A fruitful victim

“Historians of Asia assert that the Second World War properly began in China, rather than Poland. In 1931 Japan almost bloodlessly seized Manchuria—the north-eastern Chinese provinces, an area twice the size of Britain, with a population of thirty-five million people, hitherto ruled by an old warlord in uneasy cohabitation with a Japanese garrison—to secure its coal, raw materials, industries and strategic rail links. The Nationalist government based in Nanjing was too weak to offer resistance. The following year, Tokyo announced Manchuria’s transformation into the puppet state of Manchukuo, nominally ruled by the Manchu emperor Pu Yi, in practice by a Japanese-controlled prime minister, and garrisoned by Japan’s so-called Guandong Army. The Japanese perceived themselves as merely continuing a tradition established over centuries by Western powers in Asia—that of exploiting superior might to extend their home industrial and trading bases.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

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