** World War II : Japanese war crimes and attrocities specific incidents

World War II: Japanese War Crimes and Attrocities -- Specific Incidents

Figure 1.--World War II began in Asia 2 years before Europe with the Japanese invasion of China. Japan early in its invasion of China committed one of the horendous atrocities of World War II--the Rape of Nanking. Similar but less well reported outrages ensued where ever the Imperial Japanese Army went. Only when Japanese military forces were defeated did the atrocities end. One of the last Japanese major Japanese atrocities on occupied people was the Rape of Manila, in his case committed by Japanese Marines--a naval formation. They targeted everyone they could lay their hands on in Manila, men, womn, and children. Here are three terrrized children who managed to survive. After this the Japanese Army would target its own people with terrible actions on Okinawa.

The Japanese military committed a long list of horendous atrocities that were without precent in modern times. Terrible atrocities begn in Mnchria and quickly escalated. The atrocities reached a fever pitch in Chima. The Rape of Nanking is the most widely known atrocity, largely because Nanking was the capitl of Nationlist China and there there were Western embassies there. This meant that there were many Western observers including many members of the international press. Thus unlike many other terrible atrocities it was observed and reported on in detail. And the Japanese were not particularly shy about taking photographs. The Japanese soldier at the time did not have the slighest idea that they could be defeated. They thought it was their right to sestroy any one who stood in their way or even civilins who were meerly in the city. It was rape, pillage, and sestruction such as was common in acncient times. Similar atrocities would be committed throughout China, Southeast aia, nd the Pacfic. Toward the end of the War, the idea of victory had long evaporated, but the Japanese behaved similarly in Manila. The Japanese victims included military and civilian including men and women, children and the elderly. Many of these murders were committed up close and personal, not only with guns, but often with swords and bayonets. Rape was commonly involved with cvilians, often followed by murder.


The Japanese conducted a mass slaughter of American wounded at a field hospital at Attu in the Aleutians. The numbers on Attu were relatively small in the horredous litany of Japanese atrcities, but the propensity to go after helpless people in hospitals wasall to common whre ever Japanese conquests too the Japanese soldier.

Australian POWs

The Japanese killed Australian POWs on New Britain, Ambon and Timor. The Japanese were hesitant to kill American POWsen masse as they did in China. They were often less hesitant to kill Australians. The Japanese used a vriety of ways to kill. Some Australian POWs were secured en baskets and then taken out to sea and thrown overboard.

Bangka Island: Australian nurses

The Japanese slaughtered Australian nurses on Bangka Island,

Bataan Death March (April 1942)

The Japanese forced the Americans and Filipinos who surrendered on Bataan on a grueling march. General Homma ordered that the men who surrendered be moved to Camp O'Donnell in central Luzon, about 100 miles to the north. Information is sketchy. There is no evidence that I know of that Homma intentially ordered a death march, however, it is demonstrable that he was extrodinarily callous and felt no real responsibility toward the welfare of POWs. Healthy troops provided with food and water would not have found this a horendous undertaking to march this distance. The men who surrendered on Bataan, however, were not healthy. The major reason they surrended was they had run out of food and munitions and were starving. Many were sick. The Japanese underestimated the size of the American force and disregarded efforts by General King to organize an orderly movement of his men. From the beginning, the Japanese harshly treated the POWs. Beatings were common. Men were killed for even minor enfractions and sometimes for no real reason. The Japanese searched the POWs and any man with Japanese items were immediately executed. [Daws, pp. 73-74.] Personal property of any value was stollen. The actual march began at Mariveles on April 10. General King offered to provide vehicles which was rejected out of hand by the Japanese. [Dyess, pp. 69-71.] The POWs had to travel on foot, even the sick. Stranglers and those who collapsed along the way were kliiled, many bayoneted. [Groom] The Japanese soldiers conducting the march randomly beat the POWs. They were denied food and water for several days. The lack of water in the tropical heat was especially harrowing. Food tht was provided was inadequate. The POWs were allowed a few hours tgo sleep, but under conditions that made real rest difficult. Finally the POWs were cramed into suffocating box cars. A few men escaped to fight as guerrillas. The survivors suffered 3-1/2 years of inhumane treatment as prisoners of war. Men perished in both the prison camps and in prison transports. America soon learned of Japanese attrocities during the Bataan Death, further fueling American hatred of the Japanese.

