Causes of WWII – Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, China

Germany and Italy signed pacts in which they promised to help each other in the expansion plans. The power house of Asia was Japan with similar ideologies like Italy and Germany. However, no dictator ruled Japan. Democracy flourished along with militarism. There were no mindless killings like in Germany. But Japan’s invasion of China was the last incident that took place before the full-fledged war began. After the WWI, the agreement signed in the Articles of League of Nation, was to refrain from any attack. Japan failed to do this as it attacked Chinese territory on September 18th 1931.

A Brief History

Japan was highly industrialised area but had very little natural resources as the land area was very little compared to other countries. It was highly populated as well. The Great Depression of 1929 had greatly affected Japan. Earlier, the Treaty of Portsmouth had ended the Russo-Japan war which went on between 1904 and 1905. On September 5th 1905 this treaty was signed ending the Russo – Japan confrontations. Among many other settlements Manchurian railway was one. Southern Manchuria was returned to China. But the Southern Railway and the mining concessions were given to Japan while Russia continued to have a hold over the Chinese Eastern Railway.

The control Of Southern Manchurian Railway was a great blessing because it offered them space, a control over some natural resources – it was a means of improving their economic conditions. Japan also invested in Manchuria and had a large army base there.

The Invasion

On September 18th 1931 there was an explosion in which the railway lines were damaged. Japan blamed it on the failure of the Chinese local government and took it as an excuse to take complete charge of those areas. Slowly it expanded its control over the full region and called the state Manchukuo. There was hardly any resistance from the Chinese so the takeover was easy.

  • In a matter of few days, after September 18th, all the cities along the 730 miles length railway were captured.
  • Between September 20th and 25th the provinces of Kirin and Liaoning and the main railway line to Korea was taken over.
  • Chinese started resistance but was not effective, so the Japanese march continued.
  • By December 1931 most of Southern Manchuria was taken over.
  • By February 1932 Japan made incursion into Northern Manchuria as well.

After the first attack on September 18th 1931, China asked for the intervention of the League of Nations. The commission which could not sail through Suez Canal came a few months later but by then the damage was done. The commission sent by the League reported in September 1932 that Japan was at fault and asked the troops to withdraw. Tokyo also instructed the same but the army refused to move out. For the first time the army and the government acted opposing each other. So, economic sanctions to Japan were stopped. Japan in turn walked out of the League. Countries were forbidden to trade with Japan but this was not followed by any country. For example, USA was not a part of the League and it did not stop its trade. Likewise there were many other countries. This was one of the biggest failures of the League of Nations and the stage was set for the Second World War.

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