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How China Started the Second Sino-Japanese War: Why Should Japan Apologize to China?

By Moteki Hiromichi,

How China Started the Second Sino-Japanese War: Why Should Japan Apologize to China?
By Moteki Hiromichi
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Facts ©
In the so-called “apology issue,” which concerns Japan’s conduct in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, there exists two opposing points of view:
“I guess the only thing we can do is to keep on apologizing until China tells us, ‘The problems between us may not be settled, but for now you have sufficiently apologized.’” -Murakami Haruki1
“A grateful China should also pay respect to Yasukuni Shrine.” -Ko Bunyu2
Mr. Murakami’s opinion is based on the belief that Japan waged an aggressive war against China, a belief shared by many Japanese even if they don’t know the reason why. This belief holds that the Japanese should be completely repentant over that act of aggression for the sake of clearing our own conscience.
There are two major problems with this point of view.
First of all, it rests on the conventional wisdom that Japan was guilty of aggression towards China. Many people will perhaps respond to that by saying something like, “What are you talking about? The Japanese Army invaded continental China and waged war there. Surely that constitutes a war of aggression.”
However, let’s imagine the following scenario. What if the Japan Self-Defense Forces launched an unprovoked attack on American military units, which are stationed in Japan in accordance with the provisions of the US-Japan Security Treaty, and a war broke out on Japanese territory? Because the fighting would be taking place in Japan, does that mean that, in this scenario, the US Army is undeniably the aggressor? No matter how distasteful a person might find the US military presence to be, under international law, Japan would be deemed the aggressor here.
Therefore, the most important question we ought to be asking is not “Where did the Second Sino-Japanese War take place,” but rather “Which side started the Second Sino-Japanese War?” The present work shall attempt to answer that question, and I hope to demonstrate to the reader that the reality is utterly contrary to the conventional wisdom.
1 Quoted in the column “Sankeisho” (Sankei Shimbun, April 25, 2015) from an interview Mr. Murakami gave to Kyodo News on April 17, 2015. Murakami is an internationally known novelist, said to be a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
2 Ko Bunyu (Huang Wenxiong) was born in Taiwan in 1938. He is an active commentator on current and historical events and also a visiting professor at Takushoku University. He is the author of more than 300 books.
Secondly, this issue is tied into postwar peace treaties. The war between China and Japan was brought to an official conclusion through the Treaty of Taipei, which was signed with the Republic of China, and the Joint Communique and Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which were signed with the People’s Republic of China. As with any war, it can be expected that each side will have its own grievances, and that some ill feelings will remain. Nevertheless, reopening old wounds time and time again serves only to make it more difficult to rebuild normal relations between two countries after a war. Therefore, I believe that one of the most important lessons we have learned from human history is that conflicts should be settled definitively through peace treaties.
Mr. Murakami’s thinking, that Japan should continue to apologize until China is satisfied, flies in the face of the lessons of history. This seems to me to be a very simplistic way of thinking, showing scant concern for anything other than demonstrating an emotional response. I don’t think that this will help to clear anyone’s conscience.
One might say that, even if a conflict is settled through a peace treaty, ill feelings of certain people will still exist. However, in that case, it won’t be a one-sided problem, because there are quite a few Japanese people who personally feel that China’s lawless acts during the war were also entirely unforgiveable. If we go down that path, there will be no end.
This is all the more true if personal ill feelings become entangled in international level politics. If these matters engulf Japan, rather than stay at the individual level, then the letter and spirit of a peace treaty will be meaningless. Therefore, even if we leave aside the first problem of whether or not Japan waged aggressive war on China, the concept of eternally apologizing would remain, not an act of good conscience, but rather an atavistic principle in defiance of the wisdom acquired through history.
Ko Bunyu’s opinion, which comes from the title of an essay he contributed to the magazine Rekishitsu,3 might seem extreme, biased, or eccentric on first glance. Nevertheless, this is the conclusion he reached in an essay grounded on sound logic and backed with a wealth of historical facts.
Ko Bunyu wrote the following at the beginning of the essay:
“China has alleged that the Japanese Army was responsible for aggression, massacres, rape, and pillage directed against the Chinese and other Asian peoples, and since the end of the war this is also what people in Japan have generally believed. However, this is not what people think in Taiwan 4… Thankfully, the people of Taiwan were never indoctrinated by
3 See Rekishitsu, special issue of March 2015. An English translation of this article is available at the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. A Grateful China Should Also Pay Respect To Yasukuni Shrine (
4 A Grateful China (
the version of history promoted at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Because of this, the people of Taiwan lamented that Japan lost the war, and we had no problem in accepting the historical fact that Japan’s true objective in fighting the war was to take back Asia and rid it of the invasive colonial powers.” 5
The people of Taiwan were not indoctrinated by the version of history promoted at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. In other words, they were not brainwashed by the War Guilt Information Program6 and thus they learned the uncensored historical facts. Ko Bunyu asks the question, “what is it exactly about the Second Sino-Japanese War that Japan and the Japanese people are supposed to repent?” 7
He concludes with, “Stopping the civil war, famine relief and relief for farmers, preventing China’s dismemberment by the great powers… No matter how you look at it, China should be thanking the Japanese rather than criticizing them. Accusing Japan of waging a war of aggression on China is nonsense. Instead China should show gratitude to Japan, a country which was burdened by its foolish neighbor.”8
The part about “stopping the civil war” might make one pause, but as Ko Bunyu explains, tens of millions of Chinese people perished in internal conflicts which continued until 1950. China’s state of civil war continued after the Xinhai Revolution,9 and, in fact, was stopped only through the intervention of the Japanese Army. Over a seven year period, extending to 1930, internal wars involving the Chinese Nationalist Party, which are barely known to most people today, including the Zhili–Anhui War, the Zhili–Fengtian War, and the Central Plains War, left a total of thirty million people dead according to the estimates of Lin Yutang.10 Japan’s activities in China were not a unilateral intervention in the affairs of a peaceful nation.
Ko Bunyu’s assertion that Japan undertook “famine relief and relief for farmers” in China might surprise the reader, but, as he explains, “the Japanese, far from plundering China, instead created agricultural production plans similar to those already implemented in Taiwan, Korea, and Manchukuo. In China, the Japanese guided and supported production,
5 Ibid., p.1-2.
6 The War Guilt Information Program was a propaganda operation put in place by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (General MacArthur) in order to rob Japan of its spirit of independence and implant a war guilt complex in the minds of the Japanese people. For more information, see Sekino Michio’s book, “Nihonjin o Kuruwaseta Senno Kosaku” [The Brainwashing Operation that Robbed the Japanese of Their Sanity](Jiyuu-sha, Tokyo, 2015).
7 Ibid., p.1.
8 Ibid., p.1.
9 The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 brought down the Qing Dynasty and resulted in the establishment of the Republic of China by Chinese republicans.
10 Lin Yutang was a writer, linguist, and commentator of the Republic of China. He was nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1940 and 1950.
ended oppressive taxation by landlords, protected villages from local bandits, and enthusiastically helped farmers and made their food supplies secure.” 11
One of the leaders providing guidance in farming communities was Ozawa Kaisaku. His son is the famous conductor Ozawa Seiji, whose given name was formed by taking one syllable from the given names of two prominent Japanese army officers, Itagaki Seishiro and Ishiwara Kanji.12 Ozawa Kaisaku did creditable work in farm relief in Manchukuo and strived to do the same for the farmers of mainland China.
Ko Bunyu’s opinion is the product of an honest acceptance of the historical facts, without the propaganda of the victors’ view of history promoted by the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. For this reason, I believe that he is right.
That is the premise on which I wrote this book. My focus will be to determine which side provoked the war by examining the circumstances of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident13 and the Battle of Shanghai14 (and the subsequent Battle of Nanking), which are regarded as the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. That will be the subject of Part 2, the main part of this book.
Still, because the Tokyo War Crimes Trials deemed the Manchurian Incident15 to be the start of the Japanese invasion, and because China also regards it as the start of the “Fifteen-Year War,” I must begin with a concise overview of that as well. The Manchurian Incident will be the subject of Part 1.
It needs to be made clear from the outset that Manchuria was the cradle of the Manchu people, who founded the Qing Dynasty, and after the Manchurian Incident it was ruled by Emperor Puyi, who was also the last Qing emperor. Therefore, China has no right to call the Manchurian Incident an act of aggression.
Still, because the Republic of China somehow became internationally recognized as the successor to the Qing Dynasty, China’s unjust claims have gone unchallenged. I shall
11 Ibid., p.10.
12 Itagaki Seishiro and Ishihara Kanji initiated the Manchurian Incident.
13 The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a clash between the Japanese China Garrison Army and China’s 29th Route Army, which took place at Marco Polo Bridge in southwest Beijing on July 7, 1937.
14 The Battle of Shanghai began on August 13, 1937 when the Chinese Army launched a sudden attack on the Japanese naval landing force which was protecting Japanese residents of the Shanghai concession. On August 14, China called out its air forces as well and launched a full-scale offensive, which led to all-out war between China and Japan.
15 On September 18, 1931, Japan’s Kwantung Army attacked the forces of Zhang Xueliang, which were affiliated with the Republic of China, in response to an explosion along the South Manchuria Railway at Liutiaogou on the north side of the city of Mukden. The Kwantung Army, with a force of a mere 10,000 men, routed Zhang’s army and quickly drove it out of Manchuria. In March of the following year, the new nation of Manchukuo was proclaimed.
briefly explain the unreasonableness of this position and the misconception that Manchukuo was a Japanese puppet state.
Finally, in Part 3, I want to touch on the subject of Japan’s policies toward China at that time, particularly Japan’s efforts to resolve the conflict and the peace terms Japan offered.
What I hope that the reader will take from this book is that Japan’s war guilt complex, alongside the theory that Japan waged aggressive war on China, are fundamentally wrong and contrary to all facts.
This book will refer to the war between Japan and China as the Second Sino-Japanese War, even though the government of Japan officially named it the “China Incident” following the outbreak of the Battle of Shanghai. I made this decision for two reasons. Firstly, the Chinese government’s general mobilization order escalated the conflict beyond the level of a mere “incident”. Secondly, I concluded that it was the only appropriate term I could use to refer more generally to the big picture of Sino-Japanese conflict following the Manchurian Incident. It seemed to me that the term “China Incident” referred to a conflict with a more specific span of time.
I would be happy to hear from readers who have further questions about the issues presented in this book.
-September 1, 2015
Table of Contents
Part 1 – The Manchurian Incident
How did 10,400 Japanese soldiers occupy Manchuria?
The appearance of local committees and Manchuria’s declarations of independence
The Lytton Report
Zhang Jinghui’s speech to the Greater East Asia Conference
Achieving the world’s highest rate of economic growth
The myth of the Fifteen-Year War
Part 2 – The Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the Battles of Shanghai and Nanking
The Battle of Shanghai: The true starting point of the war
The unmistakable aggressor was China
China’s orchestration of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
China’s need to attack Japan
The outbreak of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
The smoking gun: The CCP’s “7-8 circular telegram”
The CCP’s plans to escalate the crisis
The North China Incident and the Tongzhou Incident
The Tongzhou Massacre
What about the Nanking Massacre?
Japanese outrage and the rise of the “Punish China” slogan
The Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and secret military agreement
China’s all-out attack: The struggle of the naval landing force and the dispatch of two divisions
China’s deadly bombing of the foreign concessions
The order to capture Nanking
Why do people say that a massacre happened in Nanking?
