Why did Japanese soldiers kill so many civilians in Nanking, China? Commanders encouraged their soldiers to be as brutal as possible. Civilians attacked the soldiers first, and then the soldiers retaliated. Soldiers were inexperienced at fighting and panicked under pressure. Chinese forces were closing in, so the soldiers took desperate measures.
Commanders encouraged their soldiers to be as brutal as possible. American battle casualities estimated at 49,151, including 12,500 killed or missing. Japanese soldiers killed were about 60,000.