The Japanese takeover of Manchuria, 1931
an explosion occured on a japanese railway in china - japanese claimed sabotage from chinese army.
chinese said their army was in the barracks at the time.
whatever the cause of the explosion the Japanese used this as an excuse to take control of the area. this was done within months - chinese forced to withdraw.
February 1932 - japaneses set up puppet government and rename area Manchuko
reaction of the League of Nations...
China appealed to the League for help - Japan claimed it was taking control of the area because it was getting out of hand.
China had previously agreed that manchuria should be a japanese shpere pf interest.
the League had to act carefully because their was some truth in japan's argument and Japan was a leading member of the league of nations - holding a permanent seat.
however it appeared that Japan had used military force to get what it wanted - the league told Japan to withdraw from china. Instead the Japanese took over more territory.
The league sent lord lytton to compile a report. (not published until a year after the incident)
Lytton report supported china. Japan had acted unlawfull and Manchuria should be returned to China.
Japan refused to accept the decision - they ignored the report and left the League of Nations in March 1933.
The Japanese invade China....
Japan stated its intention to invade more territory. In 1937 it began a major invasion of China.
Showed League's weakness - Economic sanctions useless as Japan's main trading partener was the USA.
Britain was worried about taking measures against Japan in case it damaged its trade in Asia.
When an agressive dictator wanted to invade neighbouring territories the league was powerless to prevent it.
The Abysinnian crisis, 1935
Mussolini was keen to avenge a previous defeat to Abysinnia and gain access to the county's resources.
The League was anxious to avoid a clash with mussolini. Britain and France believed he was their best ally against Hitler. Mussolini hoped Britain and France would allow him to do as he pleased in Abysinnia.
In October 1935 the Italians attacked Abysinnia. They used modern weaponary such as tanks planes and poison gas.
The Abysinnian army was mostly cavalry and infantary - no match for the Italians.
The only hope for the Abysinnian emperor seemed to be the size of the country, state of the roads and an appeal to the League of Nations....
The League's response
Seemed to be no excuses for the League not to act. This was clearly an unprovoked invasion.
A comittee was set up to agree what sanctions to impose.
The League banned sales of arms and some oter goods to Italy. However it did not ban oil exports to Italy because it feared the USA wouldn' coo-operate.
Neither did it ban coal exports for fear that the British mining industry would be affected.
Crucially the suez canal was not closed to Italian ships - for fear of sparking a full scale war with Italy.
This desicion was imporant as the canal was Mussolini's main supply to Abysinnia.
The Hoare-Laval Pact
in December 1935 the British and French foreign ministers proposed to divide Abysinnia.
Italy would get the best areas for agriculture and minerals and Abysinnia being limited to the barren mountainous areas.
The plan was never presented for discussion, however it was leaked and there was an outcry. Hoare and laval were forced to resign.
This showed Britain and France were willing to put their own interests before the League of Nations.
This badly damaged the League's reputation
Why did the League fail?
The orgainsation of the League contained weaknesses - all decisions had to be unanimous. The League met infrequently and so there were many delays.
Important nations were absent. The USA never joined, Germany didnt join until 1926, Japan left in 1933, Italy left in 1937, The USSR didn't join until 1934 and were expelled in 1939.
Sanctions were not effective and weren't enforced - especially without the USA's support.
The League did not have a ready army - Individual countries were unwilling to commit troups.
The League had to uphold peace treaties (eg Treaty of Versailles), these were increasingly seen as unfair.
Countries were often unwilling to act unless their own interests were at stake and sometimes acted against the League's decisions.
What were the implications of the League's failure
Violence and agression were shown to pay. Mussolini and Hitler learnt from Japan's example/
Agressive countries kept the territory gained without sanction, except dissaproval from other countries.
The victims suffered. Other weak nations realised that they could not rely on the league for support.
Britain and France saw that they could not achieve sucsess against dictators through the League of Nations.
The Manchurian and Abysinnian crises showed that the League's notion of collective security didn't work. The League was not capable of acting firmly in the face of determined action.
The League lost its credibility as a peace-keeping organisation.
Nobody took the League seriously after 1936, even though it existed formally until 1946