by Evan Thompson
As the year 1944 turned to the year 1945, the Japanese war effort against the United States of America continued to face setback after setback. By the end of the war and during the occupation, many Japanese who were involved in World War 2 were taken into custody. As such, the United States conducted interrogations of Japanese prisoners to confirm its suspicions of Japanese biological weapons research. Many different prisoners from different walks of life, who held various positions, gave the Americans varying answers about their role in the Japanese military. While most of these POWs gave reliable information regarding the inner workings and processes of the Japanese military, one commonality was a lack of knowledge about Japanese biological weapons research.
translated by Ray Matsumoto
Imagine 21's first play, "Reunion" (再会), sheds light on the topic of Japanese settlers abandoned in Manchuria following the Soviet invasion. The play is set in Japan in 1999. It depicts the story of the Fujita family, a middle-class household running a machinery business. 49-year-old Tomoyoshi and his father Shinzo run the business, while Tomoyoshi's wife Misako and daughter Tazuru, assist them. One day, an old friend of Tomoyoshi asks Shinzo about a woman named Haru, a 76-year-old woman who had recently returned from China. Shinzo, in utter shock, leaves the room leaving the rest of the family in confusion. He later reveals that Haru was his former wife in Manchuria during the war. They had moved to Manchuria in search of a better life and built a family as farmers. However, following the Soviet invasion in 1945, Shinzo was captured and sent to a POW camp in Siberia while Haru and their children were abandoned. The family is forced to confront Japan's dark past and question their identity.
Here is a prologue written by director and performer Yoshiji Watanabe. It describes his family's past and experience visiting China, which later inspired the play. The prologue is written in the form of a confession. You can find the original Japanese version at the end of the article.
by Ray Matsumoto
In 1989, six years following his mother’s suicide, Mr. Yoshiji Watanabe was watching an interview with a Japanese woman on TV. She was one of the many Japanese women and children abandoned in Manchuria following the Soviet invasion. She stated in the interview, “The war has never ended for me.” These words deeply resonated with Mr. Watanabe. In his words, “it stirred the darkness and sin suppressed in my heart.”
by Tori Borges
Before the conflict broke out in the Pacific, there were warning signs of trouble to come during the interwar period. As Japan made territorial gains, there were concerns from Western powers that war could break out again, especially regarding China. The 9 Power Treaty was meant to alleviate these concerns by having the world powers agree to recognize China's sovereignty and support its stability. The real motivations, however, were to protect the economic interests of Western nations. Perhaps because of this, the treaty made no overarching changes to support China against Japanese aggression and ultimately failed.
by Angela Xie
Most people think of Chinese history as the splendid palaces and plentiful cultures in ancient dynasties or maybe the rise of the Chinese Communist Party and the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Indeed, either one of them was a significant part of Chinese history. This raises the question, "What happened between those two eras?"
by Ray Matsumoto
Aisin-Gioro Puyi was born on February 7th, 1906, to his father, Zaifeng, Prince Chun, and mother, Youlan. In December 1908, Puyi was crowned the emperor of the Qing Dynasty at the age of two following the death of the Guangxu Emperor, who died childlessly. Puyi was split from his family, and only his wet nurse Wang Lianshou was allowed to follow him to the Forbidden City. Puyi spent most of his time with eunuchs (castrated servants), who did everything from tutoring him to clothing him. The older Puyi became, the more he realized the power he held over these eunuchs. He recounts in his autobiography that he used to shoot them with his air gun and even ordered a eunuch to eat dirt to test his loyalty (Behr, 74). Nurse Wang was the only person who could restrain Puyi. However, when Puyi was eight, Empress Dowager Longyu, the de facto ruler of the Qing dynasty, expelled Wang from the Forbidden City. Puyi, reportedly, started crying himself to sleep after she left (Behr, 76).
by Trevor Hackbardt
The Pacific Theater consisted of a series of land and sea battles between the United States and the Japanese Empire, often referred to as the "island hopping" campaign. The US did not become directly involved in the war until almost two years after the war had started in September of 1939. However, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, changed the course of the US' action and history.
by Sophia Maroulis
The Nationalist government (Kuomintang or KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were engaged in armed conflict from 1927 until 1937, when the parties had to temporarily unite* against Japan's invasion of China in the Second-Sino Japanese War (1937-1945). When Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, it could have marked the end of eight years of brutal warfare in China, but instead, the war-torn country immediately experienced another four years of war. As soon as the Chinese repelled the foreign threat, the KMT and its rival, the CCP, resumed fighting each other for control of China. The Chinese Civil War (phase 1: 1927-1937, phase 2: 1945-1949) began with everyone but the CCP believing that the KMT would win and ended with the international community staring in disbelief as the CCP established the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949, while KMT members fled to Taiwan. This post focuses on the second phase of the Chinese Civil War (1945-1949). The billion-dollar question—for the U.S. had spent over 1 billion dollars on military aid for the KMT from 1945 to 1948 in an attempt to stop the spread of communism—was how did the reigning Nationalist government with more power, more men, more arms, and more military aid fall to the smaller Chinese Communist Party in four years? (Tanner 277).
by Sophia Maroulis
The Second United Front* in China was the alliance between the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang Party (KMT), headed by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), headed by Mao Zedong. Both parties and several warlords agreed to temporarily cease fighting each other for control of China to work together to combat the invading Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). However, although the KMT and CCP shared a common enemy and were allies in name, in practice, their alliance was fraught with conflict.
by Dylan Weir
In 2015, the Tokyo High Court ruled on a suit brought by 188 victims of the Chongqing bombings. The plaintiffs, many of them in their 80s and 90s, sought compensation and an apology from the Japanese government for the World War II bombing campaign against the civilian population of Chongqing that occurred between 1938-1944. While the Court acknowledged that the bombings did occur, it ruled that the victims were entitled to neither compensation nor an apology. This case is an example of the ongoing struggle to hold Japan accountable for its wartime crimes.