'Shock' from Kyodo report a result of misunderstanding, translator says

Journalist now stands by Nanjing book


Staff Writer

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.”

  • Thanks for the follow-up article. I was worried JapanTimes ignored this rebuttal against the allegation.

  • zer0_0zor0

    So the Japanese right-wing revisionists have an advanced Parkinson’s disease Brit as their poster child now. Pathetic.

    • midnightbrewer

      Parkinson’s disease can lead to dementia and cognitive problems in advanced stages, but there are too many right-wing revisionists out there to account for all of them with one disease.

    • Kazuhisa Nakatani

      In the first place, what is the point of the book when it is “published only in Japanese”?
      Obviously, right-wing revisionists and its followers are masturbating.

      My concern is that this kind of books are selling like hot cakes these days and a lot of publishers are relying on the revenue from them.

  • seth0et0holth

    No better than Holocaust deniers.

    • itoshima2012

      You’re not seriously comparing this piece of reasearch to the holocaust deniers? Do you know what you’re comparing? YOu’re comparing the killing of jews on a truly epic and evil scale to a terrible but still very minor accident in the war in Asia. Please don’t get me wrong I do certainly not approve nor do I deny that many people/civilians got killed in Nanking but you really cannot be serious by comparing it to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany! It is just not right from a hitsorical perspective to compare Imperial Japan to Nazi Germany. My family lived in Nazi Germany and I had to listen everyday of what they did to others and to us, I also have a good grasp on Japanese history (especially that period) and although it was very cruel it is nothing total nothing compared to Nazi Germany!

      • RedBaronsCuz

        I tend to think of accidents as being events that are not premeditated. Raping and pillaging are not accidents. And I think “seth” was merely stating that these statements come from the same pathetic group of people who deny the Holocaust. He was not stating that it was on the same scale as the Holocaust.

      • itoshima2012

        I see your point but I still would prefer never to mention the Holocaust when talking about what Japan did during WWII. Especially on Nanking the discussion is heavily charged with emotions because the Chinese government is (ab)using it massively in its propaganda war. This is not to say that the Nanking incident didn’t happen, all available information points strictly into that reaction. The issue here is however to keep some sort of perspective. I for myself would not define this incident as a “massacre”, a “massacre” is for me on a much grander scale. I spend some years of my life reading up on the Imperial Army in China, books by Chinese, Japanese and European as well as Americans, and we can all agree that the incident happened but almost all also agree that it is massively overblown for propaganda purposes. It might not fit into our moral standards nowadays but what happened at the time was not something monstrous for the society of the time. For me the following qualifies for a “massacre”: The genocide of the native Indians in all the Americas, the final solution in Nazi Germany, the gulags in the USSR, the great famine and the great leap forward (one and the same) and the genocide on the Aboriginals in Australia as well as that of the Africans. Nanking, as bad as it was, should and must be out in perspective.

      • Darryl McGarry

        By trying to diminish the Nanking masacre as you do, you are dispalying an ignorance of history.
        What genocide of the Aboriginals in Australia are you talkiing about?
        If you are bent on adopting some leftwing interpretation of histyory you would even then struggle to make a case.
        I know of the Myall Creek Massacre. But, that in no way compares to Nanking. Anyway, at Myall Creek the crooks were captured, trialled and hanged.
        There was no denial.
        Has anyone responsible for the Nanking Massacre or any other Japanese WWII atrocity been recognised as a deviant by Japanese historians?

      • itoshima2012

        There’s not enough space here to discuss he genocide on aboriginal people. This is also not the right place to do this. Maybe we could open a new discussion but I think we’ll have to leave to that. I just remind you of the 100,000 children that teh Australian government stole from their mothers, never to be seen again by their mothers….

      • itoshima2012

        Government of the People’s Republic of China was signed in Beijing on September 29, 1972. This established diplomatic relations between Japan and the People’s Republic of China and resulted in the severing of official relations between Japan and the Republic of China (Taipei/Taiwan). Specifically, the treaty ended the “abnormal relations between Japan and China”, recognized the People’s Republic of China as the “sole government of China” and renounced any claim for war reparations from World War II. It firmly maintains its stand under Article 8 of the Potsdam Declaration.

