Sino-Japanese War, 1937

At the same time that Hitler and the Nazi regime were claiming the need for expansion in Europe, the Japanese were increasing their presence on the Chinese mainland, claiming the need for more resources and new markets to support their growing population and burgeoning industrial economy. Japan and China had been in conflict before; only 40 years earlier the Qing dynasty suffered a humiliating defeat in the first Sino-Japanese war in which it was forced to cede control of Korea and the island of Formosa (Taiwan) to the Japanese.While still recovering from the chaos of the civil war that ended the Qing dynasty, as well as an ongoing struggle for power between the Nationalist and Communist factions, the newly formed Republic of China was soon faced with the expansionist ambitions of the Meiji empire. In 1931, the Japanese invaded the Chinese mainland and claiming to act for the liberation of the people of Manchuria, establishing a puppet government in Manchukuo. A series of small skirmishes throughout the 1930s broke out into full total war in July of 1937. What began as a small exchange of gunfire near the Marco Polo bridge which formed the main access point to Beijing exploded into a major battle in which the Japanese invaded and captured Beijing and the neighboring port city of Tianjin. The numerically superior Japanese forces quickly swept other major cities, including the Communist capital of Nanjing (Nanking) in which approximately 300,000 Chinese civilians were brutally slaughtered. Over the next eight years, the Chinese Nationalist (under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek) and Communist factions (under the leadership of Mao Zedong) struggled to maintain a unified resistance to the technologically superior Japanese forces. Strong civilian and guerrilla resistance to the Japanese invasion in combination with support from the Western allies simultaneously combating the Japanese in the Pacific theater of WWII led to a Chinese victory in September 1945. Peace was short-lived, however. By the spring of 1946, tensions between the Nationalist and Communist factions again exploded into a Civil War that would last until 1950.

1937-Defeat-Japanese-imperialismA 1937 Chinese poster calls for Japanese imperialism to be stomped out

Japanese Chamber of Commerce “The Sino-Japanese Conflict” (1937) Top

Source: Bruno Lasker and Agnes Roman. 1938. Propaganda from China and Japan. Camden, NJ: Haddon Craftsmen, Inc. (p. 16, 30, 44)

“Appeal to Reason”

Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek’s Government at Nanking has been bent upon provoking war. It had decided to strike at Japan while Japan’s military preparations were not completed….It believed that China had at least an even chance of winning a war with Japan and of regaining the lost territory of Manchukuo.

Chinese Militarism, backed by Communist Imperialism, struck at Japan. Japan, for self-preservation, struck back. That is the naked truth of the Sino-Japanese hostilities….Japan could not sit still and watch the Red-White avalanche moving against her. Her country is small. Her man-power is limited. She had to strike back swiftly, before the avalanche was upon her.

For forty years Japan struggled to establish friendly cooperation with China on the sound basis of live and let live….If tiny Cuba, corrupt and backward, was a menace to great America, a corrupt and Western-dominated China, a hundred times the size of Cuba, was an infinitely greater mance to little Japan….

“The Sino-Japanese Crisis”

When China is involved in trouble with Japan in the North, there is always trouble in the South, particularly in the Shanghai sector. It was so in 1932. So it is on the present occasion.

The reason is obvious. On order to divide and weaken the Japanese Army in North China, the Chinese strategists think it is a good move to ‘start something ‘ in the South.

In the Shanghai sector Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek’s crack divisions are firmly entrenched. They are provided with all the paraphernalia of modern warfare. Their underground and surface fortifications are supposed to be impregnable. Here they fight in a terrain familiar to them but strange to the Japanese. Everything is to their own advantage. The temptation is too great for them not to draw the Japanese to this vantage ground….

It is hardly necessary to say that the basic policy of the Japanese government aims at the stabilization of East Asia through conciliation and cooperation between Japan, Manchoukuo, and China for their common prosperity and well being. Since, however, CHina, ignoring our true motive, has mobilized her vast armies against us, we can only counter her step by force of arms.

For more than fifteen years, Japan strove and struggled to be friendly with China in the face of China’s studied policy of rebuff and insult…No nation situated as Japan has been in her relations with China can be as patient as she has been. Patience is a virtue; but there is a limit beyond which one’s patience should not be taxed.

Statement of the Chinese Government (1937) Top

Source: Bruno Lesker and Agnes Roman. 1938. Propaganda from China and Japan. Camden, NJ: Haddon Craftsmen, Inc. (p. 24)

With a view to avoiding further hostilities and effecting a peaceful settlement with Japan through regular diplomatic channels, the Chinese authorities, with great self-restraint and forbearance in the face of repeated provocative attacks by the Japanese forces, proposed a mutual withdrawal of troops in order to separate the two opposing forces and, later, as an unmistakable proof of China’s peaceful intentions, actually proceeded to withdraw her troops from the scene of the conflict even before Japan commenced a similar withdrawal.

On the other hand, the Japanese deliberately aggravated the situation by immediately despatching large reinforcements to the Province of Hopei, by renewing their offensive in the Wanping-Lukouchiao area, and by extending the field of conflict to the immediate outskirts of Peiping.

General Hayashi’s Speech to the Japanese Diet, 14 February 1937 Top

Source: Keesing’s Record of World Events. February, 1937, Japan. Page 2647. Accessed 17 April 2012

General Hayashi, Premier and Foreign Minister, in his speech at the opening of the Diet on Feb 14 declared:

“The Government will pursue in the spirit of international justice a national policy embodying the unanimous will of the nation in order to secure the stability of East Asia and promote the common prosperity of all nations and brighten thereby the horizon of our international relations.
As regards China it is to be deeply regretted that despite our efforts in the past to act in concert with their country for the parpose of ensuring stability in East Asia the Chinese Government have as yet failed to understand fully our true intentions, and there have arisen a member of problems between the two countries.

No matter what obstacles there may be we are resolved to surmount them and effect the adjustment of relations between the two countries.

For the sake of peace in the Orient it is, of course, necessary that the Soviet Union should correctly comprehend Japan’s position in East Asia and that both the Soviet Union and Japan should seek to establish harmonious relations.

A short time ago our Government concluded with the German Government an agreement guarding against the menace of the Committee. This was a timely measure, as well as one of imperative necessity for Japan to take in the light of the rampant activities of the Comintern thoughout the world, especial in East Asia in the recent time. The Government will try not to err in the execution of the agreement. But will do their utmost to secure the best result therefrom
Japan’s policy of promoting friendship with Great Britain and the United States is immutable Between the former country and exist questions of various sorts requiring adjustment:

But none of them is of such a character as will impair the foundations of the Anglo-japanese friendship. I firmly believe that they will be solved through mutual understanding
As for the naval disarmament problem. Japan from this year on is not a party to any limitation treaty however, it is need-less to say that there shall be no change in our policy of strict adherence, to the principle of non menace and non aggression Finally, the Government will do everything to eliminate whatsoever obstacles that against foreign trade of Japan exist, and will take appropriate steps to expand its volume” (Times)

“The Limit of China’s Endurance”, Chiang Kai-shek’s address to Chinese Leaders, 17 July 1937 Top

Source: Chinese Ministry of Information. 1946. The Collected Wartime Messages of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek: 1937-1945. Volume I. New York: The John Day Company. (pp. 21-25)


Just when China was exerting every effort to preserve peace with other nations and to secure internal unity, the Lukouchia incident suddenly burst upon us. Not only was our whole nation thrown into a state of profound indignation, but world opinion also was deeply shocked. The consequences of this incident threatened not only the very existence of China, but the peace and prosperity of mankind. You, who have upon your hearts our nation’s difficulties, are naturally very anxious over this incident, and therefore I want to take this opportunity to set forth simply but clearly certain significant points in relation to it.

In the first place, the Chinese have ever been a peace-loving race. The internal policy of the National Government has always been directed toward our own survival as a nation, and our foreign policy toward the corporate survival of the family of nations. In February of this year (1937), at the Plenary Session of the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang, a Manifesto was issued in which these points were even more clearly emphasized. For the last two years the National Government, in its policy toward japan, has consistently followed these principles, in the hope that the confusion caused by Japan’s arbitrary actions might be overcome, and all problems might be dealt with through recognized diplomatic channels, so that a just settlement could be reached. The facts show how earnest have been our efforts both within the country and abroad.

I feel strongly that if we are to meet this national crisis, we must first of all realize the position of our own country. We are a weak nation; therefore it is all the more necessary that we should have a true estimate of our strength. Peace is an absolute essential for the reconstruction of the nation. It is for this reason that for the past few years we have striven hard to maintain peace with other nations, in spite of all the injustice and suffering that has been our lot. In my report on foreign affairs at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Kuomintang the year before last, I stated that while there was the slightest hope for peace, we would not abandon it; so long as we had not reached the limit of endurance, we would not talk lightly of sacrifice. The explanation of the meaning of the phrase “the limit of endurance,” given at the Central Executive Session in February of this year showed plainly our love of peace and our anxiety to maintain it.

