The conflict lasted for eight years, a month and three days (measured from 1937 to 1945).
- Chinese sources list the total number of military and non-military casualties, both dead and wounded, at 35 million. Most Western historians believed that the total number of casualties was at least 20 million.
- The official PRC statistics for China's civilian and military casualties in the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937–1945 are 20 million dead and 15 million wounded. The figures for total military casualties, killed and wounded are: Nationalist 3.2 million; Communist 500,000.
- The official account of the war published in Taiwan reported the Nationalist Chinese Army lost 3,238,000 men ( 1,797,000 WIA; 1,320,000 KIA and 120,000 MIA.) and 5,787,352 civilians casualties. TheNationalists fought in 22 major engagements, most of which involved more than 100,000 troops on both sides, 1,171 minor engagements most of which involved more than 50,000 troops on both sides, and 38,931 skirmishes.
- An academic study published in the United States estimates military casualties: 1.5 million killed in battle, 750,000 missing in action, 1.5 million deaths due to disease and 3 million wounded; civilian casualties: due to military activity, killed 1,073,496 and 237,319 wounded; 335,934 killed and 426,249 wounded in Japanese air attacks
- According to historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta, at least 2.7 million civilians died during the "kill all, loot all, burn all" operation ( Three Alls Policy , or sanko sakusen ) implemented in May 1942 in north China by general Yasuji Okamura and authorized on 3 December 1941 by Imperial Headquarter Order number 575.
- The property loss suffered by the Chinese was valued at 383 billion US dollars according to the currency exchange rate in July 1937, roughly 50 times the gross domestic product of Japan at that time (US$7.7 billion). [
- In addition, the war created 95 million refugees .
[ edit ]Japanese casualties
The Japanese recorded around 1.1 to 1.9 million military casualties (which include killed, wounded and missing). The official death-toll according to the Japan Defense Ministry is 480,000 men, which some historians claim is an understatement due to the length of the war. The combined Chinese forces claimed to have killed at most 1.77 million Japanese soldiers during the eight-year war.
Another source from Hilary Conroy claim that a total of 447,000 Japanese soldiers died in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Of the 1,130,000 Imperial Japanese Army soldiers who died during World War Two, 39 percent died in China.
Then in "War Without Mercy", John Dower claim that a total of 396,000 Japanese soldiers died in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Of this number, the Imperial Japanese Army lost 388,605 soldiers and the Imperial Japanese Navy lost 8,000 soldiers. Another 54,000 soldiers also died after the war had ended, mostly from illness and starvation. Of the 1,740,955 Japanese soldiers who died during World War II, 22 percent died in China. [ ]
Current Japanese statistics, however, lack complete estimates for the wounded. From 1937–1941, 185,647 Japanese soldiers were killed in China and 520,000 were wounded. Disease also incurred critical losses on Japanese forces. From 1937–1941, 393,000 were killed in China and 430,000 Japanese soldiers were recorded as being sick. In North China alone, 18,000 soldiers were evacuated back to Japan for illnesses in 1938, 23,000 in 1939, and 15,000 in 1940. Chinese forces also report that by May 1945, 22,293 Japanese soldiers were captured as prisoners. Many more Japanese soldiers surrendered when the war ended. [
Both Nationalist and Communist Chinese sources report that their respective forces were responsible for the deaths of over 1.7 million Japanese soldiers. [ 6 ] The Communist claim, which almost equate total Japanese deaths in all of World War II, was ridiculed by Nationalist authorities as propaganda since the Communist People's Liberation Army was outnumbered by the Japanese Army by approximately 3 to 1. Nationalist War Minister He Yingqin himself contested the claim, finding it impossible for a force of "untrained, undisciplined, poorly equipped" guerrillas to have killed so many enemy soldiers. [ 109 ]
The National Chinese authorities ridiculed Japanese estimates of Chinese casualties. In 1940, the National Herald stated that the Japanese exaggerated Chinese casualties, while deliberately concealing the true amount of Japanese casualties, releasing false figures that made them appear lower. The article reports on the casualty situation of the war up to 1940.
