Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Manchuria (Page 1 of 2)

Episode 237 – Princess, Lover, Soldier, Spy

This week, we take on the scintillating story of the Manchurian princess Kawashima Yoshiko, who grew up in Japan before becoming an agent for Japanese intelligence.

 

Sources

Birnbaum, Phyllis. Manchu Princess, Japanese Spy.

Cheung, Ester, et al. A Companion to Hong Kong Cinema.

Fogel, Joshua. Late Qing China and Meiji Japan.

Images

Kawashima Yoshiko in high school with her beloved horse.

Kawashima Yoshiko at the time of her wedding to the Mongol general Jengjuurab. The marriage was a political convenience that would end up going nowhere.

Kawashima Yoshiko in her Manchukuo military uniform.

Kawashima Yoshiko in a recording studio in Manchukuo, c. 1930s.

From left: Kawashima Yoshiko, Kawashima Naniwa, and Gen. Tanaka Ryukichi. Though she would never cut contact, Yoshiko’s relationship with her adoptive father would always be fraught.

Kawashima’s political orbit would naturally take her close to some major figures in the Japanese hard right, including the ultrarightist leader Toyama Mitsuru (shown here).

Hong Kong singer and actress Anita Mui as Kawashima Yoshiko in 1990.

Episode 173 – The Maelstrom, Part 11

Today, we’ll wrap up our look at the Russo-Japanese War with some thoughts on its long term consequences. How much of an impact can a war that lasted for a year and a half really have?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States.

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Drea, Edward. In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army.

Images

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For Russia, one of the biggest differences made by the war and the revolution was the birth of a representative assembly, the Duma. However, the assembly was generally disregarded by the Czar, which only proved to enemies of the regime that promises of moderation and an end to autocracy were so much hot air.

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An execution scene like the one that inspired Lu Xun to try and mobilize nationalism within the Chinese people. Though the Japanese generally did not attack or harm Chinese civilians intentionally during the war, this did not mean that they had much regard for Chinese lives. Accused spies like the one shown here were doomed merely by suspicion.

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The massive folly of the Yamato class superbattleship, shown here (the IJN Yamato on its shakedown cruise) was a direct outgrowth of the outmoded naval ideas of Togo Heihachiro. Nobody could challenge the authority of the victor of Tsushima, which meant that the navy wasted a lot of time refusing to update its ideas or equipment.

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The army’s obsession with spiritual toughness was such that eventually it was able to receive a mandate to begin army training before men were even conscripted. Children were given basic army drills as part of their PE requirements starting in the 1920s, with the instructors being former army officers.

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The burning wreck of the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. The success of the Russo-Japanese War convinced Japanese planners that similar tactics would work on the United States. They did not.

 

Episode 172 – The Maelstrom, Part 10

Apologies for the technical delay! Today, we’ll watch Russia descend into chaos, and take a look at the peace negotiations that result as both sides realize they can’t keep this war up.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Peattie, Mark et al. Kaigun. 

Images

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Finnish demonstrators in the streets during the 1905 Revolution. In addition to a social upheaval at home, the revolution helped make ethnic separatism in the Russian Empire a more visible problem.

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Russian troops blocking the path of — and eventually firing on — protesters during Bloody Sunday in January, 1905. This event would kickstart the 1905 revolution, with thousands taking to the streets to protest the Czar’s autocracy.

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The drama of the mutiny aboard the Battleship Potemkin is probably the best known part of the 1905 revolution, thanks to the fantastic film made on the subject during the early Bolshevik years by Sergei Eisenstein.

Count sergei yulyevich witte (left) with theodore roosevelt (center) in 1905.

The American president, Theodore Roosevelt, with the peace delegations at Portsmouth. Sergei Witte is on the left; Komura Jutaro is on the right.

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The Portsmouth negotiations were a huge profile booster for the United States, and for Roosevelt in particular (who got a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts). This postcard celebrates the American role in the process with Roosevelt’s image front and center.

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An excellent map showing the final arrangements between the two sides. Overall, the Russo-Japanese War was far more costly for Japan than the Sino-Japanese War had been, and the benefits were not at all proportionate to the increased sacrifices.

Apologies for the technical delay! Today, we’ll watch Russia descend into chaos, and take a look at the peace negotiations that result as both sides realize they can’t keep this war up.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Peattie, Mark and David Evans. Kaigun.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. 

