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Riben Guizi (Japanese Devils)

Riben Guizi (Japanese Devils)

Produced by
The Riben Guizi Production
Committee Yasukuni Shrine – On August 15th,
the anniversary of Japan’s Defeat Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Stop praising our deceased
relatives as war heroes. Stop praising our deceased
relatives as war heroes. Revere our War Dead Prime Minister
Pray for our Dead Stop praising our deceased
relatives as war heroes. “…he never came home, “and I was never able
to see him again. “In this way,
war is a place where “people murder and
are murdered.” Traitor! Shameless! You shameless asshole! Shameless idiots! “No matter what it takes,
it is up to us women, “who birth and raise children, “to create a world without war, “to construct peace…” “The war heroes who rest
in Yasukuni Shrine, “are war heroes who fought
to protect this nation. “If you don’t like it,
get out of Japan! “Get the hell out of Japan!” Japan did not fight
a War of Aggression At this rate, the Imperial System
will collapse. “Stop the violence! “Right Wing groups,
no more violence! “We lost family, too! “We lost family, too!” Our fathers and grandfathers
bore arms in the name of a holy war,
in fact a war of aggression.
What did they do in that war…
Although much has been said of how
that war victimized the Japanese,
there has only been silence and denial
about how we victimized others. In remembering the war, it is easy
to speak of our victimization, but difficult
to address our own aggression.
Yet that aggression reveals the true face
of war, exposing as it does the terrible,
weak natures of human beings.
We give our truth to future generations,
so they are not condemned to repeat
our transgressions. RIBEN GUIZI
Confessions of Imperial Army Soldiers
from Japan’s War Against China In 1931, TSUCHIYA Yoshio, then 20 years old,
passed the physical for the draft, and joined the Manchurian
Independence Protection Force. My family, was the poorest in our village.
There was no one poorer in our village then. Becoming wealthy… TSUCHIYA Yoshio
Former 2nd Lieutenant, MP
Becoming wealthy… TSUCHIYA Yoshio
Former 2nd Lieutenant, MP TSUCHIYA Yoshio
Former 2nd Lieutenant, MP
being rich, at the very least,
means building your own house. TSUCHIYA Yoshio
Former 2nd Lieutenant, MP TSUCHIYA Yoshio
Former 2nd Lieutenant, MP
To be seen as
a prosperous man To be seen as
a prosperous man I just had to build a house. I figured I’d go to Manchuria,
find work on the rail road, maybe, and send money home for a house. It was just impossible to find work.
Not back then, not in Japan. Figured I’d go to Manchuria,
make something of myself, and send money
back to my father, for him to build a house with. That’s why I volunteered. In September, 1931, on the outskirts of Mukden,
the Manchurian Railroad was bombed. In fact a plot by Japan’s Kwantung Army
with designs on Manchuria, the Japanese blamed the attack
on China, and launched a full-out offensive. Known as
the Manchurian Incident, it inaugurated 15 years
of Japan’s war in China. I was overjoyed,
about there being a war. I was extremely happy. I couldn’t imagine such
wonderful, good fortune. That’s how I felt. I never dreamed
Japan would lose. I was sure we’d win. That war might be good or bad, or dangerous, never
even entered my head. I felt I’d struck a fortune,
that this was my golden chance. Because of course
Japan is so cramped. So if we could
grab Manchuria, Japan would get awful rich. And that I would, too. That’s the delusion I fell under. I was happy. In no time at all, Japan occupied
Manchuria, installing Manchukuo,
a puppet government, and continued its invasion. When the League of Nations
criticized Japan’s aggression, Japan withdrew from the League. Defying world opinion, next Japan seized Jehol Province,
annexing it to Manchukuo. By signing an armistice treaty
with the Chinese government, Japan forced China to recognize
its control of Manchuria. About that time, Tsuchiya
passed the military police test, and took up a post with the
Qiqihar Military Police. Until Japan’s defeat, 12 years later,
Tsuchiya was a distinguished MP, dedicated to eradicating
resistance forces in Manchuria. We’d tear through the town, whatever town,
and surround an area. Then we went house-by-house, arresting all the Chinese
who looked suspicious. We’d arrest ’em. After they went to bed,
around 2 or 3 in the morning, we’d rush in and
surround the town and then enter
each and every house, and kick ’em out of bed,
while they slept. And we arrested all the
suspicious-looking young men, with hardly any investigation. Because they hadn’t
done anything, you see. And then, the Police Control Committee
and the MPs gathered. All the chiefs of the police sections gathered, to allot each section
Strict Disposals. “5 for your section,
3 for yours, “for a total of 13,”
or something like that. And they’d announce the date when
we’d all do the Strict Disposals at the Western gates of Qiqihar. Because the Kwantung Army
Commander ordered the Japanese Army, that it was all right
to kill them on the spot. The Right of Strict Disposals.
We all called them “Strict Disposals.” You see, Strict Disposal meant “to kill.”
That’s what Strict Disposal meant. Strict Disposal was
a synonym for murder. Without benefit of trial, just kill any Chinese you wanted. “Hey, Tsuchiya,” I was told, “Go watch the Strict Disposal
at the Western gates.” And I said, “Yes sir.” I’d just become an MP, you see. “Go watch.”
So I went. I got on a horse and raced off. My very first time. And what I found was hundreds
of Chinese watching too. So there were policemen there
and holes in the ground. And they were forced to sit there
like this, next to the holes. So I got off my horse
and went over there and there was
a Chinese commander. And he screamed
something or other, and bang, bang, bang. There were 15 of ’em. Blow away 15 of ’em
with rifles. From right here,
from behind, bang. Bang and their brains go splattering.
Bang. Their brains splatter every which way.
Bang, bang. And some of it splattered on me. It made me want to run away. So that’s what Strict Disposal
turned out to be. They weren’t guilty of anything, but you got credit for it anyway. Killing lots of people also proved
your loyalty to the Emperor. It was an honor. Get you a Golden Kite Medal. It improved your
honor as an MP. So in your monthly reports, you’d fill out
“So many Strict Disposals.” That got you credit. And everybody did it.
Here, there, everywhere. …There was a powerful
pro-Soviet spy ring based in Qiqihar, run by Cho Keimin. We arrested four, including
his brother, I’m not sure about others. But then… How do you say… We tortured the brother and cracked their organization. So we arrested ’em,
arrested over a dozen, but only 8 of ’em
were actually involved. Cho Keimin absolutely
refused to talk. No matter how much
we tortured him. He said, “I’m a Chinese patriot, “I don’t have it in me
to surrender to you. “Go ahead, kill me if you want. “No matter what happens, “I’ll never surrender to you,
to the Japanese.” A truly remarkable man. There was all kinds of torture. The worst torture was
forcing them to drink water. The way it worked was, there’d be a low bench,
made of wood. You made them lie face up on it, and force their
head back like this. And then you tie them back, like this… And then you’d straddle them,
forcing them to swallow lots and lots of
water, their head lowered. Through their nose and mouth. Then you put a towel
over their face. Because, if you cover their face… Each time they gasp for air,
water gets into their lungs. But if their lungs fill
with water, they’ll die. So you give them a little air. Covering them
with a towel briefly, means they get a little air,
so they don’t die. But you keep dumping
lots of water, from a big kettle. Pouring… Keeping water out of the lungs… So it goes into the stomach. And very soon,
it starts to swell. And when its swollen, since he’s lying down… If you shove on the stomach
the water gushes out. And you do it
over and over again. It makes them talk,
oh, yes it does. But they don’t
know anything. So even if they
want to talk, they can’t. But you think,
“Screw this bastard! “Make him swallow
more, more.” That’s what we called
Water Torture. There’s that branding iron…
Branding… I’m not sure what it’s called,
but it’s like a hot iron. In those days,
hot irons were like this. And you set it in a fire. In the flames’ til
it’s bright red. You take it and
press it on their backs. And smoke rises
from their burning flesh. The room fills with
the smell of burning meat. You can’t stand the stink. It’s so awful, even if
you’re the one doing it. Doing it, I started
to sweat greasy sweat. Can’t believe there’s such awfulness
in this world, and you keep doing it. And then you take wood,
like a log, you know. You know those poles. You split the log
three ways. Into pieces like this. Shave it on both sides,
so it looks like this. And you lay them on
the ground, three pieces. And you make them
sit on that wood, like this, but bare legged.
Just like this. So the flesh on their legs
would tear along here. Their skin would rip,
like this, in 3 places. And you press down on them. It hurts and
you can see the bone. You can see the bone, here. 100-Some Prisoners Escape On New Years’ Eve,
105 prisoners escaped. They ran, their leg irons
still on, jangling. Some died along the way. Bad frostbite,
it was December 31, after all. So…
After this incident… There was an emergency call-up,
and we were sent out to capture them.
And we caught… I think we caught half of ’em. The Police Control
Committee debated, and decided on Strict Disposal
of any we caught. The next year – the incident
had happened December 31. On January 4, they performed Strict Disposal
of everyone we’d caught. Strict Disposal… Killed ’em. Under MP Command. And the Cho Keimin incident, one day after killing the escapees
on the 4th, then on Jan. 5th, that next day, they killed
the 8 from the spy ring. We Japanese all thought of Chinese the same way. We called ’em “Chinks.”
“Chinks,” you know. Didn’t treat ’em like humans. We didn’t think of “Chinks”
as human, they were sub-human. If we thought they were human
we couldn’t have been so cruel. If we thought they
were living people… We thought they were scum. We did those cruel things
imagining they weren’t human. We also believed the Emperor was a direct descendant of God. And that our orders
were from that Emperor. So in that war, we felt free to do
anything because of Imperial orders. After the war, in Tsuchiya’s
formal apology to the Chinese, he confessed to his responsibility as an MP in Qiqihar,
for the murders of 328 people, and the arrest, torture and
imprisonment of 1,917 others. The internal strife between
the Chinese Nationalists, and the Communist Party’s
Red Army, ended in a cease-fire in December
1936, after Chiang Kai-shek was placed under house arrest.
The opposing sides entered talks and considered joint Nationalist-
Communist military opposition to the Japanese. On July 7, 1937,
Chinese and Japanese forces clashed at the Marco Polo
Bridge, outside Peking. Even today, it is unclear,
who provoked the confrontation. Under military pressure,
the Japanese government vowed to punish China and
plunged into full-scale war. Within 6 months, they had
occupied 5 northern provinces. When China and the USSR signed
a non-aggression pact against Japan, Japan signed the Anti- Comintern
pact with Germany then Italy In China, the front expanded
towards Shanghai, then Nanjing. Nanjing, the capital,
surrendered, but the Nationalists
resisted, moving their government to Szechuan. The Japanese Army then massacred prisoners
and Nanjing civilians. Depending on the source, estimates of the number killed
range from 10,000 to 300,000. However, culpability for war crimes
is not a matter of numbers killed. NAGATOMI Haukudo,
a university student was a protégé of the
right-wing activist, Toyama. Nagatomi toured Nanjing
shortly after its occupation as a member of the
Patriotic Student Union. Soldiers warmed themselves
around bonfires they had built. NAGATOMI Hakudo
Former Sergeant, Army
Soldiers warmed themselves
around bonfires they had built. NAGATOMI Hakudo
Former Sergeant, Army The Chinese people
stood in line forever, waiting to be issued
their Citizen’s Passes. I remember an officer saying: “Listen, you kids
from Tokyo, “at first, we found so many
soldiers hidden “among the Chinese, “we gathered them all, “dumped gasoline
over their heads, “and burned, incinerated them. “After that we lined them up,
we lined them all up, “aimed our machine guns
at their backs, and rata tat tat… “killed them all.” That’s what the officer said. There were 100,
maybe 200 people, all standing around, listening to him. The officer spoke
through an interpreter. I wanted to hear what
he had to say: “Now that the Japanese,
the Imperial Army, “has entered Nanjing, “you have nothing to fear.” He used a
Chinese expression, “Your lives will be tranquil.” That’s what he said. However, there were lots of Chinese soldiers
among the crowd. He told them,
“Chiang Kai-shek, “hasn’t paid you
Chinese soldiers “for a very long time.
We salute your labors. “Now that the Japanese,
the Imperial Army is here, “we’ll pay your salaries, feed you
and give you quarters. “We’ll also give
you employment. “We’ll even pay
your back-wages. “So you should
all step forward.” That’s how they separated the soldiers from
the common peasants. Nearly 20 people
stepped forward. Immediately then, soldiers took them,
and made them get into cars. We students from Tokyo were
ordered to travel with them, so we climbed
onto the trucks. What shocked me, was the sight of thousands,
tens of thousands, or corpses lined up on the
banks of the Yangtze River. All lying dead. Because of the terrible cold, all the corpses, were frozen completely solid. We rode down the one narrow road
among the corpses, endlessly down that road, with those 20 or
so prisoners with us. Then we finally arrived
