October 10th is the marker of modern China. It is also known as double ten or double tenth day. It all started with the Wuchang Uprising of October 10th of 1911. It was the beginning of the Xinhai Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution of 1911, which led to the end of the imperial dynasty of China.
Wuchang Uprising was organized by Tongmenghui. Tongmenghui (TMS) 同盟會 translates to Chinese United League, which was an underground resistance movement founded on August 20th, 1905 by Sun Yat-sen, Song Jiaoren, and others in Tokyo, Japan. Sun Yat-sen would later be known as the founder of Modern China while his co-founder, Song Jiaoren became the founder of Kuomintang (KMT), and was assassinated by 1913 after China’s first democratic election.
TMS was founded to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and to have the Chinese rule China again. Qing Dynasty was of the Manchu tribe and Tingmengshui believed that Qing Dynasty was taking democracy away from the Chinese as well as its ineffective leadership. Qing Dynasty had been on a losing streak due to its inability to keep up with western technology. It all started with the First Opium War in 1842 when the Qing imperial court struggled to contain foreign intrusion. Then, it failed to westernize and was again defeated during the Second Opium war of 1860. During the first Sino-Japanese War, China was decisively defeated by Japan and it led to the lack of confidence of the Chinese people in the Qing’s leadership. TMS’s slogan during the time was to expel the Manchus, to revive Chinese society, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people. This motivated a lot of people to join. Some will eventually become leaders of China during World War 2 such as Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-Shek, and Wong, Jingwei.
Mao Zedong would later become the founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who took over China.
Chiang Kai-shek became the chairman of KMT and was exiled in Taiwan after World War 2 as he spent most of the military power fighting the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War, and lost the civil war with the Mao's CCP.
Wang, Jingwei was a part of the KMT but was in a constant argument with Chiang, Kai Shek. Then he joined the CCP and in the later days of the Sino-Japanese War, he joined forces with the Japanese Army and would be known as the traitor in the Sino-Japanese War.
However, during the time when Sun, Yat-Sen was alive, he was able to unite these strong personalities to the cause of TMS. Xinhai Revolution was a demonstration of the leadership of Sun, Yat-Sen. As Sun, Yat-Sen had thought, most of the Chinese were fed up with the leadership of the Qing dynasty and was able to use that cause to unite Chinese people across different walks of life. The revolution was supported by students and intellectuals who returned from abroad, as well as participants of the revolutionary organizations, overseas Chinese, soldiers of the new army, local gentry, farmers, and others.
The Xinhai Revolution was not the first revolution attempted to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. However, it was a revolution started at the right time. In 1911, the Qing Dynasty had planned to nationalize local railway development but to transfer control to foreign banks. This triggered a Railway Protection Movement which led to Wuchang Uprising, which led to a series of revolutionary movement and the abdication of the Qing throne and the founding of modern China.
by Kelly Suen
Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath By Michael Norman
Japanese and U.S. World War II Plunder and Intrigue By Rodney Stich
War Crimes: Japan's World War II Atrocities By Malcolm Joseph Thurman, Christine Sherman
Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army: Charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons By Otozō Yamada
Japanese and U.S. World War II Plunder and Intrigue By Rodney Stich
Not only is Crazy Rich Asians featuring a full Asian cast for the first time in 25 years, it is also bringing back the jazzy tunes of Shidaiqu. From Yao Li’s “Ren Sheng Jiu Shi Xi” to Grace Chang’s “Wo Yao Ni De Ai” to the remake of “Waiting for Your Return” by Jasmine Chen, the soundtrack of Crazy Rich Asians brings shidaiqu back from 1930s Shanghai to the 21st-century audience.
Shanghai was a small agricultural village until officials from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) decided to develop it into a trading post due to its location. By 1820, China’s economy was the largest in the world according to British economist Angus Maddison. However, the military of the Qing dynasty was of no competition with the British during the Opium Wars. After the Opium Wars, Shanghai fell victim to the Treaty of Nanking to be one of the five Chinese cities to be opened up to British consults, merchants, and their families. Soon after the Treaty of Nanking, merchants from France, Germany, and the United States moved into Shanghai to carve out territories as International Concessions.
