Japanese army raped and killed Chinese civilians in Nanking during December 1937 at the rate of one person every 7.5 seconds. Millions died in Asia unnecessarily because ideology of racial or ethnic superiority was believed or followed.
An important question to ask is whether leaders of countries have a responsibility to intervene to prevent human rights abuses. Such intervention may be practically impossible, politically impossible, or counter-productive. But such intervention may also be do-able and the only way to save many lives that would otherwise be stolen or scarred by racism.
The U.S. did not do much to prevent Japanese massacres in China prior to the start of World War II. But after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, its atrocities in China were used as further evidence of the need to conquer that country.
The Japanese media avidly covered the army’s killing contests near Nanking. In one of the most notorious, two Japanese sub-lieutenants, Mukai Toshiaki and Noda Takeshi, went on separate beheading sprees near Nanking to see who could kill one hundred men first. The Japan Advertiser ran their picture under the bold headline, “Contest to Kill First”
Reasons for these mind-numbing atrocities included a common view among the Japanese soldiers, according to Dr.Chang, that the Chinese were “subhuman beings whose murder would carry no greater moral weight than squashing a bug or butchering a hog.”
“One day Second Lieutenant Ono said to us, ‘You have never killed anyone yet, so today we shall have some killing practice. You must not consider the Chinese as a human being, but only as something of rather less value than a dog or cat. “
The head of a Chinese soldier placed on a barbed-wire barricade outside Nanking, with a cigarette butt inserted between his lips as a joke (Alliance for Preserving the Truth of Sino-Japanese War).
Here is the testimony of Dr. Nagatomi, a doctor in Japan in the late 1990’s who confessed to his war crimes in Nanking:
“They gang-raped women from the ages of twelve to eighty and then killed them when they could no longer satisfy sexual requirements. I beheaded people, starved them to death, burned them, and buried them alive, over two hundred in all. It is terrible that I could turn into an animal and do these things. There are really no words to explain what I was doing. I was truly a devil.”