The Manchurian Crisis (1931-33)Edit

· Before 1931, Japan had tried to be as peaceful as possible with the West and China.

· Great Depression devastated Japan’s economy.
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o Unemployment at 2.6 million in ‘30
o Exports fell by almost 50% from ’29-’31.

· Japanese nationalists looked to Manchuria.

o Rich in natural resources
o Troops already stationed there
o Economic concessions in Manchuria.

· Japan had control of Korea, the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula and the South Manchurian Railway by the late 1920s.

· Worried Chiang Kai-Shek, leader of Chinese Nationalists might end their concessions and the warlord in Manchuria wanted to get rid of all the Japanese in the area.

· 1931 – Mukden Incident

· In September 1931 the Japanese army (Kwantung Army) destroyed part of the South Manchurian Railway, blaming it in on the Chinese.

· They then occupied most of Manchuria.

o The Chinese government did not resist much.
- Chiang Kai-shek ordered a retreat from Manchuria, and was prepared to sign a truce in May 1933.
- This was because Chiang’s main priority was to defeat Mao’s communists, defeat the warlords who ruled over much of China and unify the country.
o The League of Nations did not respond quickly or effectively enough to the occupation.
- Europe was quite unsympathetic to Chiang Kai-shek who was trying to limit European control in China.
- Also because the situation in the area was very complex – China’s control over Manchuria was limited since revolution against the Emperor in 1911. Japan also had significant presence since Russo-Japanese war of 1905
- The US’s absence from the League was important, because if they were in the League it is very likely there would have been sanctioned placed on Japan because of the US’s negative response to the incident.

· Japan Blocks the League’s Resolution (Oct 1931)

· China appealed to the League of Nations and then Japan invoked Article 11.

o Article 11: A council member involved in a dispute could veto a council resolution.

· Japan had vetoed the resolution which would make them withdraw their forces around the South Manchurian Railway.

· Japan then calls for an inquiry into the Mukden Incident.

o The Lytton Commission is formed to investigate it in December 1931.

· Japan created a new state called Manchukuo.

o LON tells nations not to recognize the new state.
o Japan places the old emperor of China as leader of the state as puppet ruler.

· Fighting escalated briefly in January 1932 between Chinese troops and Japanese marines in the international quarter of Shanghai.

o The Japanese bombed Shanghai.

· The Manchurian takeover was not authorized by the government.

o However, the army ignored the government and in May 1932 nationalist officers assassinated Prime Minister Inukai who sought to give China control back of Manchuria.

· This radical sect of the army, the Imperial way was brought under control by more moderate officers in 1936.

500 Words Edit

The Manchurian Crisis was an important event in showing how powerless the League of Nations was. It effectively showed that it was an entirely toothless force. Due to the fact that the two powers that could have had a significant influence on the dispute, the USSR and the USA, were not in the League of Nations, the League could not make any significant impact on the dispute. The fact that Japan was able and allowed to stall a League decision on the matter meant that they could create a puppet state and install a puppet leader in Manchuria.

China’s preoccupation with the communist thread meant that their only hope for help with the crisis would have been the League – at this time the only real global governing force, but due to most of the members being European and events in East Asia having relatively negligible impact on European affairs, there wasn’t enough goodwill in the League for anyone to commit a significant amount of help to China. Britain's trade with China also didn't account for enough to make it risk a confrontation with Japan. To make matters worse, the depression meant that there were far greater problems in Europe and America to take care of - most countries wanted to focus on their domestic affairs than become embroiled in China's problems. The fact that there was no significant will also led to China feeling more betrayed by the European powers, especially after it refused to sign Versailles.

When the League did decide to do something to help with the situation it was slow and subject to bureaucracy.This gave Japan time enough to consolidate their influence in Manchuria long before the League would have any power to do anything. This was made even worse due to Japan's ability to veto any resolution made against it, allowing them to continue owning the railway.

Japan kept expanding, and eventually invaded China in 1937 and then declared war with the Allied powers, allying with Hitler in 1940 onwards, becoming a key player in World War II. Japanese atrocities in China showed complete disregard for human life - it's estimated that during the invasion of Hong Kong 1000 women were raped in the first day. During the Nanking massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, the race between two soldiers to see who could decapitate one hundred people first was reported on like a sporting event. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered all around China by the Japanese invasion forces, and this continues to be a stumbling block in Sino-Japanese relations today.

The fact that the league was completely powerless in this affair meant that many other countries started to lose faith in them. Along with the Abyssinian Crisis, the League was experiencing more and more difficulty in peacekeeping around the world.