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Who really wrote Henry Stokes’s revisionist history book? More questions.

The Japan Times wrote yesterday:

Journalist now stands by Nanjing book

Former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Henry S. Stokes is standing by a claim made in his new book that the Nanjing Massacre never took place, describing the event as a “propaganda tool of the KMT government.”

Kyodo News reported Thursday that Stokes’ book, titled “Eikokujin Kisha ga Mita Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Kyomo (“Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist”), contained “rogue passages” that didn’t reflect the author’s view of the event.

The news agency accused translator Hiroyuki Fujita of adding lines to “fabricate” Stokes’ denial of Japan’s wartime responsibility for the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. 

The headline is slightly misleading in that Henry Stokes did not talk to the Japan Times for the article–the person accused of tampering with the contents did. I have spoke with Henry about the book as it is and what he thought it was and he expressed that he troubled by inaccuracy and things taken out context. However, I can understand the circumstances in which Henry feels compelled to follow the party line of his “translator”.  After one man-to-man conversation about the book this month,  the next time I approached Henry to discuss the contents he whispered, “Fujita is here.” I’m not sure what to make of that. I also find it hard to believe that Mr. Stokes’s would deny the existence of the Nanjing Massacre after stating that China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival by Rana Mitter was a “trustworthy” account of the incident. He has also said as much in an interview with VOICE magazine.

After reading the Kyodo News story, I sent Mr. Fujita and the publisher a number of questions.

Here is Mr. Fujita’s reply at 9:53 pm on May 8th. It raises more questions.  Dear readers, what do you think?

Dear Mr. Adelstein,

Thank you for your e-mail in Japanese. 
Let me briefly comment.

1. Henry and I sat for recording over 200 hours, of which I recorded over 160 hours or so. 1 entire IC recorder and 1 another. I wasn’t just listening to his talking. We debated various issues and points. We agreed a lot of points. We did not agree on some points.
Out of 252 pages, 250 pages are exactly what Henry said, I am sure. 2 pages equivalent may have some additional filler of mine to link bits and pieces of ideas together as one topic or for the flow for the reader. I am sure that is acceptable and Henry permit my so doing.

2. You seem to think that Henry’s ideas are distorted to “right-wing” tone, but I do not think it is correct. The reason is because, as I said, 250 pages are all Henry’s idea, NOT MINE, There are points in the book I do not agree or my ideas are slightly different. If I were expressing my own idea, the contents would have been different.

3. Kyodo News questions about the last 2 lines of Chapter 5. Henry said his idea is different. I insisted that is my understanding of what he said. After Kyodo interview we discussed the difference and came up with the below statement:

(About 3 lines prior to the last 2 lines) From this, it is clear that the so-called “Nanking Massacre” never took place. “Massacre” is not the right word to refer to what happened. Moreover, it was originally a propaganda for the KMT government.

The original Japanese was: “From this, it is clear that  “Nanking Massacre” never took place. It was a propaganda KMT government fabricated.”

Henry pointed out very subtle difference between what he really wanted to say and how I translated (or interpreted) his message. When it comes to writing, he is that specific.

4. There may be some misinterpretations of mine regarding what he said. Nonetheless, Henry will have responsibility for whatever written in his book in Japanese as the author of the book.

All the best,
Hiroyuki Fujita


This email, which remarkably resembles the publisher’s statement issued under Henry Stokes’s name, was sent to me one day before Mr. Stokes seems to have changed his mind.  When Mr. Fujita and Mr. Stokes “came up ” with a statement—I wonder what that means? The publisher sent me the following statement, informing me on 6:15 pm May 9th, that Stokes had written his view and they had been uploaded onto the website with a translation of the English statement that evening.

It seems that Mr. Stokes’s statement resembles Mr. Fujita’s email somewhat. It is also unusual in that Mr. Stokes’s refers to himself in the third person as “the author” several times while only in one sentence does the word “my” appear. So who really wrote it? Is it Henry? Is it a collaboration? Who is “my” opinion?

