Why did China never invade Japan?

Feb 2017
313
Latin America
One thing to mention:
The Mongolian system at the time was more efficient and effective (militarily) than the cumbersome Jin, Xixia, and Song system at the time.
Especially the Song Dynasty; in spite of its huge population and financial resources, it failed to develop a formidable military force.
Note that Cantonese and other Southern Chinese were as "mellow" as typical Yangtze Chinese.
Why did the Khwarazmian Dynasty crumble before Mongolian forces?
Note that Mongolians were halted in the Second Mongol invasion of Hungary and Third Mongol invasion of Poland.
Wang Renyu once mentioned that prior the Industrial Revolution, states could not excel in both army and navy in his Chinese Macrohistory.
Note that Napoleon had a sizable yet inept navy.

Now, back to why China never invaded Japan:
Mongolians (or the Yuan Dynasty to be exact) invaded Japan twice and were repelled, and it was notably that Mongolian expansions were
halted on European, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Indian fronts.
The Chinese might be knowledgeable about Japan; then, what existed in Japan might render conquest desirable?
The Mongols were not "halted" in Europe. How could they when they conquered Russia, the biggest European state. Neither did the Poles nor the Hungarians defeat them. The Mongols retired for unclear reasons, not because they were "halted". It's not like the Indonesians, Burmese, Vietnamese and Japanese, who did halt the Mongols by themselves rather than the Mongols deciding to abruptly retire for unclear reasons.
 
Jul 2019
28
Victoria
The Mongols were not "halted" in Europe. How could they when they conquered Russia, the biggest European state. Neither did the Poles nor the Hungarians defeat them. The Mongols retired for unclear reasons, not because they were "halted". It's not like the Indonesians, Burmese, Vietnamese and Japanese, who did halt the Mongols by themselves rather than the Mongols deciding to abruptly retire for unclear reasons.
The Kievan Rus at that time was a federation of slavic principalities that was in strong regional conflict at that time. They were big but it doesn't mean they were comparable to the HRE or the Capetian France.
 
Feb 2017
313
Latin America
The Kievan Rus at that time was a federation of slavic principalities that was in strong regional conflict at that time. They were big but it doesn't mean they were comparable to the HRE or the Capetian France.
Maybe but I doubt that they would have been better in the battlefield. In sieges it's probable, but I still think they would have been kicked like footballs by the Mongols in the open field.
 
Jul 2019
28
Victoria
Maybe but I doubt that they would have been better in the battlefield. In sieges it's probable, but I still think they would have been kicked like footballs by the Mongols in the open field.
It depends i guess. After the Hungarian military reforms they were able to defeat the Golden Horde in an open battle. (Which VHS mentioned) But that was a time after the likes of Subutai had passed.
 
Nov 2019
53
Solar System
One thing to mention:
The Mongolian system at the time was more efficient and effective (militarily) than the cumbersome Jin, Xixia, and Song system at the time.
Especially the Song Dynasty; in spite of its huge population and financial resources, it failed to develop a formidable military force.
Note that Cantonese and other Southern Chinese were as "mellow" as typical Yangtze Chinese.
Song Dynasty was actually the weakest one of the three, since they didn't have access to the horse-breeding grounds. And also, unlike the Jin and the Xixia who faced an early still-rising Mongol empire, the Song fought with the Mongol empire during the heyday, when they already controlled much of Eurasia. The Song was a tiny state in comparison to the Mongol behemoth. But despite the odds, the Song managed to resist for several decades. I wouldn't say their military was that ineffective. And they also resisted the Jin for nearly a century. If their military was that ineffective, they should have crumbled a long time before 1279.

Only the Yangtse Delta Chinese (Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang) were your typical "mellow Chinese" due to northern Central Plain influence, other Southern Chinese were quite formidable. The Sichuan Chinese, despite also located on the Yangtse River, fought bravely against the Mongols, even managed to defeat Mongke under the walls of the Diaoyu Cheng fortress.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,739
Florania
It depends i guess. After the Hungarian military reforms they were able to defeat the Golden Horde in an open battle. (Which VHS mentioned) But that was a time after the likes of Subutai had passed.
The Mongolian military prowess waned after Kublai Khan, and during the end of the Yuan Dynasty, it became largely a feeble giant.
How and why did the Mongolian military prowess decline?
The Tumu Crisis meant the decline of the Ming Dynasty and a short revival of the Mongolian fortune; the Tatars also remained a threats.
Ligdan Khutugtu Khan was one of "the eyes are bigger than the belly" type; due to his lack of military, diplomatic, and political finesse, he lost all hopes of reviving the Mongolian fortunes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Obsessive Feeder