In 1912, Qing Dynasty fell but Shanghai remained a metropolitan city with the birth of modern China founded by Sun Yet Sen. With many different cultures being in Shanghai, it was covered in buildings designed by European architects, and its inhabitants were fashionable. In fact, qipao was invented in 1920s Shanghai as a fusion of the west and the east fashion. The city was lined with casinos, fine restaurants, movie theaters, and nightclubs. It was known as the Paris of the Orient.
Jazz was brought in by Americans into nightclubs. It was an unfamiliar tune to many Chinese people at the time, but like everything else in Shanghai at the time, it was quickly adapted into the eastern culture. Shidaiqu was then born in the 1920s, combining jazz music with Chinese folk music, which is consisted by pentatonic folk melody. Early shidaiqu had vocals that were high pitched and sounded like a cat being strangled. As time progresses, vocal performances were filled with more sophisticated singers.
Yao Li, the singer of “Ren Sheng Jiu Shi Xi” as heard in Crazy Rich Asians, was one of the seven great singing stars of shidaiqu in Shanghai in the 1940s during the occupation by the Japanese Army. The list of the 7 great singers includes Bai Guang, Bai Hong, Gong Qiuxia, Li Xianglan, Wu Yingyin, Yao Li, and Zhou Xuan. Li Xianglan was a Chinese-born Japanese actress and singer, but her agency, Manchukuo Film Association, wanted to conceal her identity and gave her the name of Li Xianglan. Her real name was actually Yamaguchi Yoshiko. During the time of occupation, she was paid 10 times more than the Chinese performers and Chinese people suspected that she was at least half Japanese. She performed propaganda for the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War period. After the war, she returned to Japan as an actress. In the 1970s, she was elected into the Japanese parliament and served for 18 years.
Meanwhile, Yao Li and other shidaiqu singers including Grace Chang had to flee to Hong Kong as the Communist government took over China in 1952. Communist China banned all nightclub activities. Shidaiqu then lived in Hong Kong and Taiwan after the war and became the predecessor of Mandopop. Now, it is being played in the theaters of the world thanks to Jon Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians.
 Soundtrack of Crazy Rich Asians https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988/soundtrack
 A Short History of Shanghai https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/fodors/top/features/travel/destinations/asia/china/shanghai/fdrs_feat_145_5.html?n=Top%252FFeatures%252FTravel%252FDestinations%252FAsia%252FChina%252FShanghai
 Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run by Angus Maddison, 45
 Treaty of Nanking http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Treaty_of_Nanking
 The Shanghai Problem, 247.
 A Brief History of the Cheongsam https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-cheongsam/
 Shanghai's golden age of jazz music https://gbtimes.com/shanghais-golden-age-jazz-music
 The Seven Great Singing Stars- https://www.last.fm/tag/seven+great+singing+stars
 Fragrant Orchid: The Story of My Early Life (Critical Interventions) by Yamaguchi Yoshiko
by Katrena Porter
Human beings have been collecting things for as long as anyone can remember. While there is some disagreement as to whether this activity is purely psychological in basis, there are certainly a number of possible motives for why a person might collect things. People may collect things because of some sentimental value or monetary value; they may also collect because it is fun, to preserve the past, or simply because they enjoy the hunt. Some people collect things that are unusual, such as swizzle sticks, outfits worn by celebrities, or even string. It only makes sense that at some point, somebody might end up collecting something that seems taboo or offensive to another person.
So, how does one determine when something is considered “offensive?” According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the legal definition of the term “offensive” is defined as:
“causing displeasure or resentment; especially: contrary to a particular or prevailing sense of what is decent, proper, or moral.”
Using that definition, it is very easy to see how one might perceive collecting war-time memorabilia as offensive, especially if the items being collected are from “the bad guys.” For instance, some people collect Nazi and Japanese World War II memorabilia.
While many people almost immediately correlate Nazi symbolism as synonymous with torture and death camps and evil, people often do not have the same gut reaction to Japanese wartime items. It is very likely that this lack of reaction results from the intentional omission of war crimes and atrocities from many countries’ history books. However, this deliberate ignorance does not mean that Japanese wartime memorabilia is any less offensive than Nazi memorabilia.
