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Chang Hsüeh-liang and the Japanese

  • Akira Iriye

The Nationalist unification of China was nominally completed on December 29, 1928. On that day Manchuria, under the leadership of Chang Hsüeh-liang, accepted and hoisted the Revolutionary flag. Historians have tended to emphasize the role of nationalism in the union of the Three Eastern Provinces with the Kuomintang domain after the death of Chang Tso-lin on June 4, 1928. According to the general view, Chang Hsüeh-liang, having grown up in the period of the May Fourth Movement, shared many of the national aspirations of the younger generation, and desired to stop civil warfare in China and assist the Kuomintang in the policy of unification. Moreover, he is represented as being violently hostile to Japan, suspicious of the Japanese in the killing of his father, and determined to put forth every effort to bring Manchuria and Nationalist China together, so that the unified nation could resist the ambitions of its imperialistic neighbor. Japan, under the “positive policy” of the Tanaka ministry, is pictured as attempting to keep the Three Eastern Provinces separate from the Nationalist South; to delay, if not halt, an eventual union.

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1 The report of the Lytton Commission is a good example of this view. See its Ch. ii, sec. 2, and Ch. iii, sec. 2. Among secondary works see, for example, Clyde, Paul H., The Far East, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1958), p. 546; Gathorne-Hardy, G. M., A Short History of International Affairs, 4th ed. (London, 1952), p. 253. A typical Chinese view is expressed by Cho-jan, Wang, Chang Hsüeh-liang (Peiping, 1937), pp. 78.

2 “The will of the Chinese people must be my will” was one of Chang's favorite expressions. See China Weekly Review (henceforth cited as CWR), August 28, 1928. (Henceforth all documents cited are dated 1928, unless otherwise noted.)

3 Morito, Morishima, Imbō, ansatsu, guntō [Conspiracy, Assassination, Sword] (Tokyo, 1950), p. 22.

4 The Fengtien Provincial Assembly elected him military governor on June 12, and six days later the appointment was confirmed by the Tayuanshuaifu, or the Office of the Generalissimo. On July 3 he was appointed commander-in-chief. On July 19, when the Peace Preservation Committee was created to replace the Associated Provincial Assembly of the Three Eastern Provinces, Chang was made its chairman.

5 Hanson to Kellogg, June 15, the State Department Archives in the National Archives (henceforth NA) 893.00/10144. CWR, June 23.

6 Tokyo Asahi Shimbun (henceforth Asahi), June 16. Hanson to Kellogg above.

7 North China Herald (henceforth NCH), June 23.

8 Hsing Shih-lien and Yü Chen, the earliest peace negotiators with the South, believed that Manchuria should be unified with Chang Tso-hsiang as commander-in-chief. Asahi, June 22. See also Hanson to Johnson, NA 893.00/10166; Nisshi Kōshō Gaishi [Inside history of Japanese-Chinese Relations], ed. Kokuryūkai [Black Dragon Society] (Tokyo, 1939), II, 373–374.

9 It was reported in the press that Chang Hsüeh-liang himself persuaded Chang Tso-hsiang to accede to the position made vacant by the death of Chang Tso-lin. Asahi, June 25. Regarding some speculation as to why Chang Tso-hsiang refused the offer, see Asahi, June 25; Kokuryiikai, p. 374.

10 A good summary of the Southern military factions at this time is found in Toynbee, Arnold J., Survey of International Affairs, 1928 (London, 1929), pp. 375379.

11 MacMurray to Kellogg, June 28, NA 893.00/10118.

12 MacMurray to Kellogg, June 13, NA 893.00/10081, and July 3, NA 893.00/10127. It was Chiang and Yen that Hsing Shih-lien first saw in connection with a possible peace. Asahi, June 19.

13 Tanaka Güchi denki [The Biography of Tanaka Güchi], ed. Tetsuichi, Takakura II (Tokyo, 1960) 958959. See also the diary kept by the chief of staff of the Kwantung Army, in Usui Katsumi, “Chang Tso-lin bakushi no shinsō” [“The Truth about the Explosion and Death of Chang Tso-lin”], Himerareta Shōwa-shi [A Secret History of the Showa Period] (a special issue of the Chisei [Intellect], Tokyo, 1956), pp. 3037. Some Japanese officers, however, especially among the advisory corps to the Fengtien Army, are said to have been in favor of establishing Yang Yü-t'ing as the next ruler of Manchuria. See Yūhei, Nashimoto, Chūgoku no naka no Nihonjin [Japanese in China] (Tokyo, 1958), I, 21; Reiji, Hirano, Manshū no imbōsha [A Conspirator in Manuchuria] (Tokyo, 1959), p. 91.

14 Hayashi to Tanaka, June 26, PVM 52. The document classification PVM stands for the papers of Matsumoto Tadao, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs during 1937–1939, which contain copies of original diplomatic despatches.

