Results 1 to 20 of 24

Thread: Japan in China: 1937 - 1945

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    3,189

    Default Japan in China: 1937 - 1945

    I am a bit puzzled about why - if I remember correctly - the Japanese counter-guerrilla tactics (and puppet -building practices) of Japan in China haven't been discussed here, ever.

    They had certainly a terrible population: occupation troops ratio, and given the length of the conflict may have to offer many insights.


    I guess this is a language barrier issue?

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,346

    Default Why a silence: a few points?

    Fuchs,

    I suspect that the Japanese counterinsurgency action in occupied China is one of those forgotten wars for SWC. It is slightly puzzling initially as the USA had a "love affair" with China in WW2, plus the small scale presence of US citizens, then US military after Pearl Harbour and as mentioned on another thread the US role post-VJ Day in North-East China.

    There is a SWJ article on Japanese COIN in the Phillipines, in 2009:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...ppines-1942-45

    Having looked through the History section there are no threads on Japanese COIN.

    Google found a few sources, from RAND:in 1967 'Counterinsurgency in Manchuria: The Japanese Experience, 1931-1940' http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_memoranda/RM5012.html and a Japanese MoD think tank paper 'Japanese Intelligence and Counterinsurgency during the Sino-Japanese War: North China in the 1940s' http://www.nids.go.jp/publication/se.../201103/10.pdf

    The last paragraph in the Japanese paper, cited in part:
    the support of the local population is essential for successfully conducting guerrilla
    warfare. If military forces need to achieve popular support, appeasing the locals is not enough. The military should seize and attract the minds of the locals through the local governments, and it is highly critical to use locals for administration and give them free hands. Moreover, the military should keep their behavior above reproach. The IJA had failed in this respect. We have to keep in mind that one of the most reliable sources of information was always locals who supported the military from the heart, as Col. Sadashige Orita had noticed. Nevertheless, the IJA only considered military results important, and had no interest in the concerns of locals in general.
    Above all it is the documented savagery of the Japanese operations explains why the issue has lain dormant
    davidbfpo

  3. #3
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Berkshire County, Mass.
    Posts
    896

    Default With friends like these…

    In college one of my classmates who was the daughter of an Indonesian politician let me read an oral history she had done with her father as a high school project. He discussed how he and a group of his friends came to the decision to join the PETA as a means of receiving military training for the post-War fighting they anticipated with the Dutch. As I remember it, his account of their first day of training went like this: 1) Kitted out with trousers, blouses, and boots. 2) Loaded into a small boat with their trainer and taken about 1km or so offshore. 3) Told by their trainer to jump out of the boat; compliance aided by repeated and vicious kicking. 4) Trainer informed them that those making it to shore with their kit intact would be allowed to continue the training, followed by drawing his sidearm and informing them that no one would be allowed to reenter the boat.
    Last edited by ganulv; 09-28-2011 at 05:01 PM. Reason: wording
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  4. #4
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    3,189

    Default

    Maybe there are Japanese- or Chinese-speaking (whatever dialect) people here who can point us at (comprehensible, that is = English) documents about the episode?

    The Japanese would probably omit some not so comfortable info, but those omissions aren't about tactics to be adopted anyway.

    How about some exchange officer students at military colleges, bored military attachés?

  5. #5
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,099

    Default

    See also the February 1968 Challenge and Response in Internal Conflict, Volume I: The Experience in Asia

    This volume has sections on China that cover the periods 1898-1901, 1927-1937, and 1937-1945.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    9

    Default

    My impression is that the Japanese saw the Chinese Theater as a conventional war. COIN was a supporting effort. I think their approach to COIN was to rely heavily on Chinese proxies. This included puppet regimes and armies in Manchuria and China proper. This approach had some merit because the Nationalist Government under Chiang never had firm control over the entire country. China was still a fragmented society and political entity.

    Despite the legend of mass resistance to the Japanese, I do not think the Chinese insurgency--Nationalist or Communists-was ever seriously aimed at ousting the Japanese. Stilwell's frustration with Chiang in the regard was well known, but I don't see the Communists as being significanly more aggressive.

    The Communists did not make a serious attempt to push back the Japanese after the 100 Regiments Campaign of 1940. Mao and Chiang were both focused on their decisive fight which they knew would come after the Japanese were defeated.

    People also forget that Chiang came close to crushing the Communists in his Encirclement Campaigns from 1931-1934. The first efforts failed but the fifth one compelled the Communists to begin the Long March. A strong argument can be made that the Japanese saved Mao by compelling Chiang to shift military resources away from the fight in the South.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    9

    Default

    This is a great book that covers the period.

