This article published by the Shanghai newspaper China Weekly Review provides an intriguing snapshot of the political scenario in the “Far East” in 1940, highlighting the role of the Nanking Puppet government headed by Wang Ching-wei (Wang Jingwei) as an erstwhile peacemaker, while the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong continued to fight their “War of Resistance” from western and northern China. One of the interesting features of this article is the visit to Japan by Chen Kung-po (Chen Gongbo), Wang Ching-wei’s close associate, who joined his Peace Movement in 1940. The article also mentions rumors of Mao’s death in Yan’an, which obviously proved false. Interesting also how the article rounds out the perspective with mention of Madame Sun Yat-sen and the author Lin Yutang at the end of the article.
Chinese Blamed for Deadlock in Japan-Nanking Parleys; Peace Rumors Are Heard Again
(The China Weekly Review Jun 1, 1940)
DEADLOCK in the Wang Ching-wei-Japanese parleys in Nanking, revival of peace rumors, the departure of the Nanking Mission to Tokyo for China, and an alleged Nanking plan to oust Wang Keh-min from his post as head of the North China regime featured developments in Sino-Japanese politics in the past week.
The first intimation of what had been going on in Nanking since the arrival there of Gen. Nobuyuki Abe, Japan’s special envoy to the Wang regime, more than a month ago, was provided last week by Gen. Seiichi Suzuki, director of the political department of the Asia Development Board, at a meeting of cabinet advisors in Tokyo. Gen. Suzuki revealed that so far no formal talks for a readjustment of Sino-Japanese relations had been initiated between Gen. Abe and Wang Ching-wei.
Chinese Are Blamed
According to a Havas report from Tokyo quoting the Hochi Shimbun, Gen. Suzuki remarked that the delay in the matter had been due solely to the Chinese side, that is, the Nankingites, but he hoped that negotiations would be started as soon as the Chinese had completed their preparations. In the opinion of the Hochi Shimbun, Gen. Suzuki’s remarks were equivalent to an admission that a deadlock has arisen in the Nanking talks.
In connection with the Nanking- Japanese parleys, a rumor gained wide circulation in Shanghai some days ago that emissaries of the Chinese and Japanese governments were discussing peace terms in Hongkong and that Gen. Abe had flown to Hanoi to contact the representatives of Chungking. The rumor, however, drew a categorical denial from the Chinese authorities, while the Japanese Army spokesman also entered a disclaimer. He said that he had not heard of such rumors and that it was “very unlikely” that Gen. Abe would journey to South China in the near future.
Apparently somewhat agitated by the rumors of direct Chungking-Tokyo peace negotiations which, if true, would mean that the Japanese intend to abandon their Nanking puppets, Lin Pai-sheng, Nanking’s publicity minister, issued a vehement denial, blaming Chungking’s propagandists for fabricating these rumors. He affirmed that Gen. Abe is still in Nanking.
Envoys Want Peace ?
While it cannot be ascertained where the recent peace rumors originated, Japanese sources seem to be capitalizing on them to advance their own purpose. In a dispatch from Hongkong, Domei alleged that Chinese diplomatic envoys in Europe had urged the Chinese Government to consider the advisibility of concluding peace with Japan in view of the rapidly changing international situation.
The Japanese report named Chen Chieh, Chinese Ambassador to Germany, Dr. Quo Tai-chi, Ambassador to London, and Dr. Wellington Koo, Ambassador to Paris as among the Chinese diplomats abroad who have urged Chungking to revise its policy of anti-Japanese resistance. If the Domei story is to be believed, the alleged peace advocacy by Chinese Japan’s diplomats may result in further confusion in Chungking political circles, already divided in to two camps—the advocates of closer ties with Moscow, Berlin and Rome and those in favor of closer cooperation with the United States and other democracies.
