The Nanjing "Murder Race"

Extracts from Harold Timperley's What War Means, London: V.Gollancz (1968)

On December 7, 1937, the Japan advertiser, an American-owned and edited English-language daily paper in Tokyo, published the following item:

Sub-lieutenant Toshiaki Mukai and Sub-lieutenant Takeshi Noda, both of the Katagiri unit at Kuyung, in a friendly contest to see which of them will first fell 100 Chinese in individual sword combat before the Japanese forces completely occupy Nanking, are well in the final phase of their race, running almost neck to neck. On Sunday when their unit was fighting outside Kuyung, the "score", according to the Asahi, was: Sub-lieutenant Mukai, 89, and Sub-lieutenant Noda, 78.

On December 14, 1937, the same paper published the following additional report:

The winner of the competition between Sub-lieutenant Toshiaki Mukai and Sub-lieutenant Iwao Noda to see who would be the first to kill 100 Chinese with his Yamato sword has not been decided, the Nichi Nichi reports from the slopes of Purple Mountain, outside Nanking. Mukai has a score of 106 and his rival has dispatched 105 men, but the two contestants have found it impossible to determine which passed the 100 mark first. Instead of settling it with a discussion, they are going to extend the goal by 50.

Mukai's blade was slightly damaged in the competition. He explained that this was the result of cutting a Chinese in half, helmet and all. The contest was "fun", he declared, and he thought it a good thing that both men had gone over the 100 mark without knowing that the other had done so.

Early Saturday morning, when the Nichi Nichi man interviewed the Sub-lieutenant at a point overlooking Dr. Sun Yat-sen's tomb, another Japanese unit set fire to the slopes of Purple Mountain in an attempt to drive out the Chinese troops. The action also smoked out Sub-lieutenant Mukai and his unit, and the men stood idly by while bullets passed overhe ad.

"Not a shot hits me while I am holding this sword on my shoulder", he explained confidently.

C h i n a N e w s D i g e s t
Europe/Pacific Regional News (CND-EP, No. EP97-015) August 1, 1997

Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 12:49:01 -0400

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