      • Kyle

        Unit 731 it very reminiscent of Nazi experiments. However, Nanking is not genocide (official policy, law based eradication of a people), so the link in that regard is not appropriate.
        The Bataan Death March is also reminiscent of Nazi crimes. Yet, once again, Imperial Japan, while a fascist regime under the belief of Japanese “racial” superiority, did not commit genocide. Therein lies the major difference.

      • itoshima2012


      • zer0_0zor0

        The denial in the article relates to the term massacre, ,as in “Nanjing Massacre” not “genocide”.

      • Kyle

        Certainly, but I thought it was useful to define Genocide as it related to the Holocaust, but not Imperial Japan. In particular, because the Holocaust was mentioned in the comment section above.

        The term massacre can be interpreted broadly, but generally it means, “An indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people.” In my estimation, the “Rape of Nanking” is a massacre, but not genocide. From the evidence we have, the Imperial Japanese army was fairly indiscriminate in who was killed during the “sacking” of the city. Sadly, there have been numerous massacres throughout history.

        In US history books the incident in Boston (1770), has been labeled the “Boston Massacre”. Five individuals died, yet the link to massacre (while tenuous) seems to hinge on the indiscriminate firing into a crowd of people. Certainly this incident is used as a justification by Americans for the Revolution. In a vaguely similar, but much larger scope, China uses Nanking as a symbol of Japanese aggression and brutality. Yet, evidence would suggest China has the stronger case of using the term “massacre” than the US does with Boston.

      • Eddie Gao

        itoshima2012 I’m sorry but the Rape of Nanjing was hardly a ‘minor accident’ in the war in Asia. Why are you comparing the Holocaust to the Japanese war crimes? They are both as awful as each other, and it is shameful to be saying that one was not as bad as the other. Mass rape, human experimentation, massacres left right and centre…from my point of view Japanese war crimes were just as bad as Nazi war crimes. Cruelty is cruelty.

      • Kyle

        Cruelty is cruelty, you are correct. Both are crimes against humanity. But where one should differentiate Nazi Germany and Japan is the law-based and systematic eradication of a people. Imperial Japan, while guilty of horrendous war crimes, was far more “practical” (lack of a better word) than Hitler. Imperial Japan preferred forced labor, sex slaves, and cultural “genocide”. But it is an important difference, Imperial Japan did not seek or attempt to eradicate Korean, Filipino, or Chinese people as a group. This is a different crime altogether.

        Nazi Germany systematically murdered 11 million people. Primarily Jews, but also Gypsies, the handicapped, gays & lesbians, and political enemies. Imperial Japan committed incredibly disturbing crimes against humanity (Nanking, Unit 731, Death Marches), but it never conceived or enacted a plan of systematic eradication of racial or ethnic groups.

        There are “Death Camps” all over Poland, but one does not see this in Korea, China, or Southeast Asia. The closest aspect is brutal political prisons, Seodaemun in Korea, and the ruins of Unit 731 in China. Imperial Japan was a brutal colonial power, it sought to dominate and control its neighbors for material and resource gain. There were also elements of racial superiority. Yet, it would have been counterproductive to their objectives to eradicate the populous. None of this absolves Japan of “war guilt”, but the nature of Nazi Germany’s crimes are essentially different in one element, “The Final Solution”.

  • itoshima2012

    with China history is not always what it seems…… It is important to look at facts and in the case of Nanking the facts are very very blurred to say the least. I read many books on the issue and spend 12 months researching it. It is totally undeniable that the KMT (and China now) used it massively as a propaganda tool. Let’s be clear here, horrible things happened during that period of history and nothing can or should be whitewashed but one must absolutely stick to the facts and I dare to say that the facts do not point at a “massacre”. Of course it depends on how one defines “massacre” but we would have to put this event in the perspective of that specific historical period and during that period we have the genocide on the Jews, the creation of the gulags in the USSR and although Nanking was surely horrible it is not more than a blip in the history of the millions that got killed in Nazi Germany and the USSR. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m no revisionist but you really have to take care with China. For example, please read Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962 by Yang Jisheng and you can get a good feel on the monster the Chinese Comunist regime was and still is.

