Second Sino-Japanese War (Fall 2012)

It is a great experience to take global history and culture class this semester. I indeed learned a lot about the World War one, World War two, Cold War, and many different histories form different areas or nations from the world. This class provides me a chance to deeply know more about the global history. After learning these so many histories, the period of history I am most interested in is the Second Sino-Japanese War. The reason why I would like to choose the Second Sino-Japanese War as my topic is I am from China and I learned a lot about this period of history since I was in primary school. In China, the Second Sino-Japanese War is an important part of school history textbooks. On the other hand, because my dad was studied in history when he was in college, he usually tells me some historic stories when I was a kid. Also when I left my country, came to U.S., and take this class, I got more information about it. Thus, the strong interest of the Second Sino-Japanese War promotes me to choose it as my paper topic. I would like to research more about it and combine what I already learned from these years to write this historpedia paper.

Chinese Anti-Japanese War is a general war century that China against Japanese aggression from 1937 to 1945 and the main battlefield is in the Chinese mainland. This war also called as the Second Sino-Japanese War relative to the first Sino-Japanese War in end of 19th century. In China, people refer it as the eight-year war of Resistance Against Japan since the duration of the war time is eight years. The war has also been regarded as the Second World War in East Asian field.

First of all, I would like to talk about the background of the war. Actually, the Japan’s invasion of China can be tracked back to 1894 after the first Sino-Japanese War. China and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, and Japan used the 80% of reparations from China which is 230 million taels of silver to develop its military. In 1900, because the Gengzi Incident, Japan as one of the main force of the Eight-Power Allied Forces occupied Tianjin, Beijing. 1904 to 1905, Russia was defeated by Japan. Japan occupied Lushunkou fortress, and hit the Russian Baltic Fleet in the Tsushima battle. Since that time, Japan captured the privileges in northeast China from Russia, which actually strengthen Japan’s ambitions. In 1914, the outbreak of World War I, Japan declared war on Germany, and attacked Jiaozhou Bay, and occupied Shandong province. 1915, with the “21” signed with Yuan Shikai, Japan completely replace the privileges of Germany in Shandong. In 1928, Japan tried to stop the Northern Expedition from National Revolutionary Army, resulting in Jinan Massacre, and the killing of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Shandong representations. Finally, after Chiang Kai-shek punished the mainly officers in the war, the Japanese army exited Jinan.

Next, I want to talk about the duration of the war. The war ends in August 15th, 1945. However there is a dispute for the beginning of the war time. The more common view is that the overall Sino-Japanese War is from the Marci Polo Bridge Incident on July 7th 1937 to August 15th 1945 when Japan unconditionally surrendered, which lasted eight years. This is the reason people named it as eight-year war of resistance against Japan. Another view is that this war can be traced back to 9.18 Incident, which is the beginning of the local government privately led the war of resistance against Japan. So it was a 14-years of resistance based on this view. Moreover, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East believed that Japan’s assassination of Chang Tso-lin which called Huanggutun event was the beginning of the war. So there is also a 17-year war saying. Therefore, there are three different views about the duration of the Chinese Anti-Japanese War today.

I would like to talk more about the most important part which is the different phases of the Chinese Anti-Japanese war. The first phase of the war is strategic defensive phase, which is from Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937 to October 1938, Guangzhou, and Wuhan fall. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident opened a prelude to the national war of resistance. The night of 7th July 1937, the Japan garrison made an excuse for a soldier missing, and wanted to enter Peking Southwest, Wanping County for searching. Then Chinese defenders refused this request, and Japanese warlords then fired Marco Polo Bridge and attacked the city’s defenders. July 16th, the 17th, the supreme commander of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, has representations and said people should fight together in order to save the country. July 28th, 30th, the Japanese army successively occupied Peking, Tianjin. July 31st, Chiang Kai-shek issued the “message to all people” which said army should utilize the advantages of mountains and rivers in the southeast to attract Japanese aggression and decrease their advantages on equipment and training. And focus on the small victories also keep patient. In August 13th, Japanese army began to attack Shanghai. ROC commented the central military elite and a large number of military from other provinces which includes Sichuan army, Yunnan army, Hunan army, Guangdong army to the front line. The Shanghai battle lasted three months ling, and crushing Japan’s strategy which plan to perish China within three months. November 20th, the Chinese National Revolutionary Army was forced to retreat after the casualties reached to 250 thousands of people. Since that time, Shanghai falls. In the same day, the government of Republic of China immediately announced that the capital and all government agencies move to provisional capital, Chongqing. The reasons of Shanghai defense failure are lack of military training. Even through the Shanghai battle was failed, the military successfully attracted the main force of Japanese army in southeast China, and made Japanese military crept in the forests, river, and mountains. In December 13rd, Japanese army attacked Nanking, and resulting in the world famous tragedy, Nanking Massacre. Because the defender commander abandoned the city to flee when Japanese began their attack, Nanking falls in four days. Japanese army made the Nanjing Massacre which last several months to destroy the morale of the Chinese people. It results indirectly about 300,000 innocent Chinese people brutally murdered by the Japanese army. In February 1938, the Japanese North China Area Army and China National Revolutionary Army fighting in Xuzhou center area, which known as the Battle of Xuzhou. Finally, the China National Revolutionary Army obtained the victory of Taierzhuang battle which is a part of Xuzhou battle. This victory became the biggest victory of the Republic of China since its outbreak, which kill and wound more than ten thousand Japanese troops. In May 19th, because Japanese occupation of Xuzhou, and Kaifeng in Henan Province, Chiang Kai-shek command blasted the south bank of the Yellow River dam in June 9th, which known as the Yellow Rivers burst. This event temporarily blocked the Japanese attack the south bank of yellow river, but also caused massive floods in the lower reaches of the yellow river. It directly caused millions of people to death and people’s dissatisfaction to KMT. Battle of Wuhan from August 1938 to October is the largest battle of the Sino-Japanese War. In this battle, the total number of Japanese army is more than 200,000 people, and the Chinese army is more than 110 million people. After this battle, Japanese troops lost 80,000 people, and most of the National Revolutionary Army from the battlefield was safe retreated. The Battle of Wuhan is the biggest victory of the Chinese army which used the tremendous sacrifices to get the strategic stalemate.