Nationalist China’s silence on the “Nanking Massacre”
Open questions for President Hu Jintao
Japan’s peace terms after the fall of Nanking and the First Konoe Statement
Part 3 – Japan’s Policies Toward China
Was the North China Separation Strategy an act of aggression?
Peace talks after the Battle of Shanghai and the Trautmann Mediation
Japan’s China policy after the First Konoe Statement
The Japanese Army’s attitude towards China as seen in Orders for Officers and Men of the Expeditionary Force
The military parade of September 3
The shameful act of the world’s leaders
The historical fabrications of the movie Cairo Declaration
Part 1 – The Manchurian Incident
1911 October 10 – Xinhai Revolution
1922 February 6 – Nine-Powers Treaty (Washington Naval Conference)
1931 September 18 – Manchurian Incident
1932 March 1 – Manchukuo is founded
September 4 – Lytton Report is released
1933 March 27 – Japan withdraws from the League of Nations
(effective 1935 March 27)
May 31 – Tanggu Truce
1935 June 10 – He-Umezu Agreement
1936 December 12 – Xian Incident
1937 July 7 – Marco Polo Bridge Incident
July 11 – Local ceasefire agreement
July 29 – Tongzhou Massacre
August 9 – Murder of Sublieutenant Oyama
August 13 – Battle of Shanghai
August 15 – Chiang Kai-shek issues general mobilization order
August 21 – Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
October 2 – Landing of Japan’s 10th Army at Hangzhou Bay
leads to the collapse of the Chinese Army in Shanghai
November 5 – Japan makes peace offer through German
Ambassador to China Oskar Trautmann
December 1 – Order to capture Nanking is issued
December 13 – Fall of Nanking, the Japanese Army enters
December 22 – Japan reissues its peace terms through
1938 January 16 – First Konoe Statement cuts ties with Chiang Kai-
shek’s regime
November 3 – Second Konoe Statement declares a new order in
December 22 – Third Konoe Statement enunciates the principles
of friendly relations with neighbors, anti-communism, and
economic cooperation
1940 March 30 – Establishment of the Republic of China in Nanking
1943 November 5-6 – Greater East Asia Conference is convened in
How did 10,400 Japanese soldiers occupy Manchuria?
On September 18, 1931, a line of the South Manchuria Railway at Liutiaogou, about eight kilometers north of the city of Mukden, was blown apart. Japan’s Kwantung Army assumed this to be the work of Manchurian warlord Zhang Xueliang,16 and so it launched an immediate attack on Zhang’s headquarters of Beidaying. By the following morning, the Kwantung Army had routed Zhang’s army and occupied Beidaying.
This incident is said to have been secretly engineered by a group of Kwantung Army staff officers led by Ishiwara Kanji, but circumstances in Manchuria left them with little other choice. Zhang Xueliang was actively persecuting the Japanese residents of Manchuria, including even disavowing their leases which had been recognized by treaty. His promotion of anti-Japanese education touched off a series of attacks on Japanese people, with twelve such incidents occurring between July and September alone. The most significant were the back-to-back Wanpaoshan and Nakamura Incidents.
(1.) Over two hundred Korean farmers who had moved to the village of Wanpaoshan in Manchuria were building an irrigation ditch when, suddenly, the Public Safety Office ordered a halt to construction. Chinese soldiers were dispatched to demand the immediate withdrawal of the farmers and arrest of their ringleaders. The Japanese consulate sought to protect the Korean farmers, who had been Japanese subjects since the annexation of Korea in 1910, by sending in armed police, who stood off against thousands of Chinese rioters.17
(2.) While travelling to Mongolia, Captain Nakamura, an active duty army officer, and three attendants were massacred by Chinese regulars. The Chinese attempted to cover up the incident, but when the truth became known, it sparked an angry outcry in Japan. This provocation alone was serious enough to have started a war. Ishiwara Kanji’s decisive action was a response to the government’s failure to take any effective countermeasures against these repeated illegal acts.
In 1931, Zhang’s Northeast Army was a massive force of 250,000 soldiers18 equipped with modern weaponry. And yet, it was crushed in no time by a mere 10,40019 Kwantung Army soldiers. The Kwantung Army quickly occupied key cities in southern Manchuria, including Changchun and Jilin, and, in November, took Qiqihar in northern Manchuria.
16 Zhang Xueliang was the son of Zhang Zuolin, warlord ruler of Manchuria. In December 1928, Zhang Xueliang swore allegiance to the government of Chiang Kai-shek.
17 Infuriated Koreans attacked the Chinese quarters of cities in Korea such as Seoul, Pyongyang, and Sinŭiju, leaving 109 people dead.
18 There were 250,000 regular soldiers and 80,000 irregulars. See Kojo Tanehide’s essay “Manchu Jihen no Genin to Keika” [The Origins and Unfolding of the Manchurian Incident] in “Manshu Jihen no Keika” [The History of the Manchurian Incident], p. 10.
19 The total of 10,400 included a resident division, composed of about 5,400 soldiers, plus the Independent Garrison, composed of about 5,000 soldiers. By treaty, Japan could station fifteen soldiers for every kilometer of the South Manchuria Railway’s 1,100 kilometers of track. Therefore, the actual number of Japanese soldiers in Manchuria was considerably fewer than the 16,500 permitted by treaty.
Within only two months, all strategic sites across the vast territory of Manchuria had been captured with a military force of just over 10,000 men, plus a few reinforcements from the Japanese Korean Army.
Although one might be tempted to ascribe this to the elite training of the Kwantung Army, we should recognize that, in the end, victory was possible only thanks to the support of the people of Manchuria. A look at Manchuria’s financial situation fully reveals just how extreme the rule of Zhang Zuolin and Zhang Xueliang had been. In the year 1929, annual revenue amounted to 121 million yuan, but annual expenditure reached 148 million yuan, a deficit of 27 million yuan. One-hundred and two million yuan, or eighty percent of annual revenue, was spent on maintaining the military. By doing this, the government could maintain its oversized military, but the costs were borne on the backs of the Manchurian people. Really, there was probably no one on earth who would be willing to sustain such an army.
The appearance of local committees and Manchuria’s declarations of independence
September 24, less than a week from the outbreak of the Incident, saw the establishment of the Mukden Local Self-Government Preservation Committee, which was later reorganized as the Liaoning Province Local Preservation Committee. This was soon followed on September 27 with the establishment of the Harbin Special Administrative District Peace Preservation Committee. On September 28, Liaoning Province, Jilin Province, and Taonan District all issued declarations of independence.
In this manner, the campaign to found a new country surged in all parts of Manchuria. In February 1932, the All-Manchuria Joint Convention to Found a New Nation was convened, which led to the formation of the Northeastern Administrative Committee. Seven men were elected to serve on the committee, including its chairman, Zhang Jinghui.20 Finally, on March 1, Manchukuo declared itself an independent nation. Puyi, who had escaped from Tianjin to Lushun in November, was appointed Chief Executive and later, Emperor.21
The Kwantung Army coordinated the Manchurian independence movement by establishing new administrative bodies and persuading key leaders to join them with army backing, but this was not in any way a military government. To create a military government in such a vast land with just 10,000 soldiers would have been an impossible task because the remnants of Zhang Xueliang’s 250,000-strong regular army and 80,000 irregulars were still present in Manchuria.
20 The six other members of the committee were Zang Shiyi, Xi Qia, Ma Zhanshan, Tang Yulin, Ling Sheng, and Qi Wang.
21 Puyi (February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), of the twelfth generation of the Qing Dynasty, reigned as the last emperor of China between December 2, 1908 and February 12, 1912.
Well before the Manchurian Incident, Manchuria was already a latent hotbed of pro-independence sentiment, epitomized by the slogans baojing anmin22 and liansheng zizhi.23 As soon as the burden of the warlord government was removed, the independence movement flourished. The Kwantung Army was seeking to protect Japan’s interests, but these interests coincided with the aspirations of the Manchurian people.
22 A regionalist concept literally meaning “defend the borders of Manchuria and keep the people safe”.
23 A federalist concept literally meaning “united but autonomous provinces”.
The Lytton Report
The famous Lytton Report24 on the Manchurian Incident documented all these developments in a very accurate manner.
Nevertheless, when addressing the question of whether or not the establishment of Manchukuo reflected the will of the people, the report concluded that popular opinion was opposed to Manchukuo on the basis of 1,550 letters which the Lytton Commission had received from ordinary residents. In fact, these letters were the product of a campaign by anti-Manchukuo elements who had not been able to directly present their views to the commission. That is the reason why the contents of every one of the letters, save two, were hostile to Manchukuo. The speech of Manchukuo Prime Minister Zhang Jinghui, which I will quote at length, leaves little doubt that the large majority of Manchurians were not opposed to Manchukuo. Indeed, the only thing that the letters demonstrate is how badly the Lytton Commission was fooled by the Nationalist and Communist Parties’ skillful, mass-organized propaganda campaign.
Even so, the Lytton Report did acknowledge that, “This is not a case in which one country has declared war on another country without previously exhausting the opportunities for conciliation provided in the Covenant of the League of Nations. Neither is it a simple case of the violation of the frontier of one country by the armed forces of a neighbouring country, because in Manchuria there are many features without an exact parallel in other parts of the world.”25 The report never accused Japan of aggression.
Zhang Jinghui’s speech to the Greater East Asia Conference
The following speech by the second prime minister of Manchukuo, Zhang Jinghui, should make it clear to anyone that the letter-writing campaign aimed at the Lytton Commission was completely fraudulent. Zhang was serving as Mayor of Harbin in 1931, and on September 27, soon after the outbreak of the Manchurian Incident, he formed the Harbin Special Administrative District Peace Preservation Committee. Harbin declared its independence on January 1, 1932. Zhang delivered this speech26 on November 5, 1943 while serving as Manchukuo’s official representative to the Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo:27
24 This report on the Manchurian Incident was produced by a League of Nations commission. Its official title was the “Report of the Commission of Enquiry of the League of Nations into the Sino-Japanese Dispute”. The chairman of the committee was Earl of Lytton from Great Britain, and its other members included Count Aldrovandi of Italy, Lieutenant General Henri Claudel of France, Major General Frank McCoy of the United States, and Dr. Heinrich Schnee of Germany.
25 Quoted from p. 124 of the Lytton Report.
26 The full English text of this speech is available on the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. (
27 Delegates from Japan, Manchukuo, the Republic of China in Nanking, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, and the Provisional Government of Free India attended the conference.
