Iris Chang - The Rape of Nanking

Discussion thread for Jordan B Peterson’s recommendation of Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking:

I just finished reading The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. This book really opened my eyes to the violence a group of humans is capable of when other humans are degraded as inherently lesser than they. Jordan Peterson’s ideas about group aggression and the slippery slope of reinforced biases were also backed up by this book. Reading this book directly after 1984 and Brave New World caused me a great shock because I suddenly realized in the first chapter that the atrocities in this book were not just dystopian fiction, but reality within the past century. If any of y’all have read this book, feel free to share any insights you gleaned from it.

What methods were used to ‘other’ the people so that the group could go against them?

It was a library book and I’ve already turned it in, so I can’t really quote it for you. That aside, the Japanese viewed their imperial expansion almost as being “merited” by their basically Nazi view of themselves as a “master race.” The Japanese were told from an early age that the Chinese were animals and Japanese soldiers were threatened with court-martialing or death if they were to flinch when killing the Chinese. I remember a line in the book where a Japanese soldier wrote in his diary that pigs were worth more than the Chinese people because “at least we could eat the pigs.” It was definitely a systematic brainwashing by the Japanese government and educational system.


We will be discussing this book in less than 7 days.

@ZWeaver would be nice to have you join us! :slight_smile:

my summary

Chapter 1

Japan is a nation of pride and warriors. Conformity, loyalty, society the ultimate value. America’s display of power in 19th century shook Japan, and they unified to never be so defenceless and humiliated ever again. Nationalism brought japan into an economic boom. Japan sent its smartest overseas to study and return, to imitate then improve. The boom lasted until the great depression, which affected Japanese exports. China was also attempting nationalisation for the same reasons, but lagging behind Japan’s progress. Japan’s progress and independence was perceived as a threat by the west, so was discriminated against, in addition with China cooperating as a Western puppet state instead. The depression, discrimination, combined with Japan’s boomed population, meant to avoid internal catastrophe (mass starvation), voluntary emigration or forced emigration by war were necessary. Voluntary emigration was denied famously when league of nation discussions fell through, notably by Australia’s denial. This denial, combined with China’s rising alliance with the west, forced Japan’s hand to enter into war. Such is a positive testament to the strength of nationalism and discriminatory free globalisation, against the stark nepotism of the global competing interests at the time.

The author’s bias shows itself heavily in this chapter with selective and ignorant callous interpretations of history. The constant comparisons to the evil germany and the west, the decries of everything right-wing, the decries of nationalism. Yet not a single mention of the horrors of soviet russia. And no concern for the Japanese plight at the time.

Chapter 2

Japan after taking Nanking, then swiftly extinguished the prisoners, killed all men by the dozens then by the hundreds, and raped and killed the women. Their apathy compared to Germany (loyalty heavy, individual light, other lightest), and their solidarity compared to China (chinese had not unified/nationalised yet), were both supreme, allowing Japan to be ruthlessly efficient. Each japanese man was a pre-trained demon. Each japanese woman a supportive unit back home.

Chinese women were raped then killed. The killing surprised everyone, including historians. Reasoning turned out that general Mitsui and Japan did not condone such horrific behaviour, and alerted the world stage about it when discovered, and apologised to China. Such tame orders and the accompanying shame were instilled in the men, such that they then desired to not be caught by living victims, thus killed them after raping them. Mitsui seemed to not anticipate rape would be expected in such environments with such prior cognitive training.

After condemnation got out about the rapes and murders. Acknowledging rape’s inevitability, Japan then established an underground brothel network, of tens of thousands of women. Soldiers would participate in these brothels which reduced desire to rape. It worked. The women, ashamed, took 50 years to speak out, and many tried to kill them selves.

Author shows her bias again, with overly harsh interpretation of Japanese perspectives. If a situation strips a population’s ability to have human traits, then it is not discriminatory to notice they have been reduces to animalistic behaviour.

Chapter 3

The fall of nanking, after the fall of shanghai, was swift due to a complete and utter blunder of Chinese strategy, a showcase of profound cowardice & ineptitude by Chinese senior management, that left the Chinese nanking population killing themselves in a retreat turned rout.

China desired to battle in Nanking to delay Japanese expansion to other territories, and stripped Nanking prior to invasion of nearly everything, affecting Nanking’s ability to organise. After initial air raids and a display of power, Japan offered Nanking terms of a quick surrender. China rejected it, despite the pleas of general Tang who was in charge of Nanking. Having no surrender, the offer expired and Japan proceeded with military troops. Merely a day later, Tang was ordered to retreat, despite engaged in the battle necessary to achieve the aims of holding the city to delay Japanese advancement. Tang warned that a retreat then would be catastrophic, however China insisted. China’s soldiers died by their own hands trying to escape, some trampled, some burned in flames of fires that broke out from abandoned weapons, and some drowned trying to flea the river, and some shot as traitors as the order of retreat was not communicated uniformly. All anger for this cannot be directed at Japan, but for this chapter, it is exclusively deserved at the Chinese senior management.

Author reveals her grandparents were in Nanking. Revealing the cause of her bias.

Chapter 4

Details the executions, and the rapes, retelling statistics, experiences, and scenarios. Not a single mention of motivation, besides japanese had to use scarce resources for themselves, which is fair.

The japanese were incredibly more efficient and ruthless than the germans, as the japanese had decades of indoctrination and training for such.

Initially the chinese civilians welcomed the japanese, due to remembering earlier poor treatment by japenese (the extent of which is not explained, was it equal?), and as they noticed the betrayal of their own military.

Apparently population was 1.2 million before, 600,000 fled before, 300,000 fled to safety zone after, remaining 300,000 or 120,000 (book is unclear or numbers of those remaining verse perished as it mixes numbers up a lot) are assumed to have perished.

Only a single chinese woman fought back. Everyone else were cowards.

Japenese men were not permitted to do horrifix things, but they seemed to not care:

  1. It is war, they wish to destroy the enemy’s soul and spirit, an effective tactic
  2. Their enemy is as good as dead, so what does it matter

It is quite hard to justify compassion in such circumstances, without assumptive axioms.

Chapter 5

Retells the stories of several influential foreigners in their role in promoting the safe zone. A nazi, a surgeon, a woman, and another woman which seemed to care more about garments than people…

They frequently communicated with Japanese embassy which did not condone the actions of the Japanese military and recommended worldwide exposure.