The Japanese invasion of French Indochina (仏印進駐, Futsu-in shinchū) was a short undeclared military confrontation between Japan and France in northern French Indochina. Fighting lasted from 22 to 26 September 1940, simultaneous with the Battle of South Guangxi in the Sino-Japanese War.
The main objective of the Japanese was to prevent China from importing arms and fuel through French Indochina along the Kunming–Hai Phong Railway, from the Indochinese port of Haiphong, through the capital of Hanoi to the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan.
Although an agreement had been reached between the French and Japanese governments prior to the outbreak of fighting, authorities were unable to control events on the ground for several days before the troops stood down. Per the prior agreement, Japan was allowed to occupy Tonkin in northern Indochina and effectively blockade China.
In early 1940, troops of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) moved to seize southern Guangxi and Longzhou County, where the eastern branch of the Kunming–Hai Phong Railway reached the border at the Friendship Pass in Pingxiang. They also tried to move west to cut the rail line to Kunming. The railway from Indochina was the Chinese government's last secure overland link to the outside world.
In May 1940, Germany invaded France. On 22 June, France signed an armistice with Germany (in effect from 25 June). On 10 July, the French parliament voted full powers to Marshal Philippe Pétain, effectively abrogating the Third Republic. Although much of metropolitan France came under German occupation, the French colonies remained under the direction of Pétain's government at Vichy. Resistance to Pétain and the armistice began even before it was signed, with Charles de Gaulle's appeal of 18 June. As a result, a de facto government-in-exile in opposition to Pétain, called Free France, was formed in London.
On 19 June, Japan took advantage of the defeat of France and the impending armistice to present the Governor-General of Indochina, Georges Catroux, with a request, in fact an ultimatum, demanding the closure of all supply routes to China and the admission of a 40-man Japanese inspection team under General Issaku Nishihara. The Americans became aware of the true nature of the Japanese "request" through intelligence intercepts, since the Japanese had informed their German allies. Catroux initially responded by warning the Japanese that their unspecified "other measures" would be a breach of sovereignty. He was reluctant to acquiesce to the Japanese, but with his intelligence reporting that Japanese army and navy units were moving into threatening positions, the French government was not prepared for a protracted defense of the colony.Therefore, Catroux complied with the Japanese ultimatum on 20 June. Before the end of June the last train carrying munitions crossed the border bound for Kunming. Following this humiliation, Catroux was immediately replaced as governor-general by Admiral Jean Decoux. He did not return to France, however, but to London.
On 22 June, while Catroux was still in his post, the Japanese issued a second demand: naval basing rights at Guangzhouwan and the total closure of the Chinese border by 7 July. Issaku Nishihara, who was to lead the "inspection team", the true purpose of which was unknown, even to the Japanese, arrived in Hanoi on 29 June. On 3 July, he issued a third demand: air bases and the right to transit combat troops through Indochina. These new demands were referred to the government in France.
The incoming governor, Decoux, who arrived in Indochina in July, urged the government to reject the demands. Although he believed that Indochina could not defend itself against a Japanese invasion, Decoux believed it was strong enough to dissuade Japan from invading. At Vichy, General Jules-Antoine Bührer, chief of the Colonial General Staff, counselled resistance. The still neutral United States had already been contracted to provide aircraft, and there were 4,000 Tirailleurs sénégalais in Djibouti that could be shipped to Indochina in case of need.In Indochina, Decoux had under his command 32,000 regulars, plus 17,000 auxiliaries, although they were all ill-equipped.
On 30 August 1940, the Japanese foreign minister, Yōsuke Matsuoka, approved a draft proposal submitted by his French colleague, Paul Baudouin,whereby Japanese forces could be stationed in and transit through Indochina only for the duration of the Sino-Japanese War. Both governments then "instructed their military representatives in Indochina to work out the details [although] they would have been better advised to stick to Tokyo–Vichy channels a bit longer". Negotiations between the supreme commander of Indochinese troops, Maurice Martin, and General Nishihara began at Hanoi on 3 September.
During negotiations, the government in France asked the German government to intervene to moderate its ally's demands. The Germans did nothing. Decoux and Martin, acting on their own, looked for help from the American and British consuls in Hanoi, and even consulted with the Chinese government on joint defence against a Japanese attack on Indochina.
On 6 September, an infantry battalion of the Japanese Twenty-Second Army based in Nanning violated the Indochinese border near the French fort at Đồng Đăng. The Twenty-Second Army was a part of the Japanese Southern China Area Army, whose officers, remembering the Mukden incident of 1931, were trying to force their superiors to adopt a more aggressive policy. Following the Đồng Đăng incident, Decoux cut off negotiations. On 18 September, Nishihara sent him an ultimatum, warning that Japanese troops would enter Indochina regardless of any French agreement at 22:00 (local time) on 22 September. This prompted Decoux to demand a reduction in the number of Japanese troops that would be stationed in Indochina. The Japanese Army General Staff, with the support of the Japanese Southern China Area Army, was demanding 25,000 troops in Indochina. Nishihara, with the support of the Imperial General Headquarters, got that number reduced to 6,000 on 21 September.
