Shanghai Kindergarten Performs Japanese Imperial Navy March

Chinese children on stage marching to a Japanese military song at an international kindergarten in Shanghai.

Chinese children on stage marching to a Japanese military song at an international kindergarten in Shanghai.

Comments on Youku: (since deleted)

Shanghai Uses “Japanese Military Song” in Educational Activity for Children!!!

What is the Shanghai Board of Education trying to do? On one hand, advocating “desinicization”, and on the other advocating “Japanification”!!! This is the video proof. As it is understood, the Warship March is a military song glorifying the “invincibility” of the Japanese Navy. It was the official march of the old Japanese Imperial Navy and the current Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. Because the Imperial Japanese Navy had to play this song whenever they announce news during World War II, this song became an infamous military song.

Note: The video above is of a copy, not the original upload cited.

A copy on YouTube:

Comments on Youku: (since deleted)


Isn’t it just a song…what’s the problem…


The Warship March, this song is well known in China. In reality, this song is usually played in Japanese arcades, it is no longer a military song.


Did Shanghainese people forget this song when the Japanese Imperial Navy planes bombed Zhabei? During the January 28th Incident and the Battle of Shanghai, the Japanese invaders bombed Shanghai, most of the planes comes from the Japanese navy.


If Japanese schools can play the March of the Volunteers [Chinese national anthem], then we can teach this song!!!


It’s an international/foreign language kindergarten, so having Japanese culture is not a surprise right?


I’m here to read the comments.


This is training the next generation of professional hanjian [Chinese traitor].


As music, there are no national boundaries, and Japan has a lot of great music. However, they shouldn’t play military music used during the Japanese invasion. The children are innocent, because when they still don’t know much about history, this is just a song to them. But as an educational institution, they should guide and establish a correct view of history.


What’s the big deal about a Japanese song? Our country’s police still uses Japanese cars as police cars.


This is the school’s fault…it is ok to accept other country’s culture, but it is not right to use the Imperial Japanese Navy march.


This is normal, Shanghai is the largest source of [Chinese] tourists visiting Japan, and it is also the Chinese city with the greatest influence from Japanese culture. Isn’t Fudan University the center of pro-Japanese education?


What we need to do is legislate a law. Just a couple of days ago there was a guy who wore the Japanese military flag at Taishan, and now we have this. If there is a law, then they can be held legally responsible, and then we’ll see if they will still recklessly dare to make such provocations. At the same time, some people need to differentiate between ordinary Japanese people and Japanese militarists [ultra-nationalists]. You say a lot of popular songs were adapted from Japanese songs, and we’re not going to stop you from listening to such songs, but if you say no one will stop you if you play [Japanese] Devils Entering the Village on the streets of Nanjing, are you telling me there are no people in China? Also, those saying we should first take care of ourselves before trying to teach others, we are doing precisely that in discussing these things here. Those who want to pretend to be saints should go somewhere else.


Shanghai really is the most civilized city, after all they had the most interactions with the outside so they have very progressive thoughts. Unlike other provinces who, due to isolation and backwardness, are primitive and mass produce many nationalistic fenqing.


Songstress girls, with no thoughts of a perished Kingdom, gaily echo a song of courtyard flowers. [poem by Du Mu]


Imagine what would happen if kindergartens in Israel played Nazi Germany military songs? I bet someone will go to prison!


CCTV often use Japanese anime for background music. This is making a mountain out of a molehill.


Who the fuck knows this is a military song? what do the kids know? As long as they are happy, that’s good enough. Some people just fucking want to watch the world burn.


Normal people would not know this is a Japanese military song.


Those who have seen Jiang Wen’s Devils on the Doorsteps, this is the song that was played when the [Japanese] devils entered the village. The children are still young but what about the teachers, the principal and the parents? This is not about being anti-Japan, but we shouldn’t be pro-Japan. This is a Japanese military song, and even worse, this is the song used by Japan during the invasion of China.

