How China Started the Second Sino-Japanese War: Why Should Japan Apologize to China? Part 3 – Japan’s Policies Toward China
By Moteki Hiromichi,
Part 3 – Japan’s Policies Toward China
Was the North China Buffer State Strategy an act of aggression?
Manchurian bandits, who had at one point numbered more than 200,000, were largely wiped out within about a year of Manchukuo’s founding. However, after Zhang Xueliang was expelled from Manchuria, he formed a 40,000-man militia and occupied neighboring Jehol Province to use as his base of operations against Japan and Manchukuo. To eliminate this threat, the Kwantung Army launched an attack on Jehol and, in short order, pushed Zhang Xueliang’s forces south of the Great Wall. The policy of the Japanese military was to not advance beyond the Great Wall, which made the situation very difficult for the Kwantung Army when it was attacked by 50,000 soldiers from China’s central army under the command of He Yingqin, the Chairman of the Beiping Branch Military Council. Strategically, the Kwantung Army had no option but to cross the Great Wall and expand the fighting into North China.
The conflict ended with the signing of the Tanggu Truce, which established a demilitarized zone in the northeastern section of Hebei Province. Subsequently, the He-Umezu Agreement of 1935 extended this demilitarized zone to the whole of Hebei Province. This agreement was to form a part of the Kwantung Army’s operation to construct an autonomous buffer state in North China. This plan by the Japanese military to extend its influence into Hebei has been called an act of aggression against China.
Nevertheless, the situation in China left the Kwantung Army with no other course of action. The Kwantung Army was compelled to throw its weight behind pro-Japanese elements in Hebei Province in response to repeated provocations by the Chinese Army and ongoing anti-Japanese agitation sponsored by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government.
The following table, taken from a primary source document, should give the reader an idea of how frequently attacks on Japanese citizens occurred in China due to anti-Japanese policies of the Nationalist Government. The Kwantung Army confronted the reality that the Japanese government was unable to devise any effective countermeasures against this problem.
Attacks on Japanese Citizens in China, late-1935 to 1936
1935, November 9
Seaman First Class Nakayama Hideo of the Shanghai Special Naval Landing Party is shot dead.
1936, January 21
Police officer Tsunoda is shot dead at the Japanese
1936, July 10
Kayo Kosaku is hit by a sniper and dies soon after.
1936, August 20
A bomb is thrown at a Japanese-owned inn in Xiangnan. One Japanese citizen receives minor injuries.
1936, August 21
Morikawa Taro, an ethnic Korean, is beaten and seriously injured by a soldier of China’s 29th Route Army.
1936, August 24
Watanabe Kozaburo, a reporter with the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, and Fukagawa Keiji, an employee at the Shanghai office of the South Manchuria Railway Company, are murdered by a mob. Two others are wounded.
1936, September 3
General store owner Junzo Nakano is murdered.
1936, September 17
A bomb is thrown into Kanshi Restaurant, owned by a Japanese citizen, but it does not explode.
1936, September 19
Police officer Yoshioka is shot dead at the Japanese consulate general.
1936, September 23
Seamen First Class Taminato Tomomitsu, a crew member of the warship Izumo, is shot dead and two others are seriously wounded.
1936, September 27
Arsonists attack the office and warehouse of the Xiangtan Sino-Japanese Steamship Company but cause little damage.
1936, November 11
Takase Yasuji, a Kasagi
Maru crewman, is shot dead.
Source: Toakyoku, Gaimusho Shitsumu Hokoku [Foreign Ministry Work Reports] (Tokyo: Kuresu Shuppan, 1993), Volume 1, pages 48, 63, 66-67, 543-555, 613-618.
If the Japanese military had viewed the North China Buffer State Strategy as the first step in its conquest of mainland China, then how could the Funatsu Peace Initiative, proposed in the aftermath of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, have been put forward with the support of both the army and navy? The peace offer contained the following terms:
(1.) The Tanggu Truce, the He-Umezu Agreement, the Qin-Doihara Agreement, and any other extant military agreements in North China shall be cancelled.
(2.) Special areas were to be established as demilitarized zones.
(3.) The administrations in East Hebei and Hebei-Chahar were to be abolished. (These were autonomous governments with a degree of independence from the Nationalist Government which were seen as being under Japanese influence.)
(4.) The strength of the Japanese forces stationed shall return to their status quo ante bellum.
Under this proposal, Japan offered to renounce almost all of the vested interests it had acquired in Hebei Province since the time of the Manchurian Incident. Moreover, Japan was not offering these terms from a position of desperation. Just the opposite, Japan was in a position of strength at the time it submitted the proposal, having just secured control of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin with three divisions. Therefore, the original intention of the North China Buffer State Strategy could not possibly have been aggressive.
Essentially, Japan merely stated that if Chiang Kai-shek ceased his anti-Japanese activities and entered into a cooperative partnership with Japan, then there would no longer be any need for Japan to detach North China from the Nationalist Government. Given these facts, it is absolutely unreasonable to insist that the North China Buffer State Strategy carried any aggressive intent.
Peace talks after the Battle of Shanghai and the Trautmann Mediation
On August 30, after the Battle of Shanghai had escalated into a full-scale state of war, China reported Japan to the League of Nations for violations of the League of Nations’ Covenant, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the Nine Power Treaty. China appealed to the international community to take necessary measures against Japan.
Even though the Chinese had wished for war, because it was not going their way, they took the rather brazen step of demanding legal action against Japan. I have already shown that, the very next day, The New York Times identified China as the sole aggressor in the Battle of Shanghai. Furthermore, though it has often been assumed that China was abiding by the
spirit and letter of the Nine Power Treaty,1 John Van Antwerp MacMurray,2 an American diplomat who was deeply involved in the inauguration of the treaty, stated at the time that it was actually China that was responsible for the most serious ongoing violations.
The League of Nations passed a resolution of moral support for China, though by then Japan was no longer a member of the League. It was also decided that a Nine Power Treaty Conference be convened in Brussels, Belgium. The conference began on November 3, but was ultimately unable to agree on any sanctions against Japan.
Meanwhile, on October 27, the Japanese government notified Great Britain, the United States, France, Germany, and Italy that it was preparing to enter talks with the Chinese government through a friendly, third-party mediator. Ultimately, Germany was asked to serve as the mediator. Japan’s peace conditions were almost identical to those offered in the Funatsu Peace Initiative, and Germany, judging them to be very reasonable, passed them on to Chiang Kai-shek on November 5 via Oskar Trautmann, the German ambassador to China. As previously shown, Japan’s peace conditions included no demands for any territory or special rights. In spite of this, Chiang was still holding out hope that the Nine Power Treaty Conference would impose sanctions on Japan, and so he rejected this peace offer. On November 15, the final day of the conference, the Japanese government asked Joseph Grew, the US ambassador to Japan, to persuade Chiang to negotiate, but this too came to nothing. When, as already noted, the Nine Power Treaty Conference ended without sanctions, Chiang found himself stuck in an even more difficult situation.
Japan’s China policy after the First Konoe Statement
After this, Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro’s cabinet issued the First Konoe Statement, cutting all ties with the Chiang Kai-shek regime, over the vehement opposition of the Army General Staff Office. However, Japan renewed its offers for peace with China in the Second Konoe Statement of November 1938 and the Third Konoe Statement of December 1938.
Although the cities of Canton and Wuhan fell to Japan in October 1938, the prospects of ending the war seemed as distant as ever. It was under these circumstances that the Japanese government released the Second Konoe Statement, advocating the establishment of a New Order in East Asia. The statement asserted that the purpose of Japan’s military expedition in China was the founding of “a lasting New Order” under which Japan, China, and Manchukuo would join forces to achieve international justice, joint defense against communism, and economic integration throughout East Asia.
1 The Nine Power Treaty was signed at the 1922 Washington Naval Conference by nine nations: the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, and China. The treaty confirmed that each power was to respect China’s sovereignty, the Open Door Policy, and equality of investment opportunity in China.
2 MacMurray, an American diplomat, served in succession as Chief of Division for Far Eastern Affairs, Assistant Secretary of State, and Minister to China. He was author of the book, How The Peace Was Lost (Stanford, California: Hoover Press, 1992).