“Now I am looking back over the foundation of the country of Manchuria, ten years ago, as the first country ever founded which is confident of being Asian in the true sense of the word. Deeply excited, I feel proud of our new country. Luckily, I too took part in the foundation with irresistible passion. I am reminded that what was missing in Manchuria at that time was a political system based on moral justice. That is why the public has not been organized toward any idealistic goal. The land was devastated and the people were randomly and lawlessly exploited. The military clique played feudal politics and imposed heavy, unjust taxes. In fact, such a situation was nothing but a symbol of ill-treated Asia, which was without any freedom or creativity. It was the militaristic clique of Zhang Xueliang that practically assumed control of the district of Manchuria, cruelly squeezing the people. The dictator was inspired by Americans and Britons with their policy to disturb Asia, which led him to be hostile to Japan. Japan decisively launched a counterattack until, at last, the Zhang government broke down. As a result, it was no wonder that thirty million people got together to give support to the new country of morality and autonomy. They knew the new government had a doubtless and firm intention of making much of the welfare of the people and the development of the land.” Zhang Jinghui’s proud declaration about Manchukuo’s thirty million people joining in unison certainly rings true when one considers the spectacular growth the new nation was experiencing at that time. Zhang continues:
“As to the achievements of the newly established country of Manchuria during the first ten years, the entire world is paying special attention. I am taking advantage of this occasion to explain several basic problems regarding our achievement. The first is the friendly relation among the races. In our country of Manchuria, there are many races, including Japanese, Manchurian, Mongolian and others, living in peace and stability. Traditionally, when more than one race lived together, it was usual that one race controlled and exploited others. In Manchuria, however, each of the races is able to display its own ability and play an important part in carrying out the idealistic goals of the country… The third is the stabilization of the life of the people and the training of a strong and righteous people. No sooner had the country been founded that the government standardized the monetary system, which had been complicated and thought to be difficult to deal with. As a result, prices have been stabilized and the people are able to enjoy their lives. At the same time, we made every effort to maintain public peace and order. At the time of the foundation of the country, the land was infested with three thousand bandits. Now there are few, if any, such people seen anywhere in the territory… Lastly, what is most important is the development of industry… Now I give some figures. The scale of national finances was, at the time of the foundation of the country, two hundred seventy million or so yen. It has rapidly expanded by sixteen times in ten years. It now exceeded four billion and four hundred and fifty million. Railway mileage has been lengthened from six thousand kilometers to twelve thousand. The number of elementary school students increased from half million to two and a half million. Let me talk about production increases. The output of
coal has grown by four times and that of pig iron by five times. It is no exaggeration to say that we have pulled off a coup.” 28
Achieving the world’s highest rate of economic growth
An expansion of public finances by sixteen times in ten years is a truly remarkable feat. One might assume that GNP was rising at almost the same rate, but actually the annual rate of GNP growth was an even more astonishing thirty percent. This was not just the fastest economic expansion in the world at that time, it was also the fastest economic expansion the world had ever seen. Ko Bunyu believes that, if Manchukuo had survived the war, it would have become an even more industrialized and economically developed nation than Japan.
Manchukuo’s economic development received high praise in a book written by Dr. Elizabeth Schumpeter, the wife of the famous economist Joseph Schumpeter.29
In addition, the five-fold rise in elementary school enrollment demonstrates that education was becoming universally accessible to all of Manchuria’s “five races”.30
Yanaihara Tadao, former Chancellor of the University of Tokyo and a specialist in colonial policy, emphasized that all the levers of political, economic, and military power in Manchukuo were held by Japanese citizens, and on that basis condemned Manchukuo as a “Japanese puppet state”.
However, it was surely quite normal for a new developing nation like Manchukuo to seek the aid of Japanese citizens with experience working in a modern country. The more important question is whether or not the Japanese were attempting to entrench themselves as a privileged, ruling elite. In fact, as is shown in Zhang’s speech, the Japanese placed great importance on racial harmony and adopted no discriminatory policies. Manchukuo’s dramatic expansion in school enrollment is proof of this. As the Manchukuo people’s level of education rose due to this policy, it would have been natural for them to take over the positions once held by Japanese citizens.
As Zhang Jinghui emphasized in his speech, “I can pride myself on the prosperity of my country. We owe this happiness to the chivalrous spirit with which Imperial Japan constantly give us their support.”31 He was expressing gratitude to Japan, but that does not mean that he was a puppet of Japan. His speech was delivered at the Greater East Asia Conference, which today many Japanese academics assume to have been a gathering of
28 Address of His Excellency Chang Ching-hui, Prime Minister of the Empire of Manchuria (, p.3-5
29 See The Industrialization of Japan and Manchukuo by Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter.
30 The five races were the Manchus, Mongolians, Han Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese. The fundamental policy of the government of Manchukuo was “five races under one union”.
31 Ibid., (, p. 5.
“Japanese puppet states”. However, journalist Henry Stokes,32 former Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times, responded, “The Japanese who believe that are themselves like puppets who have sold Japan’s soul to foreign powers.” Stokes seems to understand the situation quite well.
In short, the assertion that Japan conquered Manchuria does not stand up to scrutiny.
The myth of the Fifteen-Year War
The official view of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) designates the war between Japan and China as a “Fifteen-Year Sino-Japanese War,” beginning with the Manchurian Incident (1931) and continuing through the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (July 1937), the Battle of Shanghai (August-November 1937), the China Incident (1937-1941), and the Greater Asian War (1941-1945). This belief is also popular among Japanese historians, and it even appears in Japanese history textbooks.
However, this view was concocted by the CCP, and it has no basis in historical fact. The Manchurian Incident began on September 18, 1931, and following the fall of Qiqihar on November 19, the occupation of Manchuria’s three northeastern provinces was largely complete. The fighting stopped with the fall of Jinzhou, in Jehol Province, on January 3 of the following year, and then, in March, the state of Manchukuo came into being. That was the end of the war.
Having said that, from the perspective of the CCP, it was on April 26, 1932 that the Chinese Soviet Republic, founded in Ruijin in Jiangxi Province, issued a “declaration of war” on Japan in the name of the central government. If that declaration had been recognized internationally as a serious act of war, then Japan would have had the right to respond by invading communist-held regions of China. In fact, it was not deemed to be anything more than a symbolic move and was completely ignored by other countries. The Chinese Soviet Republic was itself destroyed in October of 1934 during Chiang Kai-shek’s encirclement campaigns, but from the perspective of the communist cause, China continued to be officially at war with Japan since the declaration was issued. And yet, in that case the conflict should have been called the Fourteen-Year War, not the Fifteen-Year War.
32 Henry Stokes was born in Great Britain and is a graduate of Oxford University. He worked, in succession, as Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times, the Financial Times, and the London Times. He is the author of the book The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, as well as works published in Japanese including “Eikokujin Kisha ga Mita Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Kyomo” [The Lie of the Allied Powers' Victors' View of History as Seen by a British Reporter], “Gaikoku Tokuhain Kyokai Juchin ga Hannichi Chukan no Sagi o Abaita” [A Veteran of the Foreign Correspondents' Club Exposes the Anti-Japanese Deception of China and Korea], “Naze Amerika wa Tainichi Senso o Shikaketa No Ka” [Why Did America Start a War with Japan?] (co-authored with Kase Hideaki), and “Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Tettei Hihan [Complete Rebuttal of the Allied Powers' Victors' View of History] (co-authored with Fujii Genki).
The CCP’s “anti-Japanese resistance” did involve guerrilla raids, but the fact that the declaration of war was actually merely a slogan is clear enough from the following directive issued by Mao Zedong:33
“The fighting between China and Japan is an excellent opportunity for expansion of our party. Seventy percent of the policies we have decided upon will be aimed towards self-expansion, twenty percent towards dealing with the Nationalists, and ten percent towards fighting Japan.”
In other words, the CCP saw anti-Japanese resistance as a tool to bolster its own power.
The armed confrontation which did occur between Japan and the Nationalist Government of China was effectively ended with the establishment of Manchukuo, and then was officially resolved with the signing of the Tanggu Truce on May 31, 1933.34 There were no further armed clashes of significance until the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Far from that, in fact, direct rail traffic between Beijing and Mukden resumed immediately after the signing of the truce, and then, in 1934, a postal agreement normalized mail service, telegram delivery, and telephone communication between China and Manchukuo. In 1935, customs came into effect on the border of Manchukuo and China, permitting the resumption of normal international trade. The same year, the Japanese and Chinese legations were upgraded to the status of embassies as the culmination of the improved relations and mutual friendship between the two countries.
All this should leave little doubt that the phrase “Fifteen-Year War,” suggesting continuous fighting between Japan and China from the time of the Manchurian Incident and onwards, is ridiculous and in flagrant contradiction to historical fact.
33 This famous instruction was handed down by Mao Zedong in September 1937 as the Independent Regiment of the 8th Route Army’s 115th Division was going into action against the Japanese Army in Shanxi Province. See “Dui Rikang Zhan Qijian Zhonggong Tongzhan Celue Zhi Yanjiu” [Research on the Chinese Communist United Front during the War of Resistance against Japan] by Liangmei Mei.
34 The Tanggu Truce was a ceasefire agreement signed by Major General Okamura Yasuji, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, and Lieutenant General Xiong Bin, the Chief of Staff of the Republic of China Beiping Branch Military Council. According to the main terms of the agreement, the Chinese Army was to withdraw west and south of a line stretching through Yanqing, Tongzhou, and Lutai, and not undertake any provocative actions. In exchange, the Japanese Army was to withdraw north of the Great Wall.
Part 2 – The Marco Polo Bridge Incident and
the Battles of Shanghai and Nanking
The Battle of Shanghai: The true starting point of the war
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident is usually considered to be the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. There is no mistake that this incident served to trigger the Sino-Japanese conflict, but the incident itself was only a small skirmish—it cannot be called the start of a full-blown war. Consequently, it would be inaccurate to claim that the fighting at the Marco Polo Bridge “spread” to Shanghai.Chi
After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the Japanese Army sent three divisions from Japan and units of the Kwantung Army to northern China in the hopes of restraining the nonstop ceasefire violations of Chinese soldiers in the area. Japanese forces occupied Tianjin, but they did not advance beyond, or make any attempt to advance beyond, the city of Baoding, just southwest of Beijing. Furthermore, on August 5, the Japanese government made a landmark peace proposal with the Chinese and planned to hold its first meeting with Chinese leaders in September. Therefore, the Chinese Army’s attack on Shanghai, carried out on August 13, can hardly be called a natural extension of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Rather, the Chinese attack on Shanghai should be seen as a dramatic new crisis sparked by Chiang Kai-shek’s determination to wage full-scale war against Japan.
Rather than a clash of local units, an all-out, state-dictated military offensive constitutes “war” under international law. The existence of an official declaration of war is not the defining factor. On August 13, 1937, Chiang’s regime launched a full-scale offensive against the Japanese naval landing force, which was stationed in Shanghai to protect Japanese residents, with an army of 30,000 regular soldiers. On August 15, Chiang Kai-shek issued an order of general mobilization and was appointed commanding chief of the Army, Navy and Air Forces. This, therefore, should be considered the official starting point of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Historian Edwin Reischauer concurs that the Battle of Shanghai was the engagement which marked the beginning of World War II.
Who, then, caused the actual war between China and Japan?
The following report by The New York Times special correspondent Hallett Abend was published on August 31, 1937:
Foreigners Support Japan – Official foreign observers and officials of various foreign governments who participated in various conferences here in seeking to avoid the outbreak of local hostilities, agree that the Japanese exhibited the utmost restraint under provocation, even for several days keeping all of the Japanese landed force off the streets and strictly within their own barracks, although the move somewhat endangered Japanese lives and properties. ‘Opinions may differ regarding the responsibility for the opening of hostilities in the vicinity of Peiping early in July,’ said one foreign official
who was a participant in the conferences held here before Aug. 13, ‘but concerning the Shanghai hostilities the records will justify only one decision. The Japanese did not want a repetition of the fighting here and exhibited forbearance and patience and did everything possible to avoid aggravating the situation. But they were literally pushed into the clash by the Chinese, who seemed intent on involving the foreign area and foreign interests in this clash.’
The tenor of The New York Times article was critical of Japan and sympathetic toward China in accordance with the general trend of the time. Nonetheless, the article confirms that the start of the fighting in Shanghai was due to a unilateral attack by the Chinese Army.
