The Japanese leadership hoped that Hitler’s troops would be able to capture Moscow by the end of 1941.
In Western historiography, and sometimes in the writings of Russian “overthrowers”, the assertion that the success of the counter-offensive near Moscow “the Stalinist regime is obliged to Japan” is widespread. Which, supposedly honestly fulfilling the obligations under the Soviet-Japanese pact of neutrality, made it possible at a critical moment to transfer the Siberian and Far Eastern divisions to the Soviet-German front.
This version is also widespread in Japan itself. Japanese authors write: “… having transferred his troops from the Far East and from Siberia to the west, Stalin was able to fight the German army with full dedication, and Japan, for its part, was able to send the elite troops of the Kwantung Army to the south.”… And the professor of Russian studies Shigeki Khakamada even called on the Russians … to thank the Japanese for not being attacked in 1941 and thus saved, they say, Moscow.
However, the facts indicate the opposite: until the middle of 1943, overhanging the million-strong Kwantung Army (army group) over the Soviet Far East and Eastern Siberia, Japan fettered the Red Army troops stationed here, not allowing them to be used in the fight against the Nazi invaders.
As a result, more than a quarter of the Armed Forces of the USSR could not take part in the fight against the Nazi hordes: “As of December 1, 1941, out of 5495 thousand people of the total composition of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union in the Far East and at the southern borders, there were 1568 thousand, or more than 28%. Of the 4495 tanks in service with the Red Army at that time, there were 2541 tanks in the Far East and the southern borders of the USSR, and 2951 of the 5274 aircraft remained there. “… With this policy coordinated with Berlin, Tokyo dragged out the Great Patriotic War, increasing the losses of the Soviet people.
The Japanese attack on the USSR, planned for August 29, 1941, did not take place as a result of the disruption of the German plan for a blitzkrieg and the preservation of a large group of Soviet troops in the Far East.
By the document “Program for the Implementation of the State Policy of the Empire”, adopted on September 6, 1941 at a meeting of the highest leadership of Japan in the presence of Emperor Hirohito, it was decided to continue the seizure of the colonial possessions of the Western powers in the south, without stopping before the war. A few days later it became known in the Kremlin.
The resident of the Soviet military intelligence in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, reported on September 14: “According to a source of Invest (Hokumi Ozaki – A.K.), the Japanese government decided not to oppose the USSR this year, but the armed forces will be left in the MChG (Manchukuo. – A.K.) in case of performance in the spring of next year in case of defeat of the USSR by that time “…
Note that in Russian sources, especially in the articles of publicists who, apparently, are not familiar with the full text of the message to Sorge, the second part of the encryption is often omitted. But she mattered no less than the first. The Soviet intelligence officer warned that it was only about postponing the attack on the USSR, which, of course, was taken into account when determining the scale of the transfer of troops from the eastern regions of the country to Moscow.
Although Sorge reported the likelihood of an attack next spring, Japan’s war in the south did not rule out an attack on the Soviet Union earlier. The General Staff of the Japanese ground forces developed a version of the plan for the war against the USSR “Kantokuen” (“Special maneuvers of the Kwantung Army”), which was to be carried out immediately after the fall of Moscow, and a sharp change in favor of Japan in the balance of forces in the Far East. Given the complexity of offensive operations on all fronts in the autumn-winter period, the General Staff envisaged an initial strike in the eastern (coastal) direction. After the invasion of Primorye, the troops of the Eastern Front were to advance on Khabarovsk, capturing it before the onset of severe cold weather. The troops of the Northern and Western Fronts were to gain a foothold in the areas of the Small and Big Khingan, respectively, and await the onset of spring. With the beginning of ice melting, it was planned to force the Amur and develop an offensive to the west from the Rukhlovo – Bolshoi Khingan region in the direction of Lake Baikal.