This statement was intended to revise the First Konoe Statement and open the door towards improved relations between China and Japan.
In response to Japan’s overture, a faction emerged in China around Wang Jingwei3, seeking to secede from Chiang’s government in Chongqing and forge a partnership between China and Japan within the framework of the New Order. Representatives of Japan and Wang Jingwei signed the Sino-Japanese Consultative Record, the preamble of which committed Japan and China to the establishment of “a New Order in East Asia based on the principles of friendly relations with neighboring states, anti-communism, and economic cooperation”. The agreement upheld the following conditions as the means to achieve their aims:
(1.) The signing of a Sino-Japanese anti-communist security pact, including provisions for the stationing of Japanese troops in China to defend against communism.
(2.) Recognition by China of Manchukuo’s independence.
(3.) Recognition by China of the freedom of Japanese citizens to live and conduct business within China in exchange for consideration by Japan to repeal the extraterritorial rights of its citizens in China and to return its concessions to China.
(4.) An immediate commencement of Japanese troop withdrawals from China following the restoration of peace, with the exception of troops stationed to defend against the communist threat, and complete troop withdrawal within two years as law and order returns to Chinese territory.
The Japanese government responded to this accord on December 22 by issuing the Third Konoe Statement, affirming Japan’s commitment to the principles of “friendly relations with neighbors, anti-communism, and economic cooperation”.
Wang Jingwei, who had escaped from Chongqing, entered into a series of discussions with the Japanese government in the wake of the Third Konoe Statement, and finally, in March 1940, he founded the Government of the Republic of China in Nanking through unification of the Provisional Government of China, which occupied North China, and the Reformed Government of China. With the signing of the Sino-Japanese Basic Treaty, Japan recognized the new government and ceded its concessions to China.
The Japanese government continued to send peace offers to Chiang Kai-shek through a variety of channels. The most important among these was the negotiations that started in Hong Kong in December, 1939. In July of the following year, it was agreed that Itagaki
3 Within the Nationalist Party, Wang ranked alongside Chiang Kai-shek as the successor to Sun Yat-sen’s legacy. In 1932, following the establishment of the Nationalist Government in Nanking, Wang served as premier of China. After this, Wang parted ways with Chiang and became president of a pro-Japanese government founded in Nanking.
Seishiro, the Chief of Staff of the China Expeditionary Force, would meet with Chiang Kai-shek for peace talks next August in the city of Changsha. Wang Jingwei was also to participate in these talks. Unfortunately, the plan fell through, most likely largely because of American pressure. It is no coincidence that the United States announced later in December that it would provide Chiang’s government with a loan of one hundred million dollars.
Even after this, Japan made further attempts to broker a peace deal that would bring together the rival governments of Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Jingwei. It is said that Chiang Kai-shek’s diary refers to more than ten such peace feelers. However, none of them came to fruition.
The Japanese Army’s attitude towards China as seen in Orders for Officers and Men of the Expeditionary Force
Lastly, I would like to mention a document that will give readers an understanding of the goals and policies of the Japanese Army in China and the mentality under which it fought.
On April 29, 1940, the pamphlet entitled Orders for Officers and Men of the Expeditionary Force was issued in the name of China Expeditionary Force Chief of Staff Itagaki Seishiro. The pamphlet’s subtitle reads, “This concerns the true meaning of our crusade, and to provide standards.”
Its contents are divided into the following six chapters.
“(1.) Origins of the outbreak of the Incident”
“(2.) What are the objectives of the hostilities?”
“(3.) Infer His Majesty’s will”
“(4.) How should the Incident be resolved?”
“(5.) How should officers and men of the Expeditionary Force comport themselves?”
“(6.) Orders for officers and men returning to Japan”
The text is written in a very refined style of writing. The complete document has been translated into English and can be read on the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact at https://www.sdh-fact.com/CL02_1/70_S4.pdf.
The following text appears within the section, “Basic notions for the resolution of the Incident”.
