Lytton Report

Lytton Report

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was a report generated by a League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 commission in December 1931 to try to determine the causes of the Mukden Incident
Mukden Incident
The Mukden Incident, also known as the Manchurian Incident, was a staged event that was engineered by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for invading the northern part of China known as Manchuria in 1931....

 which led to the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

’s seizure of Manchuria.

The Commission

The Lytton Commission was headed by V. A. G. R. Bulwer-Lytton, the second Earl of Lytton
Earl of Lytton
Earl of Lytton, in the County of Derby, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1880 for the diplomat and poet Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Baron Lytton. He was Viceroy of India from 1876 to 1880 and British Ambassador to France from 1887 to 1891...

 of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and included four other men, one each from the US (Major General Frank Ross McCoy
Frank Ross McCoy
Frank Ross McCoy was an American soldier, born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1897, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and appointed to the 8th Cavalry. He served on the western front in Cuba, in the Philippines, and in the Santiago campaign...

), Germany (Dr. Heinrich Schnee), Italy (Count Aldrovandi-Marescotti), and France (General Henri Claudel). The group spent six weeks in Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 in spring 1932 on a fact-finding mission, after meeting with government leaders in the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 and in Japan. It was hoped that the report generated by the Commission would help defuse the growing hostilities between Japan and China and would thus help maintain peace and stability in the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...


The Lytton Report

The Lytton Report contained an account of the situation in Manchuria before September 1931, describing the unsatisfactory features of the Chinese administration and giving weight to the various claims and complaints of Japan. It then proceeded with a narrative of the events in Manchuria subsequent to September 18, 1931, based on the evidence of many participants and on that of eyewitnesses. It described the salient points of the Battle of Shanghai
Battle of Shanghai
The Battle of Shanghai, known in Chinese as Battle of Songhu, was the first of the twenty-two major engagements fought between the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China and the Imperial Japanese Army of the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War...

. It devoted particular attention to the origins and development of the State of Manchukuo
Manchukuo or Manshū-koku was a puppet state in Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy. The region was the historical homeland of the Manchus, who founded the Qing Empire in China...

, which had already been proclaimed by the time the Commission reached Manchuria. It also covered the question of the economic interests of Japan both in Manchuria and China as a whole, and the nature and effects of the Chinese anti-Japanese boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

. Russian
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 interests in the region were also mentioned. Finally, the Commission submitted a study of the conditions to which, in its judgment, any satisfactory solution should conform, and made various proposals and suggestions as to how an agreement embodying these principles might be brought about.

However the report did not directly address one of its chief goals: the cause of the Mukden Incident. Instead it simply stated the Japanese position (that the Chinese had been responsible) - with no comment as to the truth or falsity of the Japanese claims. Although there was no doubt as to Japan's guilt among the five commission members, Claudel (the French delegate) insisted that Japan not be portrayed as the aggressor.

In spite of care to preserve impartiality between the conflicting views of China and Japan, the effect of the Report was regarded as a substantial vindication of the Chinese case on most fundamental issues. In particular, the Commission stated that the operations of the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 following on the Mukden incident could not be regarded as legitimate self-defense. Regarding Manchukuo, the Report concluded that the new State could not have been formed without the presence of Japanese troops; that it had no general Chinese support; and that it was not part of a genuine and spontaneous independent movement.


In September 1932, even before the official announcement of the findings of the Lytton Report on October 2 1932 were made public, the Japanese government extended official diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition
Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences, whereby a state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state...

 to the puppet government of Manchukuo. When the findings of the Report were announced before the General Assembly of the League of Nations, and a motion was raised to condemn Japan as an aggressor in February 1933, the Japanese delegation led by ambassador Yosuke Matsuoka
Yosuke Matsuoka
was a diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan’s participation in that organization...

walked out. Japan gave formal notice of its withdrawal from the League of Nations on March 27, 1933.

In the end, the Lytton Report basically served to show the weaknesses of the League of Nations and its inability to enforce its decisions. The situation was complicated by the length of time it took for the Lytton Commission to prepare its report, during which time, Japan was able to firmly secure its control over Manchuria and was thus able to reject the condemnation of the League with impunity.