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Chinese Periodicals Related to the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) in the Asian Division, Library of Congress

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(The following is a post by Yuwu Song, Chinese Reference Specialist, Asian Division.)

The Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 started with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7, 1937, when a dispute over a missing Japanese soldier escalated into a battle. All-out war broke out shortly afterwards, and ended with the unconditional surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945 to the Allies.

Figure 1: Ti ch’ing ts’an k’ao tzu liao (敵情參考資料, Studies on the Enemy)

During this chaotic time of war, Chinese Nationalists and Communists published numerous periodicals in Chungking, Nanking, Sian, and other areas under their control. The statistics in “Quan guo Zhong wen qi kan lian he mu lu, 1833-1949” (全国中文期刊联合目录 1833—1949, the National Union Catalog of Chinese Periodicals, 1833-1949) show that there were over 300 war-related titles circulating throughout China during the war. With national salvation as a major theme, these publications called for a united anti-Japanese national front, promoted patriotism, and taught the basics of both warfare and first aid. Additionally, they highlighted and condemned Japanese acts of aggression and the Nanking government’s policy of non-resistance and collaboration with the Japanese enemy.

Although these serials were available for only a short period of time, and their circulation was limited due to wartime difficulties and restrictions, they played an important role in educating the Chinese about Japan, and inspiring Chinese resistance to Japanese imperialism. It is worth noting that many of the authors of the articles in these periodicals were senior Chinese military leaders of both Nationalist and Communist troops. Japanese intellectuals who opposed the war were also involved in publishing articles in these periodicals. To some extent, these periodicals helped promote the establishment and development of Japanese studies in China.

Figure 2: Hsing tao hua pao (星島畫報, Hsing Tao Pictorial)

The Library of Congress has more than 30 of these Chinese periodicals, all of which are listed in “Chinese Periodicals in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography, 1988.” Filled with primary source accounts from the late 1930s and early 1940s, these resources provide researchers with good tools to study the war. For instance, Ti wei ching chi hui pao (敵偽經濟匯報, Report on the Enemy’s Economic Situation), published in China’s wartime capital Chungking during 1944-1945, carried in-depth research articles on Japan’s economic situation, especially finance, trade, resources, and national life.

Ti kuo hui pao (敵國匯報, Report on the Enemy), published in Yenan in 1941 by the General Political Department of the Eighth Route Army and distributed by Yenan Xinhua Bookstore, was originally a newspaper. After January 1941 it became a magazine with special research articles that discussed various aspects of Japanese society, from contemporary social and economic situations to the origin of the Japanese imperial system. It also focused on Japanese political organizations and activities, as well as on the Japanese military, and included important information on Japanese combat troop formations, transportation, and equipment.

Figure 3: Chung yang tao pao (中央導報, Central Herald)

Ti ch’ing ts’an k’ao tzu liao (敵情參考資料, Studies on the Enemy) (Figure 1) contained articles on Japan’s wartime economy, the development of Japanese militarism, the battlefield experiences of soldiers, and the effects of anti-Japanese propaganda on Japanese troops. With photographs of Chinese Nationalist leaders on the cover pages, Hsing tao hua pao (星島畫報, Hsing Tao Pictorial) (Figure 2) featured pictures, maps, charts, and illustrations related to the war. In hindsight, it served as a visual history of the Sino-Japanese conflict.

In 1940, the pro-Japanese collaborationist regime in Nanking launched Chung yang tao pao (中央導報, Central Herald) (Figure 3), which was directly under the leadership of Nanking’s propaganda department. As one of the major serial publications of the pro-Japanese government, Chung yang tao pao was intended to propagate Nanking’s “national policies and practices.” It was closed when Japan surrendered in the fall of 1945. Researchers will find this title useful for the study of the collaborationist movement in China during World War II.

The Library’s Chinese collection contains over 6,000 items pertaining to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. Among them are rarely seen hand-drawn watercolor posters originally created during the war. Read the blogpost for more information: “Posters on the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 at the Asian Division, Library of Congress.”

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