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The assassination of Tomomitsu Taminato (Japanese: Shanhai Nihonjin Suihei Sogeki Jiken (上海日本人水兵狙撃事件?, "the Shanghai Japanese sailor sniping incident") was the murder of a Japanese sailor that took place in China's Shanghai International Settlement on 23 September 1936.[1]


The cruiser Izumo, flagship of the 3rd Fleet, on which Taminato served

In China at the time of the incident the anti-Japanese propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party was pervasive and the effects of this were continuing to spread. In 1935 the communists sought to augment their movement in favor of resistance against Japan through the August 1 Declaration and pro-Japanese sentiment in China was reaching a low point.[2]

Between 1935 and 1936 incidents involving Japanese people in China happened one after another and anti-Japanese sentiment even intensified into lethal terrorist acts such as the assassinations of a Japanese policeman in Shantou on 21 January 1935, a Japanese businessman in Shanghai on 10 July 1935, First Class Seaman Hideo Nakayama in Shanghai on 9 November 1935, businessman Kosaku Kayao in Shanghai on 10 July 1936, journalists Kozaburo Watanabe and Keiji Fukagawa in Chengdu on 24 August 1936, Japanese citizen Junzo Nakano in Beihai on 3 September 1936, and policeman Niwajiro Yoshioka in Hankou on 19 September 1936.[2][3][4]

The assassination

Flag of the Shanghai International Settlement

On 23 September 1936 four naval personnel from the crew of cruiser Izumo went ashore and were taking a walk on Haining Road in the Shanghai International Settlement. At 8:20 PM[1] when they approached the vicinity of its intersection with Wusong Road they were fired on from behind by four or five Chinese wielding pistols who were hiding in a stationary bus. The First-Class Seamen Tomomitsu Taminato and Yoshitane Yawata, as well as Second-Class Seaman Yoshimi Ideriha, sustained serious injuries.[5] After that the three wounded men were brought into Shiseido Bookstore but Taminato, who had received piercing bullet wounds to his left arm and right breast, collapsed onto the floor when trying to lean on a bookshelf and died immediately.[5][6]

The next day the 3rd Fleet rapidly dispatched a landing party of three battalions to the international settlement in order to protect Japanese nationals.[1] Its commander cabled Tokyo to offer his opinion that that in the face of this series of repeated violent incidents they would not be able to establish any guarantees through only showing hard-line "gestures", and that, since the Japanese had appeared soft to the Chinese during negotiations up until then, it would be necessary for Tokyo to further harden its resolve.[1] At the same time Chiang Kai-shek asked War Minister He Yingqin by telegram to be in a state of war readiness and he ordered Shanghai Mayor Wu Tiecheng to take all necessary precautions.[5]

Having little doubt after the assassinations of Hideo Nakayama and Kosaku Kayao that the crime was the work of Chinese citizens, on the morning of 24 September Consul General Wakasugi requested that Wu Tiecheng immediately make an effort to arrest the culprits and protect Japanese residents in cooperation with the municipal council. In the afternoon, he visited the municipal council and made the same request to one Arnold, the chair of the council, the police chief Gerald, and head secretary Fessenden, obtaining their approval.[7]


The scene of the Oyama Incident

The incident did not result in war, and in its wake other cases were resolved. In November a verdict was handed down in the murder case of Hideo Nakayama and two Chinese were given the death penalty.[8] On 28 December a verdict in the Kosaku Kayao case was handed down in which two Chinese received the death penalty and five were given prison sentences.[9] Both of these cases as well as the murder of Taminato were linked to Wang Yaqiao, the "king of assassins", who was himself assassinated on 21 November 1936.[10]

But while the Foreign Affairs Ministry strived through negotiations to protect Japanese nationals and maintain high standards for the administration of justice, they were not able to prevent further incidents, such as the assassination in Shanghai of Japanese sailor Yasuji Takase on 11 November 1936. Because of this the Japanese navy, which had been called upon during these crises in Shanghai and during the killing of Junzo Nakano in Beihai, felt a strong motivation to punish the Chinese which had an effect on the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War and subsequent developments.[4] The murder of Lieutenant Isao Oyama on 9 August 1937 played a significant role in sparking the decisive Battle of Shanghai.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Japan Diplomatic Correspondence Digital Archive, Showa Period II Set 1 Book 5 Volume 1 p.656-659, downloadable in the Japanese language at here
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shoichi Watanabe, 日本とシナ:1500年の真実 (Tokyo: PHP Institute, 2006), 209.
  3. Japan Diplomatic Correspondence Digital Archive, Showa Period II Set 1 Book 5 Volume 1 p.516-599, downloadable in the Japanese language at here
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kumao Imoto, 支那事変作戦日誌 (Tokyo: Fuyo Shoten, 1998), 53.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Noboru Kojima, 日中戦争3 (Tokyo: Bungeishunju, 1988), 228-229.
  6. In an emergency cable the day of the incident from the Shanghai Consul General to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which is recorded in Japan Diplomatic Correspondence Digital Archive, Showa Period II Set 1 Book 5 Volume 1, p.657, stated that Taminato received piercing bullet wounds to his left arm and the right side of his head and died instantly.
  7. Japan Diplomatic Correspondence Digital Archive, Showa Period II Set 1 Book 5 Volume 1, p.660-661, downloadable in the Japanese language at here
  8. Japan Diplomatic Correspondence Digital Archive, Showa Period II Set 1 Book 5 Volume 1 p.632-634, downloadable in the Japanese language at here
  9. Japan Diplomatic Correspondence Digital Archive, Showa Period II Set 1 Book 5 Volume 1 p.670, downloadable in the Japanese language at here
  10. Frederic Wakeman Jr., Spymaster: Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2003), 182-185, 460-461.
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