On the way to destroying Nanking, two Japanese army officers, Tsuyoshi Noda and Toshiaki Mukai entered into a friendly competition with one another—who would be the first to kill 100 people with a sword during the war? The bloodshed began on the road, as the Japanese army advanced to Nanking, and continued through the rape of the city.
The contest was covered by a Japanese newspaper—here’s a translation of one particularly chilling paragraph : “Noda: ‘Hey, I got 105. What about you?’ Mukai: ‘I got 106!’…Both men laughed. Because they didn’t know who had reached 100 kills first, in the end someone said, ‘Well then, since it’s a drawn game, what if we start again, this time going for 150 kills?’” The original newspaper accounts described the killings as hand-to-hand combat; historians have suggested that they were more likely just another part of the widespread mass killings of defenseless prisoners.
After the war, a written record of the contest found its way into the documents of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Soon after, the two soldiers were extradited to China, tried by the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal, convicted of atrocities committed during the Battle of Nanking and the subsequent massacre, and on January 28, 1948, both soldiers were executed at Yuhuatai execution chamber by the Chinese government.
In April 2003, the families of Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda filed a defamation suit against the newspapers Katsuichi Honda, Kashiwa Shobō, the Asahi Shimbun, and the Mainichi Shimbun, requesting ¥36,000,000 (approx. US$300,000 in 2003) in compensation.
On August 23, 2005, Tokyo District Court Judge Akio Doi dismissed the suit on the grounds that “[the contest] did occur, and was not fabricated by the media”. The judge stated that, although the original newspaper article included “false elements”, the officers admitted that they had raced to kill 100 people and “it is difficult to say it was fiction.” Some proofs of killing Chinese POWs (not hand-to-hand fighting) were shown by the defendants, and the court admitted the possibilities of killing POWs by sword. In December 2006, Supreme Court of Japan upheld the decision of the Tokyo District Court.