement.


The Nanking massacre has emerged as a fundamental keystone in the construction of the modern Chinese national identity.

In the media

Novels Chand, Meira, A Choice of Evils (London: The Orion Publishing Company, 1996)
Hayder, Mo. The Devil of Nanking [First published...(Britain: Bantam Press/Transworld Publishers, 2005)] Tokyo (novel) Qi, Shouhua. When the Purple Mountain Burns: A Novel. San Francisco: Long River Press, 2005. Qi, Shouhua. Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking English Chinese Bilingual Edition (2009) Qi, Shouhua. Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking (Paperback, 2010) West, Paul. The Tent of Orange Mist (1995)


Nankin Jiken Gyakusatsu no kozo by Ikuhiko Hata ISBN 4121007956, ISBN 4121907957
The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang (1997) The Nanjing Massacre. A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan's National Shame by Katsuichi Honda (1998) The Alleged "Nanking Massacre" – Japan's rebuttal to China's forged claims by Tadao Takemoto, Yasuo Ohara (2000) The Good German of Nanking – The Diaries of John Rabe edited by Erwin Wickert (1998), ISBN 0 349 11141 3


See also: Category:Nanking Massacre films

The Battle of China (1944) a documentary film by American director Frank Capra.
Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre (1995), by Chinese director Mou Tun Fei, recreates the events of the Nanking Massacre. Don't Cry, Nanking aka (Nanjing 1937) (1995) directed by Wu Ziniu is a historical fiction centering around a Chinese doctor, his Japanese wife, and their children, as they experience the siege, fall, and massacre of Nanking. Tokyo Trial (2006) is about the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. The Children of Huang Shi (film) (2008) is inspired by the story of the English journalist George Hogg who took pictures of the Nanking Massacre, escaped death by beheading, and fled to the orphanage in Huang Shi. Nanking (2007), directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, that makes use of letters and diaries from the era as well as archive footage and interviews with surviving victims and those involved in the massacre. The Truth about Nanjing (2007), a documentary by Satoru Mizushima denying that any such massacre took place. City of Life and Death (2009) directed by Lu Chuan, a dramatization of the Nanking Massacre. John Rabe (2009) directed by Florian Gallenberger, a Sino-German co-production about the life of John Rabe, featuring Ulrich Tukur in the title role and Steve Buscemi in a supporting role.

TV series

War and Destiny 2007 a story about life in Nanking up until and during the Japanese invasion.


In December 2007, the Chinese government published the names of 13,000 people who were killed by Japanese troops in the Nanking Massacre. According to Xinhua News Agency, it is the most complete record to date. The report consists of eight volumes and was released to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the massacre. It also lists the Japanese army units that were responsible for each of the deaths and states the way in which the victims were killed. Zhang Xianwen, editor-in-chief of the report, states that the information collected was based on "a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Western raw materials, which is objective and just and is able to stand the trial of history." This report formed part of a 55-volume series (Collection of Historical Materials of Nanjing Massacre about the massacre.


A bronze statue of Iris Chang at the Nanjing Massacre Memoial Hall in Nanjing

Iris Chang
Born March 28, 1968(1968-03-28)
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Died November 9, 2004 (aged 36)
south of Los Gatos, California, USA
Occupation author, journalist
Nationality USA
Period 1995–2003
Subjects Tsien Hsue-shen, Nanking Massacre, Chinese Americans
Spouse(s) Bretton Douglas
Children 1 Christopher

Iris Shun-Ru Chang (simplified Chinese: Zhāng Chúnrú; March 28, 1968November 9, 2004) was an American journalist . She is best known for her best-selling 1997 account of the Nanking Massacre, The Rape of Nanking. She committed suicide on November 9, 2004. Chang is the subject of the 2007 biographical book, Finding Iris Chang, as well as the 2007 documentary film Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking.

Personal life

The daughter of two university professors who emigrated from
China, Chang was born in Princeton, New Jersey but raised in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she graduated from University Laboratory High School in 1985.

Chang earned a bachelor's degree in journalism at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989, during which time she also worked as a New York Times stringer from Urbana-Champaign, and wrote six front-page articles over the course of one year. After brief stints at the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune she pursued a master's degree in Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

She then embarked on her career as an author, and also lectured and wrote articles for various magazines. Chang married Bretton Lee Douglas, whom she had met in college. The couple had one son, Christopher, who was 2 years old at the time of her death. She lived in San Jose, California in the final years of her life. Chang was an atheist.

Chang wrote three books documenting the experiences of Asians and Chinese Americans in history. Her first book, titled Thread of the Silkworm (1995),[5] tells the life story of the Chinese professor, Dr. Tsien Hsue-shen during the Red Scare in the 1950s.

Although Tsien was one of the founders of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and helped the military of the United States debrief scientists from Nazi Germany for many years, he was suddenly accused of being a spy, a member of the Communist Party USA, and placed under house arrest from 1950 to 1955. Dr. Tsien Hsue-shen left for the People's Republic of China in September 1955.

Upon his return to China, Tsien developed the Dongfeng missile program, and later the Silkworm missile, which would be used by the Iraqi military during its war on Iran and ironically against the United States-led coalitions during Gulf Wars One and Two.
The Rape of Nanking, Chang's most famous work
Her second book, The Rape of Nanking:The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (1997),[6] was published on the 60th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, and was motivated in part by her own grandparents' stories about their escape from the massacre. It allegedly documents atrocities committed against Chinese by forces of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and includes interviews with victims. The book attracted both praise from some quarters for exposing the alleged details of the atrocity, and criticism from others because of alleged inaccuracies.

For instance, Daqing Yang, a professor at George Washington University, wrote that "the publication of Iris Chang's book in 1997, with its numerous factual errors, handed the conservatives [in Japan] a much needed opportunity to blame the Nanking Massacre on the conspiracy of a second-generation Chinese American journalist." Professor Alvin D Coox at San Diego State University described Chang's book "As a work of history, Chang's book is flawed, as we have sought to demonstrate. If it is a politically motivated work of partisan propaganda, it is successful to a certain degree. But shouldn't Chang's compassion extend to the healing of old wounds rather than their revival?

After publication of the book, she campaigned to persuade the Japanese government to apologize for its troops' wartime conduct and to pay compensation. The work was the first English-language full-length nonfiction account of the atrocity itself,[8] and remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for 10 weeks. Based on the book, an American documentary film, Nanking, was released in 2007.

Her third book, The Chinese in America (2003),[9] is a history of Chinese-Americans which argued that Chinese Americans were treated as perpetual outsiders. Consistent with the style of her earlier works, the book relied heavily on personal accounts, drawing its strong emotional content from each of their stories. She wrote, "The America of today would not be the same America without the achievements of its ethnic Chinese," and that "scratch the surface of every American celebrity of Chinese heritage and you will find that, no matter how stellar their achievements, no matter how great their contribution to U.S. society, virtually all of them have had their identities questioned at one point or another.

Public notability

Success as an author propelled Iris Chang into becoming a public figure. The Rape of Nanking placed her in great demand as a speaker and as an interview subject, and, more broadly, as a spokesperson for an entire viewpoint that the Japanese government had not done enough to compensate victims of their invasion of

This became a political issue in the United States shortly after the book was published; Chang was one of the major advocates of a Congressional resolution proposed in 1997 to have the Japanese government apologize for war crimes, and met with First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1999 to discuss the issue. In one often mentioned incident (as reported by The Times of London):

She confronted the Japanese Ambassador to the United States on television, demanded an apology and expressed her dissatisfaction with his mere acknowledgement "that really unfortunate things happened, acts of violence were committed by members of the Japanese military".

"It is because of these types of wording and the vagueness of such expressions that Chinese people, I think, are infuriated," was her reaction.

Chang's visibility as a public figure increased with her final work, The Chinese in
America, where she argued that Chinese Americans were treated as perpetual outsiders. After her death, she became the subject of tributes from fellow writers. Mo Hayder dedicated a novel to her. Reporter Richard Rongstad eulogized her: "Iris Chang lit a flame and passed it to others and we should not allow that flame to be extinguished." In 2007, the documentary Nanking was dedicated to Chang, as well as the Chinese victims of Nanking.

Depression and death

Chang suffered a nervous breakdown in August 2004, which her family, friends and doctors attributed in part to constant sleep deprivation. At the time, she was several months into research for her fourth book, about the Bataan Death March, while simultaneously promoting The Chinese in

While on route to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where she planned to gain access to a "time capsule" of audio recordings from servicemen, she suffered an extreme bout of depression that left her unable to leave her hotel room in Louisville. A local veteran who was assisting her research helped her check into Norton Psychiatric Hospital in Louisville, where she was diagnosed with reactive psychosis, placed on medication for three days and then released to her parents.

After the release from the hospital, she continued to suffer from depression and was considered at risk for developing bipolar disorder. Chang was also reportedly deeply disturbed by much of the subject matter of her research. Her work in Nanjing left her physically weak, according to one of her co-researchers.

November 9, 2004 at about 9 a.m., Chang was found dead in her car by a county water district employee on a rural road south of Los Gatos (California) and west of State Route 17, in Santa Clara

County. Investigators concluded that Chang had shot herself through the mouth with a revolver. At the time of her death she had been taking the medications Depakote and Risperdal to stabilize her mood.

It was later discovered that she had left behind three suicide notes each dated
November 8, 2004.

One Statement of Iris Chang" stated:

I promise to get up and get out of the house every morning. I will stop by to visit my parents then go for a long walk. I will follow the doctor's orders for medications. I promise not to hurt myself. I promise not to visit Web sites that talk about suicide.

The next note was a draft of the third:

When you believe you have a future, you think in terms of generations and years. When you do not, you live not just by the day — but by the minute. It is far better that you remember me as I was — in my heyday as a best-selling author — than the wild-eyed wreck who returned from Louisville.

Each breath is becoming difficult for me to take — the anxiety can be compared to drowning in an open sea. I know that my actions will transfer some of this pain to others, indeed those who love me the most. Please forgive me. Forgive me because I cannot forgive myself.

The third note included:

There are aspects of my experience in
Louisville that I will never understand. Deep down I suspect that you may have more answers about this than I do. I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me.

Days before I left for Louisville I had a deep foreboding about my safety. I sensed suddenly threats to my own life: an eerie feeling that I was being followed in the streets, the white van parked outside my house, damaged mail arriving at my P.O. Box. I believe my detention at Norton Hospital was the government's attempt to discredit me.

I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts. I am doing this because I am too weak to withstand the years of pain and agony ahead.

Reports said that news of her suicide hit the massacre survivor community in
Nanjing hard. In tribute to Chang, the survivors held a service at the same time as her funeral, held at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Cupertino, California on Friday, November 12, 2004, at the victims' memorial hall in Nanjing. In 2005, the victims memorial hall in Nanjing, which collects documents, photos, and human remains from the massacre, added a wing dedicated to Chang.

There is a bronze statue of Iris Chang at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing.


Sfgate: article by Heidi Benson

Historian Iris Chang won many battles, The war she lost raged within

April 17, 2005|By Heidi Benson

On a cloudy Monday morning in early November, author Iris Chang, 36, drove her white 1999 Oldsmobile Alero down Alum Rock Avenue toward the green foothills of East San Jose.
She passed the iron gates of Calvary Catholic Cemetery, where marble statues of winged angels, their heads bowed in prayer, mark the graves of early settlers. She passed the football field and the blocky, concrete auditorium of James Lick High School. Turning right, she pulled into the strip mall across the street from the school. She parked in front of Reed's Sport Shop, a redwood-shingled emporium that sells fishing, cycling and hunting gear.
Tall and slender, with glossy black hair falling well past her shoulders, Iris emerged from her car wearing blue jeans and sneakers. She walked through the whooshing automatic doors and turned right. On the far wall, a gallery of mounted deer heads marked her destination: the hunting department. This was not her first visit. She knew where to find the glass case of Civil War era pistol replicas, classified as "relics." She knew that in California, she could purchase a relic immediately and avoid the 10-day waiting period necessary with other guns.

