Second Sino-Japanese war: The Japanese Homefront

Figure 1.--The Japanese people were not told the truth about the so called 'China Incident', what they called their invasion of China. There was widespread support for the invasion in Japan. Here school children help prepre packages for the troops. The caption of this press photo read, "War Fever Grips Japan: Japan's teeming million are now firmly in the grip of war fever. A stream of money is pouring into the War Office in Tokyo as aresult of street collections conducted by school children. and every conceivable prganization. Schoolgirls on vacation are returning to school voluntarily to fashion gifts for the Japanese soldiers fighting in China. This photo shows girls of the 8th Prefectural High school in Tokyo making 2,000 comfort bags for the soldietrs." The photo was taken September 6. 1937.

We have been able to find little information on the Japanee homefront and rhe attitudes of the Japanese public toward the War. The invasion of Manchuria and subsequent invasion of China proper was done primatrily for economic reasons to guarantee markets and access to needed natural resources. Assessing public opinion is virtually impossible. Japan by 1937 was a police state with a controlled media. Officials who spoke out against the Government were subject to extral-judicial attacks. The military had been practicing assainations simnce the 1920s. And individuals who might speak out were subject to arrest by the Kempeitai (憲兵隊), secret police. Given those conditiins, obviously gaging public opinion was impossible.And after the War, many denied that the had favored agression. To an extent this is similar to what occurred in Germany. Although there were differences. Many Germans did not want war, the losses had been too great. At the same time, they wanted lost territories returned. After the NAZIs seized control, many Germans especially older Germans still had an horror of war, although it was no longer safe speak openly about it. The Japanese did not have the same horrifying experience in World War I with millions of men killed. The Japanese even more than the Germans were culturally hard wired to support their government, a tendency strengthened by the military regime's propaganda. And here the Goverment provide a fantasy that few Japanese would have questioned even if they could have. The Japanese were told that their troops were going into China to protect Japanese civilians from Chinese attack. Never explaimed was what the Japnese civilians were doing in China. They were also not told about the horrifying actions of the Japanese military like the Rape of Nanking. Nor were they told that their air force was bombing civilians, something modern Japanese authors commonly forget when discussing the American strategic bombing offensive. The military though that control of China could be achieved quickly (as was the case in Manchuria) and solve Japan's economic problems. Instead the enormous cost of a full-scale war only created more problems. And the military found themselves despite victories in the field unable to complete the conuest of China. The China embroligo was already having serious repersussions in the economy when Japan launched the Pacific War. Even so, there is no indication that the public had begun to question the war in China.


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Created: 12:36 AM 3/17/2014
Last updated: 12:36 AM 3/17/2014