Japanese intervention in Siberia

Last updated
Japanese intervention in Siberia
Part of the Russian Civil War
Date12 January 1918 [1] — 24 June 1922
(4 years, 5 months, 1 week and 5 days)
Location
Result
  • Japanese withdraw from most occupied territories following internal political pressure [2]
  • Japan occupies northern Sakhalin until 1925
Belligerents
Flag RSFSR 1918.svg  Russian SFSR
Flag of Far Eastern republic.svg  Far Eastern Republic
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan
Flag of Russia.svg White Movement
Commanders and leaders
Flag RSFSR 1918.svg Leon Trotsky
Flag RSFSR 1918.svg Jukums Vacietis
Flag RSFSR 1918.svg Sergey Kamenev
Flag of Far Eastern republic.svg A. Krasnoshchyokov
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Yui Mitsue
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Otani Kikuzo
Strength
600,000 (peak) 70,000 (total)
Casualties and losses

7,791 (1922 only)

  • 698 killed or missing in action
  • 2,189 died of disease
  • 1,421 wounded
  • 3,482 sick and frostbitten [3]

3,116 (total)

  • 1,399 killed
  • 1,717 died of disease [4]
A Japanese propaganda lithograph rallying for occupation of the Russian Far East. Khabarovsk intervention.jpg
A Japanese propaganda lithograph rallying for occupation of the Russian Far East.
Japanese officers in Vladivostok with local commander Lieutenant-General Rozanov (1920). Rozanov general.jpg
Japanese officers in Vladivostok with local commander Lieutenant-General Rozanov (1920).

The Japanese Siberian Intervention (シベリア出兵, Shiberia Shuppei) of 1918–1922 was the dispatch of Japanese military forces to the Russian Maritime Provinces as part of a larger effort by western powers and Japan to support White Russian forces against the Bolshevik Red Army during the Russian Civil War. The Japanese suffered 1,399 killed and another 1,717 deaths from disease. [5]

Contents

Background

On August 23, 1914, the Empire of Japan declared war on Germany, in part due to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and Japan became a member of the Entente powers. The Imperial Japanese Navy made a considerable contribution to the Allied war effort; however, the Imperial Japanese Army was more sympathetic to Germany, and aside from the seizure of Tsingtao, resisted attempts to become involved in combat. The overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II and the establishment of a Bolshevik government in Russia led to a separate peace with Germany and the collapse of the Eastern Front. The spread of the anti-monarchist Bolshevik revolution eastward was of great concern to the Japanese government. Vladivostok, facing the Sea of Japan was a major port, with a massive stockpile of military stores, and a large foreign merchant community. [6]

Japanese participation

The Japanese were initially asked by the French in 1917 to intervene in Russia but declined. [7] However, in February 1918, a "Siberia Planning Committee" was formed by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff and the Army Ministry with the aim of exploring the possibility that the Tsarist collapse was an opportunity to free Japan from any future threat from Russia by detaching Siberia and forming an independent buffer state. [7] The Army proposed attacking on two fronts, from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk along the Amur River and also via the Chinese Eastern Railway to cut off the Russian Trans-Siberian Railway at Lake Baikal. [8] The Japanese government, then under the civilian leadership of Prime Minister Hara Takashi rejected the plan. [7]

In late 1917, the Japanese government was alarmed to find that the British government, despite the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, had approached the United States about a possible joint intervention at Vladivostok, without consulting Japan. In December 1917, the British agreed that such a force should include Japan, but before the details could be worked out, the British ordered HMS Suffolk from Hong Kong to Vladivostok. [6] Japanese Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake was outraged and ordered the Imperial Japanese Navy to reach Vladivostok first. The task was assigned to Rear Admiral Katō Kanji with the battleships Iwami and Asahi. With crews working day-and-night over the new year holidays, Iwami was able to depart from Kure Naval District on January 9, 1918, and arrived at Vladivostok on January 12, only two days before HMS Suffolk. Asahi arrived on January 17, and became Katō's flagship. USS Brooklyn, which had been stationed at Vladivostok until December 1917, returned on March 1. [6]

Lieut.-General Mitsue Yui and General Kikuzo Otani, the leaders of the Japanese Forces in Siberia (1919) pic22 - The leaders of the Japanese Forces in Siberia, General Kikuyo Otani and Lieut.-General Mitsuya.jpg
Lieut.-General Mitsue Yui and General Kikuzo Otani, the leaders of the Japanese Forces in Siberia

