Invasion of Manchuria

Invasion of Manchuria

conflict=Invasion of Manchuria
partof=Second Sino-Japanese War

caption=Japanese troops enter Mukden
date=19 September 1931 to 27 February 1932
result= Japanese victory; Tanggu Truce
combatant1=flagicon|Empire of Japan Imperial Japanese Army, Empire of Japan
combatant2=flagicon|Republic of China National Revolutionary Army, Republic of China
commander2=flagicon|Republic of China Zhang Xueliang,
flagicon|Republic of China Ma Zhanshan,
flagicon|Republic of China Feng Zhanhai,
flagicon|Republic of China Ting Chao
strength1= 30,000 – 60,450 men
strength2= 160,000 men
casualties2=? |

The invasion of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan, beginning on September 19, 1931, immediately followed the Mukden Incident. The Japanese occupation of Manchuria would last 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 Tokyo, Kwantung Army commander in chief General Shigeru Honjo ordered that his forces rapidly proceeded 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 Anshan, Haicheng, Kaiyuan, Tiehling, Fushun, Szeping-chieh, Changchun, Kuanchengtzu, Yingkou, Antung,and Penhsihu.

Likewise on September 19, in response to General Honjō's request, the Chosun Army in Korea under General Senjuro Hayashi had ordered the 20th 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 Hsiungyueh, Changtu, Liaoyang, Tungliao, Tiaonan, Kirin, Chiaoho, Huangkutun and Hsin-min. This effectively secured control Liaoning 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, was powerless to oppose the Army, and its decision to immediately send three more infantry divisions from Japan, beginning with the 14th Mixed Brigade of the IJA 7th Division. Eventually the Emperor did approve of the occupation of Manchuria. By the beginning of October the total strength of Kwangtung Army was about 35,400 men.

Of the 160,000 troops of the Northeastern Army at the beginning of the Manchurian Incident about 60,000 defected over to the Japanese side. Of the remainder, some 40,000 men of Manchurian warlord Zhang Xueliang's army retreated without much resistance to Chinchow on the orders from Kuomingtang Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek to adhere to a nonresistance policy. The remaining loyal Chinese troops were in Heilongjiang Province, mainly around Tsitsihar and around Harbin in Kirin Province under command of General Ting Chao.

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 China. 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 Taonan 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 his political move October 13 by sending three regiments of the Hsingan Reclamation Army under General Xu Jinglong north to take the capital of Heilongjiang province at Tsitsihar. 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 the 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 the 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 Chinchow from Mukden. This force had advanced to within 30 kilometers 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 Reijiro Wakatsuki 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 Tsuyoshi Inukai. 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 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 Hebei province. Japanese forces occupied Chinchow on January 3, 1932, after the Chinese defenders retreated without giving combat. The following day the Japanese occupied Shanhaiguan 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 Ma Zhanshan and Ting Chao to defect to the pro-Japanese side had failed, in early January Colonel Kenji Doihara requested collaborationist General Xi Qia 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 General Ma had sought terms and joined the newly formed Manchukuo government as governor of Heilongjiang province and Minister of War of Manchukuo.

On February 27, 1932, General Ting Chao, 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.


*cite book
last = Coogan
first = Anthony
coauthors =
year = 1994
title = Northeast China and the Origins of the Anti-Japanese United Front
publisher = Sage Publications
location = Modern China, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 282-314
id =

*cite book
last = Matsusaka
first = Yoshihisa Tak
coauthors =
year = 2003
title = The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904-1932
publisher = Harvard University Asia Center
location =
id = ISBN: 0674012062

* 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

** [ 中国抗日战争正面战场作战记 (China's Anti-Japanese War Combat Operations)] Online in Chinese
*** [ 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变“九一八”事变和东北沦陷] "9/18" Emergency and Northeast falls to the enemy
*** [ 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变事变爆发和辽宁 吉林的沦陷] The emergency erupts with Liaoning, Jilin falling to the enemy
*** [ 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变江桥抗战和黑龙江省的失陷] River bridge defense and Heilongjiang Province falls to the enemy
*** [ 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变锦州作战及其失陷] The Jinzhou battle and its fall to the enemy
*** [ 第二部分:从“九一八”事变到西安事变哈尔滨保卫战] The defense of Harbin

External links

* [;jsessionid=G6yQxGynz1R7mnJgL5fJcPfbLTnRjLWgH21DMHpVJCNCpZYNBs4b!655935560!290617960?a=o&d=5000186948 The volunteer armies of northeast China by Anthony Coogan]
* [ International Military Tribunal for the Far East] Japanese Aggression Against China
* [;jsessionid=G6yQxGynz1R7mnJgL5fJcPfbLTnRjLWgH21DMHpVJCNCpZYNBs4b!655935560!290617960?a=o&d=5000186948 The volunteer armies of northeast China by Anthony Coogan]
* [ Monograph 144, Manchurian Incident]
* [,9171,742386,00.html "Secessionist Movements" From Time Magazine Oct. 12, 1931]
* [,9171,742499-1,00.html Boycott, Bloodshed & Puppetry From TIME magazine Oct. 26, 1931]
* [,9171,753220,00.html "Strong Policy" From TIME magazine Dec. 28, 1931]
* [ The Charleston Gazette Friday Morning, January 1, 1932]
* [,9171,742791,00.html Jaunting Juggernaut From Time Magazine, Jan. 4, 1932]
* [,9171,742869,00.html Fun & Blood From From Time Magazine, Jan. 11, 1932]
* [,9171,743157,00.html Flight of Ting From the February 15, 1932 issue of TIME magazine]
* [ Mukden Incident & Manchukuo, WW2 database]
* [ Manchuria 1931-1932] Photos from the Manchurian campaign
* [ Manchuria-Political (Inset-Mukden) 现代满洲-政治(放大图-沈阳)] Map of Manchuria circa 1935
* [ Manchuria and Mongolia-Economic (Inset-Foreign Trade of Manchuria for 1930) 现代满洲和蒙古经济(放大图-1930年对外贸易)] Geography of Manchuria 1930's
* [ AMS Topographic maps of Manchuria]

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