TYPE: Medal
CONDITION: Both medal & ribbon are in very nice shape.
ITEM ID: 2194
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WWII Nomonhan Incident Survivor Medal

DATE
Decade: 1940s
Century: 20th (1901-2000)

WWII Japanese medal issued to a survivor of the Nomonahan Incident or the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, 1939. On the obverse side: Emperor Puyi’s orchard crest at top, dove with outstretched wings at center, “auspicious” clouds in the field, and a globe below depicting Asia. Reverse:  “Border Incident.”  Nomonhan was the name of a village near a border disputed by Mongolia and the Japanese Puppet State of Manchukuo. The Japanese claimed that the river Khalkhin Gol represented the border while the Mongolians claimed the border was near the village of Nomonhan, about 16 kilometers east of the river. In May of 1939 a small Mongolian cavalry unit came near the town of Nomonhan and a Manchurian cavalry unit forced them out. Several days later, the Mongolians returned with a larger unit and occupied the area. The Japanese Kwantung Army and the Manchurian Army used this as an excuse to occupy parts of Mongolia that were under a Russian sphere of influence, thus getting the Soviets directly involved. The Japanese sent two regiments from the 23rd Division which were initially successful in driving the Mongolians out but, shortly after, the Mongolians returned and, this time, with the help of the Soviets, wiped out the two Japanese regiments killing 97 men and 8 officers and wounding 34. This represented a casualty rate of about 65% for the Japanese and should have made them think twice about pursuing their claims. But things just escalated from there with both sides building up their forces, with the Japanese moving 30,000 troops into the area and the Soviets dispatching Lieutenant General Georgi Zhukov to lead the offensive with his formidable mechanized armored car and tank units.  The Japanese launched massive air attacks without approval from Tokyo. These were successful at first but were called off as Tokyo tried to avoid a larger conflict. Unable to control the powerful Kwantung Army, the fighting escalated, culminating in September with a ceasefire signed by the Japanese. In the end, out of a total of 75,000 troops, the Japanese lost at least 8,400 men. The Soviets suffered 8,248 losses out of a total of 57,000 troops. The battle of Nomohan represented a major defeat for the Kwantung Army and led to its loss of influence in the Japanese government. The Japanese Navy became more powerful as Japan began looking to the oil rich regions of Southeast Asia and away from developing the areas around Russia. This would lead to a clash with the United States and the attack on Pearl Harbor two years later.