January 28 Incident: Wikis


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January 28 Incident
Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War
Shanghai 1932 19th route.jpg
Chinese 19th Route Army in defensive position
Date January 28 – March 3, 1932
Location in and around Shanghai, Republic of China
Result Ceasefire; Shanghai demilitarized
Republic of China Republic of China, 19th Route Army, 5th Army  Empire of Japan, Shanghai Expeditionary Army, Imperial Japanese Navy
Republic of China 19th Route Army: Jiang Guangnai (Chinese: 蔣光鼐),
Republic of China 5th Army: Zhang Zhizhong (Chinese: 張治中)
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Commander: Yoshinori Shirakawa (白川義則?),
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Chief of staff: Kanichiro Tashiro ( 田代皖一郎?)
50,000 90,000
Casualties and losses
13,000, including 4,000 KIA, plus 10,000–20,000 civilian deaths 5,000, including 800 KIA
Japanese troops burning residential districts.

The January 28 Incident (January 28 – March 3, 1932) was a short war between the armies of the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan, before official hostilities of the Second Sino-Japanese War commenced in 1937.



In Chinese literature it is known as the January 28 Incident, while in Western sources it is often called the Shanghai War of 1932 or, more simply, the Shanghai Incident. In Japan it is known as the First Shanghai Incident, alluding to the Second Shanghai Incident, which is the Japanese name for the Battle of Shanghai that occurred during the opening stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937.


After the Mukden Incident, Japan had acquired the vast northeastern region of China and would eventually establish the puppet government of Manchukuo. However, the Japanese military planned to increase Japanese influence further, especially into Shanghai where Japan, along with the various western powers, had extraterritorial concessions. In order to provide a casus belli to justify further military action in China, the Japanese military instigated seemingly anti-Japanese incidents. On January 18, five Japanese Buddhist monks, members of an ardently nationalist sect, were beaten near Shanghai's Sanyou Factory (traditional Chinese: 三友實業社pinyin: sānyǒushíyèshè) by agitated Chinese civilians. Over the next few hours, a group burnt down the factory (sources argue this was done by Japanese agents, though it might have been carried out by Chinese in response to the Shanghai Municipal Police's aggressive anti-riot tactics in the aftermath of the beating of the monks). One policeman was killed and several more hurt when they arrived to quell the disorder. This caused an upsurge of anti-Japanese and anti-imperialist protests in the city and its concessions, with Chinese residents of Shanghai marching onto the streets and calling for a boycott of Japanese-made goods.

The battle

Chinese military police in combat.

The situation continued to deteriorate over the next week. By January 27, the Japanese military had already concentrated some thirty ships, forty airplanes, and nearly seven thousand troops around the shoreline of Shanghai, in order to put down any resistance in the event that violence broke out. The military's justification was that it had to defend its concession and citizens. The Japanese also issued an ultimatum to the Shanghai Municipal Council demanding public condemnation and monetary compensation by the Chinese for any Japanese property damaged in the monk incident, and demanding that the Chinese government take active steps to suppress further anti-Japanese protests in the city. In the afternoon of January 28, the Shanghai Municipal Council agreed to these demands.

Throughout this period the Chinese 19th Route Army (Chinese: 十九路軍pinyin: shíjǐulìujūn) had been massing outside the city, causing consternation to both the civil Chinese administration of Shanghai and the foreign-run Concessions. As such, the 19th Route Army was generally seen as little more than a warlord force of equal danger to Shanghai than the Japanese military. In the end, Shanghai donated a substantial bribe to the 19th Route Army in hope they would leave and not incite a Japanese attack.

However, on the midnight of January 28th, Japanese carrier aircraft bombed Shanghai in the first major aircraft carrier action in the Far East. Three thousand Japanese troops proceeded to attack various targets, such as the northern train station, around the city and began an invasion of the de facto Japanese settlement in Hongkew and other areas north of Suzhou Creek. In what was a surprising about-face for many, the 19th Route Army, who many had expected to leave after having been paid, stayed to put up a fierce resistance. Though the opening battles of the conflict took place in the Hongkew district of the International Settlement, this soon spread outwards to much of Chinese-controlled Shanghai. The majority of the Concessions remained untouched by the conflict, and it was often the case that those in the Shanghai International Settlement would watch the war from the banks of Suzhou Creek, and could even visit the battle lines by virtue of their extraterritoriality.

