Updated: Aug 23, 2022
By Al Johnson
Who actually fought the Japanese on the Asian Continent from 1937-1945?
More specifically and importantly: Who is the inheritor of the legal and historical claims that are a result of that conflict? Who can claim the legitimate "historical narrative" of the Sino-Japanese War and Allied war against Japan during WWII?
(The cover of General Ho's monograph. This article will discuss General Ho's points, and a follow-on article discussing additional modern research that supports General Ho's position will be published soon.)
Unfortunately, the answer will surprise many and even anger a few. The question of who fought the Japanese is very clear according to the evidence presented by General Ho Ying Chin in his monograph Who Actually Fought the Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945? (1). This article will take a brief look at General Hos' position. As the Commander in Chief of the Chinese KMT army that fought the Japanese and who had access to first-hand reports of the war both during and after at the Ministry of War archives, his monograph carries a great deal of weight. The Kuomintang (KMT), led by Chiang Kai Shek, fought the Japanese, at great cost, during the 1937-1945 conflict. The numbers themselves and volumes of battles debunk the propaganda that the KMT did not sacrifice in the fight against the Japanese.
(Chart 2 from General Ho Ying Chins monograph. The disinformation that the KMT didn't sacrifice during the war is not borne out by the facts. They sacrificed almost 3x as many as KIAs the US military did. The US lost an estimated 400,000 in all theaters.)
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on the other hand, a virtual puppet of the Soviet Union, did not fight the Japanese. Stalin in June 1941 after years of attempting to get Mao to engage the Japanese with the CCP either independently or allied with the KMT, finally gave into the inevitable "unmovable Mao" and ordered the CCP NOT to engage the Japanese until Japan initiates a war with Soviet Russia. And since Japan never invaded Soviet Russia, Mao was provided with another justification, this time from his boss in Moscow, not to fight the Japanese. In December 1941, the KMT became allies with the Soviet Russians officially (along with the Americans and British), and the CCP had to curtail some of their overt active measures against the KMT army, but continued to illegally capture and occupy KMT territory under the fiction of "fighting Japanese". As Chart 3 from General Ho highlights, the CCP not only simply refused to fight the Japanese. They also indirectly or directly conducted actions that damaged the ability of the KMT to fully concentrate on the Japanese. There is some evidence outside of General Hos' book, that Mao was hedging his bets the Japanese would win, and was setting himself in a position to be useful to them if they did. (2)
(Chart 3 from General Ho Ying Chins' monograph of the attacks and subterfuge during the war by the CCP against the KMT. These attacks helped the Japanese.)
While at the end of the war, the KMT had engaged in hundreds of battles that cost them one million and three hundred thousand soldiers. So what does General Ho state the ledger is for the CCP? According to General Ho, the CCP had a grand total of one, and possibly two battles, against rear echelon forces. The CCP fought the KMT more than the Japanese by an overwhelming ratio.
"Even in his report to the CCP Seventh Congress on April 28, 1945 Chu Teh merely singled out the campaign at Ping Hsing Pass and the Guerilla War in the Southeastern Shansi in 1940 (This is what the Chinese Communists often bragged about as A Hundred Regiments Battle)...During the campaign at Ping Hsing Pass...only the main force of Lin Piao's 115th (CCP) Divison was used to attack enemy trains...none of the said guerilla activities were recorded in the annals of war...Even in the military history of the Great East Asian War written by Takushirou Hattori, Chief of Operations in wartime Japan, nothing was mentioned about these actions." (-General Ho Ying Chin.) (2)
So during 8 years of war, the CCP can only claim half of one division supporting a KMT operation at Ping Hsing Pass, which ambushed a sleeping rear detachment of transport troops, and a questionable guerilla campaign that not even the Japanese noticed. Post-War Stolen Valor After the war, the CCP engaged in the first instance of Stolen Valor even before the smoke cleared the rifles of the actual combatants. Just after the Japanese surrender on the 10th of August 1945, the CCP sent messages to some Japanese units to surrender to them and not the KMT. When the Japanese refused, the CCP attacked.....not the Japanese but the KMT!
(Chart 4 provides a list of the Japanese command areas that surrendered legally to the KMT military. General Ho notes that the CCP presented a threat in that zone not to the Japanese Army, but to the Chinese KMT army. The CCP also killed American military observers in those zones immediately after the war.) Initially, the KMT pushed the duplicitous CCP army back into Soviet-Russian-occupied Manchuria and North Korea. There, safely out of reach of the KMT, the CCP army was given a lifeline by the Russians who trained, equipped, advised, and in some cases led the CCP as a hammer against the KMT and the Chinese people. The former heroes of the army and resistance members against the Japanese were slaughtered in the Soviet-Russian-assisted offensive by the CCP militias. The KMT, suddenly abandoned by the US, was forced to flee and set up a government in exile on Taiwan and small military outposts in Southeast Asia. (3) As General Ho noted in this monograph, the answer to who actually fought the Japanese and continued to sacrifice for the victorious Allied side during WWII is clearly the Kuomintang government, now in Taiwan, and not the CCP government in Beijing. Although General Hos' monograph was written in 1979, his position is backed up by recent scholarship as well. (4) A future installment covering additional evidence to back General Hos' observations will be published in the future.
Conclusion: Taiwan, not China is the inheritor of the Chinese fight against Japan and the Allied victory of WWII.
General Ho, Ying Chin. Who Actually Fought The Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945? Taipei: Lee Ming Company Inc. 1979.
Chiang, Jung and Jon Halliday. Mao the Uknown Story. New York: Anchor Books a Division of Random House, 2006
General Ho. p. 13-14
For more information on the KMT armies that didn't make it to Taiwan but kept up the fight for a free China by creating military cities in Burma and Thailand see Gibson, Richard M and Chen Wenhua. The Secret Army Chiang Kai Shek and the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle. Singapore: Johns Wiley and Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, 2011.
A brief rundown of recent scholarship includes Li, Huayin. Reinventing Modern China: Imagination and Authenticity in Chinese Historical Writing. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2013. Van De Ven, Hans J. War and Nationalism in China 1925-1945. London: Routledge Curzon, 2004. Taylor, Jay. The Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011 and finally Chiang, Jung and Jon Halliday. Mao the Uknown Story. New York: Anchor Books a Division of Random House, 2006.