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These notes were published on the web 2005 to 2009.  They went down in 2009 and are reproduced here:


bulletFirst serious challenge to the League and its first great setback.
bulletTension had been building up between the Chinese who were the nominal rulers of the province and the Japanese who enjoyed rights of trade there.

19 September 1931:

bulletExplosion on a section of the Japanese-controlled South Manchurian Railway.
bulletIncident was contrived by officers of the Japanese Kwantung army without the knowledge of government in Japan.
bulletWanted to seize Manchuria's valuable resources and exploit them.
bulletArmy used the explosion as an excuse first to capture Mukden and then to proceed to take over the whole of Manchuria.
bulletThe Chinese government appealed to the League which then called upon the Japanese government to refrain from further action.
bulletThe request was ignored, and not least of all because the Japanese government was no longer in full control of its own soldiers in Manchuria.
bulletAfter a long delay the League sent to Manchuria a commission under Lord Lytton. Reported back to the League in October 1932 by which time the aggression was largely complete.
bulletThe Japanese had driven the Chinese government out of the province. Renamed Manchukuo and placed under a puppet government.


Mediation was brushed aside by the Japanese.

27 March 1933

Japan withdrew from the League.

League had failed to restrain Japan. In the face of aggression it had done little.

League did not apply either economic or military sanctions.

League gained a reputation for powerlessness in the face of a major power that chose to defy it.

Small-power confidence in the League and collective security were shaken.

Aggression had been encouraged.

Failure of the League to stand up to Japan's aggression in Manchuria seems inexcusable.


bulletJapan's aggressive intentions were not easy to discern at first. In the 1920s the Japanese had built up a reputation for a peaceful foreign policy and for support of the League.
bulletMajor powers who might have opposed Japan were reluctant to be involved, at least as far as an economic boycott or military action.

Historians today generally do not consider the failure to stop Japan during 1931-2 caused the downfall of the League. It showed the weakness of the organisation.

Once Hitler came to power in 1933, Germany not Japan, seemed the more likely threat to peace.