This upcoming October, the 1882 Foundation will be holding its inaugural Chinese American Women in History Conference.
The 1882 Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C.’s Chinatown. 1882 was founded by Executive Director Ted Gong, with the purpose and mission of promoting public awareness of Chinese American history and issues, primarily the significance, history, and implications 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The 1882 Foundation, along with other organizations, joined forces, resulting in Congress apologizing and condemning the Chinese Exclusion Act. Today, the 1882 Foundation’s collects and shares oral histories through our monthly Talk Story events, promotes the teaching of Asian American literature and history in schools, and collaborates with different organizations far and wide to broaden our worldview and further our respective goals and values, because together, we are stronger.
With that being said, it is such an honor to have the opportunity to collaborate with Pacific Atrocities Education through this guest feature on their blog!
At the 1882 Foundation’s inaugural Chinese American Women in History Conference, we seek to fill in the gaps for the lack of history and awareness on the 1945 War Brides Act and pre-1965 Chinese American history.
The War Brides Act was enacted in 1945, “An act to expedite the admission to the United States of alien spouses and alien minor children of citizen members of the United States armed forces” (UWB Library)
During our Conference, one of our panelists whose work we hope to highlight is Evelyn Hang Yin.
Evelyn Hang Yin 尹航 is an artist from Hangzhou, China and currently pursuing her MFA degree in Photography & Media at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). She received her B.A. in Political Science and Media Studies at University of California at Berkeley and Post-Baccalaureate in Studio Art at San Francisco Art Institute before landing in Los Angeles. Her work investigates how her personal experiences moving between two countries inform her cultural identity. She is currently developing her thesis project with a focus on early Chinese immigrant history in America and how those stories live today.
Evelyn is currently conducting research in Hanford, located in central California, which is home to a rural Chinatown. She hopes to tell and preserve the story of Hanford’s Chinatown through creative photography.
There, she is interviewing longtime resident, and Chinese American, Camille Wing, who is leading the restoration of a Taoist temple in Hanford. Hanford is home to China Alley, where the only open establishment is a tea shop that is run by Camille’s daughter and son-in-law at the end of the road. As time passes, less and less Chinese Americans call Hanford home, prompting Camille to preserve what is left. Thus the China Alley Preservation Society was born in the 1970s, which was mostly run by men. However, as years passed, this was a role and undertaking that was dominated by women.
More of Evenlyn’s work and research will be discussed at the Chinese American Women in History Conference. The Conference weekend features two full days of programming and an opening reception and open house at the new Chinese American Museum DC. Panels on the first day will cover topics such as a historical discussion on the War Brides Act and its impact, the women who played a role in desegregation in the Gong Lum v. Rice court case, Dr. Mabel Ping-hua Lee and the efforts to commemorate a NYC post office in her honor. The night will conclude with a public screening of Finding Kukan (2016) with filmmaker Robin Lung, and The Curse of Quan Gwon (1916) by Marion E. Wong, represented by her grandson Greg Mark. Day 2 will be focused on sharing and telling our untold stories through community conversations, including a storytelling workshop and open mic sessions.
Registration for the Conference is now OPEN, and interested attendees can register at our website. https://1882foundation.org/chinese-american-women-in-history-conference/.
Attendees interested in submitting their written stories for the workshop portion can email them, as well as any questions or inquiries to email@example.com.
Photos by Evelyn Hang Yin
by Junyi Han
In 1937, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China and quickly isolated the country from the rest of the world. Chinese resistance led by the Nationalist government heavily relied on the supply line through the Burma Road, and Japan wanted to cut it off. In December 1941, soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan invaded the British colony Burma. Consequently, the Sino-Japanese conflict merged with World War II, and China, Britain, and the United States became allies. In 1942, the CEF was formed in China and later dispatched to Burma and India to deter Japanese invasion. In 1944, the CEF recaptured Tengchong. It was the first Chinese city taken back from Japanese armies during World War II (Wo Nu Salon). After this victory, China started moving to an offensive position in the war. Although it seems that the sacrifice of CEF should have received acknowledgment in post-war China, the following Chinese Civil War between Nationalists and Communists completely denied that assumption. After Communists won the Civil War and founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the history of CEF was excluded from the public discourse for a long time due to their political affiliation with the Nationalist government. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that in the 1980s, that situation began to change. The stories of CEF started to be heard in China and many veterans from the CEF are now honored as national heroes. This thesis will examine this shifting narrative, and ultimately answer how and why the memory of World War II has changed in post-war China through the case of CEF.
On the collective level, the shift took place as the political environment changed in China in the late 1970s. According to Rana Mitter, a British historian at Oxford University, bac then the domestic faith in Maoism and his wartime revolutionary strategies “was shaken by the Cultural Revolution.” Also, because “there was a desire to reunify with Taiwan,” more discussions of Nationalist war efforts appeared. Also, by that time it was not necessary for China to “soft-pedal diplomatically on Japan” (Mitter, 551). As a result, a new wave of war memory began and the way that the CEF was collectively remembered within the Chinese society also changed. For instance, the Graveyard of the National Heroes (国殇墓园), a memorial originally established by the Nationalist government in 1945 for the fallen soldiers of the CEF and later destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, was reconstructed in 1984 (Guo Shang Mu Yuan). In 1991, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China approved the proposal to build Dianxi Anti-Japan War Museum (滇西抗战纪念馆) next to the Graveyard of the National Heroes (Guo Shang Mu Yuan). Also, starting in the early 2000s, many TV shows and novels about the CEF popped on the market. Although some works were not very objective, they let more people notice the existence of the CEF and become interested in this historical event.
On the individual level, some people started to do field research voluntarily. They conducted interviews and recorded the stories of veterans from the CEF to examine the war based on their descriptions. Also, more veterans became more willing to share their stories as the political environment changed. Moving into their late years, these veterans were willing to pass on their stories to the next generation. Some interesting patterns can be observed in their reflections. For instance, I notice that there is a tendency for these veterans to talk about experiences that made sense under contemporary circumstances so that it was easier for them to communicate with interviewers from the next generation. Back to high school, when I visited the veterans from the CEF in China, I always asked them to share their life stories with me. Interestingly, almost all veterans chose high school or college as their starting point when they constructed their auto-biographical narratives. They liked to start a conversation with “when I was at your age…” or “when I was a student/ teenager…” and then moved on to their struggles during the war. Moreover, they usually ended their stories with sentences like “How fortunate are you! I did not have an opportunity to be educated when I was at your age. Please work hard at school!” In this way, the 90-year-old veterans managed to build up rapport with me, a high school student. Without any wartime experiences, I still managed to situate myself in their story frame and imagine what I would do if I encountered a bloody war at a young age. In this way, their stories were able to overcome the generational gap and be understood by younger people. What’s more, I notice that there is a strong sense of patriotism in their war reflections. They tended to downplay the party differences and address the fact that they were fighting for all Chinese people. They all considered fighting during the Anti-Japanese War a necessary responsibility and therefore their sacrifices should be remembered. Passed on to the younger generations, these stories have facilitated the preservation of a unifying national identity within the Chinese society.
