Kwantung Army


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Kwantung Army

 

a grouping of Japanese troops formed for aggression against China, the USSR, and the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR).

The Kwantung Army was formed in 1931 on the basis of troops stationed in the province of Kwantung (southwest tip of the Liaotung Peninsula to the Gulf of Kwantung). On Sept. 18, 1931, the Kwantung Army treacherously attacked China and by early 1932 had occupied China’s northeastern province, Manchuria, where the puppet state of Manchukuo was established on Mar. 9, 1932; it became virtually a colony of the Japanese imperialists and a base of operations for the subsequent aggression. These events were the beginning of a series of armed conflicts with neighboring states provoked by the Japanese militarists. While expanding their aggression in China, the Japanese imperialists tried at the same time to test the strength of the Soviet Far Eastern frontiers and to capture convenient staging grounds for the future invasion of the USSR and the MPR. The strength of the Kwantung Army was gradually increased, reaching eight divisions (about 200, 000 men) by 1938 and 12 divisions (about 300, 000 men) in 1940.

In the summer of 1938 the Kwantung Army invaded the USSR near Lake Khasan; in 1939 a still greater provocation was staged against the Soviet Union and the MPR at the Khalkin-Gol River, but the Kwantung Army was defeated in both conflicts. In 1941, when the Soviet people were locked in a bitter struggle with fascist Germany, the Kwantung Army, in accordance with the Japanese Kantokuen plan, was deployed along the Manchurian frontier and in Korea for an attack against the USSR, waiting for a convenient moment to begin combat operations, as determined by the outcome of the war on the Soviet-German front. Between 1941 and 1943 there were from 15 to 16 Japanese divisions, with a strength of about 700, 000 men, in Manchuria and Korea.

At the beginning of the campaign of the Soviet armed forces in the Far East (Aug. 9, 1945), the Kwantung Army was composed of the First Front (Third and Fifth armies), the Third Front (Thirtieth and Forty-fourth armies), the 17th Front (Thirty-fourth and Fifty-ninth armies), a separate army (the Fourth), two air armies (the Second and the Fifth), and the Sungari Fleet. In addition, it had operational command over the army of Manchukuo, the troops of Inner Mongolia (of Prince Tieh), and the Suiyiian Army Group. The total strength of the Kwantung Army and the troops under its command was 37 infantry and seven cavalry divisions; 22 infantry, two tank, and two cavalry brigades (a total of 1, 320, 000 men); 1, 155 tanks; 6, 260 guns, 1, 900 aircraft; and 25 vessels. The Kwantung Army also had bacteriological weapons to be used against the Soviet armed forces. After the defeat of the Kwantung Army in the Manchurian Operation of 1945, Japan lacked effective forces and capability for the continuation of the war and signed the act of unconditional surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.

REFERENCES

Final, 2d ed. Moscow, 1969.
Hayashi, Saburo. Iaponskaia armiia v voennykh deistviiakh na Tikhom okeane. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)

N. V. ERONIN

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