at a rail road bridge. They made them sit, made the prisoners sit down, and the officer said: “Tokyo students, “these soldiers are yours,
do whatever you want, “but you have to kill them.” And so because the Patriotic Student
Union members regularly practiced karate and judo,
and the like, we started throwing them,
pushing them around, and so on. But they didn’t die so easily. So the officer said: “Watch, I’ll take this one “and show you how to kill. “This is how you do it.” With that, he swiftly
drew his sword, and poured water on it. Poured water on it,
and then, taking the soldier in front, he jerked him forward, pulled his neck forward. He made him
stick out his neck. And then from behind, he yelled and in a single stroke… he sliced through his
neck at an angle. His head had been
cut off cleanly cut off.
It fell forward. And then, blood started
spurting everywhere, from his arteries. The Chinese behind him,
who saw this were in shock. And of course they
didn’t want to die. They got up quickly
and started running, running straight for the
Yangtze River and diving in. So then, I grabbed a rifle
from a Japanese soldier, and hanging above them,
waited ’til they came up for air, then shot ’em, bang. I didn’t want to look weak beside the
other students. I had to show them
that I was strong. That’s why I
borrowed that rifle, and shot ’em that way. But even so, it was the first time
I’d killed anyone. My whole body was shaking,
and I felt shrunken. I can’t even remember
no matter how hard I try whether we killed
those 20 people, with rifles or with swords… How exactly did we kill them… But we did indeed
kill them all, right there… After serving in the
Special Service Agency, Nagatomi joined the
North China Forces, and was active in the
Information Agency After Japan’s defeat, he joined the
Shanxi Residual Japanese Army, and fought alongside
the Kuomintang Forces, against the People’s Liberation
Army until 1949. The Communist Army united with Chiang Kai-shek’s
National Revolutionary Army creating a joint anti-Japanese
Nationalist-Communist front. China’s anti-Japanese
position solidified. Japan, hoping to establish
a sympathetic regime, announced its intention to
ignore the Nationalist government, shutting down
prospects for peace. Japan’s stated goal was to ally Japan,
Manchuria and China, into a New East-Asian Order.
Declaring a holy war, she expanded military operations. SHINOZUKA Yoshio
was 16 in 1939, stationed with the
Youth Detachment of Unit 731, the Kwantung Army’s
Infectious Disease Prevention Unit, outside Harbin. SHINOZUKA Yoshio
Former Corporal, Army
The Nomonhan Incident – Japanese-Soviet
conflict in Mongolia – had begun then. In the afternoons, under
the pretext of “research” we were charged with
mass production of various disease bacteria. We were making
Dysentery, Typhus, Paratyphoid… all
in huge quantities. In vats the size of oil drums… Although they seemed
sturdier than oil drums. We put the bacteria in the drums, and I think we added
some amount of glycerin. And then soldered them shut. We put 2 drums
in a wooden crate and added dry ice, I think. We wrapped the crate in straw
matting and tied it with rope. Supervised by Petty Officers
we took these drums, there were maybe
2 or 3 Petty Officers, assigned to us. 2 of us boys from the Youth
Detachment carried each crate. I only went to that place… Just once. It was a night train,
traveling at night. That’s how we got
them to Hailar. At Hailar, we loaded them onto trucks,
military trucks, from what was considered
the frontline base at Nomonhan. Once we’d brought
the drums that far… At that point,
we turned them over to the Ikari Risk Unit –
they had different orders than Ishii’s 731 Unit –
the Infectious Disease Unit, Risk Unit actually
meant Suicide Unit. We turned them over
to the Risk Unit. About 2 of the
boys who’d joined the unit with me could drive, so they wound up
in the Ikari Risk Unit. From their whispered
conversations after they got back, I understood that the bacteria had been dumped into a river,
upstream of the Khalkha River. With the German-Soviet
Non-aggression Treaty signed, and the outbreak
of World War II, the Japanese
suffered heavily in the face of concentrated
Soviet strength, signing their own
cease-fire with the Soviets. Among the soldiers, the Japanese
soldiers evacuating from Nomonhan, many had infectious diseases. We were ordered,
to analyze their feces, I was eager for the assignment. The fact is, most of the men, from our unit, who
went to Nomonhan wound up receiving medals. Despite all the Japanese soldiers
being infected with disease, why were they awarded
medals of valor, and others? Because Nomonhan was
a massive defeat for Japan I remember being puzzled
by this at the time. But looking back on it now… Japan had succeeded
with germ warfare. Not in spite of, but because so many
Japanese soldiers were infected, it proved that bacteria could be
employed as a military weapon. I now believe that this was the lesson of Nomonhan. After the Youth
Detachment disbanded, Shinozuka was officially
assigned to Unit 731. When I was
assigned to the unit… Cholera, and the plague, what we now call Anthrax, Anthrax and Cholera… The Unit had begun
mass producing these. Studying preventive vaccines, against the relative strengths of
our manufactured bacteria… Could our bacteria
overpower the vaccines, and cause infection? That was our mission. We used 5 Chinese people
for this study. “Used…” is not correct… We murdered them brutally. We were testing the plague. We began by testing the
strength of the vaccine. One of them was reserved as a control and
was not vaccinated. The other 4 were
inoculated. The vaccine, a special
vaccine, had been developed in Unit 731. We gave all of them
shots of bacteria. The person we hadn’t
vaccinated was on the verge of death
in 3 days’ time. During the dissections,
I was ordered to remove the internal organs. One section would be
preserved as bacterial culture. The other section
was chopped up, there was a glass petri dish for each different organ, and following
written instructions, we smeared them onto dishes. This is the kind of work I did when I first
joined the Unit. That’s how it was. After we finished
our work in the unit, we always sterilized our
own bodies very carefully. Then we left. That was my first experience,
but we killed 2 other people in the same way. Regarding the
other 2 people… It wasn’t us, and they weren’t… yet near death… Partly for these reasons, we turned them
over to the Clinic. Over to the Unit 731 Clinic. We referred to those
people as “logs.” Whenever we did vivisections, it was usually
very late at night, by the time we finished. On such nights, we returned
to our quarters, to take our baths with many others
who had done similar work. Our conversation would run, “How many logs did you fell?” “We felled 2.” This kind of exchange
was completely normal in those late night
hours in the bath house. We believed that our subjects had all engaged in behavior that
deserved the death sentence. So we thought, one way
or another they’d be executed. That’s what we believed. So we thought, they might as well…
be of some service to Japan. Given what we believed, it is a fact that we had
absolutely no sense of guilt. It came down to our… thinking it was for our country,
that we didn’t have any choice. It’s true that for us… Ultimately…
even our superiors… Even Ishii, our Unit Commander,
would often say… There was no explanation. “You have to do it.
You have to do it.” That’s all. Once, I participated
in the dissection… Of one of my buddies. He was a good friend. When a low-ranking
Japanese soldier got infected with the plague… The plague is very fast,
once you contract it. Consciousness fades.
Japanese went especially fast. So of course we couldn’t take
them to an Army Hospital. Besides which, no Japanese
soldier had any business contracting the plague. So they couldn’t go to any
ordinary Army Hospital. For these reasons, because we had to preserve secrecy, we ended up holding them, along with the
other imprisoned vivisection subjects. There was a Clinic, so they
must have had treatment, but almost no one
came out of there alive. That dissection… I helped once… It was unbearable. Even with my then dim
understanding, I thought,
“I’ll wind up like this.” So I was desperate to get out. I was due to become
a soldier soon, and I vowed I’d never
return to Unit 731. I remember that very clearly. When members of my own
squad caught the plague, I remember once again, that I burned maybe
2 of their corpses. It was outdoors. We piled up firewood. Bodies burn very quickly
without any internal organs. The organs would’ve been
removed in dissection. I did one after another of
those kinds of things. In the 10 years before Japan
was defeated, Unit 731 killed some 3,000 people with human experiments for
biological weapons development. They engaged in germ warfare
in many parts of China. After the war,
the United States exonerated the unit leaders
of war crimes, in exchange for
their research data. In vast China, the Japanese schemed
to expand their territories. Through its Army in Manchuria, and its China Detachment,
troop strength ballooned, and Japan reached its domestic
limits for reinforcements. In the name of
Japan-China peace, Japan installed former KM T
Wang Ching-Wei as the head of
the Nanjing Government. China’s only lawful regime, but it was only
a puppet regime. Japan only actually controlled
“Points-and lines,” major cities, arteries and rail roads. The un-proclaimed war,
dubbed The China Incident, stalled into
long-term engagement. The U.S. challenged Japan
for annulling the Japan-US. Commercial
Passage Treaty FUNYU Taisuke
Former Sergeant Major, Army Unless we beat, Chiang Kai-shek
and the Soviets, Japan could not be secure. And it was also,
for the Emperor, for the Japanese people. So young men had
no choice… but to shoulder weapons
and go to war. That’s what we’d always been told,
and what we believed. When you went off to war,
you told your parents, “This is my last farewell. “I have no intention of
returning home alive. “My mind is made up, “and it’s time for me to go.” So I went off to
Manchuria, crying tears. So when we went
to become soldiers, we knew we’re leaping
into an unknown world, sacrificing, surrendering
our lives, in that leap, and we no longer had any
regrets about losing our lives. We were going to win the war. And within that context,
I couldn’t be outdone by others. I felt that way…
At least twice as much as most others. EBATO Tsuyoshi
Former Sergeant, Army EBATO Tsuyoshi
Former Sergeant, Army
I never convinced myself
the war Japan was fighting I never convinced myself
the war Japan was fighting was the Holy War that the men who ruled
Japan insisted it was. And yet… military service was
one of the three duties of a Japanese citizen. And I had absolutely
no intention of evading the
military physical. In those days, evading the physical, meant
evading military service. If I’d done that, society would not
only have ostracized me, my whole family would
have been seen as traitors. So finally, when the inevitable arrived, I was resolved. Back then we
constantly saw the returned remains
of the war dead. We were constantly,
always seeing them. So the call to
military service, meant death on
the battlefield. Essentially, you had
to resolve to die. And that turned out…
to be a shock. Many of my students… I was in Ueda at the time,
so at the Ueda station… decked out in my red sash… On the day when
I finally mobilized, my students assembled formally, lined up from the station,
all the way to the river. They waved the flag of the Rising Sun
and cheered me on my way. In that moment, I resolved that fighting, not only
for those who had raised me, but also for those children who
would bear Japan’s future… That fighting for them, would eventually lead to
peace for Japan… How else could
I think about it… I realized that I was going
to die for their future, for peace. When I saw it in that light, I finally reconciled
myself to my fate… And I went to war,
knowing I would die. Taking advantage of
the French surrender Japan, which had reached
a stalemate in China, planned a military expansion
into southeast Asia. She intended to cutoff
U.S. and British supply lines to Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Government,
and acquire oil and raw materials. This expansion led to the vision of the Greater East Asia (Bo-Prosperity
Sphere, under which East Asia and the South Seas would be
united under Japanese influence. My first week at the front, we were completely pampered. The seasoned soldiers
who’d been there longer, they celebrated our
arrival and let us play. But after that first week, they made an especially pale recruit
their whipping boy, jeering, “Hey, you… “That’s the end of
your selfishness. “The first week you were a guest, “but not anymore.” Then, without a word,
they started beating him. Even though he’d
done nothing. And then there were
the spot inspections. At night, after dinner,
before lights out, we’d line up in our room for roll call. And then, most nights,
they’d do spot inspections. For instance, say you’ve got a leather pouch
that holds ammunition. You know… “Hey, you, go get it. “It’s hanging by your
bunk, go and get it.” If it was at all dusty, he’d wipe it
with his finger, and beat you up. “Get your shoes,“
if they weren’t polished right, “Get your rifle.” If it wasn’t maintained,
they’d beat you on the spot. I was relatively… Well, as we used to put it… I had a knack for things… I worked hard at everything
and did well. My superiors always
looked out for me. So the first month passed,
and then the second, and I couldn’t help but feel glad
that I’d become a soldier. That’s how I felt. When I’d finished grade,
I mean elementary school, I couldn’t go
on to middle school. And we’d had a fire at our
house and we were in trouble. So I was helping
with the farming. But my older brother
was physically weak, and couldn’t do men’s work. So I was taking his place,
helping my parents out. When I became a soldier,
