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June 23, 2017

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NHK manager's Nanjing massacre denial no problem: Japan

TOKYO -- A senior NHK manager who denied any massacre at Nanjing during the 1930s did nothing wrong, Japan's government said Tuesday, as another storm brewed over the integrity of the national broadcaster.

Naoki Hyakuta, one of a 12-strong management committee responsible for programming policy and budget-setting at the publicly funded broadcaster, dismissed as "propaganda" the accounts of the 1937-8 orgy of murder and rape by Japanese troops as they rampaged through China.

The comments were made during a stump speech for a right-wing candidate in Sunday's election for Tokyo governor.

"Countries in the world ignored the propaganda produced (by then-Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek) ... that Japan's troops carried out a massacre in Nanjing. Why? There was no such thing," Hyakuta said during a speech on Sunday, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

"During the war there probably were atrocities committed by some members of the military, but that is not limited to the Japanese. There is no reason to teach these things to children in compulsory education," he said.

China says 300,000 civilians and soldiers died in a spree of killing, rape and destruction in the six weeks after the Japanese military entered the then-capital on Dec. 13, 1937. Some foreign academics put the number of deaths lower, including China historian Jonathan Spence who estimates that 42,000 soldiers and citizens were killed and 20,000 women raped, many of whom later died. No mainstream respected historians dispute that the massacre happened.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday that Hyakuta was entitled to his opinions.

"I'm aware of the reports, but I've learnt (expressing personal views) doesn't violate the Broadcast Law. The government declines to comment on the issue." he told reporters.

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