Dec 122012

12th December 1937

The Japanese forces in China have sunk a United States gunboat the USS Panay, killing 3 US sailors and injuring 43 (5 US civilians were also injured).  3 Standard Oil tankers were also destroyed in the Japanese air attacks on the Yangtze River, just outside of Nanking.

USS Panay sinking after Japanese air attack

The USS Panay was charged with protecting US interests in the China region as part of the US Asiatic Fleet. Japan and the US are not at war and the incident has soured US-Japanese relations further. The Japanese claim that it was a case of mistaken identity, as the Chinese army were operating in the area using ships to move troops.

The incident is cause for concern.  In 1898, a similar issue with the USS Maine being blown up in Havana Harbour, propelled the US into war with Spain.

Japanese pilots have asserted that US Flags were not seen, but it has been determined that several were flying on the Panay during the attacks, which were clearly visible. An apology and reparations of over $2 million are to come from the Japanese.

In Japan, there is a divide in the community. Many citizens are personally offering their sympathy to the embassy. Some wives of high officials have called on the ambassador’s wife to express their regret, without the knowledge of their husbands.  It is clear that while the official policy of the Japanese government is  pre-disposed to aggression, some parts of Japanese society are showing a more friendly approach.

USS Panay in better times – undergoing sea trials in 1928


In other News:

Italy formally withdrew from the League of Nations yesterday.  After storming out of a conference in May 1936 after disagreement over their invasion of Ethiopia, Italy has now officially withdrawn from the League as of 11th December 1937.

 Posted by at 10:00