Second Sino-Japanese War

Event
Wednesday, 7 July, 1937 - Sunday, 9 September, 1945

The Second Sino-Japanese War was fought by the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. Since 1915, the Japanese, intent on expanding their empire to secure economic resources and reserves, had fought a series of so-called ‘incidents’ (including the invasion of Manchuria) before total war broke out on 7 July 1937. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 the Second Sino-Japanese war merged with the Second World War and became part of the Pacific War fought by the Allied Powers against the Empire of Japan. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was the head of the Chinese Nationalist Government that led a united front of Nationalists, Communists and regional warlords. The general was also the Allied Commander-in-Chief of the China theatre.

The first major battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War was the Battle of Shanghai when the Chinese attacked the Japanese area of the Shanghai International Settlement where there were some 30,000 Japanese civilians and around 30,000 Japanese military. The settlement was a product of the First Opium War and its concluding treaty. The Treaty of Nanking, 29 August 1842, came into effect the following year when the British established a settlement on the banks of the River Whangpoo. The French and Americans also established settlement areas, respectively to the south and north and eventually established a joint Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC). Although the French eventually dropped out of this arrangement in 1862 to organise their own concession area, the Japanese became increasingly involved in the settlement from the early 1930s and held two seats on the SMC.

On 13 August 1937, the Chinese forces attacked the Japanese Marines in the Japanese area of Shanghai. In late August the Japanese were landing reinforcements and by 9 November the Chinese began to retreat. The outcome of the 1937 Battle of Shanghai was victory for the Japanese who overwhelmed the Chinese forces and then surrounded the International Settlement. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Japanese entered and occupied the British and American settlement areas and interned the civilians.

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