In development of this plan, the command of the Kwantung Army proposed, with the start of an offensive on the eastern front, by forces of two or three divisions in the fall to force the Amur in the Khabarovsk region in order to facilitate the capture of the city. Operations to seize Northern Sakhalin, Kamchatka and other regions, as well as the occupation of the Mongolian People’s Republic, were to be carried out in accordance with the previous concept of the Cantokuen plan. Despite the preparations for the conduct of hostilities in the south, the Japanese Navy also retained a grouping of forces created specifically for the war against the USSR. They were consolidated into the 5th Fleet, which was based in the area of the northern port of Ominato.
The Japanese troops allocated for the war against the USSR were not included in the battle plans in the south and were preparing for action in the north. Japanese sources indicate that in the context of the outbreak of war against the United States and Great Britain and for the continuation of hostilities in China, Japan retained up to 40% of its divisions in Manchuria, Korea and the mother country against the USSR. There are other numbers as well. So, according to the information at the disposal of the Tokyo Tribunal, by December 5, 1941, about 50% of the infantry divisions, 75-80% of the cavalry units, about 65% of the tank regiments, half of the artillery and aviation of the ground forces were prepared for the attack on the Soviet Union.
The most anti-Soviet politicians and the military have openly stated that “The empire must play its role in ending the German-Soviet war”… The influential Japanese magazine Kaizo published in the November 1941 issue of the article “A New Stage of the Soviet-German War and Japan”, which stated: “Japan rejoices at the victories of its ally, Germany, and wishes her further success. Japan must undoubtedly use the international situation created by Germany’s victories in order to accomplish its own great cause … “
By the end of November, Hitler’s troops approached Moscow. However, contrary to the expectations of the Japanese command, even in this critical period, the forces of the Red Army in the Far East were not weakened: instead of the divisions that were leaving for Moscow, new divisions were formed at the expense of local conscription. After a thorough analysis of the situation, the Japanese command was forced to come to the conclusion that it was advisable to postpone the date of the armed uprising against the USSR until the spring of 1942. On December 3, the imperial headquarters sent order No. 578 to the Kwantung Army, which stated: “To provide the empire with resources and create a new order in the Great East Asia, it was decided to start a war with the USA, Great Britain and Holland. It is envisaged to quickly launch an offensive in important areas in the south and at the same time resolve the Chinese incident (this is how Japan called the war unleashed in China in 1937. – A.K.); at this time, not to allow war with Russia. ” Together with the order, headquarters directive No. 1048 was issued, in which the task of the Kwantung Army was set: “In accordance with the evolving situation, intensify preparations for operations against Russia. Be ready to start hostilities in the spring of 1942 “…
However, among the Japanese leadership, there was still hope that Hitler’s troops would still be able to capture Moscow by the end of the year, in which case the Japanese offensive could begin in winter. Therefore, on December 3, 1941, the headquarters issued order No. 575 to the commander of the expeditionary army in China on the possible partial transfer of troops subordinate to him to the north. The order prescribed, with the beginning of hostilities against the Soviet Union, first of all, to seize the Ussuri region, and if successful, launch an offensive on the Northern Front. For this it was necessary to transfer six divisions from China to the Kwantung Army. To break through the Soviet defense line in the winter of 194-1942. and the crossing of the Amur, Ussuri and other water barriers, additional artillery and engineering units were sent to the Kwantung Army. On January 10, 1942, the General Staff issued directive No. 1073, ordering the command of the ground forces to send units to the northern front, to Manchuria, which were released after operations in the south.
The Kwantung Army understood that the decision to postpone the attack to the spring of 1942 was of a general nature, and continued to prepare for a “turning point” on the Soviet-German front. After receiving the order of December 3, the chief of staff of the Kwantung Army at a meeting of the commanders of the formations gave the following instructions: “To complete the ongoing preparations for operations against the Soviet Union, each army and formation of the first line must make every effort to ensure that, observing the constantly occurring changes in the martial situation of the USSR and Mongolia, be able to establish the true situation at any time. This is especially true in the present conditions, when more and more it becomes necessary to establish the signs of a turning point in the situation. “… It was about being in a state of constant readiness to fulfill the order to enter the war after the fall of Moscow. The strategy chosen by the Japanese generals was called the “ripe persimmon theory”. Its meaning was to fall on the USSR from the east, when it, like a ripe fruit, is ready “To fall at the feet of Japan”…
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