The unmistakeable aggressor was China
As was reported in The New York Times, there can be no question that it was China that embarked on an unprovoked war against Japan.
In the Shanghai International Settlement35, there were over 30,000 Japanese citizens working in a variety of businesses and industries protected by a 2,200-man Japanese naval landing force. When the naval landing force realized that the Chinese Army had infiltrated a large number of soldiers into the demilitarized zone outside the settlement, in violation of the ceasefire agreement,36 it was rapidly reinforced with another 2,000 men. When the previously mentioned article noted that Japan was “keeping all of the Japanese landed force off the streets”, it was referring to these roughly 2,000 reinforcements.
On August 9, the Chinese Army murdered two members of the Japanese naval landing force, Sublieutenant Oyama Isao and Seaman First Class Saito Yozo, who were carrying out an inspection while in their car. The Chinese insisted that they had been attacked and returned fire, dragging out the body of a Chinese Peace Preservation Corps soldier as “evidence”. However, the corpse clearly indicated that it had been shot at from the Chinese side, a fact also confirmed by multiple foreign reporters on the scene. The critically acclaimed biography, Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, explains that the incident was orchestrated by General Zhang Zhizhong in order to force Chiang Kai-shek to attack Japanese forces. Zhang, who was the defensive commander of Nanking and Shanghai, was also a member of the CCP who had infiltrated Chiang’s high command.37
35 The International Settlement was a settlement of foreign residents in China which had the rights of self-government and extraterritoriality. In addition to the International Settlement, where British, American, Japanese, and other foreigners lived, there was also the French Concession.
36 The Shanghai Ceasefire Agreement was approved by Japan and China on May 5, 1932 following the Shanghai Incident. A joint committee was formed of American, British, French, and Italian members working alongside Chinese and Japanese members to observe that the terms of the treaty were carried out. The location for stationing troops of both Japan and China was decided by the agreement.
37 According to page 198 of Mao: The Unknown Story (New York: Anchor Books, 2006), “But on 9 August, at Shanghai airport, an army unit hand-picked by ZZZ [Zhang Zhizhong] killed a Japanese marine [sic] lieutenant and a private [sic]. A Chinese prisoner under sentence of death was then dressed in a Chinese
More than 30,000 Chinese regulars surrounded the concession. The core of the Chinese force was the elite 88th Division, which had been trained by German military advisors. On August 13, the offensive began, and on the 14th the Chinese began simultaneous aerial bombardment as well. Later, I will show how these attacks led to the outbreak of full-scale war.
In any case, it is clear that the Chinese were the ones who set the course for war, and that the Japanese were dragged into a war they did not desire.38 The launching of a concentrated attack by regular army troops against civilians and soldiers stationed in accordance to a previously established treaty is an “act of aggression” under international law, regardless of where the troops are stationed, whether inside or outside their home country. Therefore, we must conclude that, even though it took place on Chinese territory, the Second Sino-Japanese War was a Chinese war of aggression.
China’s orchestration of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
The article in The New York Times stated: “Opinions may differ regarding the responsibility for the opening of hostilities in the vicinity of Peiping early in July.” It stated this because, at that point, the facts about the clash at Marco Polo Bridge, which was the impetus for what followed, were not yet sufficiently known. In reality, this too was undoubtedly an incident orchestrated by the Chinese.
China’s responsibility was unambiguously recorded in the local ceasefire agreement signed four days after the clash on July 11 by Qin Dechun, Deputy Commander of China’s 29th Route Army, and Matsui Kyutaro, Chief of the Japanese Army Beijing Special Service Agency. The three clauses of the ceasefire agreement were:
(1.) The representative of the 29th Route Army expresses regret and will punish those responsible. He affirms his intention to take responsibility for preventing further such incidents in the future. (2.) The overly close proximity of the Chinese Army to Japanese soldiers stationed in Fengtai has increased the likelihood of such incidents. Therefore, China will station no soldiers on the east bank of the Yongding River in the vicinity of Marco Polo Bridge and the Peace Preservation Corps will maintain security there. (3.) Because this incident was in many ways inspired by the work of anti-Japanese organizations, including the Communist Party and the so-called Blue Shirts Society,39 China will undertake countermeasures and a thorough crackdown against them.
uniform and shot dead at the airport gate, to make it seem that the Japanese had fired first. The Japanese gave every sign of wishing to defuse the incident, but ZZZ still bombarded Chiang with requests to launch an offensive, which Chiang vetoed.”
38 See the book The Reluctant Combatant: Japan and the Second Sino-Japanese War (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2014) by Kitamura Minoru and Lin Siyun.
39 The Blue Shirts Society was a terrorist and espionage organization under Chiang Kai-shek’s direct control.
People still ask the question of who fired the shots at Marco Polo Bridge, but the answer should be obvious based on the terms of the ceasefire agreement which were published in contemporary newspapers. Because this was an agreement, it was approved by mutual consent and does not represent the view of the Japanese side alone. The agreement stated clearly that responsibility for the incident laid with the Chinese.
It has been said that the ceasefire agreement was forced upon China due to pressure from Japan, but that is an untenable argument which ignores basic facts. The 29th Route Army, commanded by Song Zheyuan, was a force of roughly 150,000 men which dominated North China. The opposing Japanese China Garrison Army40 numbered a mere 5,600 men, so one could not possibly describe the Japanese as an overwhelming force in a position to impose an unreasonable ceasefire deal. China would later stridently insist that there had never been a ceasefire agreement, but the document itself leaves little doubt of its existence.
The work of putting the particulars of the three-point ceasefire agreement into operation went forward later, and a fleshed-out version of the pact was concluded on July 19. In fact, Japan labored throughout this time to observe the terms of the agreement, even while frequent violations were taking place. However, nothing could be done about China’s repudiation of the existence of the agreement. In other words, not only did the Japanese military not provoke the fighting, all of the blame for escalating the crisis rested squarely on the shoulders of the Chinese.
China’s need to attack Japan
In the first place, Japan had absolutely no reason to attack China. It goes without saying that it would have been sheer folly for the 5,600 Japanese troops stationed there to attack the 150,000-man 29th Route Army. The full might of the Japanese Army in mainland Japan, Manchuria, Korea, and China would have been roughly 250,000 men. Compared to this, China had about 2.1 million men, 500,000 of which formed modernized units trained and equipped by German military advisors. What’s more, Japan’s greatest potential enemy was the Soviet Union, and the Soviets had a large military force of 1.6 million, 400,000 of which were deployed in the Soviet Far East. Given all these conditions, it would have been insane for Japan to open hostilities in northern China. Japan had no reason, much less plans, to do any such thing.
In China at that time, however, those who advocated war against Japan dominated. Excluding the peasantry, the urban residents of China had a burning desire for war and were confident of victory. The idea that Japan invaded a weak China and that the war
40 The Boxer Protocol, signed in 1901 following the Boxer Rebellion, permitted eight countries including France, the United States, Great Britain, and Japan to station soldiers in China in order to protect their citizens. At the time, the United States had 1,200 soldiers and France had 1,800 soldiers stationed in China. Japan had 5,600 soldiers because the Japanese were, with 33,000 people, the largest foreign community in the vicinity of Beijing. In terms of the ratio of civilians to soldiers, Japan was 6:1, America 2:1, and France 1:3. Proportionally speaking, of the eight countries, Japan stationed the smallest military force.
expanded from there is a highly distorted view of history—entirely refuted merely by looking at any contemporary Chinese newspaper. The book, The Reluctant Combatant: Japan and the Second Sino-Japanese War, provides a detailed account of this.
The sabre rattlers of the time can be broadly broken down into three groups. First, there were the radical intellectuals, students, and urban citizens, second, members of the CCP, and third, provincial military cliques. The objective of the CCP and the military cliques in advocating war was to enhance their position vis-à-vis Chiang Kai-shek by currying favor with radical public opinion leaders such as the intellectuals.
The CCP in particular used its anti-Japanese stance as its most powerful political weapon. The Chinese Soviet Republic, which was established in November 1931 in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province, issued a proclamation of war against Japan in the name of the central government on April 26, 1932. For good measure, a so-called “official” proclamation of war was also announced by telegram on September 18. In addition, the CCP issued a declaration of anti-Japanese patriotism in August of 1935 in accordance with the Comintern’s order to organize “anti-fascist popular fronts”. Then, in December 1936, the Xian Incident took place.41 While setting out to urge his soldiers to fight more vigorously in the subjugation of the CCP, Chiang Kai-shek was detained by Zhang Xueliang, the commander of the Northeast Army. Zhang, who had been plotting with the CCP, pressured Chiang into working with the communists to fight Japan. Consequently, the Nationalist Party dropped its confrontational line toward the CCP, and in its place grew anti-Japanese resistance.
The outbreak of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Given the circumstances, it was only a matter of when and where the attack would come. The first shots were fired on July 7, 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge.
The 135 men of the Japanese China Garrison Army’s 8th Company, having given prior notice to the 29th Route Army, conducted manoeuvres on the dry riverbed near the Marco Polo Bridge. As the map (attachment 1) shows, they began their manoeuvres in front of the bridge at a position about 400 meters distant from the Marco Polo Bridge wall (the Wanping Fortress wall) and an embankment studded with Chinese pillboxes. At around 10:40 PM, just before the manoeuvres were to end after a 400-meter advance, several shots were fired into the Japanese positions. After that, ten-odd shots were fired from the direction of the embankments, and a few hours later at 3:25 AM, there were three more shots. At 5:30, after taking fire a fourth time, the Japanese forces finally responded with their own fire. This was seven hours after the first shots had been fired.
It was, therefore, only natural that the 29th Route Army would admit total culpability in the ceasefire agreement signed on July 11.
41 In December of 1936, Chiang visited the city of Xian in order to encourage Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng to make an all-out attack on the communist Red Army’s headquarters, but the two of them instead switched sides and proceeded to kidnap and imprison Chiang.
As noted earlier, the third clause of this ceasefire agreement stated, “Because this incident was in many ways inspired by the work of anti-Japanese organizations, including the Communist Party and the so-called Blue Shirts Society, China will undertake countermeasures and a thorough crackdown against them.”
The commanders of the 29th Route Army were also not entirely certain who had really fired the shots, but the text of the ceasefire agreement implies that they suspected the CCP.
It was natural that the CCP, which continued to cry for full-scale anti-Japanese action, would continue to provoke clashes, but the truth was that at the time the CCP found itself facing a serious predicament. To be sure, with the Xian Incident, Chiang Kai-shek ceased attacking the communists and promised to forge a cooperative relationship with the CCP. However, Chiang proceeded to thrust strict conditions, one after another, at the CCP, and half a year later, around June 1937, relations between the Nationalist and Communist Parties were on the verge of breakdown.
Edgar Snow42 wrote, “Following Chiang’s release the Communists were in fact soon again placed at his mercy… By June, 1937 Chiang Kai-shek… again was blockading the Reds… Once more they now seemed to face the choice of total surrender or encirclement and disaster, or retreat to the northern desert.”43
The CCP secretly implemented a bold scheme to escape their existential crisis. The idea behind their strategy was very simple. Basically, the CCP would provoke a conflict between the Japanese Army and Nationalist China while keeping their own role in the plot hidden. In case of success, the Nationalists would have no choice but to leave the communists alone and divert the brunt of their military to the war with Japan. It is now known from publications released in China that the CCP had infiltrated many party members into the 29th Route Army, including staff officers such as a battalion commander, the chief of intelligence, the deputy chief of propaganda, and, most importantly, Vice Chief of Staff Zhang Kexia.44
42 Edgar Snow was an American journalist. Thanks to a letter of introduction from Song Qingling, Snow was admitted into the CCP’s base in Yan’an in 1936. Gaining Mao Zedong’s trust, Snow was able to interview him and ended up writing a series of articles and books reporting favorably on the Chinese communist movement led by Mao. Representative works of Snow’s include Red Star Over China, a favorite book of Franklin Roosevelt, and The Battle for Asia.
