Manchukuo (traditional Chinese: 滿洲國; pinyin: Mǎnzhōuguó;
Japanese: 満州国; "State of Manchuria") was a puppet state of the
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan in Northeast
Inner Mongolia from 1932 until
1945. It was initially governed as a republic, but in 1934 it became a
constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and
was de facto under the control of Japan.
The area, collectively known as
Manchuria by westerners and Japanese,
was the homeland of the Manchus, including the emperors of the Qing
dynasty. In 1931, the region was seized by Japan following the Mukden
Incident and a pro-Japanese government was installed one year later
with Puyi, the last Qing emperor, as the nominal regent and
emperor. Manchukuo's government was dissolved in 1945 after the
Imperial Japan at the end of World War II. The
territories formally claimed by the puppet state were first seized in
the Soviet invasion of
Manchuria in August 1945, and then formally
transferred to Chinese administration in the following year.[a]
Manchus formed a minority in Manchukuo, whose largest ethnic group
were Han Chinese. The population of
Koreans increased during the
Manchukuo period, and there were also Japanese, Mongols, White
Russians and other minorities. The Mongol regions of western Manchukuo
were ruled under a slightly different system in acknowledgement of the
Mongolian traditions there. The southern part of the Liaodong
Peninsula was ruled by Japan as the Kwantung Leased Territory.
1.2 Administrative divisions
1.3 National symbols
2.3 Diplomatic recognition
World War II
World War II and aftermath
3.1 Head of State
3.2 Prime Minister
4.1 Population of main cities
4.2 Japanese population
5 Legal system
8.1 War crimes in Manchukuo
8.2 Drug trafficking
9 Society and Culture
9.5 Stamps and postal history
10 In popular culture
11 See also
13.2 Works cited
13.3 Other sources
14 Further reading
15 External links
"Manchuria" is a transcription of the Japanese reading of the Chinese
word "滿洲" which means Manchuria, which in Japanese is Manshū,
which in turn dates from the 19th century. The name Manzhou was coined
and given to the
Jurchen people by
Hong Taiji in 1635 as a new name
for their ethnic group. However, the name "Manchuria" was never used
Manchus or the
Qing dynasty itself to refer to their homeland,
the name itself holding imperialistic connotation.
According to the Japanese scholar Junko Miyawaki-Okada, the Japanese
geographer Takahashi Kageyasu (高橋景保) was the first to use the
term 满洲 (Manshū) as a place name in 1809 in the Nippon Henkai
Ryakuzu (日本辺海略図), and it was from that work where
Westerners adopted the name. According to Mark C. Elliott,
Katsuragawa Hoshū's 1794 work, the Hokusa bunryaku (北槎聞略),
was where 满洲 (Manshū) first appeared as a place name, in two maps
included in the work: "Ashia zenzu" and "Chikyū hankyū sōzu" which
were also created by Katsuragawa. 满洲 (Manshū) then began to
appear as a place names in more maps created by Japanese like Kondi
Jūzō, Takahashi Kageyasu, Baba Sadayoshi and Yamada Ren. These maps
were brought to Europe by Philipp von Siebold, a German in Dutch
According to Nakami Tatsuo, Siebold was the one who brought the usage
of the term
Manchuria to Europeans, after borrowing it from the
Japanese, who were the first to use it in a geographic manner in the
eighteenth century, while neither the
Manchu nor Chinese languages had
a term in their own language equivalent to "Manchuria" as a geographic
place name. According to Bill Sewell, it was Europeans who first
Manchuria as a name to refer to the location and it is
"not a genuine geographic term". The historian Gavan McCormack
agreed with Robert H. G. Lee's statement that "The term
Man-chou is a modern creation used mainly by westerners and Japanese",
with McCormack writing that the term
Manchuria is imperialistic in
nature and has no "precise meaning", since the Japanese deliberately
promoted the use of "Manchuria" as a geographic name to promote its
China while they were setting up their puppet state of
Manchus largely spurned
claimed[clarification needed] to be established for their cause, and
Manchus were successfully employed by the
List of administrative divisions of Manchukuo
List of administrative divisions of Manchukuo for a complete list
of prefecture-level divisions.
During its short-lived existence,
Manchukuo was divided into between
five (in 1932) and 19 (in 1941) provinces, one special ward of Beiman
(Chinese: 北滿特別區) and two
Special cities which were Xinjing
(Chinese: 新京特別市) and
Harbin (Chinese: 哈爾濱特別市).
Each province was divided into between four (Xing'an dong) and 24
(Fengtian) prefectures. Beiman lasted less than 3 years (1 July 1933
– 1 January 1936) and
Harbin was later incorporated into Binjiang
province. Longjiang also existed as a province in the 1932 before
being divided into Heihe, Longjiang and Sanjiang in 1934. Andong and
Jinzhou provinces separated themselves from Fengtian while Binjiang
and Jiandao from
Jilin separated themselves in the same year.
Aside from the national flag, the orchid, reportedly Puyi's favorite
flower, became the royal flower of the country, similar to the
chrysanthemum in Japan. The sorghum flower also became a national
flower by decree in April 1933. "Five Races Under One Union" was
used as a national motto.
The Japanese had their own motive for deliberately spreading the usage
of the term Manchuria. The historian Norman Smith wrote that "The
term "Manchuria" is controversial". Professor Mariko Asano Tamanoi
said that she "should use the term in quotation marks", when referring
Herbert Giles wrote that "Manchuria" was unknown to
Manchus themselves as a geographical expression. In his
doctoral thesis of 2012, Professor Chad D. Garcia noted that usage of
the term "Manchuria" was out of favor in "current scholarly practice"
and preferred the term "the northeast".
The Qing dynasty, which replaced the Shun and Ming dynasties in China,
was founded by
Manchuria (modern Northeast China). The
Manchu emperors separated their homeland in
Jilin and Heilongjiang
from the Han
Liaoning province with the Willow Palisade. This ethnic
division continued until the
Qing dynasty encouraged massive
immigration of Han in the 19th century during
Chuang Guandong to
prevent the Russians from seizing the area from the Qing. After
conquering the Ming, the Qing identified their state as "China"
(中國, Zhongguo; "Central Realm") and referred to it as "Dulimbai
Gurun" in Manchu. The Qing equated the lands of the Qing
state (including present day Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia,
other areas) as "China" in both the Chinese and
China as a multi-ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China
only meant Han areas, proclaiming that both Han and non-Han peoples
were part of "China", using "China" to refer to the Qing in official
documents, international treaties, and foreign affairs, and the
"Chinese language" (Dulimbai gurun i bithe) referred to Chinese,
Manchu, and Mongol languages, and the term "Chinese people" (中國人
Zhongguo ren; Manchu: Dulimbai gurun i niyalma) referred to all Han,
Manchus, and Mongol subjects of the Qing. The lands in
explicitly stated by the Qing to belong to "China" (Zhongguo, Dulimbai
gurun) in Qing edicts and in the Treaty of Nerchinsk.
During the Qing dynasty, the area of
Manchuria was known as the "three
eastern provinces" (三東省; Sān dōng shěng) since 1683 when
Heilongjiang were separated even though it was not until
1907 that they were turned into actual provinces. The area of
Manchuria was then converted into three provinces by the late Qing
government in 1907. Since then, the "Three Northeast Provinces"
(traditional Chinese: 東北三省; simplified Chinese: 东北三省;
pinyin: Dōngběi Sānshěng) was officially used by the Qing
China to refer to this region, and the post of Viceroy
of Three Northeast Provinces was established to take charge of these
As the power of the court in Beijing weakened, many outlying areas
either broke free (such as Kashgar) or fell under the control of
Imperialist powers. In the 19th century,
Imperial Russia was most
interested in the northern lands of the Qing Empire. In 1858, Russia
gained control over a huge tract of land called Outer
to the Supplementary Treaty of Beijing that ended the Second Opium
Russia was not satisfied and, as the Qing Dynasty
continued to weaken, they made further efforts to take control of the
rest of Manchuria. Inner
Manchuria came under strong Russian influence
in the 1890s with the building of the
Chinese Eastern Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway through
Harbin to Vladivostok.