Since we are a weak country, there is only one thing to do when we reach the limit of endurance: we must throw every ounce of energy into the struggle for our national existence and independence. When that is done, neither time nor circumstances will permit our stopping midway to seek peace. We should realize that the only condition on which it would be possible to secure peace after war has once begun would be complete surrender, which would mean the complete annihilation of our race. Let our people realize to the full meaning of “the limit of endurance,” and the extent of sacrifice implied. For, once that stage is reached, we can only sacrifice and fight to the bitter end. Only a determination to sacrifice ourselves to the uttermost can bring us ultimate victory. Should we hesitate, however, and vainly hope for ease and safety, we shall tumble into an abyss from which there will be no hope of escape even though we endure “a myriad ages of suffering.”

Secondly, there may be people who imagine that the Lukouchiao incident was a sudden and unpremeditated event. But for the past month there have been statements coming from the other side (Japan), either directly through the press or through diplomatic channels, which to us were all omens that an incident was imminent. Furthermore, the night before the incident occurred, various reports were circulated to the effect that the Japanese were going to expand the Tangku Agreement, enlarge the bogus East Hopei Government, drive out the 29th Army, and force the resignation of General Sung Cheh-yuan. There were countless other reports of similar demands too numerous to mention. From this, it can easily be seen that the Lukouchiao incident was not a sudden or accidental development. Rather we must realize from what has transpired in connection with this incident, that the other side has been most assiduous in its designs against us, and that peace, therefore, cannot be easily secured.

At the present moment the only way to maintain peace and to avoid trouble would be to allow the Japanese armies to come and go without let or hindrance within our country. Our own troops, on the other hand, would have to put with all kinds of restrictions and would not be allowed to take up positions freely on their own territory. They would even have to allow the Japanese to fire upon them without being able to return the fire! There is an old saying, “He is the sacrificial knife and bowl, and I am the sacrificial meat and fish.” We are about to reach its most terrible condition. No country in the world with the slightest semblance of self-respect could possibly accept such humiliation.

The four Northeastern Provinces have already been lost to us for six years. Following this loss, came the Tangku Agreement, and now the area of conflict has spread to Lukouchiao at the very gates of Peiping. If we should allow Lukouchiao to be occupied by force, the result would be that Peiping, which was our ancient capital for five hundred years, and which is the political, cultural, and strategic center of North China, would become a second Mukden. And if Peiping becomes a second Mukden, Hopei and Chahar will share the fate of the four Northeastern Provinces. What, then, will prevent Nanking from becoming a second Peiping? The developments at Lukouchiao therefore raise problems involving the existence of the nation as a whole. Whether they can be amicably settled or not will determine whether we have reached “the limit of endurance.”

Thirdly, if it should turn out that we have reached the limit, and a conflict is unavoidable, tehn we cannot do otherwise then resist and be prepared for the supreme sacrifice. But our attitude will be simply one of resistance: we have not sought war; it will have been forced upon us. We will resist because there is no other possible way of meeting the situaiton, when the limit of endurance is reached. All our people must have confidence in the National Government, and realize that it is in the process f making comprehensive preparations for the defense of the country. We are a weak nation, and our policy is to maintain peace; it is impossible for us to seek war. We are weak, yet we must fight for the life of our race, and shoulder the historic responsibilities handed down to us by our fathers and all the generations before us. When there is no alternative, we shall have to resist. Let us realize, however, that once the war has begun, there will be no opportunity for a weak nation to seek a compromise. If we allow one inch more of our territory to be lost, or our sovereignty to again be infringed, we shall be guilty of committing an unpardonable offense against our race. There will then be no way left but to throw all the resources of our nation into a grim struggle for ultimate victory.

Fourthly, whether the Lukouchiao incident will grow into a war between China and japan depends entirely on the attitude of the Japanese Government. Whether or not there is any hope for peace between China and Japan depends entirely upon the actions of the Japanese Army. We shall continue to hope for a peaceful solution through diplomatic means, until the very last moment before hope of peace is finally abandoned.

We take our stand on these four clear principles:

1. Any settlement reached must not infringe upon China’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights.

2. The status of the Hopei and Chahar Political Council must not be subjected to any illegal alteration.

3. Local official appointed by the Central government, such as General Sung Cheh-yuan, the Chairman of Hopei and Chahar Political Council, may not be removed or changed as a result of outside pressure.

4. There shall be no restrictions vis-a-vis the position now held by the 29th Army.

These principles constitute the minimum basis for diplomatic negotiations in view of the weakness of our nation. If japan would only place herself in our position, and take a wide view of the interests of the peoples in the East; if she does not wish to force our two countries into hostilities, and does not want to make them enemies forever, then she ought not to dismiss lightly these conditions which are the minimum that can be considered. to sum up: The National Government in relation to the Lukouchiao incident has followed a consistent policy and adopted a consistent attitude. We must maintain this position and policy with all our strength.

We hope for peace, but we do not seek an easy path to peace; we prepare for war, but we do not want war. When we reach the point where the whole nation must take up arms, then we know we shall have to sacrifice to the very end without the slightest hope of avoiding suffering by some sudden turn of fortune. Once the battle is joined there can be no distinction between north and south, nor between old and young. Everyone everywhere will have to shoulder the responsibility for protecting the country and for resisting the foe. Everyone will have to give everything that he ahs. Knowing this, the Government is exercising great caution as it approaches the grave crisis. Let the whole nation with calmness and discipline prepare for self-defense. At this moment when the issue of peace and war hangs in the balance, only our united efforts to maintain strict discipline and order can save the nation. When you return to your home districts I trust that you will pass this message on to all the people, so that they may understand clearly the present situation and be absolutely loyal to the State. I am counting earnestly upon you.

“Drive out the Invader”, Chiang Kai-shek’s address to the Chinese armed forces, July 1937 Top

Source: Chinese Ministry of Information. 1946. The Collected Wartime Messages of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek: 1937-1945. Volume I. New York: The John Day Company. (pp. 36-40)

Following recent developments at Lukouchiao, the Japanese have by low and treacherous methods seized our cities, Peiping and Tentsin, and have killed many of our fellow-countrymen. There is no end to the humiliation and insults that they have heaped upon us. To think about it makes the heart sick. Since the Mukden incident on September 18, 1931, the more indignities we have borne the more we have yielded, the more violent has Japanese oppression become. Given them an inch and they take afoor. Now we have reached the point when we can endure it no longer; we will give way no more. The whole nation must rise as one man and fight these Japanese bandits until we have destroyed them, and our own life is secure.

We soldiers in normal times are fed and supplied by the blood and sweat of our fellow-countrymen. How eager we should now be to show ourselves brave and faithful and to fulfill our duty of protecting the people. As Commander -in-Chief I must carry the entire responsibility for the lives of my soldiers and the safety of the State. Naturally I must put forth my maximum effort and keep firm girp on the fundamental conditions of victory. You, too, must do your part. Victory is assured, if only all our troops will obey orders wholeheartedly. We shall certainly defeat these Japanese robbers, and wipe out our humiliation. Now that we have hurled defiance at Japan and are going to fight to the death, I must bring to your close attention the following very important points:

1. We must resolve to sacrifice to the limit.

You must realize that the Japanese have been able to rob us of our territory by clever opportunism. You must also realize that unless they receive some heavy blows, they certainly will not stop their policy of aggression. Since the whole nation now is unitedly resisting the invaders, they will be sure (for the sake of face) to put out their maximum effort into the fight. Now that the war has started, it is sure to last long; if it does not end in the destruction of the Japanese, it will end in ours. We must all be of one mind and fight to eh death. Victory or defeat depends on the spirit shown. If I do not fear an enemy he is sure to fear me. Those who are afraid are sure to be defeated, whole those who are not afraid are sure to win. Although our military equipment is not equal to that of the enemy, yet if we retain the revolutionary spirit that is ready for any sacrifice and keeps loyal and brave to the end, and in that spirit go forward against the foe, there will be no question of Japan’s defeat. The Japanese are only good at opportunist moves; they are unwilling to face any real sacrifice.

