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(JAPAN and EMPEROR HIROHITO, TO 1936 – continued)

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JAPAN and EMPEROR HIROHITO, TO 1936 (5 of 6)

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More Aggression against China

In 1932 the Kwantung Army became preoccupied with fighting armed Chinese guerrillas in various areas in Manchuria. The guerrillas made quick raids on a number of cities, including Mukden. By the end of 1932 these guerrilla attacks subsided, and the Kwantung Army believed that it could turn its attention to making the province of Jehol in southern Manchuria a part of what Japan was now calling Manchukuo. The Kwantung Army invaded Jehol in early January, 1933, beginning its slow move through mountainous terrain. And in February, the army's chief of staff requested Emperor Hirohito's sanction for the "strategic operation." Hoping that it was the last of the Kwantung Army's operations and that it would bring an end to the Manchurian disturbance, the Emperor approved while stating that the army was not to go southward beyond China's Great Wall.

The League of Nations assembly began discussing Japan's move into Jehol, while Chinese forces were making only a half-hearted effort to defend the area – the Chinese aware of the superiority of the Japanese forces and afraid of head-on battles. In late February the League of Nations assembly voted on penalizing Japan by not recognizing Manchukuo. Forty-two of the forty-four nations represented in the Assembly voted for the resolution. Thailand abstained. By mid-March Jehol was under Japanese control, and on March 27 Japan's government announced its intentions to withdraw from the League of Nations in two years. The emperor felt helpless and called the planned withdrawal "very regrettable" and stated his hope that cooperation and friendship could still be maintained with "other powers."

From March 1933 through 1934 the Japanese tried to consolidate their position in China. The Kwantung Army seized passes through the Great Wall. Conquerors want control and order, and in 1934 Japan's new foreign minister, Hirota Koki, told parliament that the government was watching with misgivings the activities of China's communists. In the months that followed, Japan announced to the world that it had "special responsibilities in East Asia." Japan announced what it called its Monroe Doctrine for East Asia and declared its opposition to China seeking help from Western powers in order to resist Japan. Japan's ambassador to the United States announced that the Japanese knew China better than any other nation, that Japan had an "ardent desire" to see peace and order re-established, and he requested that Japan be consulted concerning any important transactions between the US and China. Japan was declaring China to be its preserve in trade and influence just as it believed Latin America was the preserve of the United States.

In 1934, with China a republic ruled largely by the Chiang Kai-shek regime, the former boy emperor, Puyi (of Last Emperor fame), now 28, let himself become a prop for the Japanese. He was crowned as monarch of Manchukuo – while Manchukuo remained recognized only by Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, a few right-wing Latin American regimes and the Vatican. Japan, meanwhile, was extending its rail lines in Manchuria, opening more land for development and making a better connection between Manchuria and Korea. The Soviet Union, wishing to eliminate a source of friction between itself and Japan, sold to Japan its interest in the Chinese Eastern Railway – a left over from tsarist times – eliminating the last trace of Russian influence in Manchuria.

Japan watched as the United States Congress in 1934 passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act guaranteeing the Philippines independence in ten years. And the year 1934 ended with Japan announcing that in 1936 it would withdraw from the Washington and London agreements concerning naval limitations. Japan, meanwhile, was increasing its military expenditures – to 43.7 of the nation's budget in the fiscal year 1934-35, up from 28 percent in the fiscal year 1930-31. In actual money this was more than twice the amount spent up to 1931 (442.8 million yen versus 937.3 million yen). note59

By now, rumors were rife in Japan that the United States was preparing for war against Japan. And the fascist-minded nationalist leader and author, Dr. Shumei Okawa, predicted such a war and called upon the Japanese to prepare themselves for that "heavenly call."

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