Overall, through the case of the Chinese Expeditionary Force, it is noteworthy that as the political circumstances changed in the late 20th century, how World War II was remembered in China also shifted. On the collective level, there were more favorable discussions of Nationalist war participation. On the individual level, war memory became an important element for Chinese people to understand their own national identity.
Guo Shang Mu Yuan Jian Jie. Accessed on July 20th.
Mitter, Rana. “War and Memory Since 1945.” The Cambridge History of War, edited
by Roger Chickering, Dennis Showalter, and Hans van de Ven, vol, 4: 542–65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. doi:10.1017/CHO9781139021203.026.
Teng Chong Xian Guo Shang Mu Yuan Ji Gou Guan Li Gong Zuo Qing Kuang Hui
Bao. Accessed on July 20th.
Wo Nu Salon. “An Interview with Writer Ge Yu.” Accessed on July 20th, 2019.
by Hanna Bobrowicz
In the 50 years since Apollo first landed on the moon, the importance of racial and gender representation has occupied the national consensus. The New York Times published an article about Ed Dwight a man who was once set to be the first African American man in space. You have to read the article to find out the reason this history didn’t occur, but the New York Times emphasized what an opportunity it was to progress both scientific and racial barriers in one space mission. At Pacific Atrocities Education we have decided to commemorate the Moon Landing by studying the accomplishments of Asian American women who have dedicated their lives to space.
Chawla was born in India and moved to the United States to complete her education and eventually her space training with NASA. She was the first Indian-born woman in space and completed several space missions throughout her career. When she returned from her first space mission in 1997 she reflected:
“I never truly thought of being the first or second someone. Or being a small-town girl. This
is just something I wanted to do,”
Throughout her career, Chawla spent over 30 days in space completing 2 missions. In 2003 Chawla and her team of Astronauts boarded a Space Shuttle Columbia to embark on another mission to space. Upon reentering the atmosphere, the space shuttle exploded killing all members on board. Despite her early death, her accomplishments make her a celebrated figure in both India and the United States.
Pham describes her job as a ‘spacecraft dressmaker’ at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. She was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Los Angeles in the 1970s where she began work as a lingerie seamstress. In addition to her work as a seamstress, she also took night classes at a trade school. Pham’s skills got her recruited at NASA, and she worked on terrestrial vehicles and space satellites.
In 2000 Pham began to construct thermal blankets, a vital aspect of safety for space travel. Pham explains; “A thermal blanket has to provide just the right amount of heat — not too much and not too little — for the spacecraft to operate correctly.” She still makes thermal blankets for space missions, she believes her career demonstrates that it is “ never too late to learn and take classes. There are a lot of people at JPL who didn’t start in science or engineering, but almost all of them have the drive to learn new skills or search for training.” She continues her work at NASA today.
Santiago-Bond is a Filipina-American, who began her career at NASA in 2004 as a graduate intern at John F. Kennedy Space Center. Today she is a Systems Engineer and Head of the Advanced Engineering Development Branch. She has developed new space technologies and worked on the LADEE Lunar Mars mission. Santiago-Bond is also an innovator she invented the branch she is now in charge of, she acts as a supervisor and mentor for engineers and interns in the space program. She reflects “I always feel that I am valued not only for my engineering and leadership skills but also as an Asian American and as a Filipina American, who brings a unique set of experiences and ideas to the table every day.”
The legacy of Asian American culture exists within the walls of NASA and other space programs throughout the United States. While many glorify the men who were the first to walk the moon, it is important to recognize the people of color and women who continue to transcend the barriers of science while also breaking social barrier in their country.
Dr. Kalpana Chawla: Quiet and Modest but also Determined. The New York Times. Lydia Polgreen, February 2003.
A Woman’s Place is In Space: Meet 8 Asian American Women Reaching for the Stars. KCET. Teena Apeles, July 2019.
A Woman on a Mission: How this Fil-Am Engineer Rose through the Ranks at NASA.
The Asian Journal. Christina M. Oriel March 2019.
100 Women: The Women who Sew for NASA. The BBC. Mary Hiltion, November 2017.
Ed Dwight Was Set to Be the First Black Astronaut. Here’s Why That Never Happened. The New
York Times, Emily Ludolph. July 2019.
by Kyle Catarata
What makes Japan especially unique, when considering the economic history of the country, would be their implementations of policies. Analyzing Japan’s Economic Miracle after World War II cannot be done without first considering the country’s background in economic policies. It is not just the morale of the citizens nor assistance from other countries that drives Japan’s economy forward, rather it is through policies, enacted and enforced by the government, followed by their citizens, that initiates this type of growth.
Sakoku, which translates to “closed country”, was a foreign policy that was enacted by the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo Period (1603-1868). The reasoning for such seclusion was because Tokugawa Ieyasu feared of Western and religious colonization by Christians in Europe (Yasuka, 2014). Though trade would have amounted to more economic growth and knowledge in technological advancements, the shogunate believed impeding forces would shift the current state of Japan. Ergo, the Tokugawa Shogunate decided to close the country to any foreign trade and prohibit any way of leaving. Both those who sought to leave, and those who left and later returned, were eventually executed. Albeit there was no way of trading with any foreign country, there were exceptions such as with the Dutch East India Trading Company and China.
Although the seclusion of Japan resulted in a loss of trade and understanding with other nations, many historians debated whether the policy, enacted by the Tokugawa Shogunate, held any positive effects on the economy. After the founding of the Tokugawa dynasty, the Japanese population rose from 20 million to 30 million and remained steady at 30 million until the Meiji Restoration. Due to famine and “human misery” that fell under the weight of large families, many Japanese families tried limiting their size to accumulate per capital wealth. The only economic growth that occurred during this time derived mostly from rice taxes and that from the samurai class, whose taxable output contributed to the economy.
