The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang, 1997, Excerpts
To establish this sublimation of individuality to the common good, superior officers or older soldiers slapped recruits for almost no reason at all or beat them severely with heavy wooden rods. Officers often justified unauthorized punishment by saying, “I do not beat you because I hate you. I beat you because I care for you.”
Vicious hazing and a relentless pecking order usually squelched any residual spirit of individualism in him. Obedience was touted as a supreme virtue, and a sense of individual self-worth was replaced by a sense of value as a small cog in the larger scheme of things. Some youths died under such brutal physical conditions; others committed suicide; the majority became tempered vessels into which the military could pour a new set of life goals.
The Japanese soldier was not simply hardened for battle in China; he was hardened for the task of murdering Chinese combatants and noncombatants alike. Indeed, various games and exercise were set up by the Japanese military to numb its men to the human instinct against killing people who are not attacking.
New officers required desensitization and underwent intensive training to stiffen their endurance for war. Instructors taught them how to cut off heads and bayonet living prisoners. They learned to kill and grew more adept at it. Atrocities became routine, almost banal. One soldier wrote, “We made them like this. Good sons, good daddies, good elder brothers at home were brought to the front to kill each other. Human beings turned into murdering demons. Everyone became a demon within three months.”