Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Comfort Women Being Rounded Up"

2. "Comfort Women Being Rounded Up"
are actually Villagers Returning From Working in the Fields
One of the first photographs (1-1) that appears in The Rape of Nanking is described as a scene in which comfort women are being rounded up by the Japanese. The caption in Chang's book reads as follows: "The Japanese rounded up thousands of women. Most of them were gang raped or forced into military prostitution (Politburo of Military Committee, Taipei)."

Photo as shown by Chang: Photo 1 edited

Chang's caption sets up a framework of imagination in the reader's mind:

There is a Japanese soldier in the center of the photograph with a rifle slung over his right shoulder. It does seem as though he is prodding his "victims," the Chinese women. There is another Japanese soldier in the photograph, behind the second woman from the left, the muzzle of whose rifle is visible.

The second woman from the left appears to be about 20 years old. The Japanese soldier seems to be watching her closely to ensure that she does not escape, for at her age, she is the ideal age for the purposes of these savage beasts. Her hands are joined in front of her, probably tied with rope so she cannot get away.
The girl at the head of the procession looks to be about 10 years old. Japanese soldiers preyed upon girls even this young. Did she sense the horrible fate that awaited her?

In the back of the group are four or five women who look to be in their thirties or a bit older. All of them have kerchiefs on their heads. The woman directly behind the soldier is carrying an infant. These women were probably kidnapped while they were working in the fields. The baby's mother must have been abducted while she was resting under a tree, nursing him. The poor infant will, no doubt, be murdered by Japanese troops.

The victims are about to cross a log bridge. On the other side of the bridge is, most likely, Japanese Army headquarters, wherein lies the women's cruel fate, for the monsters are waiting eagerly for them to arrive.

Such are the thoughts that Chang, by means of this photograph and her caption, wishes the readers to believe. If no one had objected, the impression that her interpretation of the photograph is true -- this impression would have been forever engraved on the minds of the Americans and the Japanese.

When historian and Nihon University professor Hata Ikuhiko examined this photograph in January, 1998, he realized that he had seen it somewhere before. He did some research, and discovered that it had appeared in the November, 1937, issue of Asahi Graph, an illustrated magazine published by Asahi Shinbunsha. The photograph in question was one of a group of four included on a two-page display in the oversized magazine. The title of the article in which it appeared is "A Wartime Refuge: The Rising Sun Flag Village in Jiangnan".

Original Photo 1: "A Wartime Refuge: The Rising Sun Flag Village in Jiangnan"

This is a far cry from Chang's description of the rounding up of comfort women. The caption for all four photographs in the display reads as follows:

In a corner of Baoshan County, near the Yangtze River, where hostilities rage, are two villages once again peaceful, thanks to our soldiers, who protect them. One of them is Shengjiaqiao Village, now referred to as "Rising Sun Flag Village". At its entrance is a notice from Takubo Tadashi, head of the expeditionary unit, which reads "Off Limits to Soldiers. "Takubo, who is also mayor of the village, is loved and respected by the villagers, who number approximately 400. Guarded by our soldiers, the villagers need not fear marauding Chinese stragglers, and can work in the fields, their minds at ease."

Photo 2: villagers picking cotton

Photo 3: villagers sorting cotton in front of a farmhouse

Photo 4: a Chinese family and Japanese soldiers

Japanese troops had entered this village on a pacification operation. Pacification involves informing the residents of occupied territory of the occupying nation's policies, and allaying their fears. In this case, it meant keeping watch over farming activities and communing with the villagers. There was a war going on outside the village, which Chinese soldiers might attempt to enter and loot at any time.

Japanese who did not experience World War II are unfamiliar with the behavior of Chinese soldiers at the time. They habitually stole from civilians, burned their homes, and raped and murdered them. In this photograph, Japanese soldiers are protecting civilians from potential outrages of that sort.

A better grasp of the situation can be obtained by examining the three other photographs. Photo 2 shows villagers picking cotton. At harvest time, everyone available -- the elderly, girls, and even children -- went out into the fields to pick cotton. Japanese soldiers are watching over them. Asahi Shinbun correspondent Kumazaki wrote that he took the photographs on a beautiful autumn day, and that he could hear someone singing a Chinese folk song. Photo 3 shows the villagers sorting the cotton in front of a farmhouse. The caption under it reads:

When the villagers run out of food, Imperial Army soldiers give them their leftovers. They are paid for their work, and protected day and night. It is a pleasure to see the happy looks on the faces of the villagers as they busy themselves sorting cotton. (Photographed by correspondent Kumazaki on October 14.)

The last photograph (Photo 4) bears the following caption:

This family was the first to seek refuge in Rising Sun Flag Village after having heard about it. The mother became ill and died during the war. The father fled the hostilities with his three daughters, aged 20, 14, and 12, wandering from village to village. The party, having been joined by a relative's daughter, finally arrived at Shengjiaqiao. They now enjoy peaceful lives under the protection of the Imperial Army. (Photographed by correspondent Kumazaki on October 14.)

