• Mon
  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:49pm

Lost in translation: British journalist 'shocked' Japanese book he dictated denies Nanking Massacre

Henry Scott-Stokes 'horrified' Japanese book he dictated dismisses war crime as propaganda

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 11:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 1:17pm

A veteran British journalist says he has been misrepresented by the translator of his best-selling book that looks at Japan’s history from an outsider’s point of view, and has disavowed the book’s claim that the Nanking Massacre never occurred.

Henry Scott-Stokes’ Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of World History, as seen by a British Journalist, has become a bestseller since it was released in December. Conservatives and nationalists have held it up as evidence that Japan has been the target of unfair international criticism for its colonial past.

But Scott-Stokes claims his Japanese translator twisted his words.

I realised I felt that Mr Stokes was having his words taken out of context

Most controversially, the Japanese-language book concludes that the Chinese government made up the Nanking Massacre for its own political purposes.

Scott-Stokes could not be contacted by the South China Morning Post, but in an interview with Kyodo News he said that he was “shocked and horrified” to discover his book dismisses one of the most notorious events of the second world war as propaganda.

Scott-Stokes insists that while he believes China has exaggerated the figure of 300,000 victims of the Imperial Japanese Army in the city now known as Nanjing, a blanket denial that the atrocity occurred is “straight forward right-wing propaganda” put forward by Japanese revisionists.

He added that claiming nothing happened in Nanking in December 1937 and January 1938 was ludicrous and fatuous.

Now 75, Scott-Stokes suffers from worsening Parkinson’s disease that makes it difficult for him to type or write. He was also unable to read all of the Japanese-language version of the book.

Scott-Stokes dictated the book during more than 170 hours to Hiroyuki Fujita, a translator who is a member of the nationalist group The Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact.

Fujita told the Post there had been “a lot of misleading explanations” put forward and that a statement would be released through the web site of publisher Shodensha.

“Regarding the translation, we had a discussion on interpretations and what he had in mind and what I thought he had in mind,” Fujita said. He declined to comment further.

Speaking previously to Kyodo, Fujita admitted that he “added his own language” to the book, but the opinions it contained were those of Scott-Stokes. Fujita has declined to comment on other additions that he made to the book and is refusing to share the recordings of the interviews.

Scott-Stokes was apparently alerted to the possibility that his book had been appropriated by the far-right in Japan by Angela Erika Kubo, who was helping create an English-language transcript of the book. Kubo wrote to Scott-Stokes to tell him that she could no longer work on the project, amid her doubts that it accurately represented his views.

In a statement on the Japan Subculture Research Centre web site, Kubo said: “I realised that I felt that Mr Stokes, who is a very nice elderly journalist who I respect, was having his words taken out of context.”

In a letter to Fujita explaining her reasons for resigning from the project, she added: “I’ve also become increasingly uncomfortable with the content of some of the recordings.

“It seems that words are being put into Henry’s mouth and that the interviews don’t reflect his real opinions or thoughts – and that there are many leading questions.”

Scott-Stokes, a former Japan bureau chief for The New York Times, said he was warned by colleagues to be wary of the venture.

It was apparently proposed by Fujita and Hideaki Kase, another leading member of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, both of whom he considered friends.

“As I was being interviewed by these people, I trusted them to stick by the record,” Scott-Stokes told Kyodo. “And if they haven’t done that, they have let me down and let themselves down.”


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This article is now closed to comments

I think Henry S Stokes, former New York Times "Tokyo bureau chief" and a long time resident of Tokyo should have known that the translator Fujita is from The Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, a society that advocates "revisionist" position on Japanese history.
Stokes is also a close friend of Yukio Mishima, the ultra-nationalist who committed seppuku after a failed coup d'etat attempt.
I can give him the benefit of the doubt, that he is aging and his faculty is impaired possibly due to his Parkinson's disease, but I think the least he can do now is to make a formal announcement to retract what is in the book and pull the Japanese version out of circulation.
A book is not worth reading if the content is not what the author intended. This is not just "lost in translation". This is a deliberate act to alter what is the true intention of the author.
Maybe he has to move his residence from Tokyo back to Glastonbury where he was born.
Misinterpretted? He is naive if he think it is a fault in translation.
Japanese are infamous for twisting facts like calling sex-slaves comfort-women etc. Japanese are insidious liars and dishonourable devil worshipping war-mongers.
Your comment is racist, dishonorable, warmongering! And it really is, warmongering. I shall be reporting it to the editor!
Oh, and you think you know the 'facts' :)


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