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'It hurts my heart': Japan's Kanto massacre, 100 years on

79 Comments
By Etienne Balmer and Elie Guidi

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79 Comments

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What a horrific story.

39 ( +43 / -4 )

Later the Japanese army also "lined up Koreans on the river bank and executed them with machine guns," he added.

Japan has long been accused of trying to erase the memory of its crimes in Asia during its imperialistic period, often poisoning its regional relations.

The only perspective that Japan want people in the world to know in the world is Japan as the victim during the past, beside that it will get constant rejection or censor.

There is one museum about famous Japanese army unit, unit 731. However local board of education decide to censor some of the contents. Censor that make the survivor member really frustrated, since he really want public to learn about the truth without censorship.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14982616

-9 ( +36 / -45 )

A very tragic event. First the terrible earthquake and then the slaughter of Koreans. The exact number is unknown but in the hundreds.

6 ( +30 / -24 )

@wallace this AFP story says in the thousands. Are you disputing that?

seems to me there is a pretty big difference between the two.

35 ( +41 / -6 )

@wallace

The exact number is unknown but in the hundreds.

Did you even read the article?

I’ll quote from it: “But the consensus among historians is that ‘several thousand’ perished.”

34 ( +37 / -3 )

@wallace

But the consensus among historians is that "several thousand" perished, said Tessa Morris-Suzuki, professor emerita of Japanese history at the Australian National University.

21 ( +25 / -4 )

So sad. 悼

15 ( +17 / -2 )

To this day there is racism against Koreans in Japan, no wonder there is anger amongst the Koreans as they look back into time

But more to the point is could this happen again today?

I really hate to think that it could but after the Kobe earthquake,I heard a particularly vile rumor about Koreans (from a Japanese) which made me think that little had changed.

-13 ( +27 / -40 )

Japan started ww2

I'd give that to N@zi Germany. Unless done rewrote history

Obviously this incident cannot be blamed on the imperial army or government alone.

Or the modern Japanese public. Awareness of the event is definitely necessary.

26 ( +35 / -9 )

*someone

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Sorry yes, thousands of Korean victims. The exact number is unknown.

21 ( +26 / -5 )

We don't have enough evidence to pinpoint the blame for the first rumours on the state," Hasegawa said, but since the 1960s there has "pretty much been a consensus" among scholars that it had a "central role" in spreading them.

I valuable lesson from history to beware of authoritarians, oligarchs who attempt to stir up animus toward migrants, outsiders, minorities to distract from their own militaristic depredations on society.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

“after malicious rumours spread about the community”

You need to hear the other side of the story. They were not just malicious rumors. Some aKoreans actually engaged in rape and robbery during the melee after the earthquake.

-24 ( +8 / -32 )

"We don't have enough evidence to pinpoint the blame for the first rumours on the state," Hasegawa said,

We don't have enough evidence, but we will go with that line anyway.

Gary

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Seems to me that not just the nationalists are trying to cover this history up. Similar to just about every atrocity committed by the Japanese prior to and including WW2 is being whitewashed and that is scary as hell!

What is worse is that foreigners here, who have access to a hell of a lot more information and can make better judgements and decisions regarding the information surrounding these atrocities, are taking the Japanese stance and playing them down.

16 ( +28 / -12 )

The roots of Japanese fascism run deep and this massacre of Koreans and other "gaijin" might be seen as a rehearsal for the Japanese state's later wars of aggression in Asia. This large-scale killing was the result of the earthquake trauma that gave rise to an outbreak of irrational mob violence exploited by cynical state calculus and must seen as one of the many missing pieces in the puzzle of 20th century Japanese history and in the psychogram of the nation.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

That's an undeniable historical fact futile to disagree

If someone has actually studied the history, of the events of the time, leading up to WW2, no one who has, would ever make a blanket statement like this!

There are an uncountable number of "facts" that are arguably connected to the "reasons" about just who was responsible for starting WW2, and to any reputable academic or historian, it most definitely is not black and white.

If you don't know that by now there's no point in me educating you.

