Japanese war plans against USSR?

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
User avatar
Sven-Eric
Banned
Posts: 130
Joined: 13 Jul 2005 19:05
Location: Sweden

Japanese war plans against USSR?

Post by Sven-Eric » 21 Jul 2005 11:40

I have heard some story about a Japanese war plan against the Soviets called the Kantokuen plan. According to that plan the attack would begin on 29 August 1941 but was cancelled due to heavy Soviet resistance to the Germans. Does anyone know if it is any truth in this?

Also, another story and that is the meeting with the Japanese government on 9 August 1945 where PM Suzuki is supposed to have said that the Soviet entrance in the war that morning made it impossible for the Japanese to keep on fighting. Does anyone know an exact source for that statement?

Best wishes,
Sven-Eric

Larry D.
Financial supporter
Posts: 3748
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 21 Jul 2005 14:15

Sven-Eric wrote:

Also, another story and that is the meeting with the Japanese government on 9 August 1945 where PM Suzuki is supposed to have said that the Soviet entrance in the war that morning made it impossible for the Japanese to keep on fighting. Does anyone know an exact source for that statement?


This comes from the recollections of Sumihisa IKEDA written several years after the war and first published in Daihon'ei Rikugun-Bu (10), p.429. The actual quote in translation reads:

Prime Minister Suzuki is said to have accosted Sumihisa Ikeda, an officer just transferred from Manchuria, and asked him: "Is the Kwantung Army capable of repulsing the Soviet Army?" Ikeda responded, "The Kwantung Army is hopeless." "Is the Kwantung Army that weak?" sighed Suzuki. "Then the game is up."


This recollection remains in contention today because it "conflicts with evidence from August 1945 demonstrating that Suzuki, far from resigning himself to a swift capitulation, vacillated sharply over the next critical days on the terms and timing of the war's end."

[Source: Frank, Richard B. Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. New York: Random House, 1999. ISBN: 0-679-41424-X. Hb. Dj. 484p. Illus. Maps. Tables. Appendices. Notes. Bibliography. Index. p.288]

Larry D.
Financial supporter
Posts: 3748
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 21 Jul 2005 15:05

Sven-Eric wrote:

I have heard some story about a Japanese war plan against the Soviets called the Kantokuen plan. According to that plan the attack would begin on 29 August 1941 but was cancelled due to heavy Soviet resistance to the Germans. Does anyone know if it is any truth in this?


Very true.

The Japanese army had repeatedly been asked by the German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) and Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres or OKH) in Berlin, as well as the German Ambassador, Eugen Ott, in Tokyo, to participate in the war against the Soviet Union and was quite fascinated by the Germany victories on the Eastern Front. In July 1941, the Japanese army thus had begun the Kwantung Army Special Mobilization Exercise in Manchuria, aiming to attack the Soviet Union in September if the Soviet Siberian Army moved to the front in Europe. In this exercise fourteen divisions, with 850,000 men and 220,000 horses, including ammunitions and provisions, were prepared for war on the opposite side of the Pacific only four months before Pearl Harbor, but the army could not push through the cabinet a campaign against the Soviets.

[Source: Krug, Hans-Joachim, Yōichi Hirama, Berthold J. Sander-Nagashima and Axel Niestlé. Reluctant Allies: German-Japanese Naval Relations in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2001. ISBN: 1-55750-465-2. Hb. Dj. 414p. Illus. Appendices. Glossary. Source notes. Bibliography. Index. p.44. Author’s cite Yoshiō MATUSHITA, Tanaka Sakusen Buchō no Shōgen, p.168, as their source.]


As for operations in the North, behind the fiction of major army maneuvers - code-named Kantokuen - troops were building up in Manchukuo. The plan called for sixteen divisions to be readied for the assault, and for a logistical base created for six more. During July 1941, a force of around 850,000 men was assembled in Manchukuo, and there they waited for the "persimmon to ripen," for Stalin to pull enough troops out of the Soviet Far East to give a Japanese attack a hope of success. But Stalin withdrew only a limited number of troops during July, and on August 9 any thought of attack during 1941 was abandoned.

[Source: Harries, Meirion and Susie Harries. Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army. New York: Random House, 1991. ISBN: 0-394-56935-0. Hb. Dj. 569p. Illus. Source notes. Index. p.289. Author’s cite C. HOSOYA, “The Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact,” in: James Morley (ed.), The Fateful Choice: Japan’s Advance into Southeast Asia, 1939-41 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), p.104; and Alvin D. Coox, Nomonhan: Japan Against Russia, 1939, 2 volumes (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985), pp.1035ff.]

Answers to both of your questions are easily found in books about Japan during the Second World War. Most public libraries have at least some of these books. Have you tried your libraries in Sweden? Sweden is a very wealthy country. Surely they have some good libraries there?

