Journalist repeats assertion that Nanking Massacre didn’t happen

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

A British journalist quoted rejecting historians’ accounts about Japan’s actions after occupying Nanking has restated that he believes the 1937 Nanking Massacre did not occur, after saying he was “shocked and horrified” by his Japanese book’s conclusion, which said the Chinese government fabricated the massacre.

Former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Henry S. Stokes rejected as “just ridiculous” a recent Kyodo News report that quoted him as saying that his translator, Hiroyuki Fujita, “smuggled” rogue passages into the work and had the apparently contradictory conclusion “just spooned into the text” without Stokes’ approval.

In a six-minute video interview posted on YouTube by a group called Watchdog for Accuracy in News-reporting Japan last week, Stokes, who cannot read or write Japanese well, said he was “fully aware” of what the book contained.

“I’m saying the so-called Nanking Massacre by Japanese troops never occurred,” Stokes, 75, said. “The fact is that there was no such thing as massacre as far as I’m concerned.”

Kyodo News reported earlier this month that his book “Eikokujin Kisha Ga Mita Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Kyomou” (“Falsehoods of Allied Nation’s Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist,”), published only in Japanese, has passages written by translator Hiroyuki Fujita purporting to be Stokes’ own opinion.

“I had the feeling that Kyodo News was not inaccurate so much as they were inattentive to the real detail,” Stokes said. “They didn’t really focus on the real thing, except they’d like to knock me down and him (Fujita).”

Fujita is closely tied to a group advocating revisionist views of history. In the Kyodo story, Stokes is said to have described his book’s conclusion as “straightforward right-wing propaganda.”

Stokes, who has advanced Parkinson’s disease, acknowledged there was “sporadic violence here and there in the city” but it should be referred as an “incident,” not a “massacre,” and that the Nanking Massacre was “certainly propaganda of the KMT government,” a reference to the Kuomintang authorities who were in charge at the time.

“I’m very insistent on it. I’m not willing to be called a liar by anybody on this subject,” he said.

  • phu

    …but said the six-week orgy of rape and murder should be referred as an “incident,” not a “massacre”…

    Is this supposed to somehow pass for unbiased reporting, or should we just assume bias has become an inextricable part of ‘journalism’ now? “Six-week orgy of rape and murder” makes a pretty clear presented-as-factual statement that begs the question of the nature of the event being discussed.

    I’m not suggesting it didn’t happen. I wasn’t there and my inclination is to assume the more common position that “massacre” is a fitting term. But stating it in the above way throws any claim the author might have to objectivity, which at least used to be fairly important in that role.