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The Nanjing Massacre (Chinese: 南京大屠殺, pinyin: Nánjīng Dà Túshā; Japanese: 南京事件, Nankin Jiken), also known as the Rape of Nanking, refers to the widespread atrocities conducted against Chinese civilians in and around Nanjing after its fall to Japanese troops on December 13, 1937 in the Battle of Nanjing during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).
The People's Republic of China now estimates that 300,000 people were killed during the following three months (December 1937 - February 1938), though the number is still in dispute. The number cited in the popular book The Rape of Nanking was 260,000. According to some sources, there were only 200,000 people (including 50,000 soldiers) in Nanjing when it fell. The fact that Nanjing was awash with refugees at the time, and that many of the killings occurred outside of the city, complicate these estimates. Some reports by outside Western journalists stated that many thousands of the city's women were raped by Japanese soldiers, often repeatedly, before being killed.
Dramatic reports by American journalists of Japanese brutality against Chinese civilians in addition to the Panay incident which also occurred after the occupation of Nanjing, helped turn American public opinion against Japan and, in part, led to a series of events which culminated in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Since the Second World War, some Japanese historians and politicians with nationalist or traditionalist perspectives have either denied the existence of atrocities (as, for example, Fujio Masayuki, a Minister of Education), or (more recently) sought to minimize them. The way in which the subject is taught in Japanese schools became the center of controversy in the Japanese textbook controversies of 1982 and 1986. Despite this persistent revisionism, the events following the fall of Nanking are well documented by journalists and other eyewitnesses and are not disputed by most historians, including the majority of Japanese historians.
The atrocity continues to receive attention from researchers in Japan. Those downplaying the massacre have most recently rallied around a group of historians associated with the Society for the Creation of New Textbooks. Their views also are often shared in publications associated with conservative publishers such as Bungei Shunjû and Sankei Shuppan. In response, two Japanese organizations have taken the lead in publishing material detailing the massacre and collecting related documents and accounts. The Study Group on the Nanjing Incident, founded by a group of historians in 1984 has published the most books responding directly to revisionist historians and the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan's War Responsibility, founded in 1993 has published many materials in their own journal.