Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War (or Second Sino-Japanese War ) is a comprehensive Japanese invasion of China that began on July 7, 1937 and lasted until September 9, 1945 . After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 , when the USA entered the war , it was a scene of the Pacific War and thus part of the Second World War .
In the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China , “Anti-Japanese War” ( Chinese 抗日戰爭 / 抗日战争 , Pinyin kàngrì zhànzhēng - “War of Resistance against Japan”) is the official name of the war. This term is also used in other Southeast Asian countries for their own resistance against the Japanese occupation. In China, the war is simply referred to as the "war of resistance" or "resistance war" ( 抗戰 / 抗战 , kàngzhàn ).
In Japan the war is known as the Sino-Japanese War ( Japanese 日中 戦 争 , Nicchū Sensō ) or as HEI , Operation C or Invasion of China . The term Second Sino-Japanese War is also common in the western world .
After the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894 - 1895 the annexed Empire of Japan Taiwan . In the Treaty of Shimonoseki , the European powers brokered peace between the Empire of China and the Empire of Japan. Although Japan had hoped to gain stronger influence in Manchuria, the Russian Empire prevailed and received the concession for the Manchurian Railway and Port Arthur as a lease port . Japan's interest in resource-rich Manchuria opposed Russian interests, and so in 1904 the Russo-Japanese War broke out , which Japan won. Russia had to give up Manchuria, and Japan built the South Manchurian Railway , which was protected by the Kwantung Army and was supposed to transport raw materials to Korea . Korea became a Japanese protectorate in 1905 and annexed in 1910 .
The Great Depression of 1929 also badly affected Japan. Many politicians and military officials saw a solution to the economic crisis in an intensification of colonial efforts. These were directed primarily against Manchuria.
To create a pretext for the invasion of Manchuria , agents of the Kwantung Army ( Doihara Kenji , Amakasu Masahiko ) blew up the South Manchurian Railway near the city of Mukden on September 18, 1931 . The Japanese military then blamed China for the damage to the railway line. After this so-called Mukden incident , Manchuria was occupied by the Japanese army. There was no coordinated resistance on the part of the Chinese because the country was in the middle of the Chinese civil war between the Kuomintang and the communists . Individual Chinese warlords resisted the Japanese unsuccessfully. Japan established the puppet state of Manchukuo to administer the occupied territories. The Japanese army and navy were directly subordinate to the emperor, at this point they had largely escaped the control of parliament and the government and were proceeding on their own in China. After the success in Manchuria, the military was able to justify this policy in retrospect and thus gained increasing influence over Japanese politics.
China fought back against Japan with a trade boycott and refused to unload Japanese ships. As a result, Japanese exports fell by one sixth. This heated up the mood in Japan. In particular, one incident in which five Japanese monks were mistreated in Shanghai in 1932 (one monk later succumbed to his injuries) was picked up by the Japanese media and stoked anger among the Japanese population. On January 29th, Japan bombed China and the first battle for Shanghai broke out , where the first area bombing against a civilian population took place. Estimates speak of around 18,000 Chinese people killed and 240,000 homeless. China was forced to lift the trade boycott. A demilitarized zone was established around Shanghai. In May 1932, the two parties reached an armistice , but the Japanese continued their advance. In 1933 the provinces of Rehe and Chahar were occupied, in 1935 China had to agree to a buffer zone between Manchukuo and Beijing, in which the Japanese set up the Autonomous Military Council of East Hopei (Hebei), made up of collaborating Chinese military . In 1936 parts of Inner Mongolia were occupied.
When the League of Nations protested against the Japanese approach, Japan withdrew from the League. For the first time it became apparent that the League of Nations had no means to end or prevent armed conflicts.
In 1936, Japan and the German Reich signed the Anti-Comintern Pact , which was directed against the Communist International ( Comintern ). This pact was primarily symbolic. In 1937 Italy and, during the Second World War, other European states joined the pact.
There were repeated attacks by the Japanese on the Chinese civilian population. The Chinese expected Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to intervene . But he concentrated on the fight against the communists and let the Japanese have their way for the time being in order to spare his troops. His motives are controversial among historians. Some suspected he feared the Japanese army, others suspected him of collaborating with the Japanese. On the other hand, he saw the communists as the greater danger in the battle for China. Only when he was kidnapped by his own commanders, Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng ( Xi'an incident ), did he give in and sign a ceasefire agreement with the communists. Then the second united front of the nationalists and communists was formed; this time against the Japanese.
