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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 5 - 11  > Looking back on Marco Polo Bridge Incident 80 years ago, Japan should resolve to not repeat the horrors of war
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2017 July 5 - 11 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Looking back on Marco Polo Bridge Incident 80 years ago, Japan should resolve to not repeat the horrors of war

July 7, 2017

Akahata editorial

This year’s July 7 marks 80 years since the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident which triggered Imperial Japan’s full-scale war of invasion against China.

The incident followed the 1931 Manchuria Incident in which the Imperial Japanese military invaded China’s northeast region, Manchuria. On this day in1937, Japanese troops opened fire on Chinese soldiers near the Marco Polo Bridge in suburban Beijing to create the incident, leading to the escalation of Japan’s war of aggression across China. In addition, Japan in 1941 started the Pacific War and continued fighting until defeated in 1945. The current Constitution, which was adopted after the war, states that the Japanese people shall never again “be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government”. What is important is that wars of invasion must not be allowed.

Marco Polo Bridge Incident triggered full-scale invasion

After the 1931 Manchuria Incident, the Japanese military expanded the deployment of its troops to the northeast region and North China region. Under this situation, on July 7, 1937, Japanese soldiers carried out nighttime military drills near a Chinese military camp in Beijing. During the drill, the Japanese military started attacking Chinese soldiers on the pretext that Japanese troops had been attacked and one of the soldiers was missing. The Japanese troops in question belonged to one of the garrisons that were stationed in Beijing and Tianjin after the 1900 Boxer Uprising. Although ceasefire talks were held there, the Japanese Army leadership in Tokyo decided to smash China and sent a large number of reinforcement troops from mainland Japan and the Korean Peninsula to supplement the Japanese military unit that caused the Manchuria Incident. The lines of battle were extended.

In the first place, the garrison was stationed in Beijing just to defend the Japanese consulate. Their military buildup and nighttime military drills were undue provocations. As more Japanese troops were deployed to Beijing, the garrison was merged with the invasion force to increase territory under Japanese control and meet national interests.

After the Macro Polo Bridge Incident, the invasion by the Imperial Japanese Army extended not only to major city areas such as Shanghai and Nanjing but also deep into the inland areas of China. The Japanese military committed internationally-known atrocities such as the Nanjing Massacre (December 1937) which indiscriminately killed an enormous number of Chinese soldiers and civilians in Nanjing City and the carpet bombing of Chongqing City (1938). Japan’s acts of aggression caused extreme damage to the land and the people of China. The Japanese military employed the so-called “three together strategy” by which the Japanese military “killed all, burned all, and looted all” in China, carted off a large number of Chinese workers against their will as forced laborers, and forced women to work as “comfort women” for the Japanese military during the war. The atrocious acts that the Imperial Japanese military committed are still being called into question.

Four years after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Japan launched the Asia-Pacific War with the aim of securing resources in the Asia-Pacific region and continuing the unjust war in China in defiance of international criticism. It is said that the war victims who died in the 15-year-long war total more than 20 million in Asia, including more than 3.1 million Japanese. What must be learned from this past experience is to look squarely at the mistakes of history and to not repeat the tragedy of war.

Japan must not again become a war fighting country

Those who justify and glorify Japan’s past war of aggression, including Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, do not recognize Japan’s war of aggression and colonial rule as mistakes and try to turn Japan into a country that fights wars abroad along with the United States. Since PM Abe returned to power four and a half years ago, he furthered his dangerous mission to create a “war fighting country” in various ways, such as the enactment of the secret protection law, the national security laws (the so-called war laws), and the anti-conspiracy law that was just established in the latest Diet session.

Eighty years after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, now is the time for us to make a fresh resolve that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government, and to make an all-out effort to block the pacifist Constitution from being revised.
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