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Siberia is the huge eastern portion of Russia.
it is large, sparsely
inhabited, and lacking in
infrastructure, with the Trans-Siberian Railway forming a narrow
corridor in 1941. The climate is
brutal, with temperatures as
low as -80 F (-60 C) during
the long winters. However, the region was believed to have
natural resources (a suspicion amply borne out after the war) and the Japanese
attempted to seize control of it during the Allied intervention in the
Civil War in the early 1920s.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917,
the new Russian government made peace with Germany and turned to suppressing
internal counterrevolution. Czech army units in Russia, which had been
fighting for the Allies, were ordered to disarm. Instead, the Czech
Legion seized portions of the Trans-Siberia Railroad, and the Allies
intervened on the pretext of rescuing the Czech Legion. Japanese troops
had already made one landing in Vladivostok,
in December 1917, and in April 1918 they landed a much larger force to
seize the military supply depots before they could be turned over to
the Germans. The United
States, Britain, France, and Japan agreed to assemble a combined expeditionary force
for Siberia of not more than 7000 troops each, but the Japanese contingent
soon grew beyond this ceiling, This caused considerable bad feelings
in the United States, though Bolshevik atrocities against Japanese civilians at Nikolatevsk and elsewhere gave Japan a special stake in the expedition. A new
ceiling of 12,000 men was soon exceeded as well. 12 Division landed at
on 18 August, was soon joined by 7
Division, and the two divisions
and their supporting elements, numbering some 70,000 troops, were soon
operating as far west as Lake Baikal.
The campaign quickly bogged down into a guerrilla war, while rice riots in Japan in September 1918
prompted the government to call out Army units to suppress the riots.
The United States withdrew their troops from Siberia in 1920, and the
Japanese were compelled
to pull their armies back to Manchuria
in late 1922.
A brutal footnote to the Intervention was a bloody
campaign against anti-Japanese forces on the Yalu River in Korea in October 1920.
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