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Manchukuo Military Guide

The campaign against Russia in 1905 had carried hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers across the plains of Manchuria. They saw stretching out before them immense fertile plains, surrounded in places by hills and mountains; and they became aware that China was impotent to protect her own. Manchuria embraces a territory of three hundred and sixty thousand square miles, as rich in natural resources as Wisconsin and Minnesota, capable, according to Japanese experts, of sustaining an addition to her population of from sixty to eighty million people.

Japan in the 1920s faced over-population and economic crisis. Moreover, America's trade and immigration policies-which by the 1920s had raised tariffs to unprecedented levels, and had cut off all possibility of Japanese immigration to the United States-were viewed as direct threats to Tokyo's interests. All of this strengthened the hand of elements in the Japanese Army and Navy, who claimed that the nation's problems could only be remedied by the conquest of Manchuria, both as a source of raw materials for Japan's factories and as area to be settled by Japanese colonists. Japanese naval officers also objected to the Five-Power Pact, claiming that national honor demanded a navy equal in size to that of the United States or Great Britain.

Through the rest of the 1920s the government in Tokyo continued to seek good relations with the West. However, the army and navy were growing increasingly restless as Japan's economy steadily declined through the decade. Finally, concluding that the government would not act, officers of the Japanese Army stationed in southern Manchuria decided to force the issue. In September 1931, outside the town of Mukden, a small group of officers secretly blew up a length of track belonging to a Japanese-owned railway. Then, after blaming the sabotage on Chinese "bandits," the Japanese Army moved to occupy all of Manchuria. Japan's civilian government had not authorized this operation, but after an unsuccessful attempt to restrain the army in Manchuria the leaders in Tokyo decided to go along with it.

The Japanese military effectively took control of the Japanese Government in May 1932, when the prime minister was assassinated. Manchukuo was formally recognized by the military-controlled regime.

With the creation of a new State, Manchukuo, on March 1, 1932, Manchuria became independent of China. For Japan, Manchukuo was a main base for raw materials and a major base for manufactured articles. Communications through the great valleys were excellent. There were numerous roads, and the best railroad net in the Far East, outside of Japan. Some 25 miles northeast of Mukden on a branch line is Fushun (pop. 270,000). This had the greatest coal mine in the world, with seams (in open ground) over 400 feet thick. As the name Liao (iron) indicates, there are large quantities of iron ore in that valley. Based on the coal there are large chemical plants; synthetic oil establishments, using shale in part; manganese; aluminum; copper; gold; and other minerals.

The first clear demonstration of Japan's aggressive intentions in East Asia came in September 1931, when a rogue Japanese general and his army invaded Manchuria and presented his own government with a fait accompli. Subsequently, Japan set up a puppet government there in what they then called "Manchukuo," attacked Chinese forces from the Japanese concession at Shanghai in 1932, and settled into a de facto, but relatively quiescent, state of war with the divided Chinese nation. Increasingly, the U.S. Asiatic Fleet - and particularly the Yangtse Patrol - was called on to protect American citizens and national interests from Japanese incursions.

The Japanese were formidable not only from their numbers and position, but because they had made Manchukuo nearly self-supporting for military supplies. The border dispute between what were by then the People's Republic of Mongolia. and Manchukuo was actually over 200 years old. The Japanese incursion was only the latest in a long series of border clashes. However, it was by far the largest.

The population of Manchukuo, including Jehol, was reported as about 45,000,000 in 1940, and was then growing at a rate exceeding a million a year. Prior to 1911 there were few Chinese in Manchukuo, as they were excluded by immigration laws quite similar to and for the same reasons as American exclusion laws. After Japanese domination, Chinese were admitted and formed around 80% of the total. The majority were employed in agriculture. Soybeans formed the main commercial crop; annual production before World War II exceeded that of all the rest of the world combined. Wheat was raised in the north, millet in the south. All ordinary temperate climate crops thrived.

Mukden (pop. 544,000) was in the latitude of Boston, and was an important industrial center. 50 miles SSW was Anshan (213,000 pop.), a major steel and iron mill center. Hsingking was the capital, and headquarters of the local Emperor; it had 544,000 people. Harbin was the largest city in Manchukuo, having 662,000 people; it is in the latitude of Quebec. All the cities mentioned are on the main line of the South Manchuria RR. This railroad used American-style equipment for both passengers and freight, and was of standard gauge and double-tracked.

The Law for the Control of Important Industries effective on May 10, 1937, gave wide power over industries designated as important, of which more than 20 have been named; changes in equipment or production, and any agreements relating to production, price, or sales, must be approved by the Government. An Emergency Trade Control Law was passed in June 1937, for protecting agricultural products, adjusting internal prices, and controlling imports. A Foreign Trade Control Law passed in December 1937, went farther toward adjustment of supply and demand.AnIron and Steel Control Law became effective on April 1, 1938. By the mid-1930s the Japanese had seized Inner Mongolia and parts of northeastern China and had created the North China Autonomous Region with no resistance from the Nationalists. Anti-Japanese sentiment mounted in China, but Chiang ignored it and in 1936 launched yet another extermination campaign against the Communists in Shaanxi. Chiang was forced to give up the anti-Communist drive.

In the late 1930s, the Japanese were examining various political and economic tactics by which to exert some leverage on American leaders regarding problems such as Pacific-wide security arrangements, trade relations, and the ongoing war with China. Along the economic front, Japanese officials in occupied China and the puppet regime in Manchukuo had tried various measures to lure foreign investment capital from the U.S. so as to ease relations between Tokyo and Washington. One tack, revealed by intercepted messages, was to tie the investments to a policy of eased immigration for European Jews to Shanghai.

Increasing numbers of Japanese soldiers were withdrawn from China starting in 1943 because of the defeats that were being suffered in the Pacific war. This permitted the communists to expand rapidly, so that by the the end of the war they controlled nineteen base areas, some of which were quite large, in various parts of China, principally in the North and Northwest. When Japanese defeat became a certainty in the spring of 1945, the Communists seemed in a better position to take over from the Japanese garrisons than the KMT. The short and decisive civil war that followed was resolved in two main places: Manchuria and the Huai River area.

By early 1945 the Japanese were seeking a way to end the war. Japanese officials raised the question of maintaining Japanese territorial integrity, but they apparently did not mean to include Manchukuo, Korea or Formosa. The Japanese insisted on the retention of the Emperor because they feel that he alone can take effective action with respect to surrender.

The Soviet Army conducted a twenty-four day campaign against the Japanese Kwantung Amy.

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