How it all began ...

by Norman Cliff:

The incident at Marco Polo Bridge, Beijing, in July 1937 led to the Sino-Japanese War, which was to last eight years.

By 1945 ten million Chinese had been killed and forty million rendered homeless.

The Japanese armies pushed from Beijing southwards. They entered Shandong province in October, 1937. On 3 February, 1938, they occupied Chefoo. Soon the coastal strip of China was in Japanese hands, and for four years the British and American communities were neutral in the bitter war.

But the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on 8 December, 1941, ended that neutrality. The Allied community were now considered enemy subjects. In June, 1942, some Americans were repatriated to the United States on the Gripsholm, and in August there was a British repatriation. Thousands in both communities were left behind to face the prospects of being prisoners "for the duration".

Within a year of "Pearl Harbor" all "enemy subjects" were put into internment camps throughout Japanese occupied China. In March 1943 groups of Allied personnel from Tianjin, Beijing, Qingdao and other parts of north China converged on Weihsien, leaving a large group in a camp at Temple Hill, Chefoo, who had gone into internment in November 1942.


The Marco Polo Bridge incident and how it all went worse.


Worldwide Deaths in World War II




All the Japanese may not always look like this, but exaggeration is at all times a weapon in the caricaturist's hands. Covarrubias, knows the Japanese, and thus sees the face of the enemy as he turns — the toothy soldier, capitalist, and commercial man, the tightlipped officers, the fanatical priest, the doll-like geisha, the submissive peasant and his wife who breed the soldiers who fill up the army that really runs Japan and the God Emperor.


A profound miscalculation is responsible for the critical situation in which we American people find ourselves. The two-ocean war has become a reality three or four years ahead of the two-ocean navy, and in a way shattering to our preconceptions. The enemy to the east, Germany, has never presented much mystery; we had come to know a great deal about German leaders, politics, resources, and institutions. And yet while we felt subconsciously that we would almost certainly collide again with the German people, we refused to the end to accept that war was inevitable.

With respect to the Japanese, nearly half again as far removed from our shores, all this was reversed. Americans as a whole troubled to learn little about them, and that little was a stilted and almost implausible fairy tale. Nevertheless, the American public — and to a certain extent, the navy — for years have considered the Jap one potential enemy who could have a fight any time he was insane enough to ask for it.

Since the acquisition of the Philippines, four decades ago, the Pacific has gradually come to be regarded as the American ocean. The bulk of the fleet was transferred there in 1919 and twelve years later, when the Japanese moved into Manchuria, the balance, except for minor units, was concentrated in that ocean. Clear to the precipice of bloody disillusionment, the public thought the Japanese could be wiped off the sea with a few lightning blows. ... We know him better now.

The Honorable Enemy has shown himself to be much more complicated than our casual impressions had painted him ? a bowing, smirking, bespectacled, bandy-legged little man who leaves his shoes on the porch and wears his hat in the temple; who has a passion for arranging flowers and constructing thirty-one syllable poems; who never invented anything important of his own, but copied everything he saw, complete with leaky fuel lines and broken glass; who couldn't shoot or fly straight and whose flashy warships were all top-heavy, underarmored, and undergunned. And now that the "inevitable" Pacific war has finally come, it is altogether different from the one we expected. Years ago. when Mr. Hearst screamed against the Yellow Peril, the evil vision was of the Yellow Tide of all Asia sweeping over the Western world. Instead, the lines run every which way. Yellow men are fighting with us against millions of other yellow men; other white men are ranged with yellow men against us.

From a war of nations, the war has become one of hemispheres, civilizations and religions. We must be prepared to fight everywhere and anywhere — on the lofty and dangerous terrain of philosophy and ethics, no less than on the conventional battlegrounds of classic.