Operation August Storm – Soviet Union invades Manchuria – Japan surrenders ending World War II
Most westerners and historians believe the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the reasons for the Japanese surrender, but in reality they were just a major part. Japan had been looking to the Soviet Union as a neutral power and one which they had a non aggression pact with, to help negotiate surrender terms.
However, the Soviet Union caught Japan unaware by not only informing them they would not renew the neutrality agreement, but then speeding things up and revoking it entirely and declaring war in August of 1945. This war has been called “Operation August Storm,” and also the “Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.” Stalin had agreed with the Allies at the Yalta Conference in February that they would declare war on Japan three months after Germany had been defeated.
One hour after declaration of war, Soviet troops on three fronts under the overall command of Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevksy, invaded an area of Northeast China known as Manchuria, which had been a puppet regime of Manchukuo for 17 years. Two Soviet fronts on the far east and one Transbaikal front had over one million men, 89 divisions, 3,704 tanks, 1,852 self-propelled guns, 27,086 artillery equipment and 3,721 aircraft at their disposal.
The Japanese had troops of 600,000 under General Otzuzo Yamada Kwangtung plus 40,000 Manchukuo defense force troops and 10,000 Mengjiang militia men from Inner Mongolia. They only had 1,215 armored vehicles including light tanks, 6,700 artillery and 1,800 aircraft. Outnumbered in every aspect, the Japanese were poorly prepared, and their intelligence system had failed. The surprise element, the greater mobility of the Soviet Union’s troops and key airfields caused the Japanese to quickly collapse.
The Japanese troops surrendered on August 23, 1945, but resistance pockets continued to fight until the end of war. The Northeast China cities of Mukden, Changchun and Qigihar were all secure. September 2, 1945 Japan formally surrendered and six days later, the American troops landed in the port city of Inchon preventing the Soviets from occupying all of Korea. The Soviets also wanted the Island of Hokkaido, but General Douglas MacArthur squelched that notion by threatening military action if they set one foot on the island.