that was all over. Everything in the army…
all boiled down to, protecting the Emperor, that’s it. I protected my
superior officer, that’s all. And no matter what
calamity came, it never touched me. At the time, I didn’t see how you could beat that. So I was serious about laying a foundation
for my military future, and I was very diligent
in fulfilling my duties. I lived through the kind of hell,
that I had no idea existed in Japanese society. Especially because I had
a university education, I received absolutely
brutal treatment at the hands of seasoned soldiers
who came from rural farms. First, I was slapped
back and forth, without reason for having an attitude. But they didn’t slap
with their hands. They used their regulation slippers. The rubber ones
were especially painful. Some were leather. They slap you with those. Once when they slapped me,
my face swelled up, and it upset my mother
when she saw me that way. That’s why usually… When we were out drilling,
the 2 assistant instructors were the only veterans,
so that was fine. But back in the barracks, each squad had 2 dozen soldiers. A dozen of us greenhorns, and an equal
number of veterans. And they were vicious. Beating us
dispelled their gloom and gave them pleasure. So for instance, Present Arms… If your rifle wasn’t well-maintained,
they’d have you bring it. Hold the rifle at Present Arms like this…
But the rifle was so heavy… You’d never last 5 minutes and if you lowered it because
it was unbearable, you’d get slapped around
and you’d do it again. Then there was mutual slapping. They made the newer soldiers
face each other in rows. Lined them up, and said,
“To punish you for “such-and-such behavior today, “you’ll slap each other
back and forth now.“ And made us slap each other. But you couldn’t slap
your comrades. So the older soldiers would
say “This is how you do it!” and show us an example. The one he slapped, would
slap his partner back seriously, out of pain and frustration. And the partner he slapped,
got serious too, wanting revenge. It just kept escalating. The old hands found this
just hysterically funny. There were no limits
to the punishments they dreamed up.
It was truly shocking. One routine, was called Crying Cicada. The way Crying Cicada worked… There was a pillar we propped
all the rifles against. They made us hold onto that pillar, and cry like cicadas. And they’d say,
“These cicadas have weak voices.” “They’re not crying
loud enough.“ Beat us until we did. That was Crying Cicada. Then there was the Nightingale…
There’s the bunks. We had to crawl
under the bunks, crying out like nightingales. Of course our cries
were too weak. Over and over again, we cried like nightingales,
crawling under the bunks. We were grown men…
It did make me want to cry. But what I hated the most, was called Miss Prostitute. It was a kind of punishment for things they didn’t like.
They made you poke your face between
the propped up rifles and wave and call in
a high falsetto “Say, there, mister, come on.” But if you weren’t feminine enough
or you were too quiet, they’d beat you again, until they’d finally OK’d you. Or if they disapproved
of your shoes, they’d put a rope
around your neck, and “Go Around the Squads.” They’d tie a pair of lace-up
boots around your neck, one boot on each side, and send you to each squad: “Private such-and-such,
here on business.” “What business?” “I didn’t polish my boots right, “and I’m here for instruction.” And the veterans would laugh, saying, “They’re pretty clean,
why don’t you lick them?” that’s how they abused us. I was 29 years old at the time. I could never
become an officer… SHIKADA Masao
Former 2nd Lieutenant, Army A reinforcement soldier,
nearly 30 years old was bunked next to me. But this new
soldier, Sumida, was somewhat, what we’d now
call, “mentally retarded,” and he was kind of slow. So he was the constant target
of the veterans’ brutality. They’d beat him, and back
at the barracks at night, if he had a weary smoke
after dinner, our superiors tore into him,
“Recite the Military Precept.“ He had to memorize that… And then there was
that endless Military Pledge. “Our military is under the
command of the Emperor… “Originating with Emperor Jinmu…” Had to memorize that whole
long, dumb thing. And so with all of that, Sumida had a total
nervous breakdown. One morning, when we were
getting ready, he was dawdling. So I look over and realize
this 30-year old has wet his bed. Between the vindictive punishments,
and the humiliation, he really couldn’t take any more. So I felt sorry for him and
covered up for him. Rolled the bedding up and
told him to wash it later. “Shikada, over here!” My superior called me over. I wondered what it was. “Grit your teeth!” he said. I wondered what was next.
“How dare you 1st year recruit! “Insolent bastard!
Mind your own business.” They never came out
and accused me of covering up the wet bed. “Mind your own business!” “You’re insolent for a
1st year soldier.” He’d taken off his slippers…
Actually, slippers were made from military boots, the ones
with tacks in the soles. They’d cut them
down into slippers. So he held that slipper
and double-slapped me, on both sides of my face. No matter how
tight you clamp your teeth, they chew the inside
of your cheeks apart I thought, “He got me good.” instinctively clenching my fists, I thought, “You bastard,” and was ready to attack him. So the corporal says,
“Gonna assault a superior officer?” “You’ll get military detention,
which is a criminal record.“ I was young, 24, and
he was 21 or 22. “You bastard,” I thought. By then, I was
really full of rage. But the minute he said that, I thought of my father,
nearly 70 when I enlisted. He’d come to see me at
the barracks then. My father was the village chief,
and the village would be disgraced if I got a criminal record here. If I bore it, I wouldn’t
disgrace them. So I realized that and
grit my teeth hard, and just dug my heels in. Our breakfast
was on the table. The corporal said,
“Drink this!” He took a steaming
hot bowl of miso soup and dumped it
down my throat. It hurt so badly I could
have leapt out of my skin. So that’s what I faced,
as a 1st year soldier. And so I swore, “Damn! I’ll become
an officer candidate “and show you bastards!” I swore then and there,
I’d become an officer. It really fired me up. Japan signed the Tripartite Pact
with Germany and Italy and the Soviet
Neutrality Treaty, then pushed ahead
to the south, and in China. Elite Japanese troops in China
were sent to the southern front but Japan’s military
presence in China remained massive. 700,000 in the Kwangtung Army in
Manchuria, 680,000 troops in China. Japan’s military incursion
into French Indochina provoked outrage in
U.S., England and Holland. The U.S. took retaliatory
measures against Japan. The Japanese military maintained its
hard-line on China and Indochina, and resigned itself to
U. S.-Japan hostilities. At a diplomatic impasse,
the entire Konoe Cabinet resigned. The new Cabinet elected
Tojo Hideki as prime minister. The 12th Battalion of the
Chinese Detachment Army mostly engaged the Communist 8th
Route Army in Shandong Province. That’s where I underwent
3 months basic training. SUZUKI Yoshio
Former Sergeant Major, Army SUZUKI Yoshio
Former Sergeant Major, Army
Already in training,
we were forced SUZUKI Yoshio
Former Sergeant Major, Army SUZUKI Yoshio
Former Sergeant Major, Army
to charge at living humans
to kill them. To charge at living humans
to kill them. They talked about POWs, but in the Japanese army,
any Chinese we caught were called POWs. Didn’t matter if they were
peasants or what. There were 3 men
tied to stakes, all ready for us. I had applied
to be a petty officer, so I got to go first. My squad leader signaled me, shouting,
“Forward, forward, thrust!” But, it was by no means easy
to thrust my bayonet into a living person.
I’d never killed anyone before. Still if I was clumsy at it, it would affect my whole
military career. So I showed no
mercy or leniency. It was an order. I always carried out
orders to the letter, much more than anyone else. You had to be
really aggressive. So I just did it,
I thrust into the man, killing him with
the first blow. But after I stabbed him, I certainly can’t
say I felt right… And after I stabbed him, many, many others
did the same. He was tied to a stake. All of his organs
were dangling. Because they tied
the hands up high, they couldn’t join
their hands to beg, but at first at least, they’d
cry out desperately, “Help!“ When you think about it, you really can’t imagine
anything more pitiable, really… We were unshackled from
any idea of humanity. “Attach bayonets!”
That was the command to draw bayonets
and attach them. KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army
to draw bayonets
and attach them. KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army
On “Charge!”
I moved forward. KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army
But the other guy
was tied up. KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army
So we charged forward. KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army KANEKO Yasuji
Former Corporal, Army
But the truth is,
I’d never been so scared. But the truth is,
I’d never been so scared. The guy doesn’t fight back. I’ve got my rifle and I charge but my hands slipped
I got there, I lost my strength. Don’t know why,
but I was scared. And he just stared at me. So naturally I thrust at him,
but my hands slipped. Only thrust him
so deep, frankly. Then the Lance Corporal
shouted, “You!” Slapped me 10 times. Made me do it over
about 3 times. I never did manage to do it
right that time, that’s the truth. But there was a guy my rank, named Gouda, a monk
from my home prefecture. A little monk, like a novice. He couldn’t even try,
just sat down on the spot. “Spare me,” he said. So the Lance Corporal
beat and kicked him. Then we had to do it
again the next day. We just had to keep doing it. Finally, I stabbed his stomach,
not his chest. It went straight through. The chest isn’t like that. The ribs get in the way. So the Lance Corporal says, “I’ll show you how
it’s done, watch me.” So we just watched. A bayonet’s about this wide,
about 20 millimeters. It’s about this thick,
3 or 4 millimeters. It’s a bayonet. It’s tight between the ribs. You can’t just stab there.
Not just like that. But the Lance Corporal
had a trick. He thrust and twisted it flat. Made the bayonet thin
and it slipped right in. That’s how we
learned the trick. That was how I first
killed someone. So what I learned was that
in order to kill someone, you twist it flat and thrust. The gut’s never lethal,
the chest always is. Flatten the bayonet and thrust. So gradually, I killed
one, then two, and finally it’s
a daily competition. “How many’d you kill?
I got 2” “I got 3” A daily competition. So I didn’t feel a thing
killing people. Once you’ve killed your 2nd or 3rd,
you stop thinking about it. In my mind I was
just killing Chinks. So I wasn’t scared at all. But the first time,
I was really scared… Gaining popular support, the
Communist 8th Route Army grew In 1940, it launched the
Hundred Regiments Offensive, targeting Japanese
positions and supply lines, delivering a devastating
blow to the Japanese forces. In return, the Japanese began a
relentless mopping-up operation, focused on anti-Japanese
strongholds. The Chinese called it “the Three-ails Campaign.”
Kill all, burn all, loot all. Destruction, slaughter, plunder. These became Japan’s
explicit goals. Around dawn, we
encircled an entire village. And a platoon of
men attacked. But there was no
sign of any enemy. That was when Colonel
Yamaochi, the colonel, ordered us to set it on fire. In a flash fire consumed
the once quiet village. The chickens were
squawking, and the… You could hear the houses
crackling in the flames. The sounds of
sorghum popping, dogs barking,
people screaming… Like all hell had broken loose. I think… In under an hour,
just about the whole village had burned down. And we trained
our machine guns and gunned down
every last one of the villagers who tried to escape
to the mountains. As for those in the village,
the soldiers either bayoneted them or
shot them. Anyone who couldn’t move, just burned to death,
with their home. The smell of people
burning, of flesh… It’s a very strange smell indeed. It wafted everywhere. The unit commander
triumphantly ordered the unit to advance… After we’d advanced
2 kilometers, we could see 5 or 6 homes
on our left, nestled into the mountains. So the commander said,
“Who wants to burn them down?” I leaped right out front,
saying “I’ll do it” and went to set the fire. The peasants didn’t
have an inkling. The children were out
feeding the chickens, playing, a picture of peace. But having volunteered,
I had no choice but to burn. So I started setting fires. They were all desperate. Not a man in sight. Only old ladies in their 60s
and children. They drew water, desperately trying to put out the flames, but of course they couldn’t. And I then I went
over to set the last remaining
house on fire. The house was
relatively new, so I thought I’d take
something first. I went all the way to
the back of the house, and saw someone
sleeping on a bed. Wondering who,
I lifted the covers, and found a woman who had
just given birth to a baby. She must’ve been 34 or 35. She was shaking violently, unable to speak.
She’d just given birth. A chill came over me, like ice water
pouring down my neck. It just crept over me. But my next thought was: “How dare this Chink!”
that’s what I felt. “How dare this Chink have
a good time and make a baby!” I was seized with
this boiling rage. “I’ll just burn her to death.” I rushed outside and was about to start the fire, when I saw
a 60 year-old grandma, standing in the doorway,
desperately… Begging me. She was begging me
to spare their house. But I kicked her aside, and I tossed burning
sorghum into the doorway, and millet husks,
just kept tossing them until there was
a mountain of them. Kept throwing
flaming things in, and tossed in
