Japan Wars against China and the Soviet Union

China /Machuria ,Japan,Dutch east indies (1935-1940)
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Heinrich
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Japan Wars against China and the Soviet Union

#1

Post by Heinrich » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:33 am

Incidents and War in 1937; Shanghai, War and China's alliance with the Soviet Union;

The Rape of Nanjing; Japan battles China and the Soviet Union

Incidents and War in 1937

By the mid-thirties, economic recovery in Japan was well underway, and in 1936 Japan had full employment. Arms production had stimulated the economy, producing a strong recovery, with the devaluation of its currency, the Yen, helping to bring a recovery in exports. The importation of luxury goods rose, worsening Japan's trade imbalance and Japan was forced to ship abroad nearly half of its gold reserves. Then the government cracked down on the importation of luxury goods, while it continued production for the military.

Japan's military was preparing for the possibility of another world war. Strategic materials were available through trade with the Western powers, but Japan's strategic thinkers believed that Japan should not count on these sources. They believed instead that Japan should be prepared for the possibility of a war of long duration and should be self-sufficient in resources, including resources available to it in China.

The public was still inclined to support the military in its actions abroad, which it saw as in the interest of the nation. The public supported a strong military, but in elections in April, the public demonstrated that it also preferred that the military not run the government. Then in June, 1937, a new government was formed in Japan, under the leadership of Prince Fumimaro Konoe, which was supposed to unite the interests of the military and rest of the nation.

Konoe belonged to a most prestigious family dating back before the 1200s. He had been a man about town who knew influential people in the military, business and government. His prestige had made him many friends. He was a social gadfly but sincere, and he was a dreamer, believing that Japan could pursue its goals without quarreling factions or parties -- examples of government without factions existing in Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union.

Emperor Hirohito placed some hope in Konoe and suggested to Konoe that he begin his term as prime minister by making a radio broadcast to the nation promising reconciliation between the army, the political parties and the public.

Hirohito was now into his study of fishes -- a task he found more pleasant than public matters and dealing with the military. Some army leaders found the Emperor's avocation peculiar and spoke of their belief that he should be worrying about high strategy and propitiating the gods rather than playing with fish. The palace advisor, Lord Yuasa, persuaded Hirohito to keep his marine biology study a secret, as befitting a god, and thereafter Hirohito did his study of fishes in secret.

Hirohito still favored peace between Japan and China, and so too did many in Japan's military establishment. But they wanted a peace that was on their terms. They sought cooperation from the Chinese -- a word not far from a word they would not use: submission.

Japan had 4,000 soldiers stationed just outside Beijing -- accorded to foreign powers at the conclusion of the Boxer Rebellion in 1901. On the night of July 7-8 at the Marco Polo Bridge, eight miles west of Beijing, Japanese troops were having a nighttime marching drill when a few shots rang out. Or maybe it was firecrackers. Later the Japanese were missing one of the soldiers. While searching for him, at two in the morning, the Japanese troops threatened to enter the nearby town of Wanping by force. The missing soldier turned up safe and sound, but around five in the morning fighting broke out between Japanese and Chinese troops, a battle that lasted four hours and ended in negotiations. But when Japanese reinforcements arrived the fighting resumed.

The high-command in Japan's military did not want to be provoked into an escalation of its conflict with the Chinese, and following the incident at the Marco Polo Bridge it issued a formula for continued peace in China: withdrawal of Chinese troops from around the area of the Marco Polo bridge and from the left bank of the Yangtze River; guarantees that incidents such as had occurred at the Marco Polo Bridge would not happen again; punishment of those responsible for the incident; and an apology.

Contrary to the strategy of the high command, a faction within the Japanese army urged using the Marco Polo incident as an opportunity to send more troops to China. Konoe and his cabinet supported this recommendation, and the army high command went along with it so long as non-escalation of the conflict in China was observed.

The new movement of troops from Japan to China that followed would be slow. Three divisions were sent, which would not arrive until early September. Meanwhile, on July 12, Japan's newspapers made a sensation of the government sending more troops to China, most of them editorializing that agreements with the Chinese had to be backed by Japan's military force rather than "trusting" the Chinese. And by now the Japanese public was excited by the outbreak of fighting in China, and they were giving their enthusiastic support to their boys in China. People gathered at public meetings, and they contributed money to the nation's defense.

