“To Serve Revenge for the Dead”: Chinese Communist Responses to Japanese War Crimes in the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, 1949–1956
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2009
Using newly available documents from the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, this article traces the evolving legacies of the War of Resistance in the first seven years of the People's Republic. Analysis is offered of PRC campaigns against Japanese bacteriological war crimes, criticisms of American dealings with Japanese war criminals, and the 1956 trial of Japanese at Shenyang. Throughout, behind-the-scenes tensions with the Soviet Union and internal bureaucratic struggles over the Japanese legacy regarding these matters are revealed. The article thereby aims to shed light on how the War of Resistance affected post-war China's foreign relations, demonstrating how the young Republic advantageously used wartime legacies as diplomatic tools in relations with the superpowers and within the orchestrated clangour of domestic propaganda campaigns.
- Copyright © The China Quarterly 2009
1 Mitter, Rana, The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)Google Scholar; for general monographs on the political situation in China during and after the “Manchurian Incident,” see Youli, Sun, China and the Origins of the Pacific War, 1931–1941 (New York: St Martin's Press, 1993)Google Scholar; Coble, Parks, Facing Japan: Chinese Politics and Japanese Imperialism, 1931–1937 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
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7 Specifically, Strauss addresses the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries as one factor in CCP consolidation of power in China; see Strauss, “Paternalist terror” and “Morality, coercion, and state building.”
8 Chen Jian's work has repeatedly demonstrated the links between domestic and foreign policy in the PRC; see Jian, Chen, Mao's China and the Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001)Google Scholar.
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12 For official information and transcripts from the trials see Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army Charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1950).
13 “Sulian Yuandong binghai junqu junshi fating,” Renmin ribao, 29 December 1950, p. 4.
14 For further investigation on the legacy of Japan's BW programme within the matrix of Chinese nationalism and Sino-Soviet relations, see Adam Cathcart, “‘Against invisible enemies’: Japanese biological weapons and China's Cold War, 1949–1950,” Chinese Historical Review, Vol. 16, No. 1 (2009), pp. 60–89. See also Nie, Jing-Bao, “The West's dismissal of the Khabarovsk trial as ‘communist propaganda’: ideology, evidence and international bioethics,” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2004), pp. 32–42CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.
15 Asian Division of Waijiaobu to Harbin Weishengbu, Foreign Ministry Archives, File 105-00076-02, pp. 84–85. See also “Rijun zhanqu Qingsheng shengwu diaochasuo jiqi chetui qingxing jian wen” (“Institute of Biological Investigation in Japanese-occupied Jinsheng, as well as news regarding the situation after their withdrawal”), 1 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-07; “Guanyu Anda jujiayao xijun gongchang jishi” (“Record of Anda [city] Jujiayao [district] biological weapons factory”), 19 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-03. Similar investigations were conducted around the same time in Heilongjiang province, in areas affected by Unit 731 near Pingfan; see “Guanyu Pingfan xijun gongchang jishi” (“Record regarding Pingfang's biological weapons factory”), 19 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-02; “Heilongjiang renmin kongsu Riben xijun zhanfan jianzheng shu” (“Heilongjiang people accuse Japanese of biological war crimes: record of eyewitness testimony”), 20 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-05, p. 1.
16 The 1952 anti-BW propaganda campaign was targeted at the United States, but many of the themes of the 1950 campaign were resurrected. The testimony of civilians is recorded in Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation Concerning the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China (Peking, 1952). For analysis of the purpose and results of the 1952 anti-BW rhetoric, see Rogaski, Ruth, “Nature, annihilation, and modernity: China's Korean War germ-warfare experience reconsidered,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2 (2002), pp. 381–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nash, Patricia, “Plague and propaganda: the significance of Korean War bacteriological weapons allegations,” Wittenberg East Asian Studies Journal (Spring 2008), pp. 93–114Google Scholar.
17 Ibid.; “Heilongjiang people accuse Japanese of biological war crimes: record of eyewitness testimony”; “Chen Wanli deng ren de baogao ji dui Riji zai quanHua zhi wupin jianyan jieguo de shuoming” (“Chen Wanli and other people's reports on proof of inspection results about Japanese aeroplanes casting things all over China”), 30 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-12.