At 11:56 a.m., Iris presented her driver's license and counted out $517 in cash -- she was carrying nearly $4,000 -- and left the store with an ivory-handled Ruger "Old Army" .45 replica revolver. Back in her car, she slipped the gun and owner's manual into a cardboard box labeled "Real Estate Documents" that lay on the passenger seat. That night, she had dinner with her husband of 13 years, Brett Douglas. They went to bed at midnight.

Before dawn, Iris awoke and got into her car. Driving west toward Santa Cruz on Highway 17, she took a turnoff 25 miles from her home and parked on a steep gravel utility road within sight of the highway. Nearby, Bear Creek Road curled up the lonesome hills, thick with black oak.

At 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, a county water district employee drove past the Oldsmobile. He stopped and honked but there was no response. Thinking the driver must be asleep, he got out of his car and banged on the hood. He noticed condensation on the windows, peered inside and saw Iris in the driver's seat with her hands crossed in her lap. The revolver lay on her left leg. Her head rested against the window. Blood covered her clothes. In the backseat, a teddy bear was tucked into the car seat of her 2-year-old son, Christopher. The water district employee called his supervisor, who called 911.

Homicide detectives would eventually determine that Iris had loaded all six chambers of the gun, placed the barrel between her lips, and fired. The half-inch lead ball perforated her hard palate, passed through her left dural sinus, her left cerebral and occipital lobes, broke partially through her skull and came to rest without exiting her scalp. When her body was discovered, Iris Chang had been dead for two hours.

At Reed's Sport Shop one month after her death, the spot on the top shelf of the glass-topped case where Iris' gun had lain was still vacant. "She was in on more than one occasion," said Reed's manager, Pat Kalcic, a tall outdoorsman. "She appeared to have done research." The clerk who sold her the gun told investigators Iris had said she collected antique firearms. "She got what she wanted and got out," he said.

That such a beautiful woman would be remembered is not unusual. But Kalcic and his employees did not know how unusual Iris Chang was: a world- renowned author whose work had stirred international controversy. Neither did they know she had been bent on suicide.

On the day of Iris Chang's death, word spread quickly over news wires and the Internet. Her obituary was published in newspapers worldwide. She had gained an international reputation in 1997 when she was only 29 for writing "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II." It was the first history of Japan's brutal 1937 occupation of China's capital city and documented the weeks long rampage.

"Rape of Nanking" became an immediate best-seller and established her as an outspoken advocate for victims of Japanese war crimes. The debate it provoked -- between those Japanese who deny the atrocities and the Chinese who seek an official apology and reparations -- continues.

"Iris scraped away the scar tissue of something that had been half forgotten and half healed over, and to this date, it's still a very raw wound, " said Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. Schell reviewed her book favorably in the New York Times. "She ventured into a minefield of unexploded ordnance."

News of her suicide brought forth a chorus of disbelief. Questions hung in the air:
-- How could someone with such success, surrounded by loving family and friends, take her own life?
-- Was she "the last victim of the Rape of Nanking," plagued and destroyed by the dark histories she illuminated?

Did her single-minded determination, her habit of working beyond exhaustion, contribute to her death?

Did she suffer a fatal reaction to powerful drugs that she refused to take as prescribed?

Speculation that she may have been killed by Japanese ultranationalists continued to turn up on Web logs and Internet chat rooms. At the same time, her foes said her suicide proved that "Rape of Nanking" was nothing but lies.

Irrefutably, Iris Chang won many battles in her fight for justice. But as she began to manifest symptoms of bipolar illness, she perceived them as a failure of will. Such harsh logic, symptomatic of the disease, rendered her unable to extend her own magnificent compassion to herself. In the end, the war she could not win raged internally.

Together, Mr. and Mrs. Chang answered the door of their quiet, two-story townhouse in San Jose. It had been one week since their daughter's death. The foyer was filled with enormous bouquets sent by well-wishers. From the terrace, the view was peaceful -- broad green fields and golden poplars.

Married 41 years, the Changs are a handsome, gracious couple. Both were born in mainland China. Their families fled the 1949 Communist revolution and settled in Taiwan, where the two met in high school.

They met again at Taiwan University -- and yet again when each won a science scholarship to Harvard in 1962. Ying-Ying is a biochemist. Her husband, Shau-Jin, is a theoretical physicist. They married in 1964, and each earned a doctorate from Harvard in 1967.

As that November afternoon darkened into evening, the Changs sat at their Danish-modern dining room table and told stories about Iris, speaking sometimes in past tense and sometimes in present tense.
They told of the time in grade school when Iris decided "if Dear Abby can do it -- I can do it," and she started her own advice column, writing questions and answers.

Then, in high school, Iris became determined to revive the school's literary magazine, and quickly enlisted a staff and a sponsor. Her mother said, "She was always publishing something."

Rising from his chair, her father pulled a small red leather volume from the bookshelf. "Poetry by Iris Chang" was written in neat cursive on the title page. "She's very systematic -- you see, every poem has a date on it. She just knows how to do things," he said, tenderly smoothing out a page. "This was lying in our basement. Now, it becomes our treasure."

Iris was a serious child, her mother recalled. "Every day she seemed to have something new. She liked to talk, so it's very fun to watch her talking," she said. "She also liked to beat the system."

Her father patted the tabletop. "Yes!" he said, grinning. "Every time we set a rule, she always tried to find some way to get around it. We always had to argue all the exceptions she could think of. It's never boring with her -- it's interesting." Slowing down, he repeated, "It's interesting." His voice slipped to a whisper. "It's been too short."

Iris Shun-Ru Chang was born March 28, 1968, in Princeton Hospital, on the university campus in New Jersey where her parents were doing postdoctoral work. They lived on a leafy country road named Einstein Drive. After two years at Princeton, the family moved to a Midwestern college town, Champaign-Urbana, in Illinois. "He got the job, we went," Mrs. Chang explained. Soon they were both teaching and conducting research at the University of Illinois. Their second child, Michael, was born in 1970.

"Michael is very outgoing, very extroverted -- Iris is different," said Mrs. Chang. "Iris can be a loner; it doesn't bother her." She touched her fingertips to her forehead, then waved her hand to the heavens: "It's because Iris is a dreamer." Iris learned to read at age 4. At 10, she entered a young- author competition and won first place. Winning that prize led to dreams of becoming a writer, her father said.

"Iris always came to us to discuss her problems," her mother said. "We are a very close family. We are lucky -- she could tell me everything she felt. She was easily hurt, though sometimes she didn't show it. I would tell her, 'You can care too much about what people say about you.' " Iris was sometimes teased for her earnestness. She wanted to be independent, to think for herself.

Iris and her brother went to University High -- known as Uni High -- on the campus where their parents taught. The small, academically elite school has produced many Nobel laureates.

At 14, Iris was studying advanced math and decided to join an all-boys computer club called Submit. She easily passed the 20 exams necessary to qualify, only to be told that she must take five more.
"The boys came together to say, 'Crisis! There's a girl who wants to get into Submit,' " Mr. Chang recalled. "So they tried to make it harder and harder." Iris insisted she had already passed.

"They had a big fight," he said. "Iris thought it was an injustice. She was mad. So you see, she was really a fighter. If they had let her get into Submit, she may not have become a journalist," he added. "We should be grateful."

Iris met the man she would marry in 1989, when she was a sophomore in journalism at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Brett Douglas was a tall, low-key redhead, nearly two years her senior and an engineering graduate student when they were introduced at a Sigma Phi Delta fraternity party on campus.
Sixteen years later, and five days after her death, Brett sat in the living room of the San Jose town home they shared, surrounded by family photos. The air was still, heavy with grief. A red tricycle and a jogging stroller flanked the front door. The sound of children singing wafted in from the swimming pool nearby.
The pool, a turquoise rectangle surrounded by pines, sat at the center of the village-like complex.

Brett's father, Ken Douglas, had flown out to keep his son company. A reassuring presence, he stood at the kitchen counter, fixing a sandwich for lunch. He had only recently retired from the family farm in central Illinois that had been in the family for five generations.

Speaking of the night they met, Brett said, "Iris was beautiful, vivacious -- and sober. She just seemed to be more driven and to have more zest for life than anyone I'd ever met. I knew immediately I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her."

It didn't take him long to propose, but their 1989 engagement stretched out while Brett finished grad school in Urbana. Meanwhile, Iris was one of a dozen journalism undergraduates chosen for an accelerated Associated Press training program. She was assigned to the AP office in Chicago.

Brett soon grew concerned that Iris was overextended. "Iris could write two or three stories a day, and they loved her because she wrote so fast," he said. "But she worked herself way too hard when she was there. She wore herself out." Her mother concurred: "At AP, she worked so hard she couldn't sleep. I was worried. She never did sleep very well or eat very well."

When her internship was up, Iris was offered a permanent job at AP. She went to the Chicago Tribune instead, but didn't enjoy "politicking for assignments," Brett said. Opting for a master's degree, she was accepted by the Graduate Writing Seminar at Johns Hopkins University and moved to Baltimore in 1990. Her long-distance engagement to Brett entered its second year. By now, Brett was living in Santa Barbara, working toward a doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of California. They kept in touch every day by e-mail.

At Johns Hopkins, Iris studied playwriting, fiction, poetry and science writing. As a teacher's assistant, she taught a class in creative writing. She wrote her thesis on "The Poetry of Science." Soon she exceeded the dreams of every student in the program by getting a book contract from a major publisher while still in school. She was 22.

"Iris was a phenomenon," said one of her former teachers at Johns Hopkins, Ann Finkbeiner. In the fall of 1990, Iris took Finkbeiner's "Science Stories" course. "She talked almost obsessively. She got very, very wound up in things," Finkbeiner said. "You didn't always feel she was talking to you --
it was as if she had to talk. To me, it was part of that whole intensity that made Iris able to do what she went on to do.

Barbara Culliton, now editor in chief of Genome News Network, was then director of the Johns Hopkins science writing program. Her friendship with Iris, Culliton said, "lasted from the day she walked in as a student -- in effect, to the day she died.

Culliton was sufficiently impressed by Iris' talent to recommend her to Susan Rabiner, editorial director of Basic Books, the "serious nonfiction" division of HarperCollins Publishers. It was unusual for Basic Books to consider such an untested writer. But Rabiner had been looking for someone conversant in the sciences and in Mandarin to write a biography of Hsue-Shen Tsien. Tsien was a top physicist at Cal-Tech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who was deported during the Red scare of the 1950s. He returned to China and went on to develop its missile system.

Rabiner recalled telling Iris, " 'You're young, but take a flyer.' I didn't know if I'd hear from her again." Less than two months later, she did. Iris called to say she had found Tsien's son and had interviewed him in Mandarin. "Clearly, Iris was a strong, smart and directed young woman," Rabiner said. She helped Iris write a proposal and the project was quickly put under contract.
"Iris was so excited when she got the contract for the book," Brett said, recalling how obsessively she ferreted out material. "She contacted people who'd been lost for years, dug up records that nobody ever knew existed. She wrote her 100-page book proposal in a couple of weeks."

By now, Brett had taken a job with a Santa Barbara engineering firm. He and Iris were married in August 1991 in Champaign-Urbana. Their mothers helped to plan the wedding. The newlyweds settled in Santa Barbara, and Iris began writing the book about Tsien. In 1992, at 24, she received a $15,000 award from the MacArthur Foundation, which helped fund the project.
The book, "Thread of the Silkworm," was published in 1995. It was well- reviewed, though it never sold in great numbers. But soon Iris would write one of the most controversial books of the decade. That book would sell half a million copies.
Iris Chang found the inspiration for her new book in 1994 when she came face-to-face with poster-size photographs of Nanking war crimes at a conference in Cupertino. She was 26.

"I walked around in shock," she later wrote. "Though I had heard so much about the Nanking massacre as a child, nothing prepared me for these pictures -- stark black-and-white images of decapitated heads, bellies ripped open and nude women forced by their rapists into various pornographic poses, their faces contorted into unforgettable expressions of agony and shame. In a single blinding moment I recognized the fragility of not just life but the human experience itself.

The conference had been sponsored by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia. Iris discovered this group of Chinese American activists after she and Brett moved to Northern California when he got a job with Cisco Systems.