bundles of millet too, until the doorway was
choked with smoke. You couldn’t see inside. And I closed
the front door tight. From the outside,
you could see bright red flames blowing
out through the windows. I heard death
screams inside. At that moment… How can I say this… I couldn’t keep myself from
wondering why I’d done it. What came to me at
that moment, were the words my mother gave me
as I was leaving for war: “if you have to kill
in the war, that’s fine, “but whatever you do, don’t
touch women and children.” Her words suddenly came to me. Because that was
exactly what I’d done. I’m not sure… That was still the first
time I’d done it so maybe I still had a shred
of conscience left. That I’d done something bad. “I didn’t do this. “I was just following the
commander’s order, hate him.” That’s what I told myself
to ease my conscience. And then, without
a backward glance, I walked straight back and
jumped into my marching unit. The so-called, “Hostage recovery
tactics“ were unbelievable. Our grenade launcher and light
machine gun had been taken, and 2 of our men
had been taken hostage. So we embarked on a horrible retaliatory subjugation mission . The so-called
advance troops… spread out into the village, and everywhere I looked,
we were killing. Killing every last villager. And even then I thought
that the most vicious thing, was the way they
treated the women. They stripped them and
dragged them to the road. The villages always had
a road down the middle with houses on both sides. They stripped every
last woman, and dragged them there. At the time,
we were still privates, in our first year. So our superiors told us
new soldiers, “Stab ’em.” It was… This was back in the fall… After returning from the campaign
when I burned houses. It wasn’t long after
that, I think. So we were forced
to stab them, and stab them we did… Stabbed them one
right after the other. But that wasn’t
good enough for the older soldiers… So after we’d finished… They chose a woman
already dead, and stabbed her genitals
with a bamboo spear. And they left their
spears inside them. And said, “Don’t touch it
this is how you kill.” They showed us by example… It was so… The organs had spilled
out all over the road. And there were so many of us
milling around as we did it. In that kind of situation, HO one… None of the women put up
any resistance. On top of that…
Bayoneting a woman, doesn’t exactly feel good. I remember wondering at the time,
why we had to go this far. I remember that. But if you didn’t do it, they called you a coward,
a chicken. And once you were a coward, if you got that reputation,
you’d never get promoted. “Whenever! engage in combat,
your lovingly made amulet “is at my breast,
a source of endless joy” I completely lost my
humanity, I lost my human conscience. I was just like a brutish fiend. The more I killed,
the more I began to enjoy it. In the winter, the soldiers
would start a roaring bonfire, and warm themselves at it,
bring a baby, and throw it into the fire, and we’d all just laugh. That’s the sort of state
the majority of Japanese
soldiers were in… I believe so… In the 8th Route Army territory,
we burned everything in sight. Burned everything, killed
the villagers, the women. Because they’d have kids. And those kids would grow up
to defy the Japanese army. The old people hadn’t got
long anyway, so them, too. These were orders
from the very top. Chinese villages
all had ramparts. Large villages had brick
ramparts 5 meters high. Small ones had mud walls. And inside the walls
was a path a meter wide for
pedestrians and there were gates at the
east, west, south and north. Just 4 points of entry. That’s where we’d
start the fires. And then the soldiers, that’s us, we’d stand outside the four
gates with our rifles aimed and when they came out,
desperate, we killed them all. When they finally came out… Machine guns, rifles, we killed
them all with those. It was awful, even we
thought it was awful. But it was fun, being the
ones doing the killing. They rarely crawled
over the walls. They mostly stayed inside, running
in confusion, dying. That’s what I’ve done… …Find some guy, and if there’s
a woman, make ’em have sex. And when you think
he’s about to climax, shoot your gun at him. Just did it for the hell of it. An awful thing… Shoot ’em dead
when he’s feeling good. All over. That’s truly murdering
for arousal. It was ultimately
about competition. I was conscious of
being a Japanese soldier. And no soldier wants to hear,
“I knew he didn’t have the guts.” So how many you’ve killed
becomes a standard of achievement. And the military’s a strange place. In Japan, in your country, arson and rape and
murder are felonies. But in the military,
the more crimes you commit, the better your record. ENOMOTO Masayo
Former Sergeant Major, Army …so we raided the village. But all we found… were the abandoned
women. There was nobody else there. And so… Because we found
those women, and there were lots of soldiers,
all of our buddies, we, how do you say… We made the women, we stripped them naked and made them lie down on top
of watermelons, that’s right. There was no military purpose,
just “Imperial Army Comfort.“ No enemies around. No information to be gained. We just… that night… Spent the night in the village. So we stripped ’em. And shoved cloth… Up their vaginas, poured
gasoline on and set them on fire. And of course all of our… Company commanders watched. They weren’t spies or anything. Just a message that
we’d been in that village. In other words, it was… Often…
In Japanese… We called it entertainment, or
Comfort Troops. It was that… You set them on fire while
everyone watched and you didn’t just
burn the woman but you burned her house down. Imperial Government
Reaches Grave Decision Negotiations on Japan-US. relations
breakdown over China-Japan War Tripartite Pact and
Southern Advances Japan’s sneak attack on Hawaii
precipitates the Pacific Wan. Using its advantages, within
4 months of the outbreak of war, Japan occupied vast territories
in southeast Asia. At the time, everyone in
Japan was overjoyed. To have beaten England
and America. Led by the Emperor, we held sway over Asia. It hadn’t been a dream.
We Japanese were a great people. We were possessed by
these conceited notions. In January, 1942, Yuasa was posted
as an Army doctor to the Japanese Army
hospital in Shanxi Province. YUASA Ken
Former 1st Lieutenant
Army Medical Corps The hospital director told the officers
to gather in the dissection room, for surgical training.
That’s what we were told. There were 2 Chinese prisoners
standing there. One of them was tall,
taller than I am, with broad shoulders. He must’ve been 30 or so, dressed in relatively
good peasant’s clothes. He just stared at the floor. I assumed he was either, part of the then 8th Route,
now People’s Liberation Army or
a Communist Party member. He never flinched. The other man, next to him, was of medium height, medium
build in his 40s or 50s. A peasant, no doubt. He held out his bound hands, and was nearly crying,
“Aiya, aiya.“ That’s right, there were
two operating tables set up, a Red Cross nurse
assigned to each. They were laying out amputation knives,
scalpels and scissors. The clitter-clatter of metal… He knew we would cut him, he’d be
the subject of a surgical experiment, so he was crying. But what’s most terrifying
when I think back now, is that all of us there,
the doctors, nurses, and the unit army
doctors assembled there for training,
about 4 of each, along with the 2 surgeons
present as instructors, along with
the medical assistants, everyone was smiling . We were going to cut up
living people and we were all smiling. That’s right. None of us were able to
express any of our fear or loathing or pity. We made them inhale
Chloral Ethanol, a total anesthetic.
They struggled a little, but soon were quiet. First we did
an appendectomy. Usually, to find the appendix
you insert 2 fingers, and then you
remove it surgically. But we doctors weren’t skilled.
Probably our first time. And a normal appendix isn’t hard, it’s
slippery and hard to hold. The first excision fails,
then another, then another, until finally the
whole appendix is remove. The vermiform appendix
was awful… Then suture. Next, when a bullet
strikes the stomach, the feces causes
antegrade peritonitis. So you clean it and join it.
We practiced that procedure. I don’t remember whether
it was that time or the next, I looked at the raw material
sleeping there and was seized
with the desire to try it myself. I took the amputation knife, and sliced it right off. I had no sense that this was
a person, it was just a thing. I sliced his arm right off. Then I sawed
the bone off, of course. That’s what I did. Then while they
practiced other things… If a bullet strikes the chest,
hemorrhaging causes suffocation. You do a tracheotomy.
It’s done swiftly, the blood’s bright red. Because it’s full of oxygen. After about an hour and a half
of that, the surgery was over. And after that, the unit doctors
and nurses left. It was left to us newly-posted
doctors and medics to clean up. And the peasant was no longer breathing so we
dug a hole and dumped him in. But the stronger one, the
one from the 8th Route Army, was still breathing… So our hospital
director said to practice injecting his heart
We drew blood, and injected air, the air took so long to reach
the brain, he didn’t die. The medic instructed me, and I filled a 5cc syringe with Chloral Ethanol, the anesthetic… I took that soldier’s left arm,
and into his vein, man it was thick, and by the time I’d injected
half, 2.5cc into his vein, he died of respiratory failure. We did 10 vivisections
there on 6 different occasions as part of my medical training. Once, what happened was… The hospital director said “A Japanese drug
company wants…” There’s the cerebral cortex. There are hormones called
steroids, effective against asthma
and arthritis. They needed research samples. I remember the drug
company had sent 10 bottles. So after each vivisection,
we took brain samples and sent them off bit by bit. Basically, we did anything. And one time…
This was entirely my own idea. I wound up
instructing 23 medics. I figured that soldiers,
only 3 months out of Japan, were still gutless. By teaching them
anatomy on Chinese vivisection subjects, I thought they’d learn better.
That’s what I thought. In fact, there were illustrated
manuals and drawings, as well as models… I was utterly heedless
of Chinese lives. Not the least bit. We were winning,
so I could do anything. That’s how fanatical
I’d become in my beliefs. I phoned the MP myself, and he turned over a subject. I anesthetized it, and cut open the stomach,
pointing out, “Here’s the heart, the stomach,
the intestines.” One of the medics
collapsed from anemia. That happened, too. Once, 40 of us had gathered
for medical education. We’d all been called to
a military prison, Taiyuan. Before then, I’d
never really known. When we got there, I entered, and saw 2 men blindfolded. Their hands were bound, I’m not
sure, in front or behind them, but they were crouched. Then a prison guard came, one with a white rank badge: “Do it?” Pulled out his pistol and
bang, bang, bang, bang. 2 bullets into each. No anesthesia. 10 of us grabbed one of them
and took him into the next room. Another 10 grabbed the other,
also, the next room. And that’s where we start practicing
surgery, just like I told you before. The man in charge said:
“Keep them alive “until you’ve extracted
the bullets.” But we’re no good. They were bleeding,
there was no oxygen, no head stimulants. But it must have
been the agony. It was the unbearable pain that finally killed ’em.
I’m not sure when. But that didn’t concern me. All we were supposed to do
was to practice our surgery. And then it was bang, bang, bang, bang.
Four more shots. There were 40 of us
and 4 Chinese. We vivisected them… In order to destroy 8th Route
Army supply bases, the Japanese relocated peasants
into specific areas, under a Joint Housing Strategy All other areas were
off-limits to Chinese inhabitants. You’d climb a mountain or
a high place and look down. If you saw houses,
you burned them down. If you saw people, if you’re close, your rifle, if far,
your machine gun, kill ’em. That’s all we did,
day after day. Two 8th Route Army soldiers, right at the very peak,
no more than than 5, 6 meters away,
smack into ’em. And the 8th Route Army, saw we were superior,
in terms of numbers as well. Only 2 of ’em.
They raced just ahead of us, jumped down to a lower cliff. The cry, “Enemy!” went up. So course our soldiers
came running. And then I used my pistol
got both escaping men. Killed ’em. In a field not 200 meters away, we found a man in his early 40s. In those days,
in the villages, you rarely saw
anyone of his age working the fields. “You involved with those
8th Route Army soldiers?” “No” “Didn’t stay here last night?” “No” “OK, c’ mere .“ I tied his hands behind
his back with rope, took him to a tree, and
strung him up over a branch. When you’re strung up
your hands behind, gradually, as the arms rise, your shoulders dislocate and you wind up
strung up like this. So then I started a little
fire below, toasted his behind put a fire to his dick, then torture. Still knew nothing. Then he gets groggy. In those days,
a single “Hey” from the unit leader
calling, “Over there” and a soldier brought a shovel,
started digging a hole. Made the prisoner sit by
the edge of that hole. Next I called up a newcomer. A quiet soldier,
lily-livered kid. “Time for your training.” Put the bayonet on his rifle, and made him charge
from 7, 8 meters away… So the average kid
just went green got close, started shaking
and couldn’t stab. “Do it over,” I said, and made 3 soldiers charge him. The man had completely
lost consciousness. And finally, I shot him twice in
the back with my pistol dumped him in the hole, threw
dirt on him and went home. In that No Housing Area, I took my squad and
climbed up a mountain. We saw a house in the valley. I immediately sent a runner
to my commander. “Found a house
