Chinese Studies Anti-Japanese War
by
Caroline Rose
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920082-0157

Introduction

The Anti-Japanese War 抗日战争 (kangRi zhanzheng), or the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japan 中国人民抗日战争 (Zhongguo renmin kangRi zhanzheng), dates from July 1937 to 1945 (or in some interpretations the war dates from the so-called Manchurian Incident of 18 September 1931) and was the most bitter and destructive war the region had experienced. Millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed or injured during the Japanese invasion and occupation, and millions more became refugees for the duration of the conflict. The failure to fully reconcile the legacy of the war has led to ongoing tensions and diplomatic wrangles between China and Japan over different interpretations of the past and continues to de-stabilize East Asia. The subject of the Anti-Japanese War has long been the focus of academic attention but has benefited in particular in the last two decades from the opening of archives, declassification of documents, and publication of memoirs, letters, and diaries: this, in turn, has produced a much richer understanding of an increasingly wider spectrum of topics including the role of women, cities at war, visual and popular cultural studies, among others. Despite the depth and breadth of scholarly engagement with the topic, the Anti-Japanese War continues to be a contested and sometimes emotive field of study (particularly in relation to war responsibility and the difficulties surrounding reconciliation), and the field would benefit from further collaborative efforts to address some of these issues.

General Overviews

Given the formidability of the task, there are few studies that cover the many different aspects of the war from the varied perspectives. Instead, there are a number of excellent works devoted to specific foci. Hsiung and Levine 1992, Bu and Rong 2011, Zhang 2015, Zarrow 2005, and Mitter 2013 cover Chinese perspectives; Hata 2011 focuses more on the details of Japanese strategy and policy, while Iriye 1987 and Paine 2012 provide a greater contextual and historical overview of the conflict.

  • Bu Ping (步平) and Rong Weimu (荣维木), eds. Zhonghua minzu kangRi zhanzheng quanshi 中华民族抗日战争全史. Beijing: Zhongguo Qingnian Chubanshe, 2011.

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    An accessible but systematic overview of the war, based on multi-archive and multi-lingual sources, and edited by two of China’s leading historians of the Anti-Japanese War.

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    • Hata Ikuhiko (秦 郁彦). Nitchū sensō shi 日中戦争史. Tokyo: Kawade Shobō Shinsha, 2011.

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      Considered a classic Japanese-language text by one of Japan’s leading historians.

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      • Hsiung, James C., and Steven I. Levine. China’s Bitter Victory: The War with Japan 1937–1945. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992.

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        An accessible and important collection of essays covering not only the military dimensions of the war but also such topics as domestic politics and divisions, the economy, foreign policy, science, art, and literature.

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        • Iriye, Akira. The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific (Origins Of Modern Wars). London: Routledge, 1987.

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          A compact but highly detailed account of Japan’s descent into war. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with Japan’s invasion of China with a focus on diplomatic history.

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          • Mitter, Rana. China’s War with Japan, 1937–1945: The Struggle for Survival. London: Allen Lane, 2013.

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            A major work and essential reading. Covers the path to war from the 1920s, the outbreak of war in 1937, and the ensuing battles and atrocities. Deftly narrates the chaos, suffering, and domestic political complexities of the war, alongside the resistance efforts and eventual defeat of the Japanese with US assistance.

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            • Paine, S. C. M. The Wars for Asia 1911–1949. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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              As the title suggests, this book covers the broad sweep of events from 1911, but two chapters in particular are relevant here. Chapter 6, “The Second Sino-Japanese War,” dates the beginning of the war to 1931, with events of 1937 marking an escalation. Chapter 7, “The Global War: World War II,’’ discusses the expansion of the theater of war and the role of the United States.

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              • Zarrow, Peter. China in War and Revolution, 1895–1949. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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                Focus is on China’s domestic situation with useful background on the run up to conflict in 1937. Chapter 15 deals specifically with the war of resistance and gives a succinct explanation of the internal divisions in China.

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                • Zhang Xianwen (张宪文). KangRi zhanzheng zhengmian zhanchang抗日战争正面战场. Beijing: Shijie tushu chuban, 2015.

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                  English translation of title is “The frontline battlefield of the War of Resistance against Japan.”A classic military history account, originally published in 1987 and reprinted in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. This is an accessible single-volume study of the major engagements of the conflict based on archival materials.