    "China at War 1901-1949 ", Edward Dreyer

    http://www.amazon.com/China-War-1901...+war+1901-1949

  8. #8
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    This is another book that covers more specifically the period.

    http://www.amazon.com/Battle-China-M...=the+china+war

    I read it and it was extremely good. You come away with a huge respect for the endurance and determination of the Chinese people, and surprisingly considering what we've been told for years, Chiang and the KMT.

    From what I remember, Japan was interested in keeping the part of China they occupied and did what it took to do that. They never had any real problem with either Nationalist or Red guerrilla forces. Nationalist guerrilla forces fought to support Nationalist conventional forces and were mostly destroyed. Communists, after the 100 regiments attacks mostly concentrated on preserving their forces. If I remember correctly they ended up stronger at the end of the war than at the beginning.

    Perhaps one thing that can be learned is the importance of having a sanctuary and a source of external supply. The Chinese didn't have any of that in an important way until 1945.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  9. #9
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    Carl - +1 on your review of the book and general conclusions.

    I would disagree about the idea that Nationalist China did not have supply or sanctuary. For me the dominant feature of Japan's war was their complete lack of an overarching strategic plan for China. Their China policy seemed much more a set of improvisations, driven primarily by events and commanders in the field, especially early on ("Manchuria Incident" and assault on Shanghai). They wanted to protect their Manchurian resource enclave from the Nationalist threat, but they had no overall strategic plan as to why Manchuria was worth so much, or what they would do with it or the other parts of China.

    Yet in order to protect Manchuria, they decided to destroy the KMT army by attacking first Shanghai, then expanding ever onward in a vain attempt to pin and then destroy the Nationalists. Their entire campaign was an attempt to destroy the KMT's sanctuary and supply lines in the rest of China and SE Asia. In the end, they ended up garrisoning vast territories with overstretched armies, fighting swarms of guerrillas who could be wiped away easily but never quite eliminated, while chasing KMT armies who could be defeated but never quite destroyed completely. Meanwhile their efforts completely wrecked their diplomatic position and turned former Western allies pre-1932 into bitter enemies.

  10. #10
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    3,189

    Default

    Regarding foreign supply; Stalin was happy to help with Polikapov fighters and Tupolev bombers prior to '41 - in exchange for gold.

  11. #11
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1,297

    Default

    Manchuria must have seemed to be an excellent addition from the Japanese point of view. A good degree of key ressources which the island lacks, good internal shipping routes ,a relative short 'Chinese' frontier (considering the extent of the region), considerable strategic depth towards the Soviet Union and a relative small population ( in Chinese relations). Keep in mind that for a long time it was 'the' heavy industrial heartland of China with a hefty percentage of the GDP. This is before the big boom transformed the Chinese economy completely.

    It is difficult to understand why they extended their forces so much into China. I guess it was a case of too good a chance to pass, of complete victory just a step away, of not giving in to problems.
    Last edited by Firn; 11-13-2012 at 10:25 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  12. #12
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    Tequila:

    I was thinking more along the lines of neither the Nationalist nor the Communist guerrillas having a sanctuary or an external source of supply. Neither of them could duck across a line of control or border into a place the Japanese would not go. The only thing they could do if they chose was to move far enough away that the Japanese Army didn't feel like following.

    Neither did they have supplies coming over from outside in any important way. The Japanese controlled the coast, not much came over the Hump or the over the mountain roads and the Soviets cut off supplies until they resumed their fight with Japan. For guerrilla forces or insurgencies, without sanctuary or supply things are close to impossible.

    I would disagree about the Nationalists having any important source of external supply after the Soviets cut them off. The routes over the mountains to the south just could provide enough to make a difference.

    Interestingly, they could supply enough that the USAAF and Chinese Air Force just about ran the Japanese out of Chinese skies by 1944-45. It is interesting too that that didn't stop the Japanese from going where they pleased and wrecking KMT military power in their final offensive to the south. From reading that book I got the idea that the Japanese Army was probably as responsible, or more, than any other factor for the ultimate victory of the Reds.
    Last edited by carl; 11-13-2012 at 11:03 PM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

Similar Threads

  1. The US response to China (catch all)
    By SWJ Blog in forum Asia-Pacific
    Replies: 75
    Last Post: 03-29-2019, 02:02 AM
  2. South China Sea and China (2011-2017)
    By Ray in forum Asia-Pacific
    Replies: 769
    Last Post: 11-13-2017, 01:31 PM
  3. What Is Up With Japan And China
    By slapout9 in forum Global Issues & Threats
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 11-13-2008, 05:35 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •