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State of Manchuria
Chinese name
Chinese 满洲国/滿洲國
Hanyu Pinyin Mǎnzhōuguó
Wade-Giles Man-chu-kuo
Japanese Name
Kanji 満州国
Hepburn Romaji Manshūkoku

Manchukuo was a nominally independent puppet state set up by the Empire of Japan in Manchuria (Northeastern China) which existed from 1931 to 1945.

Political history of Manchukuo

Inner Manchuria came under strong Russian influence in the 1890s with the building of the Chinese Eastern Railway through Harbin to Vladivostok. Japanese influence replaced Russian in Inner Manchuria as a result of the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905), and Japan laid the South Manchurian Railway in 1906 to Port Arthur (Japanese: Ryojun).

Between World War I and World War II Manchuria became a political and military battleground. Japanese influence extended into Outer Manchuria in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917, but Outer Manchuria had reverted to Soviet Russian control by 1925. Japan took advantage of the disorder following the Russian Revolution to occupy Outer Manchuria but Soviet successes and American economic pressure forced Japanese withdrawal.

During the period of the warlords in China, Chang Tso-Lin established himself in Inner Manchuria but the Japanese Kwantung Army found him too independent and assassinated him 1928. After the Japanese invasion of China in 1931, Japan declared the area independent from China on February 18, 1932 as the Great Manchu State (Manchukuo, in pinyin, 'Manzhouguo'). The city of Changchun, renamed Xinjing (新京) or "New capital", became the capital of the new entity.

The Japanese installed Puyi, the last Chinese emperor of the Qing Dynasty, as chief executive in 1932, and in 1934 he became emperor of Manchukuo with the reign name of "Kang Teh" or "Tranquility and Virtue". Manchukuo thus became the "Great Manchu Empire". Zheng Xiaoxu served as Manchukuo's first prime minister until 1935, when Zhang Jinghui succeeded him.

In this manner Japan formally detached Manchukuo from China in the course of the 1930s. With Japanese investment and rich natural resources, the area became an industrial powerhouse. Education focused on practical work training for boys and domestic work for girls, all based on adherence to the "Kingly Way" and stressing loyalty to the Emperor. Eventually, Japanese became the official language taught in Manchukuo schools and Shinto became the national religion.

Few nations recognized the new state, and the League of Nations declared that Manchuria remained rightfully part of China, leading Japan to resign from the League in 1934. Of the major powers only Japan, Italy, and Germany recognized Manchukuo diplomatically. In addition Manchukuo gained recognition from the Japanese collaborationist government of China under Wang Jingwei, El Salvador, Costa Rica and the Vatican City State.

Prior to World War II, the Japanese colonized Manchukuo and used it as a base from which to invade China. Japan's invasion of China proved to be a very costly war (in men, matériel and political integrity) -- as costly to Japan as Operation Barbarossa (Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union) proved to Germany -- and for the most part for similar reasons. In the summer of 1939 a border dispute between Manchukuo and Mongolia resulted in the Battle of Halhin Gol, when a combined Soviet/Mongolian force defeated the Japanese Kwantung Army.

In spite of the country's name, the Manchus actually consituted a minority in Manchukuo, which had Chinese as its largest ethnic group, along with large numbers of Koreans, Japanese, Mongols and smaller minorities.

The Emperor had no power at all, and all of the Manchu ministers only served as front-men for their Japanese vice-ministers, who actually made all decisions. Emperor Kang Teh lived in constant fear of his life, with some justification. The Japanese told him how to dress, how to worship and even tried to control whom he married.

On August 8, 1945 the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in accordance with the agreement at the Yalta Conference, and invaded Manchukuo from Russian Manchuria. Emperor Kang Teh had hoped to escape to Japan to surrender to the Americans, but the Soviets captured him and eventually extradited him to China, where the authorities threw him in prison as a war criminal along with all other captured Manchukuo officials.

From 1945 to 1948, Manchuria (Inner Manchuria) served as a base area for the People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War against the Kuomintang. With Soviet encouragement, the Chinese Communists used Manchuria as a staging ground until the end of the civil war in 1949.

Stamps and postal history of Manchukuo

Manchukuo issued its first postage stamps on July 28, 1932. A number of denominations existed, with two designs: the pagoda at Liaoyang and a portrait of Puyi. Originally the inscription read (in Chinese) "Manchu State Postal Administration"; in 1934, a new issue read "Manchu Empire Postal Administration". An orchid crest design appeared in 1935, and a design featuring the Sacred White Mountains in 1936.

1936 also saw a new regular series featuring various scenes and surmounted by the orchid crest. Between 1937 and 1945, the government issued a variety of commemoratives: for anniversaries of its own existence, to note the passing of new laws, and to honor Japan in various ways, for instance, on the 2600th anniversary of the Japanese Empire in 1940. The last issue of Manchukuo came on May 2, 1945, commemorating the 10th anniversary of an edict.

After the dissolution of the government, successor postal authorities locally handstamped many of the remaining stamp stocks with ideograms reading "Republic of China" and so forth. In addition, the Port Arthur and Dairen Postal Administration overprinted many Manchukuo stamps between 1946 and 1949.

Manchukuo 1932 - 1945
Personal Names Period of Reigns era names (年號) and their corresponding range of years
All given names in bold.
Aixinjuelo Puyi 愛新覺羅溥儀 ai4 xin1 jue2 luo2 pu3 yi2 March 1932 - August  1945 Datong (大同 da4 tong2) 1932

Kangde (康德 kang1 de2) 1934

See also

Last updated: 02-07-2005 01:53:25
Last updated: 02-26-2005 04:59:47