After seeing the Nanking pictures, Iris wrote: "I was suddenly in a panic that this ... reversion in human social evolution would be reduced to a footnote of history ... unless someone forced the world to remember it.

Iris called Rabiner. "There's a book I must do," she said. She offered to pay Basic Books to publish it. "No, no! We don't work that way," Rabiner insisted. "Tell me why you want to tell the story."

Iris had been haunted since childhood by the graphic stories she was told about Nanking. Her maternal grandparents had escaped just weeks before the Japanese arrived. As a youngster, Iris had sought books on the subject in her school library. But there was none. As she later told an interviewer, "I wrote 'Rape of Nanking' out of a sense of rage. I didn't really care if I made a cent from it. It was important to me that the world knew what happened in Nanking back in 1937." Rabiner sensed the book would be important and signed Iris to write it.

Later, Iris told interviewers that, as a child, "it was hard for me to even visualize how bad it was, because the stories seemed almost mythical -- people being chopped into pieces, the Yangtze River running red with blood. It was very painful for me to think about, even then.

While writing the book, Iris found it "almost impossible to separate myself from the tragedy," she said. "The stress of writing this book and living with this horror on a daily basis caused my weight to plummet," she said. "I had to write it, if it was the last thing I ever did in my life.

On her trip to China, she met with survivors from Nanking. "Every single survivor I met was desperately anxious to tell his or her story," she later said. "I spent several hours with each one, getting the details of their experiences on videotape. Some became overwrought with emotion during the interviews and broke down into tears. But all of them wanted the opportunity to talk about the massacre before their deaths.

Seeing how the survivors lived was as harrowing as hearing their stories. Iris was "shocked and depressed" to see their living conditions in Nanking. "Most lived in dark, squalid apartments cluttered with the debris of poverty and heavy with mildew and humidity," she wrote. "During the massacre some had received physical injuries so severe they had been prevented from making a decent living for decades. Most lived in poverty so crushing that even a minimal amount of financial compensation from Japan could have greatly improved the conditions of their lives.

During two years of research, Iris made significant historical discoveries. She found the diaries of a pair of Westerners who were among the heroes of Nanking. The first was John Rabe, a German member of the Nazi party who was living in the Chinese capital in 1937. He established an International Safety Zone in Nanking before the Japanese soldiers arrived from Shanghai. Iris dubbed him the "Oskar Schindler of Nanking."

The other diarist -- the "Anne Frank of Nanking" -- was an Illinois woman named Minnie Vautrin. (In the book, Iris noted that Vautrin had graduated with honors from her own alma mater, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.) In 1937, Vautrin was a missionary and teacher at the Nanking Women's College when its campus became part of the Safety Zone. She harbored hundreds of Chinese women and children there during the occupation. But there were untold numbers of women she could not save from capture, torture or death at the hands of Japanese soldiers. Haunted by the belief that she had failed, Vautrin suffered a breakdown in 1940. While on the ship home, she tried repeatedly to leap overboard. Back in Illinois one year later, she committed suicide.
"Civilization is tissue thin," Iris wrote. She called this the most important lesson to be learned from the tragedy of Nanking. And she believed her research produced irrevocable proof of Japanese atrocities.

She wrote:

"After reading several file cabinets' worth of documents on Japanese war crimes as well as accounts of ancient atrocities from the pantheon of world history, I would have to conclude that Japan's behavior during World War II was less a product of dangerous people than of a dangerous government, in a vulnerable culture, in dangerous times, able to sell dangerous rationalizations to those whose human instincts told them otherwise.

The book hit the stores at Christmas, a tough selling season for serious nonfiction. It became a surprise best-seller. A groundswell of interest in the Chinese American community had quickly spread to booksellers and the broader reading public. Newsweek ran an excerpt, and soon Iris was a familiar face on TV news shows. Reader's Digest devoted a cover story to her.

"We weren't really prepared for the success of the book," Brett said. "Iris wasn't prepared and her publisher wasn't prepared. I don't know how many printings it went through. They just kept saying, 'We'll print another 10,000, we'll print another 10,000.' Rabiner said Iris "found her voice" in promoting "Rape of Nanking." "She had so many bookings, she could easily be on the road for 2 1/2 weeks before coming back home. She came alive before crowds -- she loved to share, and she was interested in other people's lives. That's why she was such a powerful role model for so many Chinese Americans. She was committed to her cause, and she radiated life."

At the same time, torrents of hate mail came in, Brett said. "Iris is sensitive, but she got charged up," he recalled. "When anybody questioned the validity of what she wrote, she would respond with overwhelming evidence to back it up. She's very much a perfectionist. It was hard for her not to react every single time."

Most of the attacks came from Japanese ultranationalists. "We saw cartoons where she was portrayed as this woman with a great big mouth," Brett said. "She got used to the fact that there is a Web site called 'Iris Chang and Her Lies.' She would just laugh."

But friends say Iris began to voice concerns for her safety. She believed her phone was tapped. She described finding threatening notes on her car. She said she was confronted by a man who said, "You will NOT continue writing this. " She used a post office box, never her home address, for mail.

"There are a fair number of people who don't take kindly to what she wrote in 'The Rape of Nanking,' " Brett said, "so she's always been very, very private about our family life."

The book's popularity meant a lengthy book tour. "Over a year and a half, she visited 65 cities," Brett said. "Most authors are worn out after five or six cities." He could see the travel was taking a toll on her. In 1998, Brett recalled, "for her 30th birthday, we went out to a little resort near Santa Cruz and she literally didn't want to leave the room."

Somehow, she always bounced back, energized by her role as spokesperson for a movement. Among her many television appearances was a memorable evening on "Nightline," where she was the only Asian and the only woman among a panel of China experts.

"To see her on TV, defending 'Rape of Nanking' so fiercely and so fearlessly -- I just sat down, stopped, in awe," said Helen Zia, author of "Asian-American Dreams: Emergence of an American People" and co-author, with Wen-Ho Lee, of "My Country Versus Me: The First-Hand Account by the Los Alamos Scientist Who Was Falsely Accused."

"Iris truly had no fear. You could see it in the steadiness of her voice and in her persistence," Zia recalled. "She would just say, matter-of-factly, 'Japan is lying and here's why.

Later, Iris challenged the Japanese ambassador to a debate on the "MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour" on PBS. After the ambassador spoke of events in Nanking, Iris turned to the moderator and said: "I didn't hear an apology."

"Chinese Americans grew up hearing about this forgotten holocaust," said Zia, whose grandmother was killed in Nanking. "It was family lore."

When Zia and Iris met for the first time, they planned a quick lunch. But lunch lasted through dinner. "We sat down and started talking, and we had a lot to say. For Asian Americans to write nonfiction about Asia or Asian America was relatively new. Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan really blew the doors open for fiction writers. But for us to be able to write nonfiction, the stories of our lives -- on a lot of levels, it was revolutionary
Despite support from esteemed historians and journalists, including Stephen Ambrose and George Will, some judged Iris' version of history too subjective. "This was something of a roots venture for her -- to reconnect with the country that her family had drifted off from," said UC Berkeley's Schell. "And she brought an incredible reserve of emotion to it. Iris was first and foremost an advocate. She was an able journalist, but she allowed herself to become deeply involved emotionally in her subjects, which gave her accessibility. But some scholars felt that she was a little too involved with her subject matter."

Rabiner, who later became an agent and represented Iris, said, "The book was beyond well reviewed -- it was a mega-best-seller that continues to sell. It showed that at times history has to be written by a member of the community, out of a passion the author shares with the community. It caused an international scandal because the Japanese to this day have not conceded the extent of the wartime atrocities perpetrated against the Chinese and others. It also showed publishing houses that there is a market for books about the Chinese experience."

The book rocketed Iris into the pantheon of American intellectuals. In 1998, she and Brett were invited to attend Renaissance Weekend -- the meeting-of-the-minds seminar held each New Year's weekend in South Carolina. "Iris was much in demand and gave many talks," Brett recalled, adding with a laugh, "she was schmoozing the whole time." There, Iris had lengthy conversations with then-President Bill Clinton and gave him a signed copy of "The Rape of Nanking.

But when Brett and Iris were invited back the next year, the young couple took a different tack. They attended lectures but Iris gave fewer talks; she was still recovering from the book tour. Meanwhile, they decided they had put their plans for a family on hold long enough.

"When we first got married, we said we were going to start trying to have a child after four years," Brett said. "And then we stretched it to six, and then 'The Rape of Nanking' hit the best-seller list and she was out promoting it for almost two years. By the time that was done, it was already eight years. So we finally started trying, and then we had our son in 2002.

Christopher was born Aug. 31 that year. He was a happy baby, with his mother's jet-black hair. "We wondered what we did with all of our time before we had a son," Brett said, "because of the amount of time that a little one involves. What made it much easier is that we did have a wonderful nanny to help."
They had moved from a small apartment in Sunnyvale to the San Jose town home. "We bought this house when we knew he was on the way. There are so many kids his age here.

Iris' parents retired in early 2001, and after Christopher was born, they moved from Illinois and into a home in the same complex. Her mother hoped Iris would take on a lighter topic for her next book, especially with a baby in the house. The Nanking book had "made Iris sad."

Iris took her advice, though the book she began was enormously ambitious. "The Chinese in America: A Narrative History" was published by Viking in 2003. Iris told her mother that working on it was a vacation after "Rape of Nanking. "

But soon she found herself drawn to a subject just as dark. Iris Chang rang the doorbell on Ed Martel's front porch in Kenosha, Wis., on Dec. 4, 2003. It's a date he won't forget. "She sat down and cross-examined me like a district attorney for five solid hours," said Martel, 86, one of the last remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March of World War II. His daughter, Maddy, remembered the day well, too. "We set out a very big lunch -- meat trays and sandwiches and desserts," she said. "My dad was so excited that she was doing this, and so honored."

Months earlier, Iris had seized on a letter in her "book ideas" file about a Midwestern pocket of Bataan survivors, all members of two tank battalions. "They drop so fast," the letter had read. The correspondent was Sgt. Anthony Meldahl, a supply sergeant with the Ohio National Guard who had admired Iris' work. Meldahl was now urging Iris to join his oral-history project. She did, and, starting in November 2003, would make four trips to meet with Bataan vets -- in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Each time, Iris swept into town and conducted four or five intensive interviews in as many days. "She was like a battalion commander," Meldahl said.

"It's amazing when you watch Iris do research," Brett said. "She would go into a town -- and with Tony Meldahl's help, it was even better. She would have a team of three vets and their children and their wives. Iris would be interviewing them, somebody else would be filming them, somebody else would be photocopying records, and somebody would be sending documents down to UPS. And Iris would buy lunch and dinner for everybody, and they all thought it was great

"These people wanted their story told for a long, long time, and they knew that because Iris had success as an author, she'd be able to do a very good job," Brett said.

Ed Martel's story began on Dec. 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor was still smoldering when Japanese planes bombed the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula, where Martel was stationed with a National Guard tank battalion. With few rations, little ammunition and no reinforcements, 70,000 American and Filipino troops held off the Japanese for months.

When the American general surrendered on April 9, the Japanese forced the troops to walk 65 miles through sweltering jungle. Some 8,000 died on the notorious "death march." Those who survived spent the rest of the war in a bleak prison camp; some were shipped to Japan as slave laborers. Once the Allies won the war, the story was forgotten. It had been the largest U.S. Army surrender in history.

"It's baffling to me that the U.S. today has so little knowledge of the four months we held out," Martel told The Chronicle by telephone from his home in Wisconsin. "We marvel at how America turned their backs on us." Martel was slightly hard of hearing, but his memory was crisp. He recalled telling Iris about the worst of his Bataan experiences. "Iris asked me to tell about atrocities," he said. "Twice I broke down and had to leave the room."

After he and his fellow soldiers had been starved and beaten for months, a Japanese guard knocked him to the ground, piercing his chest with his bayonet. Martel cried, "You son of a bitch! Just do it!" His daughter recalled that in telling Iris this story, he got terribly worked up. "Why did he have to toy with me like that?" he cried. It was as if he were back in Bataan. But just in time, Iris changed the subject, prompting him to tell a lighter story.

