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No Forgiveness for the “Rape” of Manchuria

The Western Mail 5th August 1935

Gareth Jones 

“China is to us a question of life and death.  We must help China along the lines of the awakening of Asia.  Chiang Kai-shek, the head of the Central Government is realising that to fight against Japan is racial suicide and he and his party, the Kuomintang, are coming back to the old principle of Sun Yat Sen, the principle of  ‘Asia for the Asiatics’.” 

That statement was made to me by one of the most influential Japanese in foreign affairs as he described to me Japan’s need for co-operation with China.  "Japan needed to develop, in peace, China’s vast market", he declared.  "But China must stop the boycott against our goods." 

“The children are educated by the Government in Nanking to boycott our products and to hate Japan.  The Chinese commercial guilds are boycotting Japanese goods.  All that must cease if we are really to co-operate with China.”  The great questions in the Far East today are: 

Can Japan and China become friends? 

Will China be dominated by Japanese influence?

Will China produce the raw materials for Japan’s factories and receive textiles in return?

“Hate Japanese”

I called on an important Chinese resident in Japan.  Having read of the warm welcome given to the Japanese official visitors to Nanking and having studied Gen. Chiang Kai-shek’s plea for co-operation with Japan, I expected to find in my Chinese host a supporter of a régime of friendship between the two Asiatic nations.  It was with surprise that I noticed the indignation of the Chinese at the mention of co-operation.

“How can there be co-operation?” he shouted angrily. “We Chinese hate the Japanese more than ever.  Do you think that we have forgiven the Rape of Manchuria? As long as our territory remains in the hands of our enemies no friendship with them can be sincere.” 

“Perhaps the Japanese could help you to fight against the Communist menace?”  I suggested. 

He replied: “They wanted to send their military advisers to help us to fight against the Communists.  We do not want their military advisers.  We know their plans.  We realise that if the Communists consolidate their position in Szechuan it will be very hard to dislodge them, because the country is like Switzerland and is hard to attack.  Nevertheless, we refuse Japanese aid, because once we have Japanese officers and men in the middle of China they will be as difficult to dislodge as the communists in the north-west.

“What is the Japanese army’s policy?  Are they really behind the Foreign Minister, Hirota, wanting co-operation with. China?”  I asked.

The Chinese laughed.  “The Japanese Army is very pessimistic about co-operation with China.  They are not really behind Hirota.  They think they will let him try out this co-operation policy, and if that fails they’ll conquer North China.

“What the Army wants is to possess the areas north of the Yangtse.  They went Pu Yi or Emperor Kang Té as they call him, to go to Peking which, being absolutely defenseless, could be taken one day.  The Japanese would say that they were helping the Manchus to regain their rightful empire.”

“That would be a costly policy,” I said.  “Would it be worth it?  It would antagonise China, lead to further boycotts, and there would be internal revolts in North China for the Japanese to suppress.  Surely the Japanese would be too wise for such a policy?”

United China

“Of course, it would be a foolish policy,” replied the Chinese, “but the Japanese military are, in a mad mood.  They think they can do anything.”

“The Japanese have asked you to stop boycotting their goods.  Do you not think that reasonable?” was my next question.

“It is impudence on the part of the Japanese, a young upstart nation, to command the Chinese with, our thousands of years of history.  We resent the Japanese saying: “You must stop the boycott; you must do this, you must do that.”  We have quite as much right to say ‘Buy Chinese’ as you have to says ‘Buy British.’  Moreover, we want to have our own industries and not have our manufacturers crushed by Japanese competition.” 

The Chinese calmed down and suddenly smiled.  “We have something to thank Japan for, and it is this.  China is being united by hatred of Japan.  If Japan had not aroused our hatred and thus moulded our country into one we would not have put aside internal bickering and have conquered, the Communists in that important, province of Kiangsi.” 

If the bitterness of the Chinese is so great against the Japanese, the course of co-operation between the two nations will not run smoothly, and “Asia for the Asiatics” will long remain an empty dream.


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