International Research Institute for Controversial Histories
On April 3 and 24, 2023, at the House of Councilors Committee on Audit, regarding the so-called Nanjing Incident, Councilor Wada Masamune asked Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa about the grounds for the Government’s view posted on the website of the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs: “The Japanese Government thinks it undeniable that after the Japanese Army entered the city of Nanjing in 1937, there occurred murders and acts of blunder against non-combatants.” Consequently, Minister Hayashi’s answer revealed that there were no evidential documents on which the Government relied for its official view. According to Ara Kenichi, researcher on the Nanjing Incident, it was in 1982 that the Foreign Ministry came to admit the occurrence of the alleged Nanjing Incident. This decision was probably made, catering to the external pressure and public opinion amid the fading memory of the battleground.
Now, let us examine the ground on which the common theory that “there was Nanjing Incident” is based. The Nanjing Incident is believed to have really taken place primarily because of the third-party witnesses to the effect. At that time, those who condemned the Nanjing Incident through various media were Europeans and Americans staying in Nanjing, and at the Tokyo Trials held after the War, the most powerful claims that the Nanjing Incident did happen were statements by the assumingly neutral third-party Europeans and Americans. After the War, those Chinese who suddenly came forth in their old age claiming to be victims associated themselves with the European and American records and asserted the authenticity of their own statements.
In such a verification process of the Nanjing Incident, although statements made by Europeans and Americans who were there in Nanjing at that time were decisively important, the studies on the nature of those statements are surprisingly few. So, this paper confirms the origin of those third-party statements based on the European and American documents at the time and indicates that those original sources were American missionaries who remained in Nanjing and clarifies those missionaries’ activities, intentions and backgrounds.
Hopefully, this paper will reveal the hidden truth of the Nanjing Incident and fundamental errors of the common theory and the Japanese Government’s view.
- Examination of the original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident
- Who were the third party remaining in Nanjing?
First, let us confirm the third party (Europeans and Americans) in Nanjing at that time.
In order to witness or examine an incident, one needs to be there on the spot. On December 13, 1937, when the Japanese Army entered the walled city of Nanjing, and for a while after that, there were 22 Europeans and Americans staying in Nanjing. Among them, there were 14 Americans (the majority group) and all of them were missionaries. Besides them, there were 5 Germans, 1 Austrian and 2 White Russians, all of whom were in Nanjing on business. Besides these businessmen, there were 2 Europeans (1 Dane and 1 Briton), who temporarily came to Nanjing and left, and they were also on business. There were five newspaper correspondents (1 Briton, 4 Americans) who left Nanjing a few days after the Japanese Army entered Nanjing. On January 6, 1938, and thereafter, diplomats from respective countries returned to Nanjing, but there were no reports of their witnessing massacres. So, the civilians mentioned above were the third party who might possibly have seen the Nanjing Incident.
- The examination of the original disseminators
Bearing those remainders in mind, let us now examine some of the well-known disseminators of the reports and statements related to the Nanjing Incident.
- The first news report of the Nanjing Incident
Articles written by those correspondents who left Nanjing on December 15, 1937 (The Chicago Daily News, the New York Times, etc.) are said to have been the first report. However, it is confirmed that the original source of these articles was the statement made by American missionary Miner Bates (1897-1978), through Missionary Bates’ letter.[i]
- The theory of 20,000 victims of the massacre stated by Koo Vi Kyuin at a League of Nations conference
At a League of Nations conference in Geneva on February 2, 1938, Chinese Delegate Koo Vi Kyuin (1888-1985) quoted from the Daily Telegram and Morning Post of January 28, 1938: “The number of Chinese civilians killed by Japanese in Nanjing was supposedly twenty thousand.” To confirm the newspaper’s article, it said, “One missionary estimates the number of Chinese slaughtered at Nanjing at 20,000.” As previously mentioned, since missionaries staying in Nanjing then were all American, the original disseminator of this article was an American missionary.
- Records of incidents by the International Committee and the Diaries of Rabe
For the protection and safety of civilians, the American missionaries established the Nanking Safety Zone and the International Committee to administer the safety zone. The records of incidents within the Safety Zone compiled by the Committee[ii] were filled with cases of atrocities committed by the Japanese military. But the Committee was under the control of the American missionaries who held the majority power among the remaining foreigners. Practically, the Committee report was disseminated by the American missionaries.