Emperor Hirohito was less enthusiastic. Aroused by the commotion, he asked what was happening, and he summoned Konoe and ordered Konoe to give personal attention to putting an end to fighting in China. But the emperor's orders were not specific enough to stop the sending of the three divisions to China, or to reverse the additional troops and equipment that Japan was pouring into northern China from Manchuria: a brigade of Japan's Kwantung army; a division of Japan's Korean army; and an airforce squadron. Nor were the Emperor's orders specific enough to limit initiative among local commanders in China.

In China, Chiang Kai-shek was also becoming agitated. He had wondered whether Japan was beginning a full-scale war or maybe moving to take complete control over northern China. He spoke to a gathering of China's leaders and complained that the only way to maintain peace was to allow Japanese troops to come and go as they please on Chinese soil, to allow the Japanese to shoot at the Chinese if they wished and for the Chinese to refrain from shooting back. Chiang announced that China's armies were making purely defensive military preparations in response to Japan's decision to send more troops to China, and he spoke of peace being possible with Japan only if Japan allowed China territorial integrity and stopped interfering in China's affairs.

On July 25, another incident occurred. Halfway between Beijing and Tianjin, Chinese troops fired upon Japanese soldiers who had been sent to repair telegraph lines. The Japanese commander in the area, General Kazuki, retaliated with an attack upon the Chinese troops, and he sent an ultimatum demanding the immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops from the area by noon on the 28th.

On July 26, a hundred Japanese soldiers in motor lorries arrived at one of the gates of Beijing. They demanded entry and described themselves as belonging to the Japanese consulate in the city. The Chinese troops guarding the gate allowed part of the Japanese force through the gate. Then the Japanese outside the gate opened fire with machine guns and field artillery. The guards closed the gate, and Chinese soldiers manning the walls threw hand grenades down on the Japanese just inside the wall. And the battle lasted through the night.

General Kazuki believed he had the right to chastise the Chinese and to defend his troops, and he received from the army high command its backing, but with orders not to move the fighting south of the Yungting River (which ran under the Marco Polo Bridge). On the 27th, Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on Chinese troops at Tungchow, 12 miles east of Beijing. Japanese airplanes dropped bombs on Chinese positions at Tuanho, about ten miles southeast of Beijing. Combined Japanese forces, including aircraft, attacked China's army positions just outside Beijing -- at Nanyuan, Hsiyan and Peiyuan -- with Nanyuan, the headquarters of China's 29th army, receiving the brunt of the attack. Chinese casualties were heavy, with commanding officers among the dead.

Rather than see their city destroyed, Chinese authorities in Beijing gave the city to the Japanese. And Japan took possession of the city of Tientsin, after battling that city's defenders. Then on July 31, Chiang Kai-shek spoke to the nation, announcing that "the hope for peace has been shattered." He announced that China had no option but to fight the enemy "to the bitter end" and expel him "from our land." The war against Japan was on, and it was to last seven years, to 1945.

Konoe met with the Emperor on July 30, and the Emperor suggested a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The army high command agreed, but most army officers, especially middle ranking officers, were enthusiastically in favor of continued military action to force Chinese obedience. Japan's Kwantung army in China offered its solution to the problems in China: the establishment of autonomous regimes in China's five northern provinces and disbanding China's government in Nanjing.
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Re: Japan Wars against China and the Soviet Union

#2

Post by Heinrich » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:35 am

Shanghai, War and China's Alliance with the Soviet Union

In August, 1937, tensions were building in and around Shanghai. Japan's military was concerned about Japanese civilians living there, and 2,500 Japanese in the Shanghai area were facing a Chinese army of 120,000 who were stationed just outside the Shanghai area. Anticipating trouble, the Japanese were withdrawing their nationals from Hankow and elsewhere along the Yangtze River.

On August 9, a Japanese Marine lieutenant and his seaman first-class chauffeur shot a Chinese sentry as they were trying to drive into an area controlled by the Chinese army, and the Chinese army shot and killed the two. Then Japan's navy, in charge of security for Japanese in Shanghai, received permission from the cabinet to mobilize. By August 12, the navy's marines were on full alert. Konoe and other ministers agreed that that army should send troops to Shanghai as support, and on August 13 the cabinet approved.