Military balance of power and planning
Parts of the leadership of the Chinese national movement had been convinced since the 1920s that a war against Japan in China was inevitable due to the diverging interests of the two governments. Chiang Kai-shek met the aggressive land grabbing policy of the Japanese in northern China with appeasement in order to consolidate his own state and the military. With the help of the German military mission in China, Chiang pushed ahead with the modernization of the Goumindang armed forces from 1933. A plan presented in 1935 by the head of the German military mission, Hans von Seeckt , provided for the establishment of a modern, mobile and unified Guomindang army, which should comprise around 60 divisions and should be completed by 1938. Before the start of the war, the nationalists had around 19 divisions with around 300,000 soldiers who were trained according to the specifications of the military mission. In addition, the plan envisaged a streamlining and downsizing of the divisions to free up more funds for equipment and modernization. Ten of these reformed divisions were set up before the war. Due to the lack of an industrial base, motorization and mechanization were dispensed with. In 1937 there were only around 3,000 military vehicles in all of China. The Air Force of the Republic of China comprised around 300 aircraft at the beginning of the war.
In 1935, Chiang formulated a national defense strategy against Japan. Given the military weakness, but the larger area, wealth of resources and population of China, Chiang announced a defensive war of attrition, which will take place primarily in northern China and the country's coastal areas. For this, the Guomindang Army tried to create the necessary infrastructure for maintenance in the Chinese hinterland. In terms of ammunition production for infantry weapons, China had sufficient domestic production. There was a clear lack of production of artillery pieces and heavy weapons. The resulting dependence on foreign military resources that were obtained from different nations caused huge logistical problems here. Locally produced models such as B. Mountain guns were of inferior quality and performance, which significantly restricted their tactical use. The domestic arms production was also not standardized, which in turn multiplied the logistical problems. In 1937, the Chinese state spent the majority of its national budget on the military (65%). The implementation of the armament plan was incomplete due to financial problems, political instability and a lack of industrial capacities in the country. In particular, the modern training and exercise of the troops could only be implemented to a fraction.
In 1937 the Japanese army consisted of around 247,000 soldiers and officers in peacekeeping, divided into 17 divisions. There were also four independent tank regiments . A full motorization and mechanization of the troops was not possible due to the lack of an industrial base. Most of the transport and logistics tasks were carried out by pack animals and rail transport. However, each division had a motorized group with around 200-300 automobiles and around fifty lightly armored military vehicles. The Japanese Army Air Force had 520 aircraft ready to fight and another 500 in reserve. The Navy Air Force had over 600 aircraft in land and carrier-based formations. The fleet had four aircraft carriers , one was under repair at the beginning of the war, and two aircraft mother ships .
In a war plan formulated in 1932, the Japanese General Staff formulated several requirement plans for conflicts in China. Two additional divisions from the mainland have been scheduled to suppress localized fighting in northern China. The China Garrison Army, which was stationed in Tianjin with 1,700 soldiers , was intended to secure the access from the sea to Beijing . To accomplish this task, it should be reinforced by one division. The war plan for the perceived as unlikely event of a serious military confrontation with China included the deployment of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria , which was to operate in northern China, reinforced by ten divisions from the mainland. Two further divisions were planned to occupy strategically important points on the coast of central China. The plan was expanded in 1937 to include the goal of occupying the five northernmost provinces of China. The troops to occupy individual points in central China were increased to three divisions and should conquer Shanghai in order to advance from there to the capital of the Guomindang Nanjing.
On July 7, 1937, there was an incident at the Marco Polo Bridge , in which Japanese and Chinese soldiers engaged in firefights. Whether this incident was provoked by Japan is controversial. With this incident the Second Sino-Japanese War began. The Japanese expected a quick victory, but the second battle for Shanghai lasted unexpectedly long and claimed numerous victims. About 200,000 Japanese and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were involved in a bitter house-to-house war. The losses were very high on both sides; on the Kuomintang side , they are estimated at around a third of the soldiers capable of fighting. Japan was only able to win the battle in mid-November when the Japanese 10th Army landed in Hangzhou Bay and threatened to encircle the Chinese troops .
On November 5, 1937, the Japanese government made the Chinese government an offer to settle the incident if China adhered to the three principles formulated by Japanese Foreign Minister Hirota Kōki in 1934 in the future . The principles were: 1. Suppression of all anti-Japanese activities, 2. Recognition of Manchukuo and a friendly relationship between Manchukuo, China and Japan, 3. Combined struggle against communism. The Kuomintang initially refused to enter into negotiations and did not change this position until December 2nd. At this point, however, the Japanese had already conquered Shanghai and the Chinese troops were in retreat. As a result, the Japanese government was no longer prepared to resolve the conflict under the aforementioned conditions, but made much tougher demands, namely the demilitarization of northern China and Inner Mongolia , the payment of compensation and the establishment of political structures that would allow Manchukuo to live together. Japan and China should regulate. The Chinese government rejected these conditions.