However, by the early 19th century, “rice taxes, head taxes on city dwellers, and franchised monopolies were becoming less effective at maintaining the samurai’s share of Japan’s rising national income” (Flath, 2014). With repeated, unsuccessful, attempts to enlarge the collection of rice taxes to compensate for multiple incomes, the period’s faced an inevitable economic demise. With foreign intrusion, the United States of America initiated the start of a new era.
The Meiji Restoration was a period after the fall of the Edo Period in 1868. During this period, the U.S. sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to demand Japan to reopen in 1853, which they eventually did. It was also the time where the feudal state of Japan fell, hence the Tokugawa lost his power, making the emperor, Meiji the Great, head of state. With this, the nation moved toward a focus of industrialization, similar to that of the West.
With the abolition of the feudal system, the people of Japan were free to choose their intended occupation without worrying about the former social hierarchy. This new environment allowed Japan to invest heavily in new industries and technologies to grow the economy (The Meiji Restoration).
Such long-term investments included new railroads to connect the four major islands, shipping lines, telegraph and telephone systems. At first, most industries that were funded by the government were owned solely by the government. However, after a few years, most of these industries were owned by private businesses to initiate a capitalistic economy(Economic Change). The Meiji period was a fundamental milestone in Japan’s historical growth as it was the outcome of a 200 year long feudal economy as well as a trampoline to jumpstart the economy thereafter, especially in the Taishō (prewar) and post war period.
A main economic shift during the Meiji Restoration involved the land tax reform. Prior to the restoration, most of the revenue for the bakufu and the han governments came from rice taxes. However, in 1873 the government replaced the rice taxes with a monetary land tax. By doing so, the government allowed for private ownership of agriculture land, which in turn improved economic incentives to allocate land efficiently for the use of agriculture.
The Meiji Restoration was not only a period to restore the mistakes carried on from past periods, but an era of improvement, advancement, and reform that, in turn, helped the national economy as a whole in long-term growth. It was essentially the period where Japan showed the rest of the world that they were on the same playing field as those in the West, seeing how fast they caught up to Western industrialization.
Over the span of several centuries, Japan witnessed its fair share of political and economic change. Through the seclusion policy, which closed the country off for well over 200 years, to the Meiji Restoration, whose quasi-policy included industrial advancement, reform, and economic prosperity, the implementation of policies were key to Japan’s economic growth and success that held a precedent in later policies implemented thereafter.
“Economic Change.” Meiji Period, jordanahjilljessiesarah.weebly.com/economic-change.html.
Flath, David. The Japanese Economy. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Hays, Jeffrey. “TOKUGAWA IEYASU AND THE TOKUGAWA SHOGUNATE.” Facts and Details, Sept. 2016, factsanddetails.com/japan/cat16/sub107/item506.html.
“The Meiji Restoration and Modernization: Asia for Educators: Columbia University.” The Meiji Restoration and Modernization | Asia for Educators | Columbia University, afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/japan_1750_meiji.htm.
Yasuka. “The Sakoku Years of Japan.” KCP International, 16 Oct. 2014, www.kcpinternational.com/2014/10/the-sakoku-years-of-japan/.
We have had an exciting summer here at Pacific Atrocities Education! A few of our summer projects include Japan’s Miracle Economic Boom after WW2, Vietnamese Famine During WW2, and The Forgotten Chinese Expedition in Burma. We have also revamped our website, merchandise page, as well as launching Boba Talk!
Talk from Survivor- Jean B. Chan
Jean B. Chan is a retired mathematics professor at Sonoma State University. She was an early member of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition. She had worked tirelessly to include a memorial for the Asian holocaust in Sonoma’s Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove. She shared the story of losing a brother from starvation and inadequate medical care during the Japanese Imperial Military invasion of China in WW2.
Workshop from ESJF
Education for Social Justice Foundation presented “Comfort Women” History and Issues.
Workshop with Facing History’s Brian Fong
We participated in discussion and discourse surrounding the topic of remembering history. We were faced with questions like “How do you decide who is responsible for these atrocities?”, “How do we commemorate and memorialize these atrocities?”, and “How do we move forward in today’s world without forgetting history?”.
Professional Shadowing Day:
Our interns also shadowed Dwayne McDaniel, Developer Advocate at Pantheon Systems, Julie Soo, Commissioner on the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, Enforcement Bureau for California Department of Insurance, and Judge Lillian Sing, retired at SF Superior Court’s Collaborative Court for professional development.
In March 1942, Japan seized control of the lower region of Burma by taking the city of Rangoon. Rangoon, now known as Yangon, was Burma’s administrative and commercial capital. The city was a crucial communication and industrial center in Burma and had the only port capable of handling troopships. Perhaps most importantly, strategically, the Burma Road began in Rangoon and allowed for a steady stream of military aid to be transported from Burma to Nationalist China. This supply route was essential for both Chiang Kai Shek’s armies as well as allied forces in the region. As a result, the fall of Rangoon to the Japanese had significant consequences.
The Burma Road reopened in October 1940 and by late 1941 the U.S. was shipping munitions and other materials to supply the Chinese Army, whose continuing strength, in turn, forced the Japanese to keep considerable numbers of ground forces stationed in China. In fact, nearly half of the Imperial Army was stuck fighting Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces. As a result, the Japanese decided it was necessary to close the Burma Road and cut off Chiang Kai Shek’s lifeline. If successful, the Chinese would be able to free their forces for use elsewhere in the Pacific and perhaps gain complete control of China. Additionally, Burma was considered the gateway to gaining control of India. Overall, all parties involved in the Pacific War viewed the loss of Rangoon as the loss of Burma.
The Japanese, led by General Shojiro Iida, had a straightforward plan to first seize Rangoon, Mandalay, and then the oilfields at Yenangyaung. In mid-January 1942, two divisions of Japan’s 15th Army had crossed from Thailand into Burma hoping to capture Rangoon before the British could land reinforcements. The Japanese began their campaign against Rangoon with a series of ‘softening-up’ air raids. Initially, these air raids proved to be incredibly deadly with nearly 1,250 killed in the first raid. This was primarily because there were no civil defense or air-raid precautions. But, by the third raid, the casualties were down to 60 killed and 40 wounded. Opposing the Japanese invasion was the recently arrived 17th Indian Division commanded by Major General Sir John G. “Jackie” Smyth. The British opted for a defensive strategy against the Japanese invasion because they were confident that they would be able to stop the Japanese as they approached Rangoon by utilizing the three rivers that barred the way to the capital. However, the Japanese pushed on past the Salween, Bilin, and lastly the Sittang. Over two days, February 22-23, the British-Indian brigades in Burma were crushed in the Battle of the Sittang Bridge. This defeat was described by Wavell as having “ really sealed the fate of Rangoon and lower Burma.”