As a direct result of the
Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), Japanese
influence replaced Russia's in Inner Manchuria. During the war with
Russia, Japan had mobilized one million soldiers to fight in
Manchuria, meaning that one in eight families in Japan had a member
fighting the war. During the Russo-Japanese War, the losses were
heavy with Japan losing a half-million dead or wounded. From the
time of the Russian-Japanese war onward, many
Japanese people came to
have a proprietary attitude to Manchuria, taking the viewpoint that a
land where so much Japanese blood had been lost in some way now
belonged to them.[clarification needed] In 1906, Japan laid the
South Manchurian Railway
South Manchurian Railway to Port Arthur (Japanese: Ryojun). Under the
terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth, the
Kwantung Army had the right to
Manchuria while the region fell into the Japanese
economic sphere of influence. The Japanese owned South Manchurian
Railroad company had a market capitalization of 200 million yen,
making it Asia's largest corporation, which went beyond just running
the former Russian railroad network in southern
Manchuria to owning
the ports, mines, hotels, telephone lines, and sundry other
businesses, dominating the economy of Manchuria. With the growth
of the South
Manchuria Railroad (Mantetsu) company went growth in
number of Japanese living in
Manchuria from 16,612 Japanese civilians
in 1906 to 233,749 in 1930. The majority of blue collar employees
for the Mantetsu were Chinese, and the Japanese employees were mostly
white collar, meaning most of the Japanese living in
middle-class people who saw themselves as an elite. Between World
War I and
World War II
World War II
Manchuria became a political and military
battleground between Russia, Japan, and China. Japan moved into Outer
Manchuria as a result of the chaos following the Russian Revolution of
1917. A combination of Soviet military successes and American economic
pressure forced the Japanese to withdraw from the area, however, and
Manchuria returned to Soviet control by 1925.
Warlord Era in China, the warlord Marshal Zhang Zuolin
established himself in Inner
Manchuria with Japanese backing.
Later, the Japanese
Kwantung Army found him too independent, so he was
assassinated in 1928. In assassinating Marshal Zhang, the "Old
Kwantung Army generals expected
Manchuria to descend into
anarchy, providing the pretext for seizing the region. Marshal
Zhang was killed when the bridge his train was riding across was blown
up while three Chinese men were murdered and explosive equipment
placed on their corpses to make it appear that they were the killers,
but the plot was foiled when Zhang's son Zhang Xueliang, the "Young
Marshal" succeeded him without incident while the cabinet in Tokyo
refused to send additional troops to Manchuria. Given that the
Kwantung Army had assassinated his father, the "Young Marshal"—who
unlike his father was a Chinese nationalist—had strong reasons to
dislike Japan's privileged position in Manchuria. Marshal Zhang
knew his forces were too weak to expel the Kwantung Army, but his
relations with the Japanese were unfriendly right from the start.
Manchukuo Protocol, 15 September 1932
The throne of the emperor in Manchukuo, c. 1937
After the Japanese invasion of
Manchuria in 1931, Japanese militarists
moved forward to separate the region from Chinese control and to
create a Japanese-aligned puppet state. To create an air of
legitimacy, the last Emperor of China, Puyi, was invited to come with
his followers and act as the head of state for Manchuria. One of his
faithful companions was Zheng Xiaoxu, a Qing reformist and
On 18 February 1932 the
Manchu State (Manchukuo, Pinyin:
Mǎnzhōuguó) was proclaimed and recognized by Japan on 15
September 1932 through the Japan–
Manchukuo Protocol, after the
assassination of Japanese Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi. The city of
Hsinking (Pinyin: Xinjing) (新京, "New Capital"),
became the capital of the new entity. Chinese in
volunteer armies to oppose the Japanese and the new state required a
war lasting several years to pacify the country.
The Japanese initially installed
Puyi as Head of State in 1932, and
two years later he was declared
Emperor of Manchukuo
Emperor of Manchukuo with the era name
of Kangde ("Tranquility and Virtue"; Wade-Giles: Kangte). Manchukuo
thus became the Great Manchurian Empire, sometimes termed Manchutikuo
(Pinyin: Mǎnzhōu Dìguó).
Zheng Xiaoxu served as Manchukuo's first
prime minister until 1935, when
Zhang Jinghui succeeded him.
nothing more than a figurehead and real authority rested in the hands
Japanese military officials. An imperial palace was specially
built for the emperor. The
Manchu ministers all served as front-men
for their Japanese vice-ministers, who made all decisions.
In this manner, Japan formally detached
China in the
course of the 1930s. With Japanese investment and rich natural
resources, the area became an industrial powerhouse.
Manchukuo had its
own issued banknotes and postage stamps. Several
independent banks were founded as well.
The conquest of
Manchuria proved to be extremely popular with the
Japanese people who saw the conquest as providing a much needed
economic "lifeline" to their economy which had been badly hurt by the
Great Depression. The very image of a "lifeline" suggested that
Manchuria—which was rich in natural resources—was essential for
Japan to recover from the Great Depression, which explains why the
conquest was so popular at the time and later why the Japanese people
were so completely hostile towards any suggestion of letting Manchuria
go. At the time, censorship in Japan was nowhere near as stringent
as it later become, and the American historian Louise Young noted:
"Had they wished, it would have been possible in 1931 and 1932 for
journalists and editors to express anti-war sentiments". The
popularity of the conquest meant that newspapers such as the Asahi
which initially opposed the war swiftly changed to supporting the war
as the best way of improving sales.
Manchukuo bought the
Chinese Eastern Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway from the Soviet
Foreign recognition of Manchukuo
China did not recognize
Manchukuo but the two sides established
official ties for trade, communications and transportation. In 1933,
League of Nations
League of Nations adopted the Lytton Report, declaring that
Manchuria remained rightfully part of China, leading Japan to resign
its membership. The
Manchukuo case persuaded the United States to
articulate the so-called Stimson Doctrine, under which international
recognition was withheld from changes in the international system
created by force of arms.
In spite of the League of Nations' approach, the new state was
diplomatically recognised by
El Salvador (3 March 1934) and the
Costa Rica (23 September 1934), Italy (29
November 1937), Spain (2 December 1937), Germany (12 May 1938) and
Hungary (9 January 1939). The
Soviet Union extended de facto
recognition on 23 March 1935, but explicitly noted that this did not
mean de jure recognition. However, upon signing the
Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact
Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact on 13 April 1941, the Soviet Union
Manchukuo de jure in exchange for Japan recognizing the
integrity of the neighboring Mongolian People's Republic. The USSR
did maintain five consulates-general in
Manchukuo initially, although
in 1936–37 these were reduced to just two: one in
Harbin and another
Manchukuo opened consulates in
Blagoveshchensk (September 1932) and in Chita (February 1933).
It is commonly believed that the
Holy See established diplomatic
Manchukuo in 1934, but the
Holy See never did so. This
belief is partly due to the erroneous reference in Bernardo
Bertolucci's 1987 film
The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor that the Holy See
diplomatically recognised Manchukuo. Bishop Auguste Ernest Pierre
Gaspais was appointed as "representative ad tempus of the
Holy See and
of the Catholic missions of
Manchukuo to the government of Manchukuo"
by the Congregation
De Propaganda Fide
De Propaganda Fide (a purely religious body
responsible for missions) and not by the Secretariat of State
responsible for diplomatic relations with states. In the 1940s the
Vatican established full diplomatic relations with Japan, but it
resisted Japanese and Italian pressure to recognize
Manchukuo and the
After the outbreak of World War II, the state was recognised by
Slovakia (1 June 1940),
Vichy France (12 July 1940),
Bulgaria (10 May 1941),
Finland (18 July 1941),
Denmark (August 1941), Croatia (2 August 1941)—all controlled or
influenced by Japan's ally Germany — as well as by Wang Jingwei's
Reorganized National Government of the
China (30 November
Thailand (5 August 1941) and the Philippines (1943) — all
under the control or influence of Japan.
