Second Shanghai Incident - China Incident (1937-1941)


Chinese Army started firing at the positions of Japanese Army in Shanghai without declaration on August 13rd, 1937. The next day, three Chinese light bombers attacked Japanese cruisers and battle ships. In response to the continuous attacks from Chinese Army, the government of Japan finally abandoned its Non-Expansion Policy on August 17th, 1937. The battle in Shanghai continued for three months.


Shanghai was originally colonized by British in 1842 as the result of the First Opium War, and the International Settlement was established in 1863.

In 1937, Shanghai was divided into three administrative zones: French Concession, Shanghai International Settlement, and Shanghai Special Municipality. Foreign countries such as USA, British, French, Japan, and Italy deployed their army to protect their civilians.

Japan still kept the policy to avoid the expansion of battles (Non-Expansion Policy) after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, even though China continuously provoked Japan. Kanji ISHIHARA, the Director of Military Operations at the Army General Staff, was the person to insist the Non-Expansion Policy. Public opinion in Japan leaned to the war against China because of Chinese provocations such as Tungchow Mutiny.

In the morning on August 13rd, 1937, Chinese Army suddenly started firing at positions of Japanese Army in Shanghai without notification. Japanese Army fought back against the attack. Chinese Army dropped bombs to Japanese cruisers and battleship by three light bombers on August 14th, which killed thousands of civilians.

Japan concluded that China had a strong intention to start the war. The opinion to avoid the expansion of battles became minor in the Army General Staff. The cabinet of the Japanese Government abandoned the Non-Expansion Policy on August 17th to mobilize the Japanese military.

The battle of Shanghai continued for three month. During the battle, Kanji Ishihara, who insisted to keep Non-Expansion Policy, was resigned from his position on September 27th. Although some officers in Japanese Army opposed to expand the battle, Japan entered the full scale war. Chinese Army withdrew from Shanghai on November 9th. The Imperial General Headquarters ordered the capture of Nanking on December 1st, 1937.

Why this fact affects the rightward trend?

After the World War II, new words were created to explain the historic events before 1945. Fifteen Years War is one of such new terms, which indicates the Manchurian Incident (1931) and the 2nd Shino-Japanese War (1937-1945). By using this term, the left wing can emphasize that the responsibility of the war rests with Japan, because Manchurian Incident was caused by Japanese Army. In addition, the term implies that Japan had an intension to colonize the entire territory of China from the beginning. This was successful because many Japanese think that Japan began the war to invade the land.

The fact that the 2nd Shino-Japanese War was caused by the attack from Chinese Army to Japanese Army gives the opposite view of the war. Japan mobilized the military to protect civilians in Shanghai in the beginning.