Hara-kiri (belly – cut) is a spoken term used by commoners to describe ritual suicide. Seppuku is the written form used amongst higher classes for the same act. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was committed either voluntarily by samurai who preferred to die with honor rather than surrender to their enemies or as capital punishment […]
We are standing for justice and life, while they are standing for profits. We are defending justice, while they are attacking for profits. They raise their heads in arrogance, while we are constructing the Great East Asia family. Japan’s victories seem to prove her moral superiority. […]
It is reasonable to say that WWII began, not with the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland, but with a battle on the outskirts of Beijing in July 1937. After occupying Manchuria in 1931, Japan began a wider invasion of China in 1937. By the end of WWII in 1945, ~13-20 million Chinese people had died. Refugees trying to flee the fighting […]
Unspeakable crimes committed by WWII Japanese medical personnel experimenting on both civilians and prisoners of war have been well documented. Read more about: Dr. Shiro Oshii and Unit 731 and Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity Unfortunately, unlike modern day Germany that has openly discussed Nazi atrocities, the current Japanese government appears to offer ambivalent views on the matter and even suggest that some aspects […]
This 1942 OSS film provides an excellent overview of Japanese resources at the time. The main points: Japanese farmers and workers are very productive Japan provides 75% of the world’s silk the home islands provide adequate food, water (electricity) and forest products coal and oil resources are limited most metals and minerals must come from Japanese possessions in Asia & […]
In 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army had a total of 1,700,000 men. At the beginning of WWII most of the Army’s divisions were stationed in China and (for fear of Soviet invasion) along the Mongolian border In 1942, soldiers were sent to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, the Dutch East Indies and Malaya. By 1945, there […]
With early 20th century industrialization, many poor or unwed Japanese women worked in silk, textile, and weaving factories. Once married, however, women were expected to stop working for wages. Most worked without pay in agriculture. At war from 1937-1945, the lives of Imperial Japanese women were radically changed. Although relegated to various volunteer associations in the early war years, by 1943 the loss of […]
At war, Japan required large amounts of petroleum, scrap iron, and other raw materials. While 55 percent of its oil came from the USA, Indonesia supplied 25%. After the German occupation of Holland, Japan demanded vital natural resources, especially oil from the Netherlands East Indies. The Indies government stalled negotiations and joined the USA in […]
The Great Japan Youth Party (大日本青年党), later known as the Great Japan Sincerity Association (大日本赤誠会), was founded in 1937 with a structure similar to Nazi Germany’s Hitler Youth. The stated aim of the organization was to teach Japanese youth basic survival skills, first aid, life skills, cultural lessons, traditions and basic weapons training. However, the group’s founder, ultranationalist activist […]
Front Magazine, Wikimedia Commons With a format resembling Life magazine, FRONT magazine was created by the Japanese Intelligence Bureau with civilian editors, photographers, and graphic designers to represent the Imperial Japanese empire “in its true form in this time of extreme international change.” Published in 15 languages, FRONT focused on the war in Asia with issues featuring the […]
via Twentieth Century Japanese Art and the Wartime State: Reassessing the Art of Ogawara Shū and Fujita Tsuguharu Similar to the United States, Britain, Germany, Canada, and Australia, the Japanese government and military supported an extensive war art program involving hundreds of artists including: Tsuguharu Foujita. Ryushi Kawabata, 1855–1966. Ryohei Koiso, 1903–1988. Shin Kurihara, 1894–1966. […]
During the Spanish Civil War, Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force “volunteers,” allied with Spanish Fascists, bombed the undefended civilians of Guernica in 1937. During the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Luftwaffe engaged in massive air raids against Polish cities. In addition to the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals were destroyed and many civilians and refugees were killed. In May 1940, […]
Since feudal times, the Empire of Japan had a long tradition of censorship of political discourse. In 1936, the Information and Propaganda Committee issued all official press statements and worked with the Publications Monitoring Department to censor all types of media. The committee issued detailed guidelines to publishers and made (mandatory) suggestions. Any book, magazine, news article or photograph “unfavorable” to the Imperial […]