Number of troops involved
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army (NRA) throughout its lifespan employed approximately 4,300,000 regulars, in 370 Standard Divisions ( traditional Chinese : 正式師 ), 46 New Divisions ( traditional Chinese : 新編師 ), 12 Cavalry Divisions ( traditional Chinese : 騎兵師 ), eight New Cavalry Divisions ( traditional Chinese : 新編騎兵師 ), 66 Temporary Divisions ( traditional Chinese : 暫編師 ), and 13 Reserve Divisions ( traditional Chinese : 預備師 ), for a grand total of 515 divisions.
However, many divisions were formed from two or more other divisions, and many were not active at the same time. The number of active divisions, at the start of the war in 1937, was about 170 NRA divisions. The average NRA division had 4,000–5,000 troops. A Chinese army was roughly the equivalent to a Japanese division in terms of manpower but the Chinese forces largely lacked artillery, heavy weapons, and motorized transport.
The shortage of military hardware meant that three to four Chinese armies had the firepower of only one Japanese division. Because of these material constraints, available artillery and heavy weapons were usually assigned to specialist brigades rather than to the general division, which caused more problems as the Chinese command structure lacked precise coordination. The relative fighting strength of a Chinese division was even weaker when relative capacity in aspects of warfare, such as intelligence, logistics , communications , and medical services, are taken into account.
The National Revolutionary Army can be divided roughly into two groups. The first one is the so-called dixi ( traditional Chinese : 嫡系 , "direct descent") group, which comprised divisions trained by the Whampoa Military Academy and loyal to Chiang Kai-shek , and can be considered the Central Army ( traditional Chinese : 中央軍 ) of the NRA. The second group is known as the zapai ( traditional Chinese : 雜牌 , "miscellaneous units"), and comprised all divisions led by non-Whampoa commanders, and is more often known as the Regional Army or the Provincial Army ( traditional Chinese : 省軍 ).
Even though both military groups were part of the National Revolutionary Army, their distinction lies much in their allegiance to the central government of Chiang Kai-shek. Many former warlords and regional militarists were incorporated into the NRA under the flag of the Kuomintang , but in reality they retained much independence from the central government. They also controlled much of the military strength of China, the most notable of them being the Guangxi , Shanxi , Yunnan and Ma cliques .
The National Revolutionary Army expanded from about 1.2 million in 1937 to 5.7 million inn August 1945, organized in 300 divisions.
Communist Chinese forces
Although during the war the Chinese Communist forces fought as a nominal part of the NRA, the number of those on the Communist side, due to their guerrilla status, is difficult to determine, though estimates place the total number of the Eighth Route Army , New Fourth Army , and irregulars in the Communist armies at 1,300,000.
The People's Liberation Army expanded from about 92,000 in 1937 to 910,000 in 1945.
Foreign support forces to China
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Imperial Japanese Army
The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) had approximately 3,200,000 regulars. More Japanese troops were quartered in China than deployed elsewhere in the Pacific Theaterduring the war. Japanese divisions ranged from 20,000 men in its divisions numbered less than 100, to 10,000 men in divisions numbered greater than 100.
At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor , the IJA had 51 divisions, of which 35 were in China, and 39 independent brigades, of which all but one were in China. This represented roughly 80% of the IJA's manpower.
Collaborationist Chinese Army
The Chinese armies allied to Japan had only 78,000 people in 1938, but had grown to around 649,640 men by 1943, and reached a maximum strength of 900,000 troops before the end of the war. Almost all of them belonged to Manchukuo , Provisional Government of the Republic of China ( Beijing ), Reformed Government of the Republic of China ( Nanjing ) and the later Nanjing Nationalist Government ( Wang Jingwei regime ). These collaborator troops were mainly assigned to garrison and logistics duties in their own territories, and were rarely fielded in combat because of low morale and Japanese distrust. They fared very poorly in skirmishes against both Chinese NRA and Communist forces.
