Editor's Note: A cache of wartime letters released by Jilin Provincial Archives has shone new light on atrocities committed by the Japanese during their invasion of China in World War II. The letters, written between 1937 and 1945, also portray Japanese soldiers and emigrants as disillusioned and war-weary.  (Names and addresses in the report were translated according to Japanese pronunciations.)

Date: April 1, 1940

From: Thosuke, Toan Kuroiwa Butai Honbu

To: Uji Shimafukuro, SotoTsubogawa 2-380, Gunya City, Okinawa


Dear Mom, I’d like to ask you for a favor. I am dying to go home but can’t make it. We are allowed to go back only in specific situations. Thus, when you receive this letter, please send me a telegram with the following words: “Your mother is dying, please go home as soon as possible.”

Date: June 8, 1939

From: Kemi, British warship stationed near Yingkou

To: Kenneth MacLeod, No.401 in Hamelute Residence, Shanghai


I listened to the radio last night and learned that a foreigner was beaten by Japanese soldiers in a place near Botan (ポタン)and died the next day. The Japanese soldiers asked him “Who are you?” The poor man knew nothing but was beaten up fiercely. When he was taken away from that place, he had been stabbed in the gut. How terrible! I firmly believe that one day they [the Japanese soldiers] will pay for what they have done.

Date: July 25, 1939

From: Minamoto Masa, Hailar Aoki Butai

To: Sachie Kondo, ShinKyoshi Eiraku Butai 1-8


The war won’t end easily. We have to carry on the arduous combat to achieve final victory, because we have sacrificed valuable lives and materials. However, even if we establish a new country, we will be too ashamed to face the ugly victory.

Date: Sep 27, 1939

From: Shanghai North China Daily News

To: Bible College, Qidong company, Yingkou


Reports say, "At 1:30 and 3:00 am on Sep 4th, 36 Japanese fighter planes bombed Chongqing twice, and bombs were mainly dropped on the western suburb of the city.

Chinese planes took off immediately and anti-aircraft artillery fired off. Chinese army claimed they shot down two Japanese planes. Moreover, a special correspondent from Reuters found damaged automobiles that seemed to have been bombed in the western suburb of Chongqing. Although Japanese planes dropped quite a number of bombs, not much damage was done, apart from some factories and middle schools."


Date: June 2, 1939

From: Shanghai Daily (in French)

To: Santong outside church, Xiaonanguan, Fengtian


Although Japan's invasion was launched more than two years ago, a decisive victory has not yet been achieved. Japan’s army has been conducting air raids on ordinary cities, and continues to disrupt the peaceful life of the local people. In Chongqing, the capital of China, which was not an armed or defensive city, Japanese warplanes frequently bombed civilian-concentrated areas, causing numerous fires. Estimates put the number of bombs dropped in this area over 1,000, and many people were brutally slaughtered.

Date: June 22, 1939

From: unknown

To: Wu Yinqiu, Bank of China in Fengtian


Recently, the Japanese army has required its soldiers to observe discipline, which has somewhat stabilized the situation. However, there is still pillaging at night.

Two houses located in West Hongqiao owned by Liu Er were robbed to the last pin. Moreover, Guangyuan’s husband was captured. Japanese soldiers burned and dunked him; but he kept howling “Save the country.” What the Japanese have done is bitterly disappointing.

Date: Sep 14, 1939

From: E Barustt magazine, Buenos Aires, Argentina

To: M. Jetson of Qidong Company


"The war in China is going on." Chinese people are plunged into misery and suffering by the Japanese with their so-called cultural slogans. During the invasion of China, Japan set the wartime capital - Chongqing - as the target of its attack. At the beginning of this summer, the Japanese launched a 3-day centralized air attack. During that period, more than 10,000 people were injured in the bombing… and 1/5 of the city was destroyed. What’s more, several bombs dropped in the area of the British Consulate, causing 25 Chinese dead, including eight kids. The Japanese army argued that there was a Chinese anti-aircraft artillery troop near the consulate.


Date: Feb 19, 1940

From: Mitsui Yutaka, kokuka

To: Genzaburo Sugino , Inazumi Village, Nakakoma Prefecture, Yamanashi


When I left my hometown the fine rhetoric of the government personnel gave me tremendous hope. However, after I arrived in Manchuria and learned its status quo, my previous hopes were dashed. We are given not even a penny, only wine vouchers equivalent to 2 yuan.