18 “Tiantan fangbingchu gongren zuotan Rijun zhanjushi de qingshili jilu” (“Record of Temple of Heaven Disease Prevention Office convening a discussion of workers about the situation during the period of Japanese military occupation,”) 7 March 1950, PRC Foreign Ministry Archive Document 105-00092-06, pp. 1–9.
19 For discussion of hygiene exhibitions in Beijing's Zhongshan Park in July 1949, and the interaction between public health discourse and anti-biological weapons publicity, see Sneh Rajbhandari, “‘Walking on two legs’: the expansion of health services in China, 1949–1956,” presented at Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, St Olaf College, Minnesota, 11 October 2008. See also Rogaski, “Nature, annihilation, and modernity.”
20 “Guanyu souji Riben xijun zhanfan zuixing de cailiao” (“Materials regarding Japanese biological war crimes guilty activities”), 1950, PRC Foreign Ministry Archive Document 105-00076-02, p. 36.
23 For further details on the foundations of co-operation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Xinhua in 1950, see ibid. pp. 2–8.
24 “Youguan xizhun zhanfan ziliao” (“Materials concerning biological war crimes”), 23 February 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-08.
25 “Rimo shifang jundu cansha Jizhong renmin de julu” (“Record of Japanese devils massacring mid-Hebei people by firing poison gas shells”), 9 February 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-09.
26 “Chen Wanli and other people's reports on proof of inspection results about Japanese aeroplanes casting things over China.”
27 “Guanyu Chengde shuyi diaocha baogaoshu” (“Collection of reports concerning investigation of plague in Changde”), 30 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-17; for a Western examination of the Changde incident, see Williams and Wallace, Unit 731: The Japanese Army's Secret of Secrets, pp. 95–101.
28 “Guanyu Riji zai Jinhua sanbo shuyi ganjun de buchong yijian” (“Opinions regarding Japanese aeroplanes spreading and sowing plague spores in Jinhua that are returning”), 30 March 1952, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-13, p. 2.
29 On similar themes of the incorporation of former Nationalist officials into the judiciary of the early PRC, see Qiang Fang, “A mixed picture: complaint systems in Late Republican China,” unpublished manuscript. How former collaborators with Japan were incorporated into the anti-Japanese rhetoric and campaigns of the early PRC is an even more vexing question about which virtually nothing has been written. Some examples of the CCP using anti-rightist campaigns to revive accusations of wartime pro-Japanese collaboration, however, can be found in local north-eastern newspapers in 1951, particularly July–August 1951 issues of Dongbei chaoxian renmin ribao (Yanji).
30 “Guanyu chengban Riben xijun zhanfan zuotan jiyao” (“Record of conversations regarding punishment of Japanese biological war criminals”), 30 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00092-15, pp. 1–2.
32 “Wobu canguan ‘Riben xizhun zhanfan e'xing zhengju zhanlanhui’ de jidian yijian” (“A few views of our [personnel] department regarding the ‘Japanese BW war crimes evidence exhibition’”), 5 March 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00076-02, p. 51.
33 “Materials regarding Japanese biological war crimes guilty activities,” p. 52.
34 “Tan Riben zhanzheng fanzui fenzi de chuli wenti: Guoji faxuejia Mei Ru'ao,” Liaodong ribao, 24 June 1956, p. 4.
35 Shigemitsu, after his release in 1950, re-entered the Japanese political arena associating himself with the Japanese Right, while Kishi Nobusuke (released on 24 December 1948) eventually re-assumed the position of foreign minister. For an excellent comparative study of Japanese post-war politics and politicians, see Samuels, Richard J., Machiavelli's Children (New York: Cornell University Press, 2005)Google Scholar.
36 Enlai, Zhou, Jianguo yilai zhou enlai wengao (Zhou Enlai's Manuscripts since the Founding of the PRC), Vol. 3, July 1950–December 1950 (Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 2008), pp. 544–46Google Scholar.
