Beijing, China

My name is Ye Yuliang. I was born in March 1922 in Beijing. My ancestral home is in Fuzhou city of Fujian province. My grandfather was a Jinshi in the former Qing Dynasty. Which meant that he was an advanced scholar who passed the triennial court exam, a very high honor. But after the Nationalists took power and Qing Dynasty collapsed my dad lost his job and the family moved to Beijing, where I was born and went to primary school and middle school.
When the Marco Polo Bridge Incident happened on July 7, 1937, I happened to be on the way to Nanjing. I left Beijing on 6th of July and arrived in Nanjing on the 8th. I had an uncle there and we were afraid the war would come to Nanjing too, so together with the wife of my uncle, I fled to Fuzhou, my ancestral home.
In Fuzhou, I continued to go to school. Back then, the Sino-Japanese war has already started. The leader of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, announced that all Chinese men, no matter how old or young, living in North China or South China, must take part and fight the Japanese. I was too young to join the army still, but we had military training as part of the school program and propaganda lessons, where they would prepare us to fight the Japanese in the near future.
I stayed in Fuzhou for one semester before I was able to get in touch with my family in Beijing, which was then called Beiping. They sent money to me and asked me to go back to Beiping. After I received the money I went to Tianjin first by ship and after that, I needed to take the train to Beiping. Back then Japanese Army already occupied Beiping and Tianjin and when I was trying to get on the train, it was very crowded so I clung to the door of the train. A Jap was trying to get on the train and I didn't make way for him. He gave me a hard kick and himeslf got on the train. I wanted to fight back but was stopped by a Chinese man that was standing near by, who told to me: "he is Japanese. He can kill you and receive no punishment. This is the world of Japanese now." So I endured this humiliation and had always borne grudge against the Japs since then.
After I came back to Beiping, I continued my education. My classmates all hated the Japanese but didn't dare to talk about it in public. I had a relative who was a member of the underground resistance and it was basically a secret unofficial organization made out of volunteers for assassination of the Japanese and local traitors. As we talked a lot about anti-Japanese movement, he sensed strong sentiment in me and asked, "Would you dare to join the resistance?" I said, "I would." That's how it all started.
The underground resistance started in Tianjin and our organization in Beiping originated from that movement in Tianjin. Originally, I was responsible for communication and investigation. Later, I took part in assassinations.
After joining the organization, I had only one contact, Li Zhenying, who was the leader of Beiping underground. We called him the "principal". He was kind of my mentor, teaching me how to do investigations and gather information on collaborators. Later, he also taught me how to use weapons, bringing a real gun to teach me how to assemble and clean it, how to aim and shoot targets.
My first assignment was to investigate the president of the chamber of commerce. Incidentally, his nephew was my classmate so used this connection to visit his place, and came to know how to get to his home, when he went to work and got off work. After I'd collected all the information, I passed it to Li Zhenying. Together with another killer, Li Zhenying planned the assassination and scheduled a day. On that day, when the chamber president drove away from his home, they shot at the car twice. However, when the news was published in a newspaper, we found out that the bullets missed him but hit his wife instead. We killed the wrong person.
Another assassination was targeted at Shu Zhuanghuai in Beiping, who lived very near to me. He was the director for the department of public works. The responsibilities of this department included building barracks, trenches, etc. His daughter was my schoolmate in primary school. I was asked to find out where he lived. After my investigation, Li Zhenying brought another two killers to carry out the assassination. As soon as Shu Zhuanghuai came out of his car at the gate of his house, they shot him. The traitor was shot in his eye but wasn't killed at the scene. He died afterwards in the hospital.
We also attempted to kill Yoshiko Kawashima and that was my first assassination assignment. It was on her birthday. Yoshiko Kawashima was a Japanese spy and a puppet of the Imperial government. Well, she was a Chinese princess but was brought up in Japan and was collaborating with them. Anyway, she was going to celebrate her birthday in Xinxin Grand Theatre. She booked all seats upstairs. Tickets for seats downstairs were still being sold. That day, Li Zhenying led me there to kill Yoshiko Kawashima. I followed Li Zhenying and we bought tickets in the front row, from where we could turn back and see what would happen upstairs. The opera that day was quite famous and was played by Yan Jupeng and his daughter. Yan Jupeng's daughter was Yan Huizhu. That was her first time on stage so there was a big buzz about this and many people in the audience.
We waited. The opera had started but Yoshiko Kawashima hadn't arrived. Later, we heard some noises, turned back and saw her and her posse settling down. She was upstairs and sat in the middle. She was wearing men's clothes, a long gown and a Mandarin jacket, a pair of shades. We had to wait for a while, as it was too crowded. Then we heard some commotion again, turned back and realized that she was gone - went downstairs and left. We rushed outside, but she was already in her car driving away. We failed.
On 7th of July 1940, the Japanese celebrated Third anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. They set up a stage at the Altar of Land and Grain in Zhongshan Park to make speeches and a lot of people went there to listen. The event was co-chaired by Wu Juchi and his Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Chen. Wu Juchi was the Editor-in-Chief of Xinmin Bao newspaper, which was an official newspaper for the Japanese puppet regime. And we decided to kill them.
This assassination was very significant. Li Zhenying brought Feng Yunxiu, Liu Yongkang and me. We were in the crowd listening to the speech. When the speaker was condemning anti-Japanese armies and people, one of our guys was getting really worked up wanted to shoot him right on the stage. Li Zhenying quieted him down and said, "We can't take action here. There are too many people around and among them traitors, spies, special agents, policemen, and plain-clothed police... It's too dangerous to shoot here."