It was the original intent that this show of force by Allied warships would enhance the confidence of the local anti-Bolshevik forces and help restore public order; however, this proved to be overly optimistic. After an armed mob looted a Japanese-owned store, killing its owner, the Japanese government, without waiting for an investigation of the murder, permitted the landing of marines, who proceeded to occupy the entire city. The British also landed 100 marines to protect their consulate, but the Americans took no action. [6] In July 1918, President Wilson asked the Japanese government to supply 7,000 troops as part of an international coalition of 25,000 troops, including an American expeditionary force, planned to support the rescue of the Czechoslovak Legion and securing of wartime supplies stockpiled at Vladivostok. After heated debate in the Diet, the administration of Prime Minister Terauchi agreed to send 12,000 troops, but under the command of Japan, rather than as part of an international coalition.

Japanese soldiers in Siberia. Japanese in Siberia LCCN2014708766.jpg
Japanese soldiers in Siberia.

Once the political decision had been reached, the Imperial Japanese Army took over full control under Chief of Staff Yui Mitsue and extensive planning for the expedition was conducted. The Japanese eventually deployed 70,000 troops under the command of general Kikuzo Otani – far more than any of the other Allied powers had anticipated. [9] Furthermore, although the Allies had envisioned operations only in the vicinity of Vladivostok, within months Japanese forces had penetrated as far west as Lake Baikal and Buryatia, and by 1920, zaibatsu such as Mitsubishi, Mitsui and others had opened offices in Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Nikolayevsk-on-Amur and Chita, bringing with them over 50,000 civilian settlers. After the international coalition withdrew its forces, the Japanese Army stayed on. However, political opposition prevented the Army from annexing the resource-rich region. Japan continued to support White Movement leader Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak until his defeat and capture in 1920, and also supported the regime of Ataman Semenov, who they intended to take control under the planned buffer state but whose unstable government collapsed by 1922. In March and April 1922, the Japanese Army repulsed large Bolshevik offensives against Vladivostok. On June 24, 1922, Japan announced that it would unilaterally withdraw from all of Russian territory by October, with the exception of northern Sakhalin island, which had been seized in retaliation for the Nikolayevsk incident of 1920. [10] On January 20, 1925, the Soviet–Japanese Basic Convention was signed in Beijing. Following this convention, Japan undertook to withdraw their troops from northern Sakhalin by May 15, 1925.

Effects on Japanese politics

Japan's motives in the Siberian Intervention were complex and poorly articulated. Overtly, Japan (as with the United States and the other international coalition forces) was in Siberia to safeguard stockpiled military supplies and to rescue the Czechoslovak Legion. However, the Japanese government's antipathy to communism and socialism, a determination to recoup historical losses to Russia, and the perceived opportunity to settle the "northern problem" to Japan's advantage by either creating a buffer state [7] or through outright territorial acquisition were also factors. However, patronage of various White Movement leaders left Japan in a poor diplomatic position vis-à-vis the government of the Soviet Union, after the Red Army eventually emerged victorious from the Russian Civil War. The intervention tore Japan's wartime unity to shreds, leading to the army and government being involved in bitter controversy and renewed faction strife in the army itself. [7] The official conduct of the Siberian Intervention was later bitterly attacked in the Japanese Diet, with the Army being accused of grossly misrepresenting the size of the forces sent, misappropriating secret funds, and supporting figures such as lieutenant general Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, rumors of whose atrocities had reached the press. [2]

Japanese casualties from the Siberian Expedition included some 5,000 dead from combat or illness, and the expenses incurred were in excess of ¥900 million.

Notes

  1. https://www.wdl.org/en/item/18428/
  2. 1 2 Harries 2001, p. 127.
  3. General-Lieutenant G.F.KRIVOSHEYEV (1993). "SOVIET ARMED FORCES LOSSES IN WARS,COMBAT OPERATIONS MILITARY CONFLICTS" (PDF). MOSCOW MILITARY PUBLISHING HOUSE. p. 46. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  4. Spencer, Tucker. "World War I: A Student Encyclopedia". Page 969.
  5. Spencer, Tucker. "World War I: A Student Encyclopedia". Page 969.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Gow 2004, pp. 55–61.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Humphreys 1996, p. 25.
  8. Harries 2001, p. 122.
  9. Humphreys 1996, p. 26.
  10. Harries 2001, pp. 123–124.

