Contributions of the Chinese People to Defending Human Rights in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression
March 30,2017 By:CSHRS
Contributions of the Chinese People to Defending Human Rights in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression
The Global War against Fascism had inseparable ties with the cause of human rights worldwide. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into being based on the summarization of the experiences in the Global War against Fascism including the rich experiences of the Chinese people in defending human rights in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Seventy years ago, the Chinese people registered great victory in their desperate struggles against the atrocious Japanese fascism on the main Eastern battlefield of the Global War against Fascism and safeguarded the national esteem and fundamental human rights of them, which accounting for one fourth of the world’s population. It was both a victory of anti-aggression and a triumph of human rights.
The Fascism of Japan and that of Germany and Italy were equal in their essence of anti-human rights
The Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression was a great fight to defend the human rights of the Chinese and even the whole world. The 14-year war proves that the fascism of Japan and that of Germany and Italy all savagely committed equal crimes against human rights in essence.
For a fairly long time, the international community has been well familiar with the crimes of German and Italian fascism against human rights but has been blind to the atrocities of Japanese fascism trampling on human rights. Now, by comparison, we will illustrate that fascist Japan was not merely one of the hotbeds of the WWII that treaded on human rights on a considerable scale but also launched the aggressive war against the mankind, the human nature and the human rights much earlier than German and Italian fascism, aiming at not simply occupying China but also aligning with German and Italian fascism to reign over the entire world hand in glove.
Firstly, in the world war against human rights staged by the world fascism, Japan, the same as Germany and Italy, was also a hotbed of WWII. When the Western historians discussed the Global War against Fascism in the past, they mostly expounded it to be a war between the European people and German and Italian fascism. Even though they mentioned the contributions of the Chinese people in the Global War against Fascism, they simply related such contributions to Japan’s surprise attacks on the Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of the Pacific War. Nevertheless, the fact is that before Japan produced surprise attacks on the Pearl Harbor, it had been engaged in the war of aggression against China for 10 years and it was also a part of the fascist aggression of Japan. In retrospect of the history, after winning the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, Japan squashed in the gang to carve up China. At the Paris Peace Conference after the end of WWI, Japan colluded with Britain and France to snatch the rights and interests of Germany in Shandong Peninsula of China. To restrain Japan from contending for hegemony in the Far East and disassemble the UK-Japan alliance, the United States sponsored and held the Washington Conference lasting from November 1921 to February 1922 and negated the rights and interests of Japan in Shandong. In 1923, Japan revamped its national defense policy, brought forth that “top priorities should be pinned on Japan’s national defense to take precautions against the United States with strong national power and armament that was most likely to have conflicts with Japan,” and “always maintained strengths to convulse China and Russia, two long-term opponents.” 1 During the period of Northern Expedition (1926-1927), the political situation in China drastically fluctuated. At the “East Conference” held in Japanese Foreign Ministry on June 27th, 1927, the outline of China policy was formulated according to China’s domestic situation. After the conference, Tanaka Giichi, the prime minister of the cabinet and concurrently foreign minister, drafted Positive Fundamental Policies of Japan on Manchu and Mongolia which was the historically notorious Tanaka Memorial denied by Japan by hook or by crook. The memorial took the three northeast provinces of China featuring “a vast land of 74,000km2 and a large population of 28million” and Mongolia as the targets of its aggressive territorial expansion. Tanaka Memorial put forward that “Manchu and Mongolia should be conquered first before conquering China, which would prelude Japan’s aggressive plan of conquering the whole world.” It stressed that the “conquering” must be materialized even “at the expense of edged weapons and blood.” 2Guided by the outline, the Japanese army made a large quantity of preparations for war. The capitalist economic crises swept all countries since 1929. It stepped up Germany, Italy and Japan in arms expansion and war preparation in an attempt to change the Versailles – Washington System formed after WWI. With this intension, Japan plotted and launched the “September 18th” incident and implemented the “Tanaka Memorial” in 1931. Japan’s domestic situation changed dramatically in 1936 and the fascist military government was consolidated in 1937. During that process, Japan and Germany entered into alliance in Berlin in November 1936. On top of it, Japan instigated the Lugou Bridge Incident on July 7th, 1937 and turned partial Japanese aggression against China into total aggression against China. On Nov 6th, 1937, Germany, Japan and Italy signed a contract in Rome and formed the fascist “Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis.” In September 1939 German fascists attacked Poland, which marked the outbreak of WWII in Europe. Incited by the strike of German and Italian fascists against Western Europe and the outbreak of the Russo-German War, the Japanese army wielded surprise attacks on the Pearl Harbor and initiated the Pacific War on Dec 8th, 1941. The brief retrospect of the history explicitly reveals to us that both the aggression against China and the Pacific War broken out 10 years after the “September 18th” staged by Japan did not occur accidently but as planned. The hotbed of war was Japan who was accelerating its fascism at that time. So we see, the research on the Global War against Fascism should not just take Germany and Italy under the reign of fascism as the hotbeds of war but also realize that Japan was also one of the hotbeds of war in that period. In reality, there were Western and Eastern hotbeds of war against human rights in the world war launched by world fascism and the Eastern hotbed of war was fascist Japan.