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                  Bibliographies

                  The extensive Chinese, Japanese, and English-language literature on the Sino-Japanese War requires some navigation. Help is provided by Gordon 2006 whose bibliographical essay provides a chronological account of the war, with reference to the main English-language sources, while Duan’s essay (2014) is a useful overview of Japanese publications up to 2012. Phillips 2011a and Phillips 2011b are annotated bibliographies of English- and Chinese-language sources relating to military history, and Drea and Tobe 2011 provides guidance on Japanese sources.

                  • Drea, Edward J., and Tobe Ryōichi. “A Selected Bibliography of Japanese-Language Sources.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark R. Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 583–586. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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                    A succinct list of important Japanese primary and secondary sources focusing mainly on diplomatic and military histories.

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                    • Duan Ruicong. “Japanese Scholarship on the Sino-Japanese War: Principle [sic] Trends and Achievements, 2007–2012.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 10 (March 2014).

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                      Good overview of recent Japanese research on the war, with useful sections outlining joint scholarship and new work on Manchuria, military history, and war responsibility.

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                      • Gordon, David M. “Historiographical Essay: The China-Japan War, 1931–1945.” Journal of Military History 70 (January 2006): 137–182.

                        DOI: 10.1353/jmh.2006.0052Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        A thorough overview of the war based on extensive reading of English-language sources. Particularly useful for understanding the many different interpretations of events both during and since the war.

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                        • Phillips, Steve. “A Selected Bibliography of English-Language Sources.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark R. Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 571–576. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011a.

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                          Lists the key English-language sources covering Chinese, Japanese, and US perspectives of the war.

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                          • Phillips, Steve. “A Selected Bibliography of Chinese-Language Sources.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark R. Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 577–582. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011b.

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                            Excellent overview of the most important collections of Chinese-language archival materials, covering both Communist and Nationalist sources.

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                            Dictionaries and Collections of Source Materials

                            Wells 2009 is useful for a quick introduction to key developments in Japan’s war in Asia and the Pacific, while Wu 2005 focuses on events between 1937 and 1945. Takeuchi 1993 provides a selection of documentary materials relevant to China-Japan relations from the early Meiji period to the post–Cold War era. Of the now-voluminous sources available on the Nanjing Massacre, Brook 2000 is the most accessible and compact English-language source, and Zhang 2007 brings together the key Chinese, Japanese, and Western sources into one three-volume collection. Digital resources and primary materials can be accessed from the Japan Centre for Asian Historical Records, and Harvard University’s Joint Study of the Sino-Japanese War.

                            • Brook, Timothy. Documents on the Rape of Nanking. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.

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                              Collection of primary sources, particularly useful for the reprinting of Hsü Shuhsi’s 1939 Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone and records of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East. Introductory chapter provides an excellent contextual essay.

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                              • Japan Center for Asian Historical Records.

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                                Searchable archive of Japanese- and English-language digital sources from the Meiji period through to the end of the Pacific War, provided by the National Archives of Japan.

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                                • Joint Study of the Sino-Japanese War.

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                                  Archive of materials collected for major collaborative study of the Sino-Japanese War hosted by Harvard University and curated by Steve Phillips. Contains useful bibliographies in Chinese, Japanese, and English, and links to the key archives and institutions in the United States, China, Taiwan, and Japan.

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                                  • Takeuchi Minoru (竹内実). Nitchū kokkō kihon bunkenshū日中国交基本文献集 (上巻・下巻). Tokyo: Sōsōsha, 1993.

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                                    English translation of title: “Basic documents on Japan-China diplomatic relations.” Reproduction of documents, treaties, joint statements and so on, ranging from 1871 to 1992 over two volumes with extremely useful annotations, maps, reproduced newspaper articles, and cartoons. Chapter 8 deals with the Manchurian Incident, and chapter 9 looks at the Sino-Japanese War.

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                                    • Wells, Anne Sharp. The A to Z of World War II: The War Against Japan. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009.

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                                      Entries cover Japan’s war in Asia Pacific region starting with the Manchurian Incident in 1931 and extending to the aftermath of the atomic bombings. Also contains a useful chronology, bibliography, and maps.

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                                      • Wu, Kequan (武克全). Kangri Zhanzheng Dashidian 抗日战争大事典.Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 2005.

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                                        Title translated in English as “Dictionary of the Anti-Japanese War.” Dictionary charting the development of the war from July 1937 through to the Tokyo war crimes trials. Includes entries covering the main battles, atrocities, policies, statements, and so on.

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                                        • Zhang Xianwen (张宪文), ed. Nanjing datusha zhenxiang 南京大屠杀真相 (上中下). Nanjing, China: Jiangsu Renmin Chubanshe, 2007.

