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In this installment of the "Why We Fight" propaganda series, we learn about the country of China and its people. With a brief history of the country, we also learn of why the Japanese wanted to conquer it and felt confident about succeeding. Finally, the history of the war in that theatre is illustrated and shows the stiff determination of the Chinese who use all their resources to oppose Japanese aggression to the end. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
This is a classic bit of American Propaganda from WWII. This was part of a whole series of "Informational Films" produced by the War Department to arouse the American People to greater efforts in their war against tyranny. This installment chronicles the history of the war between Japan and China that later became part of the world-wide conflict known as the Second World War.
Every little Chinese victory is exaggerated. So is every Japanese atrocity, especially the bombing of Chinese cities. China's leadership is portrayed as noble and enlightened. Japan's leadership is seen as a bunch of fanatical warlords bent on world conquest. Japan's invasion of China is described as "Phase Two" of a four-part plan to conquer the world, ending with "Phase Four", an attack "Eastward to crush the United States".
In reality, China won precisely zero real victories in that war. China's leader Chiang Kai-Shek was a dictatorial warlord who cared more about ensuring his own luxury and power base than about defeating the Japanese, who he was content to leave to the Americans to deal with. Japan's bombing of Chinese cities was little different from what the US was then doing to Germany, and would soon do to Japan. Japan wasn't out to conquer the world, just grab a colonial empire like they had seen the British, French, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Americans do for the last two centuries. Japan's ultimate aim was simply to get strong enough to avoid becoming a colony of some Western Empire themselves, and China was the only un-colonized area left. Japan never even dreamed of conquering or even invading the US, they simply wanted to weaken the US enough that we wouldn't be able to interfere, then negotiate a peace and return the outlying US possessions (like the Philippines) that they had already seized in exchange for a free hand in China and Indonesia.
On the other hand, Japan's atrocities in China (like the Rape of Nanking, which gets about 30 seconds of screen time in this film) WERE awful, and Japan's military leadership WAS a bunch of militaristic warlords.
By today's enlightened standards, this film is rather racist at times, consists of outright lies in others, and twists the truth to fit a predetermined conclusion the rest of the time. But one must put this film in its proper perspective. This was made at the height of WWII, when even Americans who knew something about Japan knew darn little about Japan. A famous anthropologist the US Military hired as an expert on Japan confidently informed the US government that Japanese pilots were unable to fly well due to universally bad eyesight. The Japanese knew us a lot better than we knew them, and only a few of them had any clue that we would be as outraged by Pearl Harbor as we turned out to be.
We were engaged in a great war to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, two fundamentally racist regimes. The fact that we had to resort to racist propaganda ourselves in order to defeat them is sad and regrettable, but understandable.
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