The Wanpaoshan Incident (万宝山事件 Manpozan jiken?) was a minor dispute between Chinese and Korean farmers which occurred on 1 July 1931, prior to the Mukden Incident. Although the issue was trivial, it was highly sensationalized in the Japanese and Korean press, and used for considerable propaganda effect to increase anti-Chinese sentiment in the Empire of Japan prior to the Mukden Incident of September, 1931 and the subsequent Japanese invasion of Manchuria.
Background and History
Wanpaoshan was a small village located some 18 miles north of Changchun, in Manchuria, located in a low marshy area alongside the Itung River. A group of ethnic Koreans (who were regarded at the time as subjects of the Empire of Japan) sub-leased a large tract of land from a local Chinese broker and prepared to irrigate by digging a ditch several kilometers long, extending from the Itung River across a tract of land not included in their lease and occupied by local Chinese farmers. After a considerable length of the ditch had been dug, the Chinese farmers protested to the Wanpaoshan local authorities, who dispatched police and ordered the Koreans to cease construction at once and leave the area. The Japanese Consul based at Changchun responded by sending Japanese consular police to protect the Koreans, and both Japanese and Chinese authorities in Changchun agreed to a joint investigation.
The July 1 Incident
However, before the joint investigation could be launched, a party of 400 Chinese farmers whose lands were cut by the irrigation ditch, armed with agricultural implements and pikes, drove the Koreans away and filled in much of the ditch. The Japanese consular police thereupon fired rifles to disperse the mob and to protect the Korean farmers but there were no casualties. The Chinese farmers withdrew and the Japanese police remained on the spot until the Koreans completed the ditch and a dam across the Itung River.
Anti-Chinese riots in Korea
Far more serious than the minor affair between farmers in Manchuria was the public reaction once highly sensationalized accounts of the conflict were published in Japanese and Korean newspapers. A series of anti-Chinese riots erupted throughout Korea, starting at Incheon on July 3 and spreading rapidly to other cities. The Chinese think that 146 people were killed, 546 wounded, and considerable properties were destroyed. The worst of the rioting occurred in Pyongyang on July 5. The Chinese further alleged that the Japanese authorities in Korea did not take adequate steps to protect the lives and property of the Chinese residents, and blamed the authorities for allowing inflammatory accounts to be published. The Japanese countered that the riots were a spontaneous outburst that was suppressed as soon as possible and offered compensation for the families of the dead.
Negotiations continued between Japanese and Chinese authories to resolve the situation. The Chinese maintained that the Koreans had no right to reside and lease land outside of Gando District per the terms of the Gando Convention. The Japanese on the other hand, insisted that Koreans as Japanese subjects had the rights of residing and leasing land throughout South Manchuria, identical to that of other Japanese. They also held that the Koreans had undertaken their project in good faith, and blamed any irregularities on the Chinese broker who arranged the lease. The Japanese eventually withdrew their consular police from Wanpaoshan, but the Koreans remained.
A complete solution of the Wanpaoshan affair had not been reached by September 1931.
- Memorandum (Institute of Pacific Relations, American Council), Vol. 2, No. 5 (Mar. 16, 1933), pp. 1-3
- Wang, Ching-Chun. Manchuria at the Crossroads. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 168, American Policy in the Pacific (Jul., 1933), pp. 64-77
- Invasion & Occupation of Manchuria