37 “Yijiuwuyi nian er yue Sulian zhengfu jiu Maikeahse feifa shifang Zhong Guangkui deng Riben zhanfan zhi Meiguo zhengfu zhi zhaohui chaojian” (“February 1951 handwritten note from Soviet government to US government regarding MacArthur's illegal release of Shigemitsu Mamoru and other Japanese war criminals”), 15 February 1951, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00022-04; “Sulian zhengfu jiu zhuRi mengjun tongshuai Maikeahse nishi fang Zhong Guangkui deng zhanfan gei Meiguo zhengfu zhi zhaohui yiwen yi wo waijiaobu dui cizhi yijian,” (“Translated note from Soviet government to American government regarding Supreme Commander for Allied Powers in Japan Douglas MacArthur's intended plan to give free rein to Zhong Guangkui and other Japanese war criminals and our Foreign Ministry's views on this matter”), 12–13 May 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00022-01.
38 “1950 nian wu yue shiwu ri Zhou Enlai Waizhang qianzi MacArthur xuanbu tiqian Zhong Guangkui deng zhan fan de shengming,” 15 May 1950, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00022-02.
39 “February 1951 handwritten note from Soviet government to US government regarding MacArthur's illegal release of Shigemitsu Mamoru and other Japanese war criminals.”
40 “Zhongsu guanxi da shi ji zhi yi (yijiuwuling)” (“Chronicle of Sino-Soviet relations (1950)”), PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 109-01352-02, pp. 2–3.
42 When the Soviet Union began their unilateral trial of Japanese war criminals in Khabarovsk, Xinhua faithfully published praise for Soviet friendship and repeated in detail the damning testimony of Japanese BW officers; for example, see “Sulian yuandong binghaijun qu junshi fating” (“Soviet Far East Naval District Court”), Renmin ribao (People's Daily), 28 December 1949, p. 1.
43 “Guanyu Sulian yijiao Riben zhanfan de laiwangwendian” (“Telegraph regarding Soviet transfer of Japanese war criminals”), 27 June 1951–30 November 1951, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 118-00151-01, pp. 1, 5.
46. Adam Cathcart and Patricia Nash, “War criminals and the road to Sino-Japanese normalization: Zhou Enlai and the Shenyang Trials, 1954–1956,” Twentieth-century China, Vol. 34, No. 2 (2009), pp. 88–110.
47 For more information on the “people's diplomacy” and the post-Geneva Convention “peace offensive” taken by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, see Keith, The Diplomacy of Zhou Enlai, pp. 5–9, 33–36. For an excellent overview of the Japanese side of Sino-Japanese negotiations see Seraphim, Franziska, War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945–2005 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006), pp. 108–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
48 “Zai ya riben zhanfan sixiang qingkuang jianbao” (“A brief report on the Japanese war criminals in custody and thoughts on the situation”), 26 April 1956–17 May 1956, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00502-07.
49 Kogori Ichiro, “Under the tower of treasure: Nosaka Sanzō, Japanese anti-war soldiers, and the Yanan experience,” MA thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1988; Kushner, Barak, The Thought War: Japanese Imperial Propaganda (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2006), pp. 132–43Google Scholar; for interdisciplinary analysis of re-education and communist legal practices, Williams, Phillip F. and Wu, Yenna, The Great Wall of Confinement: The Chinese Prison Camp through Contemporary Fiction and Reportage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004)Google Scholar.
50 “Shifang di yi pi riben zhanfan de qingkuang baogao (bu bao), Fujian: zhanfan xiang zhonghua renmin gongbeguo zhongyang zhengfu guanlisuo dangju de ganxie xing” (“First report on release of Japanese war criminals and their letter of thanks to central government of PRC”), 22 August 1956, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00503-07.
51 “Mao Zedong zhuxi yu riben waibing tan ribenzhanfan wenti – kexueyuan jianbao ji waijiaobu baogao” (“Chairman Mao Zedong and Japanese foreigners discuss the Japanese war criminal problem – science academy report and Ministry of Foreign Affairs report”), 9–23 November 1956, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 105-00502-05.
52 “Riben qingbao baogao” (“Japanese intelligence report”), 15 November 1957, PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives, Document 102-00036-06.