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.
A long line of people on Sunday snaked across the sand of Miami Beach, Florida, as dozens of travelers from Latin America waited their turn at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination booth. Sweating under the afternoon sun, visitors checked into an online system — no proof of residence required — and soon after received a free, single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a vaccination card. People had come from all over Latin America — Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela — where the vaccine rollout has been slow and hampered by supply shortages. “In my country, [COVID-19] is getting out of hand and there’s
A man was left stranded on a glass-bottomed suspension bridge in northeastern China after sudden gale-force winds shattered the transparent panels around him. The man was on the 100m-high bridge at Piyan Mountain in Longjing city, when it was hit by sudden strong weather, the local tourism department said. TRAPPED Gusts of up to 150kph blew out several glass panels, trapping the tourist until he could be rescued by firefighters, police, and forestry and tourism personnel more than half an hour later. Photographs shared on social media showed the man clinging to the side of the bridge, surrounded by gaping holes where the
‘COVERT’ ACTIVITY: The High Court ruled against a Chinese-born Australian former adviser to a state lawmaker, who allegedly advanced ‘policy goals of a foreign principal’ A Chinese-born Australian political adviser yesterday lost his challenge in Australia’s highest court against laws banning covert foreign interference in domestic politics. John Zhang (張智森) also lost his Australian High Court challenge in a unanimous decision of seven judges to the validity of search warrants executed by police at his Sydney home and offices last year as part of an investigation into illegal foreign interference on behalf of China. Zhang was an adviser to New South Wales Lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane, whose membership in the opposition Labor Party was suspended after he was also the target of police raids. The raids in June last
US actress Scarlett Johansson on Saturday urged the film industry to “step back” from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) as criticism of the opaque film industry group, which controls the Golden Globe awards, continues to mount for sexism and racism. The Avengers star said in a statement that the “HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition.” Johansson said that “as an actor promoting a film,” participating in the organization’s news conferences and award shows “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on