Around December 8th, Japanese troops reached Nanjing , the capital of the Kuomintang. They enclosed the city and dropped leaflets urging the defenders to surrender. The Japanese bombed Nanjing day and night. At 5 p.m. on December 12, the Chinese city commander ordered the troops to withdraw. The withdrawal was disorderly. The soldiers got rid of their weapons and uniforms. Some of them ambushed civilians to get civilian clothes. Panic also gripped the population, and soldiers and civilians tried to flee to the Yangtze River . They were even shot at by their own troops. There was hardly any means of transport available on the Yangtze, so that it was hardly possible to evacuate the troops. In the panic attempts to board the boats, many people drowned in the cold river.
On December 13th, the Japanese troops occupied Nanjing. In the three-week Nanking massacre that followed, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and plainclothes soldiers were believed to have been murdered. Chiang Kai-shek had the seat of government temporarily relocated to Wuhan on the Yangtze.
Many Chinese commanders feared an attack by Japanese troops and therefore vacated their territories. Because Chinese industry and the military were underdeveloped, and the civil war suppressed unified leadership and development, the Chinese army could not attack Japanese troops in a major field battle. Instead, they tried in the first phase of the war to relocate industry and large troops in order to be able to build armed forces with which they could face the Japanese troops. With smaller attacks, house-to-house fights in the cities and taking advantage of the large area, attempts were made to slow the advance of the Japanese. From 1938 the tactic of magnetic war was used. The aim was to lure the Japanese troops to certain positions (which should serve as a magnet ), where they would be easier to attack or where at least their advance could be slowed down.
In January 1938, after negotiations finally failed, the Japanese government announced that it would wipe out the Chinese national government. Japan decided to launch an offensive towards Wuhan. To make this offensive possible, the most important railway junctions in the north should first be conquered. In order to be able to take the city of Xuzhou as an important hub, the Japanese soldiers first tried to conquer the Chinese garrison town of Tai'erzhuang . However, the Chinese troops let the Japanese run into a trap and surrounded them in the Battle of Tai'erzhuang . According to Chinese figures, around 30,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. This was the Japanese’s first major defeat in this war. Although the city was conquered in a second attempt on May 19 and the battle for Xuzhou was also victorious for the Japanese, the myth of the invincibility of Japan was broken. The Chinese troops had failed to track the remnants of the Japanese troops, otherwise a new offensive against the cities would have taken even longer. The Japanese government made in April 1938 mobile and thus increasing considerably their troops.
On June 9, 1938, Chiang Kai-shek broke the dams of the Yellow River and flooded the country . He hoped this would slow the Japanese advance. On June 11th, the Yellow River broke its banks between Kaifeng and Zhengzhou and subsequently poured into Henan , Anhui and Jiangsu provinces , searching for its old riverbed. In the absence of warning to civilians, around 890,000 Chinese died, 4,000 villages and 11 cities were destroyed, and around 12 million people left homeless. This even changed the entire course of the river until the dikes were repaired on May 15, 1947. The floods caused the Japanese campaign against Wuhan to be halted for months .
On October 25, the Japanese captured Wuhan with great losses. Shortly thereafter, the canton was conquered without encountering major resistance. The Japanese General Staff had hoped that China would now give up. However, this notion was far from the Chinese strategy . Since the surrender did not take place, the Japanese strategists realized that the war would last significantly longer than planned. The distant Chongqing became the new Chinese capital . However, Chongqing was not under the control of the KMT, but was ruled by gang leaders. The Japanese bombed the city continuously until the Chinese, with Soviet help, were able to set up a reasonably effective air defense. After that, Soviet and Chinese pilots even flew isolated counter-attacks as far as Taiwan.
The Japanese had neither the will nor the means to govern China. Therefore, in March 1940, they set up a puppet government under Wang Jingwei in Nanjing to represent Japanese interests. Wang Jingwei had previously been Vice General Chiang Kai-sheks, but fled Chongqing on December 18, 1938. Given the brutality of the Japanese, the puppet regime was extremely unpopular among the population.
The Communist Party under Mao Zedong had fled the Kuomintang in the Long March to Yan'an in 1935 and is now building a new base there. In contrast to the usual communist strategy, it also joined forces with the large landowners and the middle class. Mild reforms helped to pull the rural poor to the side of the communists. An anti-Japanese university was established, teaching Mao's teachings, but also military training. The communists waged an intense guerrilla war to which the Japanese responded by destroying villages and killing members of the communist party.
