|Kwantung Army |
|Active||April 1906 – August 1945|
|Allegiance||Emperor of Japan|
|Garrison/HQ|| Hsinking, Manchukuo (1932–1945)|
Ryojun, Kwantung Leased Territory (1906–1932)
|Nickname(s)||Toku(德兵團Toku heidan), Special|
|Engagements|| Second Sino-Japanese War |
The Kwantung Army (Japanese : 関東軍, Kantogun) was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1906 to 1945.
Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.
An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area. An army group is the largest field organization handled by a single commander—usually a full general or field marshal—and it generally includes between 400,000 and 1,000,000 soldiers.
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 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.
The Kwantung Army was formed as a security force for the Kwantung Leased Territory and South Manchurian Railway Zone after the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, and was expanded during the Interwar period to support Japanese interests in China, Manchuria, and Mongolia. The Kwantung Army became the largest and most prestigious command in the Imperial Japanese Army, and many of its personnel were promoted to high positions in the Japanese military and civil government, including Hideki Tōjō and Seishirō Itagaki. The Kwantung Army was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo and was one of the main Japanese fighting forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937.
The Kwantung Leased Territory was a Russian-leased territory (1898–1905), then a Japanese-leased territory (1905–1945) in the southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula in the Qing Empire and later the Republic of China which existed from 1898 to 1945. It was one of the territorial concessions that the Chinese government under the Qing Dynasty was compelled to award to foreign countries during the second half of the 19th century. The territory included the militarily and economically significant ports of Lüshunkou and Dalian.
The Russo-Japanese War was fought during 1904–1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea.
In the context of the history of the 20th century, the interwar period was the period between the end of the First World War in November 1918 and the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939. This period is also colloquially referred to as Between the Wars.
In August 1945, the Kwantung Army had declined to around 713,000 men (from a previous total of 1,320,000) and was defeated by Soviet troops during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. The Kwantung Army surrendered to the Soviets the day after the Surrender of Japan and was subsequently dissolved. The Kwantung Army was responsible for many of the worst Japanese war crimes during World War II, including the sponsorship of Unit 731 which participated in biological warfare and human experimentation against civilians and prisoners of war.
The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced by Hirohito on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. Together with the British Empire and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan's leaders were privately making entreaties to the publicly neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese. While maintaining a sufficient level of diplomatic engagement with the Japanese to give them the impression they might be willing to mediate, the Soviets were covertly preparing to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea in fulfillment of promises they had secretly made to the United States and the United Kingdom at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences.
War crimes were committed by the Empire of Japan in many Asia-Pacific countries during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. These incidents have been described as an "Asian Holocaust". Some war crimes were committed by Japanese military personnel during the late 19th century, but most Japanese war crimes were committed during the first part of the Shōwa Era, the name given to the reign of Emperor Hirohito, until the surrender of the Empire of Japan in 1945.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
In 1895, Qing China had granted the Kwantung Leased Territory, a valuable concession territory on the Liaodong Peninsula, to the Empire of Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after their victory in the First Sino-Japanese War. The term "Kwantung" (traditional Chinese :關東; simplified Chinese :关东; pinyin :Guāndōng; Wade–Giles :Kwan1-tung1) means "east of Shanhaiguan", a guarded pass west of Manchuria, which was rendered in Japanese as "Kanto". The Russian Empire had particular interest in Kwantung, being one of the few areas in the region with potential to develop ice-free ports for its own expansion in the Far East, and Qing authorities withdrew the lease from the Japanese following the Triple Intervention, only weeks after it had been granted. Kwantung was leased to Russia in 1898, becoming Russian Dalian (Дальний) and developing the territory into a thriving trade port. The Russo-Japanese War was fought between Russia and Japan from 1905 to 1906 over their rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. Japanese victory led to the Republic of China returning the lease of Russian Dalian (re-establishing the Kwantung Leased Territory) and Japan gaining influence in the areas adjacent to the South Manchurian Railway.
The Liaodong Peninsula is a peninsula in Liaoning Province of Northeast China, historically known in the West as Southeastern Manchuria. Liaodong means "East of the Liao River"; referring to the Liao River which divided the Yan commanderies of Liaoxi and Liaodong during time of the Warring States period.
The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.