National Revolutionary Army
The Central Army possessed 80 Army infantry divisions with approximately 8,000 men each, nine independent brigades , nine cavalry divisions, two artillery brigades , 16 artillery regiments and three armored battalions. The Chinese Navy displaced only 59,000 tonnes and the Chinese Air Force comprised only about 700 obsolete aircraft.
Chinese weapons were mainly produced in the Hanyang and Guangdong arsenals. However, for most of the German-trained divisions , the standard firearms were German-made 7.92 mm Gewehr 98 and Karabiner 98k . A local variant of the 98k style rifles were often called the " Chiang Kai-shek rifle " a Chinese copy from the Mauser Standard Modell . Another rifle they used was Hanyang 88 . The standard light machine gunwas a local copy of the Czech 7.92 mm Brno ZB26 . There were also Belgian and French LMGs. Surprisingly, the NRA did not purchase any of the famous Maschinengewehr 34 s from Germany, but did produce their own copies of them. On average in these divisions, there was one machine gun set for each platoon . Heavy machine guns were mainly locally-made Type 1924 water-cooled Maxim guns , from Germanblueprints . On average every battalion would get one HMG. The standard sidearm was the 7.63 mm Mauser M1932 semi-automatic pistol
Some divisions were equipped with 37 mm PaK 35/36 anti-tank guns , and/or mortars from Oerlikon , Madsen and Solothurn . Each infantry division had 6 French Brandt 81 mm mortars and 6 Solothurn 20 mmautocannons . Some independent brigades and artillery regiments were equipped with Bofors 72 mm L/14, or Krupp 72 mm L/29 mountain guns . They were 24 Rheinmetall 150 mm L/32 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1934) and 24 Krupp 150 mm L/30 sFH 18 howitzers (bought in 1936).
Infantry uniforms were basically redesigned Zhongshan suits . Leg wrappings are standard for soldiers and officers alike since the primary mode of movement for NRA troops was by foot. The helmets were the most distinguishing characteristic of these divisions. From the moment German M35 Stahlhelm helmets (standard issue for the Wehrmacht until late in the European theatre ) rolled off the production lines in 1935, and until 1936, the NRA imported 315,000 of these helmets, each with the 12-ray sun emblem of the ROC on the sides. Other equipment included cloth shoes for soldiers, leather shoes for officers and leather boots for high-ranking officers. Every soldier was issued ammunition, ammunition pouch/harness, a water flask, combat knives, food bag and a gas mask .
On the other hand, warlord forces varied greatly in terms of equipment and training. Some warlord troops were notoriously under-equipped, such as Shanxi 's Dadao (大刀, a one-bladed sword type close combat weapon) Team and the Yunnan clique . Some, however, were highly professional forces with their own air force and navies. The quality of the New Guangxi clique was almost on par with the Central Army, as theGuangzhou region was wealthy and the local army could afford foreign instructors and arms. The Muslim Ma clique to the northwest was famed for its well-trained cavalry divisions.
Imperial Japanese Army
Although Japan possessed significant mobile operational capacity, it did not possess capability for maintaining a long sustained war. At the beginning of the war, the Imperial Japanese Army comprised 17 divisions, each composed of approximately 22,000 men, 5,800 horses, 9,500 rifles and submachine guns , 600 heavy machine guns of assorted types, 108 artillery pieces, and 600 plus of light armor two-men tanks. Special forces were also available. The Imperial Japanese Navy displaced a total of 1,900,000 tonnes, ranking third in the world, and possessed 2,700 aircraft at the time. Each Japanese division was the equivalent in fighting strength of four Chinese regular divisions (at the beginning of the Battle of Shanghai ).