Despite a renewed focus on the Japanese, the war did not go well. Chiang’s forces proved unable to displace the Japanese from the northeast, and Japan began pushing southward with impunity. In late 1937, they reached the capital in Nanjing. The Chinese attempted to resist, holding their ground for several weeks, but eventually were forced to flee by a superior Japanese force.
The Japanese army committed atrocities across northern China, raping and pillaging as they moved south, culminating in the Rape of Nanjing, in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were massacred.