Related Research Articles

Russian Civil War 1917–1922 multi-party conflict in the former Russian Empire

The Russian Civil War was a multi-party civil war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favouring political monarchism, capitalism and social democracy, each with democratic and anti-democratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists, notably Makhnovia anarchists and Left SRs, as well as non-ideological Green armies, opposed the Reds, the Whites and foreign interventionists. Thirteen foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the just-concluded World War with the goal of re-establishing the Eastern Front. Three foreign nations of the Central Powers also intervened, rivaling the Allied intervention with the main goal of retaining the territory they had received in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Far Eastern Republic Former country

The Far Eastern Republic, officially The Far Eastern Soviet Republic, sometimes called the Chita Republic, was a nominally independent state that existed from April 1920 to November 1922 in the easternmost part of the Russian Far East. Although theoretically independent, it largely came under the control of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), which envisaged it as a buffer state between the RSFSR and the territories occupied by Japan during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922. Its first president was Alexander Krasnoshchyokov.

Imperial Japanese Army Ground-based armed forces of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the Imperial Japanese Navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

Czechoslovak Legion Volunteer armed force fighting on the side of the Entente powers during World War I

The Czechoslovak Legion were volunteer armed forces composed predominantly of Czechs and Slovaks fighting on the side of the Entente powers during World War I. Their goal was to win the support of the Allied Powers for the independence of Bohemia and Moravia from the Austrian Empire and of Slovak territories from the Kingdom of Hungary, which were then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the help of émigré intellectuals and politicians such as the Czech Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and the Slovak Milan Rastislav Štefánik, they grew into a force of over 100,000 strong.

Postage stamps and postal history of the Far Eastern Republic

The Far Eastern Republic, sometimes called the Chita Republic, existed from April 1920 to November 1922 in the easternmost part of Siberia. It was formed from the Amur, Transbaikal, Kamchatka, Sakhalin, and Primorye regions. In theory, it extended from Lake Baikal to Vladivostok but, in May 1921, the Priamur and Maritime Provinces seceded. Although nominally independent, it was largely controlled by the RSFSR and its main purpose was to be a democratic buffer state between the RSFSR and the territories occupied by Japan during the Russian Civil War to avoid war with Japan. Initially, its capital was Verkhneudinsk, but from October 1920 it was Chita. On 15 November 1922, after the war ended and the Japanese withdrew from Vladivostok, the Far Eastern Republic was annexed by Soviet Russia.

Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War consisted of a series of military expeditions which began in 1918. The Allies first had the goal of helping the Czechoslovak Legion in securing supplies of munitions and armaments in Russian ports. At times between 1918 and 1920 the Czechoslovak Legion controlled the entire Trans-Siberian Railway and several major cities in Siberia. By 1919 the goal was to help the White forces in the Russian Civil War. When the Whites collapsed the forces were withdrawn by 1920. The Soviet government until its collapse in 1991 made the episode a feature of its anti-Western propaganda.

Sergey Lazo

SergeyGeorgiyevich Lazo was a Russian nobleman, officer of the Imperial Russian Army, and Bolshevik leader in the October 1917 Revolution in the Russian Far East.

American Expeditionary Force, Siberia

The American Expeditionary Force, Siberia was a formation of the United States Army involved in the Russian Civil War in Vladivostok, Russia, after the October Revolution, from 1918 to 1920. The force was part of the larger Allied North Russia Intervention. As a result of this expedition, early relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were poor.

Japan during World War I

Japan participated in World War I from 1914 to 1918 in an alliance with Entente Powers and played an important role in securing the sea lanes in the West Pacific and Indian Oceans against the Imperial German Navy as a member of the Allies. Politically, the Japanese Empire seized the opportunity to expand its sphere of influence in China, and to gain recognition as a great power in postwar geopolitics.

William S. Graves

Major General William Sidney Graves, United States Army, commanded American forces in Siberia during the Siberian Expedition, part of the Allied Intervention in Russia.

Siberian intervention

The Siberian intervention or Siberian expedition of 1918–1922 was the dispatch of troops of the Entente powers to the Russian Maritime Provinces as part of a larger effort by the western powers, Japan and China to support White Russian forces and the Czechoslovak Legion against Soviet Russia and its allies during the Russian Civil War. The Imperial Japanese Army continued to occupy Siberia even after other Allied forces withdrew in 1920.

