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Why did Japan refuse Poland's declaration of war in WW2? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 16 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:17

When you make a formal declaration of war, the last thing you expect is for it to be rejected. But this is what happened to Poland during World War II when its government-in-exile declared war on Japan. The Japanese refused to accept this declaration as valid and thus promptly ignored it. Which raises a pretty obvious question. Why?

Speaker 1

00:00:17 - 00:00:44

Why did Japan refuse to acknowledge that Poland was at war with it? So during the interwar period, Japan and Poland had very good relations. This was due to their mutual dislike of the Soviet Union, and the 2 nations cooperated deeply in conducting espionage within the USSR. Japanese listening stations were located within Poland and Polish spies were smuggled in and out of the USSR via the vast Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. However, as you'll know, the Japanese allied with the Germans during the Second World War and its ally conquered Poland.

Speaker 1

00:00:45 - 00:01:10

The Japanese deeply disapproved of this, in part because their close ally had just been wiped out but also because Germany had done this in tandem with the USSR, which the Japanese government viewed as its greatest threat. That said, there wasn't anything that it could do about the destruction of Poland and so the Japanese simply said nothing. At least publicly. Privately, Japan supported the Polish government in London and the 2 continued to spy on the USSR together. Of course, at this point Japan wasn't at war with the Western powers.

Speaker 1

00:01:10 - 00:01:32

But when this changed in 1941, the Polish government-in-exile declared war on Japan like their hosts. So, the Japanese response was simple. No, we're not actually at war. Its main justification was that the Polish government in exile wasn't free to do as it chose, and was at this point a client of the British acting under immense pressure from the Americans. Thus, as far as the Japanese were concerned, the Polish didn't really want to declare war on their old allies.

Speaker 1

00:01:33 - 00:01:54

And friends don't let friends declare war on friends against their will. Of course, the Japanese also viewed countries like Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada in the same light, but they accepted their declarations of war. And the reason for that was proximity. Poland was half a world away and unable to actually do anything, whereas the others could project forces near enough to Japan to cause a potential issue. Also they sat where Japan wanted to expand her empire.

Speaker 1

00:01:54 - 00:02:14

Another issue was that whilst they wished to continue working with the Polish in order to spy on the USSR, they didn't want to upset their German allies too much. And acknowledging the declaration of war would also be acknowledging that a Poland still existed. So after the ignored declaration of war, what happened? Well, nothing. The Polish couldn't do anything against Japan because they had much more pressing issues closer to home.

Speaker 1

00:02:14 - 00:03:14

And when Japan surrendered to the Allies, Poland wasn't at the ceremony. This was because during negotiations with the USSR, the Western Allies had agreed to stop recognising the Polish government in exile as legitimate. And so after this, when normal relations were restored between Japan and the Allies in 1951, Poland's representative was the head of the Polish People's Republic, a communist state which Japan was not a fan of and the 2 held no formal relations until 1957. This was when Japan acknowledged communist rule there as legitimate, and also sort of maybe made peace despite not really ever having been to war just to sort of get things over with. Inside are Gustav Swan, Marvin Casal, Camoon Yoon, Winston Cawood, Boogily Woogily, Daniel Tobian, Miss Iset, Aaron the White, Corey Turner, The McWhopper, Alex Schwin, Anthony Beckett, Copper Tone, Maggie Patskowski, Shuenin, Spinning3plates, and Charles the First.