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Japanese Military Culture in the 1930s

Iris Chang, Author, The Rape of Nanking

Well, I can only speak of the military culture, I think, because I would really hesitate to say there was something uniquely sinister about Japanese culture, especially because I think any culture is capable of committing these kinds of atrocities if they're put under the right, I think, political or social pressures. So, what we saw in the modern Japanese society directly before the war was a society that was really inculcating its young men and even young boys for violence, because there was already a plan in place to conquer most of Asia for Japan's own territorial gain.

Directly during and before the war, the Japanese military culture, and also educational system, really inculcated their young boys and young men for violence. In the military, live prisoners were used for bayonet practice often, and the training process was much more intense and brutal than perhaps for any other country at the time. There was a sense in that culture that it was far better to die fighting than to surrender. So, death was infinitely preferable to defeat, and so this type of -- kind of sense that human life in general wasn't worthy, it wasn't valued. Even Japanese soldierly life, it was something that was really hammered into the young recruit.