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Why did Japan invade China?

Manchuria, China

Why did Japan invade China?

Japanese invasion of Manchuria and China

Why did Empire Japan invade Manchuria, China? There are two main reasons why Japan invaded China.

  • Manchuria, in China, was rich in natural resources and fertile land. On the other hand, Japan was an island country with virtually no natural resources. Around 1931, Japan was in the midst of a depression triggered by the Great Depression in the US. Therefore Manchuria was an ideal immigration destination for people such as farmers who could not make a living in Japan. Also, it was a place where Japan could get raw materials to fuel the mainland’s industries.
  • Even after Japan won the Russo-Japanese War, the Soviet Union was a threat. Japan wanted Manchuria because Manchuria bordered the Soviet Union and therefore could become an important “buffer zone” protecting the mainland from the threat of the Soviet Union.

Depression of 1929

The Japanese economy was negatively impacted by the Great Depression of 1929. The government simply had no answer to many of the questions that were asked. In fact, there was a global depression that came about at a time when the Japanese military was strong and the civilian government was viewed as weak. This was why the people of Japan were increasingly looking to the army for a solution to their problems, as they had lost hope in the civilian government. Added to these voices were those of the army generals who suggested a campaign to find new colonies outside of Japan, with the goal of acquiring growth opportunities. This led to the full-scale invasion of the Chinese province of Manchuria. By 1931, Japan had invested very large sums of money to grow the economy of Manchuria, which at that time was under the control of the South Manchuria Railway Company. Japan also strengthened its forces in southern Manchuria so that it could hold on to its acquisition.

Small territory, large population

A growing concern in Japan was the fact that the population kept expanding and the country was becoming overcrowded because of its relatively small size. This was why the additional 200,000 square kilo meters that Manchuria provided was critical to accommodating the future spillover of the Japanese population. The Japanese people justified this because they had a very low opinion of the Chinese. Therefore, they never considered the rights of the Chinese citizens. Furthermore, it was firmly believed that Manchuria had valuable natural resources, such as fertile agricultural land, valuable forests, and much-needed minerals. At that time, Japan had many problems, and the most suitable solution to those problems seemed to be the invasion of Manchuria.

Triggering the hostilities

Japan had to find a way to justify the attack on Manchuria. This was why it arranged for an explosion on a section of the South Manchuria Railway. This alleged act of hostility on the part of the Chinese was used to justify the Japanese army’s attack on the Manchurian town of Shenyang. Naturally, this Japanese aggression caused outrage in the West and other parts of the planet. In fact, demands were made for Japan to withdraw from the region immediately. Because the hostilities did not originate with the Japanese civilian government, but with the army, politicians could blame everything on the so-called army hotheads and renegades.

60 years before the invasion Japan did not even have a military.

Japan did not have a military until 1873. After the ruling of Tokugawa Shogunate government was over and Japan ended its seclusion policy, Japan began diplomatic relationships with European countries and the US. Japanese government tried to make the country like the US or European countries and “imitated” a number of things. The government also considered that to be a country like them they must have a strong military and they started drifting system. As European countries and the US colonized Asian countries, Japanese government also tried to imitate what they did and started invading neighboring countries.

area formerly known as Manchuria


War between China and Japan in 1937

The Sino-Japanese War was fought between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China from 1937 to 1945. It is also referred to as the Japan-China Incident.

On the Japanese side, the conflict was initially called the North China Incident when it broke out, and in September 1937, the Cabinet decided to officially call it the Shina Incident.

The reason why it was called a “Incident” rather than a war is that even though full-scale fighting took place after the Ruho Bridge Incident, the two countries did not declare war until the outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941. One reason for this was that both Japan and China wanted to avoid the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. invocation of the Neutrality Act.