Why do we have to remember what happened? Because mankind repeats its mistakes. To remember the past is not to delude. It actually enlightens. That’s the reason for me to keep telling "stories". Stories that you might have already heard.
The martyr’s name is Cai Gong Shi (蔡公時). Ji Nan (濟南) is a city in the Shan Dong (山東) Province. Here is a brief background of Cai before he was murdered by the Japanese. He was born in 1881 in Jiu Jiang (九江) of Jiang Xi (江西). When he was 18, he had risked everything to organize a progressive group called the "Beware of Stains” (慎所染齋). Later, it was banned by the Manchu government. He then traveled to Japan and attended school. After he heard Dr. Sun Yat-sen's speech, he was so moved that he joined Sun’s United Democrats Society (同盟會). He and Sun’s comrade Huang Xing (黄興) returned to China and worked secretly in Jiangxi to overthrow the Manchu. After Sun’s Revolution in 1911, he joined the Kuomintang’s campaign against Yuan Shi Kai (袁世凱). The first campaign was a loss and he had to flee to Japan again. He studied in Tokyo’s Imperial University. Yuan Shi Kai seized all his property in China and his first wife died in grief and fear.
Because Cai was proficient in Japanese and had excellent diplomatic skills, the Kuomintang (KMT) government in Nan Jing appointed him as a member of the Commission and Director of Foreign Affairs in April 1928. His primary responsibility was to be in charge of the Office of Negotiation and to deal with the foreign powers in Shan Dong (山東).
On April 9 1928, Chiang Kai-Shek（蔣介石）sent his Northern Expeditionary Army (北伐軍) into Shan Dong with the purpose of defeating the warlords there. The Japanese, who had a sphere of influence in the area, never wanted China to be free from these menacing warlords. They decided to sabotage Chiang’s army’s mission. Using the excuse of protecting its nationals in the area, Japan sent troops into China. Cai happened to be representing the KMT government in Shan Dong at that time. On May 1, 1928 the fourth Northern Expeditionary Army Corps arrived in Ji Nan and the Japanese army in the city built fortifications, roadblocks and mined the streets. It also formed the so call "Japan's Volunteer Group" and claimed to be protecting the lives and properties of its nationals. In the morning on May 1, 1928, Ruan Ji Min (阮濟民) of the first Northern Expeditionary Army entered the city of Ji Nan. When four of his soldiers were looking for apartment in the city, the Japanese kidnapped them. The Japanese killed them and cremated their bodies. At the time, China and Japan was not at war but the Japanese was ambushing and killing the Chinese soldiers. In view of the seriousness of the provocation and still tried to avoid an arm conflict with Japan, commander Fang Zhen Wu (方振武) went to the Japanese Consulate to protest. The Japanese promised to temporarily remove all the roadblocks and halt the terror. But it actually sent in more troops and even raided the Office of Negotiation in Ji Nan. The officials who worked there barely escaped alive.
Diplomat Cai arrived in Ji Nan immediately to talk with the Japanese. But on May 2, Kazuhiko Fukuda, head of the Japanese Sixth Division, ordered his troop to massacre Chinese civilians in Ji Nan. On May 3, Cai and 18 members of his office arrived at the Office of Negotiation in Ji Nan City. His staff replaced the portrait of SunYat Sen and hoisted the Chinese “Blue Sky and White Sun” national flag, which had been removed and destroyed by the Japanese. He was awaiting the Japanese to come to talk. Suddenly, gunfire broke out all over the city. Japanese soldiers had blocked off the streets leading to and from Cai’s office.
At 10 am on the fateful day of May 3rd, Cai phoned the Japanese Consulate and protested. The Japanese first denied they were aware of such. Then at 4 pm on the same day, the Japanese troops stormed the diplomat’s office and disarmed everyone inside. At 9:00 pm that evening, Japanese soldiers started to loot and destroy everything. They tore up all the documents, maps, the Chinese "Blue Sky White Sun" national flag and the portrait of Sun Yat Sen. An angry Cai fiercely protested, "We are inside the Chinese government’s diplomatic office and we are all unarmed. Your action is illegal!” Because his Japanese was fluent, the Japanese understood him clearly and they became more furious. They knocked him on the floor and butted him with their rifles. They also tied up his18 staff. When Cai heard what Fukuda was telling his soldiers to do with these diplomats, he exclaimed to his staff, “The Japanese are going to strip us naked and kill us with their bayonets! We will die for our country!” The other Japanese soldiers started to stab the other diplomats with their bayonets and swords. A Japanese soldier ran up to Cai and tied him up. They cut his ears and his nose off and took his eyes out. Without his eyes, ears and nose, a bloody, gruesome and pained Cai was still yelling at the Japanese, “The Japanese are killing unarmed diplomats. This is a national humiliation! An international crime! They are worse than beasts!” A Japanese officer named Watanabe approached Cai and inserted his sword into Cai’s mouth. He then turned his sword several times inside Cai’s mouth, cutting out his tongue. Waving his bloody sword, he told the soldiers to drag everybody out and kill them. They were all dragged outside, flogged and then shot to death.
Miraculously, there was one lucky diplomat who escaped this infamous "May 3rd Ji Nan Massacre". His name was Zhang Han Ru 張漢儒. He later recalled every moment of this horro. Besides Cai and the other diplomats, the Japanese had killed over six thousand Chinese in Ji Nan. On May 10, 1929, the Japanese army finally withdrew from Ji Nan. This Japanese atrocity was before the official war which officially started in 1937.
The Japanese burned Cai and the other diplomats’ bodies beyond recognition. Cai’s second wife was able to collect the ashes. But following years of battle resisting the Japanese and then the Communists, no one knew what happened to the ashes. At that time, overseas Chinese donated money to build a bronze statute of Cai. When war was raging on with the Communist, the KMT moved the statue to Singapore and placed it inside the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Villa. Cai’s son was only 6 and his daughter was one when he died. In the chaos, his daughter was adopted by his friend and remained in Mainland China. His wife took his son and went to Taiwan with the KMT. The daughter never knew her family’s history because Cai’s friend never told her, fearing the Communist’s persecution of KMT members. In 1992, she and her brother finally reunited in China. She changed her name to Jin Ming (今明) to signify that she has finally realized her true beginning. The bronze statue also returned to Ji Nan from Singapore in 2006.
Cai was the first anti-Japanese martyr of modern China. There were plenty more later on. For example: Ji Xing Wen (吉星文) who fired the first shot at the Japanese and led his commandos to raid them when the fighting erupted in Lu Kou Bridge (蘆溝橋) on July 7, 1937. Ironically, he was killed years later by the Communist People’s Liberation Army. And then there was the world known fierce defense of the Four Banks' Warehouse (四行倉庫) in Shanghai by the 800 (actually 400) soldiers against an entire Japanese army. It was led by martyr Xie Jin Yuan（謝晉元). Xie was a Cantonese lieutenant who died at the age of 30 something. The gallantry of these soldiers was depicted in a movie starring Lin Qing Xia (林青霞) who portrayed the true story of a girl scout who tried to smuggle a Blue Sky and White Sun flag to Xie’s soldier. Xie’s tomb is still in Shanghai. By the way, Xie's commanding superior at the time was General Sun Yuan Liang (孫元良), father of actor Qin Han (秦漢).
As one country and one people, the Mainland Chinese government should not hide any facts of the patriotic and gallant acts of the millions of KMT members and soldiers during the war against the Japanese. Again, history should neither be concealed, distorted completely nor partially.
五月三日 -- Bai Ding
Also see the post on Nanjing.