1.Office of Annals of War of National Institute for Defense Studies of Japanese Defense Agency. War Preparedness of the Japanese Army. Asagumo News Agency, 1979, pages 93-95.
2.See The History of Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, People’s Publishing House, 2011, page 31.
Secondly, in the world war against human rights staged by world fascism, Japan launched aggressive wars much earlier than fascist Germany and Italy. In previous retrospect of the history, we have noticed such following nodes of time: The first was the “September 18th” incident initiated by Japan to invade northeast China in 1931; the second was the “July 7th Incident of 1937” which was also called the Lugou Bridge Incident raised the curtain of the total Japanese aggression against China; the third was German aggression against Poland in 1939, marking the outbreak of WWII in Europe; the fourth was the surprise attacks of Japan on the Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941. It follows that Japan ignited the warfare of foreign aggression much earlier than fascist Germany and Italy. In this sense, we can say that it was just the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression that prepared the prologue of the Global War against Fascism. Any acquaintance of the history alarms us that the fascism against the mankind, the human nature and the human rights was not only branded by Germany and Italy but also by Japan. Japan’s fascism, unlike that of Germany and Italy, was not built on the basis of the overturn of the bourgeois democracy but was gradually materialized through the superincumbent transformation of the old institution and the launch of aggressive wars of Japanese militarism. As to the way of act, due to its small territory and inadequate resources, Japanese militarism exhibited its gigantic greed and atrocities on its way to fascism and foreign aggression with no return and much earlier than Germany and Italy.
Thirdly, the alliance of fascist Japan, Germany and Italy in the world war against human rights staged by world fascism was in a bid to rule the whole world. Just as introduced previously, the “East Conference” of Japan aimed at conquering China and further “conquering the world.” For this purpose, Japan made the “northward” and “southward” expansion strategies. “Northward” expansion intended to start from northeast of China to attack the Soviet Union and join forces with Germany and Italy in Siberia; In its “Southward” expansion, Japan started down south from China to assault Hawaii of the United States, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and joined forces with Germany and Italy in the Middle East. Thanks to Chinese people’s persistent resistance against Japanese aggression, their plot was not completely realized. Especially, the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang joined hands to establish the Chinese United Front against Japanese Aggression in 1937 when the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression became the nationwide war of resistance. The center stage battlefield and the backstage battlefield cooperated well with each other, beat back the vast majority of the land force and a part of the navy and air force of Japan, and contained its “northward” and “southward” aggression strategies to join forces with fascist Germany and Italy.
In a word, the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, as the main Eastern battlefield of the Global War against Fascism, not simply safeguarded the human rights of the 400 million Chinese people with its arduous struggles but also defeated the wild ambition of fascist Japan against the mankind, the human nature and the human rights to “conquer the world” at the price of 35 million Chinese people’s life. It was the indelible contributions of the Chinese people made in the War of Resistance against Japanese aggression to the cause of human rights of both the Chinese people and other peoples in the world!
The Game between Human rights and Anti-Human Rights
Our further analysis of all the actions of Japan in the aggression against China displays to us clearly that the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression was in nature a game between human rights and anti-human rights.
A large quantity of facts prove that during the Japanese aggression against China, Japan fascists cruelly persecuted and slaughtered the Chinese people, committed burning, killing, raping and other crimes, deprived the Chinese people of the basic rights of existence, security and human dignity and hurled the Chinese nation into the unprecedented havoc.
First, they unscrupulously implemented the policy to massacre all the inhabitants of the captured Chinese cities and killed 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians in Nanjing Massacre.
Second, when they carried out the “mopping-up” operation, the “gnawing-away” operation and the “pacification” operation in the resistance bases, they implemented the notorious “Three Alls” policy (kill all, burn all and loot all) and indiscriminative bombing which were all inhuman atrocities with disregard of human rights.
Third, they brazenly violated the Public International Law and carried out brutal and inhuman biological warfare and germ warfare during the war of aggression against China. Especially, they set up the “Unit 731” in Harbin, China specialized in “experimenting on human beings,” namely, to dissect living people and test frostbite, war gas, electric shock, plague bacillus and cholera bacteria infection etc on living people. They delivered all the bacteria produced to the combat troops at the frontline. My hometown Ningbo was a bacteriological warfare stricken area. The Japanese enemies dropped the wheat and cotton etc mixed with plague bacillus in the midair and plague which became widespread roughly a week later.
