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September 27, 2017

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Japanese director documents accounts of Nanjing Massacre

OSAKA, Japan -- When Tomokazu Takeda, a young Japanese director, was asked to help produce a documentary on the "Rape of Nanjing," he only recognized the name, but did not know what had happened in that Chinese city.

And he never imagined the work would lead him to memories of his late grandfather.

"I recalled one sentence that contained the words in our textbook. I never thought of what Japan had done," Takeda said.

The 84-minute independent film "Torn Memories of Nanjing" is to be presented Tuesday at the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival. The film consists mainly of vivid accounts of the atrocities by Chinese victims and former soldiers of Japan's Imperial Army.

On December 13, 1937, Japanese troops marched into Nanjing, the Chinese capital at the time, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Chinese people including many civilians in a six-week orgy of violence.

That violence left 300,000 people dead and 20,000 women raped, Chinese authorities say. In Japan the number of dead is believed to be much lower. Many Japanese including some historians and journalists even flatly deny the slaughter, calling the events an "incident."

To counter such claims, Tamaki Matsuoka, a former elementary public school teacher and co-director of the film, spent a decade interviewing more than 300 Chinese victims and 250 Japanese soldiers.

Soldiers involved in the killing "were talking vividly as if it happened yesterday," Takeda, who is in his early 30s, said.

Juhei Teramoto, a former soldier, said in the film, "[In Nanjing,] superior officers told us to commit robbery, murder, rape and arson and do anything."

Takeda was even shocked to hear some former soldiers interviewed brag about how many women they had raped.

"You know, we were young men and we were the ones who might die the next day, so we wanted to sleep with a girl," Teramoto said.

Many of the soldiers, Takeda said, "still did not see Chinese people as human beings. It seems they had no opportunities to correct or reflect on that view after the war."

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