One semi-anonymous collector began gathering Japanese items in a purely innocuous way. For example, Mike, who goes by the alias of stepback_antiques on Show & Tell (a page on the Collectors Weekly website), stated that his obsession began when he came across a Japanese helmet in an antiques shop. He further stated:
“‘The American pieces were pretty easy to obtain,’ he says. ‘Part of the attraction of collecting the German and Japanese pieces was the hunt—a lot of the Japanese equipment at the end of the war was melted down and destroyed. U.S. vets came back with pocketfuls of German badges, a helmet, a rifle, or a flag, but they were harder to find.’”
Unlike collectors like Mike, people whose relatives survived the Japanese Occupation often donate their collected wartime memorabilia to museums. In June of 2017, Takashi Yanagishita of Nagoya donated a number of items to the Material Pavilion of War and Peace Aichi. These items were obtained by his father after the war. Though he did not learn about his father’s wartime experiences before he passed away, he felt that the items could teach future generations about war. Yanagishita is not the only person who has donated such items to the museum. In fact, a spokesperson for the museum stated that it has collected over 2,600 items from 425 people. Similar to donating wartime items to a museum, there have been other initiatives to return this type of memorabilia to their owners. For instance, one website discusses a movement for the return of Japanese artifacts to their rightful owners. 
In contrast, some people call for the complete condemnation of the sale or trade of Japanese wartime memorabilia. One issue with this is the lack of regulation of online sales. At one time, Yahoo! Auctions even began posting government notices each time someone posted a Japanese wartime item for sale on its website, but it was difficult to regulate only online sales of the items. Overall, there is a perception that Japanese war memorabilia is not as sought after as Nazi memorabilia. Regardless, both types of memorabilia still sell online today.
While there are a number of options related to the collection or donation of Japanese war memorabilia, the bottom line is that each item paints a painful picture for many, many people in the Asian Pacific. Perhaps if there was more awareness of the wartime atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army and others, the few remainders of their presence might be less in demand. At the very least, informing the public of the types of war crimes that were committed might deter new collectors from the thrill of the chase or might cause others to donate their memorabilia to a museum’s collection.
 Daniel Faris, “The Problem with Using Psychology to Explain Collecting,” ZMEScience, Sept. 5, 2017, https://www.zmescience.com/other/feature-post/problem-using-psychology-explain-collecting/.
 Mark B. McKinley, Ed.D., “The Psychology of Collecting,” The National Psychologist, Jan. 1, 2007, https://nationalpsychologist.com/2007/01/the-psychology-of-collecting/10904.html.
“Offensive,” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/offensive.
Mariko Oi, “What Japanese history lessons leave out,” BBC News, March 14, 2013, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21226068.
“Show & Tell,” Collectors Weekly, https://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories.
 Ben Marks, “Why Would Anyone Collect Nazi?” Collectors Weekly, June 23, 2011, https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/why-would-anyone-collect-nazi/.
Chunichi Shimbun, “Japanese war memorabilia pile up at museums, while online auctions of artifacts remain unregulated,” The Japan Times, Aug. 21, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/21/national/japanese-war-memorabilia-pile-museums-online-auctions-artifacts-remain-unregulated/#.W4N7GcJOnIU.
Kiyoshi Nishiha, “Let War Memorabilia Come Home,” Apr. 18, 2010, http://www.hlswilliwaw.com/nishiha/english.htm.
Chunichi Shimbun, “Japanese war memorabilia pile up at museums, while online auctions of artifacts remain unregulated,” The Japan Times, Aug. 21, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/21/national/japanese-war-memorabilia-pile-museums-online-auctions-artifacts-remain-unregulated/#.W4N7GcJOnIU.
Kenneth W. Rendell, “What Are Those World War II Collectibles Really Worth?” Bottom Line, May 15, 2010, https://bottomlineinc.com/life/collectibles/what-are-those-world-war-ii-collectibles-really-worth.
