The Japanese Imperial Army: The Rape Of Nanking

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The “Rape of Nanking” refers to the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army over a six-week period after taking the Chinese capital city of Nanjing (then called Nanking) in December 1937. After capturing the city, the Japanese soldiers massacred 300,000 out of 600,000 in population, and committed innumerable atrocities, including rape, looting, and the torture and slaughter of women, children, elderly, and other civilians ( Even by wartime standards, such acts were abominable and exceptionally barbarous. This essay will examine various reasons behind the Japanese army’s actions in the Rape of Nanking, and argue that the main cause of their behavior is their indoctrination in militaristic and nationalistic ideals…show more content…
Japanese children grew up in regimentation, were desensitized to violence through tales of martial glory, and were taught that their purpose in life was to serve the emperor ( Upon entry into military service, they were trained out of any individualistic spirit, and taught that compassion was a weakness that had no place in the field of war. The soldier’s motto was faith equaled strength (, and faith was devotion to duty and service to the Divine Emperor. Apart from ideology and spiritual toughening, training in the Japanese Imperial Army was harsh and violent. It was expected that if a colonel slapped a major across the face, the major would then strike one of his captains, and the abuse would continue through the ranks so that the prisoners of war, at the very bottom of the military hierarchy, would receive the worst and most brutal beatings ( Such gratuitous violence and cruelty was an accepted part of the Japanese Imperial Army. It can be reasoned that the violence of the Rape of Nanking, committed against powerless and socially inferior Chinese citizens, is an extension of the routine brutality and abuse that the soldiers suffered in such a hierarchical military system. As a journalist wrote, “it is easy to see…show more content…
For one, the Japanese did not expect to encounter much resistance from the Chinese, and even planned to take the whole of China in just three months ( However, the stiff resistance put up by the Chinese army and people dragged the war out for longer than the Japanese expected, and also resulted in substantial Japanese casualties, giving rise to Japanese fury and frustration. It can be argued that the army’s particularly violent behavior in the Rape of Nanking can be attributed to the Japanese taking out these feelings on the innocent civilian population. Moreover, the atrocities in Nanking continued for six weeks at least in part because they were allowed, or at least not stopped, by Japanese military officials. For example, the Japanese general Iwane Matsui, who ordered the siege of Nanking, denied causing, permitting, or ordering his army to brutalize the civilian population of the city, but was nevertheless sentenced to death (and executed in 1948) for his probable knowledge of and failure to stop the massacre ( Whether through affirmative encouragement or command, or by criminal negligence, the failure of Japanese military officials to put a stop to the atrocities is a reason why the Rape of Nanking continued unabated for so long and harmed so many people. The duration and the level of

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