    • kension86

      642 people got killed in Oradour-sur-Glane by Nazi and it’s labelled as “massacre”. Even if we go with the low end death tolls, 40000 died in Nanking. I don’t see any problem labelling Nanking massacre as massacre when noone questions all those French village massacre being massacre.

    • RedBaronsCuz

      But remember, a massacre is merely “the large scale killing of human beings.” If the Japanese killed 100 Chinese, or 300,000, it would still be considered a massacre if you wanted to argue semantics.

  • U Nyunt Shwe

    If that opinion was of Stokes and regarding that he has authority on the subject to say so, alas, the whole wide world must apologise Fujita and Right wing politicians of Japan for their wrong accusation.

    This book of Fujita won’t bring any positive result with the neighbours, but will agitate a new round of denouncements by China and world’s historians. What a shame FUJITA.

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  • Testerty

    This revisionist book can only wish all those recorded historical documentation on the Nanjing Massacre disappear. You can’t stop deniers from denying.

    • nooyawka212

      The British newsreel service Pathe just released almost a century of newsreels. There was no newsreel of a rape of Nanjing. No contemporaneous newspaper reports such an event. There are other contemporaneous documents which do not report that event. To which “recorded historical documentation” do you refer? Could you name them and date them?

      • echykr

        Wow, so the authenticity of an incident is based on whether Pathe has a newsreel about it? That’s new.

      • Testerty

        If you ask the Chinese Eastern News Service, with over 150 years of news archive, they would tell you they have no record of the Holocaust in their database. Does this mean it never happened?

      • zekkenz

        Sure, I’ll bite.

        The Springfield Republican ran a long series about what seemed to be a massacre through most of December 1937 (18th / 22nd etc.). Other contemporary reports appeared in Reuters and the New York Times. See Katsuichi’s book for a good analysis of contemporary Asian written record. There are of course the Italian newsreels too. Not forgetting Timberly’s letters from January 1938 among others.

        If you want to believe all this stuff is lies, that’s fine. But you have to put forward a coherent argument towards that case. Merely claiming the evidence doesn’t exist is a farce.

      • nooyawka212

        You mention Katsuichi. One of the weakest ways in the world to substantiate a position in an argument is to cite Wikipedia. Nevertheless, I quote from the Wikipedia entry for Katsuichi to establish atmosphere, not to present final evidence. Katsuichi wrote his material many years after the events allegedly took place. Until his book, to quote Wikipedia “Although atrocities committed by Imperial Japanese forces during World War II had never been mentioned by anyone, including Mao Zedong, during and in the immediate aftermath of World War II….” In other words, Katsuichi claims to substantiate something that no one else prior to him even ventured to utter. It is my understanding that his work on Nanjing has not withstood scholarly tests. Katsuichi published in the predecessor of the Asahi Shimbun. It is my understanding that within the last couple of months the present-day Asahi Shimbun disowned Katsuichi’s publications…I do not have the appropriate citation at my fingertips.

        As to the Springfield Republican and Timberly, I do not have the time to respond at the moment. Give me time.

      • zekkenz

        You miss my point. I’ll give it one last crack.

        As I say you can disagree with Katsuichi – that’s ok. But what’s important is the things he uses as primary evidence, as cited in his book. Now, some of the things he points to are contemporary written sources. You claim that no such sources exist – so what you are saying is that Katsuichi and all the people that followed him – made-up primary sources and then quoted them in their books?
        Katsuichi’s analysis may very well be flawed – but he is putting forward what appears to be evidence. That’s what you should be arguing against.
        (I can’t resist the need to point out the delightful irony that Wikipedia never came near my original post).