by Jack Demlow
It is well known in the American popular consciousness that Japanese Imperial Army at the time of World War II abhorred the idea of being taken prisoners in war, leading to suicidal attacks by Japanese soldiers and utter contempt for any enemies that they took prisoner. Additionally, though Japan officially stated that the terms of the Geneva Convention would be followed so far as it was possible, Japan had itself never ratified it. Following the Convention “so far as it was possible” meant it would not be followed very far at all, for excuses of cultural difference and necessity for labor would be used by the state as an external pretense to mask the Japanese military’s total antipathy regarding their prisoners’ well being; The Imperial Army violated at least 5 different articles of the Geneva convention with regards to the trial and execution of Allied POWs alone, not to mention further violations with regard to treatment of prisoners in the camps and using prisoners for labor. It is also worth noting that the disciplinary culture within the Imperial Army was extremely severe, and an institution that encouraged beatings for its own soldiers would hardly be expected to protect prisoners of war. Common means of execution were bayoneting, beheading with the sword, and by firing squad, while in fewer cases prisoners were drowned or immolated en masse.
While the behavior of Japanese soldiers and camp guards showed disturbing callousness towards the lives of defeated Allied soldiers, sadism was not reserved for prisons and camps: on several occasions, surrendering Allies were bayoneted or shot en masse on the spot. In
Hong Kong and Singapore, wounded soldiers were killed in their beds or penned up alongside civilian doctors and nurses for execution later. The captured defenders of Amboina Island (nearly 300 men) and both the civilian and military crew of the Vynor Brook (also around 300 persons) provide additional examples of mass slaughter, their executions seemingly ordered to prevent them from being a “drain” on the resources and manpower of the Japanese military.
Allied airmen were a unique case, for they were especially despised by their Japanese captors. After the “Doolittle Raid” bombed several cities on the Islands of Japan as a reprisal for Pearl Harbor, the Enemy Airmen’s Act was created by the Japanese government as a deterrent to Allied air strikes: in essence, the act declared that any Allied airmen who were found guilty of attacking civilians, private property, nonmilitary objectives (beyond what was unavoidable) or committing ‘violations of war-time international law’ would be prosecuted as war criminals and could be given the death penalty or ten years imprisonment. Three captured Doolittle pilots would be executed for such “offenses,” with their trials being little more than formal fronts for state-sponsored revenge. In the case of the Doolittle flyers, and many others that would be executed throughout the war, the impossibility of determining which plane was responsible for the destruction of which buildings did not stop the Imperial Army from finding them guilty. As the war progressed and more and more airmen were captured in greater numbers, trials were often dispensed with and prisoners were executed straight away. Regardless of whether or not they were given an official trial, their “guilt” was already determined by the flags on their uniforms.
As for the Allied soldiers who were not executed immediately or charged with war crimes and executed later, their fates were notoriously bleak and uncertain. They might be tortured or worked to death, murdered on the whim of a Japanese guard, or they might survive long enough to fall victim to another cruelty: mass execution to prevent their rescue by the Allies. Not only were these mass murders aimed to spite their foes, but in some cases, the executions were carried out to silence witnesses to the Imperial Army’s atrocities. Massacres on Formosa and Palawan took place while the war was still raging, with the events on the latter island being particularly chilling: the prisoners were fooled into thinking that an Allied bombing run was on its way, and then when they were all huddled in bomb shelters the Japanese soldiers lit the structures on fire and hosed them down with machine gun fire. Allied soldiers held on Wake Island and Fukuoka were murdered when their captors heard about Japan’s surrender, final acts of cruel defiance by men who were taught that defeat was anathema.
Francis, Timothy Lang. ""To Dispose of the Prisoners"." Pacific Historical Review (1997):
496-501. Journal Article.
MacKenzie, S. P. "The Treatment of Prisoners in World War II." The Journal of Modern History
(1994): 487-520. Journal Article.
Russel, Edward Fredrick Langley. The Knights of Bushido. New York: Skyhorse Publishing,
by Kelly Suen
Unit 731 was a biological and chemical weapons research and development unit of the Japanese Army. It operated covertly for ten years since 1935 in Harbin, China, and was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes committed by Imperial Japan, due to its extensive use of lethal human experimentation. With science and medicine as its stated purpose, Unit 731 was called upon to develop cures for sexually transmitted diseases, which had begun to spread among the Japanese army due to soldiers’ rape of civilians and sex with comfort women. To study STDs, Unit 731 prisoners were used as human test subjects. Female prisoners, for example, were infected by syphilis either by forced sex with an infected male prisoner or by injections. These women were forced to become pregnant for use in STD experiments, and the babies born to these women were also used in experiments.