Elaborating the tale, another Domei message from Hongkong alleged that Sun Fo, president of the Legislative Yuan and described as a “leading pro-Soviet statesman” in Chungking, advocated close collaboration between Chungking and the Axis Powers at a recent meeting of the Supreme National Defense Council. He was said to have demanded that instructions be sent to the Chinese ambassadors to Germany and Italy, ordering them to open negotiations with leaders of those governments to improve relations between them and Chungking. Mr. Sun was also alleged to have advocated closer ties with the Soviet Union. Gen. Chiang Kai-shek and Foreign Minister Wang Chung-hui, according to Domei, however, have refused to be pushed into the Axis camp in view of Chungking’s existing relations with Britain and America.
Abe’s New Aide
To strengthen his staff in the negotiations with Wang Ching-wei. Gen. Abe has acquired a new aide in the person of Kazuo Aoki (former Japanese finance minister), who will be his economic and financial advisor. Arriving in Shanghai last week-end, Mr. Aoki promptly denied the report current in Shanghai that he had brought with him any concrete plans for a readjustment of China’s finances. He explained that he would serve strictly in an advisory capacity.
In spite of the Japanese denial of current peace rumors, Japan’s anxiety to liquidate her China adventure is being manifested in both official statements and press comments. While
cooperation with the Government “in building up national defense in order to conduct a ‘total’ war for the disposal of the China Incident, especially in view of the complex international situation,” voices are multiplying in the press for a quick settlement of the China war “to free Japan’s hands for worldwide events to come.”
The Asahi Shimbun warned that Japan must speedily clear up the China Incident and assume a definite stand regarding the present European war. The paper stressed that unless Japan moves swiftly to liquidate the incident and take a definite stand, she will be left looking on “like a child sucking its thumbs” with no voice in the final settlement of world affairs. The Asahi termed the China Incident “the chain on Japan’s feet.”
Complete Peace Sought
The Kokumin Shimbun likewise urged an early and complete end to the China Incident to permit Japan to take a “more positive policy toward the European War.” The newspaper pointed out that despite the establishment of the Nanking regime, its real strength remains to be tested. It urged the government to end the China Incident, not through “surface formalities and government statements about the new government in Nanking, while Chungking continues resistance, not with a partial peace, but with complete peace.”
After a one-week visit in Tokyo during which they proffered profuse thanks to Japanese government leaders for their friendship and support, members of the Nanking Mission to Tokyo, with the exception of Chu Min-yi, left Japan for China last Sunday. Headed by Chen Kung-po as special envoy and Chu Min-yi deputy special envoy, the Mission
arrived in Tokyo on May 21. Their first duty after arrival was to pay respects to the Imperial Palaces and the Meiji and Yasukuni Shrines. Later they were received by Premier Yonai and Foreign Minister Hachiro Arita.
Describing its mission as merely returning thanks to the Japanese Government, Y. Suma, Foreign Office spokesman, said that the Nanking delegation would not conduct political discussions with Japanese officials, although talks leading to closer Sino- Japanese relations were planned for the near future.
Immediately after his arrival in Tokyo, Chen Kung-po issued a statement to the press in which after expressing appreciation for the honor of the presence of His Imperial Japanese’s Envoy Extraordinary, Gen. Nobuyuki Abe, in Nanking, he said in part: “The rehabilitation of our country following the devastation and havoc as the result of the hostilities, will entail enormous reconstructive work in which we require the assistance of your country. The Chinese Government and people eagerly expect from your great nation such cooperation and assistance.”
Japan’s intention to render full assistance and cooperation to the Nanking regime was reiterated by Premier Yonai in a speech delivered at a reception on May 22 in honor of the Nanking Mission. The function was attended by Prince Ayamaro Konoye, president of the Privy Council; Gen. Heisuke Yanagawa, director- general of the Asia Development Board, and many military and civil dignitaries.
Stressing Japan’s determination to create a new order in East Asia, Premier Yonai warned that a pro-Communist and anti-Japanese regime is still continuing its resistance. He added that “Japan will, by overcoming all obstacles, make every effort to establish a new order in East Asia,” pointing out that Nanking’s responsibility in this connection is heavy.
Replying, Chen Kung-po said that he firmly believed that Japan’s “biggest and ultimate object” lies in the independence and freedom of China. He described Gen. Abe’s trip to Nanking as an “epoch-making event,” adding; “We were deeply moved by the enthusiasm and sincerity of all the Japanese who accompanied Gen. Abe.”
