chapter  3
10 Pages

The Battle of Shanghai and the League of Nations

JAPAN’S invasion of Manchuria created a nation-wide feeling of resentment which manifested itself in the serious boycott of Japanese goods. The Japanese felt the effect most seriously at Shanghai, because it is the chief port through which Sino-Japanese trade is conducted. Therefore the feeling between the two peoples there was very high. On January 18, 1932, five Japanese Buddhist monks came into an altercation with some Chinese workmen of a towel factory, as a result of which one Japanese monk was killed and two Japanese and several Chinese were badly wounded. The next morning an organized Japanese mob, in retaliation, set fire to the towel factory and clashed with the police of the International Settlement, with one killed and several wounded on either side. In the same afternoon the Japanese demonstrators, after sacking several Chinese shops, again clashed with the Settlement police, this time wounding one British subject. The Japanese Consul expressed regret to the British and Settlement authorities for these clashes, but presented to the Mayor of Shanghai a series of five demands calling for a formal apology, the punishment of the Chinese who maltreated the Japanese monks, payment of indemnity and the immediate dissolution of all anti-Japanese boycott organizations. In spite of the Mayor’s written acceptance of all the demands, which the Japanese Consul in a note to the Consular Body declared as highly satisfactory, the Japanese marines attacked Chapei, the north-eastern section of Shanghai, at midnight of January 28th. As not sufficient time was allowed for the Chinese garrison to evacuate even had it wished to do so, a clash immediately followed which soon developed into a battle that lasted all night, with Japanese airplanes dropping incendiary bombs, and the Japanese warships shelling the thickly crowded quarter with high-power explosives. Many fires broke out which grew to tremendous dimensions. Enormous damages were inflicted upon the five hundred thousand Chinese population which had their homes in that crowded part of Shanghai. With this “night of terror” began the Shanghai phase of the Sino-Japanese conflict.1