The defeat at the Battle of the Sittang Bridge led to the subsequent evacuation of Rangoon. By February 24th, Rangoon was described as a ghost town. Burmese citizens vanished in mass and the Indian police abandoned their posts. There are also reports that criminals were released from their cells and roamed the streets looting and raping. As the Japanese continued to advance towards the city, General Harold Alexander was put in charge as the new corps commander in charge of operations for the British. Alex, as he was known, approached Rangoon with 40 of his men in early March. They engaged in a frantic activity to move as much material as possible north to the Burma Road. However, it was still necessary to destroy more than 900 trucks in various stages of assembly, 5,000 tires, 1,000 blankets and sheets, and more than a ton of miscellaneous items to avoid them being seized and utilized by the Japanese forces. Additionally, Alex and his men blew up nearly $14 million worth of installations belonging to the Burma Oil Company. On March 8th, Alex and his men came under Japanese counterattacks and were close to being surrounded. His entire command was nearly wiped out but was able to escape just before the rest of the Japanese troops arrived in the city.
On March 9th, 1942, the Japanese entered Rangoon and found it completely deserted. They were able to successfully cut off the Burma Road which deprived the Chinese Nationalist forces of their much-needed supplies. Additionally, despite Alex’s attempts to destroy the remaining war materials in Rangoon, over 19,000 tons of lend-lease material remained in Rangoon when it fell to the Japanese. The fall of Rangoon meant the fall of Burma and had significant consequences for Chiang Kai Shek’s armies as well as allied forces.
Bernstein, Marc D. “The 17th Indian Division in Burma: Disaster on the Sittang.” Warfare History Network, 14 Nov. 2018, https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/the-17th-indian-division-in-burma-disaster-on-the-sittang/.
“Burma, 1942.” U.S. Army Center of Military History, 3 Oct. 2003,
Hickey, Michael. “The Burma Campaign 1941 - 1945.” BBC, 17 Feb. 2011,
McLynn, Frank. The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph, 1942-45. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008.
by Yesenia Olmos
A superhero defeats evil supervillains in the name of justice, or do they? Superheroes offer us the perfect revenge and fantasy without the constraints of the law. American pop culture, for example, is obsessed with this idea of superheroes, this the U.S. government knew. The U.S. funded a government agency accordingly and named it ‘War Writers Board’ (WWB) in (1941) that introduced western “history” into comics to entertain, shape and sway Americans' opinions during wartime. Along with (WWB), Detective Comics (DC) writers and cartoonists brought to life war stories that would captivate an audience that had just suffered the post-traumatic stress of WWI and the beginning of the Great Depression. Comic books were geared towards all ages, that is what made them so popular and alarming. Acknowledging the time these comics were printed, there was sure to be wartime hysteria, (yellow peril) especially directed towards their enemies the Axis powers. It will be hard to say by the end of this blog if the previous statement is true or only a prospector's reality.
The beginning of the twentieth century would be known as the “Golden Age” of “innocence”. This was a time used metaphorically to describe the “innocence” of America or as an ironic description of the horrors of war. The period of the “Golden Age” of comic books would begin in (1938-1946) with the “first” American superhero, Superman. Accordingly, there had to be supervillains, America's wartime enemies, such as the “Japs”. The Japanese were often shown in comics as villains with yellow-tinted skin, pointed devil ears, long jaws, buck teeth, and sometimes fangs. By the 19th century, Americans had stereotyped the Asian population with the racist color-metaphor “yellow peril”. The term is integral to the xenophobic aspect of colonialism, saying the peoples of East Asia were an existential danger to the Western World. Paradoxically, they also tried to emphasize racial tolerance systematically to seem inclusive as opposed to their enemies abroad.
The Claw was a superhuman monster obsessed with America's complete destruction. The Claw orders a wave of “slaves” aka (Asian immigrants) to invade the U.S. The Claw was purposefully colored yellow, to represent the Yellow Peril a racist term that originated in the 19th century after Chinese immigrants moved to the West. This racist color-metaphor related to the people of East Asia as an existential danger to the Western World.
Black Dragon Society was created with the goal of driving the Russian Empire out of East Asia. The Black Dragon Society was a nationalistic right-wing military group in Japan, in the late 20s and 30s. During WWII Americans invoked wartime hysteria to sway the youth to think of the enemy as less than and incomparable to the American “intelligence”. Again, we see an illusion of how the American people saw their enemy.
The Atom disguised as Japanese miner. This was a way in which (WWB) along with DC cartoonists vilified wartime enemies. This picture is very racialized, with Atom slanting his eyes to exemplify wartime hysteria.
Beginning in 1938, the term nomos would come into context. Robert Cover, a law professor at Yale himself said, “nomos is a normative universe where we constantly create and maintain a world of right and wrong, of lawful and unlawful, of valid and void.” The introduction of superheroes created nomos. Unfortunately, some of the American population could not assimilate fact from fiction. The purpose of the (WWB) was to create hyper-nationalism amongst the American population while promoting inaccurate stereotypes of the enemy.
Starting December 7, 1941, the U.S. joined the war after a naval attack on Pearl Harbor, HI was bombed by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Comic books then began to emphasize the importance of going to war to defeat the “evil” that was abrupting the peace and justice of America. Comic books essentially became political media for all ages. It is important to realize that these comic books were being read by children who would grow up to be voters, soldiers, and officials of society for the next future generation.
Law is very different from justice. Law is associated with the dominant. While justice is associated with the person who escaped the bonds of the dominant. Greek philosopher, Plato himself said, “justice may be something apart from the law”. Therefore, superheroes became providers of justice. What I am trying to get at is, children, adults, soldiers reading these comics believed that America was the purveyors of justice, trying to defeat communism and fascism abroad. Comic books written during the “Golden Age” helped shape the modern American culture. It is important not to underestimate the impact of propaganda absorbed by the youth.