In 1938 the Kuomintang had around 600,000 to 700,000 guerrilla fighters. The nationalist guerrilla movement was centrally controlled by the army and concentrated mainly in central China. In northern China it also happened that troops of the local warlords took over this role.
The Kuomintang also suffered from extreme corruption at all levels. Among other things, weapons and food were misappropriated, which worsened the already miserable morale and equipment.
In 1940 the fighting reached a stalemate. Japan occupied the eastern part of China and suffered from guerrilla attacks. The rest of China was shared by the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, with Mao Zedong's Communist Party.
The united front collapsed in 1941 after repeated fighting between the Kuomintang and communists. However, despite the conquest of Burma and the blocking of the Burma Road to Chongqing, the Japanese failed to achieve their goal of cutting off Chongqing from supplies. A Chinese national counter-offensive was thwarted in Burma, but the Allies instead established the Ledo Strait to Chongqing from India .
The USA initially remained neutral. However, after reports of Japanese war crimes such as the Nanking massacre and the Panay incident , public sentiment turned. For example, the US government was able to impose a steel and oil embargo on Japan and provide the Chinese national faction with military support, including the Flying Tigers . The measures were also taken for geopolitical and economic reasons, since the US did not want to accept the hegemony of Japan in East Asia. Their interests in China and the Philippines were directly threatened. In addition, Japanese supremacy in East Asia threatened the position of the European colonial powers Great Britain, France and the Netherlands there. The embargo made it impossible for the Japanese to continue their actions in China and subsequently led to the attack on Pearl Harbor .
After this attack, China and the US officially declared war on Japan. This now expanded to the entire Pacific region , as Japan was forced to fight in other theaters of war to secure sources of raw materials.
The Chinese declaration of war was not officially made until December 8, 1941, as otherwise it would not have been possible for other countries to support China without violating neutrality. The puppet regime set up by the Japanese in Nanjing under Wang Jingwei declared war on the USA and Great Britain in 1943. In 1944 the Japanese went back to the offensive and created a fragile land connection between their conquests in north and south China.
The American General Joseph Stilwell , who had lived in China and therefore spoke Mandarin, was put on the side of the Kuomintang to assist. He tried to reorganize the Chinese National Army, but ran into problems with commanders of the Kuomintang, who were largely disappearing US money and weapons. A national Chinese counter-offensive did not begin until 1945.
The Kuomintang and Communists increasingly gained control of the rural areas, while Japan held the cities and major routes on the east coast.
In the summer of 1945, the warring parties assumed that the world war would drag on for at least another year until the United States abruptly ended it by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki . Japan capitulated on August 15, 1945; the Japanese troops in China officially surrendered on September 9, 1945 with the signing of the Surrender Treaty in Nanjing. On August 28, national Chinese troops were sent to Burma and Indochina to disarm the Japanese. Vietnam was occupied by Chinese troops north of the 16th parallel until 1946.
The relations between Germany and China were before the war very well. German military advisers (e.g. Hans von Seeckt ) supported the modernization of the Chinese army and trained troops that would later become the elite troops of the Chinese army. Most of the weapons were imported from Germany. At the beginning of the war, China hoped that Germany would put a stop to Japan, or at least seek to weaken military measures. The National Socialist Germany , however, had set to Japan as a promising ally. In late 1937, Germany recognized Manchukuo as a state.
The Soviet Union supported the Chinese troops because they feared the Japanese expansion policy in Asia. Russia had already been rejected by Japan during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904/1905 with its own expansion policy in Asia. In 1938 an armed border conflict began in Manchuria between Japan and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union even made tanks, airplanes and pilots available to the national Chinese government of the Kuomintang on the condition that they would not be used against the Soviet Union. From 1937 to the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in 1939, the Soviets delivered 985 aircraft, 82 tanks, 1317 guns and much more via an airlift from Alma-Ata to Lanzhou . Until 1940, 3665 Soviet soldiers were under the command of PN Anissimow, among other things as pilots, ground personnel and in the air defense. The Soviet Union also supported China at the political level and tried to bring about sanctions against Japan in the League of Nations.
Britain tried to stay out of a conflict with Japan because of the problems in Europe. The USA provided military support to the Kuomintang with the Flying Tigers from 1941 . These formed a unit of volunteer US pilots to provide air support to Chinese troops. Claire Chennault , a major a. D. of the US Army Air Corps , led the group and recruited 100 pilots and 200 ground personnel from the US armed forces and procured 100 Curtiss P-40 fighter jets. The establishment of a bomber unit was also planned, but was discontinued after Pearl Harbor .