2. We must firmly believe that final victory is ours.

Since the Japanese invaders reached the interior of our country, where they are unfamiliar with the terrain and are confronted on all sides by our fellow-countrymen, hostile to them, they find they can hardly advance. Consequently they are all imbued with a spirit of fear – fear of death – and an unwillingness to sacrifice themselves. Their progress now is very slow; they are afraid to advance quickly. They can only use their planes and big guns to bombard us heavily, hoping to terrify us and make us retreat, and thus avoid the necessity of a real battle. If we will resolve to fight to the last an stubbornly resist all aggression, fering neither suffering, nor hardship, nor even death itself; if we husband our ammunition, take careful aim, defend all positions to the last, and wear down the invader’s strength, then without question the victory will be ours. If there is no panic or confusion as the battle draws near, if, when we have suffered some losses or have met with temporary reverses, we make good use of the weak points of the Japanese – their unwillingness to sacrifice themselves, their fear of advancing too quickly – if we calmly reinforce our position and carry on the struggle, then we shall most certainly win in the end.

3. We must make full use of our mental powers and take the initiative.

In the history of war, general strategy and tactics have naturally been the responsibility of the highest authority, the Commander-in-Chief and his Staff. But the officers of each unit must on their own initiative study the situation before them and implement the orders of headquarters, for example, in matters that concern local topography, the details of the enemy’s condition and of our own, the organization of guerrillas, and the use of spies. Ways and means of meeting emergencies caused by the loss of contact in the thick of the fight, or by the breakdown of communications when orders can no longer get through, must be devised by the officers of each unit, using their own mental powers to secure the victory. All officers from army, division, and brigade commanders down to subalterns must learn to take the initiative.

4. Soldier and civilians must be united in a common bond of love and sincerity.

In any war victory is assured if the support of the people is obtained. This particular War of Resistance should arouse the people everywhere throughout our land to exert all their strength and to risk their very lives against the enemy. But if we expect the ordinary people and the soldiers wholeheartedly to unite their efforts, if we expect them to work in perfect harmony and to help each other, then you soldiers must first show your genuine love for the people and win their trust and confidence. As for ways of showing your love and sincerity, there are many. When it is necessary to conscript labor, always demonstrate your sympathy with those you have to conscript, and do not overwork them so that they murmur and complain. When you meet women, old folks, or children who have met with misfortune, help them to the limit of your powers; treat them as though they were members of your own family. When you talk with civilians in war areas or near the front, make clear to them that the nation has reached a crisis in its history, a time of extreme danger; and that since they are part of the Chinese nation, it is their duty to rise as one body, destroy the enemy, and save their country. In any case you must, wherever you are, help the civilian population, instruct them and guide them, protect them and save them, and so give evidence of your love and sincerity. If you sympathize with them in their sufferings, and share in their joys and sorrows, then soldiers and civilians will form a closely knit body, and the civilians will naturally be glad to help. There will be no cause for traitors to spring up, and the enemy will meet with defeat everywhere.

5. We must stubbornly hold our ground: there must be no retreat, only advance.

It is the essence of our revolutionary spirit that we know only advance, not retreat. The success of our revolution in the past has been due to this two-fold principle: advance, but never retreat. The principle is even more necessary in this war against the Japanese invader. If we can carry it out, then the brave need not be anxious, and those who fear to die and want to retreat will not dare to do so. The Japanese, relying on their superior armament, will bombard us heavily in the hope of forcing us to retreat so that they can advance. But if our soldiers stand firm as a rock, and stubbornly hold their positions in the spirit of “advance but never retreat”; if they wait until the enemy gets near, then break through his lines and engage him in hand-to-hand fighting, airplanes and heavy guns will be of no use to the enemy, and the long experience of our troops will bring us final victory. If any soldiers, before being ordered to do so by the Commander-in-Chief, return of their own accord, they will be punished individually and collectively, because they undermine morale and do grave injury to the State; they should be treated exactly like traitors, for they have “led the wolf into the fold, and guided the tiger to his prey.” If an officer or soldier meets anyone who has retreated without the Generalissimo’s orders, he should not spare him, but put him to death as a traitor. We each of us must die one day, but our death should be a worthy one, a glorious one. Rather than be put to death under military law for retreating without orders, leaving an infamous name for all time, would it not be far better to make the supreme sacrifice at the front and leave a fragrant memory down the centuries? The National Government at the present moment is considering an order setting forth rewards for those who hold stubbornly to important positions. Anyone who resolutely defends an important position and refuses to retreat, will be promoted three ranks; his father and grandfather will be honored as well as himself, and similarly his children and grandchildren. So you must hold your positions, firmly refusing to retreat, bringing glory to the nation and winning an honorable name for yourselves. But anyone who of his own accord and without orders retires from his post will be treated as a traitor and shot without mercy.

These are the five most important conditions for driving out the Japanese invader and for resurrecting our nation. I shall have other important pronouncements in due course. Meanwhile, remember that since September 18, 1931, when we lost the four Northeastern Provinces, we have been through much bitter suffering and have lost a great deal of territory. How can we for a moment forget this deep humiliation? Why have we patiently endured Japan’s insults during all these years, not returning curses for curses or blows for blows? Because we wanted to settle our internal problems in order to have strength to resist to the end. If we are to resist to the end, the whole country must be united, ready for any sacrifice, willing to fight the Japanese to the death.

We are all descendants of Hwang Ti who have sworn allegiance to the Revolution. Should we not fight to the last and so pay our country what we owe her? Only thus can we be worthy of our great leader, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and of the heroes who have laid down their lives before us. Only thus can we preserve the spacious land and glorious heritage passed down to us by our ancestors. Only then can we requite our parents and teachers for the faithful instructions and the training that they have given us. Only thus can we be true to the generations that follow us.

Soldiers! The supreme moment has come. With one heart and purpose advance. Refuse to retreat. Drive out the unspeakable evil invaders and bring about the rebirth of our nation.

National Government Statement of Invasion, 15 August 1937 Top

Source: The Chinese Ministry of Information. 1943. China Handbook: 1937-1943. New York: The MacMillan Company. (pp. 136-138)

During recent years the Chinese Government and people have devoted their united efforts to the building of a modern China capable of realizing her ardent aspirations for achieving a status of independence and equality in the family of nations.

Internally, China’s efforts have been directed toward economic and cultural rehabilitation, while externally she has upheld the principles of peace and justice. Believing in the harmony of her aspirations for national independence and co-existence with other nations, she has scrupulously observed all international treaties to which she is a signatory, such as the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Nine-Power Treaty and the Paris Peace Pact.

Unfortunately, since September 18, 1931, Japan has seized from China the four Northeastern provinces and plunged the important port of Shanghai into a devastating conflict. Launching further attacks from Jehol, she indulged in indiscriminate killing and extensive incendiarism along the Great Wall. She has set up and is in full control of the puppet regime in East Hopei. She has caused bandits and irregulars to disturb peace and order in north Chahar.

In addition to such grave assaults upon China’s territorial integrity, she has further violated our aerial sovereignty by causing her military and other airplanes to make innumerable flights over different parts of CHina. She has acquiesced and lent support in the organization of smuggling by her nationals on an unprecedented scale, causing enormous loss to China’s national revenue as well as to the legitimate trade of other countries. Nor did she hesitate to stoop to such unscrupulous practices at the encouragement of the illicit drug traffic and the supply of arms to bandits and robbers. She has magnified and made use of all kinds of incidents, real or imaginary, by presenting preposterous demands upon China and also using them as pretexts for taking unilateral action.

Although none of these aggressions could be tolerated by any nation in the world without endangering its independence and existence, China has time and again endured the intolerable, hoping all the while that Japan might realize her mistakes. But even this last ray of hope has been shattered by the incident which Japan created at Lukuochiao.

The outbreak of the Lukouchia incident must be fundamentally attributed to the excessive increase of the Japanese garrison at Tientsin and the frequent maneuvers unlawfully held at places not permitted under the Treaty of 1901. Such actions were sufficient to cause the outbreak of incidents almost at any moment in the area involved.

Late in the night of July 7, the Japanese troops chose again to hold such unlawful maneuvers at Lukouchia and followed them up with a sudden attack upon the city of Wanping. The Chinese garrison there was constrained to take defensive measures, and the subsequent hostilities resulted in the destruction of thousands of Chinese lives and an immense amount of property by Japanese gunfire. All these facts are now well known to the world.

The actions on the part of the Japanese after the outbreak of Lukouchia incident are further worthy of note. While repeatedly giving assurances that the Japanese Government did not desire to aggravate the situation, large numbers of additional troops with several squadrons of airplanes, tanks and other ultra-modern implements of war, poured into Hopei province from Manchuria, Korea and Japan Proper. Such acts of systematic armed aggression cannot be obscured by mere verbal professions.

Anxious to seek a peaceful settlement, the Chinese authorities in a most conciliatory spirit entered into discussions with the Japanese with a view to averting the imminent danger of a catastrophe. On July 12, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs suggested to the Counsellor of the Japanese Embassy the immediate cessation of military movements on both sides, but received no response from the Japanese Government.

