It concerned a friendly competition between two Japanese army sub lieutenants, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda. The two of them had engaged in a friendly competition to see which one of them could behead 100 Chinese first. The story relates that Mukai had decapitated 106 people, whereas Noda had managed only 105. Since they weren’t sure who had made it to 100 first, they decided to up the bet to 150. The article actually said that apparently the competition was “neck and neck.” Some Japanese revisionists have tried to dismiss this incident as an urban legend, but there is a Japanese writer who relates that Noda gave a speech at the writers elementary school describing his sword play, even admitting that only a few of the men he beheaded were in combat. All the rest were prisoners.
I’m happy to report that after the war both Mukai and Noda were tried and convicted of war crimes and executed by hanging, not decapitation. Considering the kind of institutional ethos that would tolerate much less celebrate those kind of atrocities, I think one of General McArthur’s wisest moves in directing the occupation of Japan was confiscating all samurai swords.