Begun in 1931–37
Begun in 1937–39
Begun in 1940–42
Begun in 1943–45
The Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign (Japanese: 浙贛作戦, simplified Chinese: 浙赣战役; traditional Chinese: 浙赣戰役; pinyin: zheganzhanyi), also known as Operation Sei-go, refers to a campaign by the China Expeditionary Army of the Imperial Japanese Army under Shunroku Hata and Chinese 3rd War Area forces under Gu Zhutong in the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi from mid May to early September 1942.
On April 18, 1942, the United States launched the Doolittle Raid, an attack by B-25 Mitchell bombers from the USS Hornet on Tokyo, Nagoya, and Yokohama. The original plan was for the aircraft to bomb Japan and land at airfields in the unoccupied portion of China. Because the raid had to be launched earlier than planned, two of the aircraft ran out of fuel and crash-landed in the Chinese provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi.
Sixty-four American airmen parachuted into the area around Zhejiang. Most were given shelter by Chinese civilians but eight of the Americans were picked up by Japanese patrols; three were shot after a show trial for "crimes against humanity".
Imperial General Headquarters was aware of possible air attacks from Chinese territory on Japan. Two days before the Doolittle Raid, Headquarters set up an operational plan with the goal of defeating Chinese forces and destroying air bases. The operation started on May 15, 1942, with 40 infantry battalions and 15-16 artillery battalions of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The Japanese army conducted a massive search for American airmen and in the process whole towns and villages that were suspected of harboring the Americans were burned to the ground and many civilians executed. The Japanese also wanted to occupy the area to prevent American air forces from establishing bases in China from which they could reach the Japanese mainland.
When Japanese troops moved out of the Zhejiang and Jiangxi areas in mid-August, they left behind a trail of devastation. Chinese estimates put the civilian death toll at 250,000. The Imperial Japanese Army had also spread cholera, typhoid, plague and dysentery pathogens. Around 1,700 Japanese troops died out of a total 10,000 Japanese soldiers who fell ill with disease when their biological weapons attack rebounded on their own forces.
Shunroku Hata, the commander of Japanese forces involved in the massacre of the 250,000 Chinese civilians, was sentenced in 1948 in part due to his "failure to prevent atrocities". He was given a life sentence but was paroled in 1954.