Puyi as Emperor Kangde of Manchukuo
World War II
World War II and aftermath
Before World War II, the Japanese colonized
Manchukuo and used it as a
base from which to invade China. In the summer of 1939 a border
Manchukuo and the Mongolian People's
in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. During this battle, a combined
Soviet-Mongolian force defeated the Japanese
Kwantung Army (Kantōgun)
supported by limited Manchukuoan forces.
On 8 August 1945, the
Soviet Union declared war on Japan, in
accordance with the agreement at the Yalta Conference, and invaded
Manchukuo from outer
Manchuria and Outer Mongolia. During the Soviet
Manchukuo Imperial Army, on paper a 200,000-man force,
performed poorly and whole units surrendered to the Soviets without
firing a single shot; there were even cases of armed riots and
mutinies against the Japanese forces. Emperor Kangde had hoped to
escape to Japan to surrender to the Americans, but the Soviets
captured him and eventually extradited him to the communist government
in China, where the authorities had him imprisoned as a war criminal
along with all other captured
From 1945 to 1948,
Manchuria (Inner Manchuria) served as a base area
People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army in the
Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War against the
National Revolutionary Army. The Chinese Communists used Manchuria
as a staging ground until the final Nationalist retreat to Taiwan in
Manchukuo army and Japanese Kantogun personnel served with
the communist troops during the
Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War against the
Nationalist forces. Most of the 1.5 million Japanese who had been
Manchukuo at the end of
World War II
World War II were sent back to their
homeland in 1946–1948 by U.S. Navy ships in the operation now known
as the Japanese repatriation from Huludao.
Propaganda poster promoting harmony between Japanese, Chinese, and
Manchu. The caption says (Right to left): "With the cooperation of
Japan, China, and Manchukuo, the world can be in peace."
Main article: Politics of Manchukuo
Historians generally consider
Manchukuo a puppet state of Imperial
Japan because of the Japanese military's strong presence and
strict control of the government administration. Chinese historians
generally refer to the state as Wei Manzhouguo ("false state of
Manchuria"). Some historians see
Manchukuo as an effort at building a
glorified Japanese state in mainland Asia that deteriorated due to the
pressures of war.
The independence of
Manchuria was proclaimed on 18 February 1932, and
it was renamed Manchukuo. The
Japanese military commander appointed
Puyi as regent (reign name Datong) for the time being, stating that he
Emperor of Manchukuo
Emperor of Manchukuo but could not reign using the title
of Emperor of the Great Qing Empire as he once held.
proclaimed a monarchy on 1 March 1934, with
Puyi assuming the throne
under the reign name of Emperor Kang-de.
Puyi was assisted in his
executive duties by a
Privy Council (Chinese: 參議府), and a
General Affairs State Council
General Affairs State Council (Chinese: 國務院). This State Council
was the center of political power, and consisted of several cabinet
ministers, each assisted by a Japanese vice-minister.
The commanding officer of the
Kwantung Army in
Manchukuo was also the
Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo. He functioned in a manner similar to
that of a British resident officer in British overseas protectorates,
with the power to veto decisions by the emperor. The Kwangtung Army
leadership placed Japanese vice ministers in his cabinet, while all
Chinese advisors gradually resigned or were dismissed.
Legislative Council (Chinese: 立法院) was largely a ceremonial
body, existing to rubber-stamp decisions issued by the State Council.
The only authorized political party was the government-sponsored
Concordia Association, although various émigré groups were permitted
their own political associations.
The American historian Louise Young noted that one of the most
striking aspects of
Manchukuo was that many of the young Japanese
civil servants who went to work in
Manchukuo were on the left, or at
least had once been. In the 1920s, much of the younger
intelligentsia in Japan had rejected their parents' values, and had
become active in various left-wing movements. Starting with the Peace
Preservation Law of 1925, which made the very act of thinking about
"altering the kokutai" a crime, the government had embarked on a
sustained campaign to stomp out all left-wing thought in Japan.
However, many of the bright young university graduates active in
left-wing movements in Japan were needed to serve as civil servants in
Manchukuo, which Young noted led the Japanese state to embark upon a
contradictory policy of recruiting the same people active in the
movements that it was seeking to crush. To rule Manchukuo, which
right from the start had a very etatist economy, the Japanese state
needed university graduates who were fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and
the 1920s-30s, many of the university graduates in Japan who knew
Mandarin were "progressives" involved in left-wing causes. The
fact that young Japanese civil servants in
Manchukuo with their
degrees in economics, sociology, etc., who had once been active in
left-wing movements helps explains the decidedly leftist thrust of
social and economic policies in
Manchukuo with the state playing an
increasingly large role in society. Likewise, much of the debate
between Japanese civil servants about the sort of social-economic
policies Japan should follow in
Manchukuo in the 1930s was framed in
Marxist terms, with the civil servants arguing over whatever Manchuria
prior to September 1931 had a "feudal" or a "capitalist" economy.
The American historian
Joshua Fogel wrote about the young servants of
Manchuko: "Tremendous debates transpired on such things as the nature
of the Chinese economy, and the lingua franca of these debates was
always Marxism". To resolve this debate, various research teams of
five or six young civil servants, guarded by detachments from the
Kwantung Army of about 20 or 30 men, went out to do field research in
Manchukuo, gathering material about the life of ordinary people, to
Manchukuo was in the "feudal" or "capitalist" stage of
development. Starting in 1936, the
Manchukuo state launched Five
Year Plans for economic development, which were closely modeled after
the Five Year Plans in the Soviet Union.
In Manchukuo, the Japanese were creating a brand new state that was in
theory independent, which meant that there were no limits upon the
sort of policies that the new state could carry out, and many
university graduates in Japan, who despite being opposed to the social
system that existed in Japan itself, went to work in Manchukuo,
believing that they could carry out reforms there that might inspire
similar reforms in Japan. This was especially the case since it
was impossible to effect any reforms in Japan itself as the very act
of thinking about "altering the kokutai" was a crime, which led many
leftist Japanese university graduates to go work in Manchukuo, where
they believed they could achieve the sort of social revolution that
was impossible in Japan. By 1933, the Japanese state had
essentially destroyed both the Japanese Socialist Party and the
Japanese Communist Party via mass arrests and
Tenkō with both parties
reduced down to mere rumps, which caused many Japanese student
leftists to draw the conclusion that change was impossible in Japan,
but still possible in Manchukuo, where paradoxically the Kwantung Army
was sponsoring the sort of policies that were unacceptable in
Japan. Moreover, the
Great Depression had made it very difficult
for university graduates in Japan to find work, which made the
prospect of a well-paying job in
Manchukuo very attractive to
otherwise underemployed Japanese university graduates. In
Manchukuo, the Japanese state was creating an entire state anew, which
Manchukuo had a desperate need for university graduates to
work in its newly founded civil service. In addition, the
Pan-Asian rhetoric of
Manchukuo and the prospect of Japan helping
ordinary people in
Manchuria greatly appealed to the idealistic youth
of Japan. Young wrote about the young
Japanese people who went to
work in Manchukuo: "The men, and in some cases, the women, who
answered the call of this land of opportunity, brought with them
tremendous drive and ambition. In their efforts to remake their own
lives, they remade an empire. They invested it with their
preoccupations of modernity and their dreams of an Utopian future.
They pushed it to embrace an idealist rhetoric of social reform and
justified itself in terms of Chinese nationalist aspiration. They
turned it to architectural ostentation and the heady luxury of
colonial consumption. They made it into a project of radical change,
experimentation and possibility".
Kwantung Army for its part tolerated the talk of social revolution
Manchukuo as the best way of gaining support from the Han majority
of Manchukuo, who did not want
Manchuria to be severed from China.
Even more active in going to
Manchukuo were the products of Tenkō
("Changing directions"), a process of brainwashing by the police of
left-wing activists to make them accept that the Emperor was a god
after all, whom they were best to serve.
