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Why Was The League Of Nations Unable To Stop Japan Taking Over Manchuria In The 1930s?

1702 words - 7 pages

The League of Nations was an international organisation formed in 1920 with its primary objective being to uphold world peace and promote collective security. This was based on the idea that if one of the League’s members was invaded, the other countries would stand up against the aggressor together. The League had a variety of successes, including settling the Aaland Islands dispute between Sweden and Finland, as well as failures, such as the Corfu incident between Greece and Italy.

The main reason Japan took over Manchuria was because it did not want to fall victim to the vast European Empires at the time and be conquered. Instead, it was looking to be on par with major European nations such as Britain and France. As a result, it tried to expand its empire and had already taken control of Korea in 1876. In 1931, Japan invaded a North-eastern region of China – Manchuria. Manchuria was rich in resources and shared borders with Russia and Mongolia. Because both Japan and China were members of the League, China turned to the League for support and collective security. However, 20th century China was a country in decline and not considered a major country globally. In contrast, Japan was seen as the League’s most powerful member in the Far East and a permanent member of the League sitting in the League Council – which had full authority to make decisions, while China was not.

There are several reasons why the League of Nations was unable to stop Japan from taking over Manchuria. Firstly, most of the respected countries in the League were powerful European nations such as Britain, France, Italy and Germany. Because the League had no army of its own, an army would be gathered from its member nations should it go to war. If war was to occur, all of these European countries would have to contribute a substantial amount of their military to forming an army to represent the League. In 1931, it was slightly over a decade after the end of the First World War (WW1) and the Treaty of Versailles, and most countries were unwilling to go to war again.

Furthermore, after the Great Depression in 1929, almost all the countries of the world had crippled economies and even in 1931, were struggling to recover from this economic catastrophe. As a result, there were many domestic problems within countries such as poverty and unemployment. This led to many countries practising protectionism, in which the benefit of their own country would come before foreign affairs. Because the European countries faced no real threat by Japan due to it not being in close proximity, they were not interested in foreign affairs and did not want to waste resources on a war. Therefore, the League was unable to take much action because its main members had no intention in taking action.

Although all these countries did not care about the dispute between Japan and China in Manchuria, they had very different reasons for feeling so. Firstly, Britain had established friendly relations with...

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