Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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The Sino-Japanese War Begins: The Japanese Embassy in Washington to the U.S. Department of State, 12 July 1937

Throughout World War II, Japan never formally declared war on China, and China left its formal declaration of war on Japan until December 1941, immediately after Pearl Harbor. The following note from the Japanese Embassy in Washington to the United States Department of State recounts the Japanese version of the incident of July 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge, near Beijing in China, which precipitated full-scale hostilities between the two countries.

1. In the evening of July 7, 1937, a detachment of the Japanese troops stationed at Fengtai, near Peiping, was engaged in a night maneuver in the vicinity of Lukow Kiao. At 11:40 p.m. Chinese troops under the command of Feng Chih-an (29th Army) made an attack upon the Japanese soldiers for no cause at all.

Thereupon the detachment stopped the maneuver and asked the command at Fengtai to send out reinforcements.

2. At such maneuvers, the Japanese troops immediately carry a very small quantity of loaded shells for use in case of emergency. In point of fact the commanding officer of the said detachment had with him one box of loaded shells for the machine guns. In view of these facts, it is absolutely impossible for the Japanese soldiers to have challenged the Chinese.

3. The right of maneuver of the Japanese troops stationed in North China is clearly stipulated in the China-Japanese Protocol of 1902 concerning the restoration of Tientsin to China. Moreover, the Japanese authorities had informed the Chinese in advance of the holding of the maneuver in question. It is entirely groundless to say that the recent maneuver of the Japanese troops is an unlawful act committed outside the region stipulated in the said Protocol as reported in the newspapers.

4. Since the night of July 7, the Japanese authorities have made an earnest endeavor to localize the incident and once succeeded in bringing the Chinese authorities to agree to a peaceful settlement. On the night of July 10, however, the 29th Army, in violation of the agreement, suddenly fired on the Japanese troops, causing considerable casualties. In addition, it is reported, China has been increasing the forces of the first line by ordering Suiyan troops to march south and by sending central forces and air corps to the front.

Since the night of July 10, China not only has failed to manifest any sincerity toward a peaceful settlement but has flatly rejected the local negotiation at Peiping.

5. The presence of disorderly Chinese troops in the Peiping and Tientsin area not only disturbs peace and order in North China which is of vital importance to Japan, but also endangers the lives and property of the Japanese nationals there.

In the circumstances, the Japanese Government has decided to take precautionary steps to meet all situations, including the dispatch of additional military forces to North China.

6. The Japanese Government, desirous as ever to preserve peace in East Asia, has not abandoned hope that through peaceful negotiations the aggravation of the situation may yet be prevented.

An amicable solution can yet be attained if China agrees to offer apologies for the recent lawless action and to give adequate guarantees against such outrages in future.

In any case the Japanese Government is prepared to give full consideration to the rights and interests of the Powers in China.

Further Reading
U.S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States: Japan, 1931–1941, Vol. 2 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943). .

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