Japan's Invasion of Manchuria - an Example of Ineffectiveness of The League of Nations Politics

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About this sample


Words: 1354 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Words: 1354|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Hawaii as an opportunity to then dominate the Pacific. After the Sino-Japanese war the League of Nations condemned Japans invasion of Manchuria, distancing them from the rest of the league and distancing them from the main European powers. With an expanding population on an isolated archipelago of Japan not only wanting to gain more ground for military power but for gains of natural resources which Japan was lacking. Japan went on to invade Manchuria to help accommodate for their expanding population. The rest of the world however saw this as a threat and were concerned with Japan taking over valuable resources and then using this to their advantage, strengthening their military in order to become an imperial power. To curtail the Japanese expansion, the US started to support China, while also declaring an embargo on natural resources such as petroleum and other vital war materials. Japan was infuriated by America supporting China and knew the embargo would cause major problems if they didn’t do something about it. The decision was pre-emptively made to strike America and this day soon became known as the day of Infamy.

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During the interwar period Japan felt constantly left out and mistreated. This may have been a result of racism or exclusion from their unequal participation in WWI. Journalist Josh Axelrod states that “Japan asked for, and nearly got approved, a clause in the treaty that would have affirmed the equality of all nations, regardless of race.” The clause not being proved however was one main incident that made Japan unhappy with the treatment they were receiving and made them feel isolated from other League powers. Further to this after Japan invaded Manchuria, China requested that Japan be investigated and even withdrawn from the league. A commission of enquiry was established by the League and historian Chris Trueman informs us that the League “concluded Japan should leave Manchuria”. With this request along with the exclusion Japan faced in the Peace Treaty of Versailles, Professor Yaw Yeboah from Pennsylvania State university claims that “after being reprimanded for its actions by the League of Nations, Japan left the league, rejected liberalism, capitalism, and democracy as engines of weakness.” After years of being mistreated from either racial discrimination or participation in the Great War, Japan took matters into their own hands leaving the league so they could start to build an empire in order to rise to power in the Pacific.

For Japan to gain imperial power they desperately needed land to support their rapidly increasing population and military. They wanted to dominate Asia and the Pacific however Japan at this stage was also trying to solve the demographic struggle, as well as the economic hardship they had faced coming out of the Great Depression. Axelrod also states that Japan “attempted to gobble up more land and further assert its power on a global level.” Manchuria in this case was their main target. With their shrinking access to international markets and with Manchuria presenting over 200,00 square kilometres of rich soils offering plenty of natural resources, it is clear why Manchuria was so valuable to the Japanese. In regards to the invasion of Manchuria Yeboah suggests that “there was a push in Japan to gain complete control of the area which some described as ‘Japan’s lifeline’, from the raw material supply, accommodation and security viewpoints.” Japan was engrossed by nationalism and militarism and saw the invasion of Manchuria as their ticket to the top, not stopping or second guessing themselves even after the reaction of the rest of the world.

When Japan invaded Manchuria the wider part of the world was quite taken back. The world population were not fooled by this act and felt threatened especially when it was realised what Japan was aspiring for and their aims in pursuing Manchuria. The League of Nations, after China requested Japan withdraw their military, offered many verbal warnings to Japan in order for them to remove their army from Manchuria, however this only aggravated Japan further. The League of Nations launched a full-scale and lengthy investigation into the invasion Japan threatened Manchuria with, coming out the other side concluding that Manchuria should be run as a semi-dependant Country and Japan should withdraw its navy. In this event historian Chris Trueman suggests that “The League could not enforce its authority.” Japan barely paid any attention to what the League was saying and in response decided to resign from the League and went on to further occupy Manchuria until 1945, 14 years after the original invasion. The United States of America noticed the lack of difference the world was making to Japan rising to power and they saw it in their best interests to curtail the expansion of the Japanese empire themselves.

Once Japan had officially left the League of Nations the United states took matters into their own hands to halt the Japanese from expanding into other Asian Nations. Yaboah informs that “by the late 1930s, Japan produced only 7% of oil it consumed. It imported the rest, with 80% coming from the US, and 10% from the Dutch East Indies.” In realising this, as historian Sarah Pruitt claims “the United States hoped embargos on oil and other key goods would lead Japan to halt its expansionism”. Embargos were produced by the American government and Japans assets in the US were frozen, including their valuable oil. In addition to posing embargos to Japan, when the Japanese bombed China in the Sino-Japanese war, the United States offered financial and military aid to China in order to decrease the effect and size of the attack Japan launched on them. America also banned the exportation of iron and steel, both of which valuable war materials, which angered the Japanese leaders. In reaction to this, the following day after the ban of exportation of iron and steel was input by the US, Japan signed the Tripartite pact with Germany and Italy in order to gain more control and to rise to expand their empire again. However, at this point in time Japan needed to become the number one military in the Pacific but as pointed out by Dr Chris Mann “In the face of US and British sanctions, Japan needed to neutralise US naval power in the Pacific, at least temporarily, in order to seize British and Dutch resources in the region, especially oil.” So Pruitt argues that “to Japan, war with the United States had become to seem inevitable, in order to defend its status as a major world power.” America’s involvement with China and imposing embargos and freezing Japans assets was the last straw for Japan and they saw the only way to seek revenge as well as open opportunities to expand to an empire was to organise a surprise attack on the United States largest naval base located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

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Years of tension had finally reached boiling point between Japan and the United States, and Japan saw the only way to end it and come out on top was to inflict as much damage as possible on America’s Navy. After years of being mistreated by the League of Nations Japan eventually resigned after their invasion if Manchuria was condemned. Japan did not want to be controlled by these opposing forces as it was in Japans interest to expand and aspire for an empire in order to show military strength and nationalism. When the world reacted to the invasion, and more specifically when the League of Nations did, all felt threatened, however nothing they did with their power stopped Japan who eventually left the League to become free and make their own independent decisions. The United States made the most difference and did everything to anger the Japanese leaders by imposing embargos on valuable war materials, freezing Japan’s assets in America and offering support to Japans enemy, China, during the Sino-Japanese war. Japan was at falling point and saw it as their only option to strategically attack the United States main naval base to try and inflict as much damage as possible so Japan could prove their military and imperial power and dominate the Pacific.      

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Japan’s Invasion of Manchuria – an Example of Ineffectiveness of the League of Nations Politics. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
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