"Did you really look like Charlie Chaplin?" asked Iris, knowing Martel had been saved from near starvation by the brushy mustache he wore. The mustache reminded his Japanese captors of "The Little Tramp." So, in return for performing a short, Chaplinesque shuffle, he would be rewarded with a handful of scallions.

"Iris was very loving," Martel's daughter said. "Talking to her, you felt like she was one of the family." After the interview, they kept up an active correspondence. Iris sent the Martels photographs from her trip, cards for Chinese New Year and updates on her Bataan project. One picture she sent showed Iris hugging Martel and his wife. He framed it and hung it on a wall in his home. Next to it, now, is a copy of Iris' obituary. When Martel read in a newspaper about her death, he asked his daughter, "Is that our Iris?

Iris connected so well with these veterans because each of their stories mattered to her. She didn't just ask what had happened, she asked what they had felt. Theirs was not just a story of war, but of boys becoming men, she said in a transcription of one of her many taped interviews. "It boggles the imagination, what you went through," she said. "You'll have to forgive me, but I find myself often deeply affected by these stories.

Between trips to the Midwest, Iris conducted yet another book tour. In early 2004, she traveled to promote the paperback version of "The Chinese in America." Brett said, "It was, I think, 21 cities in 28 days. And that really took its toll on her, too.

Her last Bataan trip was scheduled for July 2004. She planned to visit Harrodsburg, Ky., where several survivors lived and where an old Bataan-era tank stood sentry in the town square. She hoped to gain access to a time capsule of audiotapes that was sealed within that tank after the war.

Getting ready for the trip, Iris went into overdrive. "In the past, when Iris was working on something, she might work for 48 hours straight and then she would crash for 20 hours, and then she'd be back up, working again," Brett said. "But this time, I had assumed she was sleeping all day after working all night. But it turned out she wasn't sleeping during the day either. She was trying to be a top-notch mother and she was also trying to prepare for her trip.

The nanny was the only person aware that Iris had been up for three days with no sleep. But the nanny spoke only Mandarin. Later, Brett learned that the nanny had urged Iris to cancel the trip.

"Iris was really good at putting her best face forward, even when she was totally exhausted, so I didn't really perceive that there was a real problem," Brett said. "We had our lives so structured. Either she was watching Christopher or I was watching Christopher, or she was working or I was working. We didn't see each other as much as we did in the past.

He added, sadly, "I think if we had, I would have noticed earlier that things were going wrong."
Normally, Iris never did interviews alone. She preferred to meet someone in each town who could introduce her to the veterans and their families. For the Wisconsin trip, she had hooked up with people from the Bataan Commemorative Research Project, a historical archive and Web site created by faculty and students at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill
"World War II hit the town of Maywood really hard," said Ian Smith, chair of the school's history department. "This high school alone lost 200 students -- 28 were with the Bataan company."
Smith had been Iris' liaison in Wisconsin; another Proviso High teacher was to be her guide in Kentucky. But just before Iris left for Kentucky -- the last week of July 2004 -- a family emergency forced the teacher to cancel. Iris would be working solo. Her parents saw her off that morning. "She was very tired," her mother said. "She should not have gone."

By the time her plane landed in Louisville, she was overwhelmed by exhaustion and anxiety. She got from the airport to the hotel, but that was all she could do. Iris collapsed in bed. Soon she managed to call her mother.

"I knew Iris was not right," her mother said. "She couldn't eat or drink. She was very depressed." She asked if Iris had any friends there she could call for help. One of the veterans -- a colonel she had planned to meet in Louisville -- came to the hotel. Smith said the colonel spent only a short time with her. "She was afraid of him when he showed up," Smith said. "But he spoke to her mother on the phone and told Iris, 'Your mom is on the phone, so it's OK.'

That afternoon, she checked herself in to Norton Psychiatric Hospital in Louisville, with help from the colonel. Through a third party, the colonel declined to be interviewed.

"First they gave her an antipsychotic, to stabilize her," her mother said. "For three days they gave her medication, the first time in her life." (The family would not name specific drugs.)
In three days, her parents came to take her home. Doctors at Norton Hospital had diagnosed "brief reactive psychosis," her father said. This could be a one-time event or it could signal the onset of bipolar disorder, the doctors told them.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mood disorder that affects one in every 70 people. The cycle of mood shifts that distinguish the disease -- from manic highs to depressive lows -- differs with every sufferer. Without treatment, the condition worsens over time.

Though Iris had previously suffered what her parents called "down" periods after bouts of intense exertion, the lows were never as extreme as what befell her in Kentucky. "She had never seen anyone for depression or anything before," her mother said.

They brought her home, and at first Iris responded well to rest and treatment. "But gradually, she became very depressed," said her father, adding that her doctor in California prescribed an additional medication, an antidepressant. "But Iris herself did not believe she was sick." And she was determined not to be hospitalized again.

"She didn't like the idea that she was taking medicine," her father said. "Iris was impatient. First she thought it would be a couple of weeks" before she improved, "but we tried to convince her that it would be several months, because that is what the doctors said.

Her mother added, "She was in therapy all the time, but it didn't help, and she took the medicine on and off. The medicine made her feel sluggish. So she took a little bit and then she stopped -- and it shouldn't be stopped like that.

Iris had convinced her doctor to reduce her dosage. "She's very strong- willed," her mother said. "The doctors wanted her to continue in therapy, so sometimes they would go along with her.

Between August and November, Iris saw two different therapists before finding one who seemed a good fit. But, her father said, "In spite of many sessions, Iris did not tell the therapist her deepest thoughts. He was misled by Iris. He thought Iris was improving.

Brett said Iris was anxious to get back to work. "She was so driven," Brett said, "she just wouldn't take time off." But that meant diving back into her Bataan Death March research.

Those close to Iris had always seen her ups and downs as part of the natural cycle of a brilliant person with intense drive, passionate commitment and a capacity for hard work. These were considered her finest traits. Now, the family rushed to learn everything they could about her illness. Brett devised a "20-Point Plan to Make Iris Well," listing such remedies as going to the beach; calling friends; eating well (on her desk, she kept a book titled "How Food Affects Your Mood" next to her Franklin Planner); and getting exercise. Brett set up a home gym in the basement and coached her through hourlong workouts with hand weights. Still, the depression failed to lift

She was seeing a therapist two to three times a week, Brett said, but fought against having family members participate. "Iris was a very strong person, even when she was depressed," said Brett. "She didn't like other people taking control, so she resisted" his attending any of her therapy sessions. "There were up and down periods," he said. "There was a time earlier, in September, when we were worried, but she seemed to come out of that.

Their son, who had turned 2 years old in August, became aware of a change. "Christopher sensed that something was going wrong with Iris," Brett said. "He could tell that she was a lot different after she came back from Louisville. It was obvious she wasn't the same person that she was before," he said. "When Iris' condition got really bad, we sent him to stay with my parents in Illinois. We called him every day, sometimes two or three times a day."

Rabiner became worried, too. "Iris told me now was not the time to go on with the Bataan project. I told her, 'Take a break.' You're not on a moving train. You have a young kid. Let go, We all said, 'Take a break.'

One of Iris' best friends, Barbara Masin, came up from Santa Barbara for a long weekend visit. "I urged her to talk with someone -- either Brett, or me, or someone. She finally agreed that she would talk to me. I was there for three days and we talked. For her, it was a relief," said Masin.

"We went out and did really long hikes, and it seemed to help. At the end of the three days, I was making silly little jokes and she was laughing. We arranged for her to come down and stay with me soon," she said. "But as I was leaving, she got apathetic again.

Three days before Iris' death, Brett dreamed up a special weekend, just for her. On Saturday night they went to dinner at Fresh Choice and out to the movies. "We went to see 'Ray,' " Brett said. "I thought it would be inspirational. And she loved it. She hadn't ever heard much of Ray Charles' music before, and when we got home, she went upstairs and was browsing all kinds of information on Ray Charles on the Internet.

Sunday morning, they drove to Santa Cruz for lunch on the pier, then went to her favorite spa, Chaminade -- a 300-acre mission-style resort, surrounded by redwoods and eucalyptus, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Iris got a massage. "Then we came home, and that was our last weekend together," he said, fighting back tears.

After leaving Reed's Sport Shop at noon on Monday, Nov. 8, Iris tried to load the revolver she had just purchased. But the gun jammed. Such "black powder" firearms, popular with Civil War re-enactors, require skill to load and fire. The lead balls must be individually prepared, packed with gunpowder and topped with a percussive cap.

According to the police report, Iris phoned a local gunsmith, an antique firearms specialist who did business from his home. She told him she had an old revolver that was unsafe to shoot. They made an appointment. At 12:40 p.m., she stopped for lunch at FujiSan Sushi in Milpitas Square. The manager knew her as a customer and an author -- Iris and Brett ate there often. But this time, "she appeared unhappy," the manager told investigators. Iris ate quickly, asked for green tea to go and charged $15.11 to her credit card.

Iris arrived at the gunsmith's at about 2 p.m., carrying a Reed's Sport Shop Bag. The gunsmith told police he had spotted a can of gunpowder in the bag. This kind of "black powder" is unstable and unsafe indoors, so he insisted she first take the can outside. She told him she had not asked for instructions when she bought the gun. He showed her how to load the gun and tried to give her basic safety and handling instructions. Later, he would tell police that she "seemed distracted or aloof.

Hoping to practice shooting, she asked the gunsmith to go with her to a nearby indoor firing range. He explained that the gunpowder she had was unsafe to use indoors. She promised to buy less volatile powder. They made an appointment to meet Wednesday at the firing range. She paid the gunsmith $10. They had spent one hour together.

After dinner Monday night, Iris returned a call to her agent. "We spoke for two hours, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.," Rabiner said. "I'd left a message -- I actually had business to talk about. A book packager wanted to publish a children's version of 'The Chinese in America.'

"Much of the conversation was upbeat. Other parts were not. She asked me if I was religious -- I said I wasn't, not at all. In a funny kind of way, she was resolute, she was calm. She had been sad for several months, but she didn't seem in an acute phase.  

Rabiner invited Iris to spend a week or so at her home in Westchester County, N.Y. "I figured we'd take a week off and just relax, walk the woods up here. I thought it would break the spell, break the hold of these emotions. I told her that I wanted her to call me the next night and every night after that until she worked out the details. I got off the phone confused and concerned, but I was too unsophisticated about psychological problems to realize that she was saying goodbye to me.

That night, Iris and Brett followed their routine and went to sleep around midnight. "But I woke up at 2 a.m. and she was pacing the hallway," Brett said. "Iris wanted to talk, and I said, 'You should go to bed, it's 2 in the morning.' She went back to bed. Then she got back up again. I said, 'You need to go to bed.' So she went back to bed and I watched her until she fell asleep.

Waking at 5 a.m., Brett saw Iris was gone. So was her car. He went to her desk in her upstairs office and found a note next to the computer. He immediately called the police.

Ultimately, three notes were found, all dated Monday, Nov. 8, 2004. The first was short, titled "Statement of Iris Chang." It read: "I promise to get up and get out of the house every morning. I will stop by to visit my parents then go for a long walk. I will follow the doctor's orders for medications. I promise not to hurt myself. I promise not to visit Web sites that talk about suicide.

Then she wrote a suicide note -- addressed to her parents, Brett and her brother -- followed by a lengthy revision. The first draft said: "When you believe you have a future, you think in terms of generations and years. When you do not, you live not just by the day -- but by the minute. It is far better that you remember me as I was -- in my heyday as a best-selling author -- than the wild-eyed wreck who returned from Louisville . . . . Each breath is becoming difficult for me to take -- the anxiety can be compared to drowning in an open sea. I know that my actions will transfer some of this pain to others, indeed those who love me the most. Please forgive me. Forgive me because I cannot forgive myself.

In the final version, she added: "There are aspects of my experience in Louisville that I will never understand. Deep down I suspect that you may have more answers about this than I do. I can never shake my belief that I was being recruited, and later persecuted, by forces more powerful than I could have imagined. Whether it was the CIA or some other organization I will never know. As long as I am alive, these forces will never stop hounding me.

