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Why did Japan Empire prefer to not attack Soviet Union in 1941?


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Yamaxanadu #1 Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:51 AM

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In the end of 1941 year Soviet Union was in most dare situation in all Great Patriotic War: Nazy Germany was near Moscow and had all chances to win Battle of Moscow if the Japan Empire back-stabbed Soviet Union. So why Japanese Military didn't fulfill their alliance with Nazi? USSR historians (that I've read) made three major theories:
  • Japanese were not fools. They knew that Nazi had major trouble with Red Army so they thought that no matter what Soviet Union would eventually defeat Germany. After that Russians would seek revenge on their Eastern borders.
  • There were too small gain for too much cost in blood and resources for Japan Empire if Japanese attacked Soviet Far East. And there was possibility that USA would back-stab Japan Empire for such an action.
  • Japanese military doubted their army ability (and morale) to beat Far East Red Army after defeats on Lake Hassan and  Khalkhin Gol in the past.

I wonder what about it was written in Europe. And what do Europeans think about it?

Ecotech #2 Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:08 AM

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The sad thruth of it is that Japan had its hands pretty much full with trying to contain China. Which it kinda failed at doing. Then, attacking the Soviet Union from the east has a major disadvantage: time and space. The Soviet Union has a lot of it. So the Empire of Japan could have attacked and could have advanced into the Soviet Union - but to achieve exactly what? Pretty much nothing, since the distances involved are enormous.

kentoong #3 Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:24 AM

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http://www.historyne...halkhin-gol.htm

Both of them dont see eye to eye... for a long time.

Japan has long history on battle with the Russians...  

Japan had learn that they must fight a war with better winning rate.
And South-east Asia are more vulnerable at that moment.

Warenwolf #4 Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:24 AM

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After Khalkhin Gol battles, Japanese Army faction lost prestige to the Japanese Navy faction (and their plans for southern expansion). Already waging decade long war in Kina with no prospects of a victory, Japan was in no mood for opening another front in the north against an enemy that beat them in Khalkin Gol. As all this is happening, the relationships with USA were plummeting and Japan was not keen on two front war. Two years later, in 1941, when Operation Barbarossa is happening the empire of Japan is already deeply engaged in preparations for the attack on the Pearl Harbor and other allied bases. The conflict with with European colonial powers is also soon to happen since Japan is about to attack their colonies.

This is what I learned in school. Generally this historical detail was not focused on.

A historian or a student of history will probably have far more detailed knowledge about the events.

jubeth90 #5 Posted 27 April 2012 - 09:50 AM

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Little off-topic from off-topic... At least my old Russian friend told it way different. :P But hey Russians blame still us Finns of attacking them >_>

Listy #6 Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:04 AM

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View PostWarenwolf, on 27 April 2012 - 08:24 AM, said:

After Khalkhin Gol battles, Japanese Army faction lost prestige to the Japanese Navy faction (and their plans for southern expansion). Already waging decade long war in Kina with no prospects of a victory, Japan was in no mood for opening another front in the north against an enemy that beat them in Khalkin Gol. As all this is happening, the relationships with USA were plummeting and Japan was not keen on two front war. Two years later, in 1941, when Operation Barbarossa is happening the empire of Japan is already deeply engaged in preparations for the attack on the Pearl Harbor and other allied bases. The conflict with with European colonial powers is also soon to happen since Japan is about to attack their colonies.

This is what I learned in school. Generally this historical detail was not focused on.

A historian or a student of history will probably have far more detailed knowledge about the events.

Pretty much, there are slight differences when you read into it.

In the 30's the Kwantung army acted very badly. Disobeying or deliberately misunderstanding the AGS commands, even on some occasions screening communiques or getting out of the office before the paper work was logged (So they wouldn't have to see it). On one occasion during the Nomonhan incident it took a Direct order from the Emperor saying "Don't you even dare think of escalating!" to stop them.

After the Nomonhan incident the Japanese carried out an inquiry and stripped the Kwantung army most of its power. It also, as you said discredited the Go North Group.