User avatar
Sven-Eric
Banned
Posts: 130
Joined: 13 Jul 2005 19:05
Location: Sweden

Post by Sven-Eric » 21 Jul 2005 16:09

Dear Larry,

thanks a million for this. Much appreciated. Yes, we have some good libraries here but not so much where I live. I read about this in a book by Oleg Rzeshevsky, but have not seen it anywhere else until now.
My best regards,
Sven-Eric

User avatar
Sven-Eric
Banned
Posts: 130
Joined: 13 Jul 2005 19:05
Location: Sweden

Post by Sven-Eric » 21 Jul 2005 19:30

One more thing, Larry. In Franks book about the Japanese government meeting on 9 August, does it say anything if the a-bombs were discussed by Suzuki and his cabinet?
Regards,
Sven-Eric

Larry D.
Financial supporter
Posts: 3748
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 21 Jul 2005 23:07

In Franks book about the Japanese government meeting on 9 August, does it say anything if the a-bombs were discussed by Suzuki and his cabinet?


From what I can gather, only indirectly. Hiroshima had been discussed during the two days before. It was TOGO who began pushing for surrender on the 9th on the basis that the Soviet declaration of war was "the straw that broke the camel's back," so to speak. Meaning that, on top of the atomic bomb, decidedly meant that Japan could not go on.

You should get this book because this story is very involved and continues on for many, many pages. You should try and read it yourself to get the full meaning of what was happening. Frank is a VERY respected reseacher and historian and he has explored every facet of this story from both English and Japanese language sources. It's the best account I've ever read of this.

User avatar
Sven-Eric
Banned
Posts: 130
Joined: 13 Jul 2005 19:05
Location: Sweden

Post by Sven-Eric » 23 Jul 2005 11:27

Thanks again, Larry. I will definitely get this book. Basing on this, one could argue that it was the Soviet entrance into the war rather than the a-bombs that caused the Japanese to surrender.
Best wishes,
Sven-Eric

Larry D.
Financial supporter
Posts: 3748
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 23 Jul 2005 12:46

Thanks again, Larry. I will definitely get this book. Basing on this, one could argue that it was the Soviet entrance into the war rather than the a-bombs that caused the Japanese to surrender.


No, I would say that it was a combination of several things, the atomic bomb and the Soviet declaration of war being of equal weight and about 80-85% of the total. Then, on 9 August (10 August Tokyo time), the second atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki and the next day Japan broadcast its readiness to accept the terms of the Potsdam accord provided the furture status of the Emperor was safeguarded. So it was the second atomic bomb that persuaded the last hardline holdouts in the Japanese government.

zstar
Member
Posts: 157
Joined: 15 Oct 2004 06:32
Location: as

Post by zstar » 24 Jul 2005 12:23

I don't think Japan had the capability to fight in those conditions especially with the lack of armour and some of the most freezing weather on Earth in the sub zero siberian climate.

Larry D.
Financial supporter
Posts: 3748
Joined: 04 Aug 2004 23:03
Location: Winter Springs, FL (USA)

Post by Larry D. » 24 Jul 2005 16:50

I don't think Japan had the capability to fight in those conditions especially with the lack of armour and some of the most freezing weather on Earth in the sub zero siberian climate.


True. By August 1945, most of the well-trained, old-line divisions of the Kwantung Army had been shipped out for use elsewhere leaving new, not-so-well-trained, inexperienced divisions in their place. To make things even worse, Japanese weapons and equipment were more or less the same that they are started the war with back in 1937. Opposing them were combat-hardened, extremely well equipped Soviet divisions brought in from the European battlefields that were commanded by tried and proven marshalls and generals and backed up a huge armada of world class armor and air power. The week-long Soviet conquest of Manchuria was like taking candy from a baby.

User avatar
Kim Sung
Member
Posts: 5039
Joined: 28 May 2005 13:36
Location: The Last Confucian State

The Birth of Kantokuen

Post by Kim Sung » 26 Jul 2005 12:57

I'll tell you how Kantokuen(關特演) was established.

In the summer of 1932, the headquarter of the Japanese army drafted its OPLAN that would make reverse use of the unfavorable strategc condition under which the Kwantung army was surronded by the Soviets on three directions, namely, north, east and west.

First, at the outbreak of war, the Japanese army attacks the red army in Primorskii Krai. While the main Japanese forces are neutralizing the Soviets in the east, the other troops in northwestern Manchuria defends their line(the first stage). After conquering the east, the KA in full force makes offensive in Chichihar region, and destroy the main force of the red army advancing from Zabaikal region and advance towards Lake Baikal(the second stage). This two-stage plan didn't change until 1936.

Because the Far Eastern Group of the red army alone began to outnumber the entire Japanese army in peace time from 1934, revision of the OPLAN was required.

The following is the comparison of divisions between Kwantung army(including divisions in Korea) and the Far Eastern Group of the Soviet Union.