China: Rape of Nanking (December1937-January1938)

Naking was a priority target for Japan as it was the Nationalist capital. Japan took the key Chinese port city of Shanghai in early November 1937. The Japanese Imperial Army was supported by a rolling carpet of aerial bombardment moved up the Yangtze River valley toward the Natioanlist capital at Nanjing. Chiang abandoned his capital on December 8. Finally on December 13, 1937 entered Nanking. The resulting orgy of mindless killing ranks among the most horendous attrocities of modern times. American public opinion was somewhat diverted by the attack on the gunboat Panay on December 12. The intensity of the Japanese killing wasell reported by several European observers at the time. Even the then Japanese Foreign Minister reported after an inspection trip in January of 1938 that the "Japanese Army behaved ... in [a] fashion reminiscent [of] Attila [and] his Huns. [Not] less than 300,000 Chinese civilians slaughtered, many cases [in] cold blood." [Koki as quote in Chang] The population of Nanking was about 0.60-0.70 million, including about 0.15 million soldiers. Some Chinese managed to flee the city, but about 0.50 remained in the city when the Japanese seized it. The Japanese proceeded to kill about 0.09 million soldiers and 0.20 million civilians. These are only estimates, some believe even more were killed.

Dutch Nurses

Hong Kong

There was a mass slaughter of hospital medical staff following the fall of Hong Kong.

New Guinea

The Japanese landing at Buna in New Guinea killed the Australian missionary sisters.

Palawan Massacre

Philippines: Rape of Manila (February 1945)

Despite the countless attrocities perpetrated against the Japanese people, nothing approached, however, what the Japanese did in Manila. The Americans after securing Leyte, landing in overwealming force at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. The American 6th Army began and trapid drive south toward Manila (January 9, 1945). Advanced American units reached Manila and tanks crashed throgh the gates Santo Tomas University in the northern suburbs of the city. The Japanese had used the University as a POW camp. The Americans after the Japanese invasion (December 1941) had declared Manila an open city. It was hoped that the Japanese woild do the same. And General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the 'Tiger of Malaya' had been assigned to oversee the defense of the Philippines just before the American landings on Leyte. Realising that he did not have a force capable of defending Manila, he fought a delaying action whikle he withdrew his 14th Army and supplies to the mountains of northeastern Luzon. Here in the rugged terraine he could fight a protracted defensive campaign. The Japanese navy forces, including marines, did not come under his direct command. He ordered Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi when the Americams reached the city to retreat into the mountains and join him. Iwabuchi had no intention of doing so. Rather he decided to fight it out to the last man and tragically last Filipino. The Imperial Marines and others in the Manila garison refused to either evacuate the city or surender. And they decided to take every civilian in their grasp with them, often after first raping the women. Japanese Marines and other navy troops retreated across the Pasig River and blew all the bridges. This began the 30-day battle for Manila. Some 50,000 Filipino civilians would be killed and the city leveled. Photographs of Manila rotinely showed bodies of Filipino civilains scattered everywhere. It was the worst attrocity committed by Japanese troops outside of China. The only difference with Nanking other than the number of murders is that the Japanese in Manila mainly attacked civilians in individual acts of savegery rather than large-scale killing orgnazed by higher echelons. Much of the slaughter was individual massacres and gang rapes. Several killing actions stamd out. Japanese soldiers broke into the cappel at De La Salle University and bayonetted some 50 men women and childrten. The Japanese machine gunned 800 men, women and children seeking sanctuary at St. Paul’s College. And even larger action was conducted in the barrio of Calamba where 2,500 Filipinos were shot and bayoneted. [Bergee] A reader writes, "I recently watched a war documentary that claimed that Manila was the second most destroyed city in the war after Berlin." We are not sure about the metrics here. I'd say that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fairly destroyed and Tokyo as well as a result of the fire bombingd. Central Berlin was destroyed, both because of the Allied bombing and then Red Army assault, but the outlying suburbs were often intact. Manila was surely in the running. Manila was not heavily bombed, but was largely destroyed when the Americans went after the Japanese which turned every important building into a strong point.

Sandakan Death March

Japanese prison camps were the scene of unbelievable horendous attrocities in the Borneo jungle. Perhaps the worse was Sanakan. Thousands of Australian and British POWs died there. Those who against all odds forced tinto a gruling 60-mile march. Any prisonel who fell out was immediately shot. Yjde whole purpose was to kill the camp survivors so they could not testify to what the Japanese had done at the camp. Th only survivors were six escapees. [Tanaka. Hidden.]



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Created: 1:08 AM 11/11/2016
Last updated: 1:09 AM 11/11/2016