15 Mukden Intelligence Officer to Hata, July 4, T 845, and July 6, T 845.

16 NCH, June 23. Saitō to Hata, July 4, T 845, and July 6, T 845.

17 Mukden Intelligence Officer to Hata, July 3, T 845.

18 Asahi, July 17.

19 Kuowen choupao (henceforth KWCP), June 24.

20 MacMurray to Kellogg, July 3, NA 893.00/10127.

21 The Kwantung Army attributed the growth of peace sentiments to the machinations of Yang Yü-t'ing and his clique. Saitō to Hata, July 6, T 845. A memorial from Kirin educationists is printed in KWCP, July 15.

22 Hayashi to Tanaka, July 16, PVM 53.

23 Mukden Intelligence Officer to Hata, July 6, T 845. MacMurray to Kellogg, June 28, NA 893.00/10118. NCH, July 21.

24 It is difficult to determine precisely what terms were offered at which time. Those mentioned here, however, were constantly reported in diplomatic and military despatches and in the press throughout June and July. For details see Hayashi to Tanaka, June 26, PVM 52, and July 9, PVM 52, and July 16, PVM 53; MacMurray to Kellogg, July 3, NA 893.00/10127; Myers to Kellogg, July 6, NA 893.00/10168; KWCP, July 29; NCH, June 30 and July 7; Asahi, July 5, July 9, July 17, July 19, and July 20.

25 KWCP, July 29. Asahi, July 19 and July 20. I have not been able to trace the authenticity of these reports in the Japanese or the American archives. It is possible that no definite conditions of peace had been worked out when the Japanese warning came. The Chinese and Manuchurian officials concerned, however, affirmed that a final accord had been reached by around July 20. The American consul at Mukden reported that the peace negotiations were probably “on the point of being completed—it has been stated that they were 97% completed—when the Japanese ‘advice’ was given.” (Myers to Kellogg, July 27, NA 893.00 PR Mukden/10).

26 Asahi, July 17–20.

27 Tanaka to Hayashi, July 18, PVM 53. Hayashi to Tanaka, July 19, PVM 53.

28 The memorandum of conversation as well as Tanaka's written instructions to Hayashi are in Yoshida to Hayashi, July 31, PVM 53.

29 Hayashi to Tanaka, August 8, PVM 53.

30 Many contemporary observers saw the connection clearly. KWCP, July 29. Shimizu to Tanaka, August 21, PVM 53. Toynbee, p. 381, footnote 1. Neville to Kellogg, August 14, NA 793.94 Manchuria/29.

31 The quotations are from the statement made by Tanaka to representatives of foreign governments on July 25. Neville to Kellogg, July 25, NA 793.94 Manuchuria/20.

32 As early as June 13, the American consul at Mukden had foreseen that “unless the Nationalist Government … comes to an agreement over certain important issues, such as railroad construction … and others, an independent government [in Manuchuria] under Japanese protection will very likely be the outcome.” (Myers to Kellogg, June 13, NA 893.00/10135).

33 Excellent examples of this view can be found in Kazushige, Ugaki, Vgaki nikkf [Ugaki Diary] (Tokyo, 1954), pp. 108116, and Saitū Tsune, “Shina kyūkoku saku” [“A Plan for Saving China”] (a memorandum written in 1927), in Usui, p. 31.

34 There are a number of biographies of and autobiographies by Japanese diplomats, which illustrate these attitudes. For example, Obata Yūhjchi (Tokyo, 1957); Kenkichi, Yoshizawa, Gaikō rokujū nen [Sixty Years of Diplomacy] (Tokyo, 1958); Kanjō, Horiuchi, Chūgoku no arashi no naka de [In the Storms of China] (Tokyo, 1950); and Shiiehara Kijūrō (Tokyo, 1955).

35 The term “positive policy” seems to have been employed primarily for political purposes by the Seiyukai Party. See Tanaka Giichi, II, 640–665. The diplomatic despatches from Tokyo to Washington show that the American embassy staff failed to discern anything “positive” in Tanaka's China policy throughout 1927. The military attache wrote, for example, in September 1927, “Just what is meant by the Tanaka Ministry in the phrase ‘a positive policy toward China,’ is not precisely known. Apparently it can mean nothing more than the construction of a few well-known feeding lines to the South Manchuria Railway, the practical establishment of the right to lease land in Manchuria …, and the objection to the construction of certain Chinese railways that would parallel the South Manuchuria Railway.” (Burnett to the Military Intelligence Division, the War Department, September 15, 1927, NA 894.00/261).

36 Hirano, pp. 70–74.

37 Usui's article above. Hirano, pp. 72–100. Paul A. Dull, “The Assassination of Chang Tso-lin,” Far Eastern Quarterly, XI (August 1952).

38 Saitō to Hata, June 7, T 861, and July 16, T 845. Tatekawa to Hata, June 13, T 864, and June 25, T 864, and July 6, T 845. The “Eastern Conference” referred, of course, to the meetings of diplomatic and military personnel at the inception of the Tanaka ministry (June-July 1927) to decide on concrete issues of China policy.

