We have a widespread opinion that the samurai kept our victories on Hassan and Khalkhin Gol from starting a war. In part, this is so, intoxicated by the chain of continuous military triumphs, our neighbors for the first time knew then the bitterness of defeat. But look at these events from the position of Tokyo. They were presented to the Japanese people as a victory: many photographs were taken of the captured Soviet prisoners of war and captured, latest weapons samples at that time. And only in a secret report to the emperor it was said about losses, but again, the numbers were downplayed at times, if not by an order of magnitude. So, in the understanding of the majority of politicians and the public, the samurai sword at the end of 1930 — the beginning of 1940’s was not broken.
Add to this and other border incidents, in which the Japanese were able to win the upper hand. Their essence in brief is as follows. In the summer of 1937, near Blagoveshchensk, the Japanese managed to push Sennukh and Bolshaya on the Amur River from the Soviet border guards who landed there ten days earlier, sinking our armored ship and damaging several more ships. A day later, another Soviet border ship was sunk on Amur. The Japanese government undertook a demarche, and the USSR was forced to agree to withdraw its troops from both islands to their previous positions, although before that it had been a question of preparing hardly an entire Soviet division for combat operations. The Japanese here managed to get around us both on the military front and on the diplomatic front.
So, believing that we were able to “convince” our island neighbors not to start a fight on our Far Eastern borders, showing our strength, are true, but only partially.
The most capacious level of the military capabilities of the two countries was reflected by the Japanese historian Fujiwara Akira. He pointed out that “a comparison of the armies of the two countries should be carried out taking into account the entire number of troops that the parties could use in the event of war. For the USSR, a very serious problem was the large length of the railway from Europe to Siberia, which, moreover, had only one track. On the other hand, surrounded by the seas, Japan could concentrate troops using sea routes. This provided her with a decisive advantage. In addition, the main part of Japan’s investment in Manchuria was for the construction of strategic railway lines leading to the Soviet border, which ensured the rapid deployment of troops. In Japan, there was a plan to concentrate in the border area for three to four months after the outbreak of the war the millionth group. Given this, the Soviet Union was forced to increase the number of deterrent forces in the Far East as early as the peace period. ”
Some of our historians came to believe that the impossibility of obtaining reliable intelligence information by the Japanese was one of the deterrent factors. It is alleged that after the fall of 1937, when Koreans were evicted from the Far East, among which Japanese reconnaissance agents might have disappeared, the samurai did not have a single chance to get accurate information about the condition of our troops and the situation in the adjacent territories. It looks logical, but too easy ...
With a more rigorous analysis, you begin to understand that something is wrong here. The "islanders" had plenty of agents among the many immigrants of old Russia in Northeast China, and nobody canceled the technical intelligence and capabilities of several Japanese consulates on Sakhalin and Kamchatka.
However, our opponents had a trump ace up their sleeve: in 1938, Heinrich Lyushkov, the top Chekist in the entire Far East, came to them!
The Japanese dubbed this incident “the escape of the century” - so much valuable information, including mobilization plans and even radio codes in this region, was provided by the defector.
In the end, convincing evidence of the fact that our opponents have military plans for the USSR is the indication of the Japanese Army’s General Staff dated 1942: to be ready to “get ahead of the enemy in preparation for the war and create a position that allows you to strike first at a moment favorable to resolution of the northern problem. "
So what prompted the Japanese to conclude a neutrality agreement with us in 1941? The answer lies in the economic plane. Tokyo, like its main ally, Berlin, was in dire need of natural resources. There were more or less enough metals, but the situation with oil was not too bright. Germany was somehow rescued by the Romanian oil fields, but the Yamato empire had already ended its oil by the 1920 years, there was no “black gold” on the subject lands of Korea and Manchuria either.
The ubiquitous and helpful American corporations played the role of the main supplier - they supplied up to 80-90 percent of all the oil that Tokyo needed. Naturally, the Japanese are not pleased with this statistic. As an alternative, they considered the supply of oil from the southern territories, then under the authority of Holland and Great Britain. But the campaign for her meant armed conflict with these European countries.
Where to get oil? In the Soviet Union, on Sakhalin ...
Few people, with the exception of a small circle of specialists, know that up until the fall of 1944, in the area of the small town of Okha, which is in the north of Sakhalin, the Japanese extracted oil on quite legal grounds.
Namely, according to the so-called collective agreement “on the Japanese oil concession on Sakhalin Island”, concluded as early as 1925 year. At first glance, this seems incredible, because foreign concessions, the brainchild introduced in the beginning of 1920's, VI. Lenin "new economic policy", the beginning of the thirties were almost completely eliminated. Moreover, this was done by rather rude methods: they were not allowed to work with the most dull administrative methods.
Obviously, the secret of the longevity of the Japanese company lies in the fact that no one sought to completely “shut off oxygen” to our neighbors. The Soviet government for several moves forward calculated all the possible actions of the Japanese. And for the latter, the oil deal with Soviet Russia immediately acquired special significance: the Joint-Stock Company of the North Sakhalin Oil Entrepreneurs included the grandees of this country's industry, including the well-known corporations Mitsui and Mitsubishi to this day. Its registered capital was 10 million yen, the amount at that time is simply astronomical. The head of the joint-stock company was Admiral Sigetsuru Nakasato, who personally signed a concession agreement with Felix Dzerzhinsky in Moscow in late 1925. It’s understandable: Sakhalin oil went to the needs of Japanese fleet.
Through the efforts of those interested in increasing their oil reserves of the Japanese, oil production increased by the middle of 1930-s to 180 thousand tons. That was almost twice as high as in the metropolis itself.
In addition to oil, up to 1939, again on concession, but already coal, the Japanese received from Sakhalin, up to 1939, also coking coal, which was supplied to steel mills that carried out military orders. The so-called convention on fisheries was also beneficial to the Japanese: according to its provisions, they had the right to fish for marine biological resources near the eastern coast of Kamchatka, in the Sea of Okhotsk and near Primorye.
The joint-stock company continued to exist, despite military conflicts. The reason is the special attention of the Soviet government. For example, 5 July 1938 Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR V. Molotov signed the “Top Secret” vulture (removed only in 1990's, despite some objections), a decree thereby giving the green light to the continuation of the oil concession.
Very entertaining document. Well, in what kind of “paper” of this kind, and even signed at the very top, can we find an instruction on the construction of a nursery, baths and a soul? And why does the Sovnarkom understand if the Japanese concessionaires need or do not need a hydrometeorological station? Let me remind you: a little more than a year has passed since that moment since the incident near Blagoveshchensk, which took the lives of Soviet servicemen, events were already brewing in Khasan.
Be in the place of I.V. Stalin’s politician is smaller, he would definitely rush to “swing a sword” and in one fell swoop would close all concessions with the Japanese in retaliation for the death of his soldiers and provocations at the border.
Moreover, this kind of partnership with the Japanese was fraught with danger. The first is ideological losses. Concessions are an indication that you actually continue to conduct a recognized ineffective NEP policy. And if so, it means that all your statements about the new course, all the victims in the course of industrialization are in many ways an empty sound ... Stay in the Soviet leadership, right or left deviationists, they would surely remember that to the leader of all nations. The second: the work of the concessions actually promoted the capitalist way of life. The Japanese delivered all the best to the north of Sakhalin, which, against the background of the Soviet supply system, which tried to import food and goods from the mainland by no means always of high quality and first freshness, looked simply fantastic. It is not for nothing that stories about how the Soviet workers employed in the oil and coal concessions lived freely in Sakhalin almost until the end of the eighties. And now some residents of the northern part of the island compare the then North Sakhalin with Singapore. Third moment. The concessions provided the Japanese with an excellent opportunity to collect data on the internal life of the Soviet Union, as well as on military construction. Of course, the NKVD dealt with this issue, as evidenced by the arrests among the Japanese employees of this joint venture, but no one knows how many intelligence officers continued their work.
Of particular importance to the Japanese oil concession acquired at the beginning of 1940-x: then it became clear that after the creation of the axis Rome-Berlin-Tokyo, war with the United States is inevitable and, therefore, the supply of American oil will stop. This was one of the reasons why Tokyo was encouraged to conclude a neutrality treaty. During the preparatory contacts in the autumn of 1940, the head of the Japanese diplomatic mission spoke to the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs V. Molotov: “If an agreement is reached between Japan and the USSR, the Japanese government is convinced that this will have a favorable impact on fishing and concession issues.” Translation from an elaborate diplomatic language sounds like this: “We give you a treaty of neutrality, and you give us the preservation of concessions.” And we went to the Japanese conditions, although the political costs for Moscow, caused by the signing of the treaty with the arsonist of the war in the Far East, were considerable. For example, we had to explain a long time to the Chinese, against whom the Japanese army waged war, that we were still on their side.
It is clear that with the beginning of the war with the United States, Sakhalin oil for the Japanese became worth its weight in gold. Under these conditions, to meet Berlin’s repeated proposals to unleash a war against the USSR would mean an economic hara-kiri for Tokyo.
And only in 1944, when it became clear that we had coped with Nazi Germany, was the Japanese oil concession eliminated.
... Probably, many will start blaming the then leadership led by I.V. Stalin in that, in this way, he deliberately pushed Tokyo into conflict with Washington. However, it has long been known that politics is the art of the possible, and the use of such a powerful lever of influence as Sakhalin oil was not only possible but vital in those conditions.
The situation is partly repeated today. After the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011 of the year and the sharp increase in the share of CHP in the energy mix that followed, Japan was forced to significantly increase its hydrocarbon consumption. Sakhalin oil and gas is once again considered as one of the most important sources. Maybe this is just one of the reasons why Japanese politicians started talking about “entering bilateral relations to a new stage”. So, Moscow should make maximum use of the “hydrocarbon factor” in relations with Tokyo.