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,725
The Mongolian military prowess waned after Kublai Khan, and during the end of the Yuan Dynasty, it became largely a feeble giant.
How and why did the Mongolian military prowess decline?
The Tumu Crisis meant the decline of the Ming Dynasty and a short revival of the Mongolian fortune; the Tatars also remained a threats.
Ligdan Khutugtu Khan was one of "the eyes are bigger than the belly" type; due to his lack of military, diplomatic, and political finesse, he lost all hopes of reviving the Mongolian fortunes.
The type of leaders who thrive under an expanding empire based on conquest tends to be much different than those who can advance under a larger empire more interested in maintaining the hierarchy than advancing itself against great risks.

Also the distances and geographical obstacles which led to early campaigns crumbling or diverting in certain directions remain and in the intervening years the targets most likely spent some time preparing which makes attacks more difficult.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Yuyue

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,739
Florania
The type of leaders who thrive under an expanding empire based on conquest tends to be much different than those who can advance under a larger empire more interested in maintaining the hierarchy than advancing itself against great risks.

Also the distances and geographical obstacles which led to early campaigns crumbling or diverting in certain directions remain and in the intervening years the targets most likely spent some time preparing which makes attacks more difficult.
The Mongolian Empire became unwieldy and cumbersome for the day's technologies.
Quality of leadership went downhill after Kublai Khan.
The Chinese once mentioned that "the fortune of the nearby foreigners don't last beyond a hundred year"; ironically, this doesn't seem to apply to
Liao, Jin, Xixia and Qing, all which were fairly long lasting dynasties by any standards.
 
Feb 2018
247
US
The Mongols were not the same military force after the dissolution and Toluid Civil War. This is complex and occurred for many reasons. Among the chief ones are the need to devote large amounts of manpower and tactical focus to countering their Mongol Khanate neighbors [which used to be unified], the lack of empire-wide synthesis and technology/idea transfer in the military sphere, generals becoming silver spoon princes instead of extraordinary talents recognized early and groomed in the keshig/as apprentices, and a general lack of desire compared to before. However, none actually lost territory until after a century and a half of internal decay, they were simply too weak to invade other nations anymore. Per the Yuan Shi, Mongolia proper was in great decay under the later Yuan.

The only successful external war after 1260 was the conquest of the Song, and that was only possible because they had that era's geniuses in Aju and Bayan, who had to repeatedly override their subordinates' inclinations to achieve a quick and total victory. Most of the Mongol 'invasions' after 1260 were either raids or were simply far more inept due to internal reasons than prior. It's like comparing the U.S.'s performance in WWII compared to Vietnam.

The Song had a horrible offensive track record after Zhao Kuangyin died, so they were not successful in most campaigns at projecting force northward against any of their four major enemies. But they proved very successful and inventive in making use of natural barriers and were skilled in manufacturing, technological innovation, and navies/fortifications. What other nation in history has created hundreds of miles of dense forests, swamps, and waterways to disrupt a potential cavalry invasion?

The Mongols and Manchu invasions were very different. Both spanned multiple generations of leadership, which makes it trickier to assess since not all leaders are equal. Japan in WWII did not have the greatly superior strategic and tactical edge the Mongols did, nor the internal disruption on the level of the Manchus. But terrain is not a good explanation: Northern China is not open at all until you get to the great plains - the Taihang Mountains and the Yellow River are formidable natural barriers, and S/W of the great plains the terrain becomes extremely difficult again. The Mongols invaded during a type of multi-state equilibrium where each state innovated greatly but could not overwhelm another offensively, like in early modern Europe with the Ottomans. With a rough estimate of 700k people, many horses, they faced off against Xi Xia (3M), Jin (53.5M+), Song (60M+), but only the first Xi Xia and Jin invasions involved the entire focus of the empire. Later invasions were always split across multiple fronts throughout Eurasia, which is very different from most wars in history.

As for invading Japan, first you need to control Korea, then you have to build an ocean-bound navy, and keep supplying the invading force across the ocean. Those are some pretty steep requirements for a place that offers no real threat.