This topic trended on Sina Weibo under the hashtag #Kindergarten plays Japanese military song. In a poll, most netizens considered music as transcending national boundaries and that the children should not be blamed:


The Zhabei District Education Department issued a statement of apology on September 11th, and also announced the suspension of the teacher responsible…

From Weibo:

Shanghai Zhengdan International Kindergarten Principal Xia Miao’s Apology Regarding the “Warship March Incident”

On 2014 June 27, Our school’s upper class used the Warship March as background music during their graduation performance. According to our investigation, this was because when the teacher in charge looked for background music to use for his class’s drum performance, he had used his mobile phone and found this song on “Baidu Music”. Because this song did not have any lyrics or text description, this teacher was not able to determine the content and origin of the song, and had only considered the tempo of the music. The performance only used the song as background music for the drum beat, and had nothing else relating to the content of the music.

After this performance was uploaded onto and widely broadcasted on the internet by a parent, it brought about a lot of negative reactions. This is the result of the teacher’s lack of care, and caused by a lack of proper oversight over the teacher and political sensitivity by the kindergarten.

Thus, as the principal I feel deeply regretful. I hereby want to extend my deepest apologies to netizens and the public. I want to take responsibility and bear the consequences of this incident. This incident has taught us a lesson, for both myself personally and for our school. We will remember this lesson and carefully reflect and learn from this mistake. We will also draw lessons regarding our ways of thinking and our school’s institution, to strengthen management to prevent this incident from ever happening again.

Shanghai Hengdan International Kindergarten Principal Xia Miao

2014 September 11

READ  Chinese Philanthropist: Uneducated People Should Not Have Children

Written by Joe

Joe is a documentary producer and journalist based in Shanghai

  • D0Man

    Amazed there are so many rational comments there.

    • Terrik

      Well, until this BS

      The Zhabei District Education Department issued a statement of apology on September 11th, and also announced the suspension of the teacher responsible…

    • JoshInChina

      I’ve found that Chinese netizens are much more rational and level-headed than the Korean and Japanese ones

      • Zappa Frank

        even than yahoo’s comments in many western countries…

      • Gordon Gogodancer

        I’ve found the contrary in most cases i’m afraid.

      • Guang Xiang

        and even ChinaSmackers

      • angry laowai

        lets not go that far…hahaha

  • KenjiAd

    That particular song, “Warship March,” has pretty much lost its military origin though. Because of its upbeat melody, in Japan, it has been used in places like Pachinko parlor (Japanese pinball gambling place) and supermarkets promoting big sale.

    Although the melody is very well known in Japan, I wonder how many Japanese people can actually cite the lyrics. My guess would be less than 5% of the population.

    I’d have to agree with the majority of Chinese netizens. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

  • FYIADragoon

    Yay, can’t even send your children to an “international” school without worrying about “patriotic” brainwashing. Children at an international school listening to something Japanese, oh the horror!

    • donscarletti

      I think plenty of Jews both in and out of Israel boycott companies involved in the Holocaust. I don’t think any of the companies formed from I.G. Faben like Bayer, BASF and Agfa are particularly popular, because of their work in Auschwitz C and in developing ZyclonB (though apparently not manufacturing the batches that were used in the gas chambers).

      Other large companies that used Jewish slave labour (Bertelsmann publishing being a huge, multinational example) are boycotted by some Jews.

      I’m not sure how many Jews do in fact boycott these brands, I’m pretty sure that it is less than the number who don’t, but there are still plenty of people who consider it important.

      Also, if you were publicly singing the Horst-Wessel-Lied in Germany or Israel I think you would get into extremely big legal trouble. Even in America performing the first verse of Deutschlandlied would probably get you into big political trouble, despite it actually having nothing to do with Nazism being written long before Nazism was a thing.

      • Joe

        Surprising about Deutschlandlied, didn’t know German irredentism can cause problems in the US.

        • donscarletti

          Not really about German irredentism, it’s just considered that “Deutschland über alles” is a Nazi anthem.

          • Joe

            hmm I always thought the line: from the Meuse to the Memel, would be more controversial today

          • donscarletti

            Hell, I’d be impressed if an American could tell you whether or not those rivers were in Europe, let alone how far from the German border they are.

          • Alex Dương

            Other Americans may be better versed in European geography than I am. For my part, I’d never heard of either the Meuse or the Memel. The Danube’s the only one I know by name.

