Matsui Iwane 松井石根

Based on: Timothy Brook. The Tokyo Judgment and the Rape of Nanking. In: The Journal of Asian Studies 60 (2001), p. 673 – 700.

Last updated: 30/05/2023

Matsui was born in 1878 in Nagoya and became commander of the “Shanghai Expeditionary Army” that invaded China in 1937. Initially, he had already retired in 1935. Matsui fell ill due to malaria in mid-December before the final assault on Nanjing. In his place, Prince Asaka Yasuhiko took command of the troops that took Nanjing.

歴代陸軍大将全覧 昭和篇/満州事変・支那事変期 (令和13年発行), public domain in Japan

Matsui stayed in Nanjing shortly after the capture of the city, from 17-22 December. Although he gave orders in early December to prevent looting and arson by his troops, no serious steps seem to have been taken to punish and avoid further escalation of the soldiers’ misconduct within the city. It is very likely that he knew about atrocities committed by the Japanese military within the city, even if he was not personally present during most of the time.

John Rabe shortly met General Matsui on 21 December after a protest march of the 22 remaining foreign residents in Nanjing to the Japanese embassy. They asked for an end of the torching of the city. Their pleads were without effect.

Matsui was regarded as responsible for the massacre of Nanjing during the Tokyo Trials (1946-48) and was executed in Tokyo in December 1948. As a relative of the emperor, Prince Asaka was never charged.

Matsui and the General Staff ride into Nanjing, 17 December 1937.
支那事変写真全集<中>(朝日新聞、昭和13年発行), public domain in Japan
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