By 1941 the Kwantung army was no longer what it once had been. Although the manpower had increased massively, these were conscripts with very little heavy weaponry. Most of the Veteran units and well equipped forces had been taken away. You'll often see forces that you recognise from the 1930's in China appearing in Burma.
Equally the Japanese's first experience of winter fighting was during Nomonhan, which came as a nasty shock to them, along with the woeful logistics position they were in during the incident.

Finally, don't let the propaganda fool you. The Russians kept sizeable forces in Siberia facing off against the Japanese. The Japanese did keep track of this, and monitored the forces moving along the trans-Siberian railway, and at no point did the force levels actually drop to a point were it was feasible. They Knew they could get some distance into Mongolia and Siberia, but would then stall.

theta0123 #7 Posted 27 April 2012 - 02:58 PM

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Russia kept indeed very sizable forces untill 1942. And japan made it clearly they will not attack the soviet union.

There was also, very very little to gain for japan by invading russia.

Catarraz #8 Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:08 PM

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Not to mention that soon after they attacked the US, there was a morbid, yet realistic skepticism in the Japanese high-command that they would need all as much troops as possible to contain the americans, with very little  chance of victory against them.
There was a Japanese figure which said "we (they) have awoken a dragon". They surely wouldn't waste manpower at that point with such a front they at least hoped the germans would be able to mop up. They only realized USSR would probably defeat Germany at a time they wouldn't even consider wasting troops disturbing yet another giant.
Even before the war against the USA, after the non-aggression pact by Germany to the USSR, the latter defeated japanese troops in a number of occasions in the far east front, making it clear after they signed their own non-aggresison pact with the USSR that they should not bother an enemy that could defeat them in battle fairly easily, and prefered to leave them to the germans.
The southern areas of the pacifc where indeed richer in war vital resources and easier to contain than the russian front.
So yeah, the japanese pretty much had their hands tied throughout the whole war, with enemies all around them.

Sotahullu #9 Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:31 PM

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View Posttheta0123, on 27 April 2012 - 02:58 PM, said:

Russia kept indeed very sizable forces untill 1942. And japan made it clearly they will not attack the soviet union.

There was also, very very little to gain for japan by invading russia.


Also, there was issue of the terrain where it was mostly plains and wasteland whic heavily favorite forces whic had better mobility and Japan couldnt afford. Soviets doctrine centered around this kind terrain.

And making it worse, this terrain wasn't good for defending (no natural defences or lines) and it was almost impossible to make traditional defence line. But luckily, Germans developed tactic where instead of line, it was more like box around of some terrain or city to anchor battlelines. Tis proved to more effective than normal line defence but because of sheer quantity of men, Soviet's spearheads just bypassed these points and left second-line infantry take down those points. Some cities we're just wipeout, literally.

theta0123 #10 Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:49 PM

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View PostSotahullu, on 27 April 2012 - 03:31 PM, said:

Also, there was issue of the terrain where it was mostly plains and wasteland whic heavily favorite forces whic had better mobility and Japan couldnt afford. Soviets doctrine centered around this kind terrain.

And making it worse, this terrain wasn't good for defending (no natural defences or lines) and it was almost impossible to make traditional defence line. But luckily, Germans developed tactic where instead of line, it was more like box around of some terrain or city to anchor battlelines. Tis proved to more effective than normal line defence but because of sheer quantity of men, Soviet's spearheads just bypassed these points and left second-line infantry take down those points. Some cities we're just wipeout, literally.
However, germanies plan of tactic eventually failed because it was impossible to keep up the same strenght and pace against a constant getting stronger russian opponent

Warfare is something odd. But it has learned some things=
-never invade russia
-never invade china
-Never invade finland

BattleMetalChris #11 Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:05 PM

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View Posttheta0123, on 27 April 2012 - 03:49 PM, said:

-Never invade finland

Isn't Finland the only country ever to have been on the losing side in every war it's ever been in, ever?

Warenwolf #12 Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:24 PM

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View Posttheta0123, on 27 April 2012 - 03:49 PM, said:

-never invade russia

Mongols would ask "why?". Vikings would also share the Mongol sentiment.


View Posttheta0123, on 27 April 2012 - 03:49 PM, said:

-never invade china

Colonial powers of 1800s would laugh at that idea. Mongols would say "Huh?"