Seven and a half hours before the expiration of the Japanese ultimatum on 22 September, Martin and Nishihara signed an agreement authorizing the stationing of 6,000 Japanese troops in Tonkin north of the Red River, the use of four airfields in Tonkin, the right to move up to 25,000 troops through Tonkin to Yunnan and the right to move one division of the Twenty-Second Army through Tonkin via Haiphong for use elsewhere in China. Already on 5 September, the Japanese Southern Army had organized the amphibious Indochina Expeditionary Army under Major-General Takuma Nishimura, it was supported by a flotilla of ships and aircraft, both carrier- and land-based. When the accord was signed, a convoy was waiting off Hainan Island to bring the expeditionary force to Tonkin.
The accord had been communicated to all relevant commands by 21:00, an hour before the ultimatum was set to expire. It was understood between Martin and Nishimura that the first troops would arrive by ship. The Twenty-Second Army, however, did not intend to wait to take advantage of the accord. Lieutenant-General Aketo Nakamura, commander of the 5th (Infantry) Division, sent columns across the border near Đồng Đăng at precisely 22:00.
At Đồng Đăng there was an exchange of fire that quickly spread to other border posts overnight. The French position at the railhead at Lạng Sơn was surrounded by Japanese armour and forced to surrender on 25 September. Before surrendering, the French commanders had ordered the breechblocks of the 155mm cannons thrown into a river to prevent the Japanese from using them. During the Sino-French War of 1884–1885, the French had been forced into an embarrassing retreat from Lạng Sơn in which equipment had likewise been thrown into the same river to prevent capture. When the breechblocks of 1940 were eventually retrieved, several chests of money lost in 1885 were found also.Among the units taken captive at Lạng Sơn was the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment that contained 179 German and Austrian volunteers, whom the Japanese in vain tried to induce to change sides.
On 23 September, the French Government protested the breach of the agreements by the IJA to the Japanese government.
On the morning of 24 September, Japanese aircraft from aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin attacked French positions on the coast. A French Government envoy came to negotiate; in the meantime, shore defenses remained under orders to open fire on any attempted landing.
On 26 September, Japanese forces came ashore at Dong Tac, south of Haiphong, and moved on the port. A second landing put tanks ashore, and Japanese planes bombed Haiphong, causing some casualties. By early afternoon the Japanese force of some 4,500 troops and a dozen tanks were outside Haiphong.
By the evening of 26 September, fighting had died down. Japan took possession of Gia Lam Airbase outside Hanoi, the rail marshaling yard on the Yunnan border at Lao Cai, and Phu Lang Thuong on the railway from Hanoi to Lạng Sơn, and stationed 900 troops in the port of Haiphong and 600 more in Hanoi.
The Japanese tendered an official apology for the incident at Lạng Sơn on 5 October 1940. The Japanese-occupied towns were returned to French control and all French prisoners were released.
The occupation of southern French Indochina did not happen immediately. The Vichy government had agreed that some 40,000 troops could be stationed there. However, Japanese planners did not immediately move troops there, worried that such a move would be inflammatory to relations between Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Furthermore, within the Japanese high command there was a disagreement over what to do about the Soviet threat to the north of their Manchurian territories. The tipping point came just after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in late June 1941. With the Soviets tied down, the high command concluded that a "strike south" would solve Japan's problems with the United States, most notably the increasing American concerns about Japan's moves in China, and the possibility of a crippling oil embargo on Japan. To prepare for an invasion of the Dutch East Indies, some 140,000 Japanese troops invaded southern French Indochina on 28 July 1941.[ citation needed ] French troops and the civil administration were allowed to remain, albeit under Japanese supervision. With the Allied invasion of France in 1944, Japan suspected that the French authorities in Indochina might assist any Allied operations in the region. Therefore, a Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina deposed the French authorities in the spring of 1945.
French Indochina, officially known as the Indochinese Union from 1887 and the Indochinese Federation after 1947, was a grouping of French colonial territories in Southeast Asia.
Tonkin, also spelled Tongkin, Tonquin or Tongking, is in the Red River Delta Region of northern Vietnam.
The Sino-French War, also known as the Tonkin War and Tonquin War, was an undeclared war--a limited conflict fought from August 1884 through April 1885. Militarily it was a stalemate. The Chinese armies performed better than in other nineteenth-century wars and the war ended with French retreat on land, The war decided that France would supplant China's control of Tonkin. The war strengthened the control of Empress Dowager Cixi over the Chinese government, but brought down the government of Prime Minister Jules Ferry in Paris. Both sides were satisfied with the Treaty of Tientsin. According to Lloyd Eastman, "neither nation reaped diplomatic gains."
Haiphong is a major industrial city, the second largest city in the northern part of Vietnam. Hai Phong is also the center of technology, economy, culture, medicine, education, science and trade in the northern coast of Vietnam.
Georges Albert Julien Catroux was a French Army general and diplomat who served in both World War I and World War II, and served as Grand Chancellor of the Légion d'honneur from 1954 to 1969.