"Days before I left for Louisville I had a deep foreboding about my safety. I sensed suddenly threats to my own life: an eerie feeling that I was being followed in the streets, the white van parked outside my house, damaged mail arriving at my P.O. Box. I believe my detention at Norton Hospital was the government's attempt to discredit me.

"I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts. I am doing this because I am too weak to withstand the years of pain and agony ahead.

After Iris Chang's Oldsmobile was found off Highway 17 on Tuesday morning, Nov. 9, the California Highway Patrol was called to the scene. The Highway Patrol then called the Santa Clara Sheriff's homicide unit and detective Sgt. Dean Baker, a 33-year veteran, took over the investigation.

"There is an aspect of paranoia in the majority of suicides," Baker said. "A lot of people -- depending on how disturbed they are -- feel that people are plotting against them." And often, he added, "people think they've wronged everybody and can't possibly do anything to make up for what they think they've done wrong. Generally, there's an apology.

After studying the final results of the Santa Clara Country medical examiner's report, Baker closed his investigation March 1, 2005. The coroner's report, dated Dec. 23, 2004, stated: "Based on the medical investigator's report and the autopsy findings, Iris Chang, a 36-year-old Asian female, died from a self-inflicted intra-oral gunshot wound.

Baker explained his conclusion: "There's no evidence that any kind of conspiracy caused her death. We've seen a lot of suicides. We've seen staged suicides and we've seen homicides. I have no evidence of foul play. Everything points to suicide."

The number of calls to Asian Community Mental Health Services spiked in the days after Iris Chang's death. Most of the calls were from women, said Betty Hong, executive director of the Oakland clinic.
"Depression is a silent epidemic among Asian Americans because we tend not to seek help soon enough," Hong said. "It's a double-edged sword. There's a stigma within the culture about accessing care, because then people will think there is something wrong with you and your family. And then there's the issue of the model minority. Asians were the first immigrant community that 'made it,' and we should all be doctors and lawyers." That is, successful and invulnerable
Stress does not cause mental illness, but it can worsen the symptoms, doctors say. Iris pushed herself "to be the best possible mother and the best possible writer," Brett said. This put her under enormous stress. On top of that, she wasn't sleeping.

"A lack of sleep is one of the hallmark symptoms of mania," Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, author of "Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide," told The Chronicle. "Typically, people start losing sleep, then stay up later and later each night. It has a terrible reverberating effect. The lack of sleep can exacerbate the illness and vice versa.

Rabiner believes that neither the subject matter of her work nor the intensity of her work habits precipitated Iris' manic-depressive symptoms. "Iris was suffering from clinical depression," she said, "and it deepened rapidly over a period of about three months. People tend to think that clinical depression is like a bad-hair day. It's a disease. If she had a brain tumor, people would better understand.

Along with fear for her safety, Iris' illness generated feelings of self- blame. In her goodbye note, Iris described her guilt about having allowed her son, Christopher, to be vaccinated before the age of 2. She feared these vaccinations may have caused him to become autistic. But today Christopher is healthy. Family members say he shows no signs of autism.

When Brett woke to find Iris gone early Monday morning, he called San Jose police, reporting that she was missing, on medication and a suicide risk. The Police Department drafted a missing person's report. The report stated that Iris had been taking two medications: the mood stabilizer Depakote, an anticonvulsant similar to lithium; and a smaller dosage of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug commonly used to control mania, which is also thought to reduce suicide risk. Sluggishness is a common side effect of Depakote, because it subdues the manic phase of bipolar disorder by depressing the central nervous system.

Iris' reluctance to take medication may indicate the difficulty she had accepting her illness as an illness. "For anybody who experiences mental illness for the first time, it's very hard to accept that it is your biology that is making it happen. It's very hard to believe that there is something wrong with your mind," said Dr. David Lo, director of Santa Cruz Mental Health Services and former director of Chinatown Mental Health Center in San Francisco.

Families, too, have trouble coping. "There is no way that a family member could sort out all the details, let alone their own feelings, because they're connected to the person," Dr. Lo explained.
"The onus is on us, as Western medical professionals, to be aware of cultural influences -- and to be proactive in educating family members and the patient when there is a first encounter with mental illness," he said. "It is a scary, dangerous and terrifyingly confusing time.

As Iris' good friend Barbara Masin said, "Those who are close to her did everything that they possibly could have done. There is always free will. I believe that Iris was very strong-willed and whatever she wanted to do, she would do.

Brett voiced a similar conclusion. "When somebody like Iris makes up their mind that they're going to commit suicide, they're going to do it. She was too strong-willed not to.

A poster-size photograph of Iris, lit by candlelight, stood vigil on the lawn of Spangler Mortuary in Los Altos in the early evening of Nov. 18. It was a Thursday, nine days after her death.

In the picture, Iris was standing, her head bowed in prayer like a saint or an angel. In the month after her death, the image would be the central icon at each of three Bay Area memorials.

At the first memorial -- that evening's "visitation" -- friends signed the guest book and offered condolences to the family. They approached the open casket, where they stopped, gazed at her for a final time and bowed three times, in Chinese custom. Beautiful as always, she was dressed in an indigo blue suit, identical in color and hue to the dress in the photograph.

The next morning, Friday, Nov. 19, dawned cold, clear and sunny. At the Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Los Altos Hills, the photograph stood on an easel before the chapel. Hundreds gathered for the memorial service and burial. After eloquent eulogies by family and friends, a tribute written by U. S. Rep. Michael Honda was recited, which he had read into the Congressional Record earlier that week:

"Her fierce pride of her Chinese American heritage empowered others with the certainty that they were truly Americans ... Our community has lost a role model and close friend; the world has lost one of its finest and most passionate advocates of social and historical justice

The Gate of Heaven was well named. Open sky surrounds broad, rolling lawns at the crest of a hill. Iris Chang's grave faces west toward wooded hillsides painted with November's glorious reds and yellows, colors of consolation before winter's starkness. As the coffin was lowered into the ground, the black-clad tribe of mourners formed a line. One by one, each dropped a single purple iris or one red rose into the grave, saying, "Goodbye, Iris.

One month later, on Saturday, Dec. 11, the same elegant photograph of Iris was displayed at a memorial honoring her on the 67th anniversary of the invasion of Nanking. As a duo played traditional Chinese music, a group of nearly 100 gathered at the Millbrae headquarters of the Chinese-language daily the World Journal. The event was organized by Global Alliance and the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition.
One speaker called Iris "a hero for those muffled by injustice." Another said: "Let us thank her parents. They are the ones who brought her up." Between eulogies, a guitarist played "Let It Be." Then, a larger-than-life video image of Iris appeared on a wide-screen monitor: She was speaking as an expert witness in a mock grand jury trial of Emperor Hirohito, filmed at the 2003 Youth Conference at San Francisco City College, which the Nanking Redress Coalition sponsored. Finally, the group stood to sing a halting but heartfelt rendition of "Amazing Grace.

To soothe the pain of her loss, it would be tempting to seek a single, simple explanation for the suicide of Iris Chang. Though troubling to realize, those things that protect us most -- faith, family, health, financial stability -- are often powerless against mental illness.

"People who are in great treatment, who have all the love and support in the world, can still commit suicide," Jamison, author of "Understanding Suicide," has said. "Sometimes, people can be both mentally ill and highly disciplined, highly structured, highly productive members of society, whether you're talking about science or business or the arts. It happens every day of the week, and people just don't know it because people don't talk about it.

Every suicide is the tragic terminus of a tangle of roads, a route unique as a thumbprint.
The fundamental question about suicide, as Howard I. Kushner wrote in "Self-Destruction in the Promised Land," is this: "Why, when faced with a similar set of circumstances -- whether cultural, psychological or biological -- does one person commit suicide while another does not?"
No one knows the answer.


Basic Facts on the Nanjing Massacre and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial

The document is based on the pamphlet by New Jersey Hong Kong Network. HTML version adapted by Ming-Hui Yao . Original ascii file and Postscript file may be retrieved from by ftp.
This document is prepared in the spirit of freedom of information. Reproduction and circulation are welcome and encouraged.

Original publisher:
New Jersey Hong Kong Network
P.O. Box 18
Bound Brooks, NJ 08805

The Nanking Massacre
Nanking Massacre -- The Japanaese Versions
The Tokyo War Crimes Trial
Summary of the Verdict and Sentence
Summary of Convicted Class A War Criminals
Chronology of the Japanese Invasion of Asia, 1894-1945

It has almost been three years since the first edition of this pamphlet was printed in 1991. During this time, the pamphlet has frequently been requested by various organizations in the United States and around the world. As the first print of the pamphlet is running out and requests of the pamphlet continue to come in, we decide to print the pamphlet for the second time.
In this new edition of the pamphlet, while the material remains the same, a few errors in the last edition have been corrected. We hope that this pamphlet continues to serve as a vehicle for people to learn about this "Forgotten Holocaust."
New Jersey Hong Kong Network
September 1993


The Japanese invasion of China immediately before and during World War II lasted from the early 1930's to 1945. During this dark period in modern Asian history, the Japanese military machine was motivated by an uncontrollable desire for aggression, expansion and imperialism. The brutalities and atrocities committed by the Japanese military in China and elsewhere in Asia finally ended with destruction on Japanese soil -- the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945. The victims of the Japanese militarists' aggression included the innocent and peace-loving peoples of China, Korea, the Philippines, other south east Asian countries, United States, and Japan herself.

In the past forty-five years, China and other countries have allowed the Japanese war crimes to be forgotten. In fact, the only constant reminders of the victims of World War II in Asia were the events commemorating the Japanese who were killed by the atomic bomb dropped by the United States. The young generations, Chinese and Japanese alike, are not kept informed about the consequences of imperialist militarism.

During this time, the Japanese Ministry of Education distorted the facts of World War II in their history textbooks, the government glorified convicted Class A war criminals as national heroes, and high ranking Japanese officials publicly denied the occurrence of the Nanking Massacre, one of the most infamous atrocities committed by the Japanese armies in China.

This pamphlet is an attempt to raise awareness on an issue -- the history behind the bombing of Hiroshima -- where proper attention is long overdue. Although this pamphlet is far from an exhaustive research on the subject, we hope to provide the readers with some basic information on a few pertinent topics:

The constant reminders of the atrocities of Germany's Nazi regime is now recognized as a major preventive measure against the revival of Nazism in Germany, and the annual commemoration of the victims of Hiroshima provides a strong basis for the resistance to the dangerous escalation of nuclear weapons. By preparing this pamphlet, we hope to help initiate a long term movement to bring attention to the war crimes committed by the Japanese militarists during World War II, and, by doing so, to unite with peace-loving people of all nationalities to prevent the resurgence of militarism anywhere in the world. December, 1990


In 1928, the Chinese Nationalist Government moved the capital of China from Peking to Nanking. The city normally held about 250,000 people, but by the mid-1930's its population had swollen to more than 1 million. Many of them were refugees, fleeing from the Japanese armies which had invaded China since 1931. On November 11, 1937, after securing control of Shanghai, the Japanese army advanced towards Nanking from different directions. In early December, the Japanese troops were already in the proximity of Nanking.

On December 9, after unsuccessfully demanding the defending Chinese troops in Nanking to surrender, the Japanese troops launched a massive attack upon the city. On the 12th, the defending Chinese troops decided to retreat to the other side of Yangtze River. On the 13th of December, the 6th and the 116th Divisions of the Japanese Army first entered the city. At the same time, the 9th Division entered Guang Hua Gate, and the 16th Division entered Zhong Shan Gate and the Tai Ping Gate. In the afternoon, two Japanese Navy fleets arrived on both sides of the Yangtze River. On the same day, December 13th, 1937, Nanking fell to the Japanese.

In the next six weeks, the Japanese committed the infamous Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, during which an estimated 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed, and 20,000 women were raped.

During the Nanking Massacre, the Japanese committed a litany of atrocities against innocent civilians, including mass execution, raping, looting, and burning. It is impossible to keep a detailed account of all of these crimes. However, from the scale and the nature of these crimes as documented by survivors and the diaries of the Japanese militarists, the chilling evidence of this historical tragedy is indisputable.