  • KenjiAd

    Here you can hear the original March played by the Imperial Navy Band in 1937.

    Direct translation of the lyric goes like this…

    In defending and in attacking, (there is our) dependable floating castle of black iron. The dependable floating castle should protect the four corners of the Imperial nation of the rising Sun (Japan). The ship of true iron, attack the country harming Japan.

    Disclaimer: The above is not an official translation. I just wanted to give cS readers some idea about what the lyric is saying.

    • Janus

      Shit song, surely that teacher could of picked a better marching tune

      • KenjiAd

        Really? I agree the lyric is kind of shitty, but I actually like the melody though. The majority of Japanese military songs are sad and quite depressing. This one is different.

        • da_shan223

          Treason: A Rodgers and Hammerstein production.

        • donscarletti

          I’m quite partial to “In the case of having to choose between life or death, you should choose death, in D Minor.”

          • KenjiAd

            I like depressing songs in Am/Dm/E7.

            The more depressing, the better.

    • donscarletti

      Well, if a warship was not meant to do all of those things, why would you build it? It’s not something you just throw together just so some sailors can do a song and dance routine on its deck.

      I’m pretty sure the same song could be sung just as truthfully about the Liaoning, the Nimitz, the Admiral Kutznetsov, the Illustrious, the Charles de Gaul, etc.

      • Joe

        This whole incident happened before, a few years ago the Warship March was played during a schools morning exercises, and led to a similar fallout. I think the main aversion to the song is due to the IJN’s close involvement in the Battle of (and subsequent fall of) Shanghai.

        • KenjiAd

          I don’t think Chinese people (most of them anyway) have any strong aversion to this particular music. Most of them don’t know it anyway, as this incident shows.

          Obviously the teachers there didn’t know it’s a Japanese Navy song, or they would have scrapped the BGM a long time ago. Most of the parents apparently didn’t know it either, as evidenced by the applaud you hear after the performance.

          The aversion is actually not the music per se, but the fear of being accused of a HanJian (Chinese traitor), in the case of this school, by the officials, parents, and the general public.

          Next time when you see some businesses in China displaying flags of countries all over the world, look closely. You notice that the Japanese flag is often missing. Actually, you can buy a set of flags excluding Japan’s flag.

          Take a look at here at Taobao.

          It says Japan’s flag is not included.

          As a Japanese national living in China, I’m actually sad to see this sort of thing happening. But I do see where they are coming from.

          • Joe

            Yes I agree that most people could care less, and the comments reflect the initial reaction people had when they first saw the video. However, once this issue gained public spotlight was then reposted by state-media and was associated to being a military song the reaction was different. This is why the school is so quick the respond because they know the potential fallout for this issue, especially considering September is one of the more sensitive month regarding Sino-Japanese relations (both anniversary of VJ day in China and the 9.18 incident).

          • someguy

            Hey Kenji. Interesting link you’ve provided. It does say “Japanese flag not included” on the front, but scroll a bit down and you can see that it’s false. Look at the eighth picture: the Japanese flag is very clearly depicted.

            Also, at the bottom, there is a chart in yellow where all the flags included are written. From the third column on the left, count three down and you’ll get Japan.

          • KenjiAd

            Hey someguy, good find. I missed it. Several years ago when I came to China, I remember seeing Japanese flags frequently, together with flags of countries all over the world, in some restaurants, supermarkets, etc. If you go to a foreign country, you notice those things.

            But recently I noticed that Japanese flags are not included as those displays any more. True.

            Because I’ve never experienced any anti-Japan hatred from any of my co-workers or their relatives, I came to the conclusion that anti-Japan sentiment is not as widespread or strong as has been advertised by mostly the Japanese media.

            I think the aversion to Japan has more to do with the real fear of getting accused of being a HanJian. I think that’s the undercurrent of this Warship March incident and the subsequent apology from the school administration.

    • KenjiAd

      Here’s the unofficial translation of the second part of the lyrics.

      Smoke from the coal fluttering like a dragon on the ocean. Noise from the cannon resounding like roaring thunder. Riding across thousand miles of the waves, shine the light of the Imperial nation!

