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|Soviet–Japanese border conflicts|
|Part of the interwar period|
|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 a series of battles and skirmishes between the forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Empire of Japan, as well as their respective client states of Mongolia and Manchukuo. Lasting from 1932 to 1939, most of the conflicts were small border skirmishes until May 1939, with the notable exception of the Battle of Lake Khasan. The border conflicts were resolved in a series of engagements at Khalkin-Gol, where the Soviets and Mongolians inflicted a decisive defeat on the Japanese. This resulted in the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact. It should not be confused with the conflict in August 1945 when the Soviet Union declared war in support of the other Allies of World War II and launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.
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 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 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.
Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, violations of the vaguely defined Manchukuo-Mongolia-USSR border were frequent. Most of these were misunderstandings, but some were intentional acts of espionage. According to the IJA, 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 19 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.
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 Mongolian cavalry trespassed in Manchuria near some disputed fishing grounds, and engaged an 11-man Manchukuo 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 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 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.
In June 1935, the Japanese and Soviets directly exchanged fire for the first time. West of Lake Khanka, an 11-man Japanese patrol 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.
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 Kwantung Army also sent an intelligence officer to investigate the scene of the clash.
The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.
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. All attempts failed. More small attempts to dislodge the Manchukuoans from their outposts occurred in January, with the Mongolians this time utilizing planes 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.
Buir Lake is a freshwater lake that straddles the border between Mongolia and China. It lies within the Buir Lake Depression. The Chinese city of Hulunbuir is named after both this lake and Hulun Lake, which lies entirely on the Chinese side of the border in Inner Mongolia.
In February 1936, Lt. Col. Sugimoto Yasuo was ordered to form a detachment from the 14th Cavalry Regiment and, in the words of Lt. Gen 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.
A tankette is a tracked armoured fighting vehicle that resembles a small tank, roughly the size of a car. It is mainly intended for light infantry support and scouting. Colloquially it may also simply mean a small tank.
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 Korea Army to send ten men by truck to investigate, but this party itself was ambushed by 20 NKVD soldiers deployed at a point 300 meters inside the territory claimed by the Japanese. After incurring several casualties, the IJA 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 IJA servicemen.
Soviet-Japanese relations were chilled by the Japanese invasion of China in July 1937. The Soviet President M.I. Kalinin told the American ambassador in Moscow that same month that his country was prepared for an attack by Germany in the west and Japan in the east.
In June 1937, the Kanchazu Island incident (乾岔子島事件Kanchazutou jiken) (ja) occurred on the Amur River (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 1937, the Japanese invaded China, starting the Second Sino-Japanese War.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". 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) and 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 Imperial Russia and the former Qing-Dynasty 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 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 the German Third Reich invaded the Soviet Union (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, 1945. 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 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 Type 94 tankette (Japanese: 九四式軽装甲車, Kyūyon-shiki keisōkōsha, literally "94 type light armored car", also known as TK that is abbreviation of "Tokushu Keninsha" that means special tractor was a tankette used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in World War II. Although tankettes were often used as ammunition tractors, and general infantry support, they were designed for reconnaissance, and not for direct combat. The lightweight Type 94 proved effective in China as the Chinese National Revolutionary Army had only three tank battalions to oppose them, and those tank battalions were equipped only with some British export models and Italian CV-33 tankettes. As with nearly all tankettes built in the 1920s and 1930s, they had thin armor that could be penetrated by .50 caliber machine gun fire at 600 yards range.
The Type 97 Chi-Ha was a medium tank used by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battles of Khalkhin Gol against the Soviet Union, and the Second World War. It was the most widely produced Japanese medium tank of World War II.
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 Type 95 Ha-Gō was a light tank used by the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in the Second World War. It proved sufficient against infantry but, like the American M3 Stuart light tank, was not designed to combat other tanks. Approximately 2,300 were produced, making it the most numerous Japanese armoured fighting vehicle of the Second World War.
Michitarō Komatsubara was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, during the Nomonhan Incident.
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.
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.
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 4 Ke-Nu was a light tank of the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. It was a conversion of existing Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks, re-fitted with the larger turret of the Type 97 Chi-Ha medium tank.
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. 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 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. Until 1945, Mongolia kept formal neutrality. Throughout the war with Germany, the country provided the Soviet Union with economic support, such as livestock, raw materials, money, food and military clothing. 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.