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Itinerary of the Commission

The Lytton Commission was supposed to report to the League of Nations within six months, which was of course a short time for the evaluation of such a complex territorial problem. The film gives the impression that during the period of inquiry both the S.M.R. and the Japanese government cooperated with the Lytton Commission in an excellent manner. The Japanese provided the infrastructure needed for the investigation, i.e. the trains, aeroplanes, cars, hotel accommodation and ships, thus playing a major role in organising the Commissions’ travels.

Route Maps: Itineraries of the Commission in the Far East (League of Nations (ed.): Appeal by the Chinese Government. Report of the Commission of Enquiry. Appendix, Maps No. 13 and 14, Geneva: League of Nations, 1932.)

Henri-Edouard Claudel, Mrs. Koo, Heinrich Schnee, Wellington Koo (Source: Schnee,Völker und Mächte im Fernen Osten, p. 16-17)

The League of Nations publication of the Lytton Report includes a detailed table of the commission's travels. The commissioners had to travel by ship via the United States to Yokohama 横浜 and later to Tokyo 東京 because according to the Japanese the faster route via the Trans-Siberian railway had been destroyed by Chinese bandits east of Manchouli 満洲里. On 29 February 1932, the Commission arrived in Tokyo and was joined by the Japanese Assessor Yoshida Isaburo. After leaving Tokyo, on 14 March the commission reached Shanghai 上海 via Kyoto 京都, Nara 奈良, Osaka 大阪 and Kobe 神戸 and here was joined by the Chinese assessor Wellington Koo.

Zhang Xueliang (Source: Schnee,Völker und Mächte im Fernen Osten, p. 32)

On 26 March the Commission proceeded to Nanjing 南京, where they met with members of the Chinese government. On 1 April they left Nanjing to move on to Peiping 北京, via the Yangtze Valley 长江. On 9 April the commission arrived in Peiping. Here several conferences were held with Zhang Xueliang (Chang Hsueh-Liang, 張學良), the warlord ruler of Manchuria, who had declared his allegiance to the Nanjing government, and who, after the Japanese invasion, had been forced to withdraw his troops.

Evidence about the situation in Manchuria was also given by Chinese generals who had been in command of the troops at the barracks at Mukden on the night of 18 September 1931. The commissioners’ stay in Peiping was prolonged because Japanese officials would not allow the Chinese assessor of the commission, Wellington Koo, and his staff to enter Manchuria. The reason given for this was that Koo had been an advisor of Zhang Xueliang. Koo’s presence, the Japanese argued, would cause further upheaval and disruption and hamper the maintenance of law and order in Manchuria. Lytton, however, refused to go to Manchuria without the Chinese assessor.

Still from the Film

In the end the Commission entered Manchuria (meeting afterwards in Mukden) in three groups: the first, Schnee and Claudel, travelled with a Japanese destroyer to Dairen, the second, comprising Aldrovandi, McCoy and Haas, went by railway via Shanhaikwan 山海关 and the third group with Lytton escorting Koo arrived in Dairen on the Chinese cruiser Haichi 圻海. The film portrays an impressive and triumphant arrival for the Japanese destroyer, naturally without mentioning the manifold difficulties beforehand.

After the Commission had arrived in Manchuria, the difficulties in their working situation did not subside either. For instance the commissioners faced problems in contacting Chinese authorities (The Times, 7 June 1932). In April 1932, Lytton wrote to his wife from the Yamato Hotel ヤマトホテル in Mukden: “Our first week has been rather a nightmare – the Japs are very suspicious. Our ‘protection’ is very obtrusive and we are treated practically as prisoners.” (Lytton to Lady Lytton, 28 April 1932. Lytton Papers, cit. in Nish 1993: 129). Any of these difficulties go, of course, unmentioned in the film.

The Commission remained in Manchuria for about six weeks, visiting Mukden (21 April - 2 May ), Changchun 長春 (2 - 9 May), Harbin (9 - 21 May), Dairen (26 - 30 May), Anshan 鞍山 (30 May), Fushun 抚顺 (1 June) and Chinchow (4 June). They intended to visit Tsitsihar/Qiqihar 齊齊哈爾 (then capital of Heilongjiang), too, but the Japanese military stated that they were unable to guarantee the Commission’s safety if they were to travel via railway. Accordingly, only some members of the staff visited Tsitsihar by plane (May 22 - 24). During that time, the commissioners had numerous meetings and conferences, e.g. with the commander of the Kwantung Army, Lieutenant-General Shigeru Honjo 本庄繁, and with Puyi 溥儀 , former (and last) emperor of China and now Chief Executive (later emperor) of Manchukuo. The Commission also received delegations from the local population, e.g. Korean residents complaining about Zhang Xueliang’s regime. In addition, they visited economically important places such as the S.M.R. Agricultural Experiment Station and the Open-Cut Mine in Fushun , which in the film is celebrated as surpassing in scale the cut of Culebra at the Panama Canal.

On the 5th June the Commission returned to Peiping where they began an analysis of the documentary material they had collected. On the 28th June the commissioners proceeded to Tokyo via Chosen 朝鮮 (Korea). After their arrival in Tokyo on the 4th July, meetings were held with members of the new Japanese government under prime minister Saito Makoto. Besides others they met with Foreign Minister Uchida Kosei 内田康哉, for example, who had been installed in May 1932 after the assassination of prime minister Inukai Tsuyoshi 犬養毅). On the 20th July the commissioners returned to Peiping, where they took until the 4th September to draft the Commission’s report.