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                                          Three-volume collection of sources reproduced from archives, diaries, statistics, letters, and so on, including translations into Chinese of Western and Japanese materials. This is a compact version of the author’s multivolume collection of source materials on the Nanjing Massacre.

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                                          Journals

                                          KangRi zhanzheng yanjiu is the only Chinese-language journal dealing solely with the history of the Anti-Japanese War and is relevant to discussions of interpretations of history and the “history problem” in China-Japan relations. Riben qinhuashi yanjiu covers Japan’s longer history of invading China going back to the first Sino-Japanese War. Junshi lishi covers all aspects of military history, and Riben Xuekan is the leading Chinese-language academic journal on the study of Japan in general, but both regularly cover issues relating to the Anti-Japanese War. In Japan, Kikan sensō sekinin kenkyū tackles the controversial issues on various aspects of the war responsibility debate. The Asia Pacific Journal carries articles relating to the Sino-Japanese war and its aftermath.

                                          • Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

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                                            E-journal that regularly covers issues relating to Japan’s war responsibility, China-Japan relations, and the history problem.

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                                            • Junshi lishi 军事历史.

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                                              Bimonthly journal produced by the Chinese Academy of Military Science. Frequently carries articles on various aspects of the Anti-Japanese War.

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                                              • KangRi zhanzheng yanjiu 抗日战争研究.

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                                                English translation of title: “Journal of studies of China’s resistance war against Japan.” Produced by the Institute of Modern China, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences since 1991, this quarterly covers not just the period of the war itself but also issues relating to the interpretation of history since the end of the war.

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                                                • Kikan Sensō Sekinin Kenkyū 季刊戦争責任研究.

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                                                  Published by the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility (JWRC) since 1993 and essential for maintaining an overview of current research in Japan. Englsih translation of title: “Quarterly journal: The report on Japan’s war responsibility.”

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                                                  • Riben qinhuashi yanjiu日本侵华史研究.

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                                                    Quarterly journal produced by the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall covering the history of Japan’s invasion(s) of China since the first Sino-Japanese War.

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                                                    • Riben Xuekan 日本学刊.

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                                                      English translation of title: “Japanese studies.” Bimonthy journal published by the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences since 1985 (original title Riben Wenti 日本问题 until 1991). The leading journal devoted to all aspects of Japanese studies in the PRC.

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                                                      Outbreak and Development of War

                                                      Explanations of the origins of war dating back to the late 19th century are covered by Peattie 2011, Beasley 1987, and Duus, et al. 1991. Dryburgh 2000 details the internal politics of northeast China during the increasingly unsettled years after the establishment of Manchukuo, and Coble 1991 explains the positions of the Guomindang, regional leaders, and public opinion. Peattie, et al. 2011 offers a comprehensive analysis of the war proper from 1937. Assessments of the role of the Nationalists (Kuomintang [KMT] or Guomindang [GMD]) have altered over time in both Western and Chinese narratives, from rather negative descriptions to more positive accounts of the KMT’s contribution. Eastman 1984 emphasizes the flaws of the Nationalist regime, while van de Ven 2003 considers the Nationalist contribution to the war of resistance in a more positive light based on a shift in Chinese historiography in the 1980s.

                                                      • Beasley, W. G. Japanese Imperialism, 1894–1945. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

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                                                        Deals with the political, economic, and ideological drivers of Japanese imperial expansion. Excellent introductory text for undergraduates.

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                                                        • Coble, Parks M. Facing Japan: Chinese Politics and Japanese Imperialism, 1931–1937. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

                                                          DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt1tg5j88Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Coble places the growing tension between China and Japan in the 1930s within the context of China’s domestic politics, focusing on Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang, the role of regional leaders and groups opposed to Chiang, and the public.

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                                                          • Dryburgh, Marjorie. North China and Japanese Expansion 1933–1937: Regional Power and National Interest. Abingdon, UK: Curzon, 2000.

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                                                            A fascinating study of Song Zheyuan, provisional governor in northern China in the early 1930s. Demonstrates the difficulties he faced in negotiating a position between the Guomindang on the one hand and an encroaching Japanese army on the other.

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                                                            • Duus, Peter, Ramon Myers, and Mark R. Peattie. The Japanese Informal Empire in China, 1895–1937. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

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                                                              Detailed account of the extent to which Japan pursued economic ties with China as its imperial aspirations grew.

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                                                              • Eastman, Lloyd C. Seeds of Destruction: Nationalist China in War and Revolution, 1937–1949. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                Argues that the Nationalist government was doomed to failure due to flawed political structures, a weak army, and an inability to mobilize resources.