Many associate the end of the “Golden Age” with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, comic book creators began to create more inclusive superheroes, such as the ones below:
Cassandra Cain was born for experimental purposes, she became a trained assassin. She was given up by her mother (Lady Shiva) to her father (David Cain) who was part of the League of Assassins and trained her. She is Chinese-American and stands at 5’5, she is currently 19 years old. A vigilante, Cassandra decides to fight for what she believes in. She is later introduced to the Bat-Family and taken in as an adoptive daughter to Bruce Wayne, where she becomes “Batgirl”.
Kai-Ro, also known as Green Lantern, was a Tibetan-American. The ring chose him after he showed remarkable maturity and wisdom. He fought alongside the Justice League, where he advocated for more peaceful resolutions. Although Kai-Ro’s age is not known, it is assumed he is very young and a pariah for his insightful thinking.
Tatsu Yamashiro was trained at a young age to become an expert in martial arts and a samurai master. The sword that she carries is trapped with the soul of her dead husband and thousands of souls, whom she seeks to help. Katana is most known as a ‘vigilante’ in her role in the ‘Suicide Squad’.
“I have been called OMAC (One-Machine Attack Construct), but my name is Kevin Kho. I was transformed, without my knowledge and against my will into this monstrous form. And I have no way to change back.” In his civilian identity, however, Kevin is a Cambodian-American scientist working on genetic research.
Youth will always be targeted as the “weak” link to society. With undeveloped ideas and political views, the youth is always easily swayed. However, this can be changed. The only thing that might have the power to awaken the youth is to study history. History allows one to become a critical thinker, it allows you to decipher your own opinions based on facts. If the youth of today learned inclusive world history there could be a chance of understanding the world without inaccurate stereotypes. Superheroes may fight for justice, but the creators are the ones who form the conscience of what is right and wrong. So, then do superheroes truly fight for justice? Or only in what they believe is justice. Wars do not start on the battlefield, they begin at the home front. I would like to end this with a quote many Batman fans would recognize.
“Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” – Batman
Bainbridge, J. (2015). “The Call to do Justice”: Superheroes, Sovereigns and the State During
Wartime.” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de
Sémiotique Juridique, 745–763.
David Dellecese. (2018). “Comic Books As American Propaganda During World War II”, SUNY
Polytechnic Institute, 2018.
Hirsch, P. (2014). “This Is Our Enemy”: The Writers’ War Board and Representations of Race in
Comic Books, 1942–1945.” Pacific Historical Review, 448–486.
Siegel, Jerry, Joe Shuster, Wayne Boring, Jack Burnley, Paul Cassidy, Ed Dobrotka, Don
Komisarow, Leo Nowak, Frederic E. Ray, and John Sikela. (2017) Superman, the Golden
Age. Volume Three.
“DC Comics Inc”. (2019) DC. https://www.dccomics.com/.
by Samantha Quach
The Vietnamese Boat People were a series of refugees that fled Communist Vietnam in a mass exodus occurring in 1954, and again from 1975-1992. In 1954, the Northern Vietnamese fled to Southern Vietnam to escape the corrupt and violent Viet Minh regime. Under the Viet Minh, anyone deemed an enemy was prosecuted under the full extent of the law: this included Catholics, intellectuals, landowners, and generally anyone that disobeyed the regime. Many villagers feared for their lives and wellbeing as the Communist government, similar to China under Mao’s Cultural Revolution, turned everyone against each other in their bid to maintain power and control. The instability in Northern Vietnam led many Northerners to risk fleeing to Southern Vietnam, by boat, which was still under control by the Republic of Vietnam. Despite being in a better place to live compared to the north, the Southern Vietnamese government was still largely oppressive and inefficient. This was the first mass exodus.
From 1954 to 1975, the Republic of South Vietnam was embroiled in fierce combat against the Viet Cong in Ho Chi Minh’s attempt to reunify the country. In this Second Indochina War, better known to Americans as the Vietnam War, the nationalists were unable to ward off the Viet Cong, who eventually took control of Saigon in April 1975. The Fall of Saigon resulted in panic and chaos among the citizens. Previous Northerners knowledgeable of the terror that was the Communist government, along with Vietnamese government officials working with the US, were the first to leave: this time to entirely new and foreign countries. Some were able to fly out of Vietnam with aid from American volunteers, but the rest of the majority was more unfortunate. Most people did not have the means to flee nor give up their life and family uprooted in Vietnam, and thus they were left to brave the Communist government.
Over the next 20 years, with growing oppressiveness and violence, the Communist government began conflict with Cambodia, leaving (the remaining) Vietnamese citizens fearful for their lives. From 1972 to 1992, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese took extremely dangerous journeys by boat in efforts to escape the regime. These “Boat People” traveled to nearby countries like Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Guam, etc., with the hope of sponsorship to democratic countries. The journey by boat was extremely dangerous: there was a constant risk of getting caught, being robbed blind by pirates, facing starvation, and much more. Thousands of Vietnamese died at sea, and those that did survive faced bleak futures at refugee internment camps, not knowing if and when they would be given sponsorship. Once at a new foreign country (often times the US, Canada, France, Australia), the Boat People were forced to assimilate and immerse themselves into an entirely new environment.
In spite of the endless struggles and hardships faced by the Vietnamese Boat People, studies proved that once relocated in a new country, these refugees (and their children) yielded unprecedented academic growth and success. According to the book Children of the Boat People: A Study of Educational Success, refugee students held an average GPA of 3.05 on a 4.0 scale, and scores equivalent to the mid and upper quartiles for state-wide standardized CAT tests. Given their less than ideal circumstances of living in low-income and impoverished neighborhoods, lacking one to three years of schooling due to extended stays in refugee camps, having zero understanding of the English language upon arrival, and attending sub par public schools, many refugee students overcame the odds to succeed in academia and life. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees scattered across the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, etc.
A prime example of refugee achievement in America is my father. This is his story:
“I was born and raised in the town Sa Đéc, of Southern Vietnam. My hometown was small, about a day’s bus ride from Saigon, which was the then-capital of South Vietnam. I lived with my 11 siblings, parents, and grandmother. Being an ethnic Chinese minority (Han), I didn’t really wander around too much, but my recollection is that my house was half a block away from the river, and across from the market where my parents occupied a storefront to sell household goods. In my early childhood, I attended a private Chinese school, walking there and back daily. Again, being a minority, I was somewhat segregated and didn’t hang out with the local Vietnamese children. My favorite childhood memory is on my dad’s farm, about an hour bike ride away from home, where we would fish, paddle in canoes, catch fireflies, plant wheat, and other things that locals did. I remember during good harvest seasons, I would lie on my hammock and look across at the wind blowing against the wheat grains, like a beautiful green carpet moving side to side.
