Japan And The Soviet Union

Discussion in 'General' started by Blue Note, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. Blue Note

    Blue Note Junior Member

    I am reading the book "WWII for Dummies," which despite the name is a pretty good read. I recommend it for anyone who wants a good overview of the war. Anyway, I'm a bit confused about a certain passage I read today. It describes how "Japan had to accomodate the Soviet Union in order to keep them out of the war." It goes on to say:

    Although they had a non-aggression pact with the USSR, the Japanese feared that as the Soviets grew stronger, they would turn against Japan, which seemed to be growing weaker and more vulnerable to attack. Thus, the Japanese made no effort to limit the Soviets from taking units from the Chinese border and sending them to fight against the Germans."

    I'm assuming that "taking units" above means "moving Soviet troops." Why would Japan want to stop the Soviets from moving their troops from the Chinese border to fight the Germans, as the book implies? Thanks.
  2. spidge


    I'm assuming that "taking units" above means "moving Soviet troops." Why would Japan want to stop the Soviets from moving their troops from the Chinese border to fight the Germans, as the book implies? Thanks.

    Hi Bluenote,

    On June 22nd 1941 Hitler's Operation Barbarossa commenced and in very short time pushed to the outskirts of Moscow before Stalin could successfully launch a counter offensive.

    The Russian's & Japanese were not "at war", they were disputing territory in both outer Mongolia & Manchuria. The Russians moving troops from this area, (although in the end a little late to be part of the offensive against the Germans) allayed fears of a Russian invasion and therefore allowed the Japanese to move their troops to deal with the looming all out threat from the United States in the Autumn of 1942.


    1. Churchill convinced the U.S. after all Axis countries declared war on the U.S. that victory in Europe was paramount and an example of the "cohesion" of the allied parties concerned at that time. (Washington Dec. 22, 1941-Jan. 14, 1942).

    2. Japan's aims were different to those of Hitler's Germany and resources of both were such after the U.S. entered the conflict that their was none to spare from either to assist the other.

    3. "If" Japan had not attacked Pearl Harbor at the time they did and invaded Russia together with Germany, Russia "theoretically" could have been defeated.

    4. The battle of the Coral Sea May7&8 1942 succeeded in forcing the Japanese to retire from both Tulagi in the Solomons & the Louisades which was to be their launchng pad to Australia. With the arrival of the Australian 18th Brigade in PNG, Allied troops in the Milne Bay area inflicted the first defeat of a Japanese land force in the Second World War. Less than one month later at Midway, Japans ability to wage an effective and continual war was in tatters.

    5. The Japanese were now stretched to capacity and eventually had to give up any thought of further penetration to either Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu, New Caledonia & French Polynesia or everything between the equator and 30 degrees south latitude in the Pacific. The denial of Port Moresby in PNG was a further nail in the coffin of the Japanese.

    Also remember that after the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States declared war on Japan only. (FDR did still not have a mandate to enter the European conflict.) Though they had no need to do so, Germany & Italy's declaration of war against the United States 4 days later, aligned the world's greatest economic and military power against them and virtually ensured their eventual defeat.

  3. hunter07

    hunter07 Junior Member

    On April 13 1941 Russian and Japan signed a noninvasion treaty but since the start of war with Germany Stalin did not trust Japanese government.
    Stalin did not want to fight the war on two fronts but he was forced to keep substantial military presents in the far east in case the invasion did happen. Here is a link to a pretty good article that talks about Soviet Spy who recruited German officer Stennes who in turn delivered the information that Japan was not going to invade Soviet Union. http://english.pravda.ru/society/2003/02/11/43255.html As it says in the article this information was later confirmed by Richard Zorge, another Soviet spy.
    After Stalin found out that Japan was not going to invade Soviet Union he moved much needed reserves to defend Moscow.
  4. smc66

    smc66 Member

    I'd also add that the clash at Nomonhan (Khulkin Ghul) in the summer of 1939 was carried out by the Japanese sponsored Manchurian Army acting independently from Japan. The defeat pulled them back into their government's orbit. However, Stalin being the suspicious and paranoid dictator that he was kept his forces (which included well equipped and trained units) until he was doubly and triply sure they Japanese were not going to stab him in the back once his was turned.