Images

 

Episode 170 – The Maelstrom, Part 8

In the last major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War, two great powers enter and…two great powers leave? Wait, I’m confused. How are the Japanese winning every battle and still not winning the war?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945. 

Nish, Ian. The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05.

Wolff, David et al. World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective.

Images

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The Russo-Japanese War was big news around the world. This Italian magazine carried front page coverage of the Battle of Sandepu.

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Georgii Stackelberg, the Russian general whose gloryhound tendencies resulted in him leaking the planned Russian attack on Sandepu to the press in hopes of getting credit for it.

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Russian field guns in operation at Mukden.

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A postcard showing Japanese troops storming the ramparts of the Russian defenses. In practice, these kind of massed ranks of troops were very uncommon — charging forward in such a formation was functionally suicidal. However, older romantic notions of what an infantry assault looked like still held firm in many quarters.

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Russian forces retreat towards Harbin after the battle.

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Russian field medics treat an injured soldier. About 1/3 of the Russian force at Mukden was killed, wounded, or captured.

Episode 168 – The Maelstrom, Part 6

This week: the Port Arthur campaign, from start to finish. Wasn’t this supposed to be a cakewalk?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945

Jukes, Geoffrey. The Russo Japanese War, 1904-05.

Wolff, David, et al. World War Zero: The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective.

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Kodama Gentaro, who was sent to Port Arthur to figure out what was taking so damn long when Nogi consistently failed in his attempts to take the city.

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203 Meter Hill, the key to the Russian defenses of the Port.

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A view of Port Arthur from atop 203 meter hill. From that position, Japanese artillery was able to sight in on the city and the Russian fleet.

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Russian artillery trains advancing toward the front during the Siege of Port Arthur.

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Though photography began to displace woodblock prints as the chief means of illustrating news during the war, the old ways still had adherents. This print shows the fight for 203 Meter Hill.

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Russian troops stand over Japanese dead from the assault on 203 Meter Hill. The attacks launched by Nogi were incredibly costly — and arguably, hugely wasteful.

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After the conclusion of the battle and the Russian surrender, the leadership of both sides took a photo together in the gentlemanly traditions of 19th century warfare. Nogi Maresuke is center left; Anatoly Stoessel is center right. In Japan, the photo was celebrated as an example of Japanese being treated as equal to (or superior than) the defeated Russians.

Episode 167 – The Maelstrom, Part 5

The war rages on as the Japanese land in Port Arthur and press the attack, and Oyama Iwao advances north. The Russians will attempt to make a stand as divisions open up in their leadership.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Wolff, David, et al. The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero. 

Jukes, Jeffrey. The Russo Japanese War, 1904-05. 

Images\

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Russian troops stand over dead Japanese attackers during the Siege of Port Arthur. The Port Arthur campaign was tremendously bloody; Nogi’s penchant for frontal attacks and the well-entrenched defenders combined to create huge death tolls.

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Nogi Maresuke upon his recall from retirement.

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Field guns like this 11 inch howitzer would play a huge role in the battle for Port Arthur; without them, the Japanese stood little chance of blasting through the massive Russian defenses.

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Aleksey Kuropatkin, commander of Russian forces in Manchuria. A proponent of a defensive strategy of retreats to buy time, Kuropatkin was ordered by his civilian boss Yevgeny Alekseyev to make a stand. This lay the groundwork for the Battle of Liaoyang.

Episode 166 – The Maelstrom, Part 4

Today, we’re starting a war! The battle for Manchuria begins as Japan and Russia confront each other on land and at sea for the first time. But will the daring Japanese plan to win the war quickly pay off?

 

Well….kind of.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945. 

Nish, Ian. The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War. 

Nish, Ian. The Russo Japanese War of 1904-05, vol. 1

Images

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The surprise attack on Port Arthur on Feb 8, 1904.

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Oskar Stark, the Admiral in charge of the Russian Pacific Fleet in February 1904.

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A Japanese tactical map of the Battle of Nanshan. Nanshan itself is highlighted in red; Port Arthur is to the South.

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The Battle of Nanshan. Japanese troops are in the fore; Russian defenses are in the rear.

Episode 164 – The Maelstrom, Part 2

This week, we’re going to cover the incompatible goals that led Japan and Russia towards war. Why did each side see the other as a threat? Why was war even on the table in the first place? Can’t we all just get along?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Nish, Ian. The History of Manchuria, 1840-1948: A Sino-Russian-Japanese Triangle.

Images

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A Chinese print depicting negotiations with the Germans and Russians over Port Arthur. The Russians swooped in on Manchuria only a few years after basically forcing the Japanese out “in the interests of Chinese stability.”

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Ito Hirobumi c. 1904 or earlier. In 1901, Japan’s foremost statesman went to London to lend his prestige to the idea of an Anglo-Japanese Alliance which he did not entirely favor.

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A Japanese cartoon celebrating the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. On the right is Britannia personified; on the left is Amaterasu. The “children” under foot are China and Korea.

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A box for matches manufactured in Japan. Nothing says everlasting friendship like cheap commercial tie-ins.

Episode 163 – The Maelstrom, Part 1

This week, we’re turning our attention to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. In our first episode, we’ll introduce our stage — Manchuria — and our players — Russia and Japan.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Purdue, Peter. China Marches West.

Westwood, J.N. Russia Against Japan.

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Manchuria today. On this map, Port Arthur is labeled by its modern name of Dalian, and Mukden/Fengtian by its modern name of Shenyang.

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Territorial exchanges as a part of the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk. The Chinese actually defeated the Russians in this undeclared war, and gained control of a vast swath of territory.

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A French map from the early 1700s showing Manchuria. This territory was off limits to Han Chinese until the mid 19th century, when the pressures of imperialism necessitated mass migrations to the territory to secure Qing hold over it.

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Harbin in the 1950s. Though the photo comes from far later than our story takes place, the building depicted – St. Nicholas’s Church – dates back to the era of Russian occupation and is a good example of durable Russian influence in the area.

Episode 48 – The Emperor’s Own, Part 4

In this final segment on the rise of the imperial military to power, we’ll discuss the process by which the military hijacked Japan’s foreign policy and shut down the democratic process. After this was done, the army briefly turned on itself before taking the final plunge into a war with China.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Doihara Kenji, leader of the group in the Guandong Army which planned the invasion of Manchuria. He was an opium addict who preferred the nickname "Lawrence of Manchuria," in reference to T.E. Lawrence.

Doihara Kenji, leader of the group in the Guandong Army which planned the invasion of Manchuria. He was an opium addict who preferred the nickname “Lawrence of Manchuria,” in reference to T.E. Lawrence.

The railcar of Zhang Zuolin, assassinated by Doihara Kenji in 1928 as part of a plot to enable the Guandong Army to seize Manchuria. This attempt failed as the predicted civil strife never materialized; the next in 1931 would succeed.

The railcar of Zhang Zuolin, assassinated by Doihara Kenji in 1928 as part of a plot to enable the Guandong Army to seize Manchuria. This attempt failed as the predicted civil strife never materialized; the next in 1931 would succeed.

Zhang Xueliang, the leader of Manchuria at the time it was invaded by Japan. He was forced to flee, and would later be instrumental in forcing Chiang Kaishek to turn his attentions to Japan rather than the Chinese Communist Party.

Zhang Xueliang, the leader of Manchuria at the time it was invaded by Japan. He was forced to flee, and would later be instrumental in forcing Chiang Kaishek to turn his attentions to Japan rather than the Chinese Communist Party.

The section of the Mukden rail line where the bomb that triggered the invasion of Manchuria was planted.

The section of the Mukden rail line where the bomb that triggered the invasion of Manchuria was planted.

Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi), leader of the Guomindang. Chiang would eventually come into open conflict with Japan's militarists over the future of China.

Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi), leader of the Guomindang. Chiang would eventually come into open conflict with Japan’s militarists over the future of China.

Osaka Mainichi Shinbun headline describing the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi.

Osaka Mainichi Shinbun headline describing the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi.

The order from the Emperor to the February 26 rebels of the Kokutai Genriha (National Principle Faction). The Emperor ordered the men to stand down in their attempts to restore absolute power to him.

The order from the Emperor to the February 26 rebels of the Kokutai Genriha (National Principle Faction). The Emperor ordered the men to stand down in their attempts to restore absolute power to him.

Soldiers of China's National Revolutionary Army (the armed forces of the Guomindang) fighting the Japanese at the Marco Polo Bridge.

Soldiers of China’s National Revolutionary Army (the armed forces of the Guomindang) fighting the Japanese at the Marco Polo Bridge.

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