Former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Henry S. Stokes is standing by a claim made in his new book that the Nanjing Massacre never took place, describing the event as a “propaganda tool of the KMT government.”
Kyodo News reported Thursday that Stokes’ book, titled “Eikokujin Kisha ga Mita Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Kyomo (“Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist”), contained “rogue passages” that didn’t reflect the author’s view of the event.
The news agency accused translator Hiroyuki Fujita of adding lines to “fabricate” Stokes’ denial of Japan’s wartime responsibility for the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
Stokes, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, released a statement Friday through the book’s publisher Shodensha, blasting the news report as “wrong” and “far from the truth.”
“The so-called ‘Nanking Massacre’ never took place,” Stokes said in the statement. “The word ‘massacre’ is not right to indicate what happened. It was originally a propaganda tool of the KMT government,” he said, referring to the Kuomintang.
Kyodo News in turn released a statement dated Friday, saying it was “confident in the accuracy of the article,” which it said “drew on its interview with the former Tokyo bureau chief.” The agency also said the interview was taped.
In an interview with The Japan Times on Monday, Fujita dismissed the Kyodo report as “simply wrong,” saying the entire story was based on “Henry’s misunderstanding about what was written in Japanese in his book.”
Stokes was quoted as saying in the Kyodo article that he was “shocked and horrified” when he learned some passages of his book, published only in Japanese, claimed the Nanjing Massacre, in which Beijing claimed about 300,000 Chinese were killed by Japanese troops, never took place.
According to Fujita, Stokes acknowledged saying “shocked” and “horrified,” but only because he was under the impression the paragraphs in question “were different from my idea,” he quoted Stokes as saying.
The paragraphs in question translate as: “From this, it is clear that the so-called ‘Nanking Massacre’ did not take place. As a historical fact, the ‘Nanking Massacre’ did not take place. It was a propaganda fabricated by the KMT government.” When presented with this translation, Stokes said it poses no significant difference from his own idea, Fujita said.
The Japan Times contacted Stokes, but he declined to be interviewed, citing fatigue and ill health.According to Fujita, he conducted English interviews with Stokes “almost every day” from July to September last year, in a room at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. The book was released in December.
Asked about the allegation that he added several passages to the book, Fujita said that since the interviews spanned such a long period of time, punctuated with Stokes’ off-topic comments about his childhood, among other things, Fujita basically “put together” the remarks that were pertinent to the Nanjing Massacre and arranged them in an order he thought would work best. He also “added” mentions of some historical facts, he said.
“There was no original written English, so I guess that’s the initial cause of confusion,” Fujita said.
“The story also made it look like me and Henry are somewhat at loggerheads,” he added.
“But the truth is that what I wrote in the Japanese book doesn’t deviate at all from his actual opinion.”