    Secondly, the bloody nose the Japanese received at Nomonhan coloured their perception of the Soviet forces. They had faced the better trained and equipped ones under Zhukov, so despite promptings from Hitler that the Soviet army was on the point of collapse, Japanese experience had proved different. On the other hand this danger from the Soviets meant large Japanese forces were tied up in guarding that frontier right until the end of the war.

    Thirdly, as one poster has already stated Japanese aims were to secure all the resources it needed, initially they favoured the undeveloped northern areas of Siberia (much like Japanes and Korean industry are investing in peacefully at the moment), however, their failure to secure this meant they looked elsewhere, southwards into the Pacific and into what the Americans perceived as their sphere of influence.

    If anything Nomonhan is one of the most important battles of the Second World War despite it taking place before the European conflagration started as it left the Soviet eastern frontier secure enabling it to eventually concentrate on Germany's invasion alone, and it forced the Japanese into the Pacific and their decision to try and knock out the Americans at Pearl Harbor and ultimately bringing that nation into a war that they may not have joined.
  5. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Bluenote, welcome to the boards, and do tell us abuot yourself!

    All the above posts are excellent about Nomonhan or Khalkin-Gol. The battle was decisive, and it's ironic that a battle that helped decide WW2 was fought a day before the war started.

    However, the Japanese were reluctant to head north, despite repeated German urgings, for obvious reasons. They'd been burned once, and didn't want to get burned again.

    An interesting note about that battle, that I found: Japanese troops surrendered when surrounded by the Soviets. That didn't happen again until late in the war.
  6. Blue Note

    Blue Note Junior Member

    Thanks for welcoming me to the boards. I'll probably be asking more questions than I answer as I'm a relative rookie to WWII history. I'm 26, M, Missouri, USA in case you were wondering. I've been interested in WWII since seeing Saving Private Ryan a few years back.

    Thanks also for the excellent and informative replies. I see that WWII for Dummies is way out of your guys' league! However, I'm still a bit confused by the paragraph I quoted; perhaps it's poorly written or I'm just missing something. The confusing part says "the Japanese made no effort to limit the Soviets from taking units from the Chinese border and sending them to fight against the Germans."

    I guess what I want to know is this: Under what circumstances would Japan try to stop the Soviets from transferring units to fight the Germans? I mean, the Japanese obviously want less Soviet troops there, so why would the author make that statement? Also, for context, the book is discussing events of the year 1943.
  7. spidge


    Hi Bluenote,

    I firmly believe the context of his statement was relative to the mexican stand off if you like.

    Whether it was 1941,2,3,or 4, the Japanese/Russians would apply enough troops to counter or defend attack.

    If the Japanese were moving forward and the Russians believed they were going to attack (intelligence etc), they would move troops to defend their line.

    In the same context, with the non aggression pact at that time, the Russians could see that the Japanese were not massing troops on the border (over and above the numbers present previously so they could remove troops to be utilised elsewhere).

    By limiting attention to the border regions, they (Japan) "allayed" the suspicions of Stalin and simply did not make a rod for their own back.

    When Russia did eventually attack Japan (according to Stalins' agreement with the other allied countries), WW2 was virtually over and the Japanese could not do much about it.
  8. spidge


    Hi Bluenote,
  9. Blue Note

    Blue Note Junior Member

    Thanks, Spidge. It makes more sense now. I like that analogy of the Mexican standoff. We recently had one of those here in the US at the Mexican border involving a vigilante group and some Mexican troops! But this one was over illegal immigrants. The name still holds true, I suppose.
  10. ryobreak

    ryobreak Junior Member

    Well, the Japanese had previously won against Russia in the Russo-Japanese war a few decades before they entered WWII.

    I believe Japan would have invaded Russia if they had a sufficient supply of men, arms, and vehicles, as well as the much-needed oil. With reinforcements needed for divisions in the Japanese kwantang army and those stated in the puppet-state Manchukuo, as well as the need for supplies for the force headed to Rangoon, the Japanese would probably not have wanted to make another gamble.

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