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Old 23 Feb 12, 17:49
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Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
Actually Siberia had lots of useful stuff. Oil is the biggest of the "stuff".
The whole irony was that Japan had more to lose than to gain from the conflict, especially in the light of US' growing hostility and its oil embargo. Japan had oil concessions on the Soviet territory at North Sakhalin which produced an average of 160-180 thousand tons an year. Why risk a stable source of oil which could be easily reached by bomber aircraft from the mainland when the Soviet side didn't take any serious action to halt oil production there even during the conflicts at lake Khasan and Khalkhin-Gol?

Beside North Sakhalin there were no other discovered oil wells in the whole region, at least those which would be feasible to develop, taking into account the delivery costs.

It's incredible how off base were those Japanese Generals (and their modern day fans) who proposed the Northern option - keeping a stable source of oil coming from a state with a powerful overland army while attacking the colonies of the faraway and weakened British empire was the only natural choice for Japan. The only reason for attacking the SU was pure militaristic frenzy of the IJA as no economic calculations could support such decision.

Then you have the minerals.
There were not too many to speak of. From my geography classes at school I remember that it only made sense to export gold and diamonds from Siberia, the other mineral ores had to be processed into concentrates to make their delivery to the factories feasible. This is not speaking of the weather and terrain conditions at most mines. The Japanese could get it all in China far easier.

Most important might well have been space to allow colonists.
China and Manchukou presented lots of opportunities for colonisation with their much more hospitable climate.

The Japanese Army had occupied much of Siberia after WW I and had a good idea what was there.
Nobody has ever said that they were led by the considerations of any grand economic startegy. It's much more likely that the idea of "Let's smash these Commie wimps! Banzai!" seemed to be the only thing the Army leaders had in their minds. During the occupation of the Russian Far East the Japanese mainly plundered whatever was left from the Tsar's times: they took all the ships of the Amur Flotilla and the Amur Shipping, they about 2000 railway carriages and even a large amount of rails of the Transsiberian Railroad, large quantities of timber and about 40 tons of gold, part of which was the Tsar's gold kept by Kolchak. While these resources were worth their while, there was nothing strategic about them as opposed to what they could get in the South.

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