On July 19, the Chinese Government formally renewed its proposal in writing for the simultaneous cessation of troop movements and mutual withdrawal of troops to their respective original positions on a date to be agreed upon by both sides. It was also unequivocally stated that for the settlement of the unfortunate affair, the Chinese Government was prepared to accept any pacific means recognized by international law and treaties, such as direct negotiations, good offices, mediation, or arbitration. Unfortunately, all these demarches failed to elicit any response from Japan.

Meanwhile the CHinese local authorities, actuated by the desire to maintain peace, had accepted certain terms of a settlement proposed by the Japanese to which the Chinese Government, with the greatest forbearance, did not raise objection. But no sooner had such a settlement been effected than the Japanese troops, without any pretext, directed further attacks on the Chinese positions at Lukouchiao, Langfang and other places.

An ultimatum was delivered on July 26, demanding among other things the withdrawal of CHinese troops from Peiping, which was entirely outside the terms of the settlement already reached. Such demands being absolutely impossible of acceptance, the Japanese troops, without even waiting for a reply, before the expiration of the time limit set in the ultimatum, started a fierce offensive against Peiping and Tientsin, centers of Chinese cultural and international trade, respectively, in North China. Chinese troops stationed in the environs of Nanyuan suffered tremendous casualties as the result of sudden attacks by Japanese bombing airplanes and tanks.

In the course of a bloody assault on Tientsin an immense number of CHinese civilians were mercilessly killed or injured, while public buildings, shops, dwelling-houses and educational and cultural institutions were deliberately destroyed by artillery and aerial bombardment. After having committed these atrocities, the Japanese forces are now advancing toward southern Hopei and carrying the war scourge into Chahar with fierce attacks on Nankow. Thus the Japanese have been consistently provoking hostilities and extending their war operations, while at the same time making magnificent professions of their desire to effect a local settlement and to avoid further aggravation of the situation.

While hostilities were raging in North China, the Chinese Government, solicitous of the immense commercial and other interests, both foreign and Chinese, concentrated in the important metropolis of Shanghai, repeatedly ordered the municipal authorities of Greater Shanghai and the PEace PReservation Corps there to take special precautions against the occurrence of any untoward incident. On the evening of August 9, however, a Japanese officer, accompanied by a seaman, attempted to force an entry into the Chinese military airdome at Hungiao, regardless of Chinese warnings, and thus precipitated an incident resulting the death of the two Japanese and a Chinese sentry belonging to the Peace Preservation Corps.

The Chinese municipal authorities proposed that an equitable settlement be sought through diplomatic channels, but the Japanese Government has dispatched to Shanghai a large number of warships and additional armed forces and, at the same time, presented various demands calculated to undermine or reduce Chinese strength for self-defense.

Japanese airplanes have flown over Shanghai, Hangchow, Ningpo, and other cities near the Kiangsu and Chekiang coasts, undoubtedly with a view to commencing military operations. On the 13th instant, Japanese armed forces launched vigorous attacks on the Chinese Civic Center at Shanghai.

Such action, together with the dispatch of immense numbers of Japanese troops into Hopei after the outbreak of the Lukouchia incident, clearly shows that Japan is bent on executing her traditional policy of continental expansion and conquest.

Using the Shanghai Armistice Agreement of May 5, 1932, as a pretext, Japan has sought to prevent China from taking legitimate measures of self-defense during the present acute emergency. It must be borne in mind that the aim and spirit of the agreement were to insure that, within a specified area, both parties would exercise self-restraint and moderation in order to avoid any armed clash prejudicial to the progress of peaceful negotiations. If one party, after having violated its undertakings by advancing troops at its own will, attempted to impose on the other party restrictions of such a nature as to render it completely powerless against aggression, such an attempt was indeed based on a perversion of the agreement which could not be justified either legally or morally.

The Chinese Government now solemnly declares that China’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights have been wantonly violated by Japan in glaring violation of such peace instruments as the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Nine-Power Treaty and Paris Peace Pact. China is in duty bound to defend her territory and her national existence as well as the sanctity of the above mentioned treaties. We will never surrender any part of our territory. When confronted with aggression we cannot but exercise our natural right of self-defense. If Japan did not entertain territorial designs on China she should use her efforts to seek a rational solution of Sino-Japanese problems and at the same time cease all her armed aggression and military movements in China. In the event of such a happy change of heart, China would, in conformity with her traditional policy of peace, continue her efforts to avert a situation pregnant with dangerous possibilities both for East Asia and for the world at large.

In this our supreme fight not only for a national but for a world cause, not only for the preservation of our own territory and sovereignty but for the maintenance of international justice, we are confident that all friendly nations, in addition to showing sympathy with us, will be conscious of their obligations under the international treaties to which they have solemnly subscribed.

Statement of the Chinese Government to the League of Nations, 30 August 1937 Top

Source: China [Government]. 1937. “Statement of the Chinese Government to the League of Nations,” pp. 73-76 in China Faces Japan, Arthur A. Young, ed. New York: Chinese Christian’s Student Organization.

On the evening of July 7th, Japanese troops held illegal manoeuvres at Lukouchiao, a railway junction of strategic importance in the vicinity of Peiping, where their presence could not be defended under any existing treaty or agreement. Alleging that one Japanese soldier was missing, Japanese troops demanded after midnight to enter the adjacent city of Wanping to conduct a search. When permission was refused by the Chinese authorities, the Japanese suddenly opened an attack on Wanping with infantry and artillery forces and thus the Chinese garrison was compelled to offer resistance.

While the Chinese authorities from the very beginning showed their willingness to reach an amicable settlement of the Lukouchiao incident, Japan has sought to exploit the incident for furthering her designs on North China and relentlessly forced China to resort to armed resistance, thus precipitating a sanguinary conflict of which the world has as yet only witnessed the beginning.

With a view to avoiding further hostilities and effecting a peaceful settlement with Japan through regular diplomatic channels, the Chinese authorities with great self-restraint and forbearance, in face of repeated provocative attacks by Japanese forces, proposed a mutual withdrawal of able proof of China’s peaceful intentions, actually proceeded to withdraw her troops from the scene of conflict even before Japan commenced similar withdrawal.

On the other hand, the Japanese deliberately aggravated the situation by immediately despatching large reinforcements to the province of Hopei, tending the field of conflict to the immediate outskirts of Peiping.

In spite of such grave provocations, the Chinese local authorities continued their efforts for peaceful settlement and, on July 11th, accepted the following terms proposed by the Japanese:
1) expression of regret by a representative of the military authorities, disciplinary measures against officers directly involved in the conflict and guarantee against recurrence of similar incidents;
2) replacement of Chinese regular troops at Lukouchiao and Lungwangmiao by peace preservation corps and
3) effective suppression of anti-Japanese and Communist organizations in the Hopei Province.

On July 12th, the Counsellor of the Japanese Embassy, accompanied by an assistant Japanese military attache and an assistant naval attache, acting under instructions from his government, called at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and advised the Chinese Government ‘not to interfere’ with the local settlement which had been reached on the previous day. The Japanese Counsellor received the reply that any local arrangement, in order to be binding, must be approved by the Chinese Central Government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also proposed the mutual withdrawal of troops to their original positions pending the final settlement of the incident.

While the Chinese local authorities were carrying out the terms of the agreement by withdrawing their troops, the Japanese extended their warlike activities and provocative attacks to the Peiping-Tientsin area. By July 15th it was estimated that over twenty thousand Japanese troops and a hundred aeroplanes had been concentrated in this area with further reinforcements held in readiness on the other side of the Great Wall. Under threat of military coercion the negotiations between local representatives were rendered exceedingly difficult, especially as Japanese attempted to dictate measures for complementing the agreement of July 11th.

China’s Memorandum to Nine Power Signatories

On July 16th, China presented a memorandum to the Governments of Powers signatory to the Nine-Power Treaty (with exception of Japan) and Governments of Germany and Soviet Russia, drawing their attention to the fact that the sudden attack on Lukouchiao and the invasion of North China by large Japanese military forces constituted a clear violation of China’s sovereignty, contrary to the letter and spirit of the Nine-Power Treaty, the Paris Peace Pact and the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was also stated in the memorandum that, while China was obliged to employ all means at her disposal to defend her territory and national existence, she nevertheless held herself in readiness to settle her differences with Japan by any of the pacific means known to international law or treaties.

On July 17th, the Japanese Embassy presented a memorandum to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding the Central Government not to interfere with local negotiations, nor to make military preparations of any kind. On the same day, the Japanese military attache, under instructions from the Tokyo War Office, made representations to the Chinese MInistry of War against the entry of Chinese reinforcements into the Hopei Province even for defensive purposes and threatened with ‘grave consequences’ if the demand be not complied with.

