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In What Ways and for What Reasons Did the League of Nations Fail to Deal with the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria in 1931?

By justigedikian Jul 04, 2011 1690 Words
In what ways and for what reasons did the League of Nations fail to deal with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931?

Names: Catalina Hofmann
Malena Garcia Camara
Sofia Lena
Justina Villasboa Gedikian

Level 5 “A”

Number of words: 1,290

In 1931, the League of Nations failed to deal with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. President Wilson (USA) set up the League of Nations which its aim was to make nations sort their aguments and therefore, prevent future wars. He also wanted to improve people’s lives and jobs, as well as, public health and the eradication of slavery. The League also stated collective security and the harsh punishment against agression through sanctions. Hopefully, Wilson’s ideas would have led the world to be a better place, but unfortunately, it could not manage the situation in Manchuria and it failed. In 1931, Japan was seriously affected by an economic Depression and that might have been the main reason of its invasion to Manchuria. The aim of this essay is to asses in what ways and for what reasons the league failed to deal with the Japanese invasion to Manchuria. In order to do this, we need to analyze the immediate context of the invasion, the ways in which the League acted towards the situation, the reasons why it proved powerless and finally, the ways in which Japan acted towards the League of Nations.

Japan’s idea of expansion was one of the main causes of its invasion to Manchuria[1]. To begin with, Japan wanted to be recognized among the major powers; although the Japanese were not in favour of the idea of self determination, they wished to acquire a larger empire for reasons of security and economic strenght, as well as to prove they were a respected and recalled country[2]. By the 1920s, Japan was a major power. It had a very powerful army and navy, a strong industry, which exported goods to the USA and China; and a grownig empire, which included the Korean Peninsula. Added to this, in order to show that she was still a strong nation, she needed to achieve more power[3]. Furthermore, Japan was badly affected by the Great Depression[4] and Manchuria was a great oportunity to do away with the Japanese economic problems[5]; it was the source where much Japans imported raw materials such as coal and iron ore. Both China and the USA put up tariffs against Japanese goods. To make matters worse, the Depression determined the collapse of the American market, which was Japan’s main trading partner. Therefore, Japan’s solution to its problems was the building up of a Japanese empire by force, otherwise, Japan could not be able to feed its people.

In September 1931, a short stretch of railroad track belonging to the South Manchurian Railway, which was controlled by the Japanese army, was blown up by officers of Kwangtung Army and sabotaged by the Chinese[6]. This issue called the Makden incident, gave Japan the initiative to overran Manchuria[7]. Therefore, the Japanese army threw out all Chinese forces. A year later, they set up a puppet government in Manchuria, which did exactly what the Japanese army told it to do[8]. Later in 1932 Japanese aeroplanes and gunships bombed Shanghai, but the civilian government in Japan told the Japanese army to withdraw[9]. Japan ignored the civilian governmet’s instructions. What Japan was doing was considered unlawfull because it did not comply with what the League of Nations stated[10]. Therefore, we can clearly say that the army was imposed to the government’s rules[11]. China appealed to the League but Japan excused himself saying she was not acting as an agressor, instead, she was doing it to overcome her local difficulties[12]. The League took this issue as a serious test. As Japan was a leading member of the League, it needed careful handling[13]. They took a very long time to asses the situation in Manchuria, and finally in September 1932, the League presented their report about how they would act towards the invasion[14]. What the report stated was very clear: Manchuria should be returned to the Chinese because she had acted against the governent’s policies[15]. The League should have accelerated the process of the report and they should have taken into a count that Japan could plan future invasions to the Chinese area[16]. Actually, that was what really happened. In February 1933, instead of withdrawing from Manchuria, the Japanese announced that they were planning to acquiere more Chinese territories[17]. The League of Nations intention to solve this conflict between China and Japan led Japan to leave the League of Nations[18]. As Japan did not obey what the League said, an assembly was established in order to determine if the Japanese army should leave Manchuria or not[19]. The majority of the countries were in favour of the idea that Japan should leave Manchuria to China. As you can see, the League of Nations did not supported Japan’s ideas and Japan no longer supported the concepts of the League[20].Therefore, the Japanese delegation just left the League. Although the League of nations tried to solve the Conflict between Japan and Manchuria, it could not manage it as Japan ignored the League’s instructions of removing their troops form Manchuria and consequently, she stopped being a member of the League. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. This meant that the League of Nations was not powerfull enough to correctly asses the sistuation in Manchuria for themselves. To begin with, one of the failures that the League had was that it took such a long time to present the report about the actual conflict. Therefore, the Japanese ignored what this report stated. He said that the reason why they invaded Manchuria was that it was for self-defense and to go out of this hard economic depression they were going through. In this way Manchuria was their ticket out as it was an industrialized colony with a Railway called Manchuria’s Railway and with iron and coal deposits. In September 1931, the Japanese claimed that the Chinese had sabotaged the railway and Japan found it as a great excuse to invade Shanghai in retaliation. At this point, China called the League of Nations to intervene, Japan was ordered to remove troops form China. Although the Japanese governent was in favour, troops refused to leave China and the government did not have any longer control into his own army. Furthermore, appartenly the truth was that they invaded China because they wanted to be recognized as a dominant position. Even then, it was not clear what the League could do. If Russia and the USA, the most powerful countries, had been members of the League, the League would have definetely been able to solve the issue. Finally, in 1931, the League of Nations condemned the Japanese invasion. Japan simply left the League, and carried on with is conquests in China and South East Asia which led eventually into the Second World War. The League of Nations could take no further action to stop them. Therefore, we can say that the League of Nations proved powerless as it could not manage the situation and failed to impose authority on Japan.

