Second Sino-Japanese War

Second Sino-Japanese War
Part of Interwar Period and the Pacific Theater of World War II[a]
Second Sino-Japanese War collection.png
Clockwise from top left: The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Special Naval Landing Forces troops in gas masks prepare for an advance in the rubble of Shanghai, 1944 Operation Ichigo IJA Type 92 Heavy machine gun, dead victims of the Nanjing Massacre on the shore of the Qinhuai River with a Japanese soldier standing nearby, Chinese machine gun nest in the Battle of Wuhan, Japanese Bombing of Chongqing, the Chinese Expeditionary Force in India in 1942
DateJuly 7, 1937 – September 2, 1945
Minor fighting since September 18, 1931
(8 years, 1 month, 3 weeks and 5 days)
Location
Result

Chinese victory as part of the Allied victory in the Pacific War

Territorial
changes
China recovers all territories lost to Japan since the Treaty of Shimonoseki, but loses Outer Mongolia.
Belligerents
Commanders and leaders
Strength
  • Chinese Nationalists (including regional warlords):
    • 1,700,000 (1937)[1]
    • 2,600,000 (1939)[2]
    • 5,700,000 (1945)[3]
  • Chinese Communists:
    • 40,000 (1937)[4]
    • 166,700 (1938)[5]
    • 488,744 (1940)[6]
    • 1,200,000 (1945)[7]
  • Japanese:
  • Flag of the Republic of China-Nanjing (Peace, Anti-Communism, National Construction).svg Puppet states and collaborators:
    900,000 (1945)[11]
Casualties and losses
  • Chinese Nationalists:
    • Official ROC data:
      • 1,320,000 killed
      • 1,797,000 wounded
      • 120,000 missing
      • Total: 3,237,000[12][13]
    • Other estimates:
      • 1,319,000–4,000,000+ military dead and missing
      • 500,000 captured[14][15]
  • Total: 3,211,000–10,000,000+ military casualties[15][16]
  • Chinese Communists:
    • Official PRC data:
      • 160,603 military dead
      • 290,467 wounded
      • 87,208 missing
      • 45,989 POWs
      • Total: 584,267 military casualties[17]
    • Other estimates:
  • Total:
    • 3,800,000–10,600,000+ military casualties after July 1937 (excluding Manchuria and Burma campaign)
    • more than 1,000,000 captured[14][15]
    • 266,800–1,000,000 POWs dead[14][15]
  • Japanese:
    • Japanese medical data:
      • 455,700[18]–700,000 military dead[19][b]
      • 1,934,820 wounded and missing[20]
      • 22,293+ captured[c]
      • Total: 2,500,000+ military casualties (1937 to 1945 excluding Manchuria and Burma campaign)
    • ROC estimate:
      • 1.77 million dead
      • 1.9 million wounded
      • Total: 3,670,000[21]
    • 2007 PRC studies:
      • 1,055,000 dead
      • 1,172,200 wounded
      • Total: 2,227,200[22]
  • Puppet states and collaborators:
    • 288,140–574,560 dead
    • 742,000 wounded
    • Middle estimate: 960,000 dead and wounded[23][24]
  • Total:
  • c. 3,000,000 – 5,000,000 military casualties after July 1937 (excluding Manchuria and Burma campaign)[d]
Chinese civilian deaths:
17,000,000–22,000,000[13]
  1. ^ From 1941 onward
  2. ^ This number does not include Japanese killed by Chinese forces in the Burma campaign and does not include Japanese killed in Manchuria.
  3. ^ Excluding more than 1 million who were disarmed following the surrender of Japan
  4. ^ Including casualties of Japanese puppet forces. The combined toll is most likely around 3,500,000: 2.5 million Japanese, per their own records, and 1,000,000 collaborators.
Events leading to World War II
  1. Treaty of Versailles 1919
  2. Polish-Soviet War 1919
  3. Treaty of Trianon 1920
  4. Treaty of Rapallo 1920
  5. Franco-Polish alliance 1921
  6. March on Rome 1922
  7. Corfu incident 1923
  8. Occupation of the Ruhr 1923–1925
  9. Mein Kampf 1925
  10. Pacification of Libya 1923–1932
  11. Dawes Plan 1924
  12. Locarno Treaties 1925
  13. Young Plan 1929
  14. Great Depression 1929–1941
  15. Japanese invasion of Manchuria 1931
  16. Pacification of Manchukuo 1931–1942
  17. January 28 Incident 1932
  18. World Disarmament Conference 1932–1934
  19. Defense of the Great Wall 1933
  20. Battle of Rehe 1933
  21. Nazis' rise to power in Germany 1933
  22. Tanggu Truce 1933
  23. Italo-Soviet Pact 1933
  24. Inner Mongolian Campaign 1933–1936
  25. German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact 1934
  26. Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  27. Soviet–Czechoslovakia Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  28. He–Umezu Agreement 1935
  29. Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935
  30. December 9th Movement
  31. Second Italo-Ethiopian War 1935–1936
  32. Remilitarization of the Rhineland 1936
  33. Spanish Civil War 1936–1939
  34. Anti-Comintern Pact 1936
  35. Suiyuan Campaign 1936
  36. Second Sino-Japanese War 1937–1945
  37. USS Panay incident 1937
  38. Anschluss Mar. 1938
  39. May crisis May 1938
  40. Battle of Lake Khasan July–Aug. 1938
  41. Undeclared German-Czechoslovak War Sep. 1938
  42. Munich Agreement Sep. 1938
  43. First Vienna Award Nov. 1938
  44. German occupation of Czechoslovakia Mar. 1939
  45. German ultimatum to Lithuania Mar. 1939
  46. Slovak–Hungarian War Mar. 1939
  47. Final offensive of the Spanish Civil War Mar.–Apr. 1939
  48. Danzig Crisis Mar.–Aug. 1939
  49. British guarantee to Poland Mar. 1939
  50. Italian invasion of Albania Apr. 1939
  51. Soviet–British–French Moscow negotiations Apr.–Aug. 1939
  52. Pact of Steel May 1939
  53. Battles of Khalkhin Gol May–Sep. 1939
  54. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Aug. 1939
  55. Invasion of Poland Sep. 1939

