Japan, Manchuria and the League of Nations 1931-1933

It is an area of 192,000 squared kilometres, having a population of 28 million people, its wealthy of forestry, minerals and agricultural products in China. The Japanese wanted this land to rebuild their economy after the Great Depression.
League of Nations
The League of Nations (LON) was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference, and the precursor to the United Nations. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members. The League's primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing war through collective security, disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation.
Kwantung army
In 1931, the Japanese owned most of the important railways, mines, factories and ports, in Manchuria. THey sent an army to Kwantung, South Manchuria to protect these new possessions.
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade before World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s.It was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century.
Collective Security
System by which states have attempted to prevent or stop wars.The strategy by which nations (states) agree not to attack each other and to join in defending against any agressor which would harm any state agreeing to collective security.

League of Nations, 1931

In 1931, Viscount Cecil the chief British representative of the League Nations was one of the many people who thought that the world was entering a new time of peace. He mentioned a speech to the League of nations on the 10th of September,1931-
" I do not think there is the slightest prospect of any war...There has scarcely eve been a time period in the worlds history when war seemed less likely than it does at present"
Viscount Cecil was an intelligent and well informed man, but a week later he was proved wrong.

The attraction of Manchuria

Japan had taken four areas in and around China, these were Formosa, Korea, Liadong and Kiaochow. However the Japanese wanted Manchuria above all others. Their reasons were stated by the Japanese Prime minister in a letter to their emperor in 1927-

'It is an area of 192,000 squared kilometres, having a population of 28 million people. The territory is more than three times as large as our own empire, not counting Korea and Formosa, but it is inhabited by only one third as many people. The attractiveness of the land does not arise from the scarcity of the population alone; its wealth of forestry, minerals and agricultural products is also unrivalled else where in the world. In order to exploit these resources...we created especially the South Manchuria Railway Company. The total investment involved our undertakings in railways, shipping, mining, forestry, steel manufacture, agriculture and in cattle raising....amount to no less than 440 million yen'

By 1931, the Japanese controlled most of Manchuria's economy, owning most important mines, railways, factories and ports. In Kwantung, South Manchuria the Japanese kept an army in order to protect these possessions. The Great Depression in 1929 had left Japan ruined. It ruined its trade, it closed half its factories and gave millions of Japanese peasants starvation. The government was proved unuseful, the army began talking amongst themselves. Army officers talked about conquering foreign in order to come out of the Depression, with new land and colonies, Japan could gain new raw material, begin trading and having more jobs for people to take them out of their starvations. The Japanese already had their army in Kwantung, so they thought where better place to start?
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Japan invades Manchuria

Without the government's knowledge the army in Kwantung planned a take over of Manchuria. The night of th 18th of September, 1931, Japanese soldiers blew up a section of the South Manchuria Railway in Shenyang. Then, they blamed the explosion on the Chinese locals and used the excuse to move into Shenyang. China immediately went to the League of Nations for help. The League ordered the Japanese government to withdraw the troops. The delegation of Japan agreed to the demand and said that the invasion was planned by some 'military hot-heads'. The Japanese government agreed to the League's demands. However they did not know that that the army continued to advance into Manchuria. By the end of 1931, the army had conquered the entire province, and renamed it into an independent state, Manzhouguo. The Japanese government had complety lost control of the Kwantung army, the officers weren't following their orders, but acting agaisnt them. The League found itself 'in the unpleasant position of seeking assurances from a government which had not the power to make them good'
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The League and Manchuria

The League was to keep peace through collective security, if persuasion did not work , the League was allowed to place sanctions on the accused state. There were two sanctions either the state was economically sanctioned, which meant that it was banned from trading, or the military sanction, meaning the League's army would go against the attacker. However, in 1931-32 nobody wanted to use the sanctions suggested by the League. After the Great Depression, trade between nations was damaged, and now that they manage to build it up again, nobody wanted to damage it again by refusing to trade with Japan. Then, nobody thought that the League could do much, since even powerful members within it thought that the League could not enforce the sanctions. A British Minister said:
'If you enforce an economic boycott, you'll have war declared by Japan and she will seize Singapore and Hong Kong. and we can't, as we are place, stop her.'

Since no nations wanted to place sanctions, the League tried by means of persuasion. A Commission of Enquiry, led by a Britain's Lord Lytton, was sent to Manchuria to investigate, after in October in 1932, the Lytton Commission made a report trying to satisfy China and Japan. This attempt was passed by the League in 1933, but Japan resigned from the League before any progress was made. Instead, Japan occupied a Chinese province called Jehol, a mountainous area.. The Japanese claimed that it was vital for the military defence of Manchuria.Since Japan had left the League of nations, there was nothing that the League could do. As a matter of fact, this affair damaged the reputation of the League of Nations, many of its supporters began to have doubts that it could maintain peace. After all, once of its leading nations had gone off to war with another nation and the League had failed to stop it.

Analysis Question-

Why do you think that the army in Kwantung began to act against their orders in 1931?

The Kwantung army began to act against their orders in 1931 because they thought it was the only way to start rebuilding Japan. During 1929, Japan suffered along with most countries the Great Depression, which is considered to be the most economic depression that has happened. Japan lost a lot, and after began rebuilding itself by conquering land. They had Korea, and some others states around and in China. But above most land they wanted Manchuria,with its riches in forestry, minerals and agricultural products, it was a perfect place for Japan to start rebuilding its economy. However, the government was against this take-over, since it violated the terms of the League of Nations.

The Japanese government refused to violate the League terms, therefore keeping their agreement of collective security. However the army did not care what the Japanese government agreed to or not, they had completely began to act by themselves. At the end, the Kwantung army took over Manchuria, and refused any orders from the Japanese government. They invaded and bombed Manchuria, no matter their orders they were going to take over. The army was right, if they could take over Manchuria, the Japanese could be stronger.

The army's decisions were not good for the Japanese government and the League, they both had problems. The Japanese were loosing control of one of their army units, and the League was not able to keep peace and stop a take over. The army could not be stopped, and soon they had taken over Manchuria. The Japanese later realized how their army was right. Manchuria had many natural resources that could be developed and how much they could earn from it. By the end of 1933, Japan resigned from the League of Nations, and agreed with their army on Manchuria and began to occupy a territory close by. This take over seems to be quite similar to Hitler, he wanted Austria, and after he got it he resigned from the League.

The Kwantung army thought it was the best way to rebuild Japan, and they were right. Later, the Japanese government agreed and retired from the League. The Japanese got vast land, a new frontier and gained natural resources. These resources exploited would bring up Japan economically, making Japan rise after their dark period during the Depression. The Kwantung army made a positive change for Japan, something that would not have been done if they had followed their orders instead of turning their back on them.

Unit Three-Origins-Practices-Results of World War Two