39 Hayashi to Tanaka, June 20, PVM 53.

40 Hayashi to Tanaka, July 16, PVM 53.

41 Yoshizawa to Tanaka, July 17, PVM 53.

42 Hata to Saito, July 4, T 845, and July 14, T 845. Shirakawa to Muraoka, June 6, T 844.

43 This phrase was used by Cheng Ch'ien, Chang Hsüeh-liang's chief secretary, as he was interviewed by the president of the Japanese Peking Weekly in early August. Washizawa Yoshiji, “Shina o mokugeki shite” [“Witnessing China”], Peking Weekly (henceforth PW), September 23.

44 Hayashi to Tanaka, July 19, PVM 53.

45 Muraoka to Suzuki, July 21, PVM 53. It is not improbable that the commander-in-chief of the Kwantung Army was somewhat exaggerating Chang's helpless situation, in thus reporting his interview. Muraoka was for setting up the Young General as the ruler of Manchuria, separate from the South, and needed to play down the latter's pro-Southern inclinations, if there were any. In view of the existence of similar records of various interviews, I believe that this document correctly conveys Chang Hsüeh-liang's sentiments.

46 Hayashi to Tanaka, July 21, PVM 53. Asahi, July 21.

47 Asahi, July 24, July 26, July 28, and August 3.

48 Hayashi to Tanaka, August 9, PVM 53.

49 Hayashi to Tanaka, August 10 and 11, PVM 53. The Japanese political conditions may have provided an added incentive for this decision. The opposition Minseito party, momentarily stiffened its attitude toward the Nationalists when one of its leading members, Tokonami, dissatisfied with its peaceful policy toward China, left the party on August 1. Tanaka Giichi, II, 964.

50 KWCP, August 5. Some observers believed that Japan's warning was a godsend to Chang who could use it as a pretext for delaying action. KWCP, August 5.

51 Hayashi to Tanaka, July 23, PVM 53.

52 Hayashi to Tanaka, August 9, PVM 53.

53 This pressure of Yang and the pro-South faction was believed to have provoked a strong anti-Yang sentiment in Mukden toward the end of August, and also to resistance to a hasty union. PW, September 2

54 Remer, C. F., A Study of Chinese Boycotts (Baltimore, 1933), Ch. xi.

55 Toynbee, p. 381, footnote 2. The American counsul-general at Mukden believed that the real desire behind Japanese intervention “obviously is creation of an autonomous state under Japanese influence.” (MacMurray to Kellogg, July 31, NA 793.94 Manchuria/21).

56 Asahi, July 22, 23, 25, etc.

57 Tanaka Giichi, II, 1027–1030.

58 One expression of Tanaka's effort to avoid diplomatic isolation was the sending of Uchida Yasuya to Europe and the United States in late August and September. While Uchida's ostensible mission was the signing of the Paris Peace Pact, he was instructed to talk with the various governments to explain Japan's position vis-à-vis Manchuria and Nationalist China. The instruction is printed in Nihon gaikō nempyō narabi shuyō bunsho [Chronology and Main Documents of Japanese Diplomacy] (Tokyo, 1955), II, 117–119.

59 Okamoto to Tanaka, August 15, PVM 53.

60 Asahi, October 13. MacVeagh to Kellogg, October 20, NA 793.94 Manchuria/41. In the middle of October, Tanaka was apprised that Chiang Kai-shek was willing to negotiate the solution of Manuchurian problems with Japan. The premier immediately despatched the chief of the Asia Bureau of die Foreign Office. Although this mission was a failure, it indicated Tanaka's willingness to approach the Nationalists. Hachirō, Arita, Bakahachi to hito wa yū [People Call Me Foolish Hachi] (Tokyo, 1959), pp. 4749.

61 Tanaka to Hayashi, September 24, PVM 23.

62 Myers to Kellogg, October 6, NA 893.00 PR Mukden/15, and November 9, NA 893.00 PR Mukden/17.

63 Myers to Kellogg, December 24, NA 893.00 PR Mukden/19. Shina kindai no seiji keizai [Political and Economic Conditions in Recent China], ed. Kyōkai, Nikka Jitsugyō [the Business Association of China and Japan] (Tokyo, 1931), p. 580.

64 It is noticeable that the Wang Ching-wei and the Kwangsi factions were excluded from the State Council.

65 South Manchuria Railway President's Office to the Tokyo Office, October 18, PVM 52.

66 Regarding the peace negotiations during this period, see Hayashi to Tanaka, December 8, PVM 52; Okamoto to Tanaka, December 19, PVM 52; Myers to Kellogg, January 7, 1929, NA 793.94 Manchuria/48; Asahi, December.17; and KWCP, October 17 and, November 18.

67 Hayashi to Tanaka, December 31, PVM 53.

68 Tanaka to Hayashi, December 30, PVM 53.

69 Neville to Kellogg, January 12, 1929, NA 793.94 Manchuria/49.

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