During the Second World War , China was officially supported by the Allies and the US established air bases on Chinese territory, from which Japan was later bombed. The US supported China from 1941 to 1945 with over five billion US dollars. The civil war parties stored many weapons as they prepared for a decisive battle in the civil war.
The US Treasury Department was skeptical about the cash payments because of the high level of corruption; payments were only granted because of Chiang Kai-shek's threat to conclude a separate peace with Japan.
The Japanese committed serious war crimes during the occupation of China. After the occupation of Nanjing, there was a massacre in the city in which it is estimated that up to 300,000 people were murdered. Villages were plundered to feed the troops and also burned down, especially when the Chinese began guerrilla warfare.
With the unit 731 Japan maintained a facility for research on biological and chemical weapons , which committed serious war crimes. Chinese prisoners of war and civilians were abused for human experiments and biological weapons were used in several cases. Japan also used mustard gas and arsenic compounds .
Number of victims and consequences
As the Allies decided in the San Francisco Peace Treaty , Manchuria fell back to China and Korea became an independent state. Japan also waived its claims to Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands . However, the documents do not formally state which nations should acquire sovereignty over these areas. Only the Ryukyu Islands (now Okinawa ) did not regain the promised independence.
The Kuomintang fought in 22 battles involving more than 100,000 soldiers on each side, and in over 40,000 minor skirmishes, of which over 50,000 soldiers were involved in over 1,000 battles on each side. The communists avoided major battles in order to conserve and increase their forces for a predictable struggle for China against the Kuomintang; most of the military activity has been guerrilla attacks in rural areas, especially in northern China. The only exception to this was the Hundred Regiments Offensive , which was carried out without Mao's consent. The Japanese had a total of around 1.1 million killed, injured and missing. The Chinese lost 3.22 million soldiers, 9.13 million civilians died in fighting, and 8.4 million civilians lost their lives in non-military incidents. China suffered US $ 383 billion in financial damage; this was more than 50 times the gross national product of Japan at the time. The war caused 95 million refugees. Before the war the balance of power was 60: 1 for the Kuomintang against the communists, afterwards it was only 3: 1, which raises doubts about the communist propaganda which claims that the Japanese were fought by the communists by all means.
On September 29, 1972, a joint communiqué was signed by Japan and the People's Republic of China in Beijing . The communiqué opened relations between Japan and the People's Republic of China, and both states declared that they would forego reparations.
The civil war continued after the surrender of Japan. Many people died in fighting or of hunger and inadequate living conditions because there was no regular administration.
The Soviet Union, which had marched into Manchuria in agreement with China in the Yalta Agreement , massively dismantled industry in the occupied territories and helped the Communist Party to use the weapons left behind by Japanese troops. The Communist Party had grown from 100,000 members (1937) to over 1.2 million (1945) during the war and was able to defeat the Kuomintang on the mainland by 1949; the Kuomintang and their supporters fled to Taiwan .
To this day, there is deep anti-Japanese resentment among the Chinese population . Among other things, this is a consequence of the Japanese coming to terms with the past: war crimes have been denied or played down to this day and units involved have been awarded memorials.
In April 2005 riots broke out against Japanese institutions because Japan wanted to introduce textbooks that played down Japanese war crimes as an "incident" .
Influence on domestic politics of Japan and militarization of the state
The war, which now called for nationwide mobilization, set in motion processes of political upheaval. The electricity business was nationalized, nationwide national health insurance was introduced, a comprehensive political program, a ten-year plan for an integral state policy, was drawn up in the army, and the “Association in Support of the Imperial System” (Taisei Yokusankai) was founded, with all political parties being dissolved.
Historiography and culture of remembrance
After the communists' victory in the Chinese civil war, official historiography of the People's Republic of China left out large parts of the event. The defeat of Japan was attributed to Mao's leadership. The contribution of the nationalists and communists outside Mao's control has been concealed or severely downplayed. The victims made by the population under nationalist control were kept secret, including the Nanjing massacre. After the opening of China to the west and the deaths of Mao and Chiang, a liberal line of historiography prevailed. This first manifested itself in new state museums in the 1980s, for example a memorial museum in Nanjing was inaugurated for the massacre in 1985. 1986 came with The Great Battle of Taierzhuang ( Xue zhan Taierzhuang ) a film in the cinemas of the People's Republic, which thematized the successes of the nationalists. The Nanjing massacre was filmed several times. From the 1990s onwards, the role of nationalists and collaborators with Japan was freely discussed. From the 21st century, especially in Chongqing, memories of the time as the capital during the war were promoted by public institutions. Chiang's old country estate near Chongqing was restored and rededicated as a museum about Chiang.
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