The former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief, Henry Stokes, has found himself in a wee bit of controversy after a convoluted sequence of events that culminated with his declaration, in print, that the Nanjing Massacre never took place and was simply a “propaganda tool of the KMT government.”
The claim is linked to Stokes’s new book, the wonderfully titled, “Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist.” The book apparently includes passages that deny any Japanese responsibility for the events in Nanjing in 1937, widely known as the “Nanjing Massacre” or “Rape of Nanking.” The passages were originally blamed on a “rogue” translator, and Kyodo News released an article saying that Stokes himself was not responsible for the paragraphs in question, and that they do not reflect his understanding of the historical events.
Now, however, Stokes has now gone out of his way to assert that he was the man responsible for the inflammatory passages, and issued a statement saying:
The so-called ‘Nanking Massacre’ never took place [..] The word ‘massacre’ is not right to indicate what happened. It was originally a propaganda tool of the KMT government.
The Japan Times has tracked down the most riling passages of the book, and they quote:
The paragraphs in question translate as: “From this, it is clear that the so-called ‘Nanking Massacre’ did not take place. As a historical fact, the ‘Nanking Massacre’ did not take place. It was a propaganda fabricated by the KMT government.” When presented with this translation, Henry said it poses no significant difference from his own idea, Fujita [the translator] said.
The Japan Times contacted Stokes, but he declined to be interviewed, citing fatigue and ill health.
The book was put together by Fujita, who interviewed Stokes at length about wartime Japanese history, and who then translated his statements into Japanese and composed the book. Their conversations sound like they went in some weird directions.
Beijing-based Ian Denis appears to be the only person from NYT’s China bureau that has made a comment:
— Ian Johnson (@iandenisjohnson) May 13, 2014