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                                                                • Morley, James William. The North China Quagmire: Japan’s Expansion on the Asian Continent 1933–1941. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.

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                                                                  Collection of selected translations from a major Japanese study (Taiheiyō sensō e no michi: kaisen gaikōshi). Three parts deal with northern China, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and the politics of war, including Hata Ikuhuko’s authoritative description of the outbreak of war in 1937.

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                                                                  • Peattie, Mark R. “The Dragon’s Seed: Origins of War.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark R. Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 48–78. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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                                                                    Concise overview of the 1937–1945 conflict tracing its origins back to the 19th century and detailing the internal complexities in both China and Japan as they grappled with changing regional and domestic political environments.

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                                                                    • Peattie, Mark R., Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven. The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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                                                                      The most comprehensive study of the military dimension of the war by a multinational group of scholars. Covers all the major battles and offensives, with a useful chronology and set of maps. Part VI offers some thoughtful essays on historical perspectives of the war.

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                                                                      • van de Ven, Hans J. War and Nationalism in China 1925–1945. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

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                                                                        The chapter “The War of Resistance” (pp. 209–251) focuses on Nationalist resistance up to 1942 and provides an important and detailed re-assessment of the role of Nationalist forces from the Battle of Shanghai to Japan’s southern advance, drawing upon Chiang Kai-shek’s diaries.

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                                                                        Resistance and Collaboration

                                                                        Resistance took numerous forms during the war. Hung 1994 looks at resistance through various cultural media, while Smith 2007 highlights the endeavors of Chinese women writers in Manchukuo. Fu 1993 and Mitter 2005 deal with both resistance and collaboration in their studies of Shanghai and Manchuria, respectively. Chinese historiography largely remains reluctant to grapple with the sensitive topic of collaboration, but other studies have revealed, on the basis of primary sources, the complex relationship between the Japanese occupiers and the occupied. Boyle 1972 covers one of the most well-known puppet leaders, Wang Jingwei, while Brook 2005, Barrett and Shyu 2001, and Coble 2003 demonstrate that a simple binary opposition of resistance versus collaboration fails to describe the complexity of circumstances during the war.

                                                                        • Barrett, David P., and Larry N. Shyu. Chinese Collaboration with Japan, 1932–1945: The Limits of Accommodation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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                                                                          Collection of essays covering various aspects of collaboration and accommodation by different sectors of Chinese society during the war. Of particular interest are the descriptions of the client regimes in Nanjing, studies of Shanghai capitalists and filmmakers, and Seybolt’s chapter on the “war within a war.”

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                                                                          • Boyle, John Hunter. China and Japan at War 1937–1945: The Politics of Collaboration. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1972.

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                                                                            Major study of the Wang Jingwei regime, comparing it with other “lesser” puppet regimes established by Japan and outlining the ways in which both sides attempted to pursue their own goals.

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                                                                            • Brook, Timothy. Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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                                                                              Concentrates on events at the local level to demonstrate how and why Chinese collaborated with the Japanese. Case studies include Jiading, Zhenjiang, Nanjing, and Shanghai.

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                                                                              • Coble, Parks M. Chinese Capitalists in Japan’s New Order: The Occupied Lower Yangzi, 1937–1945. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232686.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Facinating account of Chinese entrepreneurs in such industries as textiles, chemicals, and rubber who were dealing with the demands and uncertainties of the Japanese occupation. Demonstrates that businesses did not see themselves collectively as either collaborators or resisters but rather as individuals responding to particular sets of circumstances.

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                                                                                • Fu, Poshek. Passivity, Resistance and Collaboration: Intellectual Choices in Occupied Shanghai, 1937–45. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                  Biographical account of a Chinese novelist, a playwright, and a group of essayists in Shanghai, and the different moral and political choices they made during the Japanese occupation.

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                                                                                  • Hung, Chang-tai. War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern China, 1937–1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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                                                                                    Deals with spoken dramas, cartoons, newspapers, and literature as a means of resistance during the war.

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                                                                                    • Mitter, Rana. The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

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                                                                                      Considers the role of collaborators, Nationalist exiles, and resistance fighters during the early phase of the Manchurian crisis (1931–1933), based on a systematic reading of primary sources.

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                                                                                      • Smith, Norman. Resisting Manchukuo: Chinese Women Writers and the Japanese Occupation. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007.

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                                                                                        Focuses on a number of influential Chinese women writers who managed to pursue literary careers while quietly challenging the Japanese colonial system.