The Treaty of Shimonoseki, also known as Treaty of Bakan in China, was a treaty signed at the Shunpanrō hotel, Shimonoseki, Japan on 17 April 1895, between the Empire of Japan and the Qing dynasty, ending the First Sino-Japanese War. The peace conference took place from March 20 to 17 April 1895. This treaty followed and superseded the Sino-Japanese Friendship and Trade Treaty of 1871.
The Kwantung Garrison was established in 1906 to defend this territory, and originally was composed of an infantry division and a heavy siege artillery battalion, supplemented with six independent garrison battalions as railway guards deployed along the South Manchurian Railway Zone, for a total troop strength of 100,000 men. The Kwantung Garrison was headquartered in Port Arthur (known as Ryojun in Japanese) and after a reorganization in 1919, the Kwantung Garrison was renamed the Kwantung Army (Kantogun).
Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.
A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by nationality and branch of service. Typically a battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry.
Garrison is the collective term for any body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base. The garrison is usually in a city, town, fort, castle, ship or similar. "Garrison town" is a common expression for any town that has a military base nearby.
In the highly politicized Imperial Japanese Army of the 1920s and 1930s, the Kwantung Army was a stronghold of the radical "Imperial Way Faction" (Kōdōha), and many of its senior leaders overtly advocated political change in Japan through the violent overthrow of the civilian government to bring about a Shōwa Restoration, with a reorganization of society and the economy along totalitarian state fascist lines. They also advocated a more aggressive, expansionist foreign policy regarding the Asian mainland. Members or former members of the Kwantung Army were active in numerous coup d'état attempts against the civilian government, culminating with the February 26 Incident of 1936, where the Kōdōha faction was de facto dissolved.
The Kōdōha or Imperial Way Faction (皇道派) was a political faction in the Imperial Japanese Army active in the 1920s and 1930s. The Kōdōha sought to establish a military government that promoted totalitarian, militarist, and aggressive expansionist ideals, and was largely supported by junior officers. The radical Kōdōha rivaled the moderate Tōseiha for influence in the army until the February 26 Incident in 1936, when it was de facto dissolved and many supporters were disciplined or executed.
The Shōwa Restoration was promoted by Japanese author Kita Ikki, with the goal of restoring power to the newly enthroned Japanese Emperor Hirohito and abolishing the liberal Taishō democracy. The aims of the "Showa Restoration" were similar to the Meiji Restoration as the groups who envisioned it imagined a small group of qualified people backing up a strong Emperor. The Cherry Blossom Society envisioned such a restoration.
Totalitarianism is a political concept of a mode of government that prohibits opposition parties, restricts individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is regarded as the most extreme and complete form of authoritarianism. Political power in totalitarian states has often been held by rule by one leader which employ all-encompassing propaganda campaigns broadcast by state-controlled mass media. Totalitarian regimes are often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, restriction of speech, mass surveillance and widespread use of state terrorism. Historian Robert Conquest describes a "totalitarian" state as one recognizing no limits to its authority in any sphere of public or private life and which extends that authority to whatever length feasible.
Although the Kwantung Army was nominally subordinate to the Imperial General Headquarters and the senior staff at the Army General Staff located in Tokyo, its leadership often acted in direct violation of the orders from the mainland Japan without suffering any consequence. Conspirators within the junior officer corps of the Kwantung Army plotted and carried out the assassination of Manchurian warlord Chang Tsolin in the Huanggutun Incident of 1928. Afterwards, the Kwantung Army leadership engineered the Mukden Incident and the subsequent invasion of Manchuria in 1931, in a massive act of insubordination (gekokujo) against the express orders of the political and military leadership based in Tokyo.
Presented with the fait accompli , Imperial General Headquarters had little choice but to follow up on the actions of the Kwantung Army with reinforcements in the subsequent Pacification of Manchukuo. The success of the campaign meant that the insubordination of the Kwantung Army was rewarded rather than punished. In 1932, the Kwantung Army was the main force responsible for the foundation of Manchukuo, the puppet state of Japan located in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia. The Kwantung Army played a controlling role in the political administration of the new state as well as in its defense. With the Kwantung Army, administering all aspects of the politics and economic development of the new state, this made the Kwantung Army's commanding officer equivalent to a Governor-General with the authority to approve or countermand any command from Puyi, the nominal Emperor of Manchukuo.