On the night of August 12, Chiang Kai-shek ordered a general offensive against the Japanese. At dawn on the 14th, the Chinese 87th division, with a nascent airforce, attacked the Japanese military positions around Shanghai, and they attacked Japanese textile mills in the area. They tried to sink the Japanese flagship anchored in front of the International Settlement, but they only damaged the ship. That same day, Japanese planes raided the Chinese airfield at Hangchow. And the air war continued to the 15th, when Japan sent its airplanes against Nanjing and the Chinese section of Shanghai.

On August 21, China signed a military pact with the Soviet Union. And China's Communist Party felt that it had a new lease on life -- offered by the Japanese. The Communists had been clamoring for an all out war to rid China of Japanese intrusions, and now they had it. The Red Army was reorganized into the Eighth Route Army, to fight under the centralized command of Chiang Kai-shek, to advance eastward against the Japanese and to carry on guerrilla warfare. The Communist Party announced its "unswerving loyalty" and "unqualified support" for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Fighting against the Japanese invaders would help advance the Communists in the eyes of the public, and the Party gave a directive to its people to join in various organizations pursuing victory, to lay down their lives in the defense of their country, to expel the enemy, and to recover their nation's lost territories.
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Re: Japan Wars against China and the Soviet Union

#3

Post by Heinrich » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:38 am

The Rape of Nanjing
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Memorial in Nanjing

Nanjing memorial, today (Wikimedia commons)

John Rabe
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John Rabe. Hero to the Chinese people. In Germany under occupation authorities he was persecuted for having been a member of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party.

Hirohito was unhappy that fighting continued in China, while his military was reporting that it foresaw control over the Chinese as just around the corner. The Japanese continued to call the war that had erupted an incident. But Chiang Kai-shek saw it as all-out war and was appealing to the League of Nations for help. On October 6, 1937, the League condemned the Japanese action in China, but little help was offered China. From the United States, China received little more than sympathy, and Britain in 1937 was pursuing its policy of timidity, some believing that coercive measures against Japan would drive Japan closer to Germany and Italy.

The Japanese landed troops at Hankow in a move to outflank Chinese forces around Shanghai. Chinese forces around Shanghai began to withdraw toward Nanjing, and Chiang Kai-shek's government in Nanjing withdrew to Chongqing (Chungking) in Sichuan province deep in China's interior, leaving behind in the east a political vacuum to be filled by the Communists.

In November, as the Japanese were pushing toward Nanjing, their exuberance for attack led to air and artillery assaults against U.S. and British gunboats on the Yangtze River. The USS Panay, with American diplomats aboard fleeing Nanjing, sank, and American military men died.

In advancing toward Nanjing, the Japanese were setting fires and killing civilians, and their airforce bombed densely populated cities. By December 7, the Japanese were at Nanjing's outer defenses, and on December 13 Nanjing fell to the Japanese, with Chinese soldiers fleeing from the city or rushing to change into civilian clothes.

The advancing Japanese soldiers blamed the war on the Chinese, and seeing themselves as doing right by their God they were outraged that Chinese soldiers were trying to kill them -- although that it what soldiers were supposed to do. The Japanese soldiers in China were depicting the Chinese as monsters -- while the Chinese were depicting the Japanese as devils. But it was the Japanese soldiers with the power, and without the restraints applied in one’s own society. Righteousness was conducive to atrocities -- as had occurred during the Crusades centuries before.

And now would come what has been called the "Rape of Nanjing." It was extraordinary, but it had origins in part at least in a crudity that was common. At home, Japanese men felt pressures to behave as great if not greater than men felt elsewhere in the world, Japan being a society that put a high premium on accommodation and good behavior. Japanese men were no more inherently violent than men of any other nationality, but new recruits into the military were taught to respect brutality. Soldiers who entered units in combat might have been appalled when first introduced to killing, but, wanting to measure up to the level of the experienced men around them, they struggled to overcome their squeamish respect for the humanity of the enemy. And when occupying Nanjing they were given freedom to act as they pleased against a people whom they had come to despise.

