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The Japanese invasion of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japanmarker, beginning on September 19, 1931, immediately followed the Mukden Incident. The Japanese occupation of Manchuria lasted until the end of World War II.

Railway Blitzkrieg

On September 19, 1931, the day after the Mukden Incident, the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, which had decided upon a policy of localizing the incident, communicated its decision to the Kwantung Army command.

In violation of orders from Tokyomarker, Kwantung Army commander in chief General Shigeru Honjo ordered that his forces rapidly proceed to expand operations all along the South Manchurian Railway. Under orders from Lieutenant General Jirō Tamon, troops of the 2nd Division moved up the rail line and captured virtually every city along its 693 mile length in a matter of days, occupying Anshanmarker, Haichengmarker, Kaiyuan, Tiehlingmarker, Fushunmarker, Szeping-chiehmarker, Changchunmarker, Kuanchengtzu, Yingkoumarker, Antungmarker, and Penhsihumarker.

Likewise on September 19, in response to General Honjō's request, the Chosun Army in Koreamarker under General Senjuro Hayashi had ordered the 20th Infantry Division to split its force, forming the 39th Mixed Brigade, which departed on that day for Manchuria without authorization from the emperor.

Between September 20 and September 25, Japanese forces took Hsiungyuehmarker, Changtumarker, Liaoyangmarker, Tungliaomarker, Tiaonanmarker, Kirinmarker, Chiaoho, Huangkutun and Hsin-min. This effectively secured control of Liaoningmarker and Kirin provinces and the line of rail communications to Korea.

The Japanese civilian government was thrown into disarray by this massive act of insubordination, but as reports of one quick victory after another began to pour in, it was powerless to oppose the Army, and its decision was to immediately send three more infantry divisions from Japan, beginning with the 14th Mixed Brigade of the IJA 7th Division.

Secession movements

After the Liaoning Provincial government fled Mukden, it was replaced by a "Peoples Preservation Committee" which declared the secession of Liaoning province from the Republic of Chinamarker. Other secessionist movements were organized in Japanese-occupied Kirin by General Xi Qia head of the "New Kirin" Army, and at Harbin, by General Chang Ching-hui. In early October, at Taonanmarker in northwest Liaoning province, General Chang Hai-peng declared his district independent of China, in return for a shipment of a large quantity of military supplies by the Japanese Army.

General Chang Hai-peng followed up on October 13 by sending three regiments of the Hsingan Reclamation Army under General Xu Jinglong north to take the capital of Heilongjiang province at Tsitsiharmarker. Some elements in the city offered to peacefully surrender the old walled town, and Chang advanced cautiously to accept. However his advance guard was attacked by General Dou Lianfang's troops, and in a savage fight with an engineer company defending the north bank, were sent fleeing in a rout with heavy losses. During this fight the Nenjiang railroad bridge was dynamited by troops loyal to General Ma Zhanshan to prevent any further crossing.

Resistance to the Japanese invasion

With the repair of the Nen River Bridge as the pretext, the Japanese sent a repair party in early November under the protection of Japanese troops. Fighting erupted between the Japanese forces and troops loyal to the acting governor of Heilongjiang province General Ma Zhanshan, who chose to disobey the Kuomintang government's ban on further resistance to the Japanese invasion.

Despite his failure to hold the bridge, General Ma Zhanshan became a national hero in China for his resistance at Nenjiang Bridge, which was widely reported in the Chinese and international press. The publicity inspired more volunteers to enlist in the Anti-Japanese Volunteer Armies.

The repaired bridge made possible the further advance of Japanese forces and their armored trains. Additional troops from Japan, notably the 4th Mixed Brigade from the 8th Division, were sent in November.

On November 15, 1931, despite having lost more than 400 killed and 300 wounded since November 5, General Ma declined a Japanese ultimatum to surrender Tsitsihar. On November 17, in subzero weather, 3,500 Japanese troops, under the command of General Jirō Tamon, mounted an attack, forcing General Ma from Tsitsihar by November 19.

Operations in southern Manchuria

In late November 1931, General Honjō dispatched 10,000 soldiers in 13 armored trains, escorted by a squadron of bombers, in an advance on Chinchowmarker from Mukden. This force had advanced to within of Chinchow, when it received an order to withdraw. The operation was cancelled by Japanese War Minister General Jirō Minami, due to the acceptance of modified form of a League of Nations proposal for a "neutral zone" to be established as a buffer zone between China proper and Manchuria pending a future China-Japanese peace conference by the civilian government of Prime Minister Wakatsuki Reijiro in Tokyo.

However, the two sides failed to reach a lasting agreement. The Wakatsuki government soon fell and was replaced by a new cabinet led by Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi. Further negotiations with the Kuomintang government failing, the Japanese government authorized the reinforcement of troops in Manchuria. In December, the rest of 20th Infantry Division, along with 38th Mixed Brigade from the 19th Infantry Division were sent into Manchuria from Korea while the 8th Mixed Brigade from the 10th Infantry Division was sent from Japan. The total strength of the Kwantung Army was thus increased to around 60,450 men.

With this stronger force the Japanese Army announced on December 21 the beginning of large scale anti-bandit operations in Manchuria to quell a growing resistance movement by the local Chinese population in Liaoning and Kirin provinces.

On December 28, a new government was formed in China after all members of the old Nanjing government resigned. This threw the military command into turmoil, and the Chinese army retreated to the south of the Great Wall into Hebeimarker province. Japanese forces occupied Chinchow on January 3, 1932, after the Chinese defenders retreated without giving combat. The following day the Japanese occupied Shanhaiguanmarker completing their military takeover of southern Manchuria.

Occupation of northern Manchuria

With southern Manchuria secure, the Japanese turned north to complete the occupation of Manchuria. As negotiations with Generals Zanshan Ma and Chao Ting to defect to the pro-Japanese side had failed, in early January Colonel Kenji Doihara requested collaborationist General Qia Xi to advance his forces and take Harbin.

The last major Chinese regular force in northern Manchuria was led by General Ting Chao who organized the defense of Harbin successfully against General Xi until the arrival of the IJA 2nd Division under General Jirō Tamon. Japanese forces took Harbin on January 5, 1932.

By the end of February Ma had sought terms and joined the newly formed Manchukuo government as governor of Heilongjiang province and Minister of War.

On February 27, 1932, Ting offered to cease hostilities, ending official Chinese resistance in Manchuria, although combat by guerilla and irregular forces continued as Japan spent many years in their campaign to pacify Manchukuo.

References

  • 中国抗日战争正面战场作战记 China's Anti-Japanese War Combat Operations
    • Author : Guo Rugui, editor-in-chief Huang Yuzhang
    • Press : Jiangsu People's Publishing House
    • Date published : 2005-7-1
    • ISBN 7214030349




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