View Posttheta0123, on 27 April 2012 - 03:49 PM, said:

-Never invade finland

Actually they lost the war against Soviet. Soviet forces preformed...horribly... to put it politely but they eventually managed to occupy and hold the territory they desired.
As to Mongols? They would conclude that their horses cannot graze in finland and just say "why bother?"

Listy #13 Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:11 PM

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View PostBattleMetalChris, on 27 April 2012 - 05:05 PM, said:

Isn't Finland the only country ever to have been on the losing side in every war it's ever been in, ever?

Can't help you there, but Norway  managed to get invaded by both sides.

Sotahullu #14 Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:31 PM

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View PostWarenwolf, on 27 April 2012 - 05:24 PM, said:

Actually they lost the war against Soviet. Soviet forces preformed...horribly... to put it politely but they eventually managed to occupy and hold the territory they desired.
As to Mongols? They would conclude that their horses cannot graze in finland and just say "why bother?"

1. Finland was only country in Europe wic fought against USSR and didn't got annex or turn into communist country.

2. Soviet did fight bravely during Continuation War but against properly organise artillery, intelligence and cooperation between German and Finnish troops, we did hold them of.

3. I don't get tose Mongol joke althought they did conquer much of the Asia...

Tigger3 #15 Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:44 PM

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View PostSotahullu, on 27 April 2012 - 06:31 PM, said:

1. Finland was only country in Europe wic fought against USSR and didn't got annex or turn into communist country.

Arn't you forgetting a little country called Austria. Occupied by the four powers who then left it alone.

Tigger3 #16 Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:48 PM

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View PostYamaxanadu, on 27 April 2012 - 07:51 AM, said:

In the end of 1941 year Soviet Union was in most dare situation in all Great Patriotic War: Nazy Germany was near Moscow and had all chances to win Battle of Moscow if the Japan Empire back-stabbed Soviet Union. So why Japanese Military didn't fulfill their alliance with Nazi? USSR historians (that I've read) made three major theories:

The German-Japanese agreement was to go to each others aid if they were attacked.

Germany attacked the Soviet Union so Japan was under no obligation to declare war on the Soviets.

Likewise Japan attacked the US so Germany was under no obligation to declare on the US

Seems Hitler was under the impression though that if he declared on the US the Japanese would reciprocate and declare on the Soviets.

More fool him.

Sotahullu #17 Posted 27 April 2012 - 09:27 PM

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View PostTigger3, on 27 April 2012 - 08:44 PM, said:

Arn't you forgetting a little country called Austria. Occupied by the four powers who then left it alone.

... and last I check, it didn't fight and it was taken over German by sneaky political trick? So, no. It doens't count.

Tigger3 #18 Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:32 PM

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View PostSotahullu, on 27 April 2012 - 09:27 PM, said:

... and last I check, it didn't fight and it was taken over German by sneaky political trick? So, no. It doens't count.

Cough cough, erm it became part of the Reich, the Austrian Armed Forces were absorbed into the Wehrmacht, its troops fought against the Allies.

After the war it was split off from Germany and occupied by all four powers who left with assurances it would remain neutral.

It fought as part of the German Forces against the Soviet Union yet according to you does not count as a nation at war??

Now I would have said that the Danes, Norweigians, French, Spanish, Belgiums, etc etc etc would not count as nations because they were volunteers who fought against communism.

By the way I gave you one out so I will just have to say Italy as well, even though it had some very strange left wing to communist governments it was hardly considered communist.

Yamaxanadu #19 Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:41 PM

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View PostWarenwolf, on 27 April 2012 - 05:24 PM, said:

Mongols would ask "why?"
Why? I think it because 60% of Mongol Empire is part of Russian Federation now. =)

Popovic123 #20 Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:52 PM

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View PostYamaxanadu, on 27 April 2012 - 10:41 PM, said:

Why? I think it because 60% of Mongol Empire is part of Russian Federation now. =)

Russia back then (800 years ago) is not what it is now.
And yeah, these guys conquered EVERYTHING that was in their path, and which they really wanted to conquer.




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