Prince Yasuhiko Asaka - Biography - Role in The Nanking Massacre

Role in The Nanking Massacre

In November 1937, Prince Asaka became temporary commander of the Japanese forces outside Nanking (or Nanjing), then capital of China, because General Matsui was ill. As temporary commander of the final assault on Nanking between 2 and 6 December 1937, he allegedly issued the order to "kill all captives", thus providing official sanction for what became known as the "Nanking Massacre" or the "Rape of Nanking" (12 December 1937 – 10 February 1938). However the order may have actually been issued, without the Prince's knowledge or assent, by Lieutenant Colonel Isamu Chō. He was a known radical ultra-nationalist staff member of the Central China Area Army who may have released the order under the sign manual of Asaka .

Even if Chō took the initiative on his own, Prince Asaka, who was nominally the officer in charge, gave no orders to stop the carnage. General Matsui did not arrive in the city until well after the killing had begun but similarly did not issue orders to stop the atrocities.

While Prince Asaka's responsibility for the Nanking Massacre remains a matter of debate, the sanction for the massacre and the crimes committed during the invasion of China might ultimately be found in the ratification, made on 5 August 1937 by Emperor Hirohito, of the proposition of the Japanese army to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners.

In February 1938, both Prince Asaka and General Matsui were recalled to Japan. Matsui went into virtual retirement, but Prince Asaka remained on the Supreme War Council until the end of the war in August 1945. He was promoted to the rank of general in August 1939 but held no further military commands. In 1944, he colluded with Prince Higashikuni, his nephew Prince Takamatsu, and former Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro (1895–1945) to oust the Hideki Tojo cabinet.

SCAP officials interrogated Prince Asaka about his involvement in the Nanking Massacre on 1 May 1946, but did not bring him before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for prosecution. Indeed, for politico-strategic and geopolitical reasons, the General Douglas MacArthur decided to support the Imperial family and to grant immunity to all its members.

Read more about this topic:  Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, Biography

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