The Manchurian Crisis

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Since the 1900s Japan’s economy and population had been growing rapidly. Japan lacked land for its growing population. It also lacked raw materials. By the 1920s, Japan was a major power. It had a strong and powerful army and navy. Japan had a strong flourishing industry and was exporting goods to China and USA. It had a growing empire in the Korean Peninsula. The Great Depression had hit Japan severely. China and USA, who were also affected by the Depression, put up trade barriers against Japanese products. The World-wide economic crash reduced American aggregate demand substantially which in turn led consumers and firms to put off purchases of lasting goods. Army leaders in Japan wanted to build a Japanese empire to overcome depression. War was considered ‘noble’ for the Japanese and by conquering Manchuria; a territory in China would satisfy them. Japan wanted Manchuria as it was rich in minerals, forestry and rich agricultural land. Japan looked upon China as a promising big field for economic exploitation. China had a poor military and this opportunity provided Japan with temptation. This would help Japan overcome the depression. In 1931, an incident in Manchuria gave them the opportunity to expand their empire. They could do this as the Japanese army controlled the South Manchurian Railway. On September 18th 1931, Japanese claimed that the Chinese soldiers had sabotaged the railway and attacked the Chinese army which had just executed a Japanese spy. China didn’t fight back as they knew Japan was making an excuse so that Japan could invade Manchuria. The following year in 1932, the Japanese army invaded Manchuria and threw out the Chinese. They set up their own puppet government there and called it Manchoukuo. China appealed to the League for help of which she was a member and so was Japan.

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