Beginning in the 1930s, Japan aggressively expanded the territories under its influence, taking over parts of China, invading territories claimed by the Soviet Union, and fighting across the Pacific during World War II.
Discuss the Japanese invasions of Manchuria, China, and the Soviet Union in the 1930s
In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria and established a puppet regime there. In 1936, they established a similar puppet regime in Mongolia.
In 1937, Japan invaded China, launching the Second Sino-Japanese war, a conflict between Japan, Mao Zedong's communists, and Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists. The war later merged into the larger World War II conflict.
Throughout late 1941 and early 1942, Japan invaded Southeast Asia, successfully capturing Hong Kong, British Malaya, and the Philippines.
The Japanese also seized the key oil production zones of Borneo, Central Java, Malang, Cepu, Sumatra, and Dutch New Guinea of the late Dutch East Indies, defeating the Dutch forces.
The Battle of Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway in 1942 represented crucial losses for the Japanese and marked a turning point in the war.
A 20th-century Chinese political and military leader. He was an influential member of the Kuomintang (KMT), or the Chinese Nationalist Party. In the Chinese civil war, the KMT fought against the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC defeated the Nationalists in 1949, forcing his government to retreat to Taiwan. After evacuating to Taiwan, his government continued to declare its intention to retake mainland China. The U.S. recognized the KMT as the legitimate government of China, rather than recognize the CPC.
A military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan
from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It was the largest Asian war in the 20th century and it made up more than 50 percent of the casualties in the Pacific War (if the 1937–1941 period is taken into account).
A Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, anti-imperialist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution. He was the architect and founding father of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949, and held authoritarian control over the nation until his death in 1976. His theoretical contribution to Marxism–Leninism, along with his military strategies and brand of policies, are collectively known as Maoism.
A massacre of up to 300,000 Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants by the Japanese, executed after the fall of Nanking during the six weeks following December 13, 1937.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the
Japanese Empire's main economic problem was the lack of sufficient raw materials. Japan needed to import raw
materials such as iron, rubber, and oil to maintain strong economic growth.
The Japanese felt that
acquiring resource-rich territories would establish economic self-sufficiency
and independence, and they also hoped to jump-start the nation's economy in the
midst of the Great Depression. As a result, Japan set its sights on East
Asia, specifically Manchuria, with its many resources.
On September 18, 1931, in what is known as the Mukden Incident, Lt. Suemori Kawamoto detonated a small quantity of dynamite close to a railway line owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway near Mukden (now Shenyang). The explosion was so weak that it failed to destroy the track and a train passed over it minutes later, but the Imperial Japanese Army accused Chinese dissidents of the act and responded with a full invasion. A day later, Japan invaded Manchuria. It claimed
that the invasion was a liberation of the Manchus from the Chinese,
although the majority of the population were Han Chinese as a result of the
large-scale settlement of Chinese in Manchuria in the 19th century. A puppet regime called Manchukuo was established with little resistance.
a Chinese territory bordering Manchuria, was taken in 1933.
Japan had withdrawn from the League of Nations earlier that year and
the events led to no specific actions from the international community.
In 1936, Japan also
created a Mongolian puppet state in Inner Mongolia named Mengjiang, which was
also predominantly Chinese as a result of recent Han immigration to the area.
In 1937, Japan invaded China, starting what was essentially a three-way war
between Japan, Mao Zedong's communists, and Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists. The
invasion began what would become known as the Second Sino-Japanese War, which
after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 would merge into the greater
conflict of World War II as a major front of what is broadly known as the
Building on the hard-won victory in Shanghai, the Japanese army captured the Chinese nationalist capital city of Nanjing (Nanking) and Northern Shanxi by the end of 1937, in campaigns involving approximately 350,000 Japanese soldiers and considerably more Chinese. After the fall of Nanking on December 13, what would become known as the Nanking Massacre began and lasted over the period of the next six weeks. Historians estimate up to 300,000 Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants were mass murdered in the process. Because of the widespread systematic use of rape, the events are also known as the "Rape of Nanking." Historians estimate that, in addition to children and the elderly, around 20,000 women were raped. Records of eyewitnesses demonstrate a massive scale of brutal violence. Until today, some Japanese deny the atrocities ever occurred.
The Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war in the 20th
century. It accounted for the majority of civilian and military casualties in
the Pacific War, with anywhere between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians and
over 4 million Chinese and Japanese military personnel dying from war-related
violence, famine, and other causes. By the end of the Pacific War, Japan had
conquered much of the Far East, including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, part of New Guinea, and some islands
of the Pacific Ocean.
In 1938, the Japanese 19th Division entered territory claimed by the Soviet Union, leading to the Battle of Lake Khasan. This incursion was founded in the Japanese belief that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary, as stipulated in the Treaty of Peking, between Imperial Russia and Manchu China. On May 11, 1939, in the Nomonhan Incident (Battle of Khalkhin Gol), a Mongolian cavalry unit of some 70 to 90 men entered the disputed area. The Japanese also became involved. Joseph Stalin ordered development of a plan for a counter-strike against the Japanese, which resulted in massive Japanese losses. On September 15, an armistice was arranged. Nearly two years later, on April 13, 1941, the parties signed a Neutrality Pact, in which the Soviet Union pledged to respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of Manchukuo, while Japan agreed similarly for the Mongolian People's Republic.
On September 27, 1940, Imperial Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, establishing what would become known as the Axis powers. The pact called for mutual protection and technological and economic cooperation.
an oil embargo by the United States as well as dwindling domestic reserves, the Japanese government decided to attack Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, leading to significant losses for the U.S. Navy and air forces. The objective of the attack was to incapacitate the U.S. long enough for Japan to establish its Southeast Asian empire and defensible buffer zones.
The United States entered the European Theatre and Pacific Theater in full force. Four days later, Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy declared war on the United States, merging the separate conflicts.
Following Pearl Harbor, the Japanese launched offensives against Allied forces in Southeast Asia, with simultaneous attacks on Hong Kong, British Malaya, and the Philippines. Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese on December 25, 1941. The Japanese forced the Allies in Malaya to retreat into Singapore and on February 15, 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese, causing the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. The Japanese military carried out a purge of the Chinese population in Malaya and Singapore and are believed to have killed tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese. In the Philippines, the Japanese pushed the combined Filipino-American force towards the Bataan peninsula and later the island of Corregidor. January 1942 marked one of the worst defeats suffered by the Americans, leaving over 70,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war in the custody of the Japanese.
The Japanese also seized the key oil production zones of Borneo, Central Java, Malang, Cepu, Sumatra, and Dutch New Guinea of the late Dutch East Indies, defeating the Dutch forces. They also consolidated their lines of supply through capturing key islands of the Pacific, including Guadalcanal.
In May 1942, the Japanese failed to defeat the Allies at the Battle of the Coral Sea, despite numerical superiority, and in June 1942, they lost a four-carrier task force at the Battle of Midway. Midway was a decisive defeat for the Japanese and proved to be the turning point of the war. In September 1942, they were defeated by Australians in New Guinea at the Battle of Milne Bay. Further defeats by the Allies at Guadalcanal in September 1942, and New Guinea in 1943, put the empire of Japan on the defensive for the remainder of the war.