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Commentary: 'Manchukuo' lies hurt relations
( 2003-08-19 07:08) (China Daily)

Japan's constant distortion of history has proven to be one of the major factors affecting Sino-Japanese bilateral relations.

In late July, lawyers pleading for the Japanese Government against a compensation case started by three orphans left in Northeast China at the end of World War II made the surprising assertion that the "Manchukuo" region was "an independent state."

The lawyers claimed Japan therefore need not compensate the parties for any hardship they suffered there.

It is a well-known fact that the Japanese Government has the habit of shirking responsibility for its wrongdoings perpetrated during the war in front of either its own people or its Asian neighbours.

We are not too concerned about whether or not the Japanese Government will grant its own war victims fair treatment, given that such cases are its internal affairs. But we feel extremely enraged and concerned that such a fact-distorting viewpoint could ever have been brought up by Japanese lawyers 58 years after the end of the Japanese War of Aggression against China.

The so-called "Manchukuo'' refers to the puppet regime illegally established in Northeast China (also known as Manchuria) in early 1932 under the aegis of the Japanese Kanto Army, the spearhead force in Japan's invasion of China during the 1930s and 1940s.

Obviously, neither international law nor human morality can possibly support the conception that the stooge regime represented an independent country.

By confusing right with wrong, the Japanese lawyers have rubbed salt into the historical wounds of the Chinese people again.

Although the absurd opinion was not officially put forward by the Japanese Government, it hurt Chinese people all the same.

A careful probe into historical facts must prove that "Manchukuo'' was no more than a result of Japan's aggression in China and its then military strategy.

On September 18, 1931, the Japanese militarists openly started their war of aggression against China under the excuse that China's Northeast Force had blown up the Liutiaohu section of the South Manchuria Railway. In 1905, Japan gained the right of management over the railway linking Changchun and Lushun in Northeast China as a result of its victory in its war with Russia. The railway blast story was, in fact, made up by the Japanese Kanto Army to create a pretext for the expansion of its invasion into China.

Due to the adamant "non-resistance'' policy adopted by Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang (KMT) regime, which completely pinned its hopes on the League of Nations (1920-45) for settlement of its dispute with Japan, Northeast China in its entirety immediately fell into the hands of the Japanese aggressors.

Following their invasion into Northeast China, the Japanese militarists were in a hurry to include all of Northeast China in Japan's sphere of influence, in an attempt to create a regime under Japan's control.

Shortly after the September 18 incident, the Command of the Japanese Kanto Army issued an open announcement that China's Northeast Force headed by General Chang Hsueh-liang was guilty of atrocities and not the army of a civilized nation.

It further claimed that China had no civilized army and thus could not be called an independent country.

To drive China's Northeast Force out of the region, the Kanto Army accused Chang Hsueh-liang's army of being unqualified for its station in Northeast China and demanded the creation of a new regime.

After a deliberate conspiracy with the South Manchuria Railway authority, the Kanto Army put forward its programme on October 6, 1931, for the establishment of a new regime.

Under this scheme, the new regime was to be completely separate from Chinese native territory and under the control of Japan, even if Chinese were allowed to exert a superficial governance over the regime.

Under the plot and arrangements of the Japanese Kanto Army, an overthrown emperor Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) sneaked away from his lodging in Tianjin into Northeast China on November 11, 1931, in an attempt to act as the new emperor of the so-called "Manchukuo.''

The reason why the Kanto Army chose Pu Yi as the head of the new regime was that it wanted to take advantage of Pu Yi's special double identity as a Manchu national and the former emperor of the Qing Dynasty, to create a false impression of the "independence of the Manchu minority.''

Afterwards, the Kanto Army and the then Japanese Cabinet stepped up efforts to set up a puppet regime.

On February 16, 1932, the Kanto Army convened a meeting on the building of "Manchukuo'' in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province. On March 1, it published the declaration on the establishment of "Manchukuo'' and announced the independence of China's Northeast region from the country.

On March 9, Pu Yi was officially pushed to the helm of the newly established "Manchukuo'' puppet regime. Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province, was renamed as Xinjing -- the capital of "Manchukuo.''

A review of the process of the establishment of "Manchukuo'' will reveal that it was simply the result of the plot of the Japanese militarists.

Such a one-sided act by Japan was legally groundless.

From the perspective of international law, it was illegal for Japan to make use of China's overthrown emperor and set up a "state.''

International law indicates that the occupation of land during aggression is temporary and should end automatically after the war.

Following the establishment of 'Manchukuo,'' the Chinese Kuomintang government immediately claimed that it would not recognize any unauthorized administrative body in any part of its territory and would not acknowledge any treaty or document signed by the regime and other countries.

After the September 18 incident, the League of Nations dispatched an enquiry group headed by Victor A. R. G. Lytton to Northeast China to investigate the Sino-Japanese dispute.

Under the international situation at that time, the group was under complete control of Britain and the United States, which stood with Japan in its dispute with China.

The pro-Japan team submitted a report to the West-dominated world body after a nearly-one-year marathon investigation. Although the report tried to justify Japan's atrocious acts in Northeast China, it still asserted that the so-called "independence of Manchuria'' was the result of the Japanese instigation and invasion and the new regime was controlled by Japanese officials.

"Manchukuo'' also failed to get recognition from the international community and even Germany and Italy, Japan's two war friends.

The 1943 Cairo Declaration jointly issued by China, the United States and Britain urged Japan to return its occupied Chinese territories to China, including Manchuria, Taiwan, and the Penghu Islands.

In the Postdam Proclamation issued on July 26, 1945, the anti-facism coalition of the world's major powers further pressed Japan to implement the Cairo Declaration.

The two international documents, which undoubtedly bear the legal effect of international treaties, clearly indicate that the Manchuria is an inalienable part of China.

As the defeated party that accepted the two documents, Japan should abide by the rulings of the documents. As law professionals in Japan, the Japanese lawyers should not stain the image of their own country further with wild talks.

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