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The Three Alls Policy (Japanese language:三光作戦 , Sankō Sakusen; Script error) was a Japanese scorched earth policy adopted in China during World War II, the three "alls" being "kill all, loot all, destroy all"[1] (Japanese: すべてを殺す、すべてを燃やす、すべてを略奪; Script error). This policy was designed as retaliation against the Chinese for the Communist-led Hundred Regiments Offensive in December 1940.[1] Contemporary Japanese documents referred to the policy as "The Burn to Ash Strategy" (燼滅作戦 Jinmetsu Sakusen?)Script error.[1] The expression "Sankō Sakusen" was first popularized in Japan in 1957 when former Japanese soldiers released from the Fushun war crime internment center wrote a book called The Three Alls: Japanese Confessions of War Crimes in China (Japanese language:三光、日本人の中国における戦争犯罪の告白Script error , Sankō, Nihonjin no Chūgoku ni okeru sensō hanzai no kokuhaku) (new edition: Kanki Haruo, 1979), in which Japanese veterans confessed to war crimes committed under the leadership of General Yasuji Okamura. The publishers were forced to stop the publication of the book after receiving death threats from Japanese militarists and ultranationalists.[1]

DescriptionEdit

Yasuji Okamura

General Yasuji Okamura

Initiated in 1940 by Major General Ryūkichi Tanaka, the Sankō Sakusen was implemented in full scale in 1942 in north China by General Yasuji Okamura who divided the territory of five provinces (Hebei, Shandong, Shensi, Shanhsi, Chahaer) into "pacified", "semi-pacified" and "unpacified" areas. Okamura's strategy involved burning down villages, confiscating grain and mobilizing peasants to construct collective hamlets. It also centered on the digging of vast trench lines and the building of thousands of miles of containment walls and moats, watchtowers and roads. These operations targeted for destruction "enemies pretending to be local people" and "all males between the ages of fifteen and sixty whom we suspect to be enemies."[2] In a study published in 1996, historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta claims that the Three Alls Policy, sanctioned by Emperor Hirohito himself, was both directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of "more than 2.7 million" Chinese civilians. His works and those of Akira Fujiwara about the details of the operation were commented by Herbert P. Bix in his Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, who claims that the Sankō Sakusen far surpassed the Rape of Nanking not only in terms of numbers, but in brutality as well. The effects of the Japanese strategy were further exacerbated by Chinese military tactics, which included the masking of military forces as civilians, or the use of civilians as deterrents against Japanese attacks. In some places, the Japanese use of chemical warfare against civilian populations in contravention of international agreements was also alleged.

Controversy and disputeEdit

As with many aspects of World War II history, the Three Alls Policy is still a controversial issue. Because the name and source for this strategy is Chinese , some have denied its veracity. The issue is partly confused by the use of scorched-earth tactics by the Kuomintang government forces in numerous areas of central and northern China, against both the invading Japanese, and against Chinese civilian populations in rural areas of strong support for the Chinese Communist Party. Known in Japan as "The Clean Field Strategy" (清野作戦 Seiya Sakusen?)Script error, Chinese soldiers would destroy the homes and fields of their own civilians in order to wipe out any possible supplies or shelter that could be utilised by the over-extended Japanese troops.[1]

MovieEdit

The movie The Children of Huang Shi, which covers the Japanese invasion from 1938 to 1945, is set in part along the sankō sakusen.[2]

NotesEdit

  1. Harries. Soldiers of the Sun. page 235.
  2. "The Long March of a forgotten English Hero". The Times (London).

ReferencesEdit

Some of the content of this article comes from the equivalent Japanese-language article (accessed on April 7, 2006).

  • Fujiwara, Akira (藤原彰). The Three Alls Policy and the Northern Chinese Regional Army (「三光作戦」と北支那方面軍), Kikan sensô sekinin kenkyû 20, 1998.
  • Harries, Meirion (1994). Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army (Reprint ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-75303-6. 
  • Himeta, Mitsuyoshi (1995) (in Japanese). 日本軍による『三光政策・三光作戦をめぐって [Concerning the Three Alls Strategy/Three Alls Policy By the Japanese Forces]. Iwanami Bukkuretto. ISBN 978-4000033176. 

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