Tenkō was a very
successful process that turned young Japanese who once been ardent
liberals or leftists who rejected the idea that the Emperor was a god
into fanatical rightists, who made up for their previous doubts about
the divinity of the Emperor with militant enthusiasm. One
tenkōsha was Tachibana Shiraki, who once been a Marxist Sinologist
who after his arrest and undergoing
Tenkō become a fanatical
right-winger. Tachibana went to
Manchukuo in 1932, proclaiming
that the theory of the "five races" working together was the best
solution to Asia's problems and argued in his writings that only Japan
China from itself, which was a complete change from his
previous policies, where he criticized Japan for exploiting China.
Other left-wing activists like Ōgami Suehiro did not undergo Tenkō,
but still went to work in Manchukuo, believing it was possible to
effect social reforms that would end the "semi-feudal" condition of
the Chinese peasants of Manchuko, and that he could use the Kwantung
Army to effect left-wing reforms in Manchukuo. Ōgami went to work
in the "agricultural economy" desk of the Social Research Unit of the
South Manchurian Railroad company, writing up reports about the rural
Manchukuo that were used by the
Kwantung Army and the
Manchukuo state. Ōgami believed that his studies helped ordinary
people, citing one study he did about water use in rural Manchukuo,
where he noted a correlation between villages that were deprived of
water and "banditry" (the codeword for anti-Japanese guerillas),
believing that the policy of improving water supply in villages was
due to his study. The outbreak of the war with
China in 1937
caused the state in
Manchukuo to grow even bigger as a policy of
"total war" came in, which meant there was a pressing demand for
people with university degrees trained to think "scientifically".
Fogel wrote that almost all of the university graduates from Japan who
Manchukuo in the late 1930s were "largely left-wing
Socialists and Communists. This was precisely at the time when Marxism
had been all but banned in Japan, when (as Yamada Gōichi put) if the
expression shakai (social) appeared in the title of a book, it was
Young also noted—with reference to Lord Acton's dictum that
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely"—that for many of the idealistic
young Japanese civil servants, who believed that they could effect a
"revolution from above" that would make the lives of ordinary people
better, that the absolute power that they enjoyed over millions of
people "went to their heads", causing them to behave with abusive
arrogance towards the very people that they had gone to
help. Young wrote that it was a "monumental conceit" of the part
of the young idealists to believe that they could use the Kwantung
Army to achieve a "revolution from above", when it was the Kwantung
Army that was using them. The ambitious plans for land reform in
Manchukuo were vetoed by the
Kwantung Army for precisely the reason
that it might inspire similar reforms in Japan. The landlords in
Japan tended to come from families who once belonged to the samurai
caste, and almost all of the officers in the Imperial Japanese Army
came from samurai families, which made the
Kwantung Army very hostile
towards any sort of land reform which might serve as an example for
Japanese peasants. In October 1941, the Soviet spy ring headed by
Richard Sorge was uncovered in Tokyo, which caused the authorities to
become paranoid about Soviet espionage, and led to new crackdown on
the left. In November 1941, the Social Research Unit of the South
Manchurian Railroad Company, which was well known as a hotbed of
Marxism since the early 1930s, was raided by the Kenpeitai, who
arrested 50 of those working in the Social Research Unit. At least
44 of those working in the Social Research Unit were convicted of
violating the Peace Preservation Law, which made thinking about
"altering the kokutai" a crime in 1942–43 and were given long prison
sentences, of whom four died due to the harsh conditions of prisons in
Manchukuo. As the men working in the Social Research Unit had
played important roles in Manchukuo's economic policy and were
university graduates from good families, the Japanese historian Hotta
Eri wrote that the
Kenpeitai were ordered to "handle them with care",
meaning no torture of the sort that the
Kenpeitai normally employed in
When the Japanese surrender was announced on 15 August 1945, Puyi
agreed to abdicate.
Head of State
Emperor of Manchukuo
His Imperial Majesty
1 March 1934
15 August 1945
Period of Reigns
Era names (年號) and their corresponding range of years
All given names in bold.
Puyi 愛新覺羅溥儀 Àixīnjuéluó Pǔyì
9 March 1932 – 15 August 1945
Datong (大同 Dàtóng) 1932–1934
Kangde (康德 Kāngdé) 1934–1945
Term of Office
9 March 1932
21 May 1935
21 May 1935
15 August 1945
Map of Manchukuo
Administrative divisions of
Manchukuo in 1938
In 1908, the number of residents was 15,834,000, which rose to
30,000,000 in 1931 and 43,000,000 for the
Manchukuo state. The
population balance remained 123 men to 100 women and the total number
in 1941 was 50,000,000. Other statistics indicate that in Manchukuo
the population rose by 18,000,000.
In early 1934, the total population of
Manchukuo was estimated as
30,880,000, with 6.1 persons the average family, and 122 men for each
100 women. These numbers included 29,510,000 Chinese (96%, which
should have included the Manchurian population), 590,760 Japanese
Koreans (2%), and 98,431 (<1%) of other nationality:
White Russians, Mongols, etc. Around 80% of the
population was rural. During the existence of Manchukuo, the ethnic
balance did not change significantly, except that Japan increased the
Korean population in China. From Japanese sources come these numbers:
in 1940 the total population in
Manchukuo of Lungkiang, Jehol, Kirin,
Liaoning (Fengtian) and Xing'an provinces at 43,233,954; or an
Interior Ministry figure of 31,008,600. Another figure of the period
estimated the total population as 36,933,000 residents. The majority
Han Chinese in
Manchukuo believed that
Manchuria was rightfully
part of China, who both passively and violently resisted Japan's
Manchukuo was a "multinational state".
Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War (1917–1922), thousands of Russians fled
Manchuria to join the Russian community already there. The Russians
Manchuria were stateless and as whites had an ambiguous
status in Manchukuo, which was meant to be a Pan-Asian state, whose
official "five races" were the Chinese, Mongols, Manchus,
Japanese. At various times, the Japanese suggested that the
Russians might be a "sixth race" of Manchukuo, but this was never
officially declared. In 1936, the
Manchukuo Almanac reported that
were 33,592 Russians living in the city of Harbin—the "Moscow of the
Orient"—and of whom only 5,580 had been granted Manchukuo
citizenship. Japanese imperialism was to a certain extent based on
racism with the Japanese as the "great Yamato race", but there was
always a certain dichotomy in Japanese thinking between an ideology
based on racial differences based on bloodlines versus the idea of
Pan-Asianism with Japan as the natural leader of all the Asian
peoples. Regardless, the Russians tended not to fit well into
Japan's project in Manchukuo.
The British writer Peter Fleming visited
Manchukuo in 1935, and while
riding a train through the countryside of Manchukuo, a group of
Japanese colonists mistook his Swiss girlfriend Kini for a Russian
refugee, and began to beat her up. It was only after Fleming was
able to prove to the Japanese that his girlfriend was Swiss, not
Russian, that the Japanese stopped and apologized, saying that they
would never had beaten her up if they had known she was Swiss, saying
that they sincerely believed she was a Russian when they assaulted
her. Fleming observed that in Manchukuo: "you can beat White
Russians up till you are blue in the face, because they are people
without status in the world, citizens of nowhere". Fleming further
noted that the Japanese in
Manchukuo had a strong dislike of all white
people, and because the Russians in
Manchukuo were stateless without
an embassy to issue protests if they were victimized, the Japanese
liked to victimize them. Until World War II, the Japanese tended
to leave alone those travelling to
Manchukuo with a passport as they
did not like to deal with protests from embassies in Tokyo about the
mistreatment of their citizens. The
Kwantung Army operated a
secret biological-chemical warfare unit based in Pinfang, Unit 731,
that performed gruesome experiments on people involving much
visceration of the subjects to see the effects of chemicals and germs
on the human body. In the late 1930s, the doctors of
Unit 731 demanded
more white subjects to experiment upon in order to test the efficiency
the strains of anthrax and plague that they were developing leading to
a great many of the Russians living in
Manchukuo becoming the
unwilling human guinea pigs of Unit 731. The Russian Fascist
Party, which worked with the Japanese was used to kidnap various
"unreliable" Russians living in
Unit 731 to experiment
The children of the Russian exiles often married Han Chinese, and the
resulting children were always known in
Manchukuo as "mixed water"
people, who were shunned by both the Russian and Chinese
communities. Chinese accounts, both at the time and later, tended
to portray the Russians living in
Manchuria as all prostitutes and
thieves, and almost always ignored the contributions made by
middle-class Russians to community life. Mindful of the way that
Americans and most Europeans enjoyed extraterritorial rights in China
at the time, accounts in Chinese literature about the Russians living
Manchukuo and their "mixed water" children often display a certain
schadenfreude recounting how the Russians in
Manchukuo usually lived
in poverty on the margins of
Manchukuo society with the local Chinese
more economically successful. The South Korean historian Bong
Inyoung noted when it came to writing about the "mixed water" people,
Chinese writers tended to treat them as not entirely Chinese, but on
the other hand were willing to accept these people as Chinese provided
that would totally embrace Chinese culture by renouncing their Russian
heritage, thus making Chineseness as much a matter of culture as of
Around the same time the
Soviet Union was advocating the Siberian
Jewish Autonomous Oblast
Jewish Autonomous Oblast across the Manchukuo-Soviet border, some
Japanese officials investigated a plan (known as the Fugu Plan) to
attract Jewish refugees to
Manchukuo as part of their colonisation
efforts which was never adopted as official policy.