On December 13th, a large number of refugees tried to escape from the Japanese by trying to cross the Yangtze River. They were trapped on the east bank because no transportation was available; many of them tried to swim across the river. Meanwhile, the Japanese arrived and fired at the people on the shore and in the river. A Japanese soldier reported that the next day he saw an uncountable number of dead bodies of adults and children covering the whole river. He estimated that more than 50,000 people were killed at this tragic incident of the Nanking massacre.


When the Japanese troops first entered the city on the 13th, the streets were crowded with more than 100,000 refugees or injured Chinese soldiers. The Japanese relentlessly fired at these people. The next morning, tanks and artilleries entered the city and killing of people continued. Dead bodies covered the two major streets of the city. The streets became "streets of blood" as a result of the two-day annihilation.


A large number of Chinese soldiers had already been captured in the suburban areas before the Japanese entered the city. The rest of the Chinese soldiers scattered inside the city and changed into civilian clothes. After the "City-Entering Ceremony" on the 17th, the Japanese arrested anybody who was suspected to be a Chinese soldier. A large number of young men who were arrested, together with those who had been captured earlier, were sent outside of the city to be massacred, from several thousand to tens of thousand at a time. In most cases, the captives were shot by machine guns, and those who were still alive were bayoneted individually. In some cases, the Japanese poured gasoline onto the captives and burned them alive. In some cases, poison gas was used.


Numerous atrocities occurred within and around the city, and the victims were largely civilians. Japanese soldiers invented and exercised inhumane and barbaric methods of killing. The brutalities included shooting, stabbing, cutting open the abdomen, excavating the heart, decapitation (beheading), drowning, burning, punching the body and the eyes with an awl, and even castration or punching through the vagina.


An estimated 20,000 women were raped by the Japanese soldiers during the six weeks of the Nanking Massacre, most were brutally killed afterwards. The Japanese soldiers even raped girls less than ten years old, women over seventy years old, pregnant women, and nuns. Rampant raping took place in the streets or at religious worshiping places during the day. Many women were gang raped. Some Japanese even forced fathers to rape their daughters, sons to rape their mothers, etc. Those who resisted were killed immediately.


When the Japanese were approaching Nanking in mid-November, a group of concerned foreigners formed an international rescue committee to establish a safety zone in an attempt to protect the refugees. The safety zone was located inside the city and consisted of more than twenty refugee camps, each of which accommodated from 200 to 12,000 people. During the six weeks of the Nanking Massacre, the Japanese frequently entered the safety zone to arrest young men. Every time, several hundred young men were arrested and executed on the site.


The Japanese looted all the storehouses and seized virtually everything from the civilians. The loot included jewelry, coins, domesticated animals, food, clothes, antiques, and even inexpensive items such as cigarettes, eggs, fountain pens, and buttons.


The Japanese organized burning of buildings in the city. After they had set fire to buildings using either gasoline or some other inflammable chemicals, they hid, waited for and killed people who came to extinguish the fire. Numerous people were killed by fire. Nanking, once a beautiful historical city, was burned to ashes by the Japanese.


From 1937 to now (1990), the Japanese militarists, the government and the public dealt with the undeniable atrocities committed by the Japanese troops in Nanking and the rest of Asia in a number of ways. The major waves of Japanese treatment of this dark historical tragedy ranged from total cover-up during the war, confessions and documentation by the Japanese soldiers during the 1950's and 60's, denial of the extent of the Nanking Massacre during the 70's and 80's, official distortion and rewriting of history during the 80's, and total denial of the occurrence of the Nanking Massacre by government officials in 1990.


The Japanese Government had a tight control over the news media during the War and the Japanese civilians did not know about the truth of the Nanking Massacre or other crimes committed by the Japanese troops abroad. In fact, the Japanese soldiers were always described as heroes. It was not until the postwar Tokyo Trial (tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East) that the truth of the Nanking Massacre was first revealed to the Japanese civilians. The atrocities revealed during the Trial shocked the Japanese society at the time.

(II) POSTWAR TO 1970's

Prior to 1970, there was no open denial by the Japanese regarding the Nanking Massacre. In fact, there were a number of Japanese books, many were confessions or diaries by Japanese soldiers, which confirmed and gave detailed accounts of the Massacre. Works by the Japanese documenting the Nanking Massacre climaxed with the appearance of Katsuichi Honda's series of articles, "The Journey to China", published in Asahi Shinbun (Nov.,1971), which were based on interviews with the survivors of the Massacre. However, the Nanking Massacre was never emphasized in the Japanese history textbooks. During the Tokyo Trial, the Massacre was treated as one unique example of the atrocities committed in Asia, rather than as a separate charge. Few Japanese historians treated the Massacre as a serious research topic.


The denial of the Nanking Massacre started around 1972, when the right-wing political force in Japan began to rise. The Japanese denial of the Nanking Massacre and other brutalities in Asia can be divided into three broad categories:

(a) Complete Denial of the Massacre

By the end of 1971, the wave of confessions by Japanese soldiers and research by journalists exposing the brutal crimes in Asia encountered strong resistance from the right-wing conservatives. The denial movement began with two controversial yet influential articles: (1) an article by Shichihei Yamamoto, "Reply to Katsuichi Honda" published in Shokun!, March 1972; (2) an article by Akira Suzuki, "The Phantom of The Nanking Massacre", published in the April issue of the same Journal. This wave of open and public Japanese denial of their war crimes escalated over the years, as evidenced by Massaki Tanaka's book "Fabrication of Nanking Massacre" (Nihon Kyobun Sha, 1984) in which not only was the Nanking Massacre denied, but the Chinese Government was charged as responsible for the occurrence of the Sino-Japanese War.

(b) Disputes on the Number of People Killed in the Massacre

Besides total denial, another line of Japanese thoughts insisted that the Nanking Massacre was exaggerated by the Chinese. This view is best elaborated in a book written by Hata Ikuhiko "Nanking Incident" (Chuo Koron Shinsho, 1986) in which it was argued that the number of victims in the Massacre was between 38,000-42,000. It was also argued that the killing of surrendered or captured soldiers should NOT be considered as "Massacre". This book is now considered as the official history text on the issue by the Japan Ministry of Education.

(c) Distortion and Rewriting of History

In 1982, the Ministry of Education embarked on a campaign to distort the presentation of the history of World War II. In the process of the revision of history textbooks in Japan, Japanese "aggression" in China was substituted by "advancing in and out" of China during the Sino-Japanese War. The Nanking Massacre was described as a minor incident which occurred because the Japanese soldiers were too frustrated by the strong resistance from the Chinese Army. Although the substitution of the word "aggression" by "advancing in and out" was finally stopped because of the strong protest by the surrounding Asian countries and various Japanese educational groups, the rewriting of the Nanking Massacre remained. Moreover, the Ministry of Education has never admitted that the distortion of history is a mistake.


The Nanking Massacre came into focus again when an interview with Shintaro Ishihara, the most popular contemporary writer in Japan (co-author of "The Japan that Can Say No") and the most flamboyant member of the Diet, was published in the October issue of Playboy Magazine. In the interview, Ishihara declared that the Nanking Massacre never occurred, and that "it is a story made up by the Chinese, ... it is a lie". On November 10, 1990, during a protest by Chinese Americans against the Japanese actions in Diao-Yu-Tai Island, the Deputy Japanese Consul in Houston maintained that according to Japanese sources, "the Nanking Massacre never occurred."


All Japanese Class A war criminals were tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo. The prosecution team was made up of justices from eleven Allied nations: Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Soviet Union and the United States of America. The Tokyo trial lasted two and a half years, from May 1946 to November 1948. Other war criminals were tried in the respective victim countries. War crime trials were held at ten different locations in China.


Of the eighty (80) Class A war criminal suspects detained in the Sugamo prison after 1945, twenty-eight (28) men were brought to trial before the IMTFE. The accused included nine civilians and nineteen professional military men: Four former premiers: Hiranuma, Hirota, Koiso, Tojo : Three former foreign ministers: Matsuoka, Shigemitsu, Togo : Four former war ministers: Araki, Hata, Itagaki, Minami
Two former navy ministers: Nagano, Shimada: Six former generals: Doihara, Kimura, Matsui, Muto, Sato, Umezu: Two former ambassadors: Oshima, Shiratori: Three former economic and financial leaders: Hoshino, Kaya, Suzuki: One imperial adviser: Kido: One radical theorist: Okawa: One former admiral: Oka: One former colonel: Hashimoto

The indictment accused the defendants of promoting a scheme of conquest that "contemplated and carried out ... murdering, maiming and ill-treating prisoners of war (and) civilian internees ... forcing them to labor under inhumane conditions ... plundering public and private property, wantonly destroying cities, towns and villages beyond any justification of military necessity; (perpetrating) mass murder, rape, pillage, brigandage, torture and other barbaric cruelties upon the helpless civilian population of the over-run countries."

Joseph Keenan, the chief prosecutor representing the United States at the trial, issued a press statement along with the indictment: ".. it is high time ... that the promoters of aggressive, ruthless war and treaty-breakers should be stripped of the glamour of national heroes and exposed as what they really are --- plain, ordinary murderers."


(a) The Nanking Massacre

Numerous eye-witness accounts of the Nanking Massacre were provided by Chinese civilian survivors and western nationals living in Nanking at the time. The accounts included gruesome details of the Nanking Massacre. Thousands of innocent civilians were buried alive, used as targets for bayonet practice, shot in large groups and thrown into the Yangtze River. Rampant rapes (and gang rapes) of women ranging from age seven to over seventy were reported. The international community estimated that within the six weeks of the Massacre, 20,000 women were raped, many of them subsequently murdered or mutilated; and over 300,000 people were killed, often with the most inhumane brutality.
Dr. Robert Wilson, a surgeon who was born and raised in Nanking and educated at Princeton and Harvard Medical School, testified that beginning with December 13, "the hospital filled up and was kept full to overflowing" during the next six weeks. The patients usually bore bayonet or bullet wounds; many of the women patients had been sexually molested.

The international community had filed many protests to the Japanese Embassy. Bates, an American professor of history at the University of Nanking during the Japanese occupation, provided evidence that the protests were forwarded to Tokyo and were discussed in great detail between Japanese officials and the U.S. ambassador in Tokyo.

Brackman (reporter at the trial and author of the book "The Other Nuremberg") commented: "The Rape of Nanking was not the kind of isolated incident common to all wars. It was deliberate. It was policy. It was known in Tokyo." Yet it was allowed to continue for over six weeks.

(b) Unconventional warfare: Narcotics and Bacteriological warfare - Narcortics Trafficking

Japan's opium operations in China in the 30's and 40's was conducted with full approval from Tokyo as a state policy, under the directives of an official Japanese umbrella organization, the China Affairs Board. The Board was responsible for political, economic, and cultural affairs in occupied China. This organization was run by Prince Konoye, and the ministers of war, the navy, finance and foreign affairs of the time.

Japan's opium trafficking was designed to weaken the Chinese people's will to resist and to provide substantial revenues to finance Japanese military and economic aggression. - Bacteriological Warfare

Reference to the bacteriological warfare was only briefly mentioned during the trial. The assistant U.S. prosecutor David Sutton read the following statements: "The enemy's TAMA Detachment carried off their civilian captives to the medical laboratory, where the reactions to poisonous serums were tested. This detachment was one of the most secret organizations. The number of persons slaughtered by this detachment cannot be ascertained." Surprisingly, the prosecutor did not pursue the subject, and hence was rejected as unsupported
After the trial by the IMTFE, in December 25-30, 1949, the Soviets tried twelve former members of the TAMA detachment who were captured in Manchuria. The twelve were convicted of conducting experiments on living people.

In the February 23, 1950 issue of Izvestia, the Soviet government daily, the Soviets charged that in September 1946, the Soviet prosecutors had turned over to the U.S. prosecutor, the chief of the Allied counsel, hard evidence of Japan's experiments on bacteriological weapons.

In 1976, the Tokyo Broadcasting System confirmed the existence of the TAMA detachment. Five living members of the top-secret operation told a Japanese reporter that they had escaped indictment as war criminals in return for divulging their research to the U.S. authorities.