43 See Random Notes on Red China, 1936-1945 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1957) by Edgar Snow, page xiii.
44 See Zhongguo Gongchandang Zuzhishi Ziliao Huibian [Collected Documents on the History of the Structure of the Chinese Communist Party] (Beijing: Hongqi Publishing Company, 1983) edited by Wang Jianying and Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Zhiguanzhi [List of Official Positions in the People's Republic of China] (Beijing: Zhongguo Shehui Publishing Company, 1993) edited by He Husheng.
The CCP’s secret plan was to use these infiltrated agents provocateurs to incite anti-Japanese sentiment within the units of the 29th Route Army and to provoke shooting incidents while mingled into crowds of regular soldiers. This is what happened at 10:40 p.m. on the night of July 7.
The smoking gun: The CCP’s “7-8 circular telegram”
We now have the “smoking gun” that leaves no doubt that it was the CCP that engineered the incident at Marco Polo Bridge.
On the 8th, the day after the shooting, the CCP sent a long telegram from Yan’an in the name of the Central Committee to those affiliated with the Nationalist Government, the army, the newspapers, various other organizations, and all persons in positions of power in China from Chiang Kai-shek on down. In official CCP histories, the telegram is given special mention, as the “7-8 circular telegram”. Moreover, on the same day, the same kind of telegram was sent under the names of Mao Zedong and six other military leaders to Chiang Kai-shek, General Song Zheyuan, and others.
As mentioned before, the Japanese Army first began to return fire at 5:30 on the morning of the 8th. Until that point, the Japanese had begun negotiations at Marco Polo Bridge wall and other locations, and had made preparations to respond to repeated shootings, but no fire had yet been returned.
Even though Japan’s counterattack began on the 8th, due to the circumstances of transmission there is no way that the 7-8 circular telegram could have been prepared the same day. After having received word of the Japanese counterattack, the communists would still have had to write up their lengthy appeal to arms in the form of an official telegram, include all the details of the counterattack within it, gain the approval of the Central Committee, and transmit it across China.
The only way the telegram could have been distributed so quickly is that it was prepared in advance. The CCP must have written an outline in advance, confirmed that everything had gone according to plan, and then finalized it in the form of an official message.
In fact, we have evidence proving that this was indeed the case.
Colonel Akitomi Jujiro, the Chief of the China Expeditionary Force Intelligence Department Beiping (Beijing) Office, told the newspaper Sankei Shinbun, as reported in its September 8, 1994 evening edition, that, “Late at night immediately following the incident, the Tianjin Special Intelligence Section radio operator intercepted an urgent wireless transmission from a transmitter believed to be on the grounds of Beijing University to the CCP military headquarters in Yan’an. It repeated ‘Chenggong-le [success!]‘ three times.”
Akitomi stated that, at the time, they had no idea what the transmission might have meant. It is clear now. The transmitter informed Yan’an that the stratagem at the Marco Polo
Bridge succeeded. Immediately afterward the circular telegram was drawn up in Yan’an. Then, on the morning of the 8th, after having confirmed that Japan had begun firing back, it was wired en masse to locations across China. Thus, the group responsible for masterminding the Marco Polo Bridge Incident was none other than the Chinese Communist Party. An alternative theory, which holds that the incident happened by accident, assumes that the communists were fools who would never have attempted such a scheme. However, this theory really gives the communists too little credit.
Edgar Snow wrote about the Marco Polo Bridge Incident as if the Japanese Army had caused it, thus incidentally rescuing the CCP from its great predicament of June. Snow wrote, “Now a second stroke of luck opened up the broadest and most fertile opportunities for them [the communists]. For it was in the following month that they were extricated from their precarious position only by Japan’s ‘providential’ major invasion of China, which gave Chiang no choice but to shelve any and all plans for another annihilation drive.”45
Snow should have known that the incident was staged by the CCP, but he nonetheless repeatedly referred to the Japanese attack as “providential”. To reiterate, it was the Chinese, specifically the CCP, who caused the incident. Above all, there is no way that a Japanese force numbering a mere 5,600 could have launched a “major invasion” of China—which is not what happened. Snow could write these sort of lies plausibly by claiming that the facts were not yet known, but because President Franklin Roosevelt was a fan of his book, Red Star Over China, he was appointed in 1942 as an unofficial intelligence provider. What was truly outrageous was that Roosevelt exploited Snow’s false reports to wage war on Japan.
Although a ceasefire agreement was signed on the 11th, the agreement was repeatedly broken by the Chinese, either by the Chinese Army itself or by persons unknown. This soon culminated in large-scale violations by the Chinese Army such as the Langfang Incident46 and the Guang’anmen Incident.47 On July 27, the Japanese government, which had consistently followed a non-expansionist policy since the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, finally made a decision to dispatch three army divisions into the Chinese interior. On the 28th, Japan sent notice to the 29th Route Army that a state of war had begun.
The CCP’s plans to escalate the crisis
Though the so-called “major invasion” of the Japanese Army never took place, Snow let it slip in his writings that such an invasion was exactly what the communists had wanted. They were delighted that Chiang Kai-shek had had no choice but to abandon his operations to wipe them out, but, going beyond that, their true goal was to have Chiang fight the
45 See Snow, op. cit., page xiii.
46 In the vicinity of Langfang, Japanese units had gone to repair a severed army telegraph line, but even though they had notified the 29th Route Army in advance, they were attacked and suffered fourteen casualties.
47 Japanese Army units were attempting to enter their barracks inside the walls of Beiping after having received permission from the 29th Route Army. However, after two thirds of the Japanese troops had entered the city, the gates were abruptly shut and the Japanese were attacked. They suffered nineteen casualties.
Japanese for them. A Comintern order issued after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident included the following two instructions:48
“1.) You must staunchly avoid localized resolutions and instead lead the way to a full-scale confrontation between China and Japan. 2.) You must use every possible measure to accomplish the above goal, and eliminate leading figures who are betraying the liberation of China through localized resolutions and compromises with the Japanese.”
From this, one can see clearly that, in addition to their immediate objective of extricating themselves from their precarious position, the true goal of the communists was to use the Marco Polo Bridge Incident to cause a full-scale outbreak of hostilities between Japan and China. Even though the leaders of the CCP were calling for resistance against Japan, they had no intention of directly engaging with the Japanese military themselves. Rather, their true goal was to cause a full-scale war between the Japanese Army and Chiang Kai-shek’s army.
By doing this, the communists could achieve their objective of weakening the Japanese Army and guaranteeing the security of the Soviet Union. This was all part of their long-term strategy of winning power by having the armies of Japan and China wear down and destroy one another. Needless to say, the Comintern’s global strategy, which was promoted by the CCP to further its ultimate goals, finally came to fruition in 1949. For all of these reasons, the CCP was hell-bent on provoking and escalating war between China and Japan.
The North China Incident and the Tongzhou Incident
The conflict in China expanded just as the CCP had planned. Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government went ahead with plans to send its army north, and as I have previously noted, Japan was also forced to alter its policy of non-expansion of hostilities by dispatching three divisions on July 27 and notifying the 29th Route Army on the 28th that a state of war existed. Though outnumbered, Japan’s forces received some reinforcements from the Manchurian Kwantung Army and the Japanese Korean Army, and they soon gained total control of the Pingjin area (the vicinity of Beijing and Tianjin).
48 Below is a full copy of the Comintern order of July 1937, as recorded in the book Kominterun ni Kansuru Kihon Shiryo [Basic Documents on the Comintern] (Tokyo: Koain Seimubu, 1939).
“1.) You must staunchly avoid localized resolutions and instead lead the way to a full-scale confrontation between China and Japan. 2.) You must use every possible measure to accomplish the above goal, and eliminate leading figures who are betraying the liberation of China through localized resolutions and compromises with the Japanese. 3.) You must undertake operations to stir up a mass movement among the lower classes which will leave the Nationalist Government with no choice but to launch a war against Japan. 4.) The CCP must extend its anti-Japanese boycott throughout China and also threaten with boycotts any third-party nations aiding Japan. 5.) The CCP must recruit common people, as well as ordinary soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and low-ranking leaders from the army of the Nationalist Government, in order to achieve a party strength exceeding that of the Nationalists.”
However, soldiers from the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps took advantage of the redeployment of Japan’s outnumbered forces in order to carry out a massacre of Japanese residents in Tongzhou.
The town of Tongzhou, located some twelve kilometers east of Beijing, was home to 420
Japanese residents. Because its Japanese garrison had launched an offensive on nearby Nanyuan on July 29, less than 110 Japanese soldiers remained there. The men of the local Peace Preservation Corps, affiliated with the pro-Japanese autonomous government of Yin Rugeng, seized the opportunity to turn their guns on unarmed civilians and the few remaining Japanese soldiers in Tongzhou. They suddenly swooped down on the town and savagely massacred them.
It was later established that Zhang Qingyu, the First Unit commander of the Peace Preservation Corps, and Zhang Yantian, the Second Unit commander, had been in contact with the Nationalist Party before the massacre. Many books have claimed that the rebellion of the Peace Preservation Corps was sparked when the Japanese accidentally bombed them, but, in fact, that incident was dealt with after it had taken place. The true cause of the massacre was the treachery of Zhang Qingyu and Zhang Yantian, who had been waiting for some time for their chance to strike.
All manner of brutalities, including looting, beatings, rape, and murder were directed toward a great number of innocent people, including the old, the young, and women. The number of the slain totaled 223.
Unlike the mythological but highly publicized “Nanking Massacre,” this dreadful atrocity actually did happen. (I will discuss the “Nanking Massacre” in more detail later.) In spite of this, for a long time Japanese history textbooks mentioned only details of the “Nanking Massacre,” in line with the Chinese government’s outlandish wartime propaganda, but they said nothing about the real-life Tongzhou Massacre. This bizarre situation continued until the year 2015 when a proper history textbook, which finally corrected this fault, was approved for use in middle schools. That textbook was the New History Textbook: Revised Edition, published by Jiyusha. Unfortunately, the problem remains uncorrected in other textbooks.
The Tongzhou Massacre
I will now recount some of the horrible events of the Tongzhou Massacre, as recorded in sworn affidavits of witnesses summoned to the Tokyo War Crimes Trials who were at the scene of the massacre.
Firstly, there is the following excerpt from the testimony of Kayajima Takashi, who at the time of the massacre was commander of the Tianjin Infantry Unit and the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Japanese China Garrison Army. After having joined the Battle of Nanyuan, he rushed to rescue the inhabitants of Tongzhou on the afternoon of July 30.
“In Asahiken (a Japanese restaurant), there were seven or eight women between the ages of forty and seventeen or eighteen who had all been raped. They had been shot dead and were naked with their privates exposed. Four or five had been stabbed in their privates with bayonets. Almost all of the Japanese men’s bodies left in businesses and government offices showed signs of having been strangled with ropes. Blood spattered the walls. It beggars description.”
Katsura Shizuo, acting unit commander in the 2nd Infantry Regiment in charge of relieving Tongzhou, gave this testimony.