The Japanese Ueda Kyōsuke labelled all 30 million people in Manchuria
as "Manchus", including Han Chinese, despite the fact that most of
them were not ethnic Manchu, and the Japanese written "Great
Manchukuo" built upon Ueda's argument to claim that all 30 million
Manchukuo had the right to independence to justify
Manchukuo from China. In 1942 the Japanese written "Ten
Year History of the Construction of Manchukuo" attempted to emphasize
the right of ethnic Japanese to the land of
Manchukuo while attempting
to delegitimize the Manchu's claim to
Manchukuo as their native land,
noting that most
Manchus moved out during the Qing period and only
Population of main cities
Niuzhuang (119,000 or 180,871 in 1940)
Mukden (339,000 or 1,135,801 in 1940)
Xinjing (126,000 or 544,202 in 1940)
Harbin (405,000 or 661,948 in 1940)
Dairen (400,000 or 555,562 in 1939)
Andong (92,000 or 315,242 in 1940)
Kirin (119,000 or 173,624 in 1940)
Tsitsihar (75,000 in 1940)
Source: Beal, Edwin G (1945). "The 1940 Census of Manchuria". The Far
Eastern Quarterly. 4 (3): 243. doi:10.2307/2049515.
In 1931–2, there were 100,000 Japanese farmers; other sources
mention 590,760 Japanese inhabitants. Other figures for Manchukuo
speak of a Japanese population 240,000 strong, later growing to
837,000. In Xinjing, they made up 25% of the population. Accordingly,
to the census of 1936, of the Japanese population of Manchuko, 22%
were civil servants and their families; 18% were working for the South
Manchurian Railroad company; 25% had come to
Manchukuo to establish a
business; and 21% had come to work in industry. The Japanese
working in the fields of transportation, the government, and in
business tended to be middle class, white collar people such as
executives, engineers, and managers, and those Japanese who working in
Manchukuo as blue collar employees tended to be skilled workers.
In 1934, it was reported that a Japanese carpenter working in
Manchukuo with its growing economy could earn twice as much as he
could in Japan. With its gleaming modernist office buildings,
state of the art transport networks like the famous Asia Express
railroad line, and modern infrastructure that was going up all over
Manchukuo, Japan's newest colony become a popular tourist destination
for middle-class Japanese, who wanted to see the "Brave New Empire"
that was going up in the mainland of Asia. The Japanese government
had official plans projecting the emigration of 5 million
Manchukuo between 1936 and 1956. Between 1938 and 1942 a
batch of young farmers of 200,000 arrived in Manchukuo; joining this
group after 1936 were 20,000 complete families. Of the Japanese
settlers in Manchukuo, almost half came from the rural areas of
Kyushu. When Japan lost sea and air control of the Yellow Sea in
1943–44, this migration stopped.
Red Army invaded Manchukuo, they captured 850,000 Japanese
settlers. With the exception of some civil servants and soldiers,
these were repatriated to Japan in 1946–7. Many Japanese orphans in
China were left behind in the confusion by the Japanese government and
were adopted by Chinese families. Many, however, integrated well into
Chinese society. In the 1980s Japan began to organise a repatriation
programme for them but not all chose to go back to Japan.[citation
The majority of Japanese left behind in
China were women, and these
Japanese women mostly married Chinese men and became known as
"stranded war wives" (zanryu fujin). Because they had children
fathered by Chinese men, the Japanese women were not allowed to bring
their Chinese families back with them to Japan, so most of them
stayed. Japanese law allowed children fathered only by Japanese to
become Japanese citizens.
Manchukuo itself was a product of illegality with the League
of Nations ruling that Japan had broken international law by seizing
Manchuria, the Japanese invested much effort into giving
legal system, believing that this was the fastest way for
international recognition of Manchukuo. A particular problem for
the Japanese was that
Manchukuo was always presented as a new type of
state: a multi-ethnic Pan-Asian state comprising Japanese, Koreans,
Mongols and Chinese to mark the birth of the "New Order in
Asia". Typical of the rhetoric surrounding Manchkuo was always
portrayed as the birth of a glorious new civilization was the press
release issued by the Japanese Information Service on 1 March 1932
announcing the "glorious advent" of
Manchukuo with the "eyes of the
world turned on it" proclaimed that the birth of
Manchukuo was an
"epochal event of far-reaching consequences in world history, marking
the birth of a new era in government, racial relations, and other
affairs of general interest. Never in the chronicles of the human race
was any State born with such high ideals, and never has any State
accomplished so much in such a brief space of its existence as
The Japanese went out of their way to try to ensure that
the embodiment of modernity in all of its aspects as
intended to prove to the world what the Asian peoples could accomplish
if they worked together. Manchukuo's legal system was based upon the
Organic Law of 1932, which featured a 12 article Human Rights
Protection Law and a supposedly independent judiciary to enforce the
law. The official ideology of
Manchukuo was the wangdao ("Kingly
Way") devised by a former mandarin under the Qing turned Prime
Zheng Xiaoxu calling for an ordered Confucian
society that would promote justice and harmony that was billed at the
time as the beginning of a new era in world history. The purpose
of the law in
Manchukuo was not the protection of the rights of the
individual as the wangdao ideology was expressly hostile towards
individualism, which was seen as a decadent Western concept inimical
to Asia, but rather the interests of the state by ensuring that
subjects fulfilled their duties to the emperor. The wangdao
favored the collective over the individual, as the wangdao called for
all people to put the needs of society ahead of their own needs.
Zheng together with the Japanese legal scholar Ishiwara
Kanji in a
joint statement attacked the Western legal tradition for promoting
individualism, which they claimed led to selfishness, greed and
materialism, and argued that the wangdao with its disregard for the
individual was a morally superior system. The seemingly idealistic
Human Rights Protection Law counterbalanced the "rights" of the
subjects with their "responsibilities" to the state with a greater
emphasis on the latter, just as was the case in Japan. The wangdao
promoted Confucian morality and spirituality, which was seen as coming
down from the Emperor Puyi, and as such the legal system existed to
serve the needs of the state headed by Emperor Puyi, who could change
the laws as he saw fit. In this regard it is noteworthy that
Legislative Yuan had only the power of assisting the Emperor with
making laws, being endowed with far less powers than even the Imperial
Diet in Japan had, which had the power to reject or approve laws. It
was often suggested at the time that the Legislative Yuan of Manchukuo
was a model for the Imperial Diet in Japan, an idea Hirohito, the
Japanese emperor, was sympathetic to, but never took up. Hirohito
in the end preferred the Meiji constitution passed by his grandfather
in 1889 as it gave the Emperor of Japan ultimate power while at the
same time the fiction of the Imperial Diet together with a Prime
Minister and his cabinet governing Japan gave the Emperor a scapegoat
when things went wrong.