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                                                                                        Urban and Rural Experiences

                                                                                        Given the intensity, scale, and length of the war, Chinese experiences of Japan’s invasion varied by city and village. A number of studies focus on the impact in some of the major urban centers, such as MacKinnon 2008 on Wuhan, Yeh 1998 on Shanghai, and Tow 2011 on Chongqing. A comparison of urban and rural life in Wuxi is presented by Lincoln 2012, while MacKinnon, et al. 2008 covers a number of localities from Manchuria to Yunnan. Goodman 2000 focuses on social and political change in the important Communist base in Taihang. The ecology of war is an emerging area of study focusing on the war-induced disasters of the conflict, in particular the breaking of the Yellow River dikes and resulting floods (and, later, famine). Muscolino 2016 and Lary 2001 offer excellent accounts of these events.

                                                                                        • Goodman, David S. G. Social and Political Change in Revolutionary China: The Taihang Base Area in the War of Resistance to Japan, 1937–1945. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.

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                                                                                          Based on extensive use of primary sources, this study charts the revolutionary social and political changes that took place in one of the key Communist Party base areas during the war.

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                                                                                          • Lary, Diana. “Drowned Earth: The Strategic Breaching of the Yellow River Dyke, 1938.” War in History 8.2 (2001): 191–207.

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                                                                                            An accessible account of the reasons behind the decision to breach the Yellow River dike, which resulted in the death of many hundreds of thousands of Chinese and turned millions into refugees.

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                                                                                            • Lincoln, Toby. “The Rural and Urban at War: Invasion and Reconstruction in China during the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance.” Journal of Urban History 38 (2012): 114–132.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/0096144211420645Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Considers the impact of Japan’s occupation on rural and urban communities in and around Wuxi and highlights the very different lived experiences of the war.

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                                                                                              • MacKinnon, Stephen R. Wuhan, 1938 War, Refugees, and the Making of Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                Account of the temporary wartime capital of Wuhan, which saw an influx of troops and refugees after the fall of Nanjing and experienced a brief period of political diversity and freedom of cultural and journalistic expression before falling to the Japanese.

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                                                                                                • MacKinnon, Stephen R., Diana Lary, and Ezra Vogel, eds. China at War: Regions of China, 1937–1945. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                  Excellent collection of essays covering the structures of Japan’s occupation of China. Highlights the differences between late and early, fully, partially, and unoccupied regions and territories.

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                                                                                                  • Muscolino, Micah S. The Ecology of War in China: Henan Province, the Yellow River, and Beyond, 1938–1950. New York and Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

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                                                                                                    A groundbreaking study of the impact of the breaking of the Yellow River dike in Henan in 1938 as an attempt by the Nationalist forces to halt Japan’s military advances and the longer-term implications of an attempt to harness the power of the natural environment.

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                                                                                                    • Tow, Edna. “The Great Bombing of Chongqing and the Anti-Japanese War, 1937–1945.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark R. Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 256–282. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                      Explores the impact of persistent Japanese bombing attacks on China’s wartime capital.

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                                                                                                      • Yeh, Wen-hsin, ed. Wartime Shanghai. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

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                                                                                                        Wide-ranging collection of essays highlighting the complexities of life under Japanese occupation for the European and Japanese communities, Chinese entrepreneurs, and the underground resistance.

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                                                                                                        Personal Experiences of War

                                                                                                        The sources in this section offer insight into the personal experiences of a range of groups and individuals caught up in the war, based on primary sources or oral testimony. Lary 2010 provides a thoughtful overview of the sweeping transformations that took place in ordinary Chinese people’s lives during the war. Moore 2013 analyzes diaries and letters of Chinese, Japanese, and American soldiers, while Coble 2015 and Li 2010 focus on Chinese reporters and Chinese women, respectively. Howard 2004 highlights the experiences of China’s armaments industry workers in Chongqing during the war and their importance to the rise of the Communists.

                                                                                                        • Coble, Parks M. China’s War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                          Considers the nature of wartime writing of reporters involved in the National Salvation Movement. Coble contrasts this with writing about the war since the 1980s, noting the politicization of memory and a new remembering of events.

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                                                                                                          • Howard, Joshua H. Workers at War: Labor in China’s Arsenals, 1937–1953. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                            Demonstrates the process of industrial development, social transformation, and labor activism through a study of the armaments industry in Chongqing during and after the Anti-Japanese War. Shows how the Communists gained labor support in the latter stages of the war.

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                                                                                                            • Lary, Diana. The Chinese People at War: Human Suffering and Social Transformation, 1937–1945. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511761898Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              A sensitive account of the impact of the war on Chinese citizens, which goes beyond the standard descriptions of Japanese atrocities to explore the effects of displacement and social change.