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle. Some sources in the modern People's Republic of China date the beginning of the war to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.[25] It is known as the War of Resistance (Chinese: 中国抗日战争; pinyin: Zhōngguó Kàngrì Zhànzhēng; lit. "Chinese War of Resistance Against Japan") in China.

China fought Japan with aid from the Soviet Union and the United States. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the war merged with other conflicts of World War II as a major sector known as the China Burma India Theater. Some scholars consider the start of the full-scale Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 to have been the beginning of World War II.[26][27] The Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war in the 20th century.[28] It accounted for the majority of civilian and military casualties in the Pacific War, with between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians and over 4 million Chinese and Japanese military personnel dying from war-related violence, famine, and other causes.

The war was the result of a decades-long Japanese imperialist policy to expand its influence politically and militarily in order to secure access to raw material reserves, food, and labor. The period after World War I brought about increasing stress on the Japanese polity. Leftists sought universal suffrage and greater rights for workers. Increasing textile production from Chinese mills was adversely affecting Japanese production. The Great Depression brought about a large slowdown in exports. All of this contributed to militant nationalism, culminating in the rise to power of a militarist fascist faction. This faction was led at its height by the Hideki Tojo cabinet of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association under edict from Emperor Hirohito. In 1931, the Mukden Incident helped spark the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. The Chinese were defeated and Japan created a new puppet state, Manchukuo; many historians cite 1931 as the beginning of the war.[29][30][31] This view has been adopted by the PRC government. From 1931 to 1937, China and Japan continued to skirmish in small, localized engagements, so-called "incidents".

Initially the Japanese scored major victories, capturing Beijing, Shanghai and the Chinese capital of Nanjing in 1937, which resulted in the Rape of Nanjing. After failing to stop the Japanese in the Battle of Wuhan, the Chinese central government was relocated to Chongqing (Chungking) in the Chinese interior. By 1939, after Chinese victories in Changsha and Guangxi, and with Japan's lines of communications stretched deep into the Chinese interior, the war reached a stalemate. The Japanese were also unable to defeat the Chinese communist forces in Shaanxi, which waged a campaign of sabotage and guerrilla warfare against the invaders. While Japan ruled the large cities, they lacked sufficient manpower to control China's vast countryside. During this time, Chinese communist forces launched a counter offensive in Central China while Chinese nationalist forces launched a large scale winter offensive.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the following day the United States declared war on Japan. The United States began to aid China by airlifting material over the Himalayas after the Allied defeat in Burma that closed the Burma Road. In 1944 Japan launched the invasion, Operation Ichi-Go, that conquered Henan and Changsha. However, this failed to bring about the surrender of Chinese forces. In 1945, the Chinese Expeditionary Force resumed its advance in Burma and completed the Ledo Road linking India to China. At the same time, China launched large counteroffensives in South China and retook West Hunan and Guangxi.