“The three general principles of neighborly friendship, cooperative anti-communist measures, and economic cooperation (all of which are already national policies) are being advocated vis-à-vis the coupling of Japanese, Manchurian, and Chinese relations. That is, the three countries will by morality be made into a base of cooperation, and through giving weight to cooperation in national defense and the economy, we will all work together, giving mutual respect to the particular characteristics of the citizens of each nation. We will deepen the amity of cooperative friendship, with neighboring countries defending each other materially against the influx of Sovietization, and long-term mutual compensations with a level economic exchange. We must preserve and expand the original Asian moral culture by achieving mutual cooperation. This relationship is the basis for rehabilitating East Asia, and it must set the example.”
I have also selected one further excerpt from the section entitled “Value the traditions and customs of the Chinese people”.
“In China, there are Chinese traditions, and Chinese people have their own particular customs. It is an absolutely indispensable requirement to respect them, to understand them, and to honor them. Along with Japanese being true Japanese, one also must respect the Chinese for being true Chinese. Friendship requires tolerance and compassion.”
This was the mindset with which Japan’s soldiers fought the war. As Ko Bunyu explained in his essay, “A Grateful China Should Also Pay Respect to Yasukuni Shrine”, it was the same spirit which led them to aid farmers, build schools, provide technical assistance, and sponsor cultural activities in occupied China. It is often said that Japan forced its way into Chinese territory to terrorize the people of China, but I hope earnestly that this book will help the reader understand that these claims are pure fantasy.
The military parade of September 3
On September 3, 2015, the People’s Republic of China conducted an ostentatious military parade in Tiananmen Square “in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of our victory in the War of Resistance against Japan”.
Though China proudly trotted out its latest weapons of war for the event, its government curiously insisted that this threatening demonstration was somehow “a parade for peace”.
What was unusual was not that China would lie so shamelessly to the rest of the world, but rather, that the rest of the world seemed to have so little interest in calling China out for it.
The first lie was presenting the event as if the victor of the Second Sino-Japanese War was the People’s Republic of China.
It is true, as I have explained, that the same members of the CCP who went on to found the People’s Republic were responsible for provoking the incident at Marco Polo Bridge which led to war. Although the communists did participate in the Second Sino-Japanese War for a time as part of small units attached to the Nationalist Government, the only real battles that they fought were the Battle of Pingxingguan4 and the Hundred Regiments Offensive.5 As I noted in Part 1 of this book, Mao Zedong himself ordered that seventy percent of their war effort was to go towards strengthening their own forces, and only ten percent was to go towards fighting Japan. The CCP’s pretensions to being the author of victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War are obviously fraudulent, but the world says nothing.
China has claimed from the outset that it was the victor of the war, but the Japanese Army was not defeated in China. Japan actually achieved an overwhelming military victory, winning forty-nine and drawing one of the war’s fifty battles. Thanks to the military victories of the United States and the Soviet Union, China managed to take a seat among the victor powers, but that was only the result of the United States and Great Britain giving Chiang Kai-shek his due.
Perhaps China’s most brazen lies of all are its evangelization on “peace”. Even though China continues to build military airfields and undertake land reclamation work on the Spratly Islands, as well as threatening neighboring countries like the Philippines, it still insists that its state-of-the-art military hardware is “for peaceful purposes”.
A man who has not only failed to call out these flagrant lies, but also has been actively supporting them, is former Japanese prime minister Murayama Tomiichi, known for his “Murayama Statement,” which apologized for Japan’s actions during World War II. Mr. Murayama showed little shame in making a special trip to Beijing to participate in the parade. I hope that I am not the only one wondering if it really was Mr. Murayama’s desire for “peace” that inspired him to make this trip. Probably any normal Japanese person would find Mr. Murayama’s actions dubious at best.
The shameful act of the world’s leaders
4 In September of 1937, a logistics unit of Japan’s 5th Division marching through Shanxi Province was subject to a devastating attack from the CCP’s 8th Route Army led by Lin Biao in the mountain pass of Pingxingguan. Communist propaganda played up the event as being the total annihilation of 10,000 enemy soldiers. In reality, the Japanese unit was a mostly unarmed supply column which sustained over 100 casualties during the battle.
