When Japanese troops conquered the then capital of China in 1937, historians agree they slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians in an orgy of violence known since as the Rape of Nanking.
But a Japanese nationalist filmmaker announced on Wednesday that he is working on a documentary with a very different message: the massacre never happened.
The film, to be called The Truth about Nanking and completed in August, will be based on testimony from Japanese veterans, archival footage and documents that proponents say prove accounts of the killings are nothing more than Chinese propaganda.
"This will be our first effort to correct the errors of history through a film," director Satoru Mizushima said at a Tokyo hotel, joined by a group of conservative lawmakers and academics who support the project.
Mizushima, president of the rightwing Internet broadcaster Channel Sakura, said he hoped to enter the film in international festivals later in the year. He is aiming to raise about ?300 million (US$2.47 million) for the effort.
The film is part of a gathering wave in Japan of "massacre denial" projects, mostly books, that attempt to debunk a slaughter that historians say killed at least 150,000 civilians. China says the death toll was as many as 300,000.
The film was certain to rile audiences in China, and opponents say it would only cause embarrassment for Japan.
"They say the film will transmit the truth about Nanking, but they will be only spreading shame for Japan," said Shinichiro Kumagai, a civil activist studying the massacre in Nanjing -- the current name of the city -- and supporting Chinese war victims.
"The move only reveals their inability to face Japan's wartime past by looking the other way," Kumagai said.
The film is based on the work of Japanese historian Shudo Higashinakano, whose work includes two books that claim the massacre was a hoax.
The massacre, brought to a worldwide audience in English by Iris Chang's book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, is widely seen as a gruesome symbol of Japan's bloody conquest of East Asia in most of the first half of the 1900s.
Japan's rightists argue Nanking's population was too small to have suffered such a huge massacre, and claim doctored photographs and exaggerated witness accounts have created the false image of Japanese soldiers as craven and bloodthirsty.
China yesterday condemned plans to make the documentary.
"We have also seen the reports. I think that there is irrefutable evidence for the Nanjing massacre, and international society has long ago come to a conclusion about it," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (
"Japan's taking of a correct and responsible attitude to properly deal with historical problems helps it truly win the trust of Asian neighbors and the global community," she added.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
Could delivering COVID-19 immunity directly to the nose — the area of the body via which it is mostly transmitted — help conquer the pandemic? The WHO says clinical trials are under way to evaluate eight nasal spray vaccines that target COVID-19. The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase 2 trials. “When the virus infects someone, it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek, who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough. “The
FREE-FOR-ALL CONTEST: Taro Kono’s popular support means that he ‘probably has the edge, but if he has a lead, it’s a very vulnerable one,’ an Asia expert said The campaign to become Japan’s next prime minister began yesterday, with four candidates vying for leadership of the ruling party in an unusually close race. In televised speeches, the candidates set out their priorities, from boosting Japan’s digital prowess to addressing the falling birthrate. Among them are two women hoping to lead a nation that has never had a female prime minister, although both are considered long shots. The race follows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s shock announcement that he would not run for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Whoever the party picks in a Sept. 29 vote is to contest
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place