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                                                                                                              • Li, Danke. Echoes of Chongqing: Women in Wartime China. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                Pulls together testimonies from women from a wide range of backgrounds and demonstrates the plurality of wartime experiences. Highlights the necessity for a focus on personal history and memory, as well as gender politics of memory.

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                                                                                                                • Moore, Aaron W. Writing War: Soldiers Record of the Japanese Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674075399Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  A thought-provoking study of the firsthand experiences of Chinese, Japanese, and American soldiers during the Asia Pacific War based on diaries, letters, and postcards. Highlights the role of individuals in war and prompts a rethinking of issues relating to the construction of identity and war responsibility.

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                                                                                                                  Media and Culture

                                                                                                                  Studies focusing on the cultural representations of the Anti-Japanese War provide an insight into the impacts of the conflict across different levels of society. Gunn 1992 considers the role of writers and artists, while Hung 1996 analyzes the impact of Communist songs as propaganda. Coble 2011 focuses on Chinese reporters. Reprints of wartime propaganda cartoons are collected in Shen 2005 and analyzed by Edwards 2013. Ward 2004, Yau 2013, and Tam, et al. 2014 consider the changing representations and narratives of the Anti-Japanese War through analysis of postwar films.

                                                                                                                  • Coble, Parks M. “Writing About Atrocity: Wartime Accounts and Their Contemporary Uses.” Modern Asian Studies 45.2 (2011): 379–398.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X11000035Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Considers the nature of wartime reporting in China. Rather than focusing on Japanese atrocities and the helplessness of Chinese victims, much wartime reporting emphasized instead the heroic resistance of the Chinese people as a means of mobilization and boosting morale.

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                                                                                                                    • Edwards, Louise. “Drawing Sexual Violence in Wartime China: Anti-Japanese Propaganda Cartoons.” Journal of Asian Studies 72 (2013): 563–586.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0021911813000521Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Explains the development of China’s cartoon artist associations during the war and questions the efficacy of the depiction of violence against women as a means of rousing patriotic spirit.

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                                                                                                                      • Gunn, Edward. “Literature and Art in the War Period.” In China’s Bitter Victory: The War with Japan 1937–1945. Edited by James C. Hsiung and Steven I. Levine, 235–274. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992.

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                                                                                                                        Concise overview of the ways in which art and literature evolved in China during the war.

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                                                                                                                        • Hung, Chang-Tai. “The Politics of Songs: Myths and Symbols in the Chinese Communist War Music, 1937–1949.” Modern Asian Studies 30.4 (1996): 901–929.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X00016838Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Considers the use of song by the Communist Party as a means of spreading socialist messages and raising people’s spirits.

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                                                                                                                          • Shen Jianzhong 沈建中, ed. Kangzhan manhua 抗战漫画. Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexueyuan chubanshe, 2005.

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                                                                                                                            Reprinted series of Chinese propaganda cartoons produced during the war, some of which are analyzed in Edwards 2013. English translation of title: “War of resistance cartoons.”

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                                                                                                                            • Tam, King-fai, Timothy Y. Tsu, and Sandra Wilson, eds. Chinese and Japanese Films on the Second World War. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.

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                                                                                                                              The first book-length treatment of this subject. Covers various genres of film produced in China, Japan, and Hong Kong.

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                                                                                                                              • Ward, Julian. “Filming the Anti-Japanese War: The Devils and Buffoons of Jiang Wen’s Guizi Laile.” New Cinemas 2.2 (2004): 107–117.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1386/ncin.2.2.107/0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Considers Jiang Wen’s attempts to challenge stereotypical images of Japanese and Chinese as portrayed in postwar Chinese films.

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                                                                                                                                • Yau, Kinnia. “Meanings of the Imagined Friends: Good Japanese in Chinese War Films.” In Imagining Japan in Post-War East Asia: Identity Politics, Schooling and Popular Culture. Edited by Paul Morris, Naoko Shimazu, and Edward Vickers, 68–84. London and New York: Routledge, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                  Describes the construction of images of Japan in Chinese war films and explores the appearance of more positive and nuanced representations of Japanese characters in recent films.

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                                                                                                                                  Japanese War Crimes and Atrocities

                                                                                                                                  The Nanjing Massacre has become the most symbolic and contested example of Japanese atrocities in China, but Japan’s war crimes extended far beyond this one event. Drea, et al. 2006 provides an overview of the nature of the war crimes based on US archival holdings. Harris 2002 remains the most in-depth study of the chemical and biological warfare program, and Qiu, et al. 2014 is the first English-language book-length account of Chinese “comfort women.” Yoshida 2006 and Fogel 2000 explore the postwar historiography of the Nanjing Massacre from various perspectives. Honda 1999 is a collection of firsthand accounts of Nanjing survivors that caused a backlash from the Japanese right wing in the 1980s, while Chang 1997 brought the events of the Nanking Massacre to a larger public.