* The Number of Divisons

Kwantung army : Far Eastern Group

1931 --- 1 : 6
1932 --- 4 : 8
1933 --- 5 : 8
1934 --- 5 : 11
1935 --- 5 : 14
1936 --- 5 : 16
1937 --- 7 : 20
1938 --- 9 : 24
1939 --- 11 : 30

Lt. Colonel Kawabe Torashiro(河邊虎四郞) who was in charge of devising OPLAN at the KA headquarter from 1934.8.1 to 1935.8.1 wrote in his memoirs "Even though the KA can fight well at the beginning of a war and advance towards Vorosilov plains near Soviet-Manchurian border, it will be soon stopped by superior Soviet fire power. If this initial offensive fails, the second stage wll be unavailable. Offensive in the eastern front and defense in the north and the northwestern borders are impossible without air support."

So, OPLAN in 1935 secured sir support from the Japanese navy, not from Japanese army, which shows incompetence of the army. Realizing this unfavorable condition, the army started a large scale buildup of KA. Three new divisions were added to KA in 1937, two divisions in 1938, one division in 1939, and three divisions in 1940, thus, with 14 divisions total in KA including two divisions in Korea(continue...)

User avatar
Billy
Member
Posts: 259
Joined: 13 Nov 2005 05:17
Location: Spain

Post by Billy » 14 Nov 2005 06:52

I don't think that, barring a total Soviet collapse and surrender to Germany, that there was much chance of Japan invading Soviet Siberia in 1941 or anything like that. In the mid- to late 1930s there was a faction of the Japanese Army called the "Strike North" Faction who advocated trying to seize some parts of Siberia. Not so much the Lake Khasan fighting in '38 but the Khalkin Gol/Nomonhan fighting in '39 settled their hash for good, and after that there was heard not a peep out of the "Strike North" faction again. Instead the advocates of a "southern" war, a Pacific war against the U.S. held sway, and the Kwantung Army, though large, was built up for defencive purposes in case the Soviets decided to invade, but not for the purpose of invading Siberia. Zhukov cured them of that fantasy in 1939 and they were only too happy to remain neutral regarding the Soviets after that. Especially considering the Japanese Army was heavily committed in China by the time of Operation Barbarossa, with designs on French Indochina that would ultimately lead to Roosevelt embargoing their oil supply meaning war with the U.S. and that they'd have to invade the Dutch East Indies to secure an alternate supply (what they called the "Southern Resource Area"), their plate was pretty full especially given Japan's limited industrial capacity compared to the Allies. Khalkin Gol/Nomonhan, in which not only were the Soviet tanks quite superior to theirs even for being T-26s and BTs, also showed the Soviets very willing to invest huge amounts of combat power in a dusty, near-worthless area, a far larger response than the Japanese could have ever dreamed they'd commit, and the tenacity of Soviet soldiers all proved their theories about the Red Army 180 degrees wrong, and their previous mistaken opinion of them was what whetted the appetite of the Strike North Faction in the first place. The mauling they got at Khalkin Gol was quite the remedy for that, and though it isn't a much-discussed campaign, it had profoundly important ramifications, basically scuttling any Japanese dreams of future conquest of parts of Siberia and leading to them to declare themselves neutral regarding the German aggression against the U.S.S.R., which itself allowed Stalin to be confident enough to transfer most of his units he had stationed guarding the border with Manchukuo to where they were really needed, to help protect Moscow and form an operational reserve of very cold-hardy troops that were used extensively in the counteroffensives pushing the front lines back from Moscow once Operation Typhoon had sputtered to a halt. So no, barring a complete Soviet collapse which didn't occur, I don't think there was much of a chance of Japanese aggression against Soviet Siberia at any time after the crushing they got at Khalkin Gol.

Eugen Pinak
Member
Posts: 876
Joined: 16 Jun 2004 16:09
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: The Birth of Kantokuen

Post by Eugen Pinak » 19 May 2006 15:40

Kim Sung wrote:First, at the outbreak of war, the Japanese army attacks the red army in Primorskii Krai. While the main Japanese forces are neutralizing the Soviets in the east, the other troops in northwestern Manchuria defends their line(the first stage). After conquering the east, the KA in full force makes offensive in Chichihar region, and destroy the main force of the red army advancing from Zabaikal region and advance towards Lake Baikal(the second stage). This two-stage plan didn't change until 1936.

And do you ave any info on Japanese plans against USSR in 1941?

User avatar
Kim Sung
Member
Posts: 5039
Joined: 28 May 2005 13:36
Location: The Last Confucian State

Re: The Birth of Kantokuen

Post by Kim Sung » 19 May 2006 16:11

Eugen Pinak wrote:And do you ave any info on Japanese plans against USSR in 1941?

Yes, I have details of Japanese plans against USSR in 1941 and the time schedule. I'll post them later when I'm not busy.

User avatar
Paul kyre
Member
Posts: 130
Joined: 23 May 2006 07:30
Location: Philippines

Post by Paul kyre » 29 May 2006 07:46

These japanese plans to fight against the soviets are just repeating the days they fight against the Russian bolsheviks during the foreign intervention of the russian civil war.
But still, they end up defeated.

Return to “Japan at War 1895-1945”