in the valley.” He replied my squad
should dispose of it. So I left my squad’s
main force as lookouts on the mountain, and 2 soldiers and I
went down to that house. We found 2 boys there, about 5 and 3 years old. When we entered the house, there was a really old man lying there. Looking cold. “Get out!” “Run!” Won’t budge. Figured if I burned the house,
he’d come out. “Hey Goto, bring those sorghum
and millet husks in here” I ordered Goto and Matsui,
the two soldiers. Stuffed the house with
sorghum and millet husks. “Set it on fire!”
They set it on fire. Gradually starts to burn.
Grandpa can’t move. The two boys
are sobbing trying to help their grandpa, but they’re too little
to do anything. They’re screaming and crying
and running around. But I knew we
couldn’t leave ’em there. Before long, the 8th Route
Army would pass by. And we couldn’t have them saying
what we’d done that day. I realized that we had to
dispose of them. “Goto, Matsui, you
shoot ’em one each!” And from less than
10 meters away, they shot the
two kids dead. Then, soon enough… the fire spread to the roof, the roof ridge collapsed and
that old man burned to death. Whenever we came
to that kind of place, we’d take back anything useful for
the Japanese to use. Everything else, we searched everywhere
including the cellar and drag out every last
thing, and burn it. Pots and pans, we crushed,
so they couldn’t use ’em. So even if the
8th Route Army came, they couldn’t
use any of it. In June, 1942, the Japanese suffered a crushing
defeat in the Battle of Midway, but Imperial Headquarters
announced it as a huge victory, deceiving the populace. On the Chinese front, the Japanese began destroying
Chinese air bases south of Zhejiang, in order to prevent
their use by American planes. With the U.S. counter-
offensive in full swing, Japan faced acute shortages
of domestic labor and raw materials. The Tojo Cabinet resolved to import Chinese
labor into the homeland, initiating Compulsory Seizure,
or labor kidnappings. The idea was to export Chinese,
their labor potential, to Japan, gathering them
forcibly with military troops. This was the Compulsory
Seizure Campaign. I participated in it
in the autumn of 1942, for three months from
September to November, in Shandong Province. And we were an Army…
The 12th Army. We had supreme power
throughout Shandong… It was a 12th Army operation. I think it was called
the Togo Operation. About 15,000 Japanese soldiers were
mobilized for the operation. KOYAMA Ichiro
Former Sergeant, Army Healthy men between 15 and 45,
capable of hard labor, that’s what we were
looking to capture. That’s what we did. I was involved in the mountain region. We lined up side-by-side, each about 50
meters apart, so a single squad was strung out to
across 500-600 meters. Then the next squad, we
formed an endless line. We were consistent, hung Japanese flags
from the ends of our rifles, we moved forward… arbitrarily grabbing
anyone in sight and shoving them into our net. If they tried to run, we’d aim
our guns, to stop ’em. Just our 43rd Battalion alone, pulled 400 or 500
Chinese into a village. And we culled them down, until we had about 300 who would be of real use.
That’s how many we’d caught. The farmers were
especially unfortunate, because they’d taken lunch
out to their fields and that was the last their
families heard of them. Vanished, like they’d
been spirited away. I’m sure that their families
were really desperate. We also collected lots
of cows and pigs. There must’ve been
300 of them… In the evenings, we made the peasants, who
were chained together drag them all the way
to the station, collection points where
box cars would arrive. As we all marched
down the mountain, it was truly a strange sight. Along string of humans
chained together. Around them, Japanese soldiers,
bayonets ready, one soldier for 15 or 20 men, walking beside
the line of Chinese and the cows and
horses shuffling along, in the midst of it all. An endless column. All the way
up the mountain I thought,
“That’s quite a haul.” Right inside the station, which wasn’t
very big, there was a red brick warehouse, for temporary
rain storage and such. Metal doors, clanged shut.
Just perfect… That’s where we shoved
our prisoners, packed them like sardines. No window or anything, a single tiny air vent
in the ceiling. That was all. The next morning,
it was still pretty early, apparently the box cars
had arrived. Our sub-captain and
the other officers went to check… To the station. And we stayed in our quarters,
we had separate quarters. The sub-captain returned.
He was laughing out loud. I was wondering why,
when he and the others said, “We dragged ’em all the way
here and half of ’em goners.” Then a 2nd Lieutenant said, “Well, if
we don’t have enough, we’ll get more.” I heard them talking like that. Of course they hadn’t fed them, given them water,
or let them relieve themselves. So they had to do it inside. The fact is, they treated them just
like cows, pigs or cats. Treated people just
like you’d treat animals. “Half of ’em goners…” They just started cackling… That’s how careless they
were about human life. I’ve had to think about that… After the war, the Foreign
Ministry reported that, of the 38,935 Chinese
sent to Japan under compulsory seizure, 6,830 died. There was a
Wheat Gathering Operation. Basically, we
plundered wheat. Those operations were directly implemented
by operatives of Japanese conglomerates
like Mitsui and Mitsubishi. They conducted house-to-house
searches of the villages. Plundered every last
grain of wheat. Well I happened upon, a grandma,
an old woman… She was carrying
a small bag of wheat. When I tried to
take it from her, basically, she clung
to my ankles begging,
“Please spare my wheat. “I have an invalid
I have to feed. “This is all I have,
please don’t take it.” She clung to my ankles,
crying, begging. But my ears were deaf, as far
as I was concerned so I kicked her aside,
kicked that grandma aside, and took her wheat. But that old lady
kept following me. So near there,
in that village, there was a creek,
a small marsh. I dumped her into it. There were others
like that, too. About 20 villagers in all, I pushed ’em
all into the creek and machined gunned
them all right there. But there wasn’t much
water in that creek, it became a river of blood. So that’s how, under orders
to plunder wheat, we committed murder. On the southern front, the U.S. forces
retaliated with overwhelming strength, and the Japanese forces
began their retreat. Tojo Hideki coined a new slogan, “Know not the shame
of being taken prisoner ” The suicides committed by so many
Japanese on various Pacific islands, were a tragedy for the Japanese
forces, disallowed surrender. In Europe, the Italian flank of the
Tripartite Pact surrendered unconditionally Japan gathered leaders
of her southern territories for an East Asian conference, who pledged to fight the war, and protect the East
Asian Co-prosperity Sphere. But this was no more
than a farce, far removed from an actual war that was
tilting away from Japan. With the Cairo Declaration, the U.S.,
England and China proclaimed that
they would fight jointly for Japan ‘s
unconditional surrender On the Chinese front, the 8th Route Army made guerilla
forays from liberated territories, as Japanese forces
engaged in a war of attrition with the Nationalists,
now bolstered by the U.S. The China Detachment’s
11th Army was, mainly engaged with Chiang
Kai-shek’s Nationalist Army But the 39th Division,
in Hubei Province, was the force closest to the Nationalist capital,
Chongqing. TOMINAGA Shozo
Former 1st Lieutenant, Army I was ordered
to lead a platoon. My company commander took
me to meet my men. That’s where I first set eyes on the soldiers
I was to lead. What shocked me, was the look in their eyes.
Hardly human. The eyes of tigers,
of panthers. They had murderous,
triangular eyes. They were brave
warriors who’d been in the thick of
battle again and again. I had no experience at all. Knew nothing of war. Could I really manage
to command these guys? They shook my confidence
in my ability as a leader. Starting the next day, the officers-in-training
assigned to that regiment, there were 22 of us in all.
From the next day, we all began a week-long training
session for field platoon leaders. Our education began. The last day,
at the end of that week, they tested our courage, of the new officers.
We had to slice the head
off a living person. 2nd Lieutenant Tanaka began by saying, “This is how you
cut off a human head.” Then he showed
us by example. There were 20 or so Chinese prisoners, blindfolded
off to one side. Apparently, they’d been taken in an
operation right before I arrived. Stood behind, held the
sword high, at an angle. All at once with a yell… The head flew 2 meters. Fountains of blood spurted
from the carotid arteries, and then it rolled and
plopped into a hole. It goes without saying,
that this was a first for us. How do you say,
the awfulness of it… I saw it and was paralyzed. My body went rigid. Then we had to do it,
starting on the far right. I was 4th in line and
it was my turn. In that moment, I thought,
“Can this be allowed?” After all, I’d read my Kant, his Critique of Pure Reason, and
the idea of personal responsibility, I considered myself
something of a Humanist. And the thought “Can this really
be allowed to happen?” crossed my mind. But if I screwed up then, I knew I’d be done for.
All I had to do, was exactly what
he’d just shown us, I told myself as I walked. And that’s exactly what I did,
and I sliced the neck easily. In that instant, something
thudded in my belly. Something like confidence,
I’m not exactly sure what. But some of the others, there were 22 of us in all, lost their grip and only
wounded the Chinese, who reeled like madmen. The officer screamed, “Stab him
from behind,” but they missed. “Outta the way!” Then 2nd
Lieutenant Tanaka came over, kicked him, and
sliced off the head. So that’s how it went on. By the time all 22 were
finished, it was a sea of blood. And finally, there was
only one prisoner left. Tanaka looked at
the officers and said, “Anyone want to volunteer?” A veteran 1st Lieutenant
raised his hand. He walked forward,
carrying a package. Apparently he’d recently
purchased a real sword. And he wanted to try it out. His movements were
an absolute picture of calm. Just like a walk in the park. He undid his package pulled out his sword,
sliced, and done. Watching him move,
I thought I’d have gone out of my mind
in his situation. But he’d pulled it off in
the most matter-of-fact way. I was really shocked. That night at roll call,
I faced my men I didn’t feel the
slightest inferiority. Nor did I see an evil
look in their eyes. No doubt the moment I’d
sliced off a head for myself, my own eyes had changed. None of us saw anything
wrong with the other. And then again, that
something like confidence… Though they were
hardened warriors, I felt no tinge of
reserve or inferiority. And very soon,
I found myself in battle, over and over again,
commanding “Charge!” The regimental commander told us the entire
village population was in communication
with the enemy. Thus, all guerilla troops and any
positions should be decimated. And we should kill everyone,
including all women and children. Remove as many material
goods as possible, and burn all houses to the ground when we left. His direct orders from
battalion headquarters. So we drank a toast
in celebration, and set out. This village, Hakuyoji, was a village of
about 100 houses. I was leading the platoon,
so I divided the 30 or so men
under me into 3 squads. And we basically aimed
at small clusters, of 6 or 7 homes. We set up a machine gun
at the very edge, and on my command,
opened fire as they slept. There was a river and we
knew they’d run to it. That’s exactly
what we wanted. Set up the machine gun,
and aim for the riverbanks I ordered them to shoot
anyone who escaped. We split into 3 squads
and waited for dawn. And then, in the distance, almost 1,000 soldiers surrounded the village,
and I heard shots everywhere. Looking down from a low hill, I saw an old woman with bound feet,
struggling along the riverbank, alongside old men
fleeing with children. I saw some men watching,
obviously bewildered and then someone ordered
“Shoot ’em on the riverbanks!” So then they started with
the machine guns, rata tat tat. Must’ve killed 30 of ’em there. By the time this had gone
on for 30 or 40 minutes, impatient guys started
setting fire to thatched roofs and you could see
smoke rising all around. Figuring things were
more or less taken care of, my aide and I entered
a large house. I went in and found
a young woman, lying down in bed,
shivering. One look and it was
obvious she was sick. The instant my aide
and I entered, her father, a peasant… tried to shield the bed
with his body. As soon as I entered… her father, bowed down on
his hands and knees before me, and putting his
head to the ground, said, “Taijin, Big Man,
please spare us. “My daughter is sick. “Please spare my
daughter her life. “I’ll do whatever
you wish, please.” Damn, the more he apologized, the more we felt we
were being humiliated. I thought how
dare they insult us. I said, to my aide,
“These peasants “are also defying Japan. “Start by stabbing that woman. “Don’t waste the bullet.
Stab her to death without shooting! “Hurry! Stab her, kill her!“ I started screaming,
and just then, her father, the peasant, starts hanging onto my ankles. Just as I said, “How dare you!” Bang! There was a single shot. Smoke spread throughout the tiny room. I’d shot the sick daughter before her own father’s eyes. As soon as that was done,
I said, “Bring him over here.” And so, my aide and I, dragged the peasant
by his arms and took him outside. Other squads
had dragged others outside, maybe 5 or 6 of them. We strung the Chinese
peasants together with rope, including the man
I’d brought out, and then took the pigs and chickens
that the soldiers had killed, pigs dripping blood,
their guts ripped open, and sacks of grains, and loaded them onto the
