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The Politics of Nanjing Paperback – 16 Oct 2006
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About the Author
Kitamura Minoru (Ph.D., Kyoto University) is Professor of modern Chinese history at Ritsumeikan University. He is a member of the Japan Association for Modern China Studies.
Top customer reviews
While controversial, this book is somewhat useful for somebody studying into Nanking. On the one hand it reaffirms that mass atrocities were perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanking. Kitamura cites the lack of provisions, POW policies and general disdain for prisoners in the Japanese army as reasons for the atrocities in Nanking. He also uses the contemporary reportage of Nanking by Western newspapers rather effectively who all estimated the death toll to be between 10,000-40,000, while at the same time showing that the figure of "300,000" by the Chinese government came about well after Japan's surrender in 1945. Furthermore, he cites these newspapers to show that the Japanese army perpetrated atrocities in other cities during this period, highlighting the crimes in Nanking were not a "one-off" incident.
Unfortunately the book falls short on its "impartial" investigation. Kitamura openly admits that he has an affinity towards the "Illusion school", and while not denying Japanese atrocities tries almost to justify the crimes. Much of the thesis of the book is also questionable, such as Harold Timperly - one of the first to report the Nanking massacre - as being a Chinese propaganda agent. Additionally, Kitamura is fixated on disproving the Chinese figure of 300,000 to even go so far to suggest the Chinese are culturally inclined to exaggerate or lie.
Overall, it is a decent book and gives a good insight into the "Centrist School" (which in my opinion is the most objective out of the three). It shows that the death toll of Nanking has been exaggerated and used for political purposes by both China and deniers in Japan. However, this book does not necessarily give an accurate representation of the position as Kitamura is quite clearly politically driven to disprove many of the absurd interpretations of the massacre. In doing so he gives a few absurd interpretations.
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