Twitter Provides a Treasure Trove of Photos of China and Japan During World War II

china in world war 2

Chungking, China's wartime capital during 1937-1945, here in 1944 and in colour. Posted by Twitter user @chinarhyming.

Two Twitter accounts are a constant source of insightful photographs of World War II in Asia.

The account China in WW2 focuses on the war in China that started in September 1931 with Japan's annexation of Manchuria. Another Twitter account, WW2 in Asia, is dedicated to “Livetweeting about history, exactly 80 years after it happened” until 2025 and the eightieth anniversary of the end of the war.

China in WW2

According to its profile, China in WW2 provides “news about the 1931-1945 Sino-Japanese war and the birth of modern Asia.” The account is managed by Peter Harmsen, author of the books ‘Shanghai 1937‘ and ‘Nanjing 1937‘.

The Twitter account provides images of a long war that has largely been forgotten in both Japan and in the West, despite lasting nearly 15 years until Japan's defeat in 1945.

The images provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of the 1930s, and point out how, for much of the decade, Japan interacted and collaborated with Western powers while at war in China.

While many of the images appear to be posed, there are some stunning documentary finds:

Included are images used for propaganda:

As well as shots that speak to Japan's largely forgotten foray into colonizing northeast China in the 1930s:

The Twitter feed also frequently links to blog articles covering World War 2 in China:

WW2 in Asia

Twitter account WW2 in Asia aims to provide a live-tweet retrospective of the war in Asia. It's also an excellent source of rare and surprising photos.

Much of the appeal of the microblog is that photos are tweeted chronologically in “real-time”; right now the account is tweeting the events of May 1936:

The tweets provide some useful context for what was happening as Asia marched towards war:

There are also some great finds documenting existing Japanese colonialism in Northeast Asia prior to the official start of hostilities in 1941.

The Twitter account presents some interesting perspectives on the Japan and Asia of 80 years ago:

Another somewhat depressing but compelling feature of the Twitter account is that it demonstrates that the world was not taken completely by surprise by the eruption of war:

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