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World War II

Establishment of Manchukuo

The power of the military grew when, in September 1931, without the knowledge or approval of the civil government, members of the Imperial Army unit stationed in Manchuria--the Guandong, or Kwantung, Army--dynamited a short section of the South Manchurian Railway near Shenyang (called Mukden by the Japanese). Blaming the incident on Chinese saboteurs, the Guandong Army declared a state of emergency and quickly occupied all the principal cities in the region. In March 1932, this army formed the puppet state of Manchukuo (see The Rise of the Militarists , ch. 1). At home, this quick and inexpensive victory greatly increased the confidence of the young nationalist officers who could rightly claim credit for it, but other officers were sobered by the precedent for insubordination. Their apprehension was well founded: in the early 1930s, a series of assassinations and conspiracies occurred within the nation and the armed forces. In 1936 a force from the Tokyo garrison rose in open revolt. Although the rebels were suppressed on orders from the emperor, the stage was set for more radical military leaders to assume gradual control of the government, a process that was completed by 1940 and lasted until a few weeks before Japan's 1945 surrender in World War II.

Data as of January 1994