                                                                                                                                  • Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. New York: Basic Books, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                    Sparked an international debate about the events of Nanjing by bringing the subject matter to a wider audience. Chang’s book was heavily criticized for historical inaccuracies.

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                                                                                                                                    • Drea, Edward, Greg Bradsher, Robert Hanyok, et al. Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays. Washington, DC: Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                      Overview of declassified materials in US archives relating to Japanese war crimes. Contains a particularly useful bibliographical essay by Yang Daqing that covers the main English-, Chinese- and Japanese-language studies of Japan’s war crimes.

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                                                                                                                                      • Fogel, Joshua A., ed. The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                        A collection of objective, well-researched essays that outlines the evolution and explains the persistence of the debates in China, Japan and the West surrounding the Nanjing Massacre. Eykholt’s contribution on the Chinese historiography of the Massacre is particularly relevant.

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                                                                                                                                        • Harris, Sheldon H. Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932–45, and the American Cover-up. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.4324/NOE0415932141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Important study of Japan’s biological warfare program in China, dealing in particular with the Unit 731 (Ping Fan) and Unit 100 (Changchun).

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                                                                                                                                          • Honda, Katsuichi. The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan’s National Shame. New York and London: M. E. Sharpe, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                            Account by Asahi Shimbun reporter exposing the details of the atrocities at Nanjing based on his interviews with Chinese survivors. Honda’s work caused a backlash in Japan from right-wing denialists.

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                                                                                                                                            • Qiu, Peipei, Su Zhiliang, and Chen Lifei. Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                              The first English-language monograph to deal specifically with Chinese military sex slaves, based on information gathered by mainland China’s leading scholars on the subject of Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei. Includes testimonies from former “comfort women” and details the postwar attempts to gain acknowledgement and redress.

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                                                                                                                                              • Yoshida, Takashi. The Making of the Rape of Nanking: History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States Nanjing Massacre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195180961.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Systematic analysis of the different ways in which the Nanjing Massacre has been recounted since the end of the war, showing in particular how the debates about events at Nanjing have become internationalized and intense over time.

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                                                                                                                                                Conflict End

                                                                                                                                                The immediate aftermath proved to have its own logistical and practical complexities. Questions surrounding legal responsibility for the war (as well as identity issues) are dealt with by Kushner 2010 and Kushner 2015, which look at the war crimes trials held by the Nationalists in mainland China and Taiwan. Cathcart and Nash 2008 focuses on the 1956 Communist trials of Japanese prisoners of war within the context of China’s changing foreign policy. Tanaka, et al. 2011 moves beyond the standard arguments about the Tokyo Trials as victor’s justice and considers the broader context. The plight of Japanese war orphans left behind in China is documented by Efird 2008 and Itoh 2010. On the other hand, Ward 2011 recounts the motivations of those Japanese technicians who chose to delay repatriation and stay in China, while King 2015 considers the same topic from the point of view of the Chinese Communist Party’s rationale for retaining such valuable expertise.

                                                                                                                                                • Cathcart, Adam, and Patricia Nash. “War Criminals and the Road to Sino-Japanese Normalization: Zhou Enlai and the Shenyang Trials, 1954–1956.” Twentieth Century China 34.2 (2008): 89–111.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1179/tcc.2009.34.2.89Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Shows how the war crimes trials held in the PRC in 1956 were part of a change in China’s Japan policy aimed at pursuing diplomatic normalization, coinciding with the start of Zhou Enlai’s “people’s diplomacy.”

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                                                                                                                                                  • Efird, Robert. “Japan’s ‘War Orphans’: Identification and State Responsibility.” Journal of Japanese Studies 34.2 (2008): 363–388.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/jjs.0.0035Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Deals mainly with the problems encountered when the war orphans began to be repatriated to Japan in the 1970s but provides a rich historical background.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Itoh, Mayumi. Japanese War Orphans in Manchuria: Forgotten Victims of World War II. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1057/9780230106369Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Comprehensive study of the thousands of Japanese orphans and women left behind in Manchuria at the end of the war, tracing the history of settlement in the 1930s through to repatriation in the 1980s.

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                                                                                                                                                      • King, Amy. “Reconstructing China: Japanese Technicians and Industrialization in the Early Years of the People’s Republic of China.” Modern Asian Studies (August 2015): 1–34.

