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|Soviet–Japanese border conflicts|
|Part of the interwar period|
Japanese light tanks during the Battles of Khalkhin Gol
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
350 tanks destroyed
140 armoured cars destroyed
211 aircraft destroyed
43 tanks destroyed
several tankettes destroyed
162 aircraft destroyed
The Soviet–Japanese border conflicts, also known as the Soviet-Japanese Border War, was an undeclared border conflict fought between the Soviet Union and Japan in Northeast Asia from 1932 to 1939.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
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.
Northeast Asia, North East Asia or Northeastern Asia is a term to refer to a subregion of Asia: the northeastern landmass and islands, bordering the Pacific Ocean. It includes the core countries of East Asia.
Japanese expansion in the Northeast China region bordering the Soviet Far East and disputes over the demarcation line led to growing tensions with the Soviet Union, with both sides often violating the border and accusing each other of border violations. The Soviets and Japanese, including their respective client states of Mongolia and Manchukuo, fought in a series of escalating small border skirmishes and punitive expeditions from 1935 until Soviet-Mongolian victory over the Japanese in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol in 1939 which resolved the dispute and returned the borders to status quo ante bellum .
Northeast China or Dongbei is a geographical region of China. It also historically corresponds with the term Inner Manchuria in the English language. The name Manchuria was first invented in the 17th century by Japanese people to refer to a large geographic region in Northeast Asia. However, no term for "Manchuria" exists in the Manchu language, which originally referred to the area as the "Three Eastern Provinces"; mnc.ᡩᡝᡵᡤᡳ
ᡤᠣᠯᠣ, Dergi ilan golo; zh. 東三省 / 东三省, Dōng Sānshěng).
A political demarcation line is a geopolitical border, often agreed upon as part of an armistice or ceasefire.
A client state is a state that is economically, politically, or militarily subordinate to another more powerful state in international affairs. Types of client states include: satellite state, associated state, puppet state, neo-colony, protectorate, vassal state, and tributary state.
The Soviet–Japanese border conflicts heavily contributed to the signing of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in 1941.
Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, violations of the vaguely defined Manchukuo, the Mongolia and the Soviet Union border were frequent. Most of these were misunderstandings, but some were intentional acts of espionage. According to the Imperial Japanese Army, between 1932 and 1934, 152 border disputes occurred, largely because the Soviets found it necessary to gather intelligence inside Manchuria. For their part, the Soviets blamed the Japanese for 15 cases of border violation, 6 air intrusions, and 20 episodes of "spy smuggling" in 1933 alone.Hundreds more violations were reported by both sides throughout the following years. To make matters worse, Soviet-Japanese diplomacy and trust had declined even further in these years, with the Japanese being openly called "fascist enemies" at the Seventh Comintern Congress in July 1935.
The Japanese invasion of Manchuria began on 18 September 1931, when the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria immediately following the Mukden Incident. After the war, the Japanese established the puppet state of Manchukuo. Their occupation lasted until the Soviet Union and Mongolia launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation in 1945.
Manchukuo was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic, but in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and was under the de facto control of Japan.
The Mongolian People's Republic was a unitary sovereign socialist state which existed between 1924 and 1992, coterminous with the present-day country of Mongolia in East Asia. It was ruled by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and maintained close links with the Soviet Union throughout its history. Geographically, it was bordered by China to its south and the Soviet Union to its north. Until 1944, it also bordered the Tuvan People's Republic, another Soviet satellite state recognized only by Mongolia and the Soviet Union.