You should take your own advice. As it is obvious you haven't "studied" enough.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

I never knew this. Tragic. And yet, history seems to repeat itself around the world in similar ways. I'm really tired of humans wanting to harm other humans. I dream of a one world, star federation. Just think how much we could progress if we all worked together.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Thankfully young people today love korea, it's fashion, music and food.

Likewise young Koreans have a positive image of japan

The racists on both sides are the elderly and a tiny sliver of right wing crazies.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

The victims included Chinese and some Japanese mistaken for Korean or Chinese.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Thanks for posting this article.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

About massacre of Koreans, It is said that its start was a bad rumor that someone said that Koreans put poisons in local's well. At that time no one died from poison, but earthquake killed so many people days ago. Their more fearful frustrations affected the crowd (group) psychology to the massacre. So many Koreans were killed by local Japanese and also Japanese from countryside who spoke a little different accent were killed. They said locals could not see difference between Koreans and Japanese. It seems some kinda excited crowd/group are sometimes going very crazy. It might happen in any country.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

My wife's father can remember his father and older brothers telling him that they saw Koreans running for their lives in the Tokyo neighborhood of Hoya with crazed mobs chasing after them...

14 ( +19 / -5 )

First I ever heard of this compared to the annual stories about how Japanese-Americans were detained (not machine gunned) in the US. Thank God the US military is in Japan now in case this type of large scale earthquake happens again.

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Seems to me that not just the nationalists are trying to cover this history up. Similar to just about every atrocity committed by the Japanese prior to and including WW2 is being whitewashed and that is scary as hell!

Yes, you can witness the white-washing right here on JT, just yesterday.

Agent_NeoAug. 31  09:59 pm JST

The story of Unit 731 and the story of the Nanjing Massacre are nothing more than Chinese propaganda. Neither case was tried in the postwar Tokyo Trials.

Regarding Unit 731, there is an urban legend in China that there is no evidence that Japanese military officials handed over the results of human experiments to the United States and were not prosecuted.

Also, regarding the Nanjing Massacre, Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled Nanjing at the time, never mentioned the post-war massacre.

The book The Rape of Nanjing, written after the war, became a bestseller in the United States, but when it was examined, it was discovered that unrelated photographs were intentionally mixed up, and the author committed suicide in the end.

Even now, no evidence has been found that the Japanese military actively carried out massacres or inhumane experiments. Please let me know if you have any.

Why does this only happen in China?

The brutal Japanese army that colonized present-day Southeast Asia would have sacrificed a large number of people even in present-day ASEAN, but there are very few such examples.

-12 ( +9 / -21 )

ZORGToday  07:50 am JST

Japan started ww2

I'd give that to N@zi Germany. Unless someone rewrote history

Then you haven't much history study

What Japan did prior to ww2 led a chain of events that emboldened the third Reich .Germany most definitely didn't start ww2 !

May I suggest that you yourself do some study of history. Japan started the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 against the Republic of China. The Third Reich was supplying weapons to the Chinese to fight Japan. ROC soldiers were wearing "fritz" helmets and using czech made machine guns supplied by Nazi Germany. This did not end until Germany, Japan and Italy signed the Tripartite Pact in 1940.

There are few if any historians who do not consider the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 to be the "start" of WWII.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

This is a part of the history of this event that needs repeating every year. I remember reading a little about this on an anniversary of this earthquake when I first came to Japan 35 or so years ago. I was shocked that I hadn't heard of it, but not shocked that it happened. Think of similar cases around the world of massacres / genocide started by rumours, after a disaster, natural or social or psychological.

The one-sided history of it also happens all over the world - Mark Twain's "beautiful lies" of the history of so many advanced countries, avoiding the reality of the losers, the indigenous, those at the bottom.

What we should learn from it is not the specifics of "the terrible Japanese people" but the universal human traits or tendencies for violence spread by rumours, misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, hatred, and lies. And the desire by those on the ultra-right to whitewash history, to confuse people into distrust of truth, science and democracy.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

RedemptionToday  09:19 am JST

First I ever heard of this compared to the annual stories about how Japanese-Americans were detained (not machine gunned) in the US. Thank God the US military is in Japan now in case this type of large scale earthquake happens again.

