The Japanese Army Occupied Vragaeschensk (Blagoveshchensk)


During the Russian Civil War, the Imperial Japanese Army, moving both northward from Vladivostok and westward from Khabarovsk, had captured the city of Blagoveshchensk by September 23, 1918. This lithograph shows Bolshevik soldiers laying down their weapons at the feet of Japanese officers as Japanese troops march in the background. Located at the confluence of the Amur and Zeya Rivers, Blagoveshchensk was a strategically important site. With the city secure, two leading Japanese officers, Field Marshal Uehara Yusaku and General Ugaki Kazunari, put forward a paper entitled “Study Regarding Reestablishing an Eastern Front,” in which they advocated Japanese occupation of the whole of Siberia. However, Prime Minister Hara Takashi and War Minister Tanaka Giichi did not believe that there was domestic political support for such a large-scale intervention. Thus on October 22, 1918, the Japanese cabinet under Hara’s leadership reaffirmed its earlier decision to not authorize Japanese forces to move further west than Irkutsk.  Between August 1918 and October 1922, the Imperial Japanese Army participated in the “Siberian Intervention,” an attempt by the Allied powers of World War I to support White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War (1917–22). Soldiers from nine countries participated in the intervention, which began in August 1918. While the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their forces in 1920, the Japanese army remained in the Russian Far East and Siberia for another two years. More than 70,000 Japanese troops participated in the fighting. To support the action of the Japanese military, in 1919 Tokyo-based publisher Shōbidō Co. Ltd. produced a series of patriotic lithographic prints depicting various scenes from the campaign entitled “The Illustration of the Siberian War.”

Last updated: November 14, 2017