Initially, the judges who had served the Zhangs were retained, but in
1934, the Judicial Law College headed by the Japanese judge Furuta
Masatake was opened in Changchun, to be replaced by a larger Law
University in 1937. Right from the start, the new applicants vastly
exceeded the number of openings as the first class of the Law College
numbered only 100, but 1,210 students had applied. The legal
system that the students were trained was closely modeled after the
Japanese legal system, which in its turn was modeled after the French
legal system, but there were a number of particularities unique to
Manchukuo. Law students were trained to write essays on such
topics as the "theory of the harmony of the five races [of
Manchukuo]", the "political theory of the Kingly Way", "practical
differences between consular jurisdiction and extraterritoriality",
and how best to "realize the governance of the Kingly Way". The
Japanese professors were "astonished" by the "enthusiasm" which the
students wrote their essays on these subjects as the students
expressed the hope that the wangdao was a uniquely Asian solution to
the problems of the modern world, and that
nothing less than the beginning of a new civilization that would lead
to a utopian society in the near-future. The Japanese professors
were greatly impressed with the Confucian idealism of their students,
but noted that their students all used stock phrases to the extent it
was hard to tell their essays apart, cited examples of wise judges
China while ignoring more recent legal developments, and
were long on expressing idealistic statements about how the wangdao
would lead to a perfect society, but were short on how explaining just
how this was to be done in practice.
An example of the extent of Japanese influence on the legal system of
Manchukuo was that every issue of the
Manchukuo Legal Advisory Journal
always contained a summary of the most recent rulings by the Supreme
Court of Japan, and the reasons why the Japanese Supreme Court had
ruled in these cases. However, there were some differences
Manchukuo and Japanese legal systems. In Japan itself,
corporal punishment had been abolished as part of the successful
effort to end the extraterritorial rights enjoyed by citizens of the
Western powers, but retained for the Japanese colonies of Korea and
Taiwan. However, corporal punishment, especially flogging, was a
major part of the
Manchukuo legal system with judges being very much
inclined to impose floggings on low-income Chinese men convicted of
minor offenses that would normally merit only a fine or a short prison
sentence in Japan. Writing in a legal journal in 1936, Ono
Jitsuo, a Japanese judge serving in Manchukuo, regretted having to
impose floggings as a punishment for relatively minor crimes, but
argued that it was necessary of Manchukuo's 30 million people "more
than half are ignorant and completely illiterate barbarians" who were
too poor to pay fines and too numerous to imprison. In Taiwan and
Korea, Japanese law was supreme, but judges in both colonies had to
respect "local customs" in regards to family law. In case of
Manchukuo, a place with a Han majority, but those ideology proclaimed
the "five races" of Japanese, Chinese, Koreans,
all equal, this led in effect to several family laws for each of the
"five races" respecting their "local customs" plus the Russian and Hui
Manchukuo police had the power to arrest without charge anyone who
was engaged in the vaguely defined crime of "undermining the
state". Mancukuo had an extensive system of courts at four levels
staffed by a mixture of Chinese and Japanese judges. All of the courts
had both two Japanese and two Chinese judges with the Chinese serving
as the nominal superior judges and the Japanese the junior judges, but
in practice the Japanese judges were the masters and the Chinese
judges puppets. Despite the claims that the legal system of
Manchukuo was a great improvement over the legal system presided over
Zhang Xueliang the "Young Marshal", the courts in Manchukuo
were inefficient and slow, and ignored by the authorities whenever it
suited them. In Asia, the rule of law and an advanced legal
system are commonly seen as one of the marks of "civilization", which
is why the chaotic and corrupt legal system run by Marshal Zhang was
denigrated so much by the Japanese and
Manchukuo media. In the
Manchukuo attracted much legal talent from Japan as
Japanese Pan-Asian idealists went to
Manchuria with the goal of
establishing a world-class legal system. As the Kwangtung Army
had the ultimate power in Manchukuo, the best Japanese judges by the
late 1930s preferred not go to
Manchukuo where their decisions could
be constantly second-guessed, and instead only the second-rate judges
went to Manchukuo. By 1937 the Japanese judges and lawyers in
Manchukuo were either disillusioned Pan-Asian idealists or more
commonly cynical opportunists and mediocre hacks who lacked the talent
to get ahead in Japan. By contrast, the best of the ethnic
Chinese law schools graduates in
Manchukuo chose to work as part of
Manchukuo's judicial system, suggesting many middle-class Chinese
families were prepared to accept Manchukuo.
Starting with the Religions Law of May 1938, a cult of Emperor-worship
closely modeled after the Imperial cult in Japan where
worshiped as a living god, began in Manchukuo. Just as in Japan,
schoolchildren began their classes by praying to a portrait of the
emperor while imperial rescripts and the imperial regalia become
sacred relics imbued with magical powers by being associated with the
god-emperor. As the Emperor
Puyi was considered to be a living
god, his will could not be limited by any law, and the purpose of the
law was starkly reduced down to serving the will of the emperor rather
than upholding values and rules. As in Japan, the idea governing
the legal philosophy in
Manchukuo was the Emperor was a living god who
was responsible to no-one and who delegated some of his powers down to
mere human beings who had the duty of obeying the will of the
god-emperors. In Japan and Manchukuo, the actions of the
god-emperors were always just and moral because gods could never do
wrong, rather than because the god-emperors were acting to uphold
moral values that existed a prior.
And again following the Japanese system, in 1937 a new category of
"thought crime" was introduced declaring that certain thoughts were
now illegal and those thinking these forbidden thoughts were "thought
criminals". People were thus convicted not for their actions, but
merely for their thoughts. After the war with
China began in July
1937, an "emergency law" was declared in Manchukuo, placing it under a
type of martial law that suspended the theoretical civil liberties
that existed up to that point, ordered the mobilization of society for
total war, and increased the tempo of repression with the law on
"thought crimes" being merely the most dramatic example. In April
1938, a new type of
Special Security Courts were created for those
charged with the five types of "thought crime". On 26 August
1941, a new security law ruled that those tried before the Special
Security Courts had no right of appeal or to a defense lawyer.
Special Security Court in
Jinzhou between 1942–45 sentenced
about 1,700 people to death and another 2,600 for life imprisonment
for "thought crimes", a figure that appears to be typical of the
special courts. The police frequently used torture to obtain
confessions and those tried in the
Special Security Courts had no
right to examine the evidence against them. Starting in 1943 the
number of those tried and convicted by the courts rose drastically,
through the number of death sentences remained stable. The rise
in the number of convictions was due to the need for slave labor for
the factories and mines of
Manchukuo as the traditional supplies of
slave labor from northern
China were disturbed by
World War II
World War II as most
of those convicted were sentenced to work in the factories and
mines. The American historian Thomas David Dubois wrote the legal
Manchukuo went through two phrases: the first lasting from
1931 to 1937, when the Japanese wanted to show the world a state with
an ultra-modern legal system that was meant to be a shining tribute to
Asians working together in brotherhood; and the second from 1937 to
1945 when the legal system become more of a tool for the totalitarian
mobilization of society for total war.
Main article: Economy of Manchukuo
See also: Central Bank of Manchou,
Manchukuo yuan, Manshukoku Hikoki
Seizo KK, Manshukoku Koku KK, Showa Steel Works, Manchurian Industrial
Development Company, and
Manchukuo Film Association
Shōwa Steel Works in the early 1940s
Manchukuo experienced rapid economic growth and progress in its social
systems. During the 1920s, the Japanese Army under the influence of
the Wehrstaat (Defense State) theories popular with the
started to advocate their own version of the Wehrstaat, the
totalitarian "national defense state" which would mobilize an entire
society for war in peacetime. An additional influence on the Japanese
"total war" school who tended to be very anti-capitalist was the First
Five Year Plan in the Soviet Union, which provided an example of rapid
industrial growth achieved without capitalism. At least part of the
reason why the
Kwangtung Army seized
Manchuria in 1931 was to use it
as an laboratory for creating an economic system geared towards the
"national defense state"; colonial
Manchuria offered up possibilities
for the army carrying out drastic economic changes that were not
possible in Japan. From the beginning, the Army intended to turn
Manchukuo into the industrial heartland of the empire, and starting in
1932, the Army sponsored a policy of forced industrialization that was
closely modeled after the Five Year Plan in the Soviet Union.