The US forces in Japan have no authority over domestic matters in Japan. Furthermore, Japan for the last 80 years is a different country than in 1923.

In my country a great many Native American were literally "massacred". And I have no doubt many African-Americans met similar fates. Australians use to shoot "Abos" for sport. These are all terrible racially driven acts which absolutely would not be tolerated today in any civilized country.

As for the internment of J-As in the US during WWII, we have recognized that it was racially driven and a mistake. What makes it a mistake is that they were US citizens completely deprived of their rights under the US Constitution. And while wrong, it not comparable to this article.

The J-Govt absolutely needs to investigate the facts behind this horrible event and establish facts. When even the numbers are unknown and vary from hundreds to thousands, failure to do so will result only in a repeat of the Nanking Massace scenario. These Korean victims, whatever the number, were clearly deprived of their rights as Japanese citizens (from 1910) and the J-govt needs to make restitution.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

The only perspective that Japan want people in the world to know in the world is Japan as the victim during the past

Agree 100%.

-3 ( +15 / -18 )

Japan has been playing the victim card for a very long time, but doesn't admit atrocities it has committed. Always a victim, the nuclear bombings, but who started the war? That is something that I do not hear anyone discuss as often as the memorials for the bombing victims...

-10 ( +11 / -21 )

What a terrible event. Japan needs to really come all the way clean but when you have prominent politicians like Yuriko Koike disputing that it ever happened, plenty in the masses will agree with her and most probably have never even heard about it. Damn shame and shameful. I'd like to hear just what 'different opinions' she's talking about but I doubt she really knows, I mean, what kind of 'opinion' can you have on an incident that is a documented massacre?

3 ( +12 / -9 )

KniknaknokkaerToday  09:54 am JST

YubaruToday  09:14 am JST

The only blatant experience I had of this fairly early in the pandemic was when I walked up to a crossing and was waiting, an older guy close by looked at me and moved away closer to a (presumably) Japanese person.

Ojii-chan would’ve done this even prepandemic. Haven’t you ever ridden on a train yet?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

But how can we twist this to make the Japanese look like the victim. That's what i want to know.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

What we should learn from it is not the specifics of "the terrible Japanese people" but the universal human traits or tendencies for violence spread by rumours, misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, hatred, and lies. And the desire by those on the ultra-right to whitewash history, to confuse people into distrust of truth, science and democracy.

Exactly! Just like the Holocaust and the hundreds of millions slaughtered by war, famine and disease in the 20th century alone hold a mirror up to all humankind: this IS who we are! But what can we do to change? God only knows.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The Japanese expansion of Asia and the chain of events beginning in 1894 by imperial Japanese forces led to the beginning of ww2 in 1931 by the Japanese annexation of Korea and not the Germany attack of Poland in 1939

> Other historians have argued ww2 actually technically started in 1934 but definitely not 1939

So where was WW1 when Japan was on the side of the Allies?

The topic of the article is the Great Kanto Earthquake and the massacre that followed. How is that connected to WW2 began in 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland. The UK declared war on Germany.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

105,000 earthquake victims.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-great-japan-earthquake-of-1923-1764539/

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The US forces in Japan have no authority over domestic matters in Japan. Furthermore, Japan for the last 80 years is a different country than in 1923.

You you realize its now 2023 and not 2003 ?

Facepalm lmfao lol lol

Oh, dear, deficient-in-braincells ZORG has missed the point; someone gonna tell him?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Yet another dark massacre in the history of japan’s imperial rule. Anybody who has knowledge of the atrocities committed by the imperial army against Korea and China are not surprised by the political tension between these countries.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

With a news blackout, rumors then started that Korean students and workers wanted to take advantage of the chaos to loot, kill Japanese citizens, and even stage a coup.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Your history studies are appalling and at very best entertaining

While I disagree with most of those studies, they are always interesting, and some of them really good.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I studied P. Science and History at Uni so have more than a passing knowledge about events of the past. However, I have never heard of the massacre of the thousands of Koreans, and others after that disastrous earthquake. I know quite a bit about events leading up to WW 2 but sadly, many historians have different versions of it. The Japanese army/airforce invaded China in 1931 obstensively to stop USA influence in that country, and also in surrounding countries. The USA and Japan were not on good terms back then and diplomatic relations had broken down, another reason was that due to the great depression, Japan had been taken over by a militarist government, this government wanted to expand its domination to all over the Asia, Pacific region. Hence the start of the war. Further more, some say that Germany did not start WW2, yes they invaded Poland, but they did not declare war on the world at large. As for being taught about these events, we as German school children, were taught all about the Nazi regime, the Holocaust and had to visit concentration camps. This is mandatory in all schools.