      It appears that the lyric was made some time before the music was composed in 1987. It says that this song was one of the first western-style music adapted by the Imperial Japanese military.

  • Markus P

    Quote “Nicole俪。: I’m here to read the comments.”
    Me too. :)

    • ClausRasmussen

      That one also made me laugh

  • da_shan223

    Gutsy move. So gutsy that I’m certain there are some key details left uncovered.

  • The teacher should be fucking fired this is disgusting

    • mr.wiener

      You are of course correct. I am very disgruntled by this, I am so disgruntled I may never be gruntled again.

      • TheInconvenientRuth

        I may copy this most excellent phrase for future (mis)use with your kind permission: “I am so disgruntled I may never be gruntled again.”

        • mr.wiener

          I’m very appointed you wish to do so.

  • guest

    Maybe the suspended teacher should sue “Baidu Music”. Hahahaha who I am kidding.

  • Rafasa Arandas

    God bless democracy!

  • If I May

    This is a step forward.

  • Teacher in China

    It sounds like a perfect black comedy about a lovable but useless teacher who can’t do anything right and always ends up in darkly comic situations….can see a Western counterpart where a group of school children graduate to a Nazi marching song…

    • SongYii

      remember amelia bedelia? like that!

    • UserID01

      The perfect setup for a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode right there.

    • TheInconvenientRuth

      Mr. Bean then.

  • SongYii

    “Thus, as the principal I feel deeply regretful. I hereby want to extend my deepest apologies to netizens and the public. ” This is exactly how apology letters from school administrators are written in the US, and when over such minor incidents as this and the silly bs in american public schools, i find the strong, dramatic tone very patronizing, almost insulting. As if the parents and public need to be wrapped up in a blanket with hot cocoa and consoled like babies. Just tell us what happened, spare us the coddling. No one was harmed in the event.

  • Gerhana

    ini adalah proses globalisasi

  • Alex Dương

    You can verify for yourself that the translated comments were the most upvoted ones.

    • True. I can track these comments back to the original Chinese posts.

  • Caleb

    Wow all the Japanese haters above but funny thing is so many people in China buy Japanese things and shop at one of the bigest Japanese super store in China. Get over it already……

    • TheInconvenientRuth

      Yeah, the hypocrisy is strong here.. I had a Chinese guy telling me how Japanese are all dispicable dogs, should be spat on and killed etc. Pointed out he was wearing Asics trainers, had a Sony mobile, a Uniqlo t-shirt and a Nintendo DS on him…

  • Zebadee

    I hope this country never goes to war. But then again .., if it does, we could be hearing a lot more of this song!

  • Insomnicide

    The thing that baffles me the most is why can’t they use a native Chinese one? There are thousands of Chinese military march songs, ancient or modern. It’s quite odd for them to pick a foreign one, especially one from Imperial Japan.

    • TheInconvenientRuth

      As the article said they just picked a random song off Baidu with their mobile, without having any idea what it was. A bit like how they stock their supermarkets with Western food..

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    I’m not belitteling the war history, but am I the only one who wonders how much China could improve if they just moved on instead of focussing so much energy on hating Japan and blaming it for everything… What would Western Europe look like today if all countries there had the same attitude towards Germany? They moved on, grew up, learned to forgive (but not forget) and are now working together building strong economies. China has done it’s fair share of aggression (Korea, Tibet, Sino-India conflict, a failed Soviet Invasion and involvement in Vietnam) but keeps playing the victim card endlessly…

  • Xio Gen

    No, he knew about the history and made no apology about it. He said he was trying to be patriotic. Our patriotic songs like God Bless America and the Star-Spangled Banner don’t have stuff about killing our enemies. I don’t know how he could be so naive. All he did was give the CCP propaganda material.

  • Xio Gen

    A better comparison would be playing Wagner in Israel, which was illegal for some time until I think the 80s.

  • Here’s my viewpoint. So what if it’s a Japanese military song. The ones who are whining and bitching how it should not have been played in the kindergarten should seriously grow up. I mean your own country have enough CCP songs that are still being played, why not you ban those as well? I don’t understand why the school even had to apologize for. No wonder China is still a “3rd world country” if you know what I mean.