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Manchuria is a historical region in China that contains modern provinces Liaoning (south), Jilin (central), and Heilongjiang (north) and the northeastern portion, Inner Mongolia, which was attacked by the Japanese in the 1930’s.
The Japanese wanted to expand their empire because their population was increasing rapidly. An over populated country would easily be fixed if they had an extra 200,000 square kilometers to add, that’s why they took Manchuria. Manchuria was also filled with rich minerals, agricultural land and forestry, which in Japan was what they needed.
During 1929, the Depression hit Japan hard. The civilian government looked powerless to the army, because they couldn’t find any solutions to the world-wide Depression. Instead of looking for strength in the politicians Japan looked for strength in the army to assist them in their troubled situation. A campaign for captivating some colonies abroad was being argued by the senior army generals so that industries there could be harnessed for Japan. Manchuria was the most obvious subject to invade. The South Manchurian Railway was sabotaged by the Japanese army. They used the explosion that happened on a section of the railway as an excuse to blame on the local citizens. They then occupied the town of Shenyang.
China turned to the League Of Nations. The League said that the Japanese were completely in the wrong and should give Manchuria back to China. The Japanese government agreed to this demand. However, Japan did not listen and continued to invade more of Manchuria. By the end of 1931 all of Manchuria had been conquered by Japan. At this point the civilian government had lost all control of Japan and the army. The League was trying to find ways to make Japan stop. Using verbal warnings did not work, and stopping trades with Japan wouldn’t work either. Stopping trades with Japan would be crucial because of the Depression, and they desperately need the supplies. Also, another country would take their place and get supplies from the Far East’s most powerful nation.
Lord Lytton of Great Britain led a Commission of Enquiry. In this Commission, reported in October 1932, Lord Lytton concluded that Japan should withdraw from Manchuria. But Manchuria should become a semi-independent country, instead of returning to China. The League accepted and approved of the report. Japan left the League on response of them accepting the report, and went on to claim a region called Jehol, that surrounds Manchuria. They claimed that this region gave the Japanese the ability to protect Manchuria. The League could do nothing at this point. Britain and France, major European powers in the League, don’t fully support a major power that could get away with using force an issue so far from Europe. Other powers see this as a sign to get away by using force. Japan, the League’s most powerful member from the Far East left the League. Then Japan united with Germany and Italy who also broke the League’s rules.
In 1937 Japan and China finally had gone in to war. The road to World War Two was thought to have begun in Manchuria in 1931, where it became clear to the League Of Nations that it is not enough to halt a nation leaning on aggression.
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