5 The Hundred Regiments Offensive of 1940 was an all-out attack by the CCP targeting strategic targets such as railway stations in Shanxi Province. The CCP even made unprecedented direct attacks on units of the Japanese Army, which sustained considerable casualties. Ultimately, the Japanese Army lost just under three hundred men, and railways and other facilities took damage, but the CCP’s losses were more than ten times those of the Japanese, and the Red Army never again undertook any major offensives.
Thankfully, there was one youth who was not afraid to say the obvious. After the Japan Broadcasting Corporation had finished airing the military parade in its entirety, it sought out the views of some of the citizens of Beijing.
One young man said, “The world leaders who came to Tiananmen Square to see this military parade have committed a shameful act. What they have seen, and what they have praised, is the most wicked army in the world.”
Remarkably, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation did not cut the young man off half-way, but instead recorded all that he had to say without obscuring his face. Mr. Murayama had apparently fallen ill and mercifully avoided the “shameful act” of appearing on stage at the parade. Still, it doesn’t change the highly grotesque fact that a “pacifist” was lending moral support to China’s “wicked” army.
I can only hope that that young man’s voice rouses the people of the world from their slumber, and the ones who should hear him first are the people of Japan.
The historical fabrications of the movie Cairo Declaration
On November 22, 1943, three Allied leaders, President Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Churchill of Great Britain, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of China, met in Cairo, Egypt, in order to discuss what their policies toward Japan would be following the conclusion of the war.
Shortly before, on November 5-6, the Greater East Asia Conference took place in Tokyo, bringing together representatives of seven independent Asian nations and the Provisional Government of Free India. Together they issued the Greater Asia Declaration, a revolutionary statement enshrining the principle of racial equality. Following the conference’s conclusion, the representative of India, Subhas Chandra Bose, travelled to Nanking where he made a direct appeal to Chiang Kai-shek in Chongqing for peace with Japan. Bose’s act had a big impact in China. It is said that Roosevelt planned the Cairo Conference and invited Chiang to it out of fear that Chiang might reach a separate peace with Japan.
And yet, believe it or not, reports say that the new movie, Cairo Declaration, produced by a company affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army of China for the seventieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender, portrays CCP leader Mao Zedong as playing a key role at the conference.
The Chinese government can tell even the most outrageous lies with a straight face, and this is precisely why China has had no scruples about manufacturing one lie after another, including the Nanking Massacre, the Three Alls Policy,6 the 10,000-corpse pits,7 and the
6 According to the Chinese Communist Party, during the Second Sino-Japanese War the Japanese Army implemented the “Three Alls Policy,” primarily against the operational bases of the 8th Route Army. Japan’s
200,000 comfort women,8 in order to denounce Japan. I would like sensible Japanese people to awaken to this problem soon, and to start confronting these lies directly instead of meekly submitting to them. I urge readers to recall the words of the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who said, “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” We should no longer stand by silently and allow lies to prevail over truth.
My hope is that this book might play at least a small role in empowering readers to win the battle for truth.
September 25, 2015
alleged strategy was to “kill all, burn all, and loot all”. However, the Japanese Army never used any such expression in the first place, nor did it ever engage in mass murder or similar crimes. Even Mao Zedong criticized the Japanese Army for, “encircling many Chinese soldiers but annihilating few.” Though this misinformation was intended for propaganda purposes, even so, many Japanese historians continue to treat the “Three Alls Policy” as historical fact.
7 It has been said that the many Chinese laborers working at coal mines in Fushan and other places in Manchuria who were rendered unable to work due to malnutrition, injury, or sickness were buried alive by the Japanese. The mass graves where the victims were buried were called “10,000-corpse pits”. A memorial hall was constructed at the “10,000-corpse pit” of the South Manchuria Mine where heaps of human skeletons are on display for public viewing. However, it has already been proven by many researchers that these stories are simply hoaxes.
8 See Ka Mei’s book Chugoku Kyogaku no Seidorei [China's Shocking Sexual Slavery] (Tokyo: Seirindo, 2015), pages 31-32.