After the campaign to secure Manchukuo, the Kwantung Army continued to fight in numerous border skirmishes with China as part of its efforts to create a Japanese-dominated buffer zone in Northern China. The Kwantung Army also fought in Operation Nekka during the preceding phase of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and various actions in Inner Mongolia to extend Japanese domination over portions of northern China and Inner Mongolia. When full-scale war broke out in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937, its forces participated in Battle of Beiping-Tianjin and Operation Chahar. Later, Kwantung forces supported the war in China from time to time.
However, by the late 1930s the Kwantung Army's much vaunted reputation was severely challenged during the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts that Japan had fought against the Soviet Union in northern Manchukuo since 1932. The Japanese force stalemated with the Soviet Union's Red Army in the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938[ citation needed ], and lost the decisive Battle of Nomonhan in 1939, during which time it sustained heavy casualties. After the "Nomonhan incident", the Kwantung Army was purged of its more insubordinate elements, as well as proponents of the Hokushin-ron ("Northward Advance") doctrine who urged that Japan concentrate its expansionist efforts on Siberia rather southward towards China and Southeast Asia. The signing of the
The Kwantung Army was heavily augmented over the next few years, up to a strength of 700,000 troops by 1941, and its headquarters was transferred to the new Manchukuo capital of Hsinking. The Kwantung Army also oversaw the creation, training, and equipping of an auxiliary force, the Manchukuo Imperial Army. During this time, Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda worked as liaison officer between the Imperial house and the Kwantung Army.Although a source of constant unrest during the 1930s, the Kwantung Army remained remarkably obedient during the 1940s. As combat spread south into Central China and Southern China in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and with the outbreak of the Pacific War, Manchukuo was largely a backwater to the conflict. However, as the war situation began to deteriorate for the Imperial Japanese Army on all fronts, the large, well-trained, and well-equipped Kwantung Army could no longer be held in strategic reserve. Many of its front line units were systematically stripped of their best units and equipment, which were sent south to fight in the Pacific War against the forces of the United States in the Pacific Islands or the Philippines. Other units were sent south into China for Operation Ichi-Go.
By 1945, the Kwantung Army consisted of 713,000 personnel, divided into 31 infantry divisions, nine infantry brigades, two tank brigades, and one special purpose brigade. It also possessed 1,155 light tanks, 5,360 guns, and 1,800 aircraft. The quality of troops had fallen drastically, as all the best men and materiel were siphoned off for use in other theaters. These forces were replaced by militia, draft levies, reservists, and cannibalized smaller units, all equipped with woefully outdated equipment.The Kwantung Army had also bacteriological weapons, prepared for use against Soviet troops (see Unit 731). The bulk of military equipment (artillery, tanks, aircraft) was developed in the 1930s, and very few of the soldiers had sufficient training or any real experience.
The final commanding officer of the Kwantung Army, General Otozō Yamada, ordered a surrender on August 16, 1945, one day after Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan in a radio announcement. Some Japanese divisions refused to surrender, and combat continued for the next few days. Marshal Hata received the "ultimatum to surrender" from Soviet General Georgii Shelakhovin Harbin on August 18, 1945. He was one of the senior generals who agreed with the decision to surrender, and on August 19, 1945, Hata met with Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, but asked that he be stripped of his rank of Field Marshal in atonement for the Army's failures in the war.
The remnants of the Kwantung Army were either dead or on their way to Soviet prisoner-of-war camps. Over 500,000 Japanese prisoners of war were sent to work in Soviet labor camps in Siberia, Russian Far East and Mongolia. They were largely repatriated, in stages, over the next five years, though some continued to be held well into the 1950s.
After the surrender of Japan, the Soviet Red Army discovered secret installations for experimenting with and producing chemical weapons and biological weapons of mass destruction centered around secret Army Unit 731 and its subsidiaries.At these locations, the Kwantung Army was also responsible for some of the most infamous Japanese war crimes, including the operation of several human experimentation programs using live Chinese, American and Russian civilians, and POWs, directed by Dr. Shiro Ishii.
