Chapter 1

The Sino-Japanese War

Japan under three kinds of foreign pressure

A large number of political and military leaders in Japan made weighty and critical decisions with regard to the Manchurian Incident, the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–45, the Pacific War, which ended with Japan’s defeat and marked the end of World War II.



It begins with the Manchurian Incident

 The Imperial Japanese Army initiated the Manchurian Incident. Young elite officers—graduates of the Army General Staff College then serving as staff officers—were the instigators.



Ishihara and Itagaki—principal architects of the bombing of the South Manchurian Railway line and the deployment of Army reinforcements from Korea

 Part of the so-called “Final World War Theory” devised by Kanji Ishihara, a clear-headed and religious man, who adhered to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism and who had studied the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, stated as follows: “The world will be integrated into a single system after all.”



Hayashi crosses the Korean border at his own discretion

 Ishihara and his group, hoping the incident would spread to other parts of Manchuria, devised a plot to send Japanese troops in Mukden to Jilin in the name of protecting of Japanese residents there, and asking Japanese troops in Korea to dispatch reinforcements to defend Mukden.



Prime Minister Wakatsuki remains a coward, unable to stop the incident from spreading

How did the government deal with the Manchurian Incident triggered by the Kwantung Army?



Adherence to Manchuria, secession from the League of Nations

After the Manchurian Incident of September 1931(the sixth year of the Showa Era), Japan seceded from the League of Nations in 1933 and embarked on a path toward international isolation. Following a truce, however, Japan-China relations became calmer for a while.



Fallout resulting from Japan’s actions in northern China

 In May 1933, Japan and China signed the Tanggu Truce agreement ending the Manchurian Incident. As a result, Japan secured not only Manchuria but also a vast demilitarized zone south of the Great Wall. The Japanese-Chinese relationship entered a period of relative stability.



Xian Incident leads to a united anti-Japanese front

 After he signed the Tanggu Truce agreement, Chiang Kai-shek wrote “wo xin chang dan” in Chinese or “gashinshotan” in Japanese (perseverance for the sake of vengeance) in his diary. He was trying to avoid confronting Japan as much as possible and instead concentrated on search-and-destroy operations against the Chinese Communist Party.



Hirota ends pro-Western stance

 Serving as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister for many years, Koki Hirota was the diplomatic navigator during the tempestuous period that led to the Sino-Japanese War. Were there mistakes in Hirota’s diplomacy?



Three blunders, including the mandatory appointment of active duty generals as war ministers

 After the February 26 Incident in 1936, genro senior statesman Kinmochi Saionji recommended that Fumimaro Konoe succeed Prime Minister Keisuke Okada, but Konoe declined. The name of Hirota then emerged. Konoe, Saionji’s secretary Kumao Harada and Shigeru Yoshida persuaded Hirota to become Prime Minister.



Failing to gauge the real strength of China

 Kwantung Army Staff Officer Kanji Ishihara who masterminded the Manchurian Incident stated: “I doubt the Chinese can create a modern country—I believe the Han race will be happier to wait for its natural development under Japan’s maintenance of peace and order.” He believed the Han people would be happier under Japanese occupation.



Unable to stand up to the military

The Hirota Cabinet was inaugurated just after the February 26 Incident of 1936, which significantly influenced the course of Japan’s, not to mention Hirota’s, diplomacy.



Marco Polo Bridge Incident is exploited by expansionists

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which occurred in a suburb of Beijing in 1937, developed into an all-out war between Japan and China.



Failure of peace negotiations

 After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, Japan, led by the Army General Staff, embarked on peace initiatives to prevent an escalation of the Sino-Japanese War. Such moves came amid growing concerns that preparations for a possible war against the Soviet Union would be neglected during a prolonged conflict in China.



Konoe lacks leadership

 Fumimaro Konoe first took up the premiership with strong popular support on June 4, 1937, a month before the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. He was only 45 years old and hailed from the leading one of five Sekke families, whose members were eligible for the positions of regent (sessho) and chancellor (kanpaku) to serve the throne, a system dating back to the early part of the Kamakura Era (1192–1333).



Sharp rise in war expenditures; Diet gives tacit approval

 How was the Diet functioning when the Sino-Japanese War was threatening to escalate? To answer this question, it is necessary to explain a setback in the party-based cabinet system.



Chapter 2

Road to the Pacific War

Coming Soon

Chapter 3

The Pacific War

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Chapter 4

Moves to end the war

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Chapter 5

U.S. takes helm of Tokyo Tribunal; Soviet Union detains 575,000 Japanese

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Chapter 6

Military, government and political leaders who are accountable for crucial moments of history

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Chapter 7

The persons most responsible for the Showa War

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Chapter 8

What we should learn from the Showa War

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