peasants’ shoulders and backs. “Burn it all!”
At my command, they set the whole place
on fire, including the woman I’d killed.
We burned her, before her father’s eyes. As a result,
the entire battalion, wound up killing 200 and
some or so people. All of them innocent peasants, women and children. It was Special Forces,
Volunteer Forces Special Operations, really. We concealed our Japanese
military affiliation, no loincloth. Not even a pencil, made-in-Japan.
Grow out your hair. And when necessary, we wore uniforms identical to
the Chinese Nationalists’ and returned to set fires… KUBOTA Tetsuji
Former Sergeant Major, Army When we infiltrated the Chinese
as spies, it was scary. In such cases, when we stopped
in a village to rest, there were still villagers… Who’d serve tea and thank us,
’cause of our uniforms. But when we left, we’d kill about 5 older men. We couldn’t fire guns, right? We’d stab ’em
there’d be blood… Threw ’em down a well. I was the officer-in-charge. I watched it all, those things. All I cared about was my own life. I didn’t even think about those villagers’ lives. …We’d lost 3 Japanese, and 1 wounded,
was the message. Within a week, we’d arrested 5 people we
figured had information. Tortured them thoroughly. An officer from
the Medics Corps experimented with
shooting air into their veins to see how long they’d last. We did that. We needed an order from the Battalion Commander
for vivisections. But you know, lower
officers took over, just lost control,
and did those anyway. Even I could see the
purple lumps, surging from their arms
across their bodies. “Not dead yet, not dead yet.” Really, purple clumps surging
through their flesh yet they don’t die. I thought, “Well, even “if a doctor gets oxygen
in a vein, it doesn’t kill…” But finally,
he just wouldn’t die, so we dug a hole
and killed him. The other 3…
There were 5, sent 1 to headquarters.
The other 4, we vivisected 1 . The rest, we made ’em
dig their own graves, and stood ’em in front. And you know, some
officers never killed anyone. “You kill ’em.” “You kill ’em.” “You kill ’em.” “I don’t want to.”
“You’re gutless.” “I’ll kill ’em,” says
a veteran and he does. “You’re next,” like that. Give ’em a smoke
before they kill… But you know… Peasants always begged
for their lives ’til the end. But I…
I’d have my rifle aimed, to be sure they
didn’t escape. …Yeah, that petty officer and
the officer are both still alive. “You killed ’em right?”
“Yeah, what else could I do?” A company commander
on the banks killed 4 or 5. On the banks of the Yangtze River,
concealed from the houses there. Kill ’em and into the river… That unit, where our Machine Gun
Company #1 was stationed, was even nicknamed
Unit Murder. Especially during my days
in charge of Information… We abused POWs,
civilians, that is. Even if we tortured them, they rarely ever confessed. Of course, I never knew
whether or not they were really spies. Don’t know,
so they can’t talk. Looking back, I assume
that was mostly the case. No matter how
we tortured them they never said a word. If anything, they became
more defiant. We kept them in there
over a month. But even then,
they wouldn’t crack. Well, finally, I’d
really had it. I had already, beheaded several men… So everyone gathered to
see me demonstrate. All of them watching. At the time, I was
actually bragging. “See a Kendo – fencing
master wield a sword. “It’s not just
any old beheading. “My technique is different. “I leave a layer of skin
at the throat, “that’s how a master does it,”
because I was 4th Rank. “Now watch.” I strike a single blow, but then I hold
my strength. And in a flash, the head is severed… and dangles forward. And then the blood
gushes, spewing up almost 15 cm
and he stops breathing. Then I kick… the head into the waiting hole. “Did you see that?” I was so proud of myself. So I went home
after that beheading. That night, I have to say, I didn’t feel that great. I went out drinking
to dispel my gloom. I don’t know what
kind of phenomenon it is, but I had nightmares about it
for the longest time. After I got married, my wife said
“You cry out in your sleep.“ In the past few years, I haven’t had them so often. Maybe I’m getting older. I’m not sure,
but in the nightmares, I’m being chased,
or something like that. We were sent to gather supplies. Mainly we were plundering KOBAYASHI Takeshi
Former Corporal, Army
Mainly we were plundering KOBAYASHI Takeshi
Former Corporal, Army KOBAYASHI Takeshi
Former Corporal, Army
but we had to get rid
of the villagers. KOBAYASHI Takeshi
Former Corporal, Army Set up 2 machine guns,
and shot ’em. Shot ’em and checked that
they’d all run away. “Good, time for us to get ours.” It was every man for himself. This was a large walled village. There was
a Lance Corporal Murakami. We were always together
on these plundering missions, never apart He’d always grab me,
“Let’s go together.” So we went, and we entered what
was a big house. And there was an old man in his 70s, lying down. Lying on his bed a young woman near him. She was about 20 years old. So he says, “Hey, Kobayashi, looks
like we found ourselves “some nice booty.”
This is great. And underneath the bed,
they had some eggs. So the girl gets these eggs out. She must’ve been saving them
for her father, I guess. She gets them out, “Take
these, but please spare us.” “Please spare my father.” Lance Corporal Murakami
throws the eggs away, and says, “Do something
about this father,” like it was an order, so at first… I started peeling off the covers, but that girl won’t, she keeps covering him, she kept holding on to him. So finally, I just had to kick her aside. And then I dragged
her father off the bed, dragged him down. Over in China, they mostly
had dirt floors. So I pounded
him against that. And kicked him and all, and just killed him like that. And so, now that she was all alone,
Lance Corporal Murakami went in, and raped her. “Hey, Kobayashi,
now it’s your turn.” So I went in, and I raped her too. And then… As we left, that girl came flying out and seeing her father, she screamed,
“Japanese Guizi Devils! “Unforgivable!” I didn’t really understand, but her whole appearance was pretty awful. I couldn’t stand it and just
flew out of there. But if I hadn’t done
that sort of thing, I couldn’t have been
part of the group. It was just…
It was like a… See a woman, can’t rape her. See someone, can’t kill. Can’t just steal things. They shunned you. Even your best buddies,
wouldn’t even look at you. Chinese Returnees Journal –
Former War Criminals Murder, plunder and arson. You could say you were
ordered to do it. But when it came to rape, you
can’t say you had orders. It happened during the war, it was a problem that
came up all the time, but you can’t blame it
on superior’s orders. If you confessed to it, you felt you had to take
personal responsibility for it. I’ve told other people about
everything else but this story… I’ve never told anyone. When I wrote my experiences
in that journal, my wife didn’t even
know about it. She didn’t say anything… It’s very difficult
to speak publicly… About this sort of thing… The veterans loved to rape.
We always looked for women. We’d chase women down
instead of enemy soldiers. We’d enter a house,
and behind closed doors… And when we went,
it was always in pairs. While one did it, the other was outside,
keeping watch. Making sure nobody came. They’d take turns doing it. Way at the back of
the house was a woman, sitting, hugging
a 4 year old child. So the veteran said, “Kaneko, go stand guard.” I went outside.
Then from inside, I heard the woman screaming
and crying… I heard the veteran shouting.
In a little while, the veteran came out,
dragging the woman by her hair. I asked what had happened, “This damned bitch,
won’t let me do it,” he says. “I’m gonna kill her, come on.” Still holding her by the hair,
he dragged her away. A little ways ahead was
a public square with a well. He said, “Grab her legs.” So I grabbed her legs,
and the veteran pushed her back against
the edge of the well. I lifted her legs and splash,
dumped her in. But there was a child, we’d
completely forgotten about. It was crying,
“Mama, mama,“ circling around
and around the well. But it’s so short, it can’t
see over the edge. The child goes home,
returns dragging a chair, a box gets up on the box, and looks in the well.
Don’t know what it saw, but without a single “Mama,”
it jumped, and splashed to
the bottom of the well. When we saw that,
even we were shocked. “We can’t just leave ’em that way,
throw in a grenade.” So I threw a grenade
into the well. Now that I’ve had children, and even have
grandchildren, and they get to be that age,
the memory always comes back. Of course it was terribly cruel. How can I express it…
It’s always stayed with me. When we came to a village, first, the veterans looked
for women and gathered them in one place. And when night fell,
we’d sneak visits. 7 or 8 soldiers would
gang rape 1 woman. That’s what we did and the company
commander looked the other way. Pretended not to see. As far as I know,
no one was ever sent to military court for rape. Company commanders never
said a word, ignored it. Would’ve damaged
their own records. And we all knew that. So out on a campaign, we
got as much as we wanted. So looking back, our seeds were
in a whole lot of women. That’s something I feel,
frankly speaking. All soldiers do it. Anyone says he didn’t
is lying, I think. You could die any time. Young soldiers, maybe 22, 23. Even the older ones,
sergeants are 24, 25. So you see a young woman,
you rape her. So whenever we
went on a campaign, to this village or that,
everybody did it. You see, rape is… how do you say
under Military Code, rape on the battle field
gets you the firing squad. That’s the law. So you couldn’t do it openly. Everybody hid it. And after you’d raped, you couldn’t walk away,
’cause word might spread. So you killed ’em right there.
Erased the proof. Everybody did it. After you raped,
you killed everyone. The China Detachment began
destroying Chinese Air Force bases to prevent U.S. bomber raids, initiated a massive,
continental campaign for control of the Beijing-India
supply line, but failed to capture
any territories. At the same time,
on the Southern front, where air and naval
forces succumbed to U.S. strength, suicides became common among the
isolated Japanese troops. Taking responsibility for the loss
of Saipan, Tojo’s Cabinet resigned. Japanese forces were left
with only one strategy against the U.S.
The Suicide Bombing Squads, which utterly discounted
human life. Japanese forces in China sacrificed
air supremacy to China and the U.S., and were collapsing against
Chiang Kai-shek’s successful alliances with the great
Western powers and Mao Tse-tung’s
persistent strategy of enveloping Japanese forces in
the sea of the Chinese people. With an American invasion
of China imminent, the China Detachment began
bolstering anti- U.S. positions and embarked on a campaign to
wipe out the 8th Route Army There were 40 peasants
who’d failed to escape, and wound up
with our Battalion. Of those, there were 30 men, who we spread out
among our 7 companies. For inspection. 4 men were assigned to us. At the time I was a novice,
an assistant instructor. “I’m a peasant,
please don’t kill me.” They all made this
desperate plea. There was one boy with them,
he was 14 or 15 years old. He really affected me. He said, “Only my mother
and I are left…” “Please let me go home… “Don’t kill me.” As it happened,
my own mother… was almost 70… And she lived all alone. That’s why, his words, really… pierced my heart However,
I was incapable of granting his plea. Injustice, things not being just, is always a part of war. I couldn’t do a thing. That’s what I kept
telling myself. And I turned all 4 men
over to our utility men, whose job it was
to tie them to stakes. A machine gun company
is different from a regular rifle company. Rifle men attach
the bayonet to their guns. But we couldn’t do that. No such thing in
a machine gun company. We just had a small
bayonet on our belts. That’s what we charged with.
That’s how we stabbed. So, on the command
of “Charge!” we drew, and everybody rushed
forward like madmen, but then they stopped. Couldn’t stab, and
most stopped. “Idiots! Charge the enemy!” at the instructor’s voice,
they started again, but those bayonets were tough too high, too low,
off to the side, and the instructor pointed to
any actual wounds and said, “That’s right! Done.” And finally the first 4 soldiers
finished, then the next batch did the exact same thing. Repeated the same
thing, 7 or 8 times. And then the
lesson was over. But afterwards… I had no idea human intestines
were so incredibly long. All 4 of the Chinese
were dead, their entrails hung
all the way to the ground. That night, they gave us all liquor in celebration. The rookies had passed
inspection. All the veterans were saying,
“Congratulations, congratulations. “Finally, you men have
become real soldiers,” and slapped them on their
shoulders and whatnot. But the kids all looked
like death warmed over. The dark mood hung on… Land-mine sweeping… Making Chinese peasants
sweep for landmines was… At the time we called
Chinese “coolies,” like the bearers who carried
provisions and whatnot. Coolie means Strength to Suffer. And regardless of the operation with the Japanese Army, you went to the Labor Bureau, and ordered them to assemble X number of coolies
by a certain time. The Labor Bureau would allocate a certain
number per village, and assemble them. …They’d rounded up
about 100. And those peasants,
the coolies, either carried the loads themselves or
brought donkeys if they had them. They loaded the provisions
onto the donkeys but they were the first to hit the mines. The roads were mined, so we
were ordered to use the fields but even when we walked there,
a soldier hit a mine. So what the
commander decided was to make the Chinese, who had been
carrying our provisions, some of them, carry
double loads… and put 20 of them
in front of us. He lined them up in a single
row across, ahead of us, followed by several Japanese guards
