China has posted documents it says are personal accounts of wartime atrocities committed by Japan in China, the latest in a wave of anti-Japan propaganda efforts that comes after Tokyo ended a ban on its military from fighting abroad. The 45 “confessions” show Beijing’s efforts to gain an upper hand in a war of words with Tokyo amid frictions over China’s military rise and a territorial dispute at sea. China’s Central Archives plans to post one account per day on its website.
After World War II, China tried and jailed the 45 Japanese prisoners detailed in the documents for serious offences, including the use of poison gas, rape, and murder. When the prisoners were tried in the 1950s, China’s courts were already under the control of the ruling Communist Party, diminishing the prospect of a fair trial. The first set of documents released described the actions of a one-time Japanese Lt. Gen. whose forces allegedly were responsible for at least 5,470 civilian deaths, hundreds of rapes and the spread of cholera to village water sources.