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.

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写真:張作霖が列車ごと爆殺された現場(奉天郊外)

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.

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写真:満州事変のきっかけとなった柳条湖事件の現場

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.”

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写真:中国人による鉄道爆破にみせかけて出兵を図る事変の青写真を描いた石原莞爾(左)と板垣征四郎

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.

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写真:奉天市街で機関銃を構える日本兵と「越境将軍」ともてはやされた林銑十郎

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?

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写真:第2次若槻内閣成立を伝える1931年4月15日付の読売新聞

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.

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写真:写真:国際連盟からの脱退を表明する松岡洋右(中央、1933年2月)

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.

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写真:華北分離工作の拠点となった冀東防共自治政府(国立国会図書館ウェブサイトより)

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.

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写真:西安事件では、張学良(左)らが中国国民党の蒋介石(右)を一時監禁

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?

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写真:広田弘毅

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.

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写真:ヒトラーの写真を手にする外相の有田八郎

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.

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写真:国立国会図書館憲政資料室が所蔵する石原莞爾「満蒙問題私見」の写し

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.

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写真:2・26事件の反乱軍鎮圧のため、地方から上京してきた部隊

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.

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写真:南京に攻め込む日本軍

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.

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写真:第1次近衛声明の決定を報じる1938年1月16日付の読売新聞朝刊。「爾後(じご)国民政府を対手(あいて)とせず」。日本は日中戦争を早期に解決する好機を失った

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).

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写真:近衛文麿と第1次近衛内閣

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.

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写真:現在の国会議事堂は1936年11月に完成した。まもなく議会は政府の方針を追認するだけの機関になっていく

Chapter 2

Road to the Pacific War

Coming Soon

Chapter 3

The Pacific War

Coming Soon

Chapter 4

Moves to end the war

Coming Soon

Chapter 5

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

Coming Soon

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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