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China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945

4. Life in Manchukuo

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think briefly about what life was like in Japanese-occupied Manchuria – a region the Japanese referred to as ‘Manchukuo’ – focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which the Japanese attempted to present ‘Manchukuo’ as an independent state; (ii) the oppressiveness of Japanese rule, including the use of forced labour; (iii) the influx of a different group of Japanese in the 1930s, who came to Manchuria to escape the repressive politics back at home; (iv) the education system in Manchukuo; and (v) how we might explain the contradictory experiences of the Chinese in Manchukuo.


In this course, Dr Marjorie Dryburgh (University of Sheffield) explores the relationship between China and Japan between c.1840-1945, with a particular focus on the events that led to the outbreak of war between the two nations in July 1937. In the first module, we think about the longer-term political context of Sino-Japanese relations (from the mid-19th century onwards) before turning in the second module to consider the cultural relationship between China and Japan. In the third module, we think about the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, followed in the fourth module by an brief exploration of life in Japanese-occupied Manchuria (referred to by the Japanese as Manchukuo). In the fifth module, we think about why the Marco Polo Bridge Incident escalated so quickly into war, before turning in the sixth module to consider the Chinese experience of war more generally – including the notorious ‘Nanjing Massacre’ of December 1937. Finally, in the seventh module, we think about the incorporation of the Sino-Japanese War into the Second World War more generally – particularly after the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor – and the (in)effectiveness of China’s international diplomacy in the face of the Japanese threat.


Dr Marjorie Dryburgh is Lecturer in Chinese Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. She works on the modern history of China, with specific interests in China’s relations with Japan before 1945, regional and urban histories, and the conventions and uses of life writing.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Dryburgh, M. (2021, February 11). China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945 - Life in Manchukuo [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dryburgh, Marjorie. "China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945 – Life in Manchukuo." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Feb 2021,