'An Ambiguous Area’: Mongolia in Soviet-Japanese relations in the mid-1930s


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1 Citation (Scopus)


The Mongolian People's Republic (MPR) became the focus of intense competition between the Soviet Union and Japan in the 1930s, when it was more commonly known as Outer Mongolia. The Soviet Union viewed the MPR as an ideological and strategic ally, and was determined to defend that state against the increasingly adventurist actions of the Japanese military based in northern China. Japanese ambitions to solve the so-called ‘Manmo’ (Manchuria-Mongolia) problem led the Soviets to initiate ever-closer links with the MPR, culminating in the 1936 pact of mutual assistance which was intended to constrain Japanese pressure. Using unpublished Japanese materials as well as Russian and Mongolian sources, this article demonstrates how the Soviet leadership increasingly viewed the MPR as strategically crucial to the defence of the Soviet Far East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-758
Number of pages29
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number3
Early online date6 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

This article is a much-revised and updated version of a paper previously presented at the International Centre for Economic and Related Disciplines at the London School of Economics and Political Science, which is available as International Studies discussion paper 1982/II. I am grateful for the helpful comments by Professor Ian Nish and colleagues at the original symposium and by the three anonymous reviewers of this journal.


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