On August 15, 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army bombed Nanking, the capital of China. These raids were unrelenting until December 13, when Japanese troops entered the conquered city. For the next month Japanese soldiers killed, raped, looted, and burned. More than 300,000 Chinese died. Six months later random atrocities were still occurring. This is the event known to history as the Rape of Nanking.
For the Chinese, this event is an immediate symbol of outrages committed by Japanese troops during the war. During World War II, all of the major participants in the conflict committed atrocities. These actions were often covered up or denied. Arguably, the actions of the Japanese Imperial Army at Nanking are some of the most horrific and controversial.
Roy Brooks writes in his book When Sorry Isn’t Enough: The Controversy Over Apologies and Reparations for Human Injustice, “The Japanese turned murder into sport. They rounded up tens of thousands of men and used them for bayonet practice or decapitation contests.” Sometimes the soldiers simply sprayed gasoline on their victims and burned them alive. They skinned some men alive, tortured others to death with needles, or buried them up to the waist in the soil, and then allowed dogs to rip them apart.
The Chinese women suffered even worse, as many were horribly mutilated after being raped. In an attempt to further degrade their victims, the Japanese forced fathers to rape their daughters, or sons their mothers. The Japanese were equally brutal to infants and small children. Other atrocities are simply unspeakable, ghastly beyond description––on the whole as horrifying as those committed by the Nazis.