Finally, my own thoughts are that, man is an evil, malevolent, species, every we do is violence based. But we must also remember that although countless millions have been butchered and murdered through out our worlds history, it has all been done for the benefit and by the insistence of a very few. The so-called world leaders going back centuries, start wars for their benefit, not for their peoples. The very same thing is happening right now. I honestly do not know what, or if, this will ever stop, but must add that a lot boils down to very poor education, or lack of it, and the brain washing by various governments of their populations. I could write another 20/30 pages on this subject, but will end it here. Thank you :)

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Something interesting worth noting is all the conspiracies floating around after the Lahaina, Maui firestorm, who was responsible and why the fires started. People blaming the fires on wealthy folk that want to buy up all the land or that directed energy weapons started the fire. Its typical after disasters for baseless theories to emerge. 100 years later and things haven't changed much.

That said, what isn't mentioned in the article is why the fires were so bad after the earthquake. Well, the earthquake struck at 11:58 am when thousands of people were cooking lunch with their stoves. The shaking knocked most of these stoves over and caused fires over a huge area. Just in case anyone is wondering.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

American start war on Japanese people and need excuse. Japanese like peace. American drop nuclear bombs on Japan but Japan never drop nuclear bombs.

To excuse for war American make fake story to Japanese kill Korea.

No Japan history books have story to Korea attack because fake conspirasy.

-18 ( +0 / -18 )

Story of Japanese kill Korea started until 1960s.

No history book before 1960s have story.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

Surfer KentaToday  02:31 pm JST

American start war on Japanese people and need excuse. Japanese like peace. American drop nuclear bombs on Japan but Japan never drop nuclear bombs.

To excuse for war American make fake story to Japanese kill Korea.

No Japan history books have story to Korea attack because fake conspirasy.

There are a lot good things about Japan but you're the perfect example of what's wrong with Japan.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

A conspiracy theory spread to make weak minded believers commit atrocities.

Horrendous.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

So where was WW1 when Japan was on the side of the Allies?

Wallace. The Japanese were mostly dug in around Qing Dao reluctant to take any German territory because the Prussia's mostly trained the Japanese infantry.

Japan had no real vested interested in WW1, in part due to the fact that the population didn't real know about all those small European countries and news didn't reach Japan until days after events unfolded

A good book based on fact (letters) that tell the story and much more is Falling Blossom. That will get you up to speed:

https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/Peter-Pagnamenta/dp/1846050464

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No Japan history books have story to Korea attack because fake conspirasy.

Funny, just because something isnt in a history book does not mean it didnt happen. If you only believe what you read in a book, then you are just as brainwashed as the poor people in North Korea.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The Japanese army/airforce invaded China in 1931 obstensively to stop USA influence in that country, and also in surrounding cou/ntries. The USA and Japan were not on good terms back then and diplomatic relations had broken down

@opheliajadefeldt 

It wasn't about stopping USA influence in China, it was because Japan, a country poor in natural resources wanted to have a resource rich colony.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The Japanese expansion of Asia and the chain of events beginning in 1894 by imperial Japanese forces led to the beginning of ww2 in 1931 by the Japanese annexation of Korea and not the Germany attack of Poland in 1939

Well, lets take things a step further in giving you an education. The birth of Adolph Hitler was the start of a chain of events that led up to WW2. Let's not forget WW1 and The Treaty of Versailles following WWI, the worldwide depression, rise of Nazism and the failures of the League of Nations, all played a part too.

In your rush to make a feeble attempt to support your unfounded opinions, you are directly admiting that my previous post is a fact, that no knowledgeable historian or anyone that has actually studied the history of WW2 would ever comment that it's all due to one country, or one event.