Two (Yosuke Matsuoka and Osami Nagano) of the twenty-eight defendants died of natural causes during the trial. One defendant (Shumei Okawa) had a mental breakdown on the first day of trial, was sent to a psychiatric ward and was released in 1948 a free man.

The remaining twenty-five (25) were all found guilty, many of multiple counts. Seven (7) were sentenced to death by hanging, sixteen (16) to life imprisonment, and two (2) to lesser terms. All seven sentenced to death were found to be guilty of inciting or otherwise implicated in mass-scale atrocities, among other counts. Three of the sixteen sentenced to life imprisonment died between 1949 and 1950 in prison. The remaining thirteen (13) were paroled between 1954 and 1956, less than eight years in prison for their crimes against millions of people. Two former ambassadors were sentenced to seven and twenty years in prison. One died two years later in prison. The other one, Shigemitsu, was paroled in 1950, and was appointed foreign minister



ACCUSED 1 27 29 31 32 33 35 36 54 55 SENTENCE NOTE

ARAKI   G G X X X X X X X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1955
HASHIMOTO G G X X X X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1945
HATA G G G G G X X X G Life Imp.   Paroled 1955
HIRANUMA G G G G G X X G X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1955
HOSHINO G G G G G X X X X Life Imp. Paroled 1955
KAYA G G G G G X G G G O Life Imp.  Paroled 1955
KIDO G G G G G X X X X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1955
KIMURA G G G G G G G Death KOISO G G G G G X X G Life Imp.  Died 1950
MINAMI G G X X X X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1954
MUTO G G G G G X X G G Death OKA G G G G G X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1954
OSHIMA G X X X X X X Life Imp. 
Paroled 1955 SATO G G G G G X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1956
SHIGEMITSU X G G G G G X X G 7 years Paroled 1950 Apointed Foreign
Minister 1954
SHIMADA G G G G G X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1955
SHIRATORI G X X X X Life Imp.  Died 1949
SUZUKI G G G G G X X X X Life Imp.  Paroled 1955
TOGO G G G G G X X X 20 years Died 1948
TOJO G G G G G G X G O Death Enshrined as martr" at the Yasukuni Shrine in
UMEZU     G   G  G  G  G        X  X  X  Life Imp.  Died 1949
Blank: No indictment; G: Guilty; X: Not Guilty; O: Other.


Count 1:   as "leaders, organizers, instigators, or accomplices in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to wage wars of aggression, and war or wars in violation of international law."
Count 27:  waging unprovoked war against China.
Count 29:  waging aggressive war against the United States.
Count 31:  waging aggressive war against the British Commonwealth.
Count 32:  waging aggressive war against the Netherlands.
Count 33:  waging aggressive war against France (Indochina).
Count 35 & 36:  waging aggressive war against the USSR.
Count 54:  authorized, and permitted" inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs) and others.                       
Count 55:  deliberately and recklessly disregarded their duty" to take adequate steps to prevent atrocities.


Seven (7) sentenced to death:

    Doihara, General Kenji (1883-1948).  Commander, Kwantung Army,
      1938-40; Supreme War Council, 1940-43; army commander in
      Singapore, 1944-45.  Deeply involved in the army's drug
      trafficking in Manchuria.  Later ran brutal POW and internee
      camps in Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Borneo.  Convicted on counts
      1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, 54.

    Hirota, Baron Koki (1878-1948).  Ambassador to the Soviet Union,
      1928-31; foreign minister, 1933-36; premier, 1936-37.  Was
      foreign minister during the Rape of Nanking and other atrocities
      perpetrated by the army.  As premier, he led his cabinet in
      planning the invasions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific
      islands, in addition to continuing the undeclared war against
      China.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 55.

    Itagaki, General Seishiro (1885-1948). Chief of staff, Kwantung
      Army, 1936-37; minister of war, 1938-39; chief, army general
      staff, 1939; commander in Korea, 1941; Supreme War Council,
      1943; commander in Singapore, 1945.  Troops under his command in
      China and elsewhere terrorized prisoners and civilians.  Was
      responsible for prison camps in Java, Sumatra, Malaya, Borneo
      and elsewhere.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36,

    Kimura, General Heitaro (1888-1948).  Chief of staff, Kwantung
      Army, 1940-41; vice minister of war, 1941-43; Supreme War
      Council, 1943; army commander in Burma, 1944-45.  Helped plan
      the China and Pacific wars, including surprise attacks.
      Involved in the brutalization of the Allied POWs and was the
      field commander in Burma when civilian and POW slave labor built
      and died on the Siam-Burma Railway.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27,
      29, 31, 32, 54, 55.

    Matsui, General Iwane (1878-1948).  Personal appointee of the
      emperor to the Geneva Disarmament Conference, 1932-37;
      commander, China Expeditionary Force, 1937-38.  Troops under his
      overall command were responsible for the Rape of Nanking in 1937
      and other atrocities.  He retired in 1938 and then ceased to
      play an active role in military affairs.  Convicted on Count 55.
      He was one of 14 Class A war criminals who were secretly
      enshrined as "matyrs" at the Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated
      to Japan's war dead and is Japan's most revered Shinto temple.

    Muto, General Akira (1892-1948).  Vice chief of staff, China
      Expeditionary Force, 1937; director, military Affairs Bureau,
      1939-42; army commander in Sumatra, 1942-43; army chief of staff
      in the Philippines, 1944-45.  Troops under his command
      participated in both the Rape of Nanking and the Rape of Manila.
      Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54, 55.
    Tojo, General Hideki (1884-1948).  Chief, Manchurian secret
      police, 1935; councillor, Manchurian Affairs Bureau, 1936; chief
      of staff, Kwantung Army, 1937-38; vice minister of war, 1938;
      minister of war 1940-44; premier, 1941-44.  Considered the
      arch-criminal of the Pacific War.  Tojo assumed full
      responsibility for all the actions of his government and the
      military during the war.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32,
      33, 54.

Sixteen (16) sentenced to life imprisonment:

    Araki, General Sadao (1877-1966).  Minister of war, 1931-34;
      Supreme War Council, 1934-36; minister of education 1938-39;
      senior adviser to the cabinet, 1939-40.  An early advocate of
      Japanese military expansionism.  While education minister, he
      restructured the Japanese school system along military lines.
      Convicted on Counts 1 and 27.  Paroled in 1955.
    Hashimoto, Colonel Kingoro (1890-1957).  Held various commands,
      including that of an artillery regiment during the Rape of
      Nanking in 1937.  Played a major role in staging the Mukden
      Incident, which eventually led to war with China.  Author of
      political books of racist propaganda, he was important in
      mobilizing Japanese public opinion behind the Pacific War.
      Convicted on Counts 1 and 27.  Paroled in 1954.
    Hata, Field Marshal Shunroku (1879-1962).  Supreme War Council,
      1937; commander, China Expeditionary Force, 1938, 1941-44;
      minister of war, 1939-40.  One of the militarists who planned
      the invasion of China in the 1930s.  He was in overall command
      of troops who perpetrated countless atrocities against Chinese
      civilians.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 55.  Paroled
      in 1954.
    Hiranuma, Baron Kiichiro (1867-1952).  Privy Council, 1924-39;
      founder and president, Kokuhonsha (right-wing patriotic
      society), 1926-28; premier, 1938; minister of home affairs,
      1940; minister without portfolio, 1940-41; president, Privy
      Council, 1945.  Convicted on crimes 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 36.
    Hoshino, Naoki (1892-1978).  Chief of financial affairs,
      Manchukuo (Manchuria), 1932-34; director of general affairs
      (chief civilian officer), Manchukuo, 1936; minister without
      portfolio, 1940-41; chief cabinet secretary, 1941-44.  Convicted
      on Counts 1, 27, 29, 312, 32.  Paroled in 1955.
    Kaya, Okinori (1889-1977).  Minister of finance, 1937-38,
      1941-44; president, North China Development Company, 1939-41.
      An early advocate of selling narcotics to the Chinese to finance
      the expenses of the occupation forces.  Convicted on Counts 1,
      27, 29, 31, 32.  Paroled in 1955.

    Kido, Marquis Koichi (1889-1977).  Chief secretary to the lord
      keeper of the privy seal, 1930-37; minister of education, 1937;
      minister of welfare, 1938; minister of home affairs, 1939; lord
      keeper of the privy seal 1940-45.  Was Emperor Hirohito's
      closest adviser during the most critical periods of the wars
      with China and the Allies.  His secret diary, which he kept
      during all of his time at or near the seat of power, was the
      prosecution's bible during much of the Tokyo trial.  Convicted
      on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.  Paroled in 1955.

    Koiso, General Kuniaki (1880-1950).  Vice minister of war, 1932;
      chief of staff, Kwantung Army, 1932-34; army commander in Korea,
      1935-38; minister of overseas affairs, 1939; governor-general,
      Korea, 1942-44; premier 1944-45.  Was known among the Korean
      population as "the Tiger of Korea" because of his brutality.  As
      premier, he was aware of POW death camps.  Convicted on Counts
      1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 55.
    Minami, General Jiro (1874-1955).  Minister of war, 1931;
      Supreme War Council, 1931-34; commander, Kwantung Army, 1934-36;
      governor-general, Korea, 1936-42; privy Council, 1942-45.  An
      early leader of the army clique that controlled Japan in the
      1930s and 1940s.  Ruled Japan's Korean colony with an iron fist.
      Convicted on Counts 1 and 27.  Paroled in 1945.
    Oka, Admiral Takasumi (1890-1973).  Chief, Naval Affairs Bureau,
      1940-44; vice minister of the navy, 1944.  An important
      participant in planning the surprise attacks perpetrated by
      Japanese naval forces during the second week in December 1941.
      Also administered some POW and civilian to shoot survivors of
      torpedoed Allied ships.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.
      Paroled in 1954.

    Oshima, General Hiroshi (1886-1975).  Military attache in
      Germany, 1934-38; ambassador to Germany, 1938-39, 1941-45.
      Helped forge the Axis Pact with Germany and Italy and was an
      intimate of Hilter, Himmler, Goring, and Ribbentrop.  Convicted
      on Count 1.  Paroled in 1955.
    Sato, General Kenryo (1895-1975).  Section head, then chief,
      Military Affairs Bureau, 1942-44; assistant chief of staff,
      China Expeditionary Force, 1944; army commander in Indochina,
      1945.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.  Paroled in 1956.

    Shimada, Admiral Shigetaro (1883-1976).  Vice chief of naval
      staff, 1935-37; commander, China Fleet, 1940; navy minister,
      1941-44; Supreme War Council, 1944.  Authorized the naval
      surprise attacks in December 1941.  Naval units under his
      overall command massacred Allied POWs, transported prisoners and
      civilian internees aboard hellships, and killed any surviving
      crew members of torpedoed Allied ships.  Convicted on Counts 1,
      27, 29, 31, 32.  Paroled in 1955.

    Shiratori, Toshio (1887-1949).  Director, Information Bureau,
      Foreign Ministry, 1929-33; ambassador to Italy, 1938-40; adviser
      tot the foreign minister, 1940.  A supporter of military
      expansionism, he favored an alliance among Germany, Italy the
      Soviet Union and Japan to dominate the world.  Convicted on
      Count 1.
    Suzuki, General Teiichi (1888- ).  chief, China Affairs Bureau,
      1938-41; president, Cabinet Planning Board, and minister without
      portfolio, 1941-43; adviser to the cabinet, 1943-44.  An early
      and active supporter of militarism.  Involved in Japan's drug
      trafficking in China and approved the use of POWs and civilians
      as slave laborers.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.
      Paroled in 1955.
    Umezu, General Yoshijiro (1882-1949).  Section chief, general
      staff, 1931-34; commander, China Expeditionary Force, 1934; vice
      minister of war, 1939-44; army chief of staff, 1944-45.
      Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.
Two sentenced to lesser terms:
    Shigemitsu, Mamoru (1887-1957).  Ambassador to China, 1931-32;
      vice minister of foreign affairs, 1933-36; ambassador to the
      Soviet Union, 1936-38; ambassador to Great Britain, 1938-41;
      foreign minister, 1943-45.  He and General Umezu signed the
      instrument of surrender in 1945.  Convicted on Counts 27, 29,
      31, 32, 33, 55.  Sentenced to seven years in prison.  Paroled in
      1950, he reentered the political arena and was appointed foreign
      minister in 1954.