After the fall of South Vietnam in ‘75, there were a few folks from my hometown who were leaving overseas, which made me wonder what life was like beyond Vietnam. At the time, I had two older brothers that safely arrived in America two years prior, after spending some time at a Malaysian refugee camp. One night, my mom called me in to notify me that my aunt had prepared for my cousins to leave the country, but she changed her mind and wanted to keep her youngest son back. So I was a last minute replacement, the accidental kid that was allowed to go in place of my cousin. My third eldest brother, at the age of 15, and I, at the age of 13, were about to embark on the most dangerous journey of our lives.
On the day of our departure, in January of 1980, we boarded a bus to Rạch Giá, which was a coastal town I never visited before. We had lunch, then we went to a small boat and hid until midnight, where we were transferred to a bigger boat. The boat we were about to board on for a 4-day journey by sea was a fishing boat, not all that large but able to squeeze 36 passengers. We set sail for Thailand. A few hundred yards from shore while still in Vietnam waters, we were chased by the Vietnamese Navy, but fortunately made it to international waters and they gave up. Come to find out, the captain never embarked on such a long, treacherous journey before, and had nothing but a compass to guide him. We were short on food and water, and at some point we also ran out of gas, leaving us to float endlessly at sea. Along the way, we ran into Thai fishermen also doubling as pirates. I was half seasick on the back of the boat, and the first thing I opened my eyes to was a hatchet, buried deep into the side of the wooden boat. The pirates began to board, throwing more hatchets down as a warning that if you resist, you die. They demanded money. At the time I had next to nothing: my brother and I each had a bracelet, and I had twenty US dollars sewn into my shirt. My older brother overheard somewhere that if you hide anything from the pirates, or if they believe you are hiding something, they will outright kill you. So, he threw all of our belongings overboard. Luckily, as seasick as I was, the pirates never bothered to search me and I successfully kept the only money we had. After the first round, the pirates took what they wanted and left. We floated again at sea the next day, when we saw a huge boat filled with Chinese-Thai fishermen and pirates. My boatmates were able to communicate with them in their local Chinese dialect. Again, they robbed us of our gold and jewelry, but this time also provided us with rice and water. After leaving the Chinese, late that night, we were robbed for the third time. In this encounter, local fishermen anchored our boats together and began rocking us back and forth at a quick pace. Still seasick on the back of the boat, all I could see were white bubbles streaming out. I thought to myself, this is it, I’m going to die. The pirates managed to kidnap my female cousin, but eventually her brother was able to retrieve her through giving up whatever gold we had left. We floated around some more, and the next day we finally docked on the shore of Southern Thailand.
After landing on the beach, in our half-dead state, we managed to make our way to the highway. There, we were chased by locals who demanded even more money. Eventually the Thai police picked us up, and fed us, then sent us off to the refugee camp in Songkhla. On the first day of camp, each family was given a tent. Since my older brother and I were minors, we stayed in my cousin’s tent with his family. However, following disagreements, we decided to part ways with our cousins. Since losing our allocated living quarters, we were forced to relocate to an empty space at the end of the camp, where people did their business in dug up holes. The area reeked of feces and held an overwhelming amount of flies. It was unsanitary and uninhabitable.
Life in the camp was tough. With barbed wire and guards that carried AK-47s on watch towers strategically located around the compound, it definitely resembled an internment camp. The locals hated us too, and occasionally threw rocks over the fence at us. At the front of the camp was the ocean. With nothing better to do, we spent all day swimming in the sun. One day, while out swimming with my older distant cousin, we came across a sandbar. After getting knocked off the sandbar, I panicked and kept trying to swim back. Unfortunately, for all the gains I made, it was negated by powerful waves. I began to slowly drown. My cousin kept pushing me toward the sand bar and he was quickly running out of steam; I looked into his eyes and saw exhaustion and defeat. I feared he would eventually give up on me. For the second time in four months, I believed I was going to die. Fortunately, there was someone coming out to the shore, and he helped guide me back to shallow waters.
On the bright side of living in the refugee camp, the UN gave us an abundance of rice, and a portion of fish once a week. We also used the $20 in my pocket (equal to 400 Thai baht) to buy premium soy sauce for our meals. For the next three months, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, consisted of soy sauce and rice. We relied on my older brothers, who’d just settled in the US as dishwashers, to send us what little money they were making. After a few months of camp, we received an interview with the US delegation, which was our primary destination for relocation. The interviews were challenging and humiliating, and so upsetting that my brother decided to apply for relocation to Canada instead. As soon as my eldest brother received wind of our situation, he telegrammed us and told us not to go to Canada, for he wanted the four of us to reunite in San Francisco. Luckily enough, after the second round of interviews with the US delegates, they took us in. At this point, we already spent five long months in camp.
In May of 1980, my brother and I boarded a bus to Bangkok, Thailand. In Bangkok, we stayed for over two weeks at a large building filled with refugees like us, and very harsh, unkind guards. Finally, we received sponsorship to America and flew into the Oakland airport in California. My eldest brother picked us up and took us to San Francisco, where we lived for the next few years in a tiny 1-bedroom studio apartment in the Tenderloin on Eddy Street. All three of my older brothers worked full-time making minimum wage as dishwashers, so as a 13-year-old, I was left to fend for myself. I ended up at Francisco Middle School. The environment was challenging to say the least: kids at the school were segregated along racial lines, and many were violent. On the first day of school, I was roughed up, thus imposing a negative environment of survival of the fittest. I gravitated towards other Vietnamese kids in the same predicament, and we banded together to keep one another safe. Whether you would call it a gang or not, it was pretty close to it. We got into a lot of fights and were often given detention.
My parents and my younger siblings finally arrived two years later, as I was about to graduate 8th grade. I remember just after their first week here, I got into another fight and it was the last straw. The principal called me in with my mother on the phone, informing us that I would be suspended for a few days. During the meeting, my mother was sobbing, and I felt very embarrassed. It was then that I decided to get my act together, making sure not to get into any more trouble in high school.