To such preposterous representations the Chinese Government, on July 19th, replied in writing, renewing its proposal for simultaneous cessation of troop movements on both sides and mutual withdrawal of troops to their respective original positions on date to be agreed upon by both parties. It was also unequivocally stated in the reply that for the settlement of the incident the Chinese Government was prepared to accept any pacific means known to international law or treaties, such as direct negotiations, good offices, mediation and arbitration. Unfortunately, these conciliation demarches failed to receive the desired response. That the Chinese Government went to the utmost limit of forbearance was shown by the fact that it did not raise objection to the terms of the agreement reached on July 11th between the Chinese local authorities and the Japanese army.

Thus it will be readily seen that since the outbreak of the Lukouchiao incident, Japan has sought to exploit it in two ways for realising her object of military, political and economic domination over North China. On the military side, she persisted in sending to the Hopei province enormous numbers of armed forces that would only be required for large scale campaign and, at the same time, sought to prevent the Central Government from taking precautionary defence measures, so that she would be in position more effectively to bring local authorities to subjection. Diplomatically, she has endeavoured to coerce the Chinese Central Government into keeping its hands off North China and agreeing in advance to whatever terms the local authorities, when left alone to face Japanese military pressure, might be forced to accept.

Finally, seeing that China refused to act according to their wish, the Japanese army presented an ultimatum to the Chinese local authorities on July 26th, demanding, among other things, the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Peiping and its vicinity which, it may be noted, was outside the rms of the agreement of July 11th. Even before the expiration of the time-limit fixed by the ultimatum, Japanese military and air forces launched a big offensive against the Peiping-Tientsin area causing a widespread feeling of horror and dismay by their wanton destruction of civilian lives and property, including many educational and cultural institutions.

The Shanghai Incident of August 9

After the Chinese troops had withdrawn from the Peiping-Teintsin area, Japanese armed forces further extended their operations into southern Hopei and laos northward into Hopei-Chahar border, where fierce attacks are being made on the strategic pass of Nankou. It was estimated by August 20th that Japanese troops in North China totalled approximately hundred thousand strong. The concentration of such large force on Chinese soil shows that Japan is irrevocably committed to a policy of military conquest and expansion on the Asiatic continent.

Fearing that Japan would bring the war scourge to Shanghai, the financial and economic centre for China, as she did following her occupation of Manchuria, the Chinese Government, during the critical tension in North China, repeatedly ordered the local authorities at Shanghai to take special precautions against the occurrence of any untoward incident. China’s efforts to preserve peace of that great metropolis were however frustrated as a result of the incident of August 9th, in which on Japanese naval officer, one Japanese seaman and a member of the Chinese Peace Preservation Corps were killed in a clash arising from the Japanese naval men’s attempt to approach the Chinese military aerodrome near Shanghai, regardless of Chinese warnings.

While the Chinese municipal authorities immediately proposed that settlement be sought through diplomatic channels, Japan against preferred the arbitrament of force. Within less than 48 hours she concentrated about thirty warships at Shanghai and had her armed forces there increased by several thousand. At the same time, demands calculated to remove or undermine Chinese defence were made on Chinese authorities. The expected attack opened on August 13th, four days after the incident, when Japanese naval forces both ashore and afloat, using the International Settlement as a base for operations, launched an offensive against the districts of Kiangwan and Chapei.

Since then, the Japanese have extended their air activity to many provinces, including those of Shangtung, Kiangsu, Chekiang, Anhui, Hupei, Hunan and Kiangsi. Daily raids have been made on Nanking, national capital of China, and various other cities of economic or political importance. There is every sign that Japan, relying on the numerical superiority of her air force, aims at crippling China’s strength for resistance by extensive bombing operation in the most prosperous parts of China, where her economic and cultural life as well as foreign commerce are centered.

China’s Case Summarized

The above brief account of what Japan has done since the outbreak of the Lukouchiao incident on July 7th, brings out the following facts most clearly, truthfully and indisputably.

1) Japanese armed forces have invaded China’s territory and are extensively attacking Chinese positions by land, sea and air, in Central as well as North China. It is thus a case of aggression pure and simple.
2) China is exercising her natural right of self-defence, the failure of all other means of repelling violence having compelled her to resort to force, which is contrary to China’s wish.
3) Japan’s present action in China is the continuation of her aggressive program started in Manchuria in September 1931. Japan has now occupied the Peiping-Tientsin area and is bent upon extension of her occupation to the whole of North China and domination of other regions in spite of all her assurances that she has no territorial designs on this country. She is attempting to destroy all the work of reconstruction which the Chinese nation has so steadily and assiduously undertaken during the last ten years.
4). In thus deliberately disturbing the peace of the Far East, Japan has violated the fundamental principles of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Using war as an instrument of national policy and ignoring all the pacific means for the settlement of international controversies, she has violated the Paris Peace Pact of 1927. Acting contrary to her pledge to respect the sovereignty, the independence and the territorial and administrative integrity of china, she has violated the Nine-Power Treaty concluded at Washington in 1922.

Prime Minister’s Speech to the Japanese Diet, September 1937 Top

Source: James L. Huffman. 2011. Modern Japan: a History in Documents. New York: Oxford University Press. (p. 143-144).

Since the outbreak of the affair in North China on July 7th, the fundamental policy of the Japanese Government toward China has been simply and purely to seek the reconsideration of the Chinese Government and the abandonment of its erroneous anti-Japanese policies, with the view of making a basic readjustment in relations between Japan and China. This policy has never undergone a change; even today it remains the same. The Japanese Government has endeavored to save the situation by preventing aggravation of the incident and by limiting its scope. This has been repeatedly enunciated, I trust that is fully understood by you.

The Chinese, however, not only fail to understand the true motives of the Government, but have increasingly aroused a spirit of contempt and have offered resistance toward Japan, taking advantage of the patience of our Government. Thus, but the outburst of uncontrolled national sentiment, the situation has fast been aggravated, spreading in scope to Central and South China. And now, our GOvernment, which has been patient to the utmost, has acknowledged the impossibility of settling the incident passively and locally, and has been forced to deal a firm and decisive blow against the Chinese Government in an active and comprehensive manner.

At the present moment, … the sole measure for the Japanese Empire to adopt is to administer a thoroughgoing blow to the Chinese Army so that it may lose completely its will to fight. And if, at the same time, China fails to realize its mistakes and persists in its stubborn resistance, our Empire is fully prepared for protracted hostilities.

Supplementary Statement of the Chinese Government to the League of Nations, 12 September 1937 Top

Source: China [Government]. 1937. “Supplementary Statement of the Chinese Government to the League of Nations,” pp. 77-80 in China Faces Japan, Arthur A. Young, ed. New York: Chinese Christian’s Student Organization.

Since the presentation of the last statement to the League under date of August 30th, 1937, Japan’s aggression in China has developed further intensity and ruthlessness resulting in much wanton destruction of non-combatant life and property including those of third powers. The gravity of the situation calls for a supplementary statement in which the Chinese government wishes to draw special attention to the following outstanding events;

1) Military and political aspects. The fighting in the Shanghai area which was started on August 13th, 1937, by the Japanese landing party has been intensified with the continual arrival of Japanese military naval and air reinforcements….Hostilities in Shanghai have already exacted an enormous toll in life and property, and with two huge opposing armies locked in a life-and-death encounter, the fighting is likely to be prolonged….In carrying out their deathdealing mission, the Japanese airmen have shown most spiteful disregard for distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Details of this sordid aspect of Japan’s aggression will be given presently.

2). Japan’s declaration of the naval blockade. The Japanese Navy declared on August 25th a blockade against Chinese shipping from Shanghai to a point to the south of Swatow….

3) Japanese bombing of red cross units. Flagrantly violating the Geneva Convention of 1929 to which Japan is a signatory the Japanese forces have repeatedly committed outrages against Red Cross units engaged in humanitarian tasks attending to wounded soldiers….There is absolutely no excuse for the Japanese deliberately to bomb the Red Cross ambulances and lorries.

4) Indiscriminate attacks on non-combatants. Of numerous instances of indiscriminate Japanese attacks from air, few tragic examples serve to illustrate the inexcusable and heinous crimes that have been committed against non-combatants….

5) Wanton destruction of educational and cultural institutions. Since the outbreak of hostilities educational and cultural institutions received special attention of Japanese as objects for their wanton destruction….

The above sketch of what the Japanese armed forces have done on the Chinese territory in the last two weeks shows clearly that Japan is determined to extend her aggressive action to the length and breadth of this country, with the object, as the Japanese themselves have admitted, of destroying the body politic of China and wiping out the very civilization of the Chinese nation thereby realizing Japan’s long cherished dream of continental conquest.

