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“To Serve Revenge for the Dead”: Chinese Communist Responses to Japanese War Crimes in the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, 1949–1956

Abstract
Abstract

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.

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1 Mitter Rana, The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); 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); Coble Parks, Facing Japan: Chinese Politics and Japanese Imperialism, 1931–1937 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).

2 Strauss Julia, “Paternalist terror: the campaign to suppress counterrevolutionaries and regime consolidation in the People's Republic of China, 1950–1953,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2002), pp. 80103, and “Morality, coercion, and state building by campaign in the early PRC: regime consolidation and after, 1949–1956,” The China Quarterly, No. 188 (2006), pp. 891–912. Links between post-war anti-Japanese sentiment and mass propaganda campaigns are analysed superficially in Adam Cathcart, “Chinese nationalism in the shadow of Japan, 1945–1950,” PhD dissertation, Ohio University, 2005. For innovative but often general discussion of Sino-Japanese relations during the US occupation of Japan, see Okamoto Koichi, “Imaginary settings: Sino-Japanese-United States relations during the occupation years,” PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 2000.

3 Gries Peter Hays, China's New Nationalism: Pride, Politics, and Diplomacy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); Fogel Joshua, “Introduction: the Nanjing Massacre in history,” in Fogel Joshua (ed.), The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Coble Parks, “China's ‘new-remembering’ of the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance,” The China Quarterly, No. 190 (2007), pp. 394410.

4 Two recent monographs analyse the evolution of war memory in the 1950s, but the primary focus in these works is on Japan rather than China, and the source base is largely Japanese. Yoshida Takashi, The Making of the Rape of Nanking: History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Seraphim Franziska, War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945–2005 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006).

5 Goda Norman J.W., Tales from Spandau: Nazi Criminals and the Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 10. See also Biess Frank, Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).

6 Yoshio Kodama, Sugamo Diary (trans. Fukuda Taro) (Japan: Radiopress, 1960), pp. 4, 264–68; Aiko Utsumi, Sugamo Prison: The Peace Movement of the War Criminals (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2004).

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).

9 Important scholarship exists on the early development of China's Foreign Ministry. For interesting commentary on the role of ideology and Mao Zedong Thought in early diplomatic efforts, see Ronald C. Keith, The Diplomacy of Zhou Enlai (New York: St Martin's Press, 1989), pp. 5–37; for discussion specifically on relations and negotiations with Japan, see Radtke Kurt Werner, China's Relations with Japan, 1945–83: The role of Liao Chengzhi (New York: Manchester University Press, 1990).

10 For foundational scholarship on Japan's Second World War era BW programme which rarely delves into the legacies of these programmes in China, see Williams David and Wallace Peter, Unit 731: The Japanese Army's Secret of Secrets (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989); and Harris Sheldon, Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932–1945 (New York: Routledge, 2002).

11 The 1952 anti-BW movements are a perfect example of this linkage, in that the CCP succeeded in linking Japan's BW experiments with allegations of US employment of their results to launch BW attacks on North Korea and Manchuria. Surprisingly, although the 1952 allegations have received much attention, only Milton Leitenberg has explicitly linked them to Japanese atrocities. See Leitenberg Milton, “New Russian evidence on the Korean War biological warfare allegations: background and analysis,” Cold War International History Project Bulletin, No. 11 (1998), pp. 185–99; see also Nash Patricia, “Plague and propaganda: the significance of biological weapons allegations in the Korean War,” Wittenberg University East Asian Studies Journal, Vol. 33 (2008), pp. 93114.

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. 3242.

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. 381415; Nash Patricia, “Plague and propaganda: the significance of Korean War bacteriological weapons allegations,” Wittenberg East Asian Studies Journal (Spring 2008), pp. 93114.

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.

21 Ibid. p. 36.

22 Ibid. p. 51.

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.

31 Ibid. p. 3.

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).

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. 544–46.

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.

41 Ibid.

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.

44 Ibid. p. 7.

45 Ibid. p. 20.

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. 108–34.

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. 132–43; 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).

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.

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