Pregnant women were infected with syphilis and other STDs for use in studying the effect it may have on the fetus. Female prisoners were systematically raped, sometimes by doctors, resulting in a large number of babies born in captivity. Babies born to women with syphilis were tested on the moment they were born. These babies were personally delivered by doctors instead of nurses, as it normally would be the case. Blood flow from mother to child would be stopped and released intermittently to take multiple blood samples. This was done to determine the intensity of syphilis transmitted from mother to child, and to study the progression of the disease from the time of birth.
Some women were forced to have sex to study the transmission of STDs. When the infection of STDs by injection was abandoned, the researchers started forcing prisoners to have sexual intercourse with each other. The process was handled by four or five Unit 731 members, dressed in white laboratory clothing which would cover the body entirely, leaving only eyes and mouth visible. A male and female, one infected with syphilis, would be brought into a cell together and forced to have sex with each other, under threat of getting shot if anyone resisted. Once the healthy partner was infected, researchers closely observed the progress of the disease to determine, for example, how far it advanced the first week, the second week, and so forth. Instead of looking for external changes, such as the condition of sexual organs, researchers performed live dissections to investigate the effect of the disease on the internal organs at different stages of the disease. Unsurprisingly, some women were impregnated from these sexual encounters.
Babies, whether born outside or in Unit 731, were also made use of in experiments. The ones born in Unit 731 were the results of rape. A few months after being impregnated, women would be dissected and their fetuses removed while they were awake. On one occasion, a pregnant woman was infected with syphilis, and when her child was born, they were both dissected. Another experiment conducted on children was for a frostbite cure. A temperature sensing needle was inserted into the hand of a three-month-old baby and the infant was immersed in ice water, then temperature changes were recorded.
With the prevalence of syphilis and other STDs among Japanese soldiers, Unit 731 was sought out to create cures. Unit 731 performed experiments that had caused the deaths of many female prisoners. Atrocities such as vivisections and forced pregnancies were committed for science. Women were infected with syphilis, and some were also forced to become pregnant. They were infected and impregnated by rape or forced sex with male prisoners. Scientists utilized pregnant women as well as the children they would later give birth to in their STD experiments. Pregnant women, women with syphilis, and babies were dissected alive. Despite knowledge of a large number of children born in Unit 731, there are no records of survivors. It is likely the children were killed along with other prisoners at the end of the war.
Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II by Peter Williams, David Wallace pg. 41
Unit 731: Testimony By Hal Gold
Get our ebook to learn more about Unit 731!
by Jack Demlow
The Fall of Singapore was a military disaster contemporary with Pearl Harbor, but it led to division and finger-pointing instead of rallying the Allies further against Japan. The Japanese invasion of Malaya (today’s Malaysia) began December 8th, 1941, landing troops on its shores and pushing south through the peninsula. The combined British, Indian, and Australian forces under General Arthur Percival’s command had great difficulty stalling the Japanese attack, and in two months the struggle was over: Japan had taken all of Malaya and the surrender of Singapore 130,000 Allied soldiers was being negotiated. This defeat was called “the worst disaster and the largest capitulation in British history” by British prime minister Winston Churchill, and the British generals that had led the defense were not viewed very graciously. Most of the popular blame for the capture of Singapore would fall on General Percival, though arguably this was unjust given lacking support for fortifying the region and a number of his generals who held him in contempt and inhibited smooth military operation.
Among these belligerents, General Henry Gordon Bennett, commander of the Australian 8th Division, was a notable case. He already had a reputation as a courageous frontline commander in WWI: Bennet had been wounded on his first day of battle, but he escaped the hospital ship as soon as he had a chance (not permission) and went right back to the front lines. This reputation was bolstered on many other battlefields, but it gained some unpleasant dimensions as Bennet was found to be argumentative and had a sensitive ego when working with other officers. Additionally, Bennet was not a full-time soldier in peacetime and had a poor opinion of officers who served in the military full-time, a position he vocalized frequently and even worked into a number of newspaper articles in 1937. This drew enough attention to Bennet for him to face Censure by the Military Board, which doubtless only worsened his relations to other officers.
