Japanese War Crimes in China: A Strategy of Popular Annihilation

  • 2017

Japanese War Crimes in China: A Strategy of Popular Annihilation

Author:
Virginia Hudgins
Abstract:

During the Second Sino-Japanese War and throughout World War II, Japanese soldiers committed atrocities on an incredible scale that included mass killings, rape, arson, and biological warfare. In China, these war crimes continued for eight years and resulted in the deaths of approximately 10 million Chinese civilians. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) concluded in their “Judgment of 4 November 1948” that – based on the available evidence and testimony – “only one conclusion [was] possible – the atrocities were either secretly ordered or willfully permitted by the Japanese Government or individual members thereof and by the leaders of the armed forces.”  The IMTFE lacked crucial evidence. First, they were unaware of the actual start date of the atrocities. As a result, the war crimes seemed to begin randomly, and so could not be tied to a strategic motive. Second, they were unaware of the Japanese biological warfare program. The American government made a deal with Japanese scientists to trade immunity for information. Thus, the highest levels of the Imperial Japanese government could claim ignorance of certain atrocities, and the absence of command control for others. There were none that required specific funding and organization – until the biological warfare program surfaced. These two pieces of evidence change the narrative of the Japanese atrocities from disconnected actions with no clear strategic value to purposeful and planned war crimes that evolved as strategy dictated. The Japanese war crimes in China were essentially attempted genocide.