armed with rifles to prevent escape. Unbelievable. We used live civilians
as mine sweepers. We made them step on mines. Well, after that there weren’t
any more Japanese casualties… There weren’t… But among the 20
who walked ahead, as I remember, about 4 or 5
were blown up or wounded or died. And so, if one of them was wounded,
we’d dump them there, keep moving forward. Never mind the dead,
keep moving. That’s the sort of thing we did. We captured Chinese
who hadn’t escaped, or we’d found in the fields, and used them as coolies. And we used them
throughout an operation, but the Chinese assumed they’d be set free when
the operation was over. They’d stuck it out, desperate,
waiting to be freed. But when the operation’s about
to reach its destination, it occurs to our men
we can’t set them free, they could give away
our positions. I happened to be
in Battalion HQ then. And the company commanders all
asked the Battalion commander what to do with all
the prisoners, the coolies. “Go ahead and dispose of
them as you see fit,” the commander said. “As you see fit.” Well that meant do
what we always did. So the company runners
took their orders back. That night, as I walked
down the road, I heard pounding feet,
lots of yelling, and bloodcurdling screams. They were killing about
50 or 60 men at once. Unbelievably brutal… What they did… The next morning I noticed, the pond had gone red. Corpses floating… We left them there,
and moved on… At the time,
I was totally numb. I just thought,
“They’re at it again.” “Oh, man…” The U.S. steps up its bombing
of the Japanese mainland. Japanese forces commit
suicide on Iwo Jima. U.S. forces begin landing
operations on Okinawa. In the European theatre,
Germany surrenders to the Allies. With the landing of U.S. forces on
the Japanese mainland inevitable, the military continues to pin its
hopes on a final battle, intoning, “Imperial Country Fight to the Death“
“100 Million Suicides” The soldiers of
the China Detachment, unaware of straitened
circumstances at home, continued to wage
their campaign. What was awful was.. That for a
month-long operation, we had only 2 days’
worth of rations… in our backpacks. “Procure the rest locally.” Well, procure the rest locally,
meant grab it where you can. You stayed in civilian homes. In summer, you just threw them out.
Tossed the owners outdoors. And in China, there wasn’t
much to burn. So you smashed
all their furniture. Smashed it and cooked
rice over it. And in the summer, we’d boil water and
dump it in a huge pot and take baths. Smashing all their furniture
to build our fires. And in winter, well,
we’d throw them all outdoors and keep fires all night long,
in the middle of the floor surrounded with bricks,
cooked rice. Made a hole in the roof
for a chimney. Otherwise smoke
filled the house. Once we entered a village, we’d kill the pigs, the chickens,
eat all the vegetables. A whole battalion
is about 1,000 men. 1,000 soldiers all taking
over a village like that. We’d wipe it out. Apparently it took a village
8 years to recover economically. Let’s see, our detachment was
stationed there about 2 weeks. And because of that there
was no more meat to be found. And then, one day… In the 1st Company… We heard a rumor that
someone had eaten human flesh. Hadn’t had any meat forever. None to be found.
No vegetables in the villages either. But you see, strange as it sounds,
there was a young woman. No one else was around, I was the only one there,
so I raped her. And after I did her,
I killed her. It occurred to me then, there’s no meat,
I’ll give them this meat. I was Sergeant Major then, and was in charge of the
company mess. So I figured I’d hand this
meat out to them. As soon as I thought of it
I killed her. Every village has cleavers. So I cut it up, just taking the best
pans of her meat. I did it on my own, and afterwards
reported to the company commander. I said, “This isn’t pork.” Told him exactly
how and why… It was human meat. Told him to make up
a company report Make it up as meat sent
by the Battalion HQ, that we were feeding the men. The company commander
said nothing. I’d taught him
everything he knew. I’d taught him, he’d just
turned 1st Lieutenant. There weren’t any officers. Finished officer candidate school
and became company commander. He’d been at war 3 years. I was in my 6th year. Company commander
was speechless. Just kept saying
“Yes, yes.” So we called over all
the units’ KP guys, told ’em we’d gotten
meat from Battalion HQ. Handed it all out there. Everybody was sure
happy to have it. Nobody’d eaten meat in
over 2 weeks, after all. It tasted…
Tasted better than pork… Japan ignored
the Potsdam Declaration, intended to provide a final
opportunity for surrender, but on August 15, 1945,
after the atomic bombs hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki
and the Soviets entered the war against Japan,
Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration,
accepting unconditional surrender 575,000 of the Japanese
soldiers who were in China when Japan surrendered were interned in
Siberia and assigned hard labor by the Soviets. 55,000 of them died there
without repatriation. In China, the Nationalists and
Communists fought 4 more years, before the victorious
People’s Liberation Army established the People’s
Republic of China, in October of 1949. In July, 1950, the Soviets turned over 969 of the Japanese
soldiers still held in Siberia to the People’s Republic as
anti-Chinese war criminals, and held them in the War Criminals
Administration in Liaoning Province. Another 140 Japanese soldiers, who stayed on after the defeat and joined
the Nationalist fight against Liberation Forces in Shanxi
were confined under the Shanxi War
Criminals Administration. The 14 witnesses in this film, were among those
held in those facilities. Following Chou En-Lai’s motto
“Even war criminals are human, “respect their Humanity,“
the newly created People’s Republic gave these war criminals
humane treatment. Staff at both facilities overcame
their personal enmity Any corporal punishment
or verbal abuse was forbidden, and prisoners were treated
with extraordinary warmth and humanity
in every way, from food, medical care and
exercise, to education, and culture. The war criminals, who had
expected severe punishment, were both profoundly moved
and remorseful. Their treatment eventually
awakened their own consciences. They acknowledged their
crimes during the occupation and apologized to
the Chinese people. In June, 1956, after six years of
confinement in China, a Special Military
Tribunal was convened under the Supreme Court
of the People’s Republic;. Of the 1,062 Japanese held,
only 45 were indicted. Those who’d died or committed
suicide were excluded. Tearing a baby
from its mother’s womb, SUZUKI Hiraku
Former Lieutenant General, Army
Tearing a baby
from its mother’s womb, SUZUKI Hiraku
Former Lieutenant General, Army SUZUKI Hiraku
Former Lieutenant General, Army
I dashed it against the ground. SUZUKI Hiraku
Former Lieutenant General, Army Slashing a pregnant mother’s womb,
burying alive… Throwing grass on top, to burn to death… And using all manner of weapons,
rifles, machine guns, I deceived all
the villagers at once, and victimized so many,
a total of 1,280 or more, peaceful citizens,
in the Three All Campaign. I killed approximately 119 FUJITA Shigeru
Lieutenant General, Army
I killed approximately 119 FUJITA Shigeru
Lieutenant General, Army FUJITA Shigeru
Lieutenant General, Army
rightful Chinese citizens, FUJITA Shigeru
Lieutenant General, Army FUJI TA Shigeru
Lieutenant General, Army
and 12 prisoners. and 12 prisoners. I also acknowledge
that I burned down approximately 100
civilian homes. I am now painfully aware of how brutal
my deeds were, how bereft of
humanity I was. My acts truly
deserve your enmity. I committed grave crimes. I await and accept the severe sentence
of the Chinese people. NAGATOMI Hakudo
Former Sergeant, Army NAGATOMI Hakudo
Former Sergeant, Army
I commanded a
Special Plot Information Unit I commanded a
Special Plot Information Unit In Shanxi Province alone, I killed 130 people capturing Chinese people
and killing them all. When I found houses,
I burned them. When I found animals,
horses, cows, I plundered, seizing them
for our army They called me, the King of Hell. That’s what they called me. That’s how many
heads I severed. When I captured
2 young ladies, they asked me to spare them, I assumed they were
female spies for the 8th Route Army, I made them dig
graves in a field, and buried them both alive, covering them with dirt.
Though both young ladies, clasped their hands and begged, I smothered them with dirt, burying them alive. Also, I threw a man
into a burning house, just like that, burning him alive. The moment his head caught fire, he died. The suffering of
the Chinese people, must have been
so terrible. It is beyond my imagining. I attacked with machine
guns and rifles, wounding, but not killing at once. If they did
not die at once, but were wounded,
wounds… They cried “Help, help” but no one helped them. “Father, mother.” Their suffering,
their sadness. What it must have been like. None sentenced to Death
or Life Imprisonment, their terms ran 8 to 20 years, including all previous
confinement. Most were released before
serving their full terms. The other 1,017 war criminals were treated generously,
spared any indictment and rapidly released, between
June and August of 1956. Eleven years after defeat, they were allowed to
return to Japan, their home. When they returned
to Japan in 1956, the government had announced
economic expansion and modernization. The popular slogan was,
“The Postwar is over!’ But upon their return,
they were greeted by suspicion that they had
been brainwashed by Communists. Under secret police surveillance, they encountered many obstacles and taunts as
they searched for jobs. War Exhibition for Peace Did the Chinese do this
to the Japanese? No, they didn’t. They didn’t? I was able to kill people as
though it didn’t mean a thing. It’s as though every part
of me was soiled, unclean. I became a vile human. I truly sank to
the level of a brutish fiend. When you returned to Japan, you
were accused of being brainwashed. When you returned
how were you welcomed by your family, community? How did they treat you? I should’ve just said,
“Thanks to you, I’m finally home.” Instead I said, “I’m a person who
did terrible things. “Thanks to China,
I’m back home. “I’m grateful to China.”
That’s what I told them. And that was the problem. They decided that I had
been brainwashed in China. That’s what they thought. So no matter how hard
I looked for work, I couldn’t find
any jobs. No one would hire me. I had no choice but
to start as a milkman. But not a single family
would accept my milk deliveries. “5 years in the Soviet Union,
6 in China, “11 years with the Reds, “he must be a terrible Red. “Can’t be seen with a Red.” The first time my memoirs were published in “Invasion,” my wife read them… She was shocked
out of her skin. “So this is what
you did over there.” Nobody back here had a clue, that the Imperial Army
was killing civilians over there. They all believed we’d been
off fighting a just war. That we’d faced the enemy, been lucky to live
and come home. That’s all. And she asked me,
why I had to speak out. No matter what happened, if I’d just kept my mouth shut…
Why’d I have to go blabbing things that brought shame on me. My wife couldn’t
understand that. The true face of war… Saying truthfully
what I’ve done, is what telling
the real truth means. No matter how shameful it
is for me, I have to admit it. Otherwise, my words
have no meaning. Lately, she seems
to understand, but she sure didn’t at first… We doctors, and our nurses, we justified it as orders. If we didn’t do it, we’d be
punished for disobeying. We didn’t have
even a shred of guilt. Thought it was unavoidable. But no one said a word.
That was the problem. It was war, after all, and
many things happened. But nobody said a word. This is also true… of the murder,
rape, plunder, all the terrible things that all the other
Japanese soldiers did. Couldn’t talk, wouldn’t talk. Still a million people
like that still alive today. Do their consciences
torment them? I wonder what they think… When we were leaving,
our Chinese teacher told us, “Go home and make
fine families, have children. “Make fine families… “But don’t ever pick up a rifle
and invade China again… “Never again.” I am now 80 years old, For the rest of my days, I will talk about the war,
the war of invasion, I will bear witness, with as much detail as possible,
to the younger generation I’ll say, “This was the war.” Forget theoretical concepts
of wars and other wars… This is what actually happened. I must find a way to tell
the younger generations, that we must never commit
such transgressions again. That’s the very least I can
do to atone for my sins. It is impossible to modify
or deny the past.
However, those who close their eyes
to the past are blind to the present.
Whoever refuses
to remember the inhumanity
is prone to new risks of infection.
– Richard von Weizséicker The Witnesses:
Former 2nd Lieutenant, MP
Former Sergeant, Army
Former Corporal, Army
EBATO Tsuyoshi
Former Sergeant, Army FUNYU Taisuke
Former Sergeant Major, Army
Former 2nd Lieutenant, Army
Former Sergeant Major, Army
Former Corporal, Army
Former Sergeant Major, Army YUASA Ken
Former 1st Lieutenant
Army Medical Corps
Former Sergeant, Army
Former 1st Lieutenant, Army
KUBOTA Tetsuji
Former Sergeant Major, Army
Former Corporal, Army Staff
Camera, sound:
OGURI Ken’ichi
SATO Ryosuke
Assistant to the Director:
HANAI Hiromi
Film Development:
YOKOCINE D.l.A. The Producers wish to thank:
Chugoku Kikansya Renrakukai
The Organization of Prisoners of War
The Organization to Document Huludao
AIHARA Hiromi Foundation “Umverteilen!” Berlin
SUMOTO Yukiko-Schwan
rubelt-medien, Dr. Ortdud Rubelt Producers:
OGURI Ken’ichi
Written, Edited, Directed by:
Produced by:
The Riben Guizi Production
Committee English subtitles by:
Linda Hoaglund