When WWII began, Bennet was the third-highest ranking officer in the Australian military, but he was passed over for command in the field on three separate occasions. A courageous soldier Bennett may have been, but his touchy ego and dislike of regular officers would have harmed Australian capability to work jointly with British forces that were also operating in the Pacific. The promotion of the commander of the 8th Division, Major General Vernon Sturdee, finally gave Bennet a position to fill in the field. Bennett's performance as a commander against the Japanese advance through Johore was as strong any of his fellow commanders in Malaya, but it was not enough. Aside from a successful ambush at Gemas, his Australian and Indian units were pushed back along with the rest of the defending line. Malaya fell in early February, as did Singapore.
Bennet was known as a brave and enthusiastic soldier, no matter his pettiness with his peers and superiors, but his actions during the surrender of Singapore marred that reputation in the eyes of many. Allegedly having sufficient knowledge of Japanese tactics to provide an advantage later on in the war, Bennet gave up his command to Brigadier C.A. Callaghan and escaped Singapore alongside civilian evacuees. Bennett’s claim to possess valuable intelligence did not save him from rebuke for leaving his troops, and his senior officers kept him out of field command for the rest of the war. Bennett, and extended his defense to include criticism of the other commanders of the Malayan campaign in his book Why Singapore Fell. At the end of the war, Bennett found himself under military investigation for his flight from Singapore after the now-released General Percival accused him of unlawfully vacating his command. The investigation’s conclusion condemned Bennet’s actions as unjustified, no matter his intent or his degree of personal courage. Bennett returned to civilian life with his military reputation tarnished, though not in tatters, and he continues to be a controversial figure in the history of WWII.
Austrailian War Memorial. Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennet. n.d. web page. 27 June 2018.
Bell, Morgan. Gordon Bennet. n.d. web page. 27 June 2018.
Diamond, John. General Arthur Percival: A Convenient Scapegoat? 17th June 2016. web page. 27th June 2018.
Lodge, A.B. Bennett, Henry Gordon (1887-1962). 1993. web page. 27 June 2018.
by Sophie Hammond
During the early twentieth century, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded and occupied Chinese lands without ever officially declaring war.
In 1915, Japan issued the secret Twenty-One Demands to Chinese president Yuan Shikai, with the intent to claim economic and political power over China. The Demands were divided into five groups, with the Group Five demands including concessions similar to those Japan had forced on Korea. After twenty-five rounds of negotiations and intense political maneuvering on President Yuan’s part, the Twenty-One Demands were agreed to, except for the Group Five demands. The other Demands, though, reinforced Japanese control of southern Manchuria, Shandong, and eastern inner Mongolia. Japan’s hold on Manchuria was especially strong. The Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin tolerated Japan’s encroachments on his Manchurian territory in exchange for their help maintaining his power, and Japan controlled southern Manchuria economically through its ownership of most of Manchuria’s railway lines and its lease of the Liaodong Peninsula.
In 1928, a handful of extremist Japanese officers stationed in Manchuria bombed Zhang Zuolin’s personal train, assassinating him. According to many sources, they acted without any direct orders from Tokyo, hoping to provide Japan with an excuse to invade Manchuria. Whether or not the Imperial Japanese Army actually authorized the assassination, Zhang Zuolin’s son and heir Zhang Xueliang was understandably not eager to ally himself with the Japanese after this. Instead, he gave his loyalty to the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, who took as their main goal resistance to foreign influence in China.
The Manchurian railways also became a source of major contention, and to circumvent Japanese power in the region, the Chinese began building their own railway system which bypassed Japanese lines. It was these railways which formed the pretext for the Mukden Incident. Increasing tensions in the summer of 1931 culminated in the explosion of a bomb which destroyed a section of Japan-owned railway tracks near the city of Mukden. Japan blamed the Nationalists for the bomb, although even the League of Nations, after a thorough investigation, believed that the bomb had actually been planted by mid-level Imperial Japanese Army officers to justify seizing Manchuria.
The Mukden Incident, whether or not it was a staged pretext, is considered the beginning of Japan’s full-scale invasion of Manchuria and the beginning of Japan’s Fifteen Years’ War. By the next year, Japan had made Manchuria into Manchukuo, a puppet state headed by a puppet leader, the deposed Qing emperor Pu Yi. Pu Yi had become emperor of China in 1908 at the age of two, only for China to become a republic three years later. He lived in powerless luxury until 1924, when political turmoil in China caused him to appeal to Japan for protection. Eight years later, Japan made him Emperor of Manchukuo, and he lived again in powerless luxury.
