Appendices - Hirohito's War
O. Japanese – Soviet Conflict in Siberia, Mongolia and Manchuria
The Yalta Conference: Held just outside the Black sea resort of Yalta on 4–11 February 1945, the conference, at the Livadia Palace, the summer residence of Tsar Nicholas II, was the second and last meeting of the big three allied leaders, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. By the time of the next meeting at Potsdam, Roosevelt was dead (replaced by Harry Truman), a not unexpected event to those who observed the dying President at Yalta, while Churchill, less expectedly, lost the British election mid-conference and was replaced by the Labour Party leader and new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. By the end of the Potsdam conference, of the original big three, Stalin was the last man standing.
At Yalta the allies sat down to deal with the fraught issue of how to divide the world after the war ended. Victory was now in sight in both Europe and the Pacific. all the leaders arrived in Yalta with an agenda. Stalin’s priority was to carve out an area of influence in central Europe—an essential buffer as he saw it for the soviet Union’s security. The future of Poland became the main fulcrum of debate. Churchill, whose nation was by now seen as the weakest of the three, modestly pressed for free elections and, as ever, Churchill, aside the issue of Poland, was most preoccupied by Britain’s retention of its empire.
Roosevelt’s pet project meanwhile was ‘international trusteeships’ and the concept of collective security provided by a United nations organization. Meanwhile he wanted Stalin, above all else, to turn his military attentions to help finish off Japan in Manchuria and northern China and to attack Japan in support of the planned Us offensive. Roosevelt did not want Us troops to carry the burden of casualties in the Far east alone; he did not need the example of Iwo Jima, whose invasion by US Marines followed a week after the Yalta conference ended, to remind him of the ferocity of battle with Japanese troops, who, in the island campaigns of the Pacific War, had suffered average death rates of more than 97 percent.
It was already clear to America’s commander in chief that the conquest of Japan, if it came to that, would be a bloody affair with a level of casualties that would potentially be unacceptable to the American people. “Russia’s entry at an early a date as possible consistent with her ability to engage in offensive operations,”8 the Us joint chiefs of staff advised Roosevelt in January 1945, “is necessary to provide maximum assistance to our Pacific Operations.”9 The atom bomb at this point was still an uncertain project.
As a quid pro quo for his promising to declare war on Japan within three months of defeating Germany, Stalin demanded that Mongolia should be autonomous and permanently separated from china—in effect a soviet satellite state. He also demanded control of Manchuria’s railways and Port Arthur (Lushunkou) as well as the return of Sakhalin Island and the Kurils, which had been lost to Japan at the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1906.
Roosevelt was happy to accede to these requests and even suggested that Port Arthur be turned into an international free port, hoping that this would be a model that Churchill would follow in Hong Kong. However, with regards to Stalin’s claims in china, Roosevelt added a proviso, “that the agreement concerning Outer Mongolia and the ports and railroads . . . will require concurrence of General Chiang Kai-shek.”10 To help sell the deal to Chiang, Roosevelt dispatched ambassador Patrick Hurley to Chongqing to assure Chiang that the US had sought and achieved Stalin’s support for a unified china under Kuomintang control.
Overall Roosevelt was happy with the deal, particularly with obtaining Stalin’s agreement to attack Japan. “This makes the trip worthwhile,”11 Roosevelt told his chief of staff, Admiral Leahy.