Page No.
Chapter III Second Year of the China Incident (1938)             34

            Japanese Navy Policy for China Incident,             37
            May 1938

            National Policy Toward during and after              38
            October 1938

            Military Operations against China during 1938        39

               The battle for Hsu-Chou                           39

               Hankow Operation (Yangtze Upstream Operation)     40

               Canton Operation                                  41

               Strategic and Political Achievements              42


Second Year of the-China Incident (1938)

10 January:   Japanese naval forces captured Tsingtao.

11 January:   Basic policy for settlement of China Incident formulated  
              at Imperial Conference.

16 January:   Premier Konoye stated that Japan refused to deal with
              the Nationalist Government.

 3 February:  Japanese naval forces captured Chefoo.

11 February- 
11 March:     Yellow River (Huang Ho) Operation.

25 February:  Japanese Navy bombed Nanchang.

 8 March:     Hsiang-Yang bombed.

13 March:     German-Austrian Anschluss.  

28 March:     New Government established in Nanking.

 1 April:     National-General Mobilization Law promulgated to be  
              effective 5 May.

10 April:     Kuei-Ten bombed.

29 April:     Hankow bombed.

13 May:       Japanese Navy occupied Amoy.

19 May:       Japanese Army occupied Hsu-Chou.  

              Hsu-Chou Operations

              19 March:      Han-Chuang occupied.

               3 April:      Tai-erh-Chuang occupied.

              20 April:      I-Chou occupied.

               9 May:        Meng-Cheng occupied.

              14 May:        Lung-Hai Railroad severed.

              18 May:        General offensive of Hsuchou Operations

              24 May:        Lan-Peng occupied.

              28 May:        Kuei-Ten occupied.

               2 June:       Kai-Feng occupied.


 9 June:      Japanese forces began moving up Yangtze 
              River in order to capture Wu-Cheng and 

11 June:      Chinese forces cut down Yellow River 
              embankments and flooded the plains.

13 June:      Anching occupied.

23 June:      Japanese naval forces captured Nan-Ao Island.

26 & 27 June: Nan-Chang bombed.

 4 July:      Hu-Kou captured. Wan-Chang bombed.

 5 July:      Japan-Manchukuo-Italy Trade Agreement signed.

12 July:      Japanese and Soviet troops clash at Chang-Ku-Feng.

              31 July:       Above incident settled.

              10 August:     Truce agreement concluded between Japanese
                             and Soviet forces.

26 July:      Chiu-Chiang captured.

 3 August:    Hankow bombed.

13 August:    Ting-Chou bombed.

17 August:    Pu-Chou occupied.

18 August:    Heng-Yang and Pao-Ching bombed.

24 August:    Jui-Chang occupied.

31 August:    Namyung bombed.

 3 September: Ma-Hui-Ling captured.

 6 September: Kuang-Chi occupied.

17 September: Wu-Hsueh-Chen captured.

28 September: Kunming bombed. Munich Agreement concluded in Europe.

29 September: Tiew-Chia-Chen captured.

 1 October:   German forces entered Sudetenland.

12 October:   Japanese forces launched operations to capture Canton,
              landing on the shores of Bias Bay.

18 October:   Hui-Chou occupied (Canton Operations); Yang-Hsin
              occupied (Hankow Operations).

20 October:   Ta-Yeh occupied (Hankow Operations).


21 October:   Japanese forces occupied Canton.

25 October:   Japanese forces started operations going upstream on
              Chu River.

              23 October:    Hu-men Fortress occupied.

              24 October:    Tsung-Hua occupied.

              25 October:    San-Shui occupied.

25 October:   Japanese Army forces entered Hankow.

26 October:   Wuchang occupied.

27 October:   Han-Yang occupied.

              27 October:    Te-An occupied.

              30 October:    Hsiao-Kan occupied.

              31 October:    Han-Chuan occupied.

              18 November:   Yo-Chou occupied.

 2 November:  Japan issued notice of withdrawal from League of Nations. 

 3 November:  Prime Minister Konoye announced, "If the Chinese 
              Government reforms and improves itself, Japan will
              not turn down its participation in the construction
              of a new order in East Asia."