Despite continuing to occupy part of China's territory, Japan eventually surrendered on September 2, 1945, to Allied forces following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria. The remaining Japanese occupation forces (excluding Manchuria) formally surrendered on September 9, 1945, with the following International Military Tribunal for the Far East convened on April 29, 1946. At the outcome of the Cairo Conference of November 22–26, 1943, the Allies of World War II decided to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan by restoring all the territories that Japan annexed from China, including Manchuria, Taiwan/Formosa, and the Pescadores, to China, and to expel Japan from the Korean Peninsula. China was recognized as one of the Big Four of the Allies during the war and became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[32][33][34]

Names

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Allied Commander-in-Chief in the China theatre from 1942 to 1945
The beginning of the war

In China, the war is most commonly known as the "War of Resistance against Japan" (simplified Chinese: 抗日战争; traditional Chinese: 抗日戰爭), and shortened to the "Resistance against Japan" (Chinese: 抗日) or the "War of Resistance" (simplified Chinese: 抗战; traditional Chinese: 抗戰). It was also called the "Eight Years' War of Resistance" (simplified Chinese: 八年抗战; traditional Chinese: 八年抗戰), but in 2017 the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a directive stating that textbooks were to refer to the war as the "Fourteen Years' War of Resistance" (simplified Chinese: 十四年抗战; traditional Chinese: 十四年抗戰), reflecting a focus on the broader conflict with Japan going back to 1931.[35] It is also referred to as part of the "Global Anti-Fascist War", which is how World War II is perceived by the Communist Party of China and the PRC government.[36]

In Japan, nowadays, the name "Japan–China War" (Japanese: 日中戦爭, romanizedNitchū Sensō) is most commonly used because of its perceived objectivity. When the invasion of China proper began in earnest in July 1937 near Beijing, the government of Japan used "The North China Incident" (Japanese: 北支事變/華北事變, romanized: Hokushi Jihen/Kahoku Jihen), and with the outbreak of the Battle of Shanghai the following month, it was changed to "The China Incident" (Japanese: 支那事變, romanized: Shina Jihen).

The word "incident" (Japanese: 事變, romanized: jihen) was used by Japan, as neither country had made a formal declaration of war. From the Japanese perspective was that localizing these conflicts was beneficial in preventing intervention from other nations, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, which were its primary source of petroleum and steel respectively. A formal expression of these conflicts would potentially lead to American embargo in accordance with the Neutrality Acts of the 1930s.[37] In addition, due to China's fractured political status, Japan often claimed that China was no longer a recognizable political entity on which war could be declared.[38]

Other names

In Japanese propaganda, the invasion of China became a crusade (Japanese: 聖戦, romanized: seisen), the first step of the "eight corners of the world under one roof" slogan (Japanese: 八紘一宇, romanized: Hakkō ichiu). In 1940, Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe launched the Taisei Yokusankai. When both sides formally declared war in December 1941, the name was replaced by "Greater East Asia War" (Japanese: 大東亞戰爭, romanized: Daitōa Sensō).

Although the Japanese government still uses the term "China Incident" in formal documents,[39] the word Shina is considered derogatory by China and therefore the media in Japan often paraphrase with other expressions like "The Japan–China Incident" (Japanese: 日華事變/日支事變, romanized: Nikka Jiken/Nisshi Jiken), which were used by media as early as the 1930s.

The name "Second Sino-Japanese War" is not commonly used in Japan as the war it fought with the Qing dynasty in 1894 is called the Qing-Japanese War (Japanese: 日清戦争, romanized: Nisshin–Sensō) rather than the First Sino-Japanese War.