お問い合わせの件ですが、昨夜共同通信から本書の製作過程における疑念の記事が 配信されました。それについてストークス氏が見解を作成し、夕方、祥伝社のHPにアップされています。

The Note from the Author

  1. Various reports based on Kyodo News are wrong and they do not reflect the author’s opinion.
  2. The cross-head of Kyodo News which says “Best-seller translator added lines to deny Nanking Massacre without author’s consultation” is not true.
  3. The report which says the author and the translator, Hiroyuki Fujita, lacked communication regarding book contents is wrong and far from the truth.
  4. It was reported by Kyodo News that the last 2 lines of the Japanese translation of Chapter 5 regarding what happened in Nanking on December 1937 did not reflect the author’s view. The Kyodo News made a big deal out of it.
    The author’s opinion is: The so-called “Nanking Massacre” never took place. The word “Massacre” is not right to indicate what happened. It was orginally a propaganda tool of the KMT government.
  5. The above statements are all based on my opinion.
    The publisher, Shodensha, and the author agreed that we have no need to make any corrections for the 2 lines in question at this stage.

May 9, 2014

The author

Henry Scott Stokes (Signature)


Note. It should be noted that Henry cannot read Japanese, although he can read some basic words. It is not clear that an English translation of the book was given to him to fact-check or read before the book was published. In other words, while the book is in his name, he does not seem to know the contents verbatim. 


Managing editors of the blog.

5 thoughts on “Who really wrote Henry Stokes’s revisionist history book? More questions.”
  1. So the guy worked as a journalist in Tokyo for decades and does not read Japanese? Does he at least speak the language? How are we supposed to believe he has any insightful opinions about WWII when everything he knows has been heard second-hand from translators or English publications?

  2. This youtube video of Henry is interesting on multiple levels.

    Henry is being interviewed by his son, although it’s unclear how close the two are: the ‘son’ (Harry Sugiyama) doesn’t call him ‘dad’ or ‘father’, he calls him ‘Henry’, and it seems like the two haven’t really talked in some time.

    More interesting is Henry’s presentatio In December 2012, at the Second Conference for Democratic Asia, titled:
    “Japan was the Light of Hope in Asia”. It sure seems to lean rather hard to the right.
    Text of his speech here:
    Some excerpts:

    “In Indonesia, colonial rule began when the Dutch dispatched their navy to Indonesia in 1596.
    350 years or so of colonial rule by the Dutch ended in 1942 when the Japanese army advanced to Indonesia. The Dutch Army surrendered in only 7 days.

    An Indonesian legend has it that God’s soldiers led by a hero riding a white horse helped Indonesia to become independent. Japan’s advance reminded Indonesian people of the coming of those legendary God’s soldiers. The Japanese Army was the Army of the Myth

    Dr. George Hueu Sanford Kanahele raises 4 points as to Japan’s role in his book entitled ”Japanese Military Rule and Indonesian Independence”.

    1. Banned the use of Dutch and English. Due to this, Indonesian spread as the official language.
    2. Gave military training to Indonesian youth. Thus young Indonesian people learned strict rules, endurance and courage.
    3. Swept away the Dutch authorities and gave high posts to Indonesians. This improved Indonesian’s ability and responsibility.
    4. Established Puta (as a civil organization) and Hoko-kai (a voluntary service society) in Java and built its network and chapters across the country. The Japanese taught Indonesians how to operate these nation-wide network organizations.

    It is widely said that Japan invaded Asian countries during WWII. But if so how come the invaded country provided military training to the youth of the country being invaded? Trained their mental power, gave them high position and help them build nation-wide organizations where people got together to unite, and taught them how to manage such organization?

    These fact certainly prove that Japan was not the country which invaded Indonesia. It is correct to say that Japan made all the efforts possible to let Asian countries be independent. Independent from whom?

    Of course, from the rule of the Western countries which colonized the Asian countries.”

    1. Gee, why don’t you read “China’s War Against Japan” which Mr. Stokes said was a reliable book. Then write back.

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