22 November:  Three-point principle for construction of a new order
              in East Asia announced.

16 December:  Japan established Asia Development Board.

20 December:  Wang Ching-wei escaped from Chungking.

29 December:  Wang Ching-wei issued peace proposal.

Japanese Basic Policy on China Incident was formulated at the Imperial Conference on 11 January 1938 (See Appendix 1)

The ultimate purpose of this policy was for Japan, in cooperation with China and Manchukuo, to form an axis for peace in the Orient. To this end, the policy provided for peace terms to be offered if Chiang Kai-shek's government were to sue for peace. Otherwise, the basic policy stipulated that Japan would seek to destroy the Chiang regime


and, at the same time, help to establish a new central Chinese government with which Japan intended to enter into friendly relations.

The war situation immediately after the decision on the above-mentioned basic policy progressed very favorably for Japan. In addition, Chiang Kai-shek's regime, which had moved to the hinterland, was on the decline, while the program for establishing a new government in harking was progressing steadily. This was the background when the 16 January statement was made, "We refuse to deal with the Nationalist Government."

Japanese Navy Policy for China Incident, May 1938

The China Incident was being handled in accordance with the basic policy adopted on 11 January and subsequent decisions made at occasional meetings of the Five Ministers' Conference. However, there were indications that the Army was concentrating the right of command,, both military and political, in the hands of the supreme commanders in the field. There were indications also that the Army was attempting to rule North China as a sort of second Manchukuo. The Navy feared that this administrative dominance by the Army, especially by commanders in the field, might spread even to the Shantung area as well as to Central and South China. It was felt that this might cause policies to be followed which would deviate from the original policies established by the Central Authorities. Consequently, the Navy established its own policy toward China on 25 April, known as the "Policy of the Navy for the China Incident."

The gist of this policy was as follows:

1. General Policy:
The Navy will adhere strictly to the basic policy formulated by the Imperial Japanese Government for dealing with the China Incident. The entire Navy will unite in steering a moderate course and in taking timely and proper measures.

2. Political Policy:
The North China provisional Government will be made the structural foundation of a central government of China. Efforts will be made to win leading figures in China to the Central China


Provisional Government and foster its development into a powerful regime. Establishment of the special municipality of Tsingtao will be effected.

3. Economic Policies:
Economic Policies will be centered on full utilization of the two national companies: the North China Development Company and Central China Development Company (Relatively moderate policies were also adopted on such matters as land transportation, harbor facilities, communications, marine products, aviation, marine transportation and finance.)

4. Policy for guiding various organs dealing with China.
The Navy is opposed to the apparent attempt of the Army authorities in North China to force such organs to come under the exclusive guidance of the army commanders in the field. The guidance of the national policy companies in North and Central China should be left solely in the hands of the Central Authorities. The Navy is also opposed to the direction of Central China affairs by Army authorities in North China. In the event that a political agreement is made with China, the signing of such an instrument by either the Army or Navy Supreme Commander should be avoided. As a rule, some civil or foreign. affairs officer should do this.

A Five Ministers' Conference was held from 24 June to 19 July 1938 and the following matters were decided upon: (See Appendix 12)

Policy to be followed for the settlement of the China Incident, decided on 24 June.

Measures to be taken in the event that the existing Central Government of China capitulated, decided on 8 July.

Measures to be taken in the event that the existing Central Government of China did not surrender, decided on 8 July,

Fifth column activities in China to cope with the situation, decided on 8 July.

The foregoing were basic political and military policies adopted to prosecute the war against China. Militarily, their ultimate purpose lay in smashing the Chiang Kai-shek regime and terminating the war in the course of the year by capturing Hankow. It was assumed at the time that this would bring military operations to a close. Politically, these policies aimed at fostering the development of a new central government.