In early 1935, the first shooting affray took place. From then until April 1939, the Imperial Japanese Army recorded 108 such incidents. (哈爾哈廟事件Haruhabyō jiken), occurred on the border between Mongolia and Manchukuo. Several dozen cavalrymen of the Mongolian People's Army trespassed in Manchuria near some disputed fishing grounds, and engaged an 11-man Manchukuo Imperial Army patrol unit near the Buddhist temple at Halhamiao, which was led by a Japanese military advisor. The Manchukuo Army incurred slight casualties, suffering 6 wounded and 2 dead, including the Japanese officer. The Mongols suffered no casualties, and withdrew when the Japanese sent a punitive expedition to reclaim the disputed area. Two motorized cavalry companies, a machine gun company, and a tankette platoon were sent and occupied the point for three weeks without resistance.On 8 January 1935, the first armed clash, the Halhamiao incident
In many legal jurisdictions related to English common law, affray is a public order offence consisting of the fighting of one or more persons in a public place to the terror of ordinary people. Depending on their actions, and the laws of the prevailing jurisdiction, those engaged in an affray may also render themselves liable to prosecution for assault, unlawful assembly, or riot; if so, it is for one of these offences that they are usually charged.
The Mongolian People's Army or Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army was an institution of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party constituting as the armed forces of the Mongolian People's Republic.
The Manchukuo Imperial Army was the ground force of the military of the Empire of Manchukuo, a puppet state established by Imperial Japan in Manchuria, a region of northeastern China. The force was primarily used for fighting against Communist and Nationalist guerrillas in Manchukuo but also took part in battle against the Soviet Red Army on several occasions. It initially consisted of former National Revolutionary Army troops of the "Young Marshal" Zhang Xueliang who were recruited after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria en masse, but eventually expanded to include new volunteers and conscripts. The Imperial Army increased in size from about 111,000 troops in 1933 to an estimated strength of between 170,000–220,000 soldiers at its peak in 1945, being composed of Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongols, Koreans, Japanese, and White Russians. Throughout its existence the majority of its troops were considered to be mostly unreliable by their Japanese officers and advisers, due to poor training, equipment, and morale.
In June 1935, the Japanese and Soviets directly exchanged fire for the first time when an 11-man Japanese patrol west of Lake Khanka was attacked by 6 Soviet horsemen, supposedly inside Manchukuoan territory. In the ensuring firefight, one Soviet soldier was killed, and two horses were captured. While the Japanese asked the Soviets for a joint investigation of the issue, the Soviets rejected the request.
Lake Khanka or Lake Xingkai, is a freshwater lake on the border between Primorsky Krai, Russia and Heilongjiang province, Northeast China.
In October 1935, 9 Japanese and 32 Manchukuoan border guards were engaged in setting up a post, about 20 kilometers north of Suifenho, when they were attacked by a force of 50 Soviet soldiers. The Soviets opened fire on them with rifles and 5 heavy machine guns. In the ensuing clash, 2 Japanese and 4 Manchukuoan soldiers were killed, and another 5 were wounded. The Manchukuoan foreign affairs representative lodged a verbal protest with the Soviet consul at Suifenho. The Imperial Japanese Army's Kwantung Army also sent an intelligence officer to investigate the scene of the clash.
On 19 December 1935, a Manchukuoan army unit engaging in a reconnoitering project southwest of Buir Lake clashed with a Mongolian party, reportedly capturing 10 soldiers. Five days later, 60 truck-borne Mongolian troops assaulted the Manchukuoans and were repulsed, at the cost of 3 Manchukuoan dead. The same day, at Brunders, Mongolian soldiers attempted to drive out Manchukuoan forces three times in the day, and then again at a night, but all attempts failed. More small attempts to dislodge the Manchukuoans from their outposts occurred in January, with the Mongolians this time utilizing airplanes for recon duty. Due to the arrival of a small force of Japanese troops in three trucks, these attempts also failed with a few casualties on both sides. Aside from the 10 prisoners taken, Mongolian casualties during these clashes are unknown.
In February 1936, Lieutenant-Colonel Sugimoto Yasuo was ordered to form a detachment from the 14th Cavalry Regiment and, in the words of Lieutenant-General Kasai Heijuro, "out the Outer Mongol intruders from the Olankhuduk region". Sugimoto's detachment included cavalry guns, heavy machine guns, and tankettes. Arrayed against him were 140 Mongolians, equipped with heavy machine guns and light artillery. On February 12, Sugimoto's men successfully drove the Mongolians south, at the cost of 8 men killed, 4 men wounded, and 1 tankette destroyed. After this, they began to withdraw, but were attacked by 5-6 Mongolian armored cars and 2 bombers, which briefly wreaked havok on a Japanese column. This was rectified when the unit obtained artillery support, enabling it to destroy or drive off the armored cars.