Later, when the ceremony ended and the crowd was dispersing, we followed Wu Juchi and Chen. They went to a restaurant at Qianmenwai so we waited outside. After a while, Wu Juchi came out. Li Zhenying and Feng Yunxiu followed him outside to the South Xinhua Road. And all of a sudden, there was a funeral procession passing by, playing horns, gongs and drums. This was a perfect distraction and Feng Yunxiu rode his bicycle towards him and shot Wu Juchi in the head twice. He was instantly dead. Then they ran away. The policemen came immediately. The whole city was searching for the killer. Meanwhile I was still waiting for Chen with Liu Yongkang. Li Zhenying sent someone to inform us of the search and tell us to abort the mission. So we left and Chen was not killed. This assassination caused a great sensation and none of us got caught.
Soon, we were planning another mission - to assassinate a newly appointed officer in the general office of construction, Yu Dachun. Liu Yongkang and I were assigned to execute the mission. Our investigator gave us his exact location at Fengsheng Hutong and the time he will be arriving. We were both on the bicycles, Liu Yongkang was in front and I was behind. Liu approached him first and shot him from behind. I was following and was supposed to make sure he's dead. But he wasn't - when I approached him he was laying down bleeding out, but still mumbling something. So I shot him. And I killed him.
Immediately after this assassination, the military police launched a large-scale search. Liu Yongkang was arrested. As he had the list of members on him, our underground organization was almost fully exposed. All members were arrested, including our leader, Li Zhenying.
When the Japanese military police came to my door to arrest me, my family had no idea I was part of the resistance. I hadn't told them. After the trial in the Japanese court, I received my sentence - life in prison.
Then I was sent to a prison specially set up to hold anti-Japanese and resistance people, under the supervision of Japanese Army but administered by Chinese. It's called the First Prison for Asylum of Entrusted Prisoners. As the prison wasn't well armed like Japan's, to prevent us from running away, each of us had chains on our feet. We had to walk and sleep with those chains on, they never came off.
In the beginning of my sentence the food wasn't bad. But around January 1942, after the Pearl Harbor Incident, Japan started war with US. They needed more food for soldiers. So at that time, outside of the prison, rice was for Japanese, while Chinese could only have wheat flour. In the prison, we didn't have wheat flour but ate steamed corn bread. Afterwards, we even ran out of corn flour and started to eat sorghum flour, bran and potatoes. Many prisoners died of malnutrition or hunger. I was luckier. As my family lived in Beiping so they could send food to me in the prison.
Since I was sentenced for life, there was nothing for me to be afraid of... The Japanese translator came to talk with us on behalf of Japan and told me we shouldn't argue with the prison guards and fight against Japan. I told the translator, "You are wrong. You invaded our country, sent forces to China and transported resources back to your own country. You are invaders." We didn't reach any conclusion in the end. I remember, here was a Chinese guard beside us that said to me: "Are you crazy? If he came back and told others, you might be shot by them." I answered, "I'm not afraid of him. I'm not afraid of death now." However, nothing happened after that.
The most difficult period in the prison was when I got ill. I was sick for 35 days. I got typhoid and had a severe fever. I recovered naturally after 35 days, but almost died. It was tough in prison. Food was getting worse,
Finally, on 15th of August 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally. After I knew China won the war I was so happy that I jumped up. We broke the chains on our feet, dashed outwards but were stopped by the guns of Japanese soldiers. So we came back and waited inside the prison. While we were waiting, we were treated better. People outside were sending food to us. We didn't have to eat bran or potatoes any more. We got better food, like steamed corn or millet bread. People from some patriotic organizations also sent some dishes to us. Some traitors also sent something in order to please us.
On September 3, I was released. On 10th of October, the surrender ceremony in North China was held in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony of the Forbidden City. Commander Sun Lianzhong accepted the surrender of Nemoto Hiroshi, the Japanese commander in North China. I attended the ceremony and was sitting behind Sun Lianzhong.
After being released, at first, I worked in the Beiping Guard for one year. Then I came back to Fuzhou, my ancestral home, and worked in the tax bureau for another year. After that, the finance ministry transferred me to the financial management bureau in Wuhan. When the communists occupied Wuhan, I didn't leave my position but was re-employed by the communists. All of us in the financial management bureau were transferred to a financial management department in the People's Bank for Middle and South China.
When the communists started to suppress "anti-revolutionary", I was arrested to receive reformation through labor in March 1951. After completing the sentence imposed by the communists, which lasted 11 years, I could visit my families in Beijing every year but was not allowed to return back.
In 1975, after the special amnesty, I came back to Beijing. Because when I was in the Japanese prison and when I was receiving this reformation through labor, I was manufacturing clothes, I got a position in a clothing factory in Beijing too. I retired at 62.
Now I'm staying at home enjoying my life. There's nothing much for me to do. I love watching TV, chatting with friends on WeChat and playing on my computer. I use iPad when there's Wifi and I use it to communicate with my friends and relatives. I even got in touch with my former classmates.
Looking back at the days when I was in the underground organization, I feel I have fulfilled the responsibilities as a Chinese. We should be patriotic but in different ways. I wasn't able to go to the battlefield so I took part in those underground activities.

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