The bald-headed man near the center of the photograph is probably the father, and the young woman to his right, with her hair cut short, his 20-year-old daughter. The woman behind her, wearing a hood, is most likely the relative's daughter, and the two other girls, the 14- and 12-year-old daughters.

Photograph 1 is the original of the photograph that Chang purports to show comfort women being rounded up. The caption underneath it reads:

"A group of women and children returning to Rising Sun Flag Village after working in the fields, protected by our soldiers. (Photographed by correspondent Kumazaki on October 14."

The woman walking at the head of the group is the 12-year-old daughter of the aforementioned family. Following her is the 20-year-old daughter. It looks as though her hands have been tied, but they are simply joined. If the Japanese soldiers had been rounding up villagers, they would have been pointing their rifles at them, not carrying them over their shoulders. Everyone in the photograph looks calm and relaxed. The boy next to one of the soldiers has a big grin, perhaps because someone made an amusing remark. The Japanese soldier is smiling, too. This is, without a doubt, a peaceful rustic scene -- villagers have finished their day's work in the fields and are returning to their homes.

How did Iris Chang manage to transform this photograph into a scene in which comfort women are being rounded up? Three methods were used to transform a peaceful rustic scene to an odious one.

1. Cropping
A comparison of Photo 1 with Photo 1-edit reveals that the right side of Photo 1-edit (the one that appears in Chang's book) has been cropped out. The old woman pulling the cotton-laden cart has been deleted. Without this bit of doctoring, it would have been difficult to represent this photograph as that of a group of women being forcibly recruited into sexual servitude.

2. Shading
In Chang's book, this particular photograph is extremely fuzzy. Since the other photographs she chose are in better focus, one can assume that the fuzziness is deliberate, and not the result of technical incompetence. This was not the result of poor reproduction technology, but of intentional fraud. By blurring the expressions on the subjects' faces, she obliterates the peaceful atmosphere that imbues the photograph.

3. Faked Captions
Finally, we have the faked captions, but Chang is not to blame for all of them. Hoping to find the source of these "substitutions," we visited Stanford University on November 22, 1998. The University's Hoover Institution houses an East Asian Library. There we found a Chinese book entitled "Rikou baoxing shilu ( Records of the Japanese Enemy's Atrocities )". It was published by the Politburo of the Nationalist government's Military Committee in 1938, and contains Photograph 1-edit.

The gist of the Chinese text under the photograph is: "Group after group of women and girls from farming families in the Jiangnan District was led away to Japanese Army Headquarters, where they were humiliated, gang-raped, and shot to death."

Note that the book was published in 1938. Only a year after the original photograph was published in Asahi Graph, the Military Committee's Politburo, i.e., the Nationalist government's propaganda arm, fabricated a caption to make it look as though the Japanese soldiers were rounding up potential comfort women. Chinese propagandists were using photographs from the Japanese press to concoct "proof" of Japanese Army atrocities. "Records of the Japanese Enemy's Atrocities" is filled with such trickery. In the summer of 1984, the Japanese historian Kasahara Tokushi discovered this same photograph in the East Asian Library, photocopied it, and brought it back to Japan. The doctored photograph appears at the beginning of one of the chapters of Kasahara's Nanking Incident , published in 1997, the 60th anniversary of the Nanking Incident. His caption reads: "Japanese soldiers abduct Chinese women from the Jiangnan District." By using anti-Japanese propaganda produced by a former enemy as a historical reference, Kasahara has severely damaged his credibility as an historian.*1

When Hata Ikuhiko informed Kasahara of his error, the latter, undaunted, wrote merely, "It has been brought to my attention that the Politburo of the Military Committee affixed a spurious caption to a photograph taken by an Asahi Shinbun photographer." Mentioning that the original photograph had been published as part of a collection, he shifted the blame by writing "Until now, the Chinese have believed that this photograph was connected with the abduction of women and girls."*2

What is at issue here is not what the Chinese believed, but the fact that the Chinese continually and repeatedly produced malicious anti-Japanese propaganda. That propaganda was a decisive link in the manufacture of the "Nanking Massacre."

*1 Kasahara Tokushi, Nankin jiken [Nanking Incident], (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1997). Kasahara Tokushi, "Tillman Durdin kara no kikigaki" (Conversations with Tillman Durdin," in Nankin Jiken Chosa Kenkyukai Yakuhen (Nanking Incident Research Group), Nankin jiken shiryoshu: Amerika kankei shiryoshuhen (Source material relating to the Great Nanking Massacre: American References), (Tokyo: Aoki Shoten, 1992), p. 572.
*2 Kasahara Tokushi, "Shinsho 'Nankin jiken' no shashin ni tsuite" [Concerning the photographs published in "The Nanking Incident"], Tosho (April, 1998): pp. 26, 27.

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