THE MANCHURIAN CRISIS – LEAGUE
CONFUSION & FAILURE.
Walsh pp 246/7; Kelly & Lacey pp 53/57.
Manchuria theoretically part of China, but Japan had major economic interests there;
moreover warlords also controlled affairs.
South Manchurian railway a major Japanese interest, guarded by the Kwantung (a
Japanese army) who had had the local warlord murdered in 1928. The Kwantung staged
the Mukden incident as an excuse to takeover Manchuria completely (1931). Japanese
civilian politicians did not approve but were powerless, by 1936 the generals & admirals
had taken over in Japan itself.
Therefore Manchuria gave the Japanese military two opportunities:
To set up the puppet state of Manchukuo – the League objected to this aggression
To put the civilian politicians in their place & control Japan completely from 1936 –they
would expand into China & the Pacific.
THE LEAGUE’S ACTIONS –OR INACTION
1931 Japanese army take over Manchuria; China appealed to the League. Japan claimed
it was settling a local difficulty & not being an aggressor & that China was in chaos.
The League’s response was to set up a commission of enquiry (Lytton Commission) – this
took a year to report (9/32); it was even handed but branded Japan as an aggressor.
2/33 Japan announced it was to penetrate further into China for its own self-defence. The
Lytton report was approved by 42 votes to 1 (late Feb); Japan left the L of N a month
The L of N would/could not do anything; the possibility of economic sanctions was raised
but these would be useless without US cooperation. Britain wished to keep on good terms
with Japan & it was feared an arms ban would lead to war with Japan. Britain & France
were more concerned with European events (though they did nothing there either); only
USA & USSR could have intervened.
The L of N was shown to be powerless – this confirmed the suspicions of Hitler &
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