“At the entrance to Kinsuiro (an inn), I saw the body of a woman who looked to have been the proprietress. Her legs were pointed toward the entrance, and only her face was covered with a newspaper. I remember that it seemed as if she had resisted considerably. The upper and lower parts of her body were exposed, and stab wounds from four or five bayonet thrusts were visible. It looked like her privates had been gouged out with an edged weapon, and there was blood everywhere… The bodies of four Japanese women, who appeared to be maids, lay in the maid-servants’ room. It looked like they had all died in agony. They had died lying on top of one another, and only one of the women was turned upwards with her privates exposed. At the front desk and pantry there were two women and one man who had died face up, face down, and sprawled sideways. There was clear evidence that they had fought their killers. The man’s eyes were gouged out and the upper half of his body appeared to have been riddled with bullets. Both of the women had bayonet wounds in their backs… In the house of a Japanese family behind it, two people, a parent and child, had been butchered. All the fingers of the child had been cut off. At the store of a Japanese citizen near the South Gate, the body of what seemed to have been the proprietor had been left in the street with his ribs exposed and his organs scattered.”
Sakurai Fumio was a platoon commander in the 2nd Infantry Regiment who arrived in Tongzhou with the main force of his regiment on July 30. According to Sakurai,
“As soon as we came through the garrison’s East Gate, we were enraged to see the bodies of murdered male and female civilians sprawled out on the ground every several meters in front of us. We went around checking each house, while shouting out ‘Are there any Japanese people here!’ In trash cans and ditches all over the place, we kept on finding corpses, including a child with a wire run through his nose like a cow, an old woman with one of her arms cut off, and a pregnant woman whose belly had been ripped with a bayonet. In one restaurant, a whole family had been slaughtered with their hands and heads chopped off. Every woman older than fourteen or fifteen years of age had been raped. The sight of it was unbearable… In a pond near the East Gate, there were the bodies of six family members with ropes around their necks and hands pierced together with barbed wire. There was clear evidence on the bodies that they had been strung together and dragged over the ground.”
Since my readers may be getting sick to their stomachs, I will leave it at that. However, other eyewitness accounts have been written by Japanese women who married Chinese men and were living in Tongzhou at the time of the massacre. I wanted to reprint them here, but ultimately chose to omit them because they are rather long and might be traumatic to my readers. Those who are interested in reading the accounts can consult the book Tenno-sama ga Naite Gozatta [Tears of the Emperor] by Shirabe Kanga.
What about the Nanking Massacre?
Some readers might find the preceding descriptions of unspeakable horror and fiendish violence in Tongzhou to be eerily familiar. Indeed, these same scenes appear in accounts of the Nanking Massacre. The writings of Iris Chang and like-minded individuals contain countless similar examples.
Nevertheless, as I will explain later, the so-called “Nanking Massacre” is an illusion, nothing more than war propaganda. Throughout its history, Japan has never had the same sort of “massacre culture” as China. Japanese people may kill one another, but it would be fair to say that no large-scale, indiscriminate slaughters have ever occurred in Japanese history. By contrast, massacres of tremendous scale are not at all unusual in Chinese history.
By reading the book A History of Massacres in China: What Makes the Chinese Such Lovers of Murder? by Shi Ping,49 a graduate of Beijing University, we learn that in China massacres far exceeding anything in Japanese history were frequent occurrences in ancient, medieval, and modern times, extending to present day communist China. Particularly interesting is the fact that there was a Nanking Massacre in Chinese history, not in 1937, but in 1864 during the Taiping Rebellion. Nanking, then the capital of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, was conquered by an army commanded by Zeng Guofan. After Zeng’s death, one of his staff officers, Zhao Liewen, described what happened after the city’s fall in his book Nengjin Jushi Riji [Diary of a Capable, Quiet Gentleman]:
“Children also became the targets of killing and many soldiers wildly engaged themselves in killing children as if they were playing a game. Regarding women, those who were under 40 served as instruments of carnal pleasure for the soldiers but most of those who were older or very ugly were randomly killed by the sword.”50
Ghastly mass killings, a million slaughtered at the massacres in Sichuan, Yangzhou, Jiading, and so forth, fill page after page. Shi Ping’s book is a must-read to understand China.
To repeat, no such massacres have ever taken place in Japanese history. The Chinese have vehemently insisted that the “Nanking Massacre” was the work of the Japanese in spite of
49 An English translation of this book is available on the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. (
50 See A History of Massacres in China: What Makes the Chinese Such Lovers of Murder?, page 107.
the fact that the Japanese have no history of engaging in this sort of atrocity. In fact, the tale of the Nanking Massacre was created on the basis of the massacres which the Chinese themselves have repeatedly perpetrated throughout their own history. This is precisely the reason why the stories of the Nanking Massacre, which were fabricated to indict the Japanese Army, are identical to the accounts of both the mass killings that have occurred time and again in Chinese history and the more recent massacre which the Chinese perpetrated in Tongzhou.
Japanese outrage and the rise of the “Punish China” slogan
The Japanese people were enraged at the news of the Tongzhou Massacre. Newspapers throughout Japan carried the headline “Punish China”.51 And yet, though public opinion seethed against the unforgivable atrocity and voices demanding resolute government action grew louder, no attacks on Chinese residents in Japan, like those during the Wanpaoshan Incident in Korea, ever occurred. As I described earlier, in 1931 Korean rioters attacked Chinatowns in Seoul, Pyongyang, and Sinŭiju, killing 109 people. It’s important to remember that in Japan in 1937, no harm ever came to the Chinese quarters of either Yokohama or Kobe.
One might be led to believe that this upsurge in popular outrage against China compelled the Japanese government to go to war with China. However, that is not what happened.
In fact, the government held firm to its non-expansionist policy in spite of the atrocities in China and the incensed public opinion in Japan. In accordance with the Emperor’s suggestions, a landmark peace plan52 was drawn up on August 1. On August 5, the Foreign Minister and the Army and Navy Ministers approved the proposal that would be submitted to China. Japan’s peace plan was a momentous, conciliatory document wherein most of the pending issues between China and Japan to that point, and in particular vested rights in North China, were renounced.
Japan’s peace plan was called the Funatsu Peace Initiative, after Funatsu Tatsuichiro who was selected to be in charge of the negotiations. Funatsu was formerly Japan’s consul general in Shanghai and at the time he was the chairman of the board of the Spinners’ Trade Association in China.
August 9, the day of the first meeting between Kawagoe Shigeru, Japan’s ambassador to China, and Gao Zongwu, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asia Office, was also the day that Sublieutenant Oyama was killed. As I mentioned already, this was an act carried
51 This slogan, boshi yocho in Japanese, literally means “punish the violent Chinese”.
52 Draft of ceasefire negotiations: (1.) The Tanggu Truce, the He–Umezu Agreement, the Qin–Doihara Agreement, and any other extant military agreements in North China are cancelled. (2.) Special areas will be established as demilitarized zones. (3.) The administrations in East Hebei and Hebei–Chahar are to be abolished. (4.) The strength of the Japanese forces stationed shall return to their status quo ante bellum.
Draft of diplomatic relations: (1.) China must recognize or acquiesce to the state of Manchukuo. (2.) China and Japan will enter into an anti-communist pact. (3.) Repeal of the free flight of Japanese aircraft, etc…
out by the crypto-communist Zhang Zhizhong, the defensive commander of Nanking and Shanghai, in order to get Chiang Kai-shek to fight the Japanese. It was also meant to be an obstruction to the peace process. The Comintern order had read, “1.) You must staunchly avoid localized resolutions and instead lead the way to a full-scale confrontation between China and Japan. 2.) You must use every possible measure to accomplish the above goal, and eliminate leading figures who are betraying the liberation of China through localized resolutions and compromises with the Japanese.” Through various means, this order was successfully implemented. As intended, the peace negotiations collapsed.
The Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and secret military agreement
Chiang Kai-shek had moved forward with preparations for war with Japan. His preparations consisted of the formation of a central army, including fifty divisions with modern equipment and training under the direction of a corps of German military advisors led by General Alexander von Falkenhausen, as well as the construction of a solid defensive network of 20,000 bunkers in the suburbs of Shanghai. This came to be called the “Seeckt Line” after General Hans von Seeckt, the fourth leader of the German advisors. Still, Chiang Kai-shek was cautious about starting a real war. Falkenhausen had suggested a preemptive strike, but Chiang distanced himself from that idea, as well as from the continued warmongering of General Zhang Zhizong and others.
Despite this, Chiang had to confront facts outside his control, including the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment and the murder of Sublieutenant Oyama. Finally, he did make the decision to go to war. Many theories exist about when Chiang came to this decision, though it seems that none of them have been definitively proven. Professor Lloyd E. Eastman of the University of Illinois, a leading researcher of modern Chinese history, has argued that Chiang made the decision on August 7 at a meeting with his top military commanders. According to Eastman, “Chiang then made one of the greatest – and most debatable – gambles of his career.”53
I suspect that the main reason why Chiang was willing to make this gamble was the military agreement54 he signed with the Soviet Union as part of the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of August 21. Under the terms of this agreement, the Soviet Union was bound to provide the following military aid before the end of the year: 360 planes, 200 tanks, 1,500 trucks, 150,000 rifles, 120,000 artillery shells, and 60 million rounds of ammunition, plus technical experts in a variety of fields.
Negotiations for this treaty began much earlier, and it is assumed that the secret items were set in early August at the latest. This promise of such a great quantity of military supplies from the Soviet Union had to have been reassuring to China, which, despite having a large
53 See Lloyd E. Eastman’s book The Nationalist Era in China, 1927-1949 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), page 119.
54 See The Lowdown, issue of January 1939, page 18. The secret agreement seems to have been leaked out at an early stage, because its contents also appear in several other publications.
army of 2.1 million soldiers, lacked the ability to manufacture its own aircraft and tanks. Setting aside the beginning of the hostilities, if the fighting were to be drawn out even a little longer, such supplies would become absolutely essential to the prosecution of the war. Thus, we can surmise that, without them, Chiang Kai-shek would probably not have been able to make the decision to go to war.
Indeed, it would seem that the Soviet Union was pushing China toward war. As we can see from the Comintern orders, that was exactly in accordance with the goals of Soviet strategy. The actual situation of the Second Sino-Japanese War was that China relied entirely on Soviet military aid for the first half of the war, and for the second half on British and American military aid, to continue fighting.55 It was not because mainland China was so huge that the conflict went on and on and became a quagmire, but rather because of the vast military assistance and intervention from the great powers. Still less was it because of Japanese “aggression”.
China’s all-out attack: The struggle of the naval landing force and the dispatch of two divisions
On August 13, 1937, the 30,000-strong elite Chinese force encircling the concessions of Shanghai began its attack on Japan’s 4,200-man naval landing force stationed there. It is often said that the fighting leapt like a flame from northern China to Shanghai, but this manner of speaking is far removed from the truth. Japanese forces in northern China did not move south of Baoding, which was 1,000 kilometers away from Shanghai, and therefore were in no position to threaten Shanghai.
Just as The New York Times described, the Battle of Shanghai was provoked unilaterally by the Chinese, or in other words, by Chiang Kai-shek. On the 15th, Chiang Kai-shek ordered a nationwide general mobilization, established a supreme command headquarters, and assumed the rank of commander-in-chief of all three branches of the military – the army, the navy, and the air force – for waging all-out war against Japan.