Reflecting a dislike of capitalism, the
Zaibatsu were excluded from
Manchukuo and all of the heavy industrial factories were built and
owned by Army-owned corporations. In 1935, there was a change when the
Nobusuke Kishi was appointed Deputy Minister of
Industrial Development. Kishi persuaded the Army to allow the zaibatsu
to invest in Manchukuo, arguing that having the state carry out the
entire industrialization of
Manchukuo was costing too much money.
Kishi pioneered an etatist system where bureaucrats such as himself
developed economic plans, which the zaibatsu had to then carry
out. Kishi succeeded in marshaling private capital in a very
strongly state-directed economy to achieve his goal of vastly
increased industrial production while at the same time displaying
utter indifference to the exploited Chinese workers toiling in
Manchukuo's factories; the American historian Mark Driscoll described
Kishi's system as a “necropolitical” system where the Chinese
workers were literally treated as dehumanized cogs within a vast
industrial machine. The system that Kishi pioneered in Manchuria
of a state-guided economy where corporations made their investments on
government orders later served as the model for Japan's post-1945
development, albeit not with same level of brutal exploitation as in
Manchukuo. By the 1930s, Manchukuo's industrial system was among
the most advanced making it one of the industrial powerhouses in the
region. Manchukuo's steel production exceeded Japan's in the late
1930s. Many Manchurian cities were modernised during the Manchukuo
era. However, much of the country's economy was often subordinated to
Japanese interests and, during the war, raw material flowed into Japan
to support the war effort. Traditional lands were taken and
redistributed to Japanese farmers with local farmers relocated and
forced into collective farming units over smaller areas of
Main article: South
The Japanese built an efficient and impressive railway system that
still functions well today. Known as the South
Manchuria Railway or
Mantetsu, this large corporation came to own large stakes in many
industrial projects throughout the region. Mantetsu personnel were
active in the pacification of occupied
China during World War II.
However, most railway lines in
Manchukuo were owned by the Manchukuo
National Railway, which, though theoretically independent, was managed
and operated entirely by Mantetsu.
See also: Kwantung Army
Cavalry of the
Manchukuo Imperial Army
Type 41 75 mm mountain gun
Type 41 75 mm mountain gun during an Imperial Army exercise
Manchukuo Imperial Army
Manchukuo Imperial Army was the ground component of the Empire of
Manchukuo's armed forces and consisted of as many as 170,000 to
220,000 troops at its peak in 1945 by some estimates, having
formally been established by the Army and Navy Act of 15 April
1932. The force included members of all the major ethnic groups
of Manchukuo, which were trained and led by Japanese instructors and
advisors. Despite the numerous attempts by the Japanese to improve the
combat capability of the Imperial Army and instill a Manchukuoan
patriotic spirit among its troops, the majority of its units were
regarded as unreliable by Japanese officers. Their main role was to
fight Nationalist and Communist insurgents that continued to resist
the Japanese occupation of northeastern China, and occasionally
Manchukuo Imperial Army
Manchukuo Imperial Army took part in operations against the
National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army and the Soviet
Red Army (usually
in support of the Imperial Japanese Army). Initially its members were
former soldiers of Marshal Zhang Xueliang's warlord army who had
surrendered to Japan during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.
But since the Young Marshal's former troops were largely not loyal to
the new regime and performed poorly against partisans, the new
Manchukuo took efforts to recruit—and later
draft—new soldiers. In 1934 a law was passed stating that only
those that had been trained by the government of
Manchukuo could serve
as officers. The Military Supplies Requisition Law of 13 May 1937
allowed Japanese and
Manchukuo authorities to draft forced
laborers. The actual calling up of conscripts for the army did
not begin until 1940, at which point all youths received a physical
and 10% were to be selected for service. Between 1938 and 1940,
several military academies were established to provide a new officer
corps for the Imperial Army, including a specific school for ethnic
After fighting against insurgents during the early to mid-1930s, the
Manchukuo Imperial Army
Manchukuo Imperial Army played mainly a supporting role during the
Inner Mongolia against Chinese forces, with news reports
stating that some Manchukuoan units performed fairly well. Later it
fought against the Soviet
Red Army during the Soviet–Japanese border
conflicts. A skirmish between Manchukuoan and Mongolian cavalry in May
1939 escalated as both sides brought in reinforcements and began the
Battle of Khalkhin Gol. Although they did not perform well in the
battle overall, the Japanese considered their actions decent enough to
warrant expansion of the
Manchukuo Army. Throughout the 1940s the
only action it saw was against Communist guerrilla fighters and other
insurgents, although the Japanese chose to rely only on the more elite
units while the majority were used for garrison and security duty.
Although Japan took the effort of equipping the Manchukuoan forces
with some artillery (in addition to the wide variety it had inherited
from Zhang Xueliang's army) along with some elderly tankettes and
armored cars, the cavalry was the Imperial Army's most effective
and developed branch. This was the force that was confronted by 76
Red Army divisions transferred from the European front
in August 1945 during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. The cavalry
branch saw the most action against the Red Army, but the Manchukuo
Army and their depleted Japanese
Kwantung Army allies were quickly
swept aside by the Soviet offensive. While some units remained loyal
to their Japanese allies and put up a resistance, many mutinied
against their Japanese advisors while others simply melted away into
the countryside. Many of these
Manchukuo Army troops would later join
the Communists since the Chinese Nationalists would execute former
collaborators with Japan, which became an important source of manpower
and equipment for the Communists in the region.
Manchukuo Imperial Air Force
Manchukuo Imperial Air Force pilots, 1942
The other two branches, the
Manchukuo Imperial Air Force
Manchukuo Imperial Air Force and the
Manchukuo Imperial Navy, were small and underdeveloped, largely
existing as token forces to give legitimacy to the
An Air Force was established in February 1937 with 30 men selected
Manchukuo Imperial Army
Manchukuo Imperial Army who were trained at the Japanese
Kwantung Army aircraft arsenal in
Harbin (initially the Kwantung Army
did not trust the Manchukuoans enough to train a native air force for
them). The Imperial Air Force's predecessor was the
Transport Company (later renamed the
Manchukuo National Airways), a
paramilitary airline formed in 1931, which undertook transport and
reconnaissance missions for the Japanese military. The first air unit
was based in
Hsinking (Changchun) and equipped with just one
Nieuport-Delage NiD 29
Nieuport-Delage NiD 29 and was later expanded with Nakajima Army Type
91 Fighters and
Kawasaki Type 88
Kawasaki Type 88 light bombers. Two more air units
were established, but they suffered a setback when one hundred pilots
took their aircraft and defected to insurgents after murdering their
Japanese instructors. Nonetheless three fighter squadrons were formed
in 1942 from the first batch of cadets, being equipped with Nakajima
Ki-27 fighters in addition to Tachikawa Ki-9s and Tachikawa Ki-55
trainers, along with some
Mitsubishi Ki-57 transports. In 1945,
because of American bombing raids, they were issued with Nakajima
Ki-43 fighters to have a better chance of intercepting B-29
Superfortresses. Some pilots saw action against the American bombers
and at least one Ki-27 pilot downed a B-29 by ramming his plane into
it in a kamikaze attack. The air force practically ceased to exist by
the Soviet invasion but there were isolated instances of Manchukuoan
planes attacking Soviet forces. The Imperial Navy of Manchukuo
existed mainly as a small river flotilla and consisted mainly of small
gunboats and patrol boats, both captured Chinese ships and some
Japanese additions. The elderly Japanese destroyer Kashi was lent to
the Manchukuoan fleet from 1937 to 1942 as the Hai Wei before
returning to the Imperial Japanese Navy. These ships were mostly
crewed by Japanese.
