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Statement by the Japanese Prime Minister (Prince Konoye), July 7, 1938 82

July 7, last year, was the day on which the Lukouchiao Incident occurred. The China Incident which followed is now to see the first anniversary of its outbreak. At the outset of the Incident our Empire took a non-aggravation policy and tried to localize the solution of the affair. But the outrageous Nationalist Government took every occasion to betray our sincerity and needlessly aggravated the situation. It has cried [sic] long resistance against this nation and brought about the conflict seen today, which we deeply regret.

But, with the progress of the Incident, our Imperial forces have carried everything before them, and in the brief period of one year [Page 468] they have succeeded in raising the Sun Flag everywhere over the extensive area already occupied by them. We are highly inspired by this, and our feeling we can never properly express in words. The results are of course due to the efforts of the brave and faithful officers and men who have fought, shielded by the August virtue of His Majesty. Representing the entire nation, I wish to express hereby profound gratitude for the services rendered by the officers and men of the Imperial Army and Navy. At the same time, I can never forget the services contributed by the many heroes who have fallen in China in connection with the current Incident. To the spirits of the men slain in battle I pay my profound respect and condolence.

Thanks to the skilful strategic operations of the Imperial forces and the efforts of all the men, Japan has won continued victories. At present the fall of Hankow is imminent. As the nation is aware, the Chiang regime is the Government which has dared to destroy the Yellow river embankments and does not care about sacrificing thereby in the muddy flood the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent fellow-nationals. Such an outrageous and cruel act will never be permitted by man or Heaven. There is no reason why such a Government should last. Under ordinary circumstances, the Chiang regime would have collapsed long ago. But the fact that the regime still exists is due to the aid of foreign Powers, upon which it depends, and which use every available means to perpetuate its existence at the cost of the welfare of the entire Chinese nation.

Of the foreign Powers, there are such friendly nations as Germany and Italy which approve the Empire’s national policy and collaborate with us in joint defense against Communism. But there are still other nations which do not yet understand our true intention and are engrossed in the acquisition of new rights and interests in China as well as in the protection of already-acquired rights and interests in that country. Who knows but that those nations, knowing the feeble power of the Chiang regime, by giving further help to the regime in an attempt to prolong the hostilities and weaken the national power of Japan, will not try thus to threaten Japan’s national safety?

Faced by this serious fact of national emergency, the nation cannot rest contented with the number of victories gained, inflated over the success. The current Incident is known as the China Incident, but the other party is not necessarily the Chiang regime only. Behind the Chiang regime there exists extremely complex and manifold international relations involving international interests. The circumstances are not simple. Our nation is required to grasp the situation correctly and try to cope with it creditably.

In modern war, the battlefield is not merely the field of powder-smoke and rain of bullets. Fighters are not only those who carry [Page 469] guns or brandish swords. Once war is begun, even if the actual battlefield may be across the sea, the nation must have the tense feeling that all its land at home is also a battlefield. Not only those who carry guns and bayonets, but also those who till the soil, spin yarn, strike their hammers, or work at their desks—young and old, men and women, in fact, all the nation—must have the realization that they are actual fighters. Otherwise it will be impossible to save the unprecedentedly difficult situation. Success in modern war is not decided only by a struggle of arms. In parallel with the armed conflict we must push economic and ideological battles, which are also potent factors for winning the victory.

In war, we either win or lose. Once war is begun, therefore, we must try to win it, whatever difficulty or hardship we may encounter. The Empire of Japan is a unique country, governed and reigned over by a line of Emperors unbroken for all ages. At no time in the long history of the nation has it ever been defeated by any foreign nation. In the present China Incident, thus, unless we win a glorious victory, how can we face our ancestors who have given us such a brilliant history, or our descendants who are to shoulder the destiny of our nation in succeeding generations.

We, in harmonious cooperation with officers and men at the front, must try to establish perfect National General Mobilization preparedness, in an attempt to win final victory. To win this final victory, we must be prepared to grapple with every difficulty and hardship. In order to assure a supply of necessary war materials, the nation will doubtless experience many inconveniences in its living. But the nation, always remembering the hardship and struggle of officers and men at the front, must try to bear every difficulty. Our officers and men at the front are fighting, staking their lives for the sake of the Empire. Is it not then our duty to try to bear every difficulty and enable all our men at the front to work freely and actively without care? It is not the way simply to force upon you, the nation, any hardship. We desire that there be repeated no more such conflicts in East Asia. This is the way whereby we desire, as a result of final victory, that there be established securely permanent peace in East Asia, forestalling any ambitious attempts of third Powers.

Among the 400,000,000 people of the Republic of China there is quite a number moderate and sound in their views, who really understand the true intentions of Japan. These men have established in North China the Provisional Government and in Central China the Renovation Government, ousting the outrageous and cruel Chiang Kai-shek regime. They are today steadily achieving tangible results. The Empire of Japan must do its best to help these new pro-Japanese Chinese governments to lay the foundation of East Asian peace. This is indeed the historic mission thrust upon the shoulders of this Empire.

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However, the current situation which Japan faces is extremely complex. As Japan at present faces a situation possibly requiring long-term hostilities, no time in the history of our nation has been more serious. Hereupon, there are raised cries of national unity and there is demanded also national general mobilization. But the talked-of national unity or national general mobilization can never be achieved by mere propaganda. It does not necessarily mean the mere assembling of men and women, young and old. This alone would not be true national general mobilization. Farmers must work faithfully as farmers, businessmen as businessmen, women as women, students as students, each in their proper sphere. Thus can we achieve true national unity and collaboration. No greater service to the State, or no stronger combination of the people, could be acquired.

All friends of the Empire, the war has just begun. The Government must depend upon your strong determination, untiring effort, and admirable cooperation. We hope the whole nation will bear this fact deeply in mind and act accordingly. Will you try thus to overcome every difficulty and hardship? Will you try thus each to fulfil your own duties? The glorious crown of victory or the great objective of establishing East Asian peace will never be achieved without such effort on the part of the entire nation. On the first anniversary of the outbreak of the China Incident, I appeal to the entire nation, reminding it of this vital fact.

  1. Reprinted from the Japan Times (Tokyo) of July 7, 1938.