Seventy-Five years ago this month, one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century wound down to a close.
On December 13th 1937, the Chinese city of Nanking fell to the invading Japanese. There followed about 2 months of murders and mass rapes carried out in the most appalling and brutal fashion. It is estimated that some 80,000 acts of rape were committed, many were photographed, and most of the women murdered afterwards.
The murders and rapes were documented by many westerners who were present, and finally published in a book The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang in 1997. Westerners escaped interference, though many sensed the hatred of the Japanese towards them.
Japanese airplanes sank the US gunboat Panay on the Yangtze nearby. Though the military apologised for their "mistake", many interpreted it as a warning against unwelcome interference.
A few Japanese were tried and hanged after the war for war crimes, but the numbers convicted were far less than the total number of perpetrators. One man who escaped trial was the Emperor's younger brother Prince Asaka, who served as the nominal Japanese military commander, though he was not connected with any particular act (AFAIK). He escaped because of the immunity granted to the Japanese royal family by the Americans in 1945.
The total death toll was put by Chang as between 250,000 and 300,000. This is contested by Japanese "revisionist" historian who claim the tales of massacres are Chinese propaganda. Iris Chang became so depressed by what she had uncovered, and suffered because of harassment and hate mail from Japanese ultra-nationalists. She eventually took her own life in 2005.
It is well to remember that Nanking was only the worst of many, many atrocities committed by Japanese forces in China. In total, China lost some 15 million civilian casualties between 1931 and 1945.
Today, no one denies Japan the right to mourn the dead of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo. However, it should also be also recalled that Japan adopts a "never apologise/ never explain" attitude to the atrocities committed by its forces in WWII, and demands to be treated purely as a victim. It is not surprising this causes much resentment in China and other SE Asian countries like Korea and Vietnam.