Arrested by the American occupation authorities, Ishii and the 20,000 members of Unit 731 received immunity from prosecution of war-crimes before the Tokyo tribunal of 1948, in exchange for germ warfare data based on human experimentation. On May 6, 1947, General Douglas MacArthur wrote to Washington that "additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii probably can be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as 'War Crimes' evidence". [ citation needed ] However, twelve members of Unit 731 and some members of the World War II leadership of the Kwantung Army were sentenced as war criminals by the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials, while others were taken into custody by the United States, and sentenced at the 1948 International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. Among those sentenced to death were former generals Seishirō Itagaki, Iwane Matsui, Kenji Doihara, Hideki Tōjō and Akira Mutō.The deal was concluded in 1948.
|1-||General Tachibana Kōichirō||1919||6 January 1921|
|2||General Misao Kawai||6 January 1921||10 May 1922|
|3||General Shinobu Ono||10 May 1922||10 October 1923|
|4||General Yoshinori Shirakawa||10 October 1923||28 July 1926|
|5||Field Marshal Baron Nobuyoshi Mutō||28 July 1926||26 August 1927|
|6||General Chotaro Muraoka||26 August 1927||1 July 1929|
|7||General Eitaro Hata||1 July 1929||31 May 1930|
|8||General Takashi Hishikari||3 June 1930||1 August 1931|
|9||General Shigeru Honjō||1 August 1931||8 August 1932|
|10||Field Marshal Baron Nobuyoshi Mutō||8 August 1932||27 July 1933|
|11||General Takashi Hishikari||29 July 1933||10 December 1934|
|12||General Jirō Minami||10 December 1934||6 March 1936|
|13||General Kenkichi Ueda||6 March 1936||7 September 1939|
|14||General Yoshijirō Umezu||7 September 1939||18 July 1944|
|14||General Otozō Yamada||18 July 1944||11 August 1945|
|1||Major General Matasuke Hamamo||12 April 1919||11 March 1921|
|2||Major General Kaya Fukuhara||11 March 1921||6 August 1923|
|3||Major General Kawada Akiji||6 August 1923||2 December 1925|
|4||Major General Tsune Saito||2 December 1925||10 August 1928|
|5||Lieutenant General Koji Miyake||10 August 1928||8 August 1932|
|6||General Kuniaki Koiso||8 August 1932||5 March 1934|
|7||General Toshizo Nishio||5 March 1934||23 March 1936|
|8||General Seishirō Itagaki||23 March 1936||1 March 1937|
|9||General Hideki Tōjō||1 March 1937||30 May 1938|
|10||Lieutenant General Rensuke Isogai||18 June 1938||7 September 1939|
|11||Lieutenant General Jo Iimura||7 September 1939||22 October 1940|
|12||General Heitarō Kimura||22 October 1940||10 April 1941|
|13||General Teiichi Yoshimoto||10 April 1941||1 August 1942|
|14||Lieutenant General Yukio Kasahara||1 August 1942||7 April 1945|
|15||Lieutenant General Hikosaburo Hata||7 April 1945||11 August 1945|
The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol were the decisive engagements of the undeclared Soviet–Japanese border conflicts fought among the Soviet Union, Mongolia, Japan and Manchukuo in 1939. The conflict was named after the river Khalkhyn Gol, which passes through the battlefield. In Japan, the decisive battle of the conflict is known as the Nomonhan Incident after Nomonhan, a nearby village on the border between Mongolia and Manchuria. The battles resulted in the defeat of the Japanese Sixth Army.
The South Manchuria Railway, officially South Manchuria Railway Company, or 滿鐵 for short, was a large National Policy Company of Japan whose primary function was the operation of railways on the Dalian–Fengtian (Mukden)–Changchun corridor in northeastern China, as well as on several branch lines.
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The Soviet invasion of Manchuria, formally known as the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation or simply the Manchurian Operation, began on 9 August 1945 with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. It was the last campaign of the Second World War, and the largest of the 1945 Soviet–Japanese War, which resumed hostilities between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Empire of Japan after almost six years of peace. Soviet gains on the continent were Manchukuo, Mengjiang and northern Korea. The Soviet entry into the war and the defeat of the Kwantung Army was a significant factor in the Japanese government's decision to surrender unconditionally, as it made apparent the Soviet Union had no intention of acting as a third party in negotiating an end to hostilities on conditional terms.
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GensuiBaronNobuyoshi Mutō was Commander of the Kwantung Army in 1933, Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo, and a field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army.
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