After graduation, all 14 members of my family moved to a small house in the Inner Richmond. For high school, I attended George Washington High School. At Wash, there was a big divide between newly immigrated students, labeled “fresh off the boat”, and second, third generation Asian Americans that were raised here. I felt that I didn’t belong there, and after two years, I decided to transfer to Lowell High School, the most prestigious public high school in San Francisco. It took a lot of hard work and determination get in and become successful there: every night, I would lock myself in the cold basement to study, avoiding the noisiness of living in a house with 13 other people. I pretty much did everything on my own. Luckily, the new environment at Lowell motivated me to work harder. In 1987, I graduated from Lowell with a 3.4 GPA, an active participant in numerous sports, and while working part-time as a busboy.
After graduation, I applied to several universities and was accepted to 5 UCs and SFSU, receiving full financial aid for all. I settled for UC Santa Cruz, but on the day I was supposed to submit my housing deposit, I had a discussion with my family and decided it was best for our financial situation that I stay home. While at San Francisco State, I attended school full-time and averaged 25-30 hours a week as a legal assistant (supporting the low-income Southeast Asian community) to help out my family. After graduating in four years, I received a job with the State Department of Transportation, while attending MBA school at night. Through working with Caltrans, I developed a keen interest in IT and management. Currently, I am the IT Director.
As first generation immigrants, we are scrappy. We wanted to succeed and felt that nothing could ever stop us from becoming successful, because we’ve seen hardship, we know what a hard life looks like, what it means to live a life in poverty, to survive with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We know what hunger feels like, what internment feels like, what discrimination feels like, and what hopelessness feels like. As a child, embarking on that perilous journey by boat, I hardly believed I would have survived past the age of 14. As a teen, living in the Tenderloin, I didn’t believe I’d make it past high school. But I did. I made it. And now, I hope that I gave my kids everything they need to succeed in life.”
Vo, Nghia M. The Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975-1992. McFarland & Co., 2006.
Caplan, Nathan S., et al. Children of the Boat People: a Study of Educational Success. University of Michigan Press, 1991.
“Vietnam War.” HistoryNet, www.historynet.com/vietnam-war.
“Resources.” PROJECT YELLOW DRESS, www.projectyellowdress.com/resources.
by Samantha Lam
If you were asked to describe a “soldier,” what kind of image does that word conjure up in your mind? Popular media has generally portrayed the American soldier as a muscular white male, or sometimes a white female, and while they may have constituted the majority of the U.S. military force, history fails to give recognition to the Asian American women who contributed to the U.S.’s victory by taking on many different roles during World War II to assist the armed forces. Starting in 1943, Japanese women, known as “Nisei” or “second-generation,” were accepted by the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) and the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) to work as nurses and doctors to provide medical care and as Military Intelligence Service officers and linguists. Aside from the Nisei, many other Asian American women have also served in the war, including Chinese American women serving in the Army Air Force and Filipino American women working in the underground resistance in the Philippines. Though Asian American women served many important functions in World War II, they are still overlooked or completely ignored in modern discourse. This post focuses on the Nisei women who served as linguists and their struggles balancing their identities as an American woman and a Japanese woman, while studying their mother tongue under considerable pressure at the U.S. War Department’s Military Intelligence Service Language School in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Their histories and struggles during the war are just as valid as any other American war veteran’s experiences out on the field. The Nisei women, along with the many other Asian American women who also served, must also be recognized and commemorated as heroes who sacrificed themselves for their country.
World War II deeply impacted the lives of all Americans. While it was a time of great tragedy, it also provided new opportunities for work for certain racial groups and women. For example, African Americans were able to find work in factories in urban cities and move up north and out west. Women began turning them away from their traditional societal roles as homemakers and caretakers towards more proactive roles opening up in the factories and the military. For Japanese Americans, on the West Coast, however, with Japan being the “enemy nation” after bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941, they were labeled as “enemy aliens” and by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, forced from their homes into internment camps. Though the U.S. vindicated the whole Japanese American population after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the military recognized the need to improve intelligence operations and trained and recruited specialists in the Japanese language to serve as interpreters, interrogators, and translators, and so around 5,500 Nisei were assigned to the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS).
With struggles against racism combined with normalized sexism in the military, Nisei women, and many other Asian American women, had a unique experience while serving their country. While Military administrators rationalized the idea of accepting women, especially Japanese American women, it was under gendered and racialized reasoning. The WACs were given assignments that “did not transcend the domestic sphere”, therefore stuck behind desks doing clerical work. Furthermore, they were expected to emphasize their femininity through their physical appearances, “feminine” meaning short skirts and makeup. Along with these demands, the Nisei WACS were also expected to act as “American women” but retain their Japanese linguistic heritage in order “to serve as role models as Japanese women who were able to attain American womanhood.”
Like many second or third-generation Asian Americans today, Nisei WACs did not all possess fluency in Japanese, especially not at the level needed to comprehend military-related documents, hence why they were sent to MISLS to study Japanese.
Harada recalls the difficulties she had there:
“I wasn't very strong in Japanese, coming from an area [Idaho] where there were no Orientals. We just didn't speak the language... And so, when we were sent to Japan, I had an awful hard time working with [Japanese] military terms...Some of the girls from Hawaii used to work as radio announcers in Japanese. They had a lot more training and they could read and write [Japanese] fluently. At Fort Snelling, I was in one of the lowest classes, just learning the basics of Japanese.”
After they graduated from MISLS, they were assigned to various military sectors and helped the military forces immensely. Many of the graduates worked at war crimes trials as translators and interrogators and helped link a number of atrocities to individual Japanese by the captured diaries and letters, written during wartime, that they studied. Maybe one of their most impressive contributions, in the Civil Affairs branch, was censorship- screening the press, inspecting the postal system, watching communications of all kinds, and helping to find out what "has gone on in Japan these many years." These linguists classified approximately 2,000,000 Japanese documents according to tactical, strategic, or long-range value. In all, they translated some 20,000,000 pages.
The WAC’s and other Nisei linguists’ work for the United States should be honored and remembered. They wanted to serve in the U.S. military for various reasons, but mainly to show their loyalty to the United States. Some were also motivated by reasons that were rooted in their culture and status in their family and community. One former Nisei WAC, Grace Harada reveals her discussion with her parents on why she felt the need to serve in the military:
“They just felt that I shouldn't be doing something like that, and going so far away from
home. But I told them that I just couldn't stay home and do housework. I wasn't
accomplishing anything I said. [Harada's brother had already joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.] I said [to my parents] "There is a war going on and he can't do it alone." ...I said what I would be doing is replacing all these men to help end the war. I tried to talk with my parents into letting me go, and finally they released me and signed the consent for me to go in.”
