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May 6, 2022
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How many months before the defeat, the Japanese asked the Russians for mercy

For the neutrality of the USSR, Japan offered South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands

The impudent behavior of the Japanese government towards our country and its leadership, open hostility and readiness for confrontation make us recall how arrogant “samurai” humiliatedly asked the USSR government not to participate in the war against Japan on the side of the USA and Great Britain. They asked, offering any concessions, including the return of South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, which previously belonged to Russia.

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Preparing to participate in the war with Japan at the insistent requests of the allies, the Soviet government sought to comply with the norms of international law. On April 5, 1945, the government of Japan officially announced the denunciation of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of April 13, 1941. The statement of the Soviet government indicated that the pact was signed before the German attack on the USSR and before the outbreak of war between Japan, on the one hand, and England and the United States, on the other. The text of the statement read: “Since then, the situation has changed radically. Germany attacked the USSR, and Japan, an ally of Germany, helps the latter in her war against the USSR. In addition, Japan is at war with the United States and England, which are allies of the Soviet Union.

In this situation, the Neutrality Pact between Japan and the USSR lost its meaning, and the extension of this Pact became impossible …

In accordance with Article 3 of the aforementioned Pact, which provides for the right to denunciate one year before the expiration of the five-year term of the Pact, the Soviet Government hereby declares … its desire to denounce the Pact of April 13, 1941..

It cannot be ruled out that the Soviet government allowed for a situation where the Japanese government would end the war even before the Soviet Union entered it. The official announcement of the denunciation of the pact was seen in Moscow as a serious warning to the Japanese government.

After the denunciation of the pact, the Japanese Foreign Ministry began to advocate accepting all the demands that the USSR could put forward as a condition for maintaining its neutrality. At the same time, efforts were intensified to involve the Soviet government as an intermediary in the negotiations on a truce between Japan and the United States and Great Britain. An important goal of involving the USSR in diplomatic “truce” maneuvers was to embroil the Soviet Union with the Allies. The very fact of Soviet-Japanese diplomatic contacts on the issue of a “truce” could be interpreted by the Western powers as a unilateral behind-the-scenes activity of the Soviet government to collude with Japan behind the back of the United States.

In the document “General principles of measures in the event of the surrender of Germany”, adopted on April 20, 1945 by the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, the task was directly set: “To make efforts to divide the United States, England and the USSR by skillful propaganda and to undermine the determination of the United States and England to wage war”.

On April 20, the Soviet Ambassador to Japan, Yakov Malik, had a conversation with the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shigenori Togo. The Japanese probed the possibility of his personal meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov on his way back from San Francisco, where an international conference on the establishment of the United Nations was opening. Togo planned to organize such a meeting if Molotov returned to Moscow via Siberia. The aim of the Japanese minister was to try to use the chance of direct and at the same time “unofficial” contact with Molotov to ascertain the intentions of the Soviet government towards Japan.

Following a conversation with Togo, Ambassador Malik reported to Moscow on April 21, 1945:

“At 3 pm on April 20, I was in Togo on my first official visit. The conversation went on for over an hour. Togo spoke at length about the Neutrality Pact and asked me to convey to you my deep regret at the decision of the Soviet Government not to continue this pact. At the end of the conversation, when I already got up with the intention of bowing and leaving, Togo delayed me a little and, continuing the conversation while standing, began to confuse and with numerous reservations and pauses not to speak, but literally squeeze out the words on the following question: “The newspapers report that Mr. Molotov will attend the conference in San Francisco on April 25, 1945. It is interesting to know whether he has already gone there or not? I replied that I did not yet have information about this. “I would like to know,” continued Togo, “whether Mr. Molotov will go across the Atlantic Ocean, or perhaps through Siberia and the Bering Strait. Obviously, in any case, he will fly by plane, but which way will he choose? If on the way back he chose the route through the Bering Strait and Siberia, then I personally would be extremely glad to take the opportunity to meet him personally. Of course, I ask you to accept this not as an official invitation, but as a purely personal desire, based on my personal feelings, based on the fact that I used to meet and talk directly with Mr. Molotov in Moscow.

Promising to take this wish into account, I pointed out that, as far as I know, at present the air route through Siberia and the Bering Strait is somewhat difficult due to thick fogs, so I am not sure that Mr. Molotov will choose this route. It is possible that it will pass through the Atlantic Ocean.

Togo replied: “I understood your explanation about the state of the route through the Bering Strait and once again I want to emphasize that this is not an official invitation, but my personal, but very strong desire to meet Mr. Molotov, if he would return more than aspirations through Siberia. Let this not oblige you to anything, but I would ask that if you know by what route, when and at what time Mr. Molotov will go to San Francisco or return back, then let me know. In fact, I would personally like to meet him. Those are my personal feelings.”

It was noticeable that it was difficult for him to say all this, but speaking through force, he repeated this “personal feeling” very courteously and urgently.

True to its obligations to the allies, the Soviet government evaded any negotiations with the government of Japan and informed the leaders of the allied powers about the suspicious maneuvers of Japanese diplomats. Already from the end of March 1945, the Soviet high command began to carry out the transfer of its armed forces to the Far East. This did not go unnoticed by the Japanese leadership. In mid-April, employees of the office of the military attache of the Japanese embassy in Moscow reported in Tokyo: “Every day, from 12 to 15 trains pass along the Trans-Siberian Railway … At present, the entry of the Soviet Union into the war with Japan is inevitable. It will take about two months to transfer about 20 divisions.. This was also reported by the headquarters of the Kwantung Army.

Attempts to negotiate with the Soviet Union intensified markedly after the surrender of Germany, when Japan was left alone in front of a coalition of allied powers. At this time, the Japanese command, having been defeated in Okinawa, began to hastily prepare for the battle for the mother country. And for this it was necessary to save the Kwantung Army (army group), which, in case of a sharp complication of the situation, was planned to be transferred to the territory of Japan. Since the entry of the USSR into the war could disrupt these plans, the Japanese high command even more resolutely demanded that the government do everything possible to resolve all issues related to the Soviet Union through diplomacy.

On May 15, at a meeting of the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, it was decided to seek the start of official Japanese-Soviet negotiations. Following this, the Japanese leadership demonstratively annulled all Japanese-German agreements and instructed the press to support the Japanese government’s diplomatic steps towards the USSR.

However, the situation was not in favor of Japan. The Soviet government continued to evade attempts to involve the USSR in official negotiations with the Japanese. On June 6, at a regular meeting of the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, a pessimistic assessment of the situation was given: “Through successive measures, the Soviet Union is preparing the ground through diplomacy so that, if necessary, it will be able to oppose the Empire; at the same time he is stepping up military preparations in the Far East. There is a high probability that the Soviet Union will take military action against Japan … The Soviet Union may enter the war against Japan after the summer or autumn period.

At the same time, the Japanese leadership still had hopes for a sharp deterioration in Soviet-American and Soviet-British relations. The meeting participants noted with satisfaction that “after the end of the war against Germany, cooperation between the United States and England, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other, is weakening”. At the same time, Tokyo also consoled itself with the hope that, in the end, the Soviet leadership would realize the benefits for themselves from prolonging the war between Japan and the Anglo-Saxons, when the parties only weaken each other. Therefore, the task was to use every opportunity to find an agreement with the Soviet Union. However, on June 6, Japan’s course to continue the war was confirmed. The decision stated: “The Empire must firmly adhere to the course of the protracted nature of the war, regardless of any victims. This cannot but cause significant fluctuations in the enemy’s determination to continue the war by the end of this year.. From which it follows that the “peace diplomacy” of Japan in relation to the USSR was aimed at avoiding capitulation, maintaining the existing regime in the country and continuing the war until the United States and Great Britain made concessions. Tokyo continued to count on the acceptance by the Anglo-Americans of compromise peace terms, in particular, with Japan retaining Korea and Taiwan.

The Soviet leadership, of course, drew attention to the readiness expressed by the Japanese to make significant concessions to the USSR, including territorial ones. However, Stalin considered it inappropriate to formally negotiate with the Japanese government on the eve of the Berlin meeting with the leaders of the Western Allies, so as not to complicate relations with the United States and Great Britain, arousing their suspicions of the insincerity of the Soviet position regarding the commitments made at Yalta.

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