Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Japanese who fought in the Chinese Civil War

Mr. Lin Po-wen is my favorite columnist. I love reading his columns appeared regularly on The China Times not because they recalled my nostalgia of 60s and 70s of the last century but are really unparalleled, a uniqueness of its own kind, like his article today titled The Japanese Who Fought in the Chinese Civil War.

After Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek lost the whole mainland China to Chairman Mao Tse-tung in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, there was not a day that Chiang dreamed of fighting back home. Beginning in July 1949, he recruited a hundred or so former Imperial Japanese military officers, his opponents during the Second Sino-Japanese War (0937-1945) to come to Taiwan. Their job was to help Chiang train his troops and draw plans to counterattack. The leader of these Japanese officers was Major General Tomita Naosuke(1899-1979), working under the pseudonym Bai Hung-liang. Thus his officer corps was also known as Bai Tuan, Bai’s corps in Chinese. Most officers returned to Japan in the early 50s, but Bai and other five men stayed until 1968. Although Chiang had never fulfilled his dream of returning to the mainland, it was undeniable that Bai and his men had made significant contributions helping Chiang defend Taiwan and keep it from being “liberated” by Mao.

Chiang, however, was not first to engage Japanese to help fight the civil war. At the beginning of what they called the Liberation War, the Chinese Communist troops forced nearly eight thousand Japanese doctors, nurses, ordnance specialists, and flyers to fight with them. In the crucial battles that had been fought in northeastern China, the backbone logistic support of Lin Biao’s Fourth Field Army, the elite of the People’s Liberation Army, was entirely staffed by the Japanese. Nevertheless, they were all repatriated back to Japan in 1953 with their medals retrieved and service records obliterated because the Chinese communists considered engaging former enemy’s help a face-losing matter. It was not until 1990s when records were declassified then these Japanese whose contributions to the Liberation War were recognized and were welcome to visit China.

This was yet another chapter of irony added to the history of Chinese people.

No comments: