What really happened in Nanjing (formerly known as Nanking) following its occupation by Japanese troops in December 1937? There are various contentious schools of thought. Some, members of what is termed “The Illusion School,”hold that nothing outside the bounds of a normal conflict occurred. "The Great Massacre School,”meanwhile, agrees with the Chinese view that describes“300,000 victims” of the massacre. Inevitably, Sino-Japanese relations have been bedeviled by these varying interpretations.
Japan's“Centrist School,”located not between the two but completely separate, is dedicated to examining historiographic evidence to discern what really happened after the fall of the city. Kitamura, one of Japan’s major Centrists, is a professor of modern Chinese history and used Chinese, Japanese and English sources for this study. With publication of the book in English, Kitamura expects a new wave of censure by proponents of both extremes for being too close to“the other”side.
“If these criticisms turn out to be fairly well balanced,” he writes in his introduction, “perhaps that is an indication that I have at least come close to my goal of an honest historian's analysis of an unresolvable problem.” Those expecting a one-sided view should note the citation by the then-China correspondent for the N.Y. Times:“There was little glory for either side in the battle of Nanking.”The original book was published in November, 2001 by Bungei Shunju under the title “Nanking jiken no tankyu - sono jitsuzowo motomete.” To date, it has been reprinted seven times, an indication of its interest to Japanese readers.