All in all, the League of Nations failed to deal with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 because of several reasons. We can see there were different aspects such as slowness, as they took a long time to present the report which assesd the Manchurian conflict, therefore, Japan simply ignored it. Apart form that, we can observe the powerless in Japan’s government. As we all know, USA did not join the League of Nations, and this brought consequences. It affected the League of Nations dealing with the invasion as she had power over the world, as well as Russia. Therefore we can say that, although Japan would have listened to the League of Nations, the League would not have been able to completely take control of the situation without the help of the most powerfull countries.

Bibliography
De Marco, Neil and Radway, Richard. (1999). The Twentieth Century: A world transformed 1900-95. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Gibbons, S.R. And Morican, P. (1981). The League Of Nations and UNO. Essex: Longman.

Walsh, Ben. (2009). GCSE Modern World History Second Edition. London: Hodder Education.

Kimberly Amadeo. “The Great Depression of 1929” . (Online) Available http://useconomy.about.com/od/grossdomesticproduct/p/1929_Depression.htm, 18 May, 2011.

“The Manchurian Crises 1931-1933”.(Online) Available http://www.gcsehistory.org.uk/modernworld/appeasement/manchuriancrisis.htm, 18 May, 2011.

“Why did Japan withdraw with the League of Nations?”. (Online) Available http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Japan_withdraw_from_the_League_of_Nations, 18 May, 2011.

-----------------------
[1] De Marco, Neil and Radway, Richard. (1999). The Twentieth Century: A world transformed 1900-95. London: Hodder & Stoughton, page 22. [2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid
[4] The Great Depression of 1929 was a worldwide depression that lasted for 10 years. Its kickoff in the U.S. economy was “Black Thursday”, October 24, 1929, when 12.9 million shares of stock were sold in one day, triple the normal amount. Share prices fell 15 - 20%, causing a stock market crash, Kimberly Amadeo. “The Great Depression of 1929” . (Online) Available http://useconomy.about.com/od/grossdomesticproduct/p/1929_Depression.htm, 18 May, 2011. [5] Walsh, Ben. (2009). GCSE Modern World History Second Edition. London: Hodder Education, page 246. [6] “The Manchurian Crises 1931-1933”.(Online) Available http://www.gcsehistory.org.uk/modernworld/appeasement/manchuriancrisis.htm, 18 May, 2011. [7] Ibid.

[8] Walsh, Ben, op. cit.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.,page 247.
[11] Ibid.
[12] De Marco, Neil and Radway, Richard, op.cit.
[13] Walsh, Ben, op.cit., page 246.
[14] Ibid., page 247.
[15] “The Manchurian Crises 1931-1933”, op. cit.
[16] Walsh, Ben, op. cit., page 247.
[17] “The Manchurian Crises 1931-1933”, op. cit.
[18] Walsh, Ben, op. cit, page 247.
[19] Ibid.
[20] “Why did Japan withdraw with the League of Nations?”. (Online) Available http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Japan_withdraw_from_the_League_of_Nations, 18 May, 2011.

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