As Japan pushed further and further into China and tightened its control over the regions it occupied, Chinese communist and Nationalist forces continued to fight against each other. However, in 1936, Zhang Xueliang, the leader of the Nationalists in Manchuria under Chiang Kai-shek’s command, forced Chiang to stop the civil war and ally with the communists to oppose the Japanese. Zhang achieved this unexpected result by kidnapping Chiang in Xi’an after Chiang arrived to order Zhang to resume fighting the communists. Chiang agreed to Zhang’s demands after communist leader Zhou Enlai intervened in the negotiations and helped persuade Chiang to fight more actively against the Japanese and to allow the communists local authority.
The Xi’an Incident of 1936 helped speed China on its way to a full-scale resistance to Japanese expansion, but most historians point to an incident at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing as the real beginning of the United Front against the Japanese. On the night of July 7, 1937, a small Japanese force demanded to be allowed into the walled town of Wanping to find a missing Japanese soldier. The Chinese garrison refused, and during the argument, a shot rang out. It remains a mystery which side fired the first shot, but soon enough, both sides began firing.
The clash at the Marco Polo Bridge bolstered Chinese resistance. Immediately, nearly all of the regional political and military groups in China threw their weight behind the Nationalists, even those who had formerly withheld their support. In September of that year, the Communists agreed to put their troops under Nationalist governmental control. This quickly escalated the fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops, as the Japanese seized several major Chinese cities and ports, including Shanghai in a three-month siege, followed by the unrestrained assault on the Nationalist capital, Nanjing, in what has become known as the Rape of Nanking. The Rape of Nanking further intensified Chinese resistance, and while the Imperial Japanese Army continued to expand their control over parts of China, their progress was stymied outside urban areas.
Yet war remained officially undeclared by either side until December 9, 1941, when the United States and China simultaneously declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cavendish, Richard. “Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China, Is Pardoned.” History Today, vol. 59, no. 12, Dec. 2009.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Second Sino-Japanese War.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 Dec. 2017, www.britannica.com/event/Second-Sino-Japanese-War.
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Huang, Yanzhong. “China, Japan and the Twenty-One Demands.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 Jan. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/yanzhonghuang/2015/01/21/china-japan-and-the-twenty-one-demands/.
“Invasion of Manchuria and Japanese Aggression.” The Pacific Theater, Lynden Pioneer Museum, 3 June 2014, lyndenpacifictheater.wordpress.com/china-invasion/.
The Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs. “The Mukden Incident of 1931 and the Stimson Doctrine.” Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations, U.S. Department of State, history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/mukden-incident.
Overy, Richard. “China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival by Rana Mitter – Review.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 June 2013, www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/06/china-war-japan-rana-mitter-review.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. “On the Declaration of War with Japan - December 9, 1941.” Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Marist College, docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/120941.html.
Twitchett, Dennis C., et al. “China.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 July 2018, www.britannica.com/place/China/War-between-Nationalists-and-communists.
von Stauffenberg, Claus. “World War II: China's Declaration of War Against Japan, Germany and Italy.” Jewish Virtual Library, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/china-s-declaration-of-war-against-japan-germany-and-italy-december-1941.
Wright, Edmund, editor. A Dictionary of World History. 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 2006
by Jack Gray
The Philippines played a critical role in American strategy during World War II. Before the war, the United States had large numbers of troops stationed on the islands. After U.S. forces were defeated from the islands, regaining the Philippines became an important goal, especially for General MacArthur, who had been forced to evacuate from his headquarters there in 1942 when the Japanese attacked. Accordingly, MacArthur adopted a strategy of island-hopping, which would allow him to steadily drive Japanese forces out of the islands they had conquered, bringing him closer and closer to Japan itself. Unfortunately, the Philippines’ proximity to Japan meant that they were among the last of the occupied islands to be retaken; fighting on the island of Mindanao continued up until the Japanese surrender in August of 1945.
