The Japanese WW II Southeast Asian Campaign

The South-East Asian Theatre of World War II consisted of the campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma, India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Indochina, Malaya, and Singapore between 1941 to 1945.

The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) was both a military conflict, waged between Japan and China, and also a precursor to the Chinese Theater of World War II. The conflict dates to the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 8, 1037, when Japanese army officials wished to search the town of Wanping for a missing soldier. It eventually led to Chinese troops firing on Japanese soldiers, marking the start of the Battle of Deiping-Tianjin to control the bridge and the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Others feel that the Manchurian Campaign and the establishment of the puppet state, Manchukuo were the real beginning of the Sino-Japanese War. All during the period 1934 to 1937, skirmishes between Chinese and Japanese troops sporadically continued.

After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the Japanese military captured Beijing, Shanghai and Nanking. Following the Sino-Soviet Treaty of 1937, the relocated government of China continued to exert strong resistance to the Japanese. China launched a large-scale offensive in 1940 with help from the United States and American mercenaries like the Flying Tigers. When US sanctions were imposed, preventing trade with Japan, Japan was forced to further the expansion of the territory under its control in China and Southeast Asia.


Japanese Conquest of Asia


The 30mm bronze China Incident Medal was created by Imperial Edict No. 496 on July 27, 1939 and was awarded for service in China Showa 12 - 20 (1937 - 1945 (both pre- and during WW II). The obverse features two flags (Army flag on the right and Navy flag on the left) and beneath the Imperial Chrysanthemum, introduces the use of the mythical giant red, three-legged crow (Yatagarasu), a symbol of the sun, which replaces the Golden Kite bird of prey on earlier war medals. The bar reads MILITARY SERVICE MEDAL. The reverse depicts mountains on top, clouds in the middle, and waves at the bottom. The four characters translate to CHINA INCIDENT. The small script in the far-left coroner translates as MADE BY THE BUREAU OF THE MINT.

The tin alloy Great East Asian War Medal 1941-1945, established June 21, 1944, was designed by the famous Japanese sculptor Hinago Jitsizou. The obverse features the Imperial Chrysanthemum on two crossed swords and a rayed eight-point star inside a ring of cherry blossoms. The bar reads WAR MEDAL. The reverse is a map of East Asia with the Japanese inscription for GREAT EAST ASIA WAR MEDAL.

Following the end of the war in 1945, 10,000 unissued copies of the original medal were destroyed by US occupation forces, making the medal that "never was." To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the end of the war in 1979, the Federation of Japanese Nationalists had a new series of the medal created. The new medal bears the inscription GREAT EAST ASIA WAR, SHOWA 16 (1941) DECEMBER 8 TO SHOWA 20 (1945) AUGUST 15.

Japan, which had been almost continuously at war in China during the 20th Century attacked British and American territories with near-simultaneous offensives against Southeast Asia and the Central Pacific on December 7 & 8, 1941. After practically conquering all of Southeast Asia, Japan lost it all when Japan capitulated on August 15 1945. The formal surrender of Japan ceremony took place on September 2, 1945 onboard the battleship, USS Missouri. This piece will focus on Japan's Southeast Asia conquests.


China Incident War Medal and Great East Asian War Medal 1941-1945 (1979 Copy)


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