Fourth, they purposefully ignored the international conventions in their aggression against China, unscrupulously applied chemical weapons both on the battlefield and on the civilians and killed more than 100,000 soldiers and civilians with war gas.
Fifth, they ferociously exerted sexual violence on the women including collectively raping the defenseless women and even established the notorious “comfort woman” system that trampled on the women.
Sixth, they forcibly enslaved more than 10million laborers and grimly tormented many of them to death in the 14 years of aggression against China. After the war, more than 100 “mass graves” used to bury the corpses of the laborers were found in many places of China.
Such atrocities severely violating and trampling on human rights were scarcely seen else in the world and could not enough if be described as “unscrupulous.”
In stark contrast, the Chinese people nurtured by the Chinese cultural tradition of “Do not do to others what you do not want to be done” did not lose their sensibility and humanities because of the atrocities of Japanese militarism in the War of Resistance. Instead, they persistently rendered good for evil, always adhered to revolutionary humanitarianism and made every endeavor to safeguard the fundamental human rights of the Japanese soldiers and their families.
First and foremost, in terms of the political view of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the Chinese people organically integrated the principles of dealing with the relationship with the enemies and the principles of safeguarding human rights. At the very beginning of the War of Resistance, we pointed out that the war was not staged by the Japanese people but by the Japanese fascist ruling circles. For this reason, we repeatedly stressed two distinctions in the fight against the enemies: to distinguish the Japanese people from the Japanese fascist ruling circles and the large quantities of ordinary Japanese soldiers from the headstrong Japanese fascist officers and soldiers. In addition to such distinctions, the Chinese people followed the humanitarian principle in treating the ordinary Japanese people and soldiers and strived to maintain their human rights in the war.
Next, as to the outlook on war, we organically unified the principle of fighting against the enemies with the principle of safeguarding human rights. Wars are always cruel and brutal and will give rise to numerous deaths. But the Chinese people persistently respected and safeguarded human rights even in the life-or-death struggles after the war. Mao Zedong once uttered “The war aims at nothing but ‘saving ourselves and eliminating the enemies’.” What is “eliminating the enemies”? He made it clear that “the elimination of the enemies is to remove the armament of the enemies, namely, the so-called ‘deprival of the resistance of the enemies’ rather than completely their human bodies.” 1The view of Mao Zedong was carried in his widespread masterwork On the Protracted War. This outlook on war was specifically demonstrated in the care of the commanders for the lives of the Chinese soldiers on the battlefield and the adherence to the principle of “victory or withdrawal”; concurrently, it upheld the principle of “sparing the lives of the enemies as long as they laid down their arms” and implemented the principle of depriving the enemies of their resistance rather than their lives on the life-or-death battlefield. The outlook of war adhering to safeguarding the human rights was most beloved and supported by the people and disintegrated the enemy forces on the battleground in these years.
1.Mao Zedong. On the Protracted War. Selected Works of Mao Zedong (Volume II). People’s Publishing House, 1991, page 482.
In addition, we adopted the policy of giving special treatment to the captives. We explicitly stipulated not to maltreat the captives but guarantee their daily necessities however hard the living conditions were. In the meanwhile, we educated the captives and taught them to draw the line with the Japanese fascism. Consequently many captives formed the anti-war alliance after learning and deepening their awareness and delivered special contributions to the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Global War against Fascism.
What’s more, we tried our best to rescue the wounded Japanese officers and soldiers. In 1941 Mao Zedong made it clear that medical treatment should follow the policy of “healing the wounded, rescuing the dying and implementing revolutionary humanitarianism.” In the field ambulances and base hospitals we saved and rescued a lot of Japanese officers and soldiers and helped them return home after their rehabilitation.
Moreover, the Chinese families endeavored to take in and bring up the abandoned Japanese children. As the statistics showed, more than Japanese children were abandoned mostly in northeast China and the Nei Mongol Autonomous Region. However hard the life of the Chinese foster parents was, they still brought them up like their own children. After the normalization of relations between China and Japan, most abandoned Japanese orphans returned to their natural parents in Japan with the help of the Chinese government and people.
Lastly, China persisted in disciplining the war criminals rather than looking upon them with hatred or maltreating them. Setting up the administrative camps of war criminals after war, China helped them realize their war crimes and repatriated them.
The Chinese people always advocate that “A just cause gains great support and an unjust cause finds scant support.” The “just cause” includes the justice to safeguard the human rights. The afore-mentioned comparison of facts tells us that the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression was a game of human rights against anti-human rights from the perspective of human rights and the final victory must belong to the Chinese people safeguarding and defending human rights.