Reader Comments

  1. Its so appaling to hear this man at 1h02m telling how he burned a woman who had just given birth to death with a slight smirk in his face, or the other ones just recalling the horrid ways they abused women.

  2. That slogan "The war heroes who rest in yasukuni shrine are war heroes who fought to protect this nation. If you don't like it, get out of japan". What euphemism of japanese invasions of Asian countries. They protected their nation japan? They invaded other countries, not protected japan.

  3. Most Japanese have never been taught about the atrocities of their soldiers during WWII. Germany did a pretty good job of educating their people about what went on with the Holocaust. But Japan has never owned up to their vile and bestial behavior of their soldiers during their occupation of territories and islands. Prisoners of war were worked to death, tortured and beaten at every turn. The Japanese acted horrendously. Thank God the Allies won the war.

  4. If you have the stomach for it, there is a very horrible and graphic movie called "Men of the Sun", which depicts the atrocities done by unit-731. I couldn't watch more than a fraction of it, but I wanted to understand what the victims went through. It can be found here

    This interview gives an insight into what the unit did as well, and a lot of it can be seen in the movie. I cant' believe the US pardoned them, in exchange for the research.

  5. This documentary is an example, albeit a horrible one that the potential for true evil probably lies in all human beings. After watching this I feel a need for a strong drink.

  6. war heroes don't commit crimes like the ones Japanese soldiers did at Nanking 😐 and other parts of China ! what they are is murders, rapers and some of the most horrible ppl that have and will continue to exist !!

  7. Thank you for uploading.  I have wanted to see this Matsui's documentary although i knew it's depressing for a descendent of the devils. (Actually my great-granddad was a tax officer at that time.) Some assert that one of these men told a lie but I believe almost all these stories are true 'cause i learned the same story from an 80 year-old Chinese Malaysian. He said I must inherit a gene of cruelty. I suspect so.

    btw, this reminds me of Marina Abramović's performing art "Rhythm 0", which is also scary and thought-provoking.

  8. The past war experiences will haunt war criminals for years, memories felt like just yesterday. Japanese needed confession for the horrible past invasion to China.

  9. I have to say, stuff like this is fascinating from a sociopsychological standpoint. When they say things like, "We didn't even think of them as human," I wonder, would they torture animals like that? Or were they beneath animals as well?

    It's morbidly amazing (horrific and disgusting, of course, but still amazing) what humans can do with the proper brainwashing.

  10. Japan must completely and unequivocally own up to its past acts, though, or it will never grow as a nation. You cannot build a true tomorrow upon a false yesterday.

  11. Man, you know you've had enough humanity for the day when you think, "At least they anesthetized some of them before they vivisected them" and "At least they were shot and didn't get gasoline-soaked cloths stuffed into their orifices and burned to death".

  12. Sorry to spam the comments section, but I'm commenting as I watch. The story about the 4 year-old and the well (around 2:08:00) was so sad.

  13. Worse than the Nazi's, they literally got away with murder and should thank some god forever that they still even exist. The despicable atrocities go on forever and even though the Emperor Hirohito was aware of most, including unit 731, somehow not only allowed to stay but avoid prosecution altogether. Imagine what they had in store for us

  14. Thank you. I had this in appalling quality and it's great to get an upgrade. I'll be able to watch it properly now.

  15. It’s been clicking in me that America has bred me to look at China with a tint of contempt. What happened to them was terrible, I wish much peace and healing to the Chinese people. What a terrible low for humanity from the Japanese. They’re empire was a portal to hell.

  16. It's inevitable that atrocities will be committed during war, but what is truly disturbing is the fact that the Japanese have emotion disconnect syndrome.
    I have lived in Japan for almost 20 years and it's unnerving that they tell all news ,both good and bad with a huge grin on their face.
    Just like one of these old guys talking about tortuous acts with a grin on his face.
    I don't think Japanese are evil but they don't possess strong feelings hence they are amazingly cold as nation.

  17. Man that generation of soldiers were fucking brutal. Of course it was taught and beat into them systematically. But it's bizarre having met people who were of that age and in the war on Japan's side, how kind and polite they can seem while having been so absolutely ruthless in their youth. But it goes to show how easily capable most all of us our given certain circumstances and extreme idealism to become total monsters.

  18. The Japanese people suffered a humiliating defeat but the things they did and caused to be done to their fellow Asians and the allied soldiers was far beyond what they suffered, in China, Burma, India Malaysia,Philippines, Indonesia,everywhere they went they spread death and destruction, to this day they still haven't paid for their crimes against humanity they emptied the treasures of every country they took just as the Nazis did in Europe the difference is that their stolen property has never been returned to the rightful owners!

  19. iv been to Japan a few times, I went to Yasukuni, I was wandering around taking pictures, throwing coins and clapping and doing the whole tourist thing, being respectful I thought, it was utterly exotic to me.. a Korean man ran up to me, pulled me aside and said be careful what you are supporting… im very embarrassed my that incident…

  20. it's like Nazi party is still in power. These sick heroes killed millions innocents and still celebrating.

  21. All mankind must remember the murders, rape and looting the Japanese have committed to innocent Asians during World War II. In particular, you should remember the brutal killing of 300,000 soldiers and civilians in Nanjing, China, and the rape and murder of Korean girls. You must remember the barbaric, inhumane and dirty acts that Japanese soldiers ate as a drink by killing and cooking American pilots who had landed in Chichishima for fun. And with the fact being said to be exaggerated and fabricated, the Japanese are still teaching their people false histories and lies. The Japanese must pay for their crimes forever and continue to apologize for all humanity.

  22. *And the lady protesting on the loudspeaker has it right* To those worshipping the Japanese war pastime, GENERAL TOMOYUKI YAMASHITA would be so ASHAMED of you. He completely changed his stance on war during his imprisonment and wait for execution. Read his last words before his death. He condoned war, apologized for the death of soldier’s, stressed for peace. He also urged Japanese women to rise up and educate their children to respect humanity, promote peace, and have morals and dignity. Not to raise them as barbaric soldiers. “These are the last words from the man who took the lives of your CHILDREN.”

  23. これは真実でしょうが、何故日本人が中国の一般人に対してこれほどひどいことをしたかということが抜けています。

  24. 中国人の残忍さは明治の頃からあり、昭和に入ってからもやむことはなかった。済南居留の全く何の罪もない日本人男女12人が「内臓全部露出」「陰部に割木押し込み」「顔面上部切断」「陰茎切断」などで殺された。

  25. 公開コメントで、日本兵のことを悪くいう人たちは、勉強不足です。中国人、アメリカ人、イギリス人、ロシア人などがいかに狡猾で残酷か。よく勉強してほしい。

  26. 17:00  Really?  A much weaker power ends up at war with a stronger and dominant one and we're not sure who started it?

  27. 是你们日本主动发动战争引发的一系列事件,为什么可以说的那么义正言辞?说中国人残忍?不敢正视自己犯下的罪行?胆小如鼠的小人。

  28. I feel that all the Chinese victim of the killing of these Japanese would find justice from these true story told by the Japanese soldier. These Japanese soldiers was evil in their killing spree during WW2. As Chinese, If any things is to be learned, the Japanese devils do feel remorse.

  29. Very interesting indeed. As one who grew up watching black and white Samurai movies and training in Japanese martial arts Karate and Judo under Japanese instructors I idolized them, their culture and Zen Buddhism I never knew this side of them. I've had a Moment of clarity, The Duality of mankind.

  30. My understanding is that the fighting was being won but at such a heavy cost to both sides USA and Allies and the Japanese fighting to the death , even though USA was on Japans doorstep the first Atom bomb was dropped to try and force a ceasefire by showing Japan they simply do not have the firepower to win … the Japanese did not surrender immediately so USA dropped the second bomb ….only then did the Japanese Empire issue a surrender ….if the USA did not drop the 2 bombs it was believed fighting to every last man in vain would have cost FAR more Japanese and Allied lives ….its a hard pill to swallow but its the truth….the desensitization of people who work on human experiments is incomprehensible to me , some say most who worked on human experiments start on animal experiments , these people have no compassion and certainly no empathy left , they might as well be robots as they are no longer people in my view …. still happens today too … maybe not experiments but the torture , jesus if its true what they did to that Journalist in Turkey in that embassy …..just lovely humans.

  31. Simple repulsive, tokyo and the imperial family who sponsored these atrocities (and cowardly are behind the society's denial) should have been nuked instead Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And those psychopaths who committed such unspeakable crimes against their own specie should have been isolated for further study in order to eradicate the possibility that people like these emerge again.
    USA was
    accomplice for give them immunity after the war.

  32. If Japanese do not resolve the bad karma of their past, the nation may eventually become extremely weak or even non-existent. This is karma. Just look at Mongolian, they once rule the world brutally. Now they are weak and even half of their country is merged with China.. the race that they once brutally ruled. This is call karma..

    Japanese must learn to really admit to the evil past, like the honourable Germans… if their race is going to exist as a respectable one in the future. The natural disasters happeining in Japan are karmic warnings and effects of not resolving the past evil deeds..

  33. So nice..a lesson that everybody must learn..we must lead the right way..the soldiers just followed orders..they didn't have a choice..But they are human have conscience too…nobody chooses to become a murderer except the psychos.

  34. I found out about this film reading about WW2 history, seeing Shozo Tominaga's name and reading more. I understand there are Chinese re-education camps involved in these men's lives after WW2 but it's an amazing film that deserves more distribution. You can be assured these atrocities happened, it was documented in the contemporary Japanese newspapers. Contests of soldiers who could cut off more Chinese heads in the newspapers. Sick. I respect the modern Japanese culture, that they can be self critical. Outside of western culture, self criticism is hard to find in the world. Perhaps China will also join the pro-civilization movement? They have millions in internment camps now.

  35. It sounds like these japanis soldiers had no guilt about killing Chinese people
    That’s shameful as far as I am concerned
    A person with no guilt when murdering people should be ashamed of themselves

  36. The Chinese are gaining strength rapidly now and if it wasn't for the US protecting them, the PRC would have their revenge for Nanking and other atrocities.

  37. invaded other countries not protecting japan. so japan gov should be shamed for what they did in world war 2. those japanese soldiers should be punished for their sins.

  38. Very disturbing revelations from the former soldiers. I felt pity for those civilians who are actually not involve in the conflict but perished in this war. Very bad

  39. So many people suffered not just china including asean countries, i dont know how the japanese government can fix this. There not even trying!

  40. I get annoyed when they told about their hardship in military. It was nothing to what they did to the innocents. How they still have guts to live after killing and torture people. Perhaps they repent, but who knows

  41. when the man in the beginning of the video talks about the torture techniques ,he smiling throughout the whole thing….its either hes so unconnected to that part of his life he views it as a 3rd person to further himself from the horrible past or he doesn't feel any guilt or remorse and is fascinated by it ….

  42. WWII here in the philippines was one of the worsed ever happened my grandma told us.. Its true, japanese soldier was devil at that time.. Burning and burying people alive, slice off womens and girls breast, raping women and girls as young as 9 yrs old, torturing innocent filipino civilians and many more unimaginable atrocities! My grandma just 12 yrs old at that time, her family and relatives hid in the mountain, eat nothing but sweet potatoes and bananas for almost 3yrs!😔💔

  43. It all makes sense in a sick kind of way.Always amazed at the power of nationalism to make people into raving killers

  44. This is how you turn a human being into a primitive beast.

    Unbelievable they are still officially praised as heroes in the Japanese society!

  45. we will only apologize if the chinese: 1. relinquish all claims to taiwan and senkaku 2. normalize foreign relations with our nation 3. promise to never again publicly use ww2 atrocities as political propaganda against us. the exchange has to binding and mutual.

  46. Admissions made by murderers. These men cannot atone for their actions. Why are there so few Japanese comments? We lost friends of our family fighting in New Guinea. Listening to these men makes me sick.

  47. There is little reference for what the Chinese did to the Japanese to deserve such brutality, to at least make it somewhat understandable.

    Still the Japanese are regarded as the highest moral standard in the world and have ethics that everyone should follow.

    Leading from that they wouldn't mind what they did happening to them in turn then.

    I wouldn't want to commit the same crimes. So I'd rather keep the stories alive and have nothing to do with the Japanese.

    But should there be an invasion I know what to do.

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