In March 1936, the Tauran incident (タウラン事件Tauran jiken) (ja) occurred. In this battle, both the Japanese Army and Mongolian Army used a small number of armored fighting vehicles and military aircraft. The Tauran incident of March 1936 occurred as the result of 100 Mongolian and 6 Soviet troops attacking and occupying the disputed village of Tauran, Mongolia, driving off the small Manchurian garrison in the process. They were supported by a handful of light bombers and armored cars, though their bombing sorties failed to inflict any damage on the Japanese, and three of them were shot down by Japanese heavy machine guns. Local Japanese forces counter-attacked, running dozens of bombing sorties on the village, and eventually assaulting it with 400 men and 10 tankettes. The result was a Mongolian rout, with 56 soldiers being killed, including 3 Soviet advisors, and an unknown number being wounded. Japanese losses amounted to 27 killed and 9 wounded.
Later in March 1936, there was another border clash, this time between the Japanese and the Soviets. Reports of border violations led the Japanese Korean Army to send ten men by truck to investigate, but this party itself was ambushed by 20 Soviet NKVD soldiers deployed at a point 300 meters inside the territory claimed by the Japanese. After incurring several casualties, the Japanese patrol withdrew, and brought up 100 men within hours as reinforcements, who then drove off the Soviets. However, fighting erupted later in the day when the NKVD also brought reinforcements. By nightfall, the fighting had stopped and both sides had pulled back. The Soviets agreed to return the bodies of 2 Japanese soldiers who died in the fighting, which was seen as encouraging by the Japanese government.
In early April 1936, three Japanese soldiers were killed near Suifenho, in one of many minor and barely documented affrays. However, this incident was notable in that the Soviets again returned the bodies of the dead servicemen.
In June 1937, the Kanchazu Island incident (乾岔子島事件Kanchazutou jiken) (ja) occurred on the Amur River at the Soviet–Manchukuo border. Three Soviet gunboats crossed the center line of the river, unloaded troops, and occupied Kanchazu (also spelled "Kanchatzu") island. Soldiers from the IJA 1st Division, using two horse-drawn 37mm artillery pieces, proceeded to hastily set up improvised firing sites, and load their guns with both high-explosive and armor-piercing shells. They shelled the Soviets, sinking the lead gunboat, crippling the second, and driving off the third. Japanese troops then fired on the swimming crewmen of the sunken ships with machine guns. 37 Soviet soldiers were killed in this incident; the Japanese forces suffered no casualties. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested and demanded the Soviet soldiers withdraw from the island. The Soviet leadership, apparently shocked by the display and not wanting things to escalate, agreed and evacuated their forces.
In July 1937, the Japanese invaded China, starting the Second Sino-Japanese War.Soviet-Japanese relations were chilled by the invasion and Mikhail Kalinin, the Soviet head of state, told the American ambassador in Moscow that same month that his country was prepared for an attack by Nazi Germany in the west and Japan in the east. During the first two years of the war, the Soviets heavily aided the Chinese, increasing tension with Japan. From October 1937 to September 1939, the Soviets supplied the Chinese with 82 tanks, over 1,300 pieces of artillery, over 14,000 machine guns, 50,000 rifles, 1,550 trucks and tractors, and also ammunition, equipment and supplies. They also provided 3,665 military advisors and volunteers as part of the Soviet Volunteer Group. 195 of these men, almost all officers, died in battle against Japanese forces. Large-scale aid ceased by the end of the Soviet-Japanese border conflicts.