Since 4,200 troops could not have been expected to protect the 30,000 Japanese residents of Shanghai, Japan decided on August 13 to dispatch two divisions to China. On the 15th, the Shanghai Expeditionary Army under the command of General Matsui Iwane was formed. However, it was to take nearly ten days at the minimum to mobilize, transport, and land these two divisions, and until then, the naval landing force in Shanghai had to hold out against attacks from an elite force nearly ten times their size. What might have happened if they had been beaten and allowed a Chinese force to penetrate the concession had already been demonstrated in Tongzhou. It would have been a second Tongzhou Massacre. There was a strong possibility that thousands, or even tens of thousands, of civilians might have been slaughtered.
55 See Hata Ikuhiko’s book, Rokokyo Jiken no Kenkyu [Research on the Marco Polo Bridge Incident] (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1996).
One Japanese army division finally landed in Wusong near Shanghai on the 23rd. In those ten days, the men of Japan’s tiny landing force defended their positions well.
Thanks to their remarkable bravery, a “Shanghai Massacre” was averted. Chiang reportedly lamented that, “In the first week of the war, we proved incapable of wiping out the enemy in Shanghai even with all our strength.” Evidently, Chiang had been expecting a quick victory in Shanghai.
China’s deadly bombing of the foreign concessions
On August 14, a group of Chinese aircraft, which had embarked on a raid against Japanese warships, wandered off course during a counterattack and instead dropped their bombs in the French Concession and the Shanghai International Settlement. Some of the bombs landed on the road in front of the Palace and Cathay Hotels, killing 729 civilians instantly and leaving another 861 wounded, but an even greater tragedy occurred at the Great World Amusement Center, which was serving as a women’s refugee center. The bombs which fell on Great World killed 1,012 people and wounded another 1,007. The majority of the victims were Chinese, but many foreigners also perished, including the elder brother of Edwin Reischauer.
As usual, the Nationalist Party publicly blamed the attack on the Japanese, but the bombing had taken place in full view of Shanghai’s international community, including a large number of foreign journalists. As could be expected, this lie convinced no one, and the Chinese government ultimately expressed its regret over the incident.
Though Japan’s Shanghai Expeditionary Army had finally gone ashore, it quickly became embroiled in a desperate campaign against nearly 200,000 Chinese soldiers firmly ensconced in over 20,000 bunkers and defensive encampments. The main force of the Chinese Army had received German military training and was supplied with the latest equipment. One of the most formidable challenges for the Japanese Army was dealing with China’s high-quality light machine guns, which were called “Czech guns”. On September 9, the Japanese Army finally began making further progress thanks to an additional three divisions and one brigade in reinforcements. On October 26, the Japanese captured the strongpoint of Dachangzhen and brought most of the city of Shanghai under their control.
However, the victory in Shanghai had been achieved at great cost. Japan’s casualties ultimately totaled more than 41,000, including 10,076 dead and 31,866 wounded, which were the heaviest losses Japan sustained since the Siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). On the other hand, the Chinese Army is believed to have suffered about 400,000 dead and wounded. On November 5, the Japanese 10th Army, composed of three divisions, executed a surprise landing at Hangzhou Bay, sixty kilometers south of Shanghai, in order to cut the Chinese Army off from behind. This manoeuvre succeeded in causing the rapid collapse of the Chinese forces, who fled in disarray towards Nanking. In the end, the Japanese military had committed a force of 250,000 to rout about 600,000 Chinese.
The order to capture Nanking
Because of the non-expansionist policy adopted by the Japanese government and military, Japanese forces could not advance beyond an operation restriction line stretching from Suzhou to Jiaxing. However, as long as this policy was maintained, there was the real possibility that most of the Chinese Army fleeing chaotically from Shanghai would be permitted to escape. Moreover, Chiang Kai-shek had not accepted peace terms Japan offered by way of the German ambassador to China, Oskar Trautmann,56 and was continuing to put up stiff resistance. In Japan, it seemed more and more likely that the war would not be brought to a conclusion unless the Chinese command center of Nanking was occupied. On November 28, the Japanese Army General Staff handed down its decision to capture Nanking.
Matsui Iwane, the commander of the Central China Area Army, which was formed through the combination of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and the 10th Army, ordered his forces to advance on Nanking on December 1. The Chinese had constructed both outer and inner defense lines between Shanghai and Nanking, but the Japanese Army broke through them one by one in pursuit of the fleeing Chinese forces. On December 9, the Japanese Army completed its encirclement of Nanking and airdropped leaflets over the city calling upon the commander of the Nanking Garrison Force to surrender.
At the same time that the Japanese Army released this ultimatum, an attempt was made from within Nanking to save the city from the ravages of war. On December 9, members of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone57 presented a ceasefire proposal to Chiang Kai-shek. Their proposal asked the Chinese Army to withdraw peacefully from Nanking and permit the Japanese Army to enter the city without further bloodshed. Unfortunately, Chiang Kai-shek vetoed the offer. Meanwhile, the deadline of the Japanese ultimatum, set at noon on December 10, passed without a response from the Chinese side. At 1:00 PM, the Japanese Army launched an all-out attack on the walls of Nanking.
Fierce fighting continued, but Nanking had already lost its outer defenses, and its fortress walls, however strong they may have been, were no match for modern weapons. Tang Shengzhi, the commander of the garrison in Nanking, deemed the situation hopeless and fled the city at 8:00 PM on the 12th, abandoning his subordinates to their fates. Nanking fell on the 13th, but without their commander the Chinese soldiers in Nanking scrambled in confusion to escape the city. Often they were shot dead in mid-flight by Chinese barrier
56 The Trautmann Mediation was a peace initiative between the governments of China and Japan that took place between November 1937 and January 16, 1938, under the mediation of the German ambassador in China.
57 The International Committee was established on November 29 by a group of Westerners, mostly Americans, who had chosen to not evacuate from Nanking. Their objective was to create a noncombat zone which would ensure the safety of Nanking’s civilian population. The Committee was composed of a total of fifteen people, including seven from the USA, four from Great Britain, three from Germany, and one from Denmark. The head of the International Committee was a German, John Rabe.
troops. Those who were unable to escape instead cast off their uniforms and went into hiding in the Nanking Safety Zone, an act which was a violation of the international laws of war. In many cases, they were later discovered and executed by the Japanese. Still, very little fighting occurred within the city itself. In fact, at the time the Japanese Army entered Nanking, the city was virtually deserted except for the Safety Zone. Outside the city walls, several pitched battles did occur between the Japanese Army and Chinese units attempting to withdraw, but inside the city it was mostly quiet.
Why do people say that a massacre happened in Nanking?
The Japanese soldiers did not all enter Nanking at once. Instead, only specially selected portions of each unit were permitted to invade the city. For example, the 6th Division from Kumamoto selected two of its battalions to enter the city, and the 20th Regiment selected one of its companies. It has been estimated that the first Japanese soldiers to go into Nanking numbered fewer than 10,000. Within Nanking, there was very little disorder, a fact noted by the nearly 150 Japanese reporters and cameramen who were present in the city at the time it fell.
The soldiers of the units entering Nanking were much more unnerved by the deadly quiet of the wholly abandoned city, a situation described in the diaries and other accounts they left behind. The reason for this was that almost all of the 200,000 inhabitants of Nanking had congregated within the “Safety Zone”, which was administered by the International Committee. No citizens were found anywhere outside the Safety Zone. This should not be surprising, as a directive had been issued by Tang Shengzhi on December 8 ordering all citizens of Nanking except those with special permits to remain in the Safety Zone.
Considering that there were 150 reporters and cameramen in Nanking, all energetically reporting on events in the city and sending their stories back to Japan, there is no possibility that they could have failed to witness a massacre in the Safety Zone, which covered an area only about the same size as New York’s Central Park. And yet, none of them wrote a single article describing a massacre, nor did they admit after the war to having seen one. One typical news report was the series of photographs appearing in the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The first photo in the series was “Peace returns to Nanking”, taken by special correspondent Kawamura on December 17 and reprinted in this book. The next photographs in the series were captioned with “Benevolence to yesterday’s enemies – A scene of amity in Nanking”, “Nanking smiles – A sketch of life within the city walls”, and “Holding hands on New Years’ – Sino-Japanese friendship deepens each day”. These photos certainly seem to reveal the way things really were in Nanking at that time. Controls on the press in Japan were not rigorously enforced, and only two articles were censured on the grounds that they might compromise military operations.
How did the Nanking Massacre take place under such circumstances? How could it have taken place? Common sense alone should allow the reader to answer this question.
Nationalist China’s silence on the “Nanking Massacre”
The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone left records of its activities in English. An extra-governmental organ of the Nationalist Party edited these documents in 1939 and published them with Kelly & Walsh Co. in Shanghai under the title Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone. American missionaries held key positions on the International Committee, and their observations are tainted with a heavy anti-Japanese bias, but even so, the following two facts recorded in these documents are extremely important.
1.) The population of Nanking was 200,000 at the time of the city’s fall, and remained at that level for the rest of the month of December. However on January 14, a month later, the population of Nanking was recorded as being 250,000. This is definitive proof, from a contemporary primary source, that no large-scale massacre could possibly have taken place.
2.) Twenty-six cases of murder were recorded on a list of the complaints brought forward by citizens of Nanking. However, only one of those cases had an eyewitness, and it had a note appended to it explicitly stating that it had been a lawful killing. The Safety Zone, which held 200,000 people, was about the same size as New York’s Central Park, and if a massacre had happened there, it could not have gone unnoticed. Nevertheless, there were no eyewitnesses to any massacre.
Those two points alone should make the extent of the massacre hoax clear enough, but for those who need even more proof, there is also the top-secret document “Outline of International Propaganda Operations, International Propaganda Section: from 1938 to April 1941″, which was discovered by Professor Higashinakano Shudo at the Museum of Chinese Nationalist Party History in Taipei.58 This was an internal document of the Nationalist Party, so any hints of propaganda within it are slim. According to the document, during an eleven-month period which included the month when Nanking fell, China’s International Propaganda Section invited foreign correspondents three hundred times to press conferences in Hankou, where the Nationalist Government had retreated after the Battle of Nanking. Even though these press conferences were convened for the purpose of criticizing the conduct of the Japanese Army, not one single time was there any talk of a massacre of civilians or the unlawful execution of prisoners in Nanking. If there had been a massacre, would they really have said nothing about it? That is, of course, impossible.
Though there are many people who seem to be under the mistaken impression that the Nationalist Government condemned the Nanking Massacre in the aftermath of the fall of Nanking, the reality is quite different. It is true that there were covert operations, particularly for overseas audiences, which employed foreigners to disseminate atrocity propaganda that actually came from the Chinese government. However, if the Chinese had carelessly brought up the massacre at any of the aforementioned three hundred press conferences in Hankou, then the foreign correspondents would have gone to Nanking to investigate it themselves. At the time Japan was not at war with other foreign countries like
58 See Higashinakano Shudo’s book The Nanking Massacre: Fact Versus Fiction (Tokyo: Sekai Shuppan, 2005), page 298.
the United States and Great Britain, so as soon as public order in Nanking had been restored, there was nothing to stop them from going there. If they had done that, the Nationalist Government’s lies would have been quickly exposed. In order to maintain its credibility, China would not have been foolish enough to repeat such false claims publicly.
