Atrocities in China 1939 and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial Thesis

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¶ … Chinese Atrocities in 1939 and the Japanese War Crimes Trail

The Relative Scotch Free Post War Fates of Japanese Officials Responsible for the Atrocity of Nanking, in Comparison to the Heavy Convictions and Isolation faced by Former Nazi Officials

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The televised happenings of the Nuremburg trial forever haunt former Nazi leaders and officers. Yet, former Japanese officers who committed relatively similar, if not worse, crimes then their European axis brethren have not been met with the same fateful consequences. Due to a lack of support from both China and the United States, the International Military Tribunal of the far East failed to convict nearly as many Japanese as its counter had in Germany. This is mainly due to an incompetent prosecution, with the fractured nature of indictments and general ideas of who was responsible fot atrocities such as the one seen in Nanking in 1939, where over three hundred thousand Chinese and Korean civilians, refugees, and unarmed soldiers were murdered in a horrendous act by the Japanese during their occupation of China. Due to the closer ties with the cultural connection of Germany, the international community held Nazi officers more responsible on an executive level, stating their involvement in larger conspiracies. Thanks to the guilt of the nuclear bomb and the United States' interest in smoothing over ties with Japan as quickly as possible to establish a friendly economic superpower, many Japanese officials responsible for the Massacre of Nanking were either tried as sole individuals who failed to stop their lower ranks from acting atrociously, or not even tried at all, as in the case of the Japanese Emperor. In the end result, former Japanese officers have been allowed to hold office and even migrate to the United States. Compared to Nazi Germany, Japan faced very little consequences for the horrendous war crimes committed during their occupation of China in World War II.

Thesis on Atrocities in China 1939 and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial Assignment

The most striking memory of World War II are the visions of the Holocaust and the horrible death camps in and around Germany, which many Nazi officials were later hunted down and convicted for. Many have never even heard of the Nanking Massacre which took place in 1939 at the hands of the former Japanese Empire, who remains relatively blameless in the entire ordeal. Although the massacre initially made world wide news, it has all but slipped into the forgotten memory of global history, (Chang 1997:201). Yet, this blemish on the face of Chinese and Japanese relations was responsible for the death of three hundred thousand Chinese while under Japanese stronghold during the early beginnings of World War II. The Nanking Massacre occurred in the midst of the beginnings of the Second World War. After the war broke out in Europe, media coverage of the horrible events was overshadowed by Hitler's invasion into neighboring countries. This was a typical occurrence during the war, and many other atrocities were similarly overshadowed by the war events of Europe. Yet the American media did cover this and other events more so than any other media facet in the international community, as it did with most of the war time news of the Pacific battles and conflicts with the Japanese. While most Americans can vaguely remember the happenings of such Pacific battles as Midway and Okinawa, most other nations are completely in the dark about the Japanese involvement in World War II.

Scholars believe the atrocities which took place in Nanking were responsible for a variety of factors that originate deep within Japanese culture, very similar to the concepts within Nazi Germany's culture and their view of a perfect Arian race. The Japanese had always believed the Chinese to be inferior, and had begun conflicts with the prior to the onslaught of World War II. This presents a very similar case between the early conflicts and genocide of the Jewish people under the hands of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. According to some, the malicious and violent acts of the Japanese soldiers were a transmission of the humiliation the soldiers were forced to endure themselves within the lower ranks of the Japanese military, (Chang 1997: 217). Based on being treated horribly themselves, the Japanese soldiers had sheer aggression which was then unleashed unto helpless Chinese citizens and unarmed soldiers. This, in turn, made them compensate for such low treatment within Japanese society, which is so dependent upon its class rankings and status within the community. On top of this, many Japanese soldiers had naturally grown up with a violent hatred of the Chinese in general, (Chang 1997:218). This hatred had been around fro generations based on previous conflicts and a general feeling of xenophobia towards the Chinese, whom the Japanese regarded as inferior. Therefore, the soldiers held contempt for the Chinese citizens which then sparked the violence which erupted in Nanking. Finally, many scholars also allocate some responsibility for the massacre based on differences of religion, (Chang 1997:218). With religion being such a factor in most bloody conflicts, it is not surprising that it would be a reason for such violence on behalf of the Japanese soldiers during their occupation of Nanking.

Unlike their fellow axis powers, the Japanese government has failed to fully be prosecuted under the idea that the war crimes which occurred were part of a larger governmental system rather than the responsibility of certain twisted individuals, (Chang 1997:201). The Nazi regime was later seen by Germans as acting in accordance with government policies and actions, and that individual Generals and other high ranking officers as being the sole responsibility holders for the atrocities which occurred on European soil during the course of the war. Nazi leaders were held accountable as being responsible members of the planning and execution of the European genocide. In reference to the Japanese, on the other hand, prosecutors of the Tokyo war crimes trials have conflicting views of Japan's larger moral responsibility during World War II. Many continue to believe the Japanese government as being innocent in the idea that they acted in self preservation against the invading powers of the Western world, (Chang 1997: 201). According to this ideology, Japan remains the major victim in the war after the bomb left the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki completely destroyed, none of which had affected Nazi Germany. Those who believe in the innocence and victimization of Japan also tend to ignore the atrocities seen in the Nanking Massacre. The even truth of the massacre has itself been questioned as Chinese lies aimed at destroying the innocent image of Japan, (Chang 1997: 201). Hitler's Holocaust could never be ignored or labeled as a fabrication. This has raised much criticism both internationally and internally with efforts to make the truth of the past realized and utilized to teach the future generations of both the positive as well as negative aspects of Japanese history, despite loosing an image of innocence and self-justification. Efforts to get more factual information within education Japanese history textbooks in order to truly educate the people about the atrocities that Japan was responsible for in the chaotic midst of World War II.

These views have angered the international community and brought new light to the massacre and the events which occurred later after the end of the war. In fact, initial international response to the massacre was relatively silent compared to the reports of other international atrocities occurring in other areas affected my World War II. Many Japanese report to have never even heard of the events of the massacre until much later when those responsible were placed on trail by the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, (Chang 1997: 201). Others still loyal to the idea of Japan's pure innocence believe that the United States used trumped up Chinese information in the decision to move to nuclear weapons. However, after the war, American journalists went out of their way to show their response as it occurred years earlier, (Chang 1997: 202). This was a later international response which aimed at placing direct blame for the tragic incident. Later research would prove that several key American, Japanese and other international press facets covered stories of the Nanking Massacre, and were in fact, relatively detailed and current reports. This ideology has also angered China, especially in recent years. Protests and demonstrations have resulted from Japanese officers and officials publicly remarking the innocence of Japan against the smear techniques of the Chinese, (Chang 1997:204).

The atrocities at Nanking were eventually brought to light by the trial which followed under the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Several officers were charged with Crimes Against Peace, Crimes Against humanity, and other War Crimes, very much similar to their axis brothers in Nuremburg. The events were handled using a relatively similar charter to the Nuremburg Trials in Germany which convicted hundreds of former Nazi officers and officials. Yet, only a few of the Japanese officers involved in the rape of Nanking were actually tried in the region, (Chang 1997:170). These trials saw… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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