A Japanese headsman tells a Chinese prisoner how to hold his head for a quick decapitation during the Nanking Massacre, China, 1938 –

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And it’s not like WWII was when Japan started being dicks to their neighbors. Japan invaded Korea twice in the late 1500s, and then at the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese war at the turn of the 20th century, they kept their troops on the Korean peninsula after withdrawing from Russia. And then, believe it or not, while Japan troops were in Seoul and had government buildings surrounded, the Korean government elected to become a protectorate of Japan, meaning Japan got to keep troops there and direct all internal affairs.

And speaking of Japanese war atrocities and not exactly apologizing for them, when Japan invaded Korea in the late 1500s the Japanese soldiers would be paid based on how many Koreans they killed. Now no one’s going to believe a soldier who saunters back to port and says, “Yeah, I killed 500 Koreans.” He has every incentive to inflate those numbers and to increase his remuneration. No, there needed to be hard proof, and what better proof than the victim’s head? So for every soldier and priest and civilian and woman and child killed by a Japanese soldier, they would be dutifully beheaded and the head sent back to be cataloged.

And, yes, they were killing women and priests and children and everyone in between. They were ordered to do so, after all:

> Mow down everyone universally, without discriminating between young and old, men and women, clergy and the laity—high ranking soldiers on the battlefield, that goes without saying, but also the hill folk, down to the poorest and meanest—and send the heads to Japan.

That’s a lot of heads to send back to Japan, as during these wars over 180,000 Korean heads were lopped off. Heads are big and the boats of the time weren’t. So they came up with the brilliant idea to economize and just sent back the ears or nose as proof.

Now what some Koreans find a tad bit offensive is that some 38,000 Korean noses *still exist today*. They were placed in a shrine more than 400 years ago and that shrine still stands today. Originally, the shrine was named *The Nose Mound* and it was not mentioned in any Japanese school textbooks until the mid-1980s. Even today, not many Japanese citizens are aware of the shrine or its history.

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