According to the common understanding, World War II started on September 1, 1939 when Hitler's Germany attacked Poland. However, Chinese historians do not agree with this. Back in 1931 Japan occupied Northeast China, which back then was called Manchuria. Six years later a full-scale war broke out, which by 1939 took the lives of 20 million Chinese military personnel and civilians. The plans of the Japanese military were extensive, says Anatoly Koshkin, an expert at the Russian association of WWII historians.
“As far as Eastern Asia and the Pacific go, the Japanese fulfilled their plans in 1941-42. They occupied most of China and arrived at the coast of Australia, having invaded the Philippines, Indonesia and all the countries of Southeast Asia. The so-called Greater East-Asian Co-prosperity Sphere, which was part of the Japanese plan, included the occupation of the greater part of our country as well. Specifically, it included Primorsky Krai, Baikal region, Amur region, Sakhalin and Kamchatka. According to the agreement with the German command, in the event of a victory by the Soviet Union, the meridian of Omsk was to become the divide between the German and the Japanese troops. They talked about dividing the entire world between Germany and Japan”.
From 1938-1939 the Japanese army undertook several attempts to enter the Soviet Far East and Mongolia. The aggressors were defeated by the Red Army near Lake Khasan and later, in cooperation with the Mongolian troops, near the Khalkhin Gol River. Those defeats stopped Japan's expansion to the North.
During World War II it was the army and the navy of the Anglo-American allies who played the leading role in the defeat of the Japanese military machine in the Pacific theater of war. But the war ended where it began. In Manchuria in August 1945, after a blitz attack of the Red Army, the million-soldier strong Kwantung Army was defeated.
Even prior to the end of the battle the Japanese Emperor Hirohito said, “Now that the Soviet Union joined the war against us the continuation of resistance means a threat to the foundations of the existence of our empire”.
The victory of the anti-Hitler coalition over Nazi Germany and the militarist Japan largely determined the post-war development of humankind, says Alexander Chubaryan, director of Russia's World History Institute.
“The victory showed that countries that differ from each other ideologically and politically in extreme situations could come to an agreement if there existed a common threat. That is a lesson for today's fight against extremism. Countries can come to an agreement in a common fight”.
All countries of the anti-Hitler coalition were present at the capitulation of Japan on September 2, 1945. When the ink dried, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur said, “And now let's pray for peace, which has just been restored, and let God always protect it”.