The Battle of Lake Khasan (July 29, 1938 – August 11, 1938), also known as the "Changkufeng Incident" (Chinese :张鼓峰事件; pinyin :Zhānggǔfēng Shìjiàn, Japanese pronunciation: Chōkohō Jiken) in China and Japan, was an attempted military incursion from Manchukuo (by the Japanese) into territory claimed by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded in the belief of the Japanese side that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary based on the Convention of Peking treaty between the former Imperial Russia and Qing dynasty of China (and subsequent supplementary agreements on demarcation), and furthermore, that the demarcation markers had been tampered with. The Japanese 19th division expelled a Soviet garrison from the disputed area, and repulsed numerous counterattacks by an overwhelmingly more numerous and heavily armed Soviet force. Both sides took heavy losses, though Soviet casualties were nearly three times higher than Japanese casualties, and they lost dozens of tanks. The conflict was resolved diplomatically on August 10, when the Japanese ambassador in Moscow asked for peace. The Japanese troops withdrew the next day, and the Soviets again occupied the now-empty area.
The Battle of Khalkhin Gol, sometimes spelled Halhin Gol or Khalkin Gol after the Halha River passing through the battlefield and known in Japan as the Nomonhan Incident (after a nearby village on the border between Mongolia and Manchuria), was the decisive battle of the undeclared Soviet–Japanese Border War. After a series of skirmishes in May and June 1939, the incident escalated into a series of engagements where both sides deployed corps-sized forces, though the Soviets were again far more numerous and more heavily armed than the Japanese. There were three principal engagements:
In this engagement the Soviets and Mongolians defeated the Japanese, and expelled them from Mongolia.
The Soviet Union and Japan agreed to a cease-fire on 15 September, which took effect the following day. Free from a threat in the Soviet Far East, Stalin proceeded with the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September.
As a result of the Japanese defeat at Khalkhin Gol, Japan and the Soviet Union signed the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact on 13 April 1941, which was similar to the German–Soviet non-aggression pact of August 1939.
Later in 1941, Japan would consider breaking the pact when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa, but they made the crucial decision to keep it and to continue to press into Southeast Asia instead. This was said to be largely due to the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. The defeat there caused Japan not to join forces with Germany against the Soviet Union, even though Japan and Germany were part of the Tripartite Pact. On April 5, 1945, the Soviet Union unilaterally denounced the neutrality pact, noting that it would not renew the treaty when it expired on April 13, 1946. Four months later, prior to the expiration of the neutrality pact, and between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, completely surprising the Japanese. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria was launched one hour after the declaration of war.
The fighting early in World War II between Japan and the Soviet Union plays a key part in the South Korean film My Way , in which Japanese soldiers (including Koreans in Japanese service) fight and are captured by the Soviets and forced to fight for them.
In conformity with the spirit of the Pact on neutrality concluded on April 13, 1941, between the U.S.S.R. and Japan, the Government of the U.S.S.R. and the Government of Japan, in the interest of insuring peaceful and friendly relations between the two countries, solemnly declare that the U.S.S.R. pledges to respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of Manchoukuo and Japan pledges to respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of the Mongolian People's Republic.
The BT tanks were a series of Soviet light tanks produced in large numbers between 1932 and 1941. They were lightly armoured, but reasonably well-armed for their time, and had the best mobility of all contemporary tanks. The BT tanks were known by the nickname Betka from the acronym, or its diminutive Betushka. The successor of the BT tanks would be the famous T-34 medium tank, introduced in 1940, which would replace all of the Soviet fast tanks, infantry tanks, and medium tanks in service.
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.
Nomonhan is a small village in Mongolia, near the border between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China, south of the city of Manzhouli.
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.
The Battle of Lake Khasan, also known as the Changkufeng Incident in China and Japan, was an attempted military incursion by Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state, into the territory claimed and controlled by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded in the belief of the Japanese side, that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary based on the Treaty of Peking between Imperial Russia and Qing China and that the demarcation markers were tampered with. Japanese forces occupied the disputed area but withdrew after heavy fighting and a diplomatic settlement.
The Soviet–Japanese War was a military conflict within World War II beginning soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. The Soviets and Mongolians terminated Japanese control of Manchukuo, Mengjiang, northern Korea, Karafuto, and the Chishima Islands. The defeat of Japan's Kwantung Army helped in the Japanese surrender and the termination of World War II. The Soviet entry into the war was a significant factor in the Japanese government's decision to surrender unconditionally, as it made apparent the Soviet Union would no longer be willing to act as a third party in negotiating an end to hostilities on conditional terms.