Being a metropolitan city with many foreign interests invested in it, other countries, such as the United States, Great Britain, and France attempted to negotiate a ceasefire between Japan and China. However, Japan refused, instead continuing to mobilize troops in the region. On January 12, American, British, and French representatives brokered a half-day cease fire for humanitarian relief to civilians caught in the crossfire. On 30 January, Chiang Kai-shek decided to temporarily relocate the capital from Nanjing to Luoyang as an emergency measure, since Nanjing's proximity to Shanghai could make it a target.

On February 12, the Japanese issued another ultimatum, demanding that the Chinese Army retreat twenty kilometers from the border of Shanghai Concessions, a demand promptly refused by the Chinese forces. This only intensified fighting in Hongkew. The Japanese were still not able to take the city by the middle of February, and the number of Japanese troops was increased to nearly ninety thousand with the arrival of the 9th Infantry Division and the IJA 24th Mixed Brigade, supported by eighty warships and three hundred airplanes.

On 14 February, Chiang Kai-shek sent his 5th Army, including his "elite" (that is to say, professional) 87th and 88th divisions into Shanghai. At that time, the 5th Army was considered the best fighting force in China due to its German training and modern equipment.

On 20 February, Japanese bombardments were increased to force the Chinese away from their defensive positions near Miaoxing, while commercial and residential districts of the city were set on fire. The Chinese defensive positions deteriorated rapidly without naval and armored support, with the number of defenders dwindling to fewer than fifty thousand. Japanese forces increased to over a hundred thousand troops, backed by both aerial and naval bombardments.

On 29 February, the Japanese 11th Infantry Division landed near Liuhe behind Chinese lines. The defenders launched a desperate counterattack from 1 March but were unable to dislodge the Japanese. On March 2, the 19th Route Army issued a telegram stating that it was necessary to withdraw from Shanghai due to lack of supplies and manpower. The next day, both the 19th Route Army and the 5th Army retreated from Shanghai, marking the official end of the battle.

Peace process

Remembrance service for fallen Chinese troops

On March 4, the League of Nations passed a resolution demanding a ceasefire, even though sporadic fighting persisted. On March 6, the Chinese unilaterally agreed to stop fighting, although the Japanese rejected the ceasefire. On March 14, representatives from the League of Nations arrived at Shanghai to force the Japanese to negotiate. While negotiation were ongoing, intermittent fighting continued in both outlying areas and the city itself. On May 5, China and Japan signed the Shanghai Ceasefire Agreement (Chinese: 淞滬停戰協定pinyin: sōnghùtíngzhànxiédìng). This agreement made Shanghai a demilitarized zone and forbade China to garrison troops in areas surrounding Shanghai, Suzhou, and Kunshan, while allowing the presence of a few Japanese units in the city. China was allowed to keep only a small police force within the city. The agreement was widely regarded by the Chinese as a humiliation, as the terms were extremely unfavorable to China.


Yoshinori Shirakawa, the commander of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army and joint leader of the Japanese forces, was assassinated by Korean nationalist Yoon Bong-Gil during the battle and died on May 26.

After the ceasefire was brokered, the 19th Army was reassigned by Chiang Kai-shek to suppress Chinese Communist insurrection in Fujian. While winning some battles against the communists they then negotiated peace with them. On November 22, leadership of the 19th Route Army revolted against the Kuomingtang government, and established the Fujian People's Government, independent of the Republic of China. This new Fujian government was not supported by all elements of the communists and was quickly crushed by Chiang's armies in January 1934. The leaders of the 19th Route Army escaped to Hong Kong and the rest of the army was disbanded and reassigned to other units of the National Revolutionary Army.


  • Fenby, Jonathan (2003). Chiang Kai-shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost. Carroll & Graf Publishers. isbn = 0786713186. 
  • Jordan, Donald (2001). China's Trial by Fire: The Shanghai War of 1932. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11165-5. 
  • Hsu Long-hsuen and Chang Ming-kai, History of The Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) 2nd Ed. ,1971. Translated by Wen Ha-hsiung , Chung Wu Publishing; 33, 140th Lane, Tung-hwa Street, Taipei, Taiwan Republic of China.

External links

See also



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