Jean Decoux was a French navy Admiral, who was the Governor-General of French Indochina from July 1940 to 9 March 1945, representing the Vichy French government.
The Empire of Vietnam was a short-lived puppet state of Imperial Japan governing the former French protectorates of Annam and Tonkin between March 11 and August 23, 1945.
The Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng or the Nationalist Party of Vietnam, abbreviated VNQDĐ or Việt Quốc, was a nationalist and moderate socialist political party that sought independence from French colonial rule in Vietnam during the early 20th century. Its origins lie in the mid-1920s, when a group of young Hanoi-based intellectuals began publishing revolutionary material. In 1927, after the publishing house failed because of French harassment and censorship, the VNQDD was formed under the leadership of Nguyễn Thái Học. Modelling itself on the Republic of China's Kuomintang the VNQDD gained a following among northerners, particularly teachers and intellectuals. The party, which was less successful among peasants and industrial workers, was organised in small clandestine cells.
This is the order of battle for the Japanese invasion of French Indochina during World War II.
The Indochina Expeditionary Army was an amphibious army corps of the Imperial Japanese Army formed on September 7, 1940 to coordinate the invasion and occupation of French Indochina during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It was supported by a contingent from the Imperial Japanese Navy's IJN 5th Fleet and naval aircraft from the aircraft carrier Hiryū and air bases on Hainan Island.
The Japanese coup d'état in French Indochina, known as Meigo Sakusen, was a Japanese operation that took place on 9 March 1945 towards the end of World War II. With Japanese forces losing the war and the threat of an Allied invasion of Indochina imminent, the Japanese were concerned about an uprising against them by French colonial forces.
Trần Trọng Kim, courtesy name Lệ Thần, was a Vietnamese scholar and politician who served as the Prime Minister of the short-lived Empire of Vietnam, a state established with the support of Imperial Japan in 1945 after Japan had seized direct control of Vietnam from the Vichy French colonial forces during the Second World War. He was an uncle of Bui Diem.
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From 1944 to 1945, during the final stage of World War II, the Allies undertook the strategic bombing of South-East Asia. The main targets of Allied air raids were Thailand and Japanese-occupied Indochina.
The Tonkin campaign was an armed conflict fought between June 1883 and April 1886 by the French against, variously, the Vietnamese, Liu Yongfu's Black Flag Army and the Chinese Guangxi and Yunnan armies to occupy Tonkin and entrench a French protectorate there. The campaign, complicated in August 1884 by the outbreak of the Sino-French War and in July 1885 by the Cần Vương nationalist uprising in Annam, which required the diversion of large numbers of French troops, was conducted by the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps, supported by the gunboats of the Tonkin Flotilla. The campaign officially ended in April 1886, when the expeditionary corps was reduced in size to a division of occupation, but Tonkin was not effectively pacified until 1896.
The railway system in Vietnam is owned and operated by the state-owned Vietnam Railways. The principal route, the single track North-South Railway running between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, accounts for 1,726 kilometres (1,072 mi) of the network's total length of 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi). The national railway network uses mainly metre gauge, although there are several standard gauge and mixed gauge lines in the North of the country.
In the northern-hemisphere summer of 1940 Germany rapidly defeated the French Third Republic, and colonial administration of French Indochina passed to the French State. In September 1940 Japanese troops first entered parts of Indochina; and in July 1941 Japan extended its control over the whole of French Indochina. The United States, concerned by Japanese expansion, started putting embargoes on exports of steel and oil to Japan from July 1940. The desire to escape these embargoes and to become self-sufficient in resources ultimately contributed to Japan's decision to attack on December 7, 1941 the British Empire and simultaneously the USA and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii). This led to the USA declaring war against Japan on December 8, 1941. The US then joined the British Empire, already at war with Germany since 1939, and its existing allies in the fight against the Axis powers.
1940—1946 in French Indochina focuses on events that happened in French Indochina during and after World War II and which influenced the eventual decision for military intervention by the United States in the Vietnam War. French Indochina in the 1940s was divided into five protectorates: Cambodia, Laos, Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina. The latter three made up Vietnam. In 1940, the French controlled 23 million Vietnamese with 12,000 French soldiers, about 40,000 Vietnamese soldiers, and the Sûreté, a powerful police force. At that time, the U.S. had little interest in Vietnam or French Indochina as a whole. Fewer than 100 Americans, mostly missionaries, lived in Vietnam and U.S. government representation consisted of one consul resident in Saigon.
The Haiphong Incident or the Haiphong Massacre occurred on November 23, 1946, when the French cruiser Suffren bombarded the Vietnamese coastal city of Haiphong, killing some 6,000 Vietnamese people. The incident, also known as the Shelling of Haiphong, is thought of as the first armed clash in a series of events that would lead to the Battle of Hanoi on December 19, 1946, and with it the official outbreak of the First Indochina War.
Tonkin, or Bắc Kỳ (北圻), was a French protectorate encompassing modern Northern Vietnam.