From October 1938 to December 1943, is the strategic stalemate. With the expansion of war’s situation and the extension of the fronts and the long-term war of attrition, serious shortage of financial and material resources, Japan no longer able to launch a large-scale strategic offensive. At this phase, there is a major change in Japan’s invasion of China policy: gradually focus on rear battlefield of the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army. And Japan also focus more on political seductive. Under the seductive of Japanese government, the national government pro-Japanese sub Wang Jingwei public surrendered. As the second most powerful man in China, Wang Ching-wei’s surrendering blow the morale of the Chinese army. January 1st 1939, the Chinese Nationalist Party held a provisional emergency meeting which expelled Wang Jingwei from the party and withdraw all his duties. In 1940 Wang Jingwei came to Nanking with Japan’s protection, and established National government of the republic of China.

From January 1944 to August 1945 until Japan announced its unconditional surrender is the strategic counteroffensive stage.In 1944, the Communist Party leaders launched a local counterattack in the north, central and southern China. In the meanwhile, the KMT positive battlefield situation has been largely dropping, and lost most of Henan, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong and other provinces and part of Guizhou province.

Meanwhile externally, Japanese soldiers were in the deterioration situation in the Pacific theater with the shortage of troops and supplies to alarming levels. Rubber, steel which were previously national resource, were prohibited to be sold to civil, and the reproduction of resources in the North China had been harassed by local militia and the Eighth Route Army which made the most part lost their production capability. In this negative situation, in order to ensure the resources in southeast Asian region, it was crucial for Japan to open up the coastal routes in China. As a result, Japan launched the Henan Hunan, Guangxi battle in 1944. Japanese North China Army easily defeated Chinese Amy in Henan province and broke the line of Pinghan from Henna to Wuhan. After the first success, Japanese Army continued to defeat Xueyue in the fourth Changsha Battle, and chased all the way to southern Hunan, Hengyang. Then, Japanese central China and south China Army collaborated to continue to chase to Guangxi and broke the train line of Hunan and Guangxi. In the end, their came to Dushan, Guizhou and Chongqing. From this point, Japan got the temporary campaign. There are several reasons for this. First of all, externally, Japan has been well-prepared and got a great complement to the troops. Internally, national revolutionary Army on the one hand promote “negative anti-Japanese, active anti-communist”, on the other hand, the elite troops Stilwell transferred to the southwest battle with the endemic corruption, low military quality. The success of Henan, Hunan and Guangxi battle was the turning point in Japan’s defeat in China.

The Japanese eventually controlled the south China. However, because of American’s defeat in Chinese continent, and the dropping situation in the Pacific battle, Japanese began its last try. (Lu)

At August 6, 1945, in order to get Japan in advance of Soviet, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, and three days after the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. In the meantime, Soviet Red Army also declared war on Japan, launched Operation Storm in August. At this time, Japanese Kwantung Army troops only had seven hundred thousand people in northeastern China and the Korean peninsula. Plus the significant difference between Soviet Red Army and Japanese Kwantung Army, Soviet swept Japan.

Noon, August 15, 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito issued the “edict” end of the war through broadcast and announced its unconditional surrender. September 2, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the formal surrender on the U.S. warship USS Missouri.

The victory of the War of Resistance Against Japan is the first time complete victory of Chinese people within a hundred years. It greatly enhances a sense of national pride and self-confidence of the people of the country. China's War of Resistance Against Japan is an important part of the world anti-fascist war, the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japan made a significant contribution to the victory of the world anti-fascist war.


D. Lu (2006) “The Second Sino-Japanese War” website:

M. Jason (2011) “The Second Sino-Japanese War” website: