History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1993: Q.5 (d)
Q.5 (d) “The Manchurian crisis decided the fate of the league of Nations.” Comment.
The Manchurian crisis
In the 1930s there was a world-wide economic depression. Japan tried to overcome the depression by building up an empire. In 1931, Japanese troops invaded the Chinese territory of Manchuria and threw out the Chinese. China asked the League to help.
Response of the League
The League condemned Japan and ordered her troops to be withdrawn. When Japan refused, the League appointed a commission under Lord Lytton whose report in 1932 went against Japan and she was ordered to leave Manchuria.
However Japan rejected this and withdrew from the League in March 1933.
The crisis had shown weakness of the League
According to the League of Nations rules the failure of Japan to comply with a resolution should have been followed by economic sanctions and / or collective military action to enforce the resolution. The League in this case however, did neither.
Many countries had important trading links with Japan. The League could not agree on economic sanctions or even a ban on weapons sales. The major powers, Britain and France were unwilling to risk their armed forces in a conflict or apply trade boycott as they had serious economic problems.
The Japanese stayed in Manchuria successfully defying the League.
The Manchurian crisis had shown the dreadful revelation that the League was powerless in the face a determined aggressor. The prestige of the League was damaged. It had shown just how toothless and helpless the international community was when it came to enforcing and upholding the peace.
After Manchurian crisis, a dangerous precedent of defying the League had been set. The simililar steps were followed by Germany in 1935 and Italy in 1936 when they violated the League convenant and withdrew from the League when opposed by it.
Hence, the Manchurian crisis, though not fatal for the Leage, had decided its fate by damaging its prestige and showing what was to come in future.