It is further demonstrated by the above-mentioned facts that the Japanese armed forces in invading China’s territory show an utter disregard for all rules of international law, all provisions of treaties, and all precepts of humanity. Law and morality give place to violence and anarchy. Intoxicated by the lust for conquest the invader is bent upon ruthless slaughter and wanton destruction. the lives of four hundred and fifty million people are at stake; the civilization and the security of the whole world are in the balance.

Statement of the Chinese Government to the League of Nations Assembly, 6 October 1937 Top

Source: Bruno Lesker and Agnes Roman. 1938. Propaganda from China and Japan. Camden, NJ: Haddon Craftsmen, Inc. (p. 42-43)

Attention is called to the fact that at the beginning of July, 1937, there were 7,000 Japanese soldiers in North China, on the basis of the so-called Boxer Protocol of 1901, as compared to 1,007 British troops and between 1,700 and 1,900 French soldiers. This excessive number of Japanese troops, in addition to developments in Manchuria and Jehol and Japan’s political activity in North China, made for a dangerous tension in China.

Irrespective of the discrepancies between the Chinese and Japanese versions of events at Lukouchiao and Shanghai, the Japanese have manifestly failed to observe their treaty obligations to respect Chinese territory and not to have recourse to war for settlement of international controversies.

The military operations carried on by Japan against CHina are out of all proportions to the incident that occasioned the conflict, and they can be justified neither on the basis of existing legal instruments nor the right of self-defense.

Japanese Reply to the League, October 1937 Top

Source: Keesing’s Record of World Events. October, 1937, Japan. Page 2769. Accessed 17 April 2012 from

The Western Powers, it is said, misunderstand Japan’s intentions, which aim at the maintenance of peace in the Far East in co-operation with China. “Japan,” the statement declares, “has no territorial intentions and accordingly Japan’s actions with regard to China do not violate existing treaties in any way. The present situation originated in an unwarranted attack made by Chinese forces on Japanese garrison troops legitimately stationed in North China. Japan did everything in her power to reach a local settlement of the incident, even at the sacrifice of strategical advantage.

China is undoubtedly responsible for the spread of the affair to Shanghai, and then to other points in Central China. She openly violated the agreement for the cessation of hostilities concluded in 1932 by concentrating overwhelmingly numerous forces of more than 40,000 men in the demilitarised zone of Shanghai and attempted to annihilate our naval landing party numbering but a scant 3,000, and to wipe out our 30,000 nationals living in the Settlement, amongst whom were many women and children. The subsequent development of military action has been the unavoidable consequence of hostile operations by China.
It is the Chinese Government who should be deemed the violator of the spirit of the Treaty for the renunciation of war.”

“Fight to Win”, Chinag Kai-shek radio broadcast, 9 October 1937 Top

Source: Chinese Ministry of Information. 1946. The Collected Wartime Messages of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek: 1937-1945. Volume I. New York: The John Day Company. (pp. 44-48)

Fellow-Countrymen Throughout China:

This year our national anniversary falls at a time of grave peril and great difficulty for our nation, but a time, also, of supreme importance in the resurgent life of our people. We are at the moment suffering from the invasion of a cruel foe; an invasion carried out with unparalleled ferocity. The nation today is engaged in a bitter struggle. All our people are endeavoring by sacrifice of flesh and blood – yea, of their very lives – to secure the survival of the State. In this War of Resistance, the warm patriotism of our fellow-Chinese overseas, and the courage and enthusiasm of all our citizens is more than enough to inspire and encourage us, and to convince us that out of this period of trial and suffering, we shall be able to achieve the revival of our nation.

As we approach this glorious anniversary, I have a few important things to say to you, my fellow-countrymen.

First of all, we must realize that we are fighting this war of self-defense in order to save ourselves of annihilation – to snatch life out of death. Moreover, we shall have to pass through extraordinary perils and difficulties before we can win the final victory. We must thoroughly wake up, my fellow-countrymen, and continue our initial efforts in a spirit of still greater courage and sacrifice. This war will not be finished in six months or a year, nor any similarly short time. We must face the fact that our hardships will increase everyday. We must fully prepare to meet difficulties ten times more severe than those we are undergoing today. Only the determination to sacrifice to the very limit will enable us to reach our goal and to secure the survival of our race.

Our brave troops at the front, by their self-denying efforts, have dealt the enemy very heavy blows, and have revealed his weak points one by one. They have won the unbounded sympathy of the world. Recently the nations have come to a fresh realization of the vital importance of maintaining international justice and righteousness, and of honoring treaties and international law. Gradually they have begun to make more grave and decided pronouncements on the issues involved, so that justice is again raising its head. This is definitely the result of the spirit shown by our soldiers at the front – their heroism and their determination to check the enemy. But there has been another important reason: the unity and solidarity of our nation. During the past twenty years the world has been watching the spectacle of a nation divided against itself, with its strength sadly dissipated. But today our nation is united. Never before has it shown such a spirit of unity and cooperation; never before has it been able to resist a foe with such wholehearted determination. Today we are one in purpose and spirit. This solidarity is adding greatly to the power and results of the sacrificial efforts of our troops. More than this, our new unity has resulted in unbounded sympathy and support from the nations of the world.

We must remember that real victory will be won only by a long persevering struggle, not by any lucky accident. International sympathy, though greatly encouraging to us, should not be allowed to foster a spirit of reliance upon others. We must first help ourselves; only then will others help us. Let our people cultivate a willingness to face unprecedented suffering, to begrudge no sacrifice, to fight undaunted and unyielding to the end. Let us overcome all perils, and endure suffering and hardship. let us through this war train and discipline ourselves, transform our race, and create new life for our nation.

Secondly, we must not only maintain our unity to the end, but continually strengthen our solidarity. we have already proved the enormous strength that comes from national unity. Now we must go on to the point where, retreating or advancing, living or dying, we are absolutely one. We must be united in danger as well as in peace, in calamity as well as in prosperity. Seeking only the highest interests of the nation we must maintain absolute discipline and cultivate strict obedience, so that we may win the final victory. Only thus can we prove ourselves worthy of the soldiers who have laid down their lives; only thus can we repay the sympathy of the friendly Powers.

Thirdly, we must have a firm faith in final victory. This war is not simply for the survival of our race, it is a struggle for justice among men, and for international faith and righteousness. The Japanese started this war to satisfy their lust for aggression. They have not only destroyed international faith and justice, but have become the enemy of all mankind. Such an inhuman and unjust war of aggression, such an unwarranted attack upon another country cannot but end in defeat and ruin. There is an old saying: “In war a righteous cause is strength, but an unjust cause is weakness”; and again: “Many come to the aid of the man who has right on his side, but none helps the man who flouts all moral principles.” This war has already shown that the Japanese, in spirit and in reality, are defeated, and that their end is at hand. If we but sacrifice to the end, our cause will certainly triumph.

I have said before that the first task of our National Revolution was the achievement of internal unity; and that the second was the realization of national independence. These two tasks are in essence one. At the present moment our revolution is in the second stage. It is now meeting a very severe test, yet complete success is not far off. Nothing can now stop our united nation as it marches forward under the standard of the Three Principles.

As for me, entrusted with a great task by the Central Government, and sustained by the expectations of the whole nation, I must seek to carry out the will of my fellow-countrymen. I must lead the army forward, every soldier determined to be faithful and courageous and to fight to the end. I have responsibilities that cannot be evaded in relation to the State, the nation, the troops under me and the political testament of our great Leader. I long ago made up my mind to spend and be spent even unto death to repay all that I owe to the Party, the nation, and my fellow-countrymen. I hope that you will all, men and women, old and young, offer to the State your strength and your resources, and under the guidance of the National Government will fulfill your responsibilities as one man, pressing on with the great task before us. We must first concentrate all our powers of resistance before we can drive out the invading hordes, and make it possible for our nation to stand on an equality with the other nations of the world.

Fellow-countrymen! We have behind us five thousand years of history and culture; we have the resources of 4,000,000 square miles of territory; we have a population of 450,000,000 – the greatest in the world. We may be sure that so great a nation cannot be destroyed, if only we are animated by a spirit of self-sacrifice and are willing to fight on. You all recall the last admonition of our great Leader: “Peace- Struggle – Save China.” We must not only save ourselves; we must save the world. This is the spirit of Christ – his spirit of self-sacrifice, of love, and of peace. This is a truth that can never be destroyed. We must realize that our struggle today has as its basis our determination to establish permanent peace. This is the only road that will bring salvation to the State, the nation, mankind, and ourselves. In all hstory there is no case of the survival of any nation that was unwilling to make great sacrifices, and there is no instance of peace being won without a struggle; if there is, it is only in the case of those willing to be enslaved, bound hand and foot under the control of others. Only in such a condition of slavery can the stupid dream of peace without struggle be realized.

The nearer our War of Resistance draws to its close, the greater will be the sacrifices demanded of us, and the heavier will be our responsibilities. But a glorious future awaits us at the end of this dark road, if only we will exert our full energy and pres ever forward. Our people, whether at the front or in the rear, must lay aside all thoughts of careless ease, and all ideas of avoiding trouble. We must persevere continuously, our enthusiasm growing as the conflict lengthens. All in official position must be willing to give without stint, and to be examples of fortitude and perseverance to all the people. The outcome of this fight will determine the destiny of our nation for generations to come. We must, therefore, sacrifice everything in order that we may secure permanent peace and prosperity for our people and our nation.

Fellow-countrymen! On this all important national anniversary may every Chinese citizen make it his or her firm resolve to imitate the revolutionary heroes of the past decades, and to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers at the front who have laid down their lives. If we rise as one man and struggle valiantly for the sake of our nation, then victory is assured and a bright and glorious future will dawn for the Republic of China. Finally, let all on this day humbly pay respect to the memory of the soldiers and civilians who have paid the supreme sacrifice, and remember with deep affection the loved ones they have left behind.

Statement of the Mayor of Canton, October 1937 Top

Source: Bruno Lesker and Agnes Roman. 1938. Propaganda from China and Japan. Camden, NJ: Haddon Craftsmen, Inc. (p. 108)

China is now resisting with all her national resources this aggression in order not only to safeguard her own sovereignty but also to protect the peace of the world. Consequently she looks to all friendly powers for moral support, and she believes that no country which upholds the principles of justice would give any material support and assistance to the aggressor.

Manifesto of the Extraordinary National Congress of the Kuomintang, 1 April 1938 Top

Source: The Chinese Ministry of Information. 1943. China Handbook: 1937-1943. New York: The MacMillan Company. (pp. 58-60)

China is at present prosecuting a war of resistance on a scale unprecedented in her history of 4.000 years. The motive of the present war is to resist the aggression of Japanese imperialism, to save the country from danger and extinction and, at the same time, to expedite the task of national reconstruction.

Japanese imperialism seeks, politically, to divest China of her independence and freedom and, economically, peg her down to a position of permanent productive backwardness and make her a commercial vassal state of Japan. The present danger is, therefore, incomparable to any of the military and political setbacks which she experienced in the past. For this reason, we must make every effort to fight for the existence and independence of our nation and people and, simultaneously, in accordance with the Three People’s Principles, continue without interruption and push on our task of political and economic reconstruction, so that China will have a status of freedom and equality in the family of nations. We know well that if peaceful circumstances had been obtaining, it would be much easier for China to achieve her reconstruction. But since Japan’s imperialistic designs would not permit it, double responsibilities of resisting foreign invasion on one hand and reconstructing the country on the other fall on our soldiers at the same time.

After the sudden occurrence of the Lukouchiao Incident in July, 1937, our Comrade Chiang Kai-shek warned the nation that the ultimate crisis had arrived, because since the signing of the Tangku Agreement, China had endured every humiliation in her intercourse with Japan in the hope that by peaceful means she could preserve her northern provinces and gradually seek a reasonable solution to the problem of the four Northeastern provinces.

It has been the lowest aspiration of China to, politically, preserve her territorial and administrative integrity and, economically, co-operate with all other nations on principles of equality and reciprocity. Japan, however, regarded all these aspirations with disdain and intensified her plan of aggression.

Japan is still declaring that she has no territorial ambitions in China. But territorial right is indivisible. If CHina could notmaintain her rights and administrative integrity on her own territory, then the so-called territory would lose all its meaning. Similarly, if economic cooperation is not based on the principles of equality and reciprocity, it at once becomes pure robbery.

We had borne the heaping of insults and humiliations with the greatest degree of endurance, hoping for Japan’s ultimate awakening. At the Fifth National Congress, we still declared: “We will not give up peace while there is the slightest hope for it; we will not talk lightly of sacrifice when we have not reached the limit of endurance.” While this policy was closely adhered to, Japan, spruning all efforts for a peaceful settlement, suddenly attacked Lukouchiao, occupied Peiping and Tientsin, murdered our people, stole our property and destroyed both our cultural and eocnomical structures. The atrocities committed by Japanese troops in China are unprecedented in history and unequalled anywhere in the world.

The real intention of Japan was to subjugate the northern provinces by means of terrorist methods. But these provinces are an integral part of China. They are the birthplace of Chinese civilization and the inner heart of China’s economic structure. Without these provinces, China would find it impossible to develop into a modern state and to exist in the world. With them forever lost, China’s future would be doomed.

This is why we regard the present time as a critical moment and, since it has come, we must face it with great determination, courage and willingness for sacrifice.

Since the beginning of the total warfare casualties among our officers and men have amounted to no less than 500,000. Innumerable unarmed civilians have been ruthlessly murdered by the enemy. Decency forbids us from telling the tales of shame and torture committed on our women. Both public and private buildings have been reduced to ashes.

But the blood of our fellow-countrymen and comrades will not be shed in vain when we shall have secured our final victory, recovered our territorial and administrative integrity, and made possible the rebirth of our nation, independent and equal in the family of nations. We must struggle to reach that goal. We should not stop halfway. To attain that object, we shall not shrink from sacrifices.

We must solemnly declare, however, that our primary desire is peace and our greatest hope is also peace. But the peace we desire must be such as will enable us to self-exist internally and co-exist with other nations externally. Such will be the real and permanent peace. Peace not based on justice is not peace, but submission. Peace prevents aggression while submission only invites it. China’s submission to Japan would not only destroy the existence of the Chinese race, but would bring about a series of military campaigns which would affect the peace of the world and saddle the Japanese people themselves with intolerable military expenses. The fire of military aggression, kindled in East Asia, would one day spread all over the world and subject all human beings to the horrors of slaughter and destruction.

The object of China’s present war of resistance is the permanent peace of East Asia. China entertains no animosity against the Japanese people but hopes that they will bring their militarists to their senses. Japan, by her aggressive acts, has upset the equilibrium of nations in the Far East and has incurred the indignation of all human beings. It is, therefore, expected that the intelligentsia of Japan will wake up in time to save their country from disaster.

China, however, has on her side the favorable opinion and moral support of the world. All peace-loving countries have expressed their sympathy for China and censured Japan. However, it is to be deplored that foreign nations, prevented by their internal troubles and swayed by a desire to wait and see, have not yet come forward in a body to assert their rights, protect their interests and discharge their responsibility of upholding peace and checking aggression.

China hs the Three People’s Principles as her highest ideal and will strive for its realization. She is not allowed to waver or hesitate under difficult circumstances.

Economically speaking, industrial schemes laid down in the late Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Plans for National Reconstruction have definitely pointed out that foreign investments for the development of China’s natural resources are always welcome. Any foreign country which desires to enter into economic cooperation with China on the basis of equality and reciprocity will be welcome. This is the fixed economic policy of China which allows no alteration or modification.

As to her foreign relations, China will always adhere to the following two principles: (1) Strictly to observe all treaties for the maintenance of international peace to which she is party; and (2) continuously to strive for the development of the existing good relationships with foreign countries.

China, knowing her own economic poverty and military weakness, has been striving for her own advancement and development in order to attain a position of freedom and equality among the nations. Even in this period of unprecedented crisis, she is relying on nothing but her own efforts in a struggle to deliver herself from the danger of enslavement. She does not expect anything from her neighbors which she does not deserve.

There is something, however, of which we feel obliged to remind all advanced nations. That is the indivisibility of world peace. Benefit or detriment to a part is the same to the whole. Therefore, when a country seeks the security of the world, it seeks that of her own. THis is why all nations should strive with concerted efforts to safeguard world peace as a whole by applying sanctions against aggressors in order that the war in East Asia may be put to an early end and the world crisis which is now fermenting here and there may be averted. THis will not benefit China alone, but all countries in the world.

The internal policy of China, in fact, coincides with her foreign policy. All China’s reconstructive endeavors are based on the Three People’s Principles from which both her internal and external policies derive their origins. China externally seeks the position of freedom and equality among nations and works to attain that goal. Acting upon this principle, she resists aggression and works for her own rehabilitation simultaneously. Her resistance does in no way retard or affect her reconstruction efforts. The latter must be carried out hand in hand with the former and not after the successful conclusion of hostilities. This is why we say that the day when we secure our victory will also be the day when we complete our reconstruction and attain the position of freedom and equality among the nations.