With political circumstances so against them, the Nisei had made every effort to forget their Japanese heritage and prove they are “American.” The experience of attending the MISLS was both a challenge and a chance for the Nisei, to balance both of their identities for a cause and prove their loyalty to their homeland, the United States. Furthermore, as Nisei women, they constantly had to navigate social norms and persevere against sexually and racially intertwined expectations to serve as model American women in Japan, yet maintain their “Japanese-ness” to be competent translators. Their experiences are invaluable in that they not only but also expand one’s perspective of what kind of people serve in the military but also add another complex layer to the Asian American narrative.
Ano, Masaharu. "Loyal Linguists: Nisei of World War II Learned Japanese in Minnesota." Minnesota History
45, no. 7 (1977): 273-87. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20178492.
Hirose, Stacey Yukari. “Japanese American Women and the Women's Army Corp, 1935-1950." M.A. thesis:
University of California, Los Angeles, 1993.
Moore, Brenda L. Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military during World War II. New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003.
Sato, Marie. "Japanese American women in military." Densho Encyclopedia. n.d. Accessed July 5, 2019.
Ano, Masaharu. "Loyal Linguists: Nisei of World War II Learned Japanese in Minnesota." Minnesota History
45, no. 7 (1977): 285. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20178492.
"Squadron of Nisei Women's Army Corps (WACs), c. 1941-1945.," Densho Encyclopedia.
by Junyi Han
In May 1942, the rainy season in Burma just began to reveal its true color, soaking lands with nightmarish thunderstorms. In the meantime, tens of thousands of soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Force were suffering from a disastrous retreat in the jungle. Gu Luo, a soldier serving in the Fifth Army wrote in his diary: “The jungle covered everything for miles, leaving us deadly thirsty…The soldiers are all in rags and look very gaunt. Everyone is carrying a bag of rice, a water-can, a diesel tin, and in the other hand, a walking-stick…Because we haven’t had any oil for a month, my stools are very hard and my anus has split” (Mitter 640). Luo only provides us with a sketch of this withdrawal. In fact, about 30,000 soldiers died in this foreign jungle (Wangyi). The tremendous death toll urges us to question how and why this tragedy happened. Historical records suggest that this military disaster was primarily caused by a split among the Allied leaders and it was exacerbated by the extreme climate in Burma.
In early 1942, the situation in Burma was unfavorable to the Allied forces. In late April, the Japanese troops continued advancing in eastern Burma and successfully seized Lashio on April 29th. Under such circumstances, Joseph Stilwell, the commander of the American Army Forces of the China-Burma-India Theater and the Chiang Kai-Shek’s chief of staff, was concerned that the Allied troops in this region would be destroyed by the Japanese army and therefore wanted to initiate an imminent retreat (Chen). However, a split between Joseph Stilwell and his superior Chiang Kai-Shek broke out as they were setting out the withdrawal plan. While Stilwell wanted to bring his troops to India instead of back to China, Chiang was “aghast when he heard the news that his chief of staff had ordered a substantial part of his army into another country, and wondered whether Stilwell had lost his resolve because his proposed attack in Burma had gone so wrong” (Mitter, 637). Chiang then reversed Stilwell’s order, commanding the generals to lead their troops to assemble in Myitkyina, a town in northern Burma. Stilwell was determined to leave. He formed a party of about eighty people – including American, Chinese, and British soldiers, Indian engineers, and Burmese nurses – and headed to India (Mitter, 638).
While Stilwell’s group managed to arrive in India without any deaths, the rest of his troops were not as lucky. For instance, general Yuming Du, the commander of the Fifth Army, decided to follow Chiang’s order and led his troops to Myiktyina. For the Fifth Army, the most lethal threat on their way did not come from the Japanese troops, but from nature. When Du decided to dispatch his troops into the Burmese jungle, he had no idea how terrifying the journey could be. In early May, because the communications broke down, they decided to move northwest into Mandalay and soon got lost in the jungle. The rainy season in Burma came along with extreme weather. Massive thunderstorms soaked soldiers to the skin. Moreover, everywhere they go, insects attacked them ruthlessly. The longer they stayed, the conditions became even worse. The soldiers were too exhausted to carry their own weapons. The weapons were destroyed and abandoned so that they would not be captured by the Japanese troops. Luo recalled that as his division wandered in the jungle, he saw corpses scattered everywhere. Their company cook was missing and the remains of his body were found half-eaten, supposedly by tigers (Mitter, 639). By the middle of June, the soldiers were bogged down into a more desperate situation. They were “starving, digging up roots to try and survive; meanwhile the monsoon rains poured down every day. Even when supplies were dropped in the area from the air, tragedy struck, as some soldiers were hit and killed by the falling boxes. More then died from eating too fast after a period of long deprivation” (Mitter, 641). Other divisions of the Chinese Expeditionary Force also went through extreme hardships, and a large number of soldiers were wiped out by assaults from native people, Japanese attacks, and disease. Recently, the skulls of three female soldiers were found in a native Burmese tribe. The chief of the tribe said these skulls were used as medicine ladles for women who suffered from difficult labor (Sina). These skulls have been taken back to China. Now they are kept in Dianxi Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall located in Yunnan, China. There were many more soldiers lost in the jungle and remained unknown in a foreign land. Overall, the retreat was a fatal disaster. It led to the death or injury of about 25,000 Chinese troops (the exact number is unclear) along with over 10,000 British and Indian troops (Mitter 642). This failure was rooted in the distrust among the Allied leaders, and the death toll substantially increased due to the extreme weather in Burma. This massive withdrawal caused severe damages to the Allied defense in the China-Burma-India Theater. The supplies to China were cut off as the Japanese troops seized the Burma road. Therefore, the National Government led by Chiang became even more isolated.
Mitter, Rana. Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II 1937-1945. New York: Houghton Mifflin
Chen, C. Peter. World War II Database. Accessed on July 5, 2019.
Wang Yi Xin Wen. Accessed on July 2, 2019.
Xiao Ming Shi Hua. Sina. Accessed on July 2, 2019.
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