Kenkichi Ueda was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. He played an active role in the Soviet-Japanese Border Wars of the late 1930s.
The Type 89 medium tank I-Go was a medium tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army from 1932 to 1942 in combat operations of the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Khalkhin Gol against the Soviet Union, and in the Second World War. The Type 89B model was the world's first mass-produced diesel engine tank. The tank was armed with a short-barrel 57 mm cannon for knocking out pillboxes and masonry fortifications, and proved effective in campaigns in Manchuria and China, as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army had only three tank battalions to oppose them, which consisted primarily of Vickers export models, German Panzer Is, and Italian CV33 tankettes. The Type 89 was a 1920s design medium tank, built to support the infantry, and thus lacked the armor or armament of 1940s generation Allied armor; it was regarded as obsolete by the time of the 1939 battles of Khalkhin Gol, against the Soviet Union. The code designation "I-Go" comes from the katakana letter [イ] for “first” and the kanji [号] for "number". The designation is also transliterated Chi-Ro and sometimes "Yi-Go".
Masazumi Inada was a lieutenant general in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1906 to 1945.
The Battle of Khalkhyn Temple of 1935 was one of the border conflicts between the Soviet Union, Mongolia, Japan and Manchukuo which occurred from 1932 to 1939. The incident took place on the border of Manchukuo and Mongolia near the Buddhist temple of Khalkhyn, located northeast of Buir Lake in present-day Inner Mongolia, China. Scores of the cavalry of the Mongolian People's Army engaged with patrol units of the Manchukuo Imperial Army and Japanese soldiers.
The Tauran Incident, was fought between forces of the Soviet Union, Mongolia, Japan and Manchukuo, during the Soviet-Japanese border conflicts, for control of the Mongolian border village of Tauran.
Hokushin-ron was a pre-World War II political doctrine of the Empire of Japan which stated that Manchuria and Siberia were Japan's sphere of interest and that the potential value to Japan for economic and territorial expansion in those areas was greater than elsewhere. Its supporters were sometimes called the Strike North Group. It enjoyed wide support within the Imperial Japanese Army during the interwar period, but was abandoned in 1939 after military defeat on the Mongolian front at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol and the signing of Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact. It was superseded by the diametrically-opposite rival policy, Nanshin-ron, which regarded Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands as Japan's political and economic sphere of influence and aimed to acquire the resources of European colonies while neutralising the threat of Western military forces in the Pacific.
The 36th Rifle Division was a division of the Red Army and then the Soviet Army. The division was formed in 1919 as the 36th Rifle Division and fought in the Russian Civil War and the Sino-Soviet conflict of 1929. In 1937 it became the 36th Motorized Division. The division fought in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol. It was converted into a motor rifle division in 1940 and fought in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in World War II. Postwar, it became a rifle division again before its disbandment in 1956. The division spent almost its entire service in the Soviet Far East.
The Kanchazu Island incident occurred in late June 1937 on the Amur River.
The 3rd Tank Regiment was an armored regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. It served in the China/Manchuria theater throughout the war.
Outer Mongolia—officially the Mongolian People's Republic—was ruled by the communist government of Khorloogiin Choibalsan during World War II and was closely linked to the Soviet Union. Mongolia, with less than a million inhabitants, was considered a breakaway province of the Republic of China by most nations. Throughout the war with Germany, the country provided the Soviet Union with economic support, such as livestock, raw materials, money, food and military clothing, violating Mongolian neutrality in favor of the Allies. Mongolia was one of two Soviet satellites not generally recognised as sovereign nations at the time, the other being the Tuvan People's Republic; both participated in World War II.
KANTOKUEN was an operational plan created by the General Staff of the Imperial Japanese Army for an invasion and occupation of the far eastern region of the Soviet Union, capitalizing on the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941. Involving seven Japanese armies as well as a major portion of the empire's naval and air forces, it would have been the largest single combined arms operation in Japanese history, and one of the largest of all time.