At present, when the suffering of the people is being intensified every day, every dutiful citizen has risen and rallied around this Party to form a united front against the enemy. They do not shrink from difficulties, nor do they dodge dangers and perils. Many months have passed and their determination has never shown any sign of weakening, but grows stronger every day. Our comrades in arms have withstood the enemy day and night under hailstorms of bullets and shells. Their fearless spirit is their armor and their flesh and blood are their castles and ramparts. The second line steps up as soon as the first line falls. Their bodies may perish but their spirit never wavers.

The producing elements of the population cheerfully contribute the fruit of their sweat and toil to strengthen that nation’s resistance and to alleviate its suffering. The patriotism and perseverance of the peasants and laborers are especially praiseworthy.

It is, therefore, the bounden duty of the Government to afford full protection to these officers and men fighting on various fronts and the general populace who work for the common cause. The welfare of the fighting men’s families, the pensioning of the disabled soldiers, medical care for the wounded, relief of the war refugees, aids to the unemployed and all other tasks which have been planned to perfection so that both our armed comrades and peaceful citizens will enjoy their livelihood and will in turn further strengthen the national resistance.

But the greatest consolation to the dead and also the highest reward for the living will be ultimate victory and national reconstruction. It is, therefore, the duty of all Party members and our comrades to realize the general aspirations of the entire populace.

There are, however, two other things which must not be over-looked in the bustle of war. The first is the elevation of the moral standard of the people. The nation’s rebirth depends greatly upon the people’s sense of responsibility, patriotism and willingness to sacrifice their private interests for the common good of the nation. World peace also depends upon the promotion of love among mankind. In fact, China’s sustaining power in the present hostilities lies chiefly in the latent moral quality of her people which, for the same reason, should be further developed and glorified.

The second is the advancement of science studies. The promotion of natural sciences, from the technical point of view, will aid the present war in no uncertain degree and the promotion of social sciences will accelerate the coordination and systematic development of social institutions. Both the moral elevation of the people and the advancement of science studies work hand in hand towards the ultimate goal for military victory and national reconstruction.

CHina is at present undergoing great difficulties unprecedented in her history of more than 4,000 years and the present war of resistance is also unprecedented in her long history.

Ever since the beginning of hostilities, the Central Executive Committee has with a unanimous vote vested our Comrade Chiang Kai-shek with powers to unify the command of all Party, political and military matters and shoulder the responsibility of bringing about a successful conclusion of both military resistance and economic reconstruction.

The whole nation has now rallied under his command and has begun an onward march on the road of sure success and victory. The experience gained during the past few months has amply shown us that with concerted efforts and regulated steps, coupled with diligence, courage and unselfishness, the enemy, however strong, will be crushed and the final goal, however distant, will be reached.

The Extraordinary National Congress of the Kuomintang with the profoundest sincerity and highest respect hereby declares to our fellow-countrymen throughout the country and abroad that hereafter we shall utilize our valuable experience and make redoubled efforts, under the common faith of the Three People’s Principles, to forge the hearts of 450,000,000 people into one hearty and to combine the strength of 450,000,000 people into one force, to serve the country with faith and loyalty and to obey the command of our leader so that the highest aspirations may be realized and the noblest mission may be fulfilled. May the spirit of our Tsungli, who is in heaven, witness this!

Japanese Prime Minister’s Radio Address to the Nation, 3 November 1938 Top

Source: William Theodore De Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur E. Tiedemann, eds. 2005. Sources of Japanese Tradition, 2nd ed., v. 2: 1600-2000. New York: Columbia University Press. (p. 991-992).

It is a historical necessity that the three great neighbor nations – China, Manchuckuo, and Japan – while fully retaining their respective individuality, should stand closely united in their common duty of safeguarding East Asia. It is deeply to be deplored not only for the sake of Japan but for that of all Asia that the attainment of this goal has been thwarted through the mistaken policy of the Guomindang government. The policy of the Guomindang government was based on a transient fashion of the period that followed the Great War. It did not originate in the native intelligence and good sense of the Chinese people. In particular, the conduct of that government, which in its efforts to stay in power cared not whether the nation was left prey to Communism or relegated to a minor colonial status, cannot but be regarded as treason toward those many patriotic Chinese who had risked their lives in order to erect a new China. It was in those circumstances that Japan, reluctant as she was to be involved in the tragedy of two great kindred nations fighting against each other, was compelled to take up arms against the Chiang Kai-shek regime….

The nations of the world must surely be able to comprehend these new developments in East Asia. It is undisputed history that China heretofore has been a victim of the rivalry between the powers whose imperialistic ambitions have constantly imperiled her tranquillity and independence. Japan realizes the need of fundamentally rectifying such a state of affairs, and she is eager to see a new order established in East Asia, a new structure of peace based on true justice.

Japan is in no way opposed to collaboration with foreign powers, nor does she desire to impair their legitimate rights and interests. If the Powers, understanding her true motives, will formulate policies adapted to the new conditions, Japan will be glad to cooperate with them. Japan’s zeal for stamping out Communism is certainly well known. The aim of the Comintern is to sovietize the Orient and to overturn the world. Japan is firmly determined to eradicate the Communisitic influence, which is behind the so-called long-term resistance of the Chiang regime. Germany and Italy, our allies against Communism, have manifested their sympathies with Jan’s aims in East Asia, and we are profoundly grateful for the great encouragement that their moral support has given our nation during this crisis. In the present emergency, it is necessary for Japan not only to strengthen still further her ties with those countries but also to collaborate with them on the basis of a common world outlook toward the reconstruction of world order.

[Published in the Tokyo Gazette 2(December 1938): 17-20)

Hashimoto Kigoro: Addresses to Young Men 1939 Top

Source: William Theodore De Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur E. Tiedemann, eds. 2005. Sources of Japanese Tradition, 2nd ed., v. 2: 1600-2000. New York: Columbia University Press. (p. 989-991).

We have already said that there are only three ways left to Japan to escape from the pressure of surplus population. We are like a great crowd of people packed into a small and narrow room, and there are only three doors through which we might escape, namely, emigration, advance into world markets, and expansion of territory. The first door, emigration, has been barred to us by the anti-Japanese immigration policies of other countries. The second door, advance into world markets, is being pushed shut by tariff barriers and the abrogation of commercial treaties. What should Japan do when two of the three doors have been closed against her? It is quite natural that Japan should rush upon the last remaining door.

It may sound dangerous when we speak of territorial expansion, but the territorial expansion of which we speak does not in any sense of the word involve the occupation of the possessions of other countries, the planting of the Japanese flag thereon, and the declaration of their annexation to Japan. It is just that since the Powers have suppressed the circulation of Japanese materials and merchandise abroad, we are looking for some place overseas where Japanese capital, Japanese skills, and Japanese labor can have free play, free from the oppression of the white race.

We would be satisifed with just this much. What moral right do the world powers who have themselves closed to us the two doors of emigration and advance into world markets have to criticise Japan’s attempt to rush to of the third and last door? If they do not approve of this, they should open the doors which they have closed against us and permit the free movement oversease of Japanese emigrants and merchandise.

At the time of the Manchurian incident, the entire world joined in criticism of Japan. They said that Japan was an untrustworthy nation. They said that she had recklessly brought cannon and machine guns into Manchuria, which was the territory of another country, flown airplanes over it, and finally occupied it. But the military action taken by Japan was not in the least a selfish one. Moreover, we do not recall ever having taken so much as an inch of territory belonging to another nation. The result of this incident was the establishment of the splendid new nation of [Manchukuo]. The Powers are still discussing whether or not to recognize this new nation, but regardless of whether or not other nations recognize her, the Manchurian empire has already been established, and now, seven years after its creation, the empire is further consolidating its foundations with the aid of its friend, Japan.

And if it is still protested that our actions in Manchuria were excessively violent, we may wish to ask the white race just which country it was that sent warships and troops to India, South Africa, and Australia and slaughtered innocent natives, bound their hands and feet with iron chains, lashed their backs with iron whips, proclaimed these territories as their own, and still continues to hold them to this very day?

They will invariable reply, these were all lands inhabited by untamed savages. These people did not know how to develop the abundant resources of their land for the benefit of mankind. Therefore it was the wish of God, who created heaven and earth for mankind, for us to develop these undeveloped lands and to promote the happiness of mankind in their stead. God wills it.

THis is quite a convenient argument for them. Let u s take it at face value. Then there is another question we must ask them. Suppose that there is still on this earth land endowed with abundant natural resources that have not been developed at all by the white race. Would it not then be God’s will and the will of Providence that Japan go there and develop those resources for the benefit of mankind?

And there still remain many such lands on this earth.


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