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                                                                                                                                                        Explores the motives of the Chinese Communist Party in retaining Japanese technicians in order to facilitate China’s reconstruction and industrialization.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Kushner, Barak. “Pawns of Empire: Postwar Taiwan, Japan and the Dilemma of War Crimes.” Japanese Studies 30.1 (2010): 111–133.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/10371391003639120Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          While the focus here is mainly on Taiwan, there is a useful and detailed discussion of the nature of Class B/C war crimes.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Kushner, Barak. Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                            A groundbreaking study of the Japanese war crimes trials adjudicated by the Chinese, with excellent chapters on both the Nationalist and the Communist trials. Draws on a wealth of Chinese, Japanese, and English-language archival and secondary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Tanaka, Yuki, Tim McCormack, and Gerry Simpson, eds. Beyond Victor’s Justice? The Tokyo War Crimes Trial Revisited. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                              Chapters dealing with the failure of the Tokyo trials to prosecute the “forgotten crimes” of the war such as Unit 731 and the “comfort women” are of particular use.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Ward, Rowena. “Delaying Repatriation: Japanese Technicians in Early Postwar China.” Japan Forum 23.4 (2011): 471–483.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/09555803.2011.617461Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Identifies the reasons for some Japanese choosing not to repatriate at the end of the war.

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                                                                                                                                                                Legacy of War

                                                                                                                                                                The war continues to cast a shadow over China’s relations with Japan over seventy years after its end. Contested and politicized interpretations of the past are at the root of this and have led to the failure of both sides to fully reconcile. Mitter 2000 demonstrates how the revised Communist view of the war in the 1980s came to be represented through changes in the depiction of the war at Beijing’s War of Resistance Museum, while Coble 2007 focuses on how the politicization of memory influenced academic writing and memoir literature. Seaton 2007 demonstrates the plurality of memories of the war in Japan, and He 2009 explores the reasons for partial reconciliation between China and Japan, as compared to European examples.

                                                                                                                                                                • Coble, Parks M. “China’s ‘New Remembering’ of the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance.” China Quarterly 190 (2007): 394–410.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0305741007001257Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Charts the restoration of public memory of China’s war with Japan after Mao’s death and explores the domestic political reasons for the changing narrative. Particularly useful for details on academic and archival publications in addition to memoir literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Gustafsson, Karl. “Memory Politics and Ontological Security in Sino-Japanese Relations.” Asian Studies Review 38.1 (2014): 71–86.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/10357823.2013.852156Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Analyzes the content of Chinese museum exhibitions about the Anti-Japanese War to demonstrate how the Communist Party has tried to use memory for ontological security purposes. Japan’s responses—to persuade the Chinese government to remove the content of some of the displays—is seen as an attempt to protect its own security identity.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • He, Yinan. The Search for Reconciliation: Sino-Japanese and German-Polish Relations Since World War II. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511770463Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      A detailed and nuanced comparative study of interstate reconciliation, explaining the reasons for the failure of China and Japan to fully reconcile.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Mitter, Rana. “Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Nationalism, History and Memory in the Beijing War of Resistance Museum, 1987–1997.” China Quarterly 161 (2000): 279–293.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S0305741000004033Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Demonstrates the ways in which the Communist Party’s narrative of the Sino-Japanese War started to change in the 1980s as it sought ways to bolster its legitimacy and credibility.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Mitter, Rana, and Aaron William Moore, eds. “China in World War II, 1937–1945: Experience, Memory, and Legacy.” Modern Asian Studies 45.2 (2011): 225–240.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0026749X10000387Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Multidisciplinary collection of nine articles covering, in particular, social and political history of wartime Nationalist China and the evolution of memory and remembrance after the war.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Nie, Hongping Annie. “Gaming, Nationalism, and Ideological Work in Contemporary China: Online Games Based on the War of Resistance Against Japan.” Journal of Contemporary China 22.81 (2013): 499–517.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2012.748968Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Looks at the origins and impact of such online gaming successes as “Resistance War Online” to show how the CCP expanded its patriotic education campaign to the Internet.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Seaton, Philip A. Japan’s Contested War Memories: The “Memory Rifts” in Historical Consciousness of World War II. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Demonstrates the multiplicity of narratives in Japan about the war and challenges the standard views about Japan’s amnesia of the war. Useful for understanding why the history problem persists.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi, ed. The Nanking Atrocity, 1937–38: Complicating the Picture. New York: Berghahn Books, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                A collection of essays by a multinational group of academics. Explains why the debates about the Nanjing Massacre persist and demonstrates the “messiness of historical reality.”

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