      • nooyawka212

        I do not have Katsuichi’s book in front of me, so I cannot dispute his alleged sources. At the moment all I will say is that my suspicion is that the sudden appearance of alleged primary sources decades after the original event stinks to high heaven. Same goes for the Springfield Republican. Why would a newspaper of a medium-sized industrial city in the US [known for its Basketball Hall of Fame] have a correspondent in Nanjing? Why would this newspaper publish stories which were in contradiction to all the other news dispatches of the day – and the stories were unnoticed by the world for decades? Why would everyone else in the world ignore the Springfield Republican as a source until years later? I am not ready to say the excerpts which allege they come from the Springfield Republican are fake. I can say with certainty that one of the most popular photographs of the event, a photo of a supposedly abandoned child on railroad tracks, is fake. Nowadays it would be called fauxtography. Whether the Springfield Republican story is also fake I am not prepared to conclude. My suspicions run strongly in that direction. There is significant photographic evidence from Nanjing during the crucial times in the story to indicate that relations between Japanese soldiers and Chinese citizens was friendly and peaceful. If even Mao did not say word one about Nanjing, why would the Springfield Republican pass historic muster? Here’s another question to ponder: if Japanese soldiers committed this act in Nanjing, why did they stop? Why didn’t they repeat themselves in other places? And expend their resources against civilians, rather than save them up in the event of future military conflict?

  • Christopher Glen

    One word to describe this journalist – lowlife

  • nooyawka212

    Not only does this correspondent who was at the scene deny the alleged massacre, many other contemporaneous historic records back his story. If people waste their time by calling Stokes names and denigrating him, there are many other routes to the same conclusion, the conclusion that the rape of Nanjing didn’t happen. Stokes is only one witness. There are many other published witnesses who deny the myth.

    • kension86

      No, get your fact straight please, Stokes was NOT “at the scene”.

      And rape of Nanjing happened, just as rape of Berling happened.

  • echykr

    Perhaps the rest of the world could start considering writing history books about how there were miraculously no casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m sure the Japanese would love that.

    No Nanjing massacre, no Hiroshima bombing, no war, we’re all at peace. So what’s to complain?

    • itoshima2012

      did you read the article, no one was saying that “nothing happened”, of course it happened, the discussion is on the scale of the war crime. This war crime happened as did the war crime of nuking civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Moreover, this chap’s book is a drop in the ocean, most books point to the facts that this war crime happened. Most people in Japan know about it, most people in Japan abhor to what was done to its own people and to other pupil during that time. So Japan is neither more racist nor more nationalist than most other countries. Only because there are some fascist out door screaming that this is all a lie doesn’t change the fact that people in Japan know very well what happened. But China can’t all the time come back and back again with this story. China and Japan normalized their diplomatic relations in the 70s. The agreement is long but a major point is that “The Government of the People’s Republic of China declares that in the
      interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples,
      it renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan.” so either you leave it to that or you keep on banging about to gain something. The problem with CHina is that you can’t trust them.

      • echykr

        Er, I’m not even Chinese to begin with, neither am I a Panda-hugger, so as if I give a damn about gaining something for the PRC.

        I’m just telling it as I see it, even if Stokes’ book didn’t say Nanjing didn’t happen, doesn’t change the fact the 2ch netouyo are having an epic wankfest because of it. Whether other countries have their own history of playing down their own atrocities is irrelevant and merely an attempt to avoid the subject.

  • Eddie Gao

    This man should be ashamed of himself

  • itoshima2012

    …. literally millions were executed or starved to death from the start of communist China so I suggest you go back to school and start reading some books on the Chinese regime and its total disregard for human life. Of course there’s a point to it, China uses this incident for its propaganda, no scientific historic discussion is possible on this issue in China. I never said that this didn’t happen, it has been proven, so that’s it. This war crime happened. japan has apologized many times, China first accepted its apologies, so that FDI would start flowing massively, now that they’re pumped up economically but their country is totally messed up (ecologocally and socially) they need to make sure that the anger of the population is not directed towards the regime but have to try to find a different valve, nationalism always plays well for this purpose and Japan is an easy target. So yes, this war crime happened, but as I said China is using and abusing it massively and I prefer to base my judgement on information that comes from a free country and a free press than on information that is spoon fed by a Communist Dictatorship to bolster their griup on the people it has been abusing for the last 60 years!

  • Patrick Jonas

    worryingly there seem to be websites and articles appearing more often that dispute what happened in Nanking http://www2.biglobe.ne.jp/~remnant/nankingm.htm