The New York Times erroneously reported in a recent editorial that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has claimed the 1937 Nanjing Massacre never happened, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday, adding the government has already lodged a protest with the paper and demanded a correction be published.
The paper’s editorial in Sunday’s editions, titled “Mr. Abe’s Dangerous Revisionism,” read that “(Abe) and other nationalists still claim that the Nanjing massacre by Japanese troops in 1937 never happened.”
At a daily news briefing, Suga claimed Abe “has never made such remarks” to deny the Nanjing Massacre, and the editorial by The New York Times included “a remarkable error of fact.”
“The basic position of the Japanese government is that it cannot be denied that there were killings of noncombatants and plundering (by Japanese troops) after the Japanese Army entered Nanjing in 1937,” Suga told reporters.
“The Abe Cabinet has maintained exactly the same view,” he said.
Asked if Abe has ever made such remarks before serving as prime minister, Suga said: “No, I don’t think so.”
Comments from The New York Times were not immediately available.
After Imperial Japanese troops overran Nanjing in 1937, numerous noncombatants, in particular Chinese soldiers being held prisoner, were reportedly killed by Japanese troops.
Japanese mainstream historians’ estimates of the number of victims range from 40,000 to 200,000, while the Chinese government claimed about 300,000 people were killed.
Abe is widely regarded as a revisionist but details of his views on the country’s wartime atrocities apparently differ from those of many of his nationalist allies.
In December, Abe jointly published a book with popular novelist Naoki Hyakuta in which Hyakuta claimed the U.S. “fabricated” the Nanjing Massacre during the postwar tribunal to distract international attention from its own “war crimes” such as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and massive air raids on Tokyo.
In the book, while greatly praising Hyakuta for his talent as a writer, Abe did not mention his views of the Nanjing Massacre or Hyakuta’s conspiracy theory about it.