In 1925 the Imperial Japanese Ministry of Education and the Department of War began to attach military officers to public schools to establish a military training system. In 1931 instruction in budo, the traditional martial arts of Japan, became compulsory for all students in middle and normal schools. Students were required to train themselves in […]
Entartete Kunst was the term used by the Nazis to describe art that was banned on the grounds that it was un-German or Jewish/Bolshevist in nature. “Degenerate” artists were subjected to sanctions, dismissed from teaching positions, forbidden to exhibit or to sell their art, and sometimes forbidden to produce art at all. In 1937, an Entarte Kunst exhibition […]
In WWII, bicycles were quiet, flexible transport for thousands of Japanese troops who used them to surprise and confuse defenders. In 1937, 50,000 Japanese bicycle troops participated in the invasion of China. In 1941, the Japanese army rode bicycles through Malaya to capture Singapore. On bicycles, Japanese troops moved faster than retreating Allied […]
Church of Christ gathering, Japan 1940; Wikimedia Commons When Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in the 16th century, thousands of Japanese converted from Shinto/Buddhism to Catholicism. In the 17th century, Christianity was banned – followers and missionaries who persisted were killed. Suspected Christians were forced to burn crosses and tread on images of Christ and the […]
The number of casualties in the Second Sino-Japanese War was shocking: Chinese casualties 3.22 million soldiers 9.13 million civilians killed in crossfire 8.4 million non-military casualties. Chinese sources claim ~35 million total casualties (most Western historians estimate at least 20 million). In addition, the war created 95 million refugees. Japanese casualties Estimated 1.1-1.9 million […]
Funded by a local bond issue, the Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay opened in May 1937* after 4 years of construction.
Japanese fighters attacked the American gunboat USS Panay at anchor in the Yangtze River outside Nanking on December 12, 1937. Although there was contrary evidence, the Japanese claimed the attack was in error and made reparations. The attack on an American ship that had been evacuating U.S. citizens during the Nanking Massacre resulted in strong condemnation of […]
Originating with the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1936 (an anti-communist treaty signed by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan), the Axis alliance was joined by Italy in 1937. In addition, the Axis included Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and various collaborating and/or puppet states of Germany, Italy and Japan.
In January 1937, President Roosevelt directed the Navy Department to proceed with the construction of two replacement battleships, the first such construction since the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. From 1935 to 1937, the United States Army grew from 118,000 to 158,000 enlisted men. Nevertheless, the isolationist Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring declared that […]
In the 1937 general elections, with 73% voter participation, the Constitutional Democratic Party Rikken Minseitō (RMK in the graph) won a slight majority of parliamentary seats over its major rival, the conservative Friends of Constitutional Government (Rikken Seiyūkai, RSK in the graph). The Constitutional Democratic Party had traditionally promoted equitable distribution of wealth, protection of personal liberties and opposition to […]
A rally to boycott Nazi-Germany, held at the third Madison Square Garden on March 15, 1937
In the 1930s Imperial Japanese propaganda promoted the image of a benevolent Big Brother in Asia.
It seems that soldiers don’t often talk about their wartime experiences with civilians. And, we know that the Japanese government actively suppressed any opposition to their narrative of events in China. How much did Japanese civilians at home know about the brutal activities of their soldiers in China? The government certainly promoted a whitewashed portrait of […]
At 7:42 A.M. on July 2, 1937 the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, stationed offshore of Howland Island (an uninhabited coral island halfway between Hawaii and Australia) picked up this message: “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 […]
Since the invasion of Manchuria and the creation of the puppet state Manchukuo in 1931, an uneasy truce existed between Japan and China. The Marco Polo Bridge, linking Beijing to Chinese-controlled areas in the south, became the flashpoint for renewed warfare between the Imperial Japanese and nationalist Chinese armies. Whether this “incident” that provoked full-scale war was […]
The 30-year era of sublime optimism and confidence regarding passenger zeppelins came to an abrupt and tragic end in May 1937 with the fiery crash of the German airship Hindenburg. 13 passengers, 22 crew members and one person on the ground perished.