In addition to those, several special units that functioned outside of
the main command structure of the military also existed. The Manchukuo
Imperial Guard was formed out of soldiers of ethnic
charged with the protection of the Kangde Emperor (Puyi) and senior
officials, as well as to function as an honor guard. Despite this it
took part in combat and was considered to be an effective unit.
Throughout the 1930s a "Mongolian Independence Army" was established
out of about 6,000 ethnic Mongolian recruits and fought its own war
against bandits with some success. It was expanded in 1938 but merged
with the regular Imperial Army in 1940, although Mongol units
continued to perform well. A special Korean detachment was formed in
1937 on the personal initiative of a businessman of Korean descent.
The unit was small but distinguished itself in combat against
Communist guerrillas and was noted by the Japanese for its martial
spirit, becoming one of the few puppet units to earn the respect of
its Japanese superiors.
War crimes in Manchukuo
Main article: War crimes in Manchukuo
According to a joint study by historians Zhifen Ju, Mitsuyochi Himeta,
Toru Kubo and Mark Peattie, more than 10 million Chinese
civilians were mobilized by the
Kwangtung Army for slave labor in
Manchukuo under the supervision of the Kōa-in.
The Chinese slave laborers often suffered illness due to
high-intensity manual labor. Some badly ill workers were directly
pushed into mass graves in order to avoid the medical expenditure
and the world's most serious mine disaster, at Benxihu Colliery,
happened in Manchukuo.
Bacteriological weapons were experimented on humans by the infamous
Unit 731 located near
Harbin in Beinyinhe from 1932 to 1936 and to
Pingfan until 1945. Victims, mostly Chinese, Russians and Koreans,
were subjected to vivisection, sometimes without anesthesia.
Poppy harvest in Manchukuo
In 2007, an article by Reiji Yoshida in
The Japan Times
The Japan Times argued that
Japanese investments in
Manchukuo were partly financed by selling
drugs. According to the article, a document found by Yoshida shows
that the Kōa-in was directly implicated in providing funds to drug
China for the benefit of the puppet government of
Manchukuo, Nanjing and Mongolia. This document corroborates
evidence analyzed earlier by the
Tokyo tribunal which stated that
Japan's real purpose in engaging in drug traffic was far more sinister
than even the debauchery of Chinese people. Japan, having signed and
ratified the opium conventions, was bound not to engage in drug
traffic, but she found in the alleged but false independence of
Manchukuo a convenient opportunity to carry on a worldwide drug
traffic and cast the guilt upon that puppet state ... In 1937, it
was pointed out in the
League of Nations
League of Nations that 90% of all illicit white
drugs in the world were of Japanese origin ...
Society and Culture
Manchukuo developed an efficient public education system. The
government established many schools and technical colleges, 12,000
primary schools in Manchukuo, 200 middle schools, 140 normal schools
(for preparing teachers), and 50 technical and professional schools.
In total the system had 600,000 children and young pupils and 25,000
teachers. Local Chinese children and Japanese children usually
attended different schools, and the ones who did attend the same
school were segregated by ethnicity, with the Japanese students
assigned to better-equipped classes.
Confucius's teachings also played an important role in Manchukuo's
public school education. In rural areas, students were trained to
practice modern agricultural techniques to improve production.
Education focused on practical work training for boys and domestic
work for girls, all based on obedience to the "Kingly Way" and
stressing loyalty to the Emperor. The regime used numerous festivals,
sport events, and ceremonies to foster loyalty of citizens.
Eventually, Japanese became the official language in addition to the
Chinese taught in
Manchukuo schools.
The Photographic Division, part of the public relations section of the
South Manchurian Railway
South Manchurian Railway was created in 1928 to produce short
documentary films about
Manchuria to Japanese audiences. In 1937, the
Manchukuo Film Association
Manchukuo Film Association was established by the government and the
South Manchurian Railway
South Manchurian Railway in a studio in
Jilin province. It was founded
by Masahiko Amakasu, who also helped the career of Yoshiko Ōtaka,
also known as Ri Koran. He also tried to ensure that
have its own industry and would be catering mainly to Manchurian
audiences. The films for the most part usually promote pro-Manchukuo
and pro-Japanese views. Appropriately enough for the sham state of
Manchukuo, General Amakasu shot various "documentaries" showing
carefully choreographed scenes worthy of Hollywood of the Emperor Puyi
in his capital of
Hsinking (modern Changchun) being cheered by
thousands of his loving subjects and reviewing his troops marching in
parades that were intended to prove to the world that
real. After World War II, the archives and the equipment of the
association were used by the
Changchun Film Studio of the People's
Republic of China.
Changshan and the Qipao, both derived from traditional Manchu
dress, were considered national dresses in Manchukuo.
In a meeting with the Concordia Association, the organizers devised
what was termed Concordia Costume, or the kyōwafuku, in 1936. Even
Japanese such as
Masahiko Amakasu and
Kanji Ishiwara adopted it. It
was gray and a civilianized version of
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army uniform.
It was similar to the National Clothes (kokumin-fuku) worn by Japanese
World War II
World War II as well as the Zhongshan suit. A pin of
Manchukuo flag or a five-pointed, five colored star with the
Manchukuo national colors were worn on the collars. Court dress
resembled those of Meiji-era Japan at that time.
Manchukuo National Physical Education Association was established
in 1932 to promote sport.
Manchukuo also had a national football team, and football was
considered the country's de facto national sport; the Football
Manchukuo was formed around it.
Manchukuo hosted and participated in baseball matches with Japanese
teams. Some of the games of the
Intercity Baseball Tournament were
held in the country, and played with local teams.
Manchukuo was to compete in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games, but one of
the athletes who intended to represent Manchukuo, Liu Changchun,
refused to join the team and instead joined as the first Chinese
representative in the Olympics. There were attempts by Japanese
authorities to let
Manchukuo join the 1936 games, but the Olympic
Committee persisted in the policy of not allowing an unrecognized
state to join the Olympics.
Manchukuo had a chance to participate in
the planned 1940 Helsinki Olympics, but the onset of World War II
prevented the games from taking place.
Stamps and postal history
Main article: Postage stamps and postal history of Manchukuo
Manchukuo issued postage stamps from 28 July 1932 until its
dissolution following the surrender of the
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan in August
1945. The last issue of
Manchukuo was on 2 May 1945.
In popular culture
In Masaki Kobayashi's The Human Condition (1959), Kaji, the main
protagonist, is a labor supervisor assigned to a workforce consisting
of Chinese prisoners in a large mining operation in Japanese-colonized
Bernardo Bertolucci's 1987 film
The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor presented a portrait
Manchukuo through the memories of Emperor Puyi, during his days as
a political prisoner in the People's
Republic of China.
Haruki Murakami's 1995 novel
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle deals greatly
Manchukuo through the character of Lieutenant Mamiya. Mamiya
recalls, in person and in correspondence, his time as an officer in
Kwantung Army in Manchukuo. While the period covered in these
recollections extends over many years, the focus is on the final year
of the war and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
The 2008 South Korean western
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
The Good, the Bad, the Weird is set in
the desert wilderness of 1930s Manchuria.
Part of a series on the
History of Manchuria
Sima Jin dynasty
Jurchen Jin dynasty
Northern Yuan dynasty
Republic of China
Far Eastern Republic
China (Northeast China)
Russia (Outer Manchuria)
Battle of Lake Khasan
Collaborationist Chinese Army
Evacuation of Manchukuo
History of the
Republic of China
List of East Asian leaders in the Japanese sphere of influence
Manchukuo Temporary Government
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army
Soviet invasion of Manchuria
^ Although the territories came under the jurisdiction of the
Nationalist government before the
Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War came to its
conclusion in 1949, the brief Soviet occupation helped transform the
region into a power base for the Chinese Communist troops led by Mao
Zedong where the
People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army could resupply itself with
Japanese equipment and gain strategic advantage against the
Nationalist government headed by Chiang Kai-shek.
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Mitter, Rana. The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and
Collaboration in Modern
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Coordinates: 43°53′N 125°19′E / 43.883°N 125.317°E /