Construction of Human Rights in the Resistance Base
The contributions of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression to the cause of human rights are also illustrated in the construction of the resistance base led by the Communist Party of China. The War of Resistance was the resistance against Japanese aggression by the whole nation. The Communist Party of China played the role of the mainstay in the great national liberation war and delivered particularly outstanding contributions to the cause of human rights.
Firstly, the Communist Party of China made explicit administrative programs and regulations to protect the human rights of the people in the resistance bases. Many resistance bases led by the Communist Party of China clearly wrote the clause of “protecting the human rights” in their administrative programs and regulations. The Administrative Programs of the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region in the War of Resistance passed by the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Consultative Council in 1939 and The Rules to Protect Human Rights and Property Ownership in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region passed in 1941 both stressed that all the people against Japanese aggression, despite their different ethnic lines, social classes, political parties and groups, sex, vocations and religions, were all equal politically and legally; all the people against Japanese aggression had the freedom of speech, publication, assembly, forming associations, living, migration, religious belief and self-defense in the War of Resistance; all the people against Japanese aggression had the right not to be personally infringed. Some other regulations also prohibited strike and kill without discrimination. Apart from the judicial system and the public security organs fulfilling their duties by law, no other organizations, troops, societies or individuals had the right to arrest, interrogate, deal with and infringe on others; the people had the right to charge the public officials of their illegality in whatever manner.
Secondly, in terms of the economy, the Communist Party of China applied the “25% Rent-reduction” land policy, namely, to reduce the rent originally to the landlords or rich peasants by the peasants by 25% to protect the human rights of all parties. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China stated briefly in The Decision on the Land Policy in the Resistance Base that such a land policy implemented three principles: First, it admitted the fact that the peasants were the fundamental strengths in the War of Resistance and production. So the human rights, political rights, land ownership and property ownership of the peasants should be guaranteed so as to improve their life and heighten their enthusiasm in the War of Resistance and production. Second, it admitted that most landlords requested to resist against Japanese aggression and some enlightened gentlemen welcomed democratic reforms. So after protecting the human rights, political rights, land ownership and property ownership of the peasants, the same rights and ownerships of the landlords should also be well safeguarded so that they could be united to resist against Japanese aggression. Third, it admitted that the capitalist production mode was relatively advanced and the bourgeoisie especially the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie were progressive social elements and political forces in China in those years. The rich peasants were the bourgeoisie in the rural areas and an indispensible strength in the resistance against Japanese aggression and daily production. Therefore, after the rents and the interest rate for the rich peasants were reduced, they must pay the rent and interest rate. The human rights, political rights, land ownership and property ownership of the rich peasants must be safeguarded. Some landlords operating the land in the capitalist method should be treated as equally as the rich peasants. Here the Communist Party of China made it clear that the “25% Rent-reduction” land policy aimed to ensure the human rights of all sorts of people in the rural areas.
Thirdly, in terms of politics, the Communist Party of China established “the principle of three-thirds system.” It clearly proposed that the regime of the base boasted the properties of the Chinese United Front against Japanese Aggression. The organization of supreme power was the consultative council established through democratic election. The regime structure included legislative, administrative and judicial institutions. The government agency set the institutions at the border region level, the county level and the village level. The greatest feature of the regime was the application of “the principle of three-thirds system.” On March 6th, 1940, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China indicated in On the Regime of the Resistance Base that among the public representative institutions and government agencies in the resistance bases, the members of the Communist Party of China took up one third representing the proletariat and the poor peasants; the non-Communist leftist progressists accounted for one third on behalf of the petty bourgeoisie; the middle elements and other elements made up one third as the representatives of the bourgeoisie and the enlightened gentlemen. It was the principle of “three-thirds” system applied by the Communist Party of China in the democratic political construction in the bases designed to ensure the rights of all the patriotic social classes against Japanese aggression to enjoy democratic politics.
In addition, judicially, the Communist Party of China proposed to adhere to the stance of the human beings and judicial justice; as to the social policies, it pinned top priorities to gender equality and protected the rights of the women to free love and marriage etc. All the regulations and practice were vital moves of the Communist Party of China to safeguard the human rights in the bases and also the major contributions of the Chinese people to the cause of human rights during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.
The retrospect summarized the contributions of the Chinese people to the cause of human rights during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. We can further know that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed by the United Nations after discussion in 1948 was by no means accidental but based on the experiences. It was the call of the era and conformed to the inevitable trend of social development and the tide of historical progress.
(The author is Vice-president of China Society for Human Rights Studies Former Vice-president of Party School of the Central Committee of CPC.)