World War II: Japanese War Crimes and Attrocities--Murder of Civilans

Figure 1.--The Japanese Rape of Manila is not as well known as the Rape of Nanking and the situation was different. At Nanking the Japanese Army was victorious and believed that nothing could stop them 1937-38). In Manila the Japanese Marines were cut off and outgunned. They were determined to fight to thend and only wanted to take as many Finapinos with them as possible, men, women, and children. They managed to kil some 100,000 Finaponos. The press caption here read, "Women and children killed by bayoney=t and rifle fire in the Walled City, Manila." Source: U.S. Army Photo.

The Imprial Japanese Army (IJA) was responsible for the murder of millions of civilians in the areas Japan occupied. The Navy also engagd in such atrocities, but because it was primarily at sea not on the same scale as the IJA. The best known IJA atrocity is the six week Rape of Nanking (1937-38). It was an incredible incident of mass murder and rape committed by IJA troops on the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), at the time the capital of China. It was not just chaotic violence on the part of soldiers, but actually overseen and to an extent orhanized by IJA commanders. No one knows how many civilians and disarmed POWs he IJA murdered, but estimates range between 40,000-300,000 victims murdered and countless rapes. But Nanking was hardly unique. This kind of horror took place throughout the areas of China occupied by the Japanese. The acale of the the barbaism appears to have been large even by Japanese standards. The reasin we know more about the Rape of Nanking is that because it was the capital, European diolomats were present to witness the behaior of he IJA. And even larger killing spree, but not confined to a single cuty was the less well documnted massacres conducting in eastern coatal privinces China in reprisal for the Doolittle raids. [Scott] In addition to civilans killed outright, the IJA unleased Unit 731 bacterological agents on the area. Four months of terror gave the Japanese time to kill some 500.000-750,000 Chinese civilians (May-August 1942). Missionaty accounts gradually filtered back to th United States recording the barbarity, but American historians did put together the scale of the retribution untill years after the war. Japanese savagery was not limited to China. The IJA Sook Ching (肃清) killing action meaning "purge through cleansing") was the systematic purge of those the Japanese perceived hostile elements among the Chinese in Singapore (February 1942). The death tool is believed to have reacged 70,000 victims. The Japanese conducted another horific killing action in the Ohilippine--the Rape of Manila (February 1945). In this case it was Japanese Marines that did much of the killing, some 100,000 victims. And they did it in plain view of the U.S. Army that was liberating the city.


Scott, James M. Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid that Avenged Pearl Harbor (2015).


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Created: 11:53 AM 10/6/2015
Last updated: 8:56 PM 9/29/2017