The Diaries of German John Rabe (1882-1950), who was set up as chairman of the International Committee, was published after the War.[iii] The diary contains many records of massacres committed by the Japanese Army submitted by various missionaries but no records of his own witnessing massacres. The records of massacres in Rabe’s Diary were also originally disseminated by American missionaries.
- Statements made at the Tokyo Trials
After the War, the Nanjing Incident was examined at the Tokyo Trials. There were three Westerners who appeared in the court in person and stated that the Nanjing Incident had taken place and they were American missionaries.
With what I have stated so far, I hope it is understood that the original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident were entirely American missionaries.
- The reason why American missionaries disseminated the Nanjing Incident to the world
- The true purpose for the establishment of the Nanking Safety Zone
The purpose of the American missionaries who remained in Nanjing was nominally to establish the neutral and demilitarized Nanking Safety Zone for the safety and protection of the citizens. However, during a meeting held to report on the plan for establishing a safety zone, missionary Mills stated to the contrary effect: “At our meeting Mr. Mills expressed the longing that instead of having all educated people trek westward that it would be far better for a group to go down and try to encourage and comfort the Chinese army and help them to see what disorder and looting among even a small group means to China.”[iv]
Missionary Mills was the central figure (Presbyterian) among the American missionaries in Nanjing and the mastermind of the establishment of the Nanking Safety Zone.[v] Neutrality and one-sided support cannot stand together. From these words of missionary Mills, it becomes clear that the Nanking Safety Zone was established not for the protection of civilians but for the support and protection of the Chinese Army. In fact, there is record that within the Safety Zone, during battles, Chinese artillery operated[vi] and after battles, Chinese soldiers infiltrated into the safety zone and hid themselves there.[vii]
- The Nanjing Incident to justify the Nanking Safety Zone
From these records, supposedly, the dissemination of the Nanjing Incident by the American missionaries was part of protection and support measures for the Chinese Army. The missionaries needed to disseminate the Nanjing Incident. It was because the Nanking Safety Zone was not an officially acknowledged establishment, unlike the Shanghai Safety Zone, which was officially approved by both Japan and China.[viii]
Since the Nanking Safety Zone was dubious in terms of neutrality, the Japanese authorities did not recognize it but during battles, Japan would avoid attacking it so long as it was not militarily necessary. After the battles ceased, the unauthorized Nanking Safety Zone had no longer a reason to exist. After entering Nanjing, the Japanese Army immediately ordered the Zone to be dissolved, which the missionaries refused to follow. On the other hand, the missionaries decided to support and protect the Chinese Army within the zone as missionary Mills had stated and conveyed their intention to Huang Jen Lin (1901-1983),[ix] Chiang Kai-shek’s right-hand man. It was necessary for the missionaries to maintain the safety zone under their control in order to secretly protect Chinese soldiers in Nanjing. So, to make up a pretext for keeping the safety zone, they needed to fabricate a story of atrocities committed against citizens by the Japanese Army, namely, the dissemination of the Nanjing Incident.
We can judge whether the missionaries’ claim that the safety zone was necessary to protect citizens from the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army was reasonable or not, based on the situation after Nanking Safety Zone was dissolved. On February 4, 1938, the Japanese Army ordered the citizens within the Safety Zone to go home, and practically, the Safety Zone disappeared. On February 8, non-substantial International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone was renamed the Nanking International Relief Committee, having the term “the safety zone” removed. If the missionaries’ claim had been right, after the Safety Zone disappeared, Nanjing would have become a worse hell. However, on March 4, 1938, Chancellor Paul Scharffenberg for the German Embassy recorded, “...we no longer hear of atrocities, and order is also being restored in general.”[x] As a matter of fact, the missionaries’ assertions were not correct.
These documents indicate that the Nanjing Incident existed only when the American missionaries supported and protected the Chinese Army in the Safety Zone. Sabotages by Chinese soldiers hiding within the Safety Zone and fictions made up by the American missionaries in order to justify the existence of the Nanking Safety Zone were all that was to the alleged Nanjing Incident.