The anti-Japanese group, American Committee for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression, which was organized principally by the YMCA, released a booklet entitled “America Supports Japanese Aggression” roughly half a year after the fall of Nanking. In 1938, 60,000 copies of it were printed and then distributed to the media, Congress, academic societies, and other groups. The booklet includes an extensive denunciation of Japan’s alleged aggressive acts towards China. Among them is the bombing of Canton, which took place half a year after the fall of Nanking and left a few hundred dead, but though the bombing received thorough coverage, not one word was devoted to the Nanking Massacre. This is yet another powerful piece of evidence that no massacre ever occurred in Nanking.
In short, the Nanking Massacre is simply a trumped-up lie, fabricated by the victors and foisted upon Japan after the war when Japan was occupied by the US Army and unable to effectively object to or rebut the accusation.
Open questions for President Hu Jintao
Research on the “Nanking Massacre” has progressed rapidly in recent years. It has now been proven in a virtually irrefutable manner that the “massacre” was a creation of the Nationalist Party’s wartime propaganda machine. A pamphlet which summarizes all the latest research was published by the Campaign for the Truth of Nanking and is now available in English.59
It is surely very foolish that people continue to harp on about this lie as if it actually happened. To put a stop to this ridiculous situation, the Committee for the Examination of the Facts about Nanking (Kase Hideaki, chair; Fujioka Nobukatsu, secretary general) presented an open letter of inquiry to President Hu Jintao of China when he came to Japan. The five important points of their questions are summarized below, followed by its full text.
(1.) Mao Zedong did not mention the Nanking Massacre one time in his life, a significant fact considering that it was alleged to be one of the largest massacres of the century and not just a trivial incident. Jung Chang criticizes Mao for this in her book Mao: The Unknown Story, but it is those like Chang who still deeply believe this lie who truly deserve the criticism.
59 An English translation of this pamphlet is available on the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. (
(2.) The Nanking Massacre was never mentioned at any of the aforementioned three hundred press conferences.
(3.) According to Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone, which consists of the records of the International Committee, the population of Nanking was 200,000 in December and rose to 250,000 in January.
(4.) Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone claims that twenty-six murders were committed in Nanking. However, only one of those cases had an eyewitness, and this case had a note appended to it explicitly stating that it had been a lawful killing in which a Chinese man was shot dead for running away when asked to identify himself.
(5.) It has been demonstrated that none of the several hundred alleged pieces of photographic evidence for the Nanking Massacre prove the existence of any massacre.
This message has been disseminated to the world via press conferences and the Internet. It appears on the website of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact in Japanese, Chinese, and English. (The English version is available at It comes as no surprise that Hu Jintao has yet to respond. This is because he cannot respond. With this, the issue of Nanking has, at its essence, been settled.
May 5, 2008
As enthusiastic supporters of friendly relations between Japan and the PRC, we would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to President Hu Jintao on the occasion of Your Excellency’s visit to Japan.
For some years, our organization has been engaged in an investigation into the events that transpired in Nanking in connection with the Battle of Nanking, which took place in December 1937. We are profoundly concerned about the PRC’s position on and approach to these events. Additionally, we are exceedingly uncomfortable with the duplicity of the PRC in its pursuit of friendship with Japan on the one hand, and actions that are most unfriendly in nature — the expansion and renovation of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in 2007 — on the other. Recent research has proven that there is absolutely no basis for the claim that there was a massacre in that city. We respectfully request Your Excellency’s responses to five important questions, which follow.
1. Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong never referred to a massacre in Nanking. He made exactly one mention of the Battle of Nanking during a lecture delivered at Yan’an six months after the conflict, reproduced in On Protracted War. Chairman Mao criticized the Japanese for failing to annihilate Chinese troops after
having surrounded them. If there had been slaughter in Nanking of a magnitude so great (300,000 civilian victims) as to prompt the description “holocaust of the century,” there is not the slightest chance that he would have been silent on the matter. What are Your Excellency’s thoughts on the facts presented here?
2. In November 1937, during the Second United Front and prior to the Battle of Nanking, the Nationalist Party established a new section at the Central Propaganda Bureau — the International Propaganda Section. We would like to direct Your Excellency’s attention to a top-secret document entitled “Outline of International Propaganda Operations,” which states that the International Propaganda Section held 300 press conferences in Hankou between December 1, 1937 and October 24, 1938 (a period that includes the Battle of Nanking); they were attended by 35 foreign journalists and diplomats, on the average. How does Your Excellency explain the fact that not once during any of these 300 conferences was a statement or announcement made to the effect that a massacre had been perpetrated, or that prisoners of war had been unlawfully killed in Nanking? Does Your Excellency, too, find these circumstances extraordinary?
3. The International Committee cared for the civilians remaining in Nanking, who were gathered in the Safety Zone. Records of the International Committee’s activities were published in 1939 as Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone by a British company in Shanghai, under the auspices of the Nationalist Government’s Council of International Affairs. According to those records, the population of Nanking prior to its occupation by the Japanese was 200,000. That figure remained unchanged, at 200,000, throughout the remainder of 1937. By the end of January, it had increased to 250,000. These statistics completely and utterly destroy the credibility of any accusation of a massacre that claimed 300,000 victims. What are Your Excellency’s views on this matter?
4. Among the records in the aforementioned Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone are detailed complaints about misconduct attributed to Japanese military personnel. They include a total of 26 murders, only one of which was witnessed (to that account is appended a note describing the “murder” as a lawful execution). Can Your Excellency reconcile these records with the PRC’s claim of a massacre with 300,000 victims?
5. Photographs purported to be evidence of a massacre in Nanking are on display at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, at other exhibitions, and in printed publications. However, Analyzing Photographic “Evidence” of the Nanking Massacre by Higashinakano Shudo (Soshisha, 2005) and other recent scientific research reveal that there are no photographs attesting to a massacre in Nanking. If Your Excellency is aware of photographic evidence of a massacre, please have it forwarded to us so that we may examine it.
On the basis of the factual information contained in these five questions, we are completely and totally convinced that there was no massacre in Nanking. We would greatly appreciate Your Excellency’s responses to our questions. Please note that we have selected the
open-question format precisely because the matter at hand is clearly one of the prime concerns of many citizens of Japan and the PRC. Our hopes for friendly relations between our two nations, for all generations to come, rest in Your Excellency’s hands.
Chairman: KASE Hideaki
Secretary-General: FUJIOKA Nobukatsu
Auditors : TOMIZAWA Shigenobu, MOTEKI Hiromichi
Members: ARA Kenichi, UESUGI Chitoshi, KOBAYASHI Taigan, SUGIHARA Seishiro SUGIYAMA Kouichi, TAKAIKE Katsuhiko, TAKAYAMA Masayuki, HANAOKA Nobuaki, HIGASHINAKANO Shudo, NISHIMURA Kohyu, MIZOGUCHI Ikuo, MIYAZAKI Masahiro
Japan’s peace terms after the fall of Nanking and the First Konoe Statement
On December 22, after Nanking was occupied, the Japanese government decided once again to try to resolve differences peacefully, mediated through the good offices of Germany’s ambassador to China, Oskar Trautmann. The following four points were the basic conditions.
1.) China will renounce pro-communist, anti-Japanese, and anti-Manchukuo policies, and will cooperate with Japan and Manchukuo’s anti-communist policies.
2.) Demilitarized zones will be put in place in required regions, and special organizations will be established to administer them.
3.) China, Japan, and Manchukuo will enter into an agreement for economic integration.
4.) China will pay reparations to Japan.
Prior to the occupation of Nanking, the clause on reparations had not been included in the peace talks, but it was inserted after taking into account the demands of the Japanese people. Even so, one cannot say that these were particularly severe conditions. No demands were made for a piece of territory or for certain special rights or interests. Instead, they mention formalizing a relationship of economic cooperation. They also speak of collaborative anti-communism, but since Chiang Kai-shek was anti-communist from the start, this item can hardly be said to have been a harsh one.
Chiang Kai-shek did not accept the agreement probably for fear of how it might affect his relationship with the Soviet Union and the CCP, as well as his relationship with America and Great Britain. Even when the deadline for his reply, January 12, was reached, he did not respond. In the face of Chiang’s stalling, the leaders of Japan’s government, including Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro and Foreign Minister Hirota Koki, concluded that the Chinese side was not negotiating in good faith. On the 16th, the Japanese government cut
off negotiations and issued the First Konoe Statement declaring that, “We will no longer deal with the government of Chiang Kai-shek”.
Japan’s Army General Staff put up strong resistance to this decision, insisting that negotiations with Chiang Kai-shek’s government be carried through to their conclusion. If this view had prevailed and the negotiations had continued, is it possible that at very least the complete breakdown of Sino-Japanese relations could have been averted, and that perhaps some sort of compromise could have been reached? If that had happened, Japan’s conflict with China would not have devolved into the quagmire that it was to become.
It is possible that there was some influence here by one of Konoe’s close associates, Ozaki Hotsumi,60 who was a covert operative of the Comintern. However, I think that it is more likely that Konoe made the decision out of a desire to curry favor with a Japanese public who were fed up with China’s brazen acts.
It has been commonly said that Japan went down the path to war because of the recklessness of the Japanese military, but if we turn to the facts, it seems that in many cases it was the military which acted with great caution whereas it was the civilian government which turned to war in order to appease popular opinion. This was more or less the same reason why the Konoe government issued a tough statement toward China and hinted at dispatching three divisions from Japan on the July 11 following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, even though a local ceasefire had been concluded that very night.
Regardless, the end result was that Japan was drawn into a protracted war against the government of Chiang Kai-shek. Still, calling this a “war of aggression” is wholly unwarranted.
Firstly, it was the CCP that orchestrated the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and it was also the CCP that expanded the conflict based on their Comintern instructions to “staunchly avoid localized resolutions and instead lead the way to a full-scale confrontation between China and Japan.” Furthermore, it was Chiang Kai-shek’s government that rebuffed Japan’s Funatsu Peace Initiative, amidst growing anti-Japanese sentiment, and set the course for full-scale war in Shanghai.
Thus, the Second Sino-Japanese War was caused entirely by China. Even after the outbreak of the war, Japan again made peace overtures, but they were all flatly refused. The onus for
60 Ozaki Hotsumi was a reporter for the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. As a member of Prime Minister Konoe’s brain trust and especially as a recognized expert on the China question, Ozaki exerted influence on Japan’s government from the time of the Second Sino-Japanese War until World War II via his contacts with some of Japan’s highest-ranking and most influential political figures. Just before the outbreak of war with the United States, Ozaki was exposed as being the mastermind behind Richard Sorge’s Soviet spy ring. He was arrested, put on trial, and executed. In his personal recollections, Ozaki states that, “I believe that World War II will lead inevitably to a world revolution.” It was for this reason that Ozaki supported the idea that Japan should advance into Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
the war lies primarily on the Chinese side, and the result was that the fighting dragged on. No matter how one looks at it, describing Japan’s actions as aggressive is undeserved. Under international law, the aggressor is the one making lawless attacks or unprovoked war, and thus by this standard, it was China that was the aggressor even though the war took place on Chinese soil.
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 consulate.
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,61 John Van Antwerp MacMurray,62 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.
61 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.
62 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 Jingwei63, 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
63 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.
Hong Kong in December, 1939. In July of the following year, it was agreed that Itagaki 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
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 Pingxingguan64 and the Hundred Regiments Offensive.65 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
64 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.
65 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,66 the 10,000-corpse pits,67 and the
66 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,68 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
-Moteki Hiromichi
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.
67 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.
68 See Ka Mei’s book Chugoku Kyogaku no Seidorei [China's Shocking Sexual Slavery] (Tokyo: Seirindo, 2015), pages 31-32.