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September 22, 1937 – Special Program from Shanghai, China – News Reports – NBC Red Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
September 22, 1937 – News from Shanghai and it wasn’t good. Reports of intense fighting between the Chinese and invading Japanese Army units – news of atrocities – news of day-to-day life in besieged Shanghai and other urban centers around China, currently under attack by invading Japanese armies.
In China, the war was most commonly known as the “War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression”, and shortened to the “Resistance against Japanese Aggression” or the “War of Resistance”. It was also called the “Eight Years’ War of Resistance”, but in 2017 the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a directive stating that textbooks were to refer to the war as the “Fourteen Years’ War of Resistance”, reflecting a focus on the broader conflict with Japan going back to 1931. It is also referred to as part of the “Global Anti-Fascist War”, which is how World War II is perceived by the Communist Party of China and the PRC government.
In Japan, nowadays, the name “Japan–China War” is most commonly used because of its perceived objectivity. When the invasion of China proper began in earnest in July 1937 near Beijing, the government of Japan used “The North China Incident”, and with the outbreak of the Battle of Shanghai the following month, it was changed to “The China Incident”.
The word “incident” was used by Japan, as neither country had made a formal declaration of war. From the Japanese perspective, localizing these conflicts was beneficial in preventing intervention from other nations, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, which were its primary source of petroleum and steel respectively. A formal expression of these conflicts would potentially lead to American embargo in accordance with the Neutrality Acts of the 1930s. In addition, due to China’s fractured political status, Japan often claimed that China was no longer a recognizable political entity on which war could be declared.
To shed some light on a seldom discussed conflict, here is the first of several report which were beamed to the U.S. by reporters living and working in China at the time – this broadcast, from September 22, 1937 comes via the NBC Red Network Shortwave facility.