On the morning of May 23, Chen Kung-po was granted an audience by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito in the Imperial Palace. According to the Central Press Service (Wang Ching-wei organ in Shanghai), Mr. Chen expressed his high respect for and gratitude to the Japanese Emperor for the courteous reception accorded him. After the audience, Chen visited Prince Konoye, with whom he talked for more than one hour.
The hobnobbing between the members of the Nanking Mission and Japanese officials continued for several days and was rounded up with a big farewell banquet given by the Nankingites to more than 170 leading Japanese officials in the night of May 25.
On May 26, the Nanking delegation departed from Tokyo for China. In a statement issued on the day of his departure, Chen Kung-po said: “The destiny of the nations of East Asia can be solved only by the nations themselves, and Sino-Japanese cooperation can be the only bulwark for stability in this part of the globe.” He emphasized the necessity of Japan and China working together to fight Communism and to perfect economic cooperation. The delegation was scheduled to visit Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka briefly before sailing from Kobe for China on June 2. Chu Min-yi, the vice-leader of the Chinese group, however, will return to Tokyo from Kobe to attend the East Asia Athletic Meet to be held for five days beginning June 5.
Pu Yi for Japan
Henry Pu Yi, puppet emperor of Manchukuo, is scheduled to pay a state visit to Japan in the latter part of June, travelling aboard a Japanese battleship. The purpose of the trip is to offer congratulations to the Japanese Government on the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Empire.
Relations between the Nanking and Peiping puppets, which have never been smooth from the start, seem to be again strained, with the reported intention of Nanking to oust Wang Keh-min from his post as chief of the North China regime. Wang is reported to have been asked to resign from his post and to accept the appointment as the first Chinese ambassador to Japan from the Nanking regime. In order to persuade Wang to accept the offer, Nanking has sent Liang Hung-chih (head of the Control Yuan) to Peiping. It is not known whether Wang will agree to the Nanking proposal, but it was stated in political circles in Peiping that in the event of Wang being ousted, either Liang Hung-chi or Wang Yi- tang would be named acting chairman of the North China Political Council. Meanwhile, it was significant to note that Wang Keh-min, who intended to make a trip to Japan a week ago, has postponed it indefinitely. No reason for the postponement was given.
Nippon Youth Admonished
Severe words of admonition were administered to Japanese youths in Shanghai by Genshichi Oikawa, assistant director of the Central China Liaison Office of the Asia Development Board, last week, when he condemned their lack of discipline and appreciation of Japan’s campaign in China by indulging in intoxication and merrymaking. Expressing great regret that many Japanese young men are found drunk and singing on the streets late at night, Mr. Oikawa said that “it is a shame that they show such a lack of self-discipline, especially at a time when Japanese officers and men are working so hard in the cause of the state.” He urged the Japanese young men to behave better so that they will be qualified to “guide Chinese youths.”
One of the most sensational rumors circulated by Japanese sources last week was that Gen. Mao Tse-tung, leader of the Chinese Communist Party, had died in northern Shensi on May 4 allegedly of pulmonary tuberculosis. The rumor, however, was promptly denied by Chinese sources.
Madame Sun’s Impressions
Madame Sun Yat-sen, who returned to Hongkong from Chungking recently, issued a statement on May 22 giving her impressions of the wartime capital. She said that considerable progress has been achieved in developing productive resources in the interior, while many political reforms have been carried out by the central authorities. She also observed that the spirit of national solidarity permeates the masses of the population.
Dr. Lin Yutang, noted Chinese author, arrived in Chungking from Hongkong by air on May 23, accompanied by his family. Dr. Lin was received by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek with whom he discussed the current military and political situations in China and abroad. In a press interview on May 26, Dr. Lin said that Gen. Chiang’s “unusual calmness during this gigantic struggle gives one such a surprise that the only conclusion you can draw is that he is assured of the future steps he will take toward a final victory.” Dr. Lin left Chungking for a northern hot springs where he will reside for a few months before starting to visit the war fronts.