The Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931-1933)

Explains ...

1. Why did Japan invade Manchuria

2. Describing what happened

3. How the League of Nations reacted

4. Why the League failed to resolve the situation

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  • Created by: Animal II
  • Created on: 14-02-12 17:29

Why Did Japan Invade Manchuria?

  • Economy + Population had been growing rapidly since 1900
  • By 1920s, Japan was a major power
  • Dissatisfied with peace settlement at the end of the war
  • Depression caused by Wall Street Crash in 1929 led to a reduction in markets for Japanese goods as China and the USA stopped trading because of depression
  • Therefore, they were unable to import goods
  • Depression had increased poverty and unrest in Japan
  • Lots of people and army thought that the answer would be the expansion of Japan into Manchuria
  • This would allow for the surplus population and be a sure market for Japanese goods
  • Army leaders in Japan wanted to build up a Japanese empire by force
  • They didn't have many raw materials e.g. iron
  • Couldn't afford inputs such as food because they don't grow a lot of food. Due to their trading countries putting up tariffs (trade barriers)
  • Japan is an empire, their emperor was Emperor Hirohito
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Describe What Happened

  • Since 1904 Japan had been allowed to have soldiers in Manchuria guarding the South Manchurian railway.
  • In 1931 during September the Japanese claimed that there had been an explosion on the railway line at Mukden, which they said was sabotage by the Chinese.
  • But there is no certainty that an explosion took place as transport on the railway was not interrupted, but it gave the Japanese an excuse to invade.
  • The Japanese army quickly defeated the Chinese at Mukden.
  • They threw out all Chinese forces.
  • The action had been taken by the army without permission of the government.
  • In February 1932 they set up a puppet government in Manchuria - or Manchukuo, as they called it - which did exactly what the Japanese army told it to do
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  • Later in 1932 Japanese aeroplanes and gunships bombed shanghai.
  • The civilian government in Japan told the Japanese army to withdraw, but its instructions were ignored. It was clear that it was the army and not the government that was in control of Japanese foreign policy.
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How Did The League Of Nations React?

  • China appealed to the League for collective security
  • Japan claimed it was not invading as an aggressor, but simply settling a local difficulty.
  • The Japanese argued that China was in such a state of anarchy that they had to invade in self-defence to keep peace in the area
  • For the League this was a serious test
  • Japan was a leading member of the League
  • There was now a long and frustrating delay.
  • The Lytton Commission - (the League's officials), sailed round the world to assess the situation in Manchuria for themselves.
  • The report came a year later after the full invasion in September 1932, Led by Lord Lytton.
  • The report was detailed and balanced and the judgement was very clear - Japan had acted unlawfully
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  • They found that China's rule was chaotic and Japan had some grievances against it, but the Japanese invasion was condemned and it recommended that Manchuria should be a self-governing state.
  • The Japanese then reorganised Manchuria and called it Manchukuo.
  • This was supposed to be an independent state, but it was in fact controlled by Japan.
  • In February 1933, instead of withdrawing from Manchuria the Japanese announced that they intended to invade more of China.
  • They still argued that this was necessary in self-defence
  • On February 24th 1933 the report from the League's officials was approved by 42 voted to 1 in the Assembly. Only Japan voted against.
  • Because of this, Japan resigned from the League on 27 March 1933.The next week it invaded Jehol - another Chinese province.
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  • The League was powerless
  • It discussed economic sanctions, but without the USA, Japan's main trading partner, they would be meaningless.
  • Britain seemed more interested in keeping up good relationships with Japan than in agreeing to sanctions
  • The League also discussed banning arms sales to Japan, but the member countries could not even agree about that.
  • They were worried that Japan would rebel against it and the war would escalate
  • There was no prospect at all of Britain an France risking their navies or armies in a war with Japan.
  • Only the USSR would have had the resources to remove the Japanese from Manchuria by force and they were not even members of the League

Chinese President: Chiang Kai-Shek

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Why Did The League Fail To Resolve The Situation?

  • The League had failed
  • One of the permanent members of the Council - Japan - had committed an act of aggression and got away with it
  • Back in Europe, both Hitler and Mussolini looked on with interest
  • Within 3 years they would both follow Japan's example
  • Sanctions were discussed but not used because Japan's main trading partner was the USA, which was not in the League, so they would have no effect
  • All the countries were suffering the effects of the economic depression and did not wan to be involved with international problems
  • Britain, in particular, did not want troubles in the Far East to affect its trade in Asia
  • Britain wasn't prepared to risk its fleet against Japan in the Far East.
  • France had no intention of sending troops to the Far East
  • The nearest country to Japan who could send troops was the USSR, but it was not in the League
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  • No country wanted war against Japan - a stronger Japan was a useful ally against the expansion of the USSR in the Far East
  • Manchuria was seen as distant from Europe and many regarded the attack as an "intervention", not an invasion
  • Japan was restoring order, not invading
  • At the time it was not considered to be a major blow to the League, but other dissatisfied countries such as Italy and Germany noted the failure and offered later challenges to the League.
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