- The background for the creation of the Nanjing Incident
By the way, while French Catholic Father Robert Jacquinot (1878-1946), who established the Shanghai Safety Zone kept neutral, why did the American missionaries (Protestants) in Nanjing support and protect the Chinese Army? In the background, there was a resolution clearly showing the relationship between the Chinese Protestant Church and the Chinese (Chiang Kai-shek’s) government:
“Recognizing in the ideals of the New Life Movement many of the same objectives that Christians have always sought, Christians, whether individuals or church groups, be urged to co-operate in the New Life Movement program as far as possible.” (National Christian Council Biennial Meeting, May 6, 1937).[xi]
The National Christian Council is a body representing the Protestant churches in China. And the New Life Movement was substantially Chiang Kai-shek’s political activity for nation building. Therefore, this resolution stated the overall cooperation on the part of the Protestant churches in China as their consensus for the Chiang Kai-shek’s political activity in the name of the “New Life Movement.”
The slogan of the New Life Movement was the “three Life transformations,” namely, “Militarization of Life, Productivization of Life, and Aestheticization of Life [or Rationalization],” Productivization meant participation in productive activities and Aestheticization or Rationalization dealt with upbringing. However, clearly, it started with militarization which meant the movement anticipating the military mobilization of the people. In fact, after the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, the movement included the support for the Chinese Army.
And the missionaries knew that the New Life Movement was a dangerous activity ensconcing a military element.[xii] While they recognized well the military and political colors of the movement, they resolved to totally cooperate with it. The reason was evangelical motives. The missionaries regarded Chiang Kai-shek, who had converted to Protestantism after his marriage to Soong Mei-ling and reawakened to religious worship while he was held under detention during the Xi’an Incident, as a true Christian[xiii], expecting that if Chiang Kai-shek representing the Nationalist Party Kuomintang was to rule China, a Protestant State of China would be born. Thus, they resolved to fully cooperate with the New Life Movement, which was deeply tinted with the military color. In the extension of this resolution lied the American missionaries’ support and protection of the Chinese soldiers in Nanjing.
This relationship between the resolution made by the Chinese National Christian Council and the activities by the American missionaries in the Nanking Safety Zone can be clearly explained. The previously mentioned Mr. Huang Jen Lin, Chiang Kai-shek’s right-hand man, with whom missionary Mills shared the American missionaries’ plan to support and protect the Chinese Army within the Nanking Safety Zone, was fully in charge of the New Life Movement. The fact that the American missionaries’ support was carried out as a part of the activities to support Chiang Kai-shek’s New Life Movement by Protestants was proved by the very existence of Mr. Huang Jen Lin.
The Nanjing Incident was a complete fiction created by the American missionaries. The Nanjing Incident was created by the American missionaries pretending to be the third party who under the great policy of the Protestant Church to protect Protestant Chiang Kai-shek remained in Nanjing to support the Chinese Army. China merely used it.
The true players behind the Nanjing Incident were neither Japan nor China. They were American missionaries, who have been regarded as the third party so far. This is the reason why at the time the Nanjing Incident was widely reported in the United States, fully used by the United States, the victor of World War II, during the Tokyo Trials, and the truth about it remains still unrevealed to this day.
The Japanese Government of 2023 should seriously accept the truth about the Nanjing Incident, immediately remove the view that lacks any solid grounds posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and show the historical truth both at home and abroad for the honor of the Japanese people.
[i] S. M. Bates, “Circular letter to friends,” April 12, 1938
[ii] “Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone” (1939), Kelly & Walsh
[iii] John Rabe, “Der gute Deutsche von Nanking” (1997), Hrsg. Erwin Wickert, VA(German)
[iv] Vautrin, “The Diary of Wilhelmina Vautrin,” November 18, 1937
[v] “Address of John Rabe at farewell party by staff of Nanking Safety Zone,” February 21, 1938
[vi] John Rabe, December 9, 1937
[vii] New York Times, January 4, 1938
[viii] “Telegram from American Embassy in Shanghai to Nanking Safety Zone Committee,” December 2, !937
[ix] Vautrin, “The Diary of Wilhelmina Vautrin,” November 18, 1937
[x] John Rabe, “Der gute Deutsche von Nanking” (1977), Hrsg, Erwin Wickert, VA(German)
[xi] “The China Christian year book 1936-37 (1937), Arthur H. Clark Company, p.77
[xii] Ronald Rees, “China Faces The Storm” (1938), Edinburgh House Press, p.61
[xiii] Ibid. Ronald Rees, p. 48
For details, refer to the book Primary Historical Sources Reveal the Truth about the Nanjing Incident, unraveling the Curse of the American Missionaries’ View of History written by Ikeda Haruka, 2020, published by Tenden-sha.