At first it was the Chinese soldiers whom the Japanese victimized. The Japanese were concerned about Chinese soldiers in the city who were masquerading as civilians. Anyone whose appearance, including hand calluses or other markings that suggested they were soldiers, were rounded up and executed. In Nanjing, the Japanese engaged in an orgy of looting and raping. The Japanese soldiers had cameras and forced women to expose themselves -- creating evidence of their actions that would remain into the twenty-first century. Common soldiers felt a new power over women -- the kind of power dreamed of by some adolescents or ineffectual men, including those attracted by the covers of magazines as late as the 1950s that depicted a man with some instrument of violence (pistol, rope, et cetera) in the presence of a helpless woman.

The outrages continued for two months. Members of the international community in Nanjing lodged protests with the Japanese embassy in Nanjing and did what they could to help the Chinese. A leader among them was a German, John Rabe, who had been working in Nanjing for an electronics corporation: Siemans. He was a National Socialist. Wearing his swastika armband for effect, Rabe moved onto rape scenes and commanded that the rapes be halted. And the Japanese soldiers obeyed. Rabe did everything he could to stop the rape and carnage in Nanjing, and his statue now stands in the city as a tribute to his efforts.

Perhaps 60,000 or as many as 100,000 Chinese were killed at Nanjing. One American author, Iris Chang, estimates the number at around 260,000. Whatever the figure, in Japan news of the atrocities was suppressed. Foreign publications were thoroughly censored before being allowed into Japan, and there were no radio broadcasts from abroad trying to bypass Japanese censorship. Neither Hirohito nor the public at large had substantial knowledge about the atrocities at Nanjing. There was little resect for the benefits of a free and unbiased press. Pride reigned with the theme that criticism was not needed and that Japan's soldiers were liberating a thankful Chinese people.
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Re: Japan Wars against China and the Soviet Union

#4

Post by Heinrich » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:41 am

Japan Battles China and the Soviet Union

Japan continued trying to convince Chiang to make a settlement. And in January 1938, frustrated by Chiang's lack of cooperation, Prime Minister Konoe made it clear that Japan would no longer try to deal with Chiang and his government. On January 16, Japan withdrew recognition from Chiang's government and announced a policy of annihilating his regime.

In March 1938, Japan passed the National General Mobilization Law. All aspects of Japanese life were to be arranged to bring society and the economy of Japan to a peak of military efficiency. In May, one of those generals opposed to escalations in China, Ugaki, became Japan's foreign minister. He regretted that the war in China was interrupting plans for economic expansion of Japan's industrial base, that the war was absorbing costly imports of oil, machine tools and steel. He favored ending hostilities, but the military was not about to agree to any withdrawal from engaging the enemy in China. Instead of withdrawal from military confrontations, beginning in July, clashes occurred between Japanese and Soviet forces along the Soviet-Manchurian border. In September 1938, the frustrated Ugaki resigned. And in October, after months of bombing, the Japanese captured the southern city of Canton.

In November, 1938, the Japanese announced a New Order for East Asia. According to the Japanese, the Chinese in this New Order were to be led by a Chinese who had been China's foreign minister and jealous of Chiang Kai-shek -- Wang Jingwei. In this new order, according to the Japanese, trade would be mainly between Japan and China, while nations such as the United States, Britain, Germany and France would be allowed to continue to function in China but would have to settle for leftovers.

One supporter of the New Order was the upcoming General Hideki Tojo, former commander of the Kwantung army and now an army minister. General Tojo saw the New Order as a cooperation between the Chinese and Japanese, with China contributing its raw materials and Japan contributing capital, skills in technology and administration "for the mutual benefit of both countries." This would be his explanation to the United States military authorities after the war.

In July 1939, the Japanese fought Soviet forces along the Manchurian-Soviet border. The world took little notice of how well the Soviet forces performed. The Japanese lost 50,000 dead and wounded -- five times greater than Soviet losses. Hirohito was furious with the army, not so much for losing but for having initiated the fighting. Japan's Kwantung army was planning a new offensive against the Soviet Union when Hirohito sent an order that the battle was to stop. Hirohito told his war minister to sack the commander of the Kwantung army. Then he returned to his passivity toward the military, in tune with the popular view that the military was heroically pursuing the interests of the nation.
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