To read this post, pro-lifers please remember that this was wartime in 1945-6. And in Northeast China and North Korea, hundreds of thousands of defenseless Japanese settlers were desperately trying to return to Japan.
The pictures below show a tiny shrine located on the grounds of 済生会Saiseikai Hospital in 二日市Futsukaichi of 筑紫野市(Chikushino City) in Fukuoka. It commemorates the unborn - from the unwanted pregnancies, terminated without anesthesia of women brutally raped by Soviet soldiers and N Korean Security Forces. They were among the 1.39 million refugees arriving in the nearby 博多港(Port Hakata) by ships sailing from Korea and China who escaped from 満州Manchuria. Some of these women were so distraught that they chose to drown themselves right before docking.
This is the rest of the story of the abandoned Japanese orphans in China [see previous post here].
In 1937, the 廣田内閣Hiroda Cabinet under the pressure of the IJA announced the Seven National Policies. One of them was migration to Manchuria with the goal of moving 1 million families or 5 million people in from Japan. They were organized as Frontier Developing Corps. And by the end of the War, 80 such corps (population: 270,000) settled in Manchuria occupying 2 million hectares of land forcibly taken from Chinese farmers. The latter either became hired-hands working for the Japanese settlers or organized into armed resisting groups (called "匪賊bandits" by the 関東軍Kanto Army). On July 7, 1945, all Japanese adults between 18-45 years old were drafted to serve in the IJA, leaving behind old folks, women, elementary school pupils, and little babies to fend for themselves. And in August, 1945, Soviet Union declared war on Japan and proceeded to invade and occupy Manchuria and N Korea. The Japanese began to flee and in the process, died at the hands of the the Soviets, Chinese, and the Koreans.
The map below (Northeast China) shows the settlers retreating (thin arrows) and joining into larger groups (thick arrows). The general plan was for most to reach 奉天Koten (now 瀋陽Shenyang) quickly and then board the train to Seoul. The black dots denote, however, where the Japanese were ambushed.
For example, it is known that a group of 2,000 women and children refugees on their way from 葛根廟 (near 興安) to Shenyang was attacked by Soviet tanks and machine-gunned. Only 150 survived the massacre. Some of whom became the "abandoned orphans". And in 麻山 (near 牡丹江), 720 evacuees, facing Soviet tanks and Chinese bandits on both front and back sides, all committed suicide.
The Soviets also blocked the escape route for the Japanese, i.e., the Shenyang -> 丹東Dandong -> Pyongyang -> Seoul railroad (thick red line), thus trapping the refugees in Shenyang:
In this city, in the bitter cold of the winter of 1945-6, an estimated 110,000 Japanese perished.
Those who later managed to trek from China to N Korea found themselves assaulted/raped/killed by the Soviets and the N Korean Security Forces. The survivors crossed the 38 degree parallel (dash-dot line at the bottom of the map above) into the American-controlled S Korea and reached 開城Kaesong/板門店Panmunjeon and Seoul area, and eventually were shipped back to Japan.
A quarter of a million Japanese did not make it back to their homeland alive. And 4,000 elementary school pupils and babies were left behind in China. These abandoned children sued for compensation from Japanese Gov't in 2004. The lawsuit still continues today [for more, see here]. There are so many bureaucratic red tapes to cut through indeed.
Anybody interested in motion picture portrayal of this period should see ”赤い月” (東宝, 2004, see posters below) which begins by showing a family from 北海道 on their way to 牡丹江 via 南满铁路. The protagonists went through the prosperity as business owners, the panic before and during the war, and the escape as refugees from the advancing Soviets.
Not too surprisingly, this mass repatriation remains relatively unknown outside of Japan.
A postscript: The Russian atrocities against enemy civilians, i.e., the Japanese in China and the Germans in Germany, were committed on the specific order of Josef Stalin. For more info and the source of this post, click here.