    Togo, General Hideki (1884-1948).  Ambassador to Germany, 1937;
      ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1938; foreign minister, 1941-42,
      1945.  Convicted on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32.  Sentenced to
      twenty years in prison.

1894-5  First Sino-Japanese war -- fledging Japanese navy defeats
             Chinese fleet off Yalu River.  Fortress of Port Arthur
            (Lushun) stormed.  After the war, Japan seizes Taiwai and
            S.  Manchuria.

1910        Annexation of Korea.

1926        Hirohito becomes Emperor.

1931    Sept. 18 "The Mukden Incident" -- Bomb explodes under Japanese-
            owned express train in Manchuria (planted by Japanese
            secret agents); Japanese troops proceed to occupy all

1932   Chinese boycott of Japanese goods leads to the "Battle of
            Shanghai"; Japanese aircraft carriers in action for the
            first time.  League of Nations condemns Japanese
            aggression in Manchuria.

1933    Japan withdraws from League of Nations.

1934   Pu Yi -- former emperor of China -- becomes puppet emperor of
            Manchukuo (Manchuria).

1937   July  “The China Incident" -- a skirmish between Japan and
            Chinese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge (Luguoqiao), near
            Peking, sparks off a full scale invasion of China.

            Augest  “Japanese bombers make the first trans-oceanic raids in
            history -- from Taiwan and Kyushu to Nanking and Shanghai

            Nov.   Imperial General Headquarters established in Tokyo (the
            Emperor, the Chiefs of the Army, and Naval General

            Dec.    The Nanking Massacre (Rape of Nanking) -- the Chinese
            capital sacked by Japanese troops. The American gunboat
            USS Panay bombed and sunk near Nanking.

            Dec.  Japan proclaims a "New Order in East Asia".

            May-  Chungking -- war capital of China -- bombed day and night
            Sept.   by Japanese.

            Sept.   Japanese troops occupy northern Indo-China.
            Japan signs Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy.

            July  Japanese troops occupy southern French Indo-China.

            Dec. 6  President Roosevelt addresses a personal appeal for peace
            to Emperor Hirohito.

            Dec. 7  Japan raids Pearl Harbor, invades Siam, Hong Kong, Burma,
            North Borneo, the Dutch West Indies, the Philippines and
            Pacific IslandsBritain and United States declare war on

           May  Japanese midget submarines attack shipping in Diego
           Suarez harbor (Madagascar) and Sydney Harbor (Australia).

           Jun  Battle of Midway -- Japanese Carrier Force defeated off
           Midway Island and the invasion abandoned.

           Nov.  Issue of Cairo Declaration.

           April  U.S. forces land on Okinawa.

           July  Issue of Postdam Declaration to Japan.

          August  Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
          Russia declares war on JapanJapan surrenders.

          Sept.  Surrender ceremony aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.


Year      Total      Wounded     Killed     Missing

1937      367,362    242,232     125,130
1938      735,017    485,804     249,213
1939      346,543    176,891     169,652
1940      673,368    333,838     339,530
1941      299,483    173,254     144,915     17,314
1942      247,167    114,180      87,917     45,070
1943      162,895     81,957      43,223     27,715
1944      210,734    103,596     102,719      4,419
1945      168,850     85,583      57,659     25,608

Total   3,311,419  1,761,335   1,319,958    130,126
·       Civilian casualties are not included.
·       Estimated total Chinese casualties during the period is 35,000,000.

Source: Dept. of Defense, Republic of China. Official Report.

Source Materials Relating to the Horrible Massacre Committe by the Japanese Troops in Nanking Nan-jing da tu-sha shi-liao bian-ji wai-yuan-hui and the Library of Nanking, Jiang-su gu-ji chu-ban-she, 1985.

Archival Document Relating to the Horrible Massacre Committed by the Japanese Troops in Nanking Nan-jing da tu-sha shi-liao bian-ji wai-yuan-hui, Jiang-su gu-ji chu-ban-she, 1987.
Draft Manuscript of the History Relating to the Horrible Massacre Committed by the Japanese Troops in Nanking Nan-jing da tu-sha shi-liao bian-ji wai-yuan-hui, Jiang-su gu-ji chu-ban-she, 1987.
The Nanking Massacre Tomio Hora, Gendeishi Kenkyuukai, 1982.
A Personal Account of the Nanking Massacre Kazuo Sone, Sairyusha, 1984.
The True Story of the Nanking Massacre Akira Fujiwara, Peng-Jen Chen (tr.), Journal of Studies of Japanese Aggression Against China(JSJAAC), V.2&3, 1990.
Large-scale Killing within the City of Nanking Seigo Imai, Bungei Shunju, special coll. 1956.
The Attack on Nanking and the Murder Cases Katsumi Shimada, Jinbutsu Oraisha, special issue 1956.
The White Tiger Unit Soaked with Blood ed. by Kensuke Hata, Japan Weekly, 1957
The Nanking Massacre Incident and the Diaries of Iwane Matsui.
History of the Sino-Japanese War Ikuhiko Hata, Kawade Shoboo, 1961, renewed ed. 1986
The Research Situation of the Nanking Massacre and Future Directions Xing-Zu Gao, (n.d.)
Japan's Textbook Controversy Shinji Kojima, Journal of Studies of Japanese Aggression Against China(JSJAAC), V.2, 1990.
The Other Nuremburg: The Untold Story of the Tokyo War Crime Trials Arnold Brackman, Morrow, 1988.
Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II Peter Williams and David Wallace, Free Press, 1989.
Japanese Terror in China Harold John Timperley, Modern Age Books, 1938.

Japanese War Crimes   ---- NANJING MASSACRE RECORD


The following document contains detailed descriptions of the Nanjing Massacre in 1937-1938. The brutality shown in the photos is beyond any human imagination.

1960, Department of History of the Nanjing University organized a detailed investigation on the Nanjing Massacre that took place from December 1937 to February 1938. In 1962, they compiled a historical record "the Nanjing Massacre of Imperial Japan". The following is the translation of a portion in the 1979 edition. For more information about Nanjing Massacre, see docs at:

I translated this document because little about the Japanese war crimes in China is known to the world due to many reasons. Japanese constantly deny these crimes and are trying to distort history by claiming that Japan liberated Asian nations. They claim that Pearl Harbor was never a sneak attack. And they also claim Nanjing massacre was a lie that the US used to find excuses for dropping the A-Bombs on them. The war criminals that led the Nanjing Massacre are enshrined by the Japanese as 'martyr's. Almost all of the murderers in Nanjing have not been brought to justice.

Nanjing Massacre (Dec. 1937-- Feb. 1938)

Summary information about the Nanjing Massacre

Eye witnesses of Nanjing Massacre

Related Links

Japanese version of the Nanjing Massacre 

Can Everyone Say….. GUTLESS COWARDS!!

From first deleting all mention of the Nanjing Massacre from their history books to completely denying the Massacre, the Japanese are now even portraying themselves as the saviors of the Asian nations.

In Closeing;

Taken from; Chinese in Vancouver B.C. Canada

A bronze statue of the late historian Iris Chang, who wrote the first English account of the "Rape of Nanking", was unveiled at the Hoover Institute of the Stanford University on Feb 1, 2007. Mother Ying Ying Chang (張盈盈) kindly touched her daughter's statue. CNS Photo)

With Iris Chang's statue is now sitting at the Hoover Institute permanently, it is a recognition of and appreciation for Iris Chang's bravery, dedication and devotion in exposing Japanese war crimes, said mother Ying Ying Chang.

Father Chang Chaojin said Iris loved books and loved research. She was once locked up inside in a library because she was so focused in her work that she had forgotten about time. Now it'll be a beautiful thing for Iris that her statue and her notes can sit in the same library that she loved.

Shortly before her death, Iris Chang donated her extensive materials to the Hoover Archives. They document her research on the history of the Chinese in America and the human rights violations in Nanking (1937–1938) and include the lengthy interviews she conducted with American military personnel who served in the Pacific during World War II.

To remember Iris Chang, the Chinese Human Rights Foundation invited scultor Wang Hong zhi, a Nanjing local artist, to create two bronze statues of Iris - one at Stanford and the other one is put in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, China.

For those of you who don't know much about Iris Chang, here's a story on her written in the London Times in 2005, after her suicide:
Iris Chang: Her Friends Used to Wory About Her
Oliver August, in the London Times, Saturday, March 26, 2005

A young historian's book on the 1937 atrocity unleashed a tide of repressed anguish and international recriminations that continue even after her suicide

THOSE who knew Iris Chang used to worry about how she could cope with the gloom of her chosen work. But when they visited the house in California that she shared with her husband and saw him playing with their two-year-old son by the swimming pool in the backyard, they were reassured.

The 36-year-old historian would sip lemonade with her friends at a Chinese café called the Tea House and, for a while, the torrent of terror that she frequently invited into her life would seem far away.

Were it not for the crinkled maps of China, the pictures of mass graves and the two desperately overstuffed Rolodexes on her desk, Chang might have been just another former high school homecoming queen from the aptly named Sunnyvale. But she had become one of the foremost young historians of her generation after publishing, seven years ago, a bestselling account of the Rape of Nanking, one of the worst episodes of human cruelty in recent history.

Her book brought international acclaim and controversy, and many spoke of a stellar future. It was not to be. In November she killed herself, no longer able to bear the weight of horrors from seven decades ago.

The Rape of Nanking in 1937 began with the march of invading Japanese soldiers up the Yangtse River. They occupied the Chinese capital of the time and soon conquest was followed by bloodlust. Soldiers slaughtered between 100,000 and 300,000 civilians sheltering in a few city blocks. Slowly.

Over a six-week period, up to 80,000 women were raped. But it wasn’t so much the sheer numbers as the details that shock — fathers forced at gunpoint to rape daughters, stakes driven through vaginas, women nailed to trees, tied-up prisoners used for bayonet practice, breasts sliced off the living, speed decapitation contests.

During the war the massacre was well known, but both Tokyo and Beijing preferred not to mention it over the four decades that followed.

Iris Chang was pitched into this maelstrom of history as a child when her immigrant parents, who had escaped from wartime China to the US, told their daughter how the Japanese “sliced babies not just in half but in thirds and fourths”. In the introduction to her book she wrote: “Throughout my childhood [the massacre] remained buried in the back of my mind as a metaphor for unspeakable evil.”

When, at 27, she read one of the few accounts of the atrocity still circulating in the West, she sensed a mission in life. “I was suddenly in a panic that this terrifying disrespect for death and dying, this reversion in human social evolution, would be reduced to a footnote of history, treated like a harmless glitch in a computer program that might or might not again cause a problem, unless someone forced the world to remember it.”

Chang soon made her first trip to China and sought out Sun Zhaiwei, a history professor in Nanjing, as Nanking is known today. “I provided her with an assistant and fixed appointments with some of the survivors,” he says. Chang was given free lodgings and unlimited access to archives on the tree-lined campus near where the Japanese breached the old city wall before beginning their slaughter.

When the book based on her research — The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II — was published two years later, it sold more than half a million copies and Chang became an instant celebrity in America. Hillary Clinton invited her to the White House and Stephen Ambrose, the doyen of US historians, described her as “maybe the best young historian we’ve got”.

She was also widely praised for the emotion and commitment she brought to her work. On book tours the slim, ponytailed author spoke with an intensity that few listeners expected. Many broke down by her side, feeling compelled to recount their own tales of horror even if these were unrelated to her subject.

Orphans, rape victims and Holocaust survivors all wanted to bare their souls to her, finally relieving themselves of agonies sometimes decades old. They felt encouraged by the passion that she brought to the sort of grievances few of them could tackle on their own.

Chang cried when they cried. She was enraged even when they no longer were. It was unthinkable for her just to pass the paper tissues and wait until people had composed themselves again. Chang invited memories of atrocity and abuse with a seemingly limitless appetite. ...