This chapter puts forward a more complex picture of the significance of the Japanese presence in the Northeast. It argues that during the period of informal empire, in particular between 1928 and 1931, several coexisting strains of thought competed for the attention of the Han Chinese population of the region, particularly the urban and rural civilian elites (local magistrates, leaders of chambers of commerce and so on). The turning point for nationalist ideology in the Northeast came in 1928, when members of the Kwantung Army garrison assassinated Chang Tso-lin with a bomb on his personal train, angry at his refusal to toe the line of his Japanese sponsors. The centrality of the imperial project in Manchuria to Japanese identity has come under increasingly detailed scrutiny in recent scholarship; a notable example is Louise Young's Japan's Total Empire, which has explored the complex place that Manchuria had in Japanese self-construction during the Taisho and early Showa eras.