The conflict in the Philippines thus had three main phases. The first was the Japanese invasion, which occurred between December of 1941 and June of 1942. In several battles the Japanese were able to defeat American and Filipino forces and quickly occupy the Philippines. From June 1942 until October 1944, the only fighting that occurred in the Philippines was between Japanese occupying forces and guerrilla resistance fighters. During this second phase there were no large or decisive battles, but rather many ambushes and raids against Japanese outposts. In October 1944, MacArthur and U.S. forces landed on Leyte, one of the southernmost islands in the Philippines. From then on until the end of the war in August 1945, there would be more large-scale fighting as American and Filipino forces recaptured important cities such as Manila and drove the Japanese out of the Philippines.
The first battles in the Philippines were raids against American airfields. The Japanese bombed Clark field, Del Carmen field, Nichols field, and Nielson field in the first few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, destroying much of the United States’ air power in the Philippines. They simultaneously launched preliminary amphibious attacks on or near the island of Luzon with small units, intending to give themselves a foothold to support larger attacks on the main body of U.S. forces in the Philippines. Most of these landings faced no significant opposition, as they did not directly threaten important bases or cities. On December 21, 1942, the Japanese launched their main attack on the Philippines with an amphibious assault at Lingayen Gulf and a second at Lamon Bay. They quickly overpowered combined American and Filipino resistance.
This was a disaster for MacArthur, who had based his entire plan for the defense of the Philippines on being able to maintain a strong defense against amphibious landings by the Japanese. Moreover, the Japanese troops landed at Lamon Bay and Lingayen Gulf were easily able to attack Manila, where American headquarters were located. MacArthur decided to evacuate the city of Manila, relocating his headquarters and the seat of the Philippines’ government to Corregidor, an island fortress in Manila Bay. Unable to carry out his original plan of defending the coasts, MacArthur carried out War Plan Orange-3, which called for delaying the Japanese advance at predetermined points in along the Bataan peninsula until reinforcements could arrive from America. This plan had been written with the assumption that the fleet at Pearl Harbor would be able to come to the defense of the Philippines, but with the destruction of those forces, there would be no reinforcements coming.
Nonetheless, MacArthur had no other options, with Manila left indefensible and his aircraft destroyed in the first days of the war by Japanese raids. The Bataan peninsula was heavily forested and ideal for defensive warfare, and there U.S. and Filipino forces were able to hold out for several months. However, the Japanese were able to slowly overcome American resistance until at last only Corregidor remained. Realizing the futility of remaining in the Philippines, General MacArthur had evacuated to Australia with his family, leaving General Jonathan Wainwright in command of American and Filipino forces, all of whom remained at Corregidor.
The Siege of Corregidor was the final battle of the first phase of the war in the Philippines. The soldiers defending the fortress held out for several months against heavy bombing and artillery fire until finally General Wainwright surrendered on April 9th, 1942. This marked the end of organized resistance in the Philippines, and was the end of the first phase of the war.
For the next two years there would be no large-scale battles, but fierce resistance by Filipino guerillas continued for the duration of the war. The long resistance by American soldiers, and subsequent guerilla warfare by Filipinos was unique in World War II. By the time of the American surrender, the Japanese had already conquered countless other islands in the Pacific, reaching as far as the Solomon Islands. Only the Philippines were able to put up any significant resistance.
The next major battle in the Philippines occurred in October of 1944 when U.S. Forces landed on Leyte. The Battle of Leyte Gulf lasted for several days and resulted in the destruction of the Imperial Japanese Navy. MacArthur then moved to attack Mindoro, where he established airfields with which to threaten Manila and Luzon, his final objective.
The final days of the Philippines’ Campaign were similar to the Japanese invasion. Japanese troops fortified Corregidor Island and fought until February of 1945, when U.S. Forces took control of the island. MacArthur then attacked Manila, which required a month of intense fighting to capture. In the battle over 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed, some murdered by Japanese soldiers and others killed by American bombs. The battle of Manila, which ended in March of 1945, marked the end of Japanese occupation of the Philippines. While individual Japanese units continued to fight until the final surrender in August, there was no official or organized resistance.
Bluhm, Raymond K. "Battle of Corregidor." Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Corregidor.
Morton, Louis. The Fall of the Philippines. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1953. https://history.army.mil/books/wwii/5-2/5-2_Contents.htm#part1.