** World War II : Japanese war crimes and attrocities occupied civilians








World War II: Japanese War Crimes and Attrocities--Civilians in Occupied Territories

The vast majority of the terrible crimes the Japanese military committed against civiians were the awful atrocities perpetrated in China. This animus against tge Chinese began with the First Sino-Japamese War (1894-95) and was on display during the Boxer Rebellion. The Japanese military behaved relatively correctly during the Russo-Jaoanese War (1905-06) and World War I (1914-18). Civilians were not a major factor in either War. This change after World War I when Japan made clear its intentions to seize large sections of China. The result was growing anti-Japanese feeling among the Chinese. The firsr major Japanese move was to seize Manchurai (1931). This resulted in anti-Japanwse demonstrations throughout China, most prominently in Shangahi. The Japanese reacted britally. Then Japan launched the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937) by invading China proper. This began vurtually genocidal attacks on the Chinese peoole. The best known Jpanese attricutt is the Rape of Nanking (1937). But this was only one of countless Japanese mass rapes and massacres of Chinese civilians throughout the War. Japanese treatment of civilians in Southeast Asia after launching the Pacific War was less extensive than in China. This was because the populations were smaller and the territories they conquered were colonial possessions and some of the nationlist leaders saw the Japanese as a way of achieving independence. Only the Vietnanese Japanese occupation as in China meant massive deaths, but was primarily due to famines caused by econonic mismagaement and forced seizure of food,. The Chinese minorities throuhout Southeast Asia became targets. Oceania except for Indonesia and the Philippines was different. The small Pacific Islands were different. Thet had very small and primitive populations. Natives in New Guinea simply withdrew into the jungle. This was not possible on small islands. One group mistreated by the Japanese were the Chamoros, especially on Guam because they were seen as pro-American. The same occurred in the Philippines.

Massacres of Chinese Civilians

Killing of Chinese civilians was routine. Often they occurred after taking a city or as reprisals for gureilla activity. Japanese soldiers as a reward for taking a cHinese town were normally given 3 days to do as they please, including rape and pillage. The most notorious incident was the Rape of Nanking (1937-38). Another major incident was wide-scale killings after the Doolittle Raid (1942). There is a long list of other terrible incidents. The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and Chinese war historians estimate that the Japanese killed outright or were indirectly responsible for 10-30 million deaths in China--mostly innocent civilians. Some even belive the total was higher. These deaths resulted from massacre by the Jpanese army, bombing of civilian populations, mistreatment of slave labor, starvation and germ and chemical warfare. The single most horendous incident was the Rape of Nanking where close to 0.3 million Chinese were killed. [Chang] Many other Chinese cities suffered greviously.

Southeast Asian Civilians

Japanese treatment of civilians in Southeast Asia after launching the Pacific War was less extensive than in China. This was because the populations were smaller and the territories they conquered were colonial possessions and some of the nationlist leaders saw the Japanese as a way of achieving independence. Burnese nationalists and Malay Muslims were willing to cooperate with the Japanese who offered independence as part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Thailand joined the Axis. Inndian nationalists (Congress) decided to press for independence. When the British refused to grant immediate indeoendence, Congress pursued a non-cooperation Quit India effort. This was a factor in the terrible Bengal Famine. Only the Viet-Minh in Vietnam (French Indo-China) reisted. Of course the Japanese had no intention of granting independence in more than name, but in made for good propaganda. Once in place these people gradually began to realize that the Japanese were intent in colonial rule and were intent on ruling with unprecendented britality without any vestage of law. Civilians were rounded up for forcedlanot like POWS. A combination of mismamagement and brutality would result in a terrible famine in North Vietnamm at a time when warehouses were fill of rice and other foods stuffs. As in China, the occupation as in China meant massive deaths, but was primarily due to famines caused by econonic mismagaement and forced seizure of food. Southeasr Asian was the beadbasket of Asia. Only an unpres=cendated level of incompetence and explotationncouls gabe caused famine. The Chinese minorities throuhout Southeast Asia became targets. Japanese anti-Chinese actiins were especially brutal in Singapore--the Sook Ching Purges.


Figure 1.-- The Amerivans mounted major amphibious operations to seize the Marianas atbthe same time as D-Day in Europe (June 1944). The Japanese had heavily garisoned the islands, relaizing that they would bring the Home Oslands within range of American bombers. The decisive defeat of Japanese air and naval forces in the Battle of the Philippines Sea doomed the unsupported Japanese garrisons. The native people of the Marianas were the Chommoros. The Japanese dseported mot on Saipan, but many ewnained in Guam which had been an American island. The Chomoros were peaceful, but remained loyal to the Americans which infuriated the Japanese. Retreating Japanese soldiers sought vengeance on the peaceful natives with all too typical brutal actions. Herev are two Chamarro viys being treated by a native nurse after being bayoneted and left for dead in a bomb crater by the Japanese.

Oceanaia Civilians

Oceania except for Indonesia (Dutch East Indies--DEI) and the Philippines was different than Southeast Asia. Actulaly the DEI is often condidered oaty of Southeast Asia. DEI Nationalists vooperated with the Japanese seeing path to independence. Of course indeoendenve did not come. Whay did come was a terrible famine, resulting from a combination og Jpanese mismanagemen and food seizures. Indpnesian nationalists like Sukarno made out alright, bit millions of Indonesians starved. The Uninted States was in the process of granting indeppendence to the Philippones. Thus Filipoino natiinlists were mistly loyal, although there werecsime prominent vollanirators. Japanese misamangement cauysed food sgirtages abd infkatiin. Thus the Japanese resprted yo forced seizures which only caused farmers to limit planting futher trducing th food supply. The small Pacific Islands were different. Thet had very small and primitive populations. Natives in New Guinea simply withdrew into the jungle. Japanese policy was not to supply theur military forces, but for them to live off the land. Thus soldiers had to seize labd from farmers and iun the pricesscrape women. So where possiblr natives simply disappeare into the jungle, leaving many Japanese garisons straving, especially after the United States sinmarines destroyed the Japnese Maru fleet. Disappearing into the jungle was, however, not possible on small islands. One group mistreated by the Japnese were the Chamorosm especially on Guam because they were seen as pro-Americam. The same occurred in the Philippines.






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Created: 2:12 AM 5/26/2020
Last updated: 2:12 AM 5/26/2020