National Policy Toward China during and after October 1938

In the main, Japan's policies toward China adhered to the lines


formulated in January and June. However, there were some differences between the military and the civil officials. To eliminate those differences, the policies were reexamined and reformed at a Cabinet meeting on 21 October, and the results were circulated among all officials of government agencies. The gist of these decisions was as follows:

Japan and China would eliminate all standing differences, reestablish friendly relations from a broad point of view and be brought into perfect harmony on the basis of mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity. To this ultimate end, necessary steps would first be taken to insure against recurrence of any incident between the two nations.

Japan would foster the establishment of a new regime in China and cooperate with it in the reformation of China. The reformed China would root out anti-Japanese and pro-Communist ideas, rid itself of the tendency to rely upon Europe and America and display true friendliness toward Japan and Manchukuo. Around the axis of cooperation thus created between Japan, Manchukuo, and China, Japan would further organize a union of Asiatic nations for the establishment of lasting peace in Asia. To this end, Japan would first encourage the Chinese masses to turn from their anti-Japanese and pro-Communist attitude to a pro-Japanese and anti-Communist one. Then Japan would seek to strengthen China's ties with Japan and Manchukuo in areas where solidarity was necessary and establish a firm joint national defense zone encompassing Japan and China in a specific area. At the same time, Japan would secure a base for economic expansion in China.

As may be seen from the above, the idea behind Japan's policy toward settlement of the China Incident at this juncture had as its goal the formation of a Japan, Manchukuo and China bloc as a step towards the creation of a union of nations in East Asia.

Military Operations against China during 1938

The battle for Hsu-Chou

Early in April the Chinese Army reported that it had crushed Japanese forces at Tai-Erh-Chuang. At the same time, it concentrated as many as several hundred thousand troops in the southern part of Shantung Province in an attempt to destroy the Japanese forces there. The Japanese forces, commanded by General Hisaichi Terauchi in North China and by General Shunroku Hata in Central China advanced


and encircled the Chinese forces in the vicinity of Hsu-Chou. With the fall of this city on 19 May the operations ended successfully in a large scale annihilation of Chinese troops. Chinese forces, in this operation, intended to destroy piecemeal the Japanese forces split in North and Central China before the two could unite. To accomplish this the Chinese had at their disposal about 39 divisions under the command of Li Tsung-Jen as well as the advantage of the Hsu-Chou defense line, the so-called Chiang Kai-shek line occupying the-central North China plains. Contrary to expectation the Chinese forces were enveloped and annihilated by the Japanese forces.

This operation not only caused the enemy to suffer tremendous losses but also won for the Japanese the great advantage of opening a connecting line between North and Central China by securing control of the Lung-hai railway and extending the Tientsin-Pukou railway leading to Nanking.

Hankow Operation (Yangtze Upstream Operation)

Following the old saying that "The one who controls the Wuchang- Hankow area controls China," Japanese forces conducted these operations with a view to achieving the over-all political objective of bringing Chiang's regime to its knees by gaining control of the Yangtze River and capturing Hankow.

Having finished operational preparations, Japanese forces stationed in the sector north of the river started from Shu-Cheng on 9 June and advanced southward, capturing strategic points one after another. Troops in Central China, in cooperation with the Navy, advanced along the Yangtze River occupying Anching, Hu-Kou and Chiu-Chiang in succession, and finally occupied Jui-Chang on 24 August. Meanwhile another unit landed on the west shore of Lake Po-Yang and captured Hsing-Tsu on 21 August. China had about 20 divisions, totaling 100,000 troops, commanded by Pai Chung-hsi, in the area north of the Yangtze River, about 40 divisions totaling 200,000, commanded by Chen Cheng, in


the area south of the river and about 10 divisions of reserves in the Wuchang-Hankow area. Thereafter these forces were gradually reinforced and it was believed that by mid-October the Chinese had a total strength of approximately 70O,000 on both sides of the Yangtze.

In all areas fairly heavy battles were continuously fought, and, about 17 October, the Chinese forces began to retreat. The vanguard of the Japanese forces advancing along the northern banks of the river broke into Hankow on 25 October.

Throughout the period of these operations, the Yangtze River units and air units under the command of the Third Fleet executed vigorous attacks. They supported army forces by destroying the Chinese air forces and gaining aerial supremacy, destroying Chinese naval forces on the Yangtze River, opening waterways in various points.

Canton Operation

The Canton Operation was originally planned as an effective means of attacking Chiang Kai-shek's forces on both flanks and overthrowing them by serving the main supply route. Since the operation was executed at about the same time as the Yangtze Upstream Operation (the operation for the occupation of the three Wuhan cities), Chinese forces were diverted by the two operations and rendered incapable of concentrating upon either front. For this reason, Chinese forces were under-strength in the Canton area. Through execution of a lightning action, rapid progress was made in the Canton Operation by the Japanese forces.

The Chinese forces in this area, which at that time consisted of some six divisions of the Fourth Route Army, were under the command of Yu Hanmou. In the Bias Bay area, east of Hongkong, where the Japanese forces executed a surprise landing, there was only one Chinese division. Three Japanese divisions under the command of


Lt. General Furusho of the 21st Army, supported by the South China Navy Force (Fifth Fleet) of the China Area Fleet and Formosa-based as well as carrier-based Navy air units, carried out the surprise landing at Bias Bay at dawn on 12 October without encountering any sizeable resistance. Thereafter, Japanese forces continued their rapid advance, and by 21 October had captured Canton. On 23 October they reduced the strategic fortress of Humen on the Chu River, and on 25 October captured Samshui, another key point to the west of Canton. They then carried out mopping-up operations throughout the area with good results.

This operation, as had the capture of Hankow, dealt a tremendous blow to the Chiang Kai-shek regime, but failed to achieve its surrender. Moreover, although the operation severed British and French supply routes to Chiang by isolating Hongkong and Macao, it also helped to increase British and French anti-Japanese feeling to a considerable degree. As a result, the aid-to-Chiang routes gradually shifted toward French Indo-China and Burma, rendering it necessary for Japanese forces to extend their operations westwards.

Strategic and political achievements

The first line of our front in the north at the end of 1938 began at a point west of An-Pei, Sui-Yuan Province, extended southward roughly along the Yellow River, and turned to the east at Tung-Kuan. From Kai-Feng the line extended southward along the Peiping-Hankow railway line, reaching Yo-Chou on the Yangtze River, There it turned eastward, passing through Yung-Hsiu on the Nanchang-Kiukiang railway line and reaching Hangchow. In South China, a line forming an arc centered on Canton was secured. The line started at Ta-Chiao-Tou Island in the south, extended westward to Samshui, passed north of Hua-Hsien and Tsung-Hua, made a loop north of Ping-Ling-Hsu and reached Ping-Hai Peninsula.

At sea, almost the entire coast from Leichou Peninsula to North


China was placed under blockade, while on land an estimated 2,000,000 man loss was inflicted upon Chinese forces through the three large-scale battles and mopping-up operations. Chinese aircraft destroyed by the Japanese Navy amounted to some 1,500 planes while practically the entire Chinese Navy was either destroyed or captured. Thus the command of the sea as well as the air was secured by Japanese forces.

As for the political achievements, the attempt to overthrow the Chiang Kai-shek regime failed, However, Wang Ching-wei, another leading Chinese political figure, left the anti-Japanese camp at the end of the year and advocated cooperation between Japan and China. Thus, prospects for development of the nascent government at Nanking appeared bright.


Page maintained by Larry W. Jewell, Created: 1/3/98 Updated: 1/3/98