It's like the perfect storm, that lasted for a few decades.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I would have to disagree but not completely

Marvellous . Have you read Falling Blossom?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"Historians say that soldiers with machine guns from the imperial military actively participated -- something Japan is yet to fully face up to."

No surprises there. They are as we speak playing up the victimhood of the big quake, but not the atrocities some committed after. THAT part will not appear in tonight's news, I guarantee.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

ZORG: "Japan was suckered into the war by the west"

Yeah, buddy... the US ASKED them to attack Pearl Harbor! It was indeed "self defense".

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Japan was suckered into the war by the west with promises of new territory of Australia and nearby area's

If you are so sure, the onus is on you to provide reliable links to support your theory here. Australia was hardly a "new" territory by WW1, it was a country by itself since 1901! So I dont think you actually studied anything about the history of the time. And there is no way GB would have ceded Australia to Japan either, your idea here is just plain ludircrous!

You are just digging a deeper and deeper hole for yourself!

Oh Japan wanted the territories controlled by Germany, as part of participating in WW1 on the "allies" side.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not so long ago was the burning of a Korean village in Japan by a younger Japanese man due to prejudice hate against innocent Koreans.

@Zorg Which Korean village was burned not so long ago by a racist Japanese man?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

mountainpear

>    Not so long ago was the burning of a Korean village in Japan by a younger Japanese man due to prejudice hate against innocent Koreans.

> @Zorg Which Korean village was burned not so long ago by a racist Japanese man?

It was previously abandoned houses where Koreans used to live. It was not a village. He tried to arson a single building. Was it Kyoto? I can't remember.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Zorg Why couldn't you just give me an answer? I did try to research it and couldn't find anything. Thanks to Wallace I got the info I asked for!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yet again it's futile to disagree with me Japan was suckered into ww1 by the west with promises of Australia as territory

You really are having a hard time aren't you? Australia was not a country that anyone could have just been "promised" as no one "owned" it but the Australian people!

Who "promised" Australia to Japan? And back it up with proof! Consider this, IF Japan was promised Australia by some unknown entity, they were downright ignorant and stupid to believe it! SO you are also suggesting that the Japanese at the time, had their heads in the sand too!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_during_World_War_I

The Constitution is one of the Commonwealth of Australia’s founding documents. After many years of debate and drafting, it was passed by the British Parliament, and given royal assent (approval by the Queen), in July 1900.

The passing of the Constitution enabled Australia’s 6 British colonies to become one nation, the Commonwealth of Australia, on 1 January 1901.

https://www.naa.gov.au/students-and-teachers/learning-resources/learning-resource-themes/government-and-democracy/federation/federation-australia#:~:text=Australia's%206%20British%20colonies%20became,Commonwealth%20of%20Australia's%20founding%20documents.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Each year I dislike Yuriko Koike more and more.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Koreans fortunately are strong today and would never allow anyone to walk all over them like Japan did.

Soft Confucian mores imbalance society. More nuclear warheads for deterrence are needed.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Equally disturbing is the false narrative that Japan was dragged into ww2

The U.S. sanctioned Japan because of its invasion of China and IndoChina. They were not dragged into the WWII.

They started the Pacific portion of WWII. There is no denying this. Germany and Poland is irrelevant to Japan. They started the war.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

American start war on Japanese people and need excuse. Japanese like peace. American drop nuclear bombs on Japan but Japan never drop nuclear bombs.

Surfer Kenta, do you think Japan was a victim?

Japan really wanted peace but were forced to annex Ryukyu, fight a war against Russia and China, and colonize Korea., invade Burma, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dutch Indies and so on. What evil country forced Japan to do all these things?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan really wanted peace but were forced to annex Ryukyu,

This really has nothing to do with the discussion and is just mixing in something that is totally unnecessary and not even close to part of the subject at hand.

If you bring this in, then you are forced to acknowledge that the Ryukyu's were once a number of different "kingdoms" within itself and the Emperor who united them, fought a war to do so. Also you have add that it was a vassal to two "countries" and a whole lot of other things that are totally unrelated to the discussion about WW2. Annexing the Ryukyu's had zero part in the history of that.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

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