Nikolayevsk incident

The Nikolayevsk incident was an international conflict in Nikolayevsk-on-Amur in the Russian Far East between Japan and the Far Eastern Republic during the Japanese intervention. The culmination was the execution of imprisoned Japanese prisoners of war and survivors of Japanese residents without trial from 23 to 31 May 1920, which followed after the armed conflict between the guerrillas and the Japanese army from 12 to 15 March 1920 in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. A total of 129 Japanese prisoners and a number of local residents and guerrillas were held in the prison at that time. The destruction of the town and the fortress and the execution took place after the evacuation of the entire population due to the offensive of the Japanese army. The Nikolayevsk incident was used by Japan as a pretext to justify the retroactive occupation of Northern Sakhalin, which was occupied by the Japanese on 22 April 1920.

Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force

The Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force was a Canadian military force sent to Vladivostok, Russia, during the Russian Revolution to bolster the allied presence, oppose the Bolshevik Revolution and attempt to keep Russia in the fight against Germany. Composed of 4,192 soldiers and authorized in August 1918, the force returned to Canada between April and June 1919. The force was commanded by Major General James H. Elmsley. During this time, the C.S.E.F. saw little fighting, with fewer than 100 troops proceeding "up country" to Omsk, to serve as administrative staff for 1,500 British troops aiding the anti-Bolshevik White Russian government of Admiral Alexander Kolchak. Most Canadians remained in Vladivostok, undertaking routine drill and policing duties in the volatile port city.

During the Russian Civil War, the Far Eastern part of the former Russian Empire was a battleground for violence between the Russian SFSR and the remnants of the Russian State. The fighting in this front expanded from Outer Mongolia, through Eastern Siberia, and in the Ussuri and Amur districts of Outer Manchuria in Russia.

Revolt of the Czechoslovak Legion

The Revolt of the Czechoslovak Legion comprised the armed actions of the Czechoslovak Legion in the Russian Civil War against Bolshevik authorities, beginning in May 1918 and persisting through evacuation of the Legion from Siberia to Europe in 1920. The revolt, occurring in Volga, Ural, and Siberia regions along the Trans-Siberian Railway, was a reaction to a threat initiated by the Bolsheviks partly as a consequence of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. One major secondary consequence of victories by the Legion over the Bolsheviks was to catalyze anti-Bolshevik activity in Siberia, particularly of the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly, and to provide a major boost for the anti-Bolshevik or White forces, likely protracting the Russian Civil War.

Siberian Army

The Siberian Army was an anti-Bolshevik army during the Russian Civil War, which fought from June 1918 – July 1919 in Siberia – Ural Region.

Alexander Kolchak Imperial Russian admiral, military leader and polar explorer

Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak was an Imperial Russian admiral, military leader and polar explorer who served in the Imperial Russian Navy and fought in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and the First World War. During the Russian Civil War of 1917-1922 he established an anti-communist government in Siberia — later the Provisional All-Russian Government — and became recognised as the "Supreme Leader and Commander-in-Chief of All Russian Land and Sea Forces" by the other leaders of the White movement from 1918 to 1920. His government was based in Omsk, in southwestern Siberia.

Regional government of Primorye Zemstvo was a local government that existed in the eastern part of Russia during the Russian Civil War between 31 January 1920 and 28 October 1920.

Yakov Tryapitsyn Soviet general

Yakov Ivanovich Tryapitsyn was a Russian and Soviet military and political figure. A wartime officer holding the rank of Praporshchik in the Imperial Russian Army during the First World War, he subsequently joined the Red Guards, and was appointed the Commander of the Nikolayevsk Front and the Nikolayevsk Military District of the Red Army of the Russian SFSR and the Okhotsk Front of the People's Revolutionary Army of the Far Eastern Republic. He took an active role in establishing Soviet power in Siberia and the Far East as a participant in the Civil War. He is best known for the role he played in the Nikolayevsk incident in 1920, in which he massacred the entire population of Nikolayevsk-on-Amur and burned the town to the ground.

Otani Kikuzo

Baron Ōtani Kikuzō was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army. Otani participated in the First Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, World War I and the Russian Civil War. During the course of the latter he commanded the Vladivostok Expeditionary Force and became the formal commander of the Allied Siberian Intervention. He was elevated to baron upon his retirement in 1920.

References