Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941

By United States Department of State | Go to book overview

II
JAPANESE CONQUEST
OF MANCHURIA 1931-1932

Attack of September 18, 1931

ON SEPTEMBER 18, 1931 Japan launched an attack on Manchuria. Within a few days Japanese armed forces had occupied several strategic points in South Manchuria.

The United States Minister to China reported to Secretary of State Stimson, in a telegram dated September 22, his opinion that this was "an aggressive act by Japan", apparently long-planned, and carefully and systematically put into effect. Minister Johnson found no evidence that it was the result of accident or the act of minor and irresponsible officials. He was convinced that the Japanese military operation in Manchuria "must fall within any definition of war" and that this act of aggression had been deliberately accomplished in "utter and cynical disregard" of Japan's obligations under the Kellogg-Briand Pact of August 27, 1928 for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy. (1) 1

On September 22 Secretary Stimson informed Japanese Ambassador Debuchi at Washington that the responsibility for determining the course of events with regard to liquidating the situation in Manchuria rested largely upon Japan, "for the simple reason that Japanese armed forces have seized and are exercising de-facto control in South Manchuria". (2)

Meanwhile, the League of Nations was deliberating on the Manchuria situation. Secretary Stimson instructed the United States Consul at Geneva to inform the Secretary General of the League of Nations, in a communication dated October 5, 1931, that it was most desirable that the League in no way relax its vigilance and in no way fail to assert all its pressure and authority toward regulating the action of China and Japan. Secretary Stimson stated further that this Government, acting independently, would "endeavor to reinforce what the League does" and would make clear its keen interest in the matter and its awareness of the obligations of the disputants in the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Nine-Power Treaty, "should a time arise when it would seem advisable to bring forward these obligations". (3)

The United States Government, in identic notes of October 20, 1931 to China and Japan, called attention to their obligations under

____________________
1
The numbers within parentheses refer to the numbers of the supporting documents, 1 to 271, beginning with p. 155.

-4-

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Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Peace and War - United States Foreign Policy 1931-1941 *
  • Foreword iii
  • Contents v
  • Documents i
  • I- The Fateful Decade 1
  • II- Japanese Conquest of Manchuria 1931-1932 4
  • III- Disarmament Discussions 1932-1934 9
  • IV- Warnings of Danger 1933-1935 13
  • V- Italian Conquest of Ethiopia 1935-1936 29
  • VI- Developing Dangers 1936-1937 34
  • VII- Japanese Attack on China 1937 45
  • VIII- European Crisis 1938 54
  • IX- European War 1939 62
  • X- European War 1940 71
  • XI- Defense Measures of the United States 1940 80
  • XII- Relations with Japan 1938-1940 88
  • XIII- European War 1941 99
  • XIV- Discussions with Japan 1941 Pearl Harbor 118
  • XV- United Nations 151
  • Documents 1-271 *
  • Index *
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