February 24 marked the 50th anniversary of Mongolia and Japan’s establishment of diplomatic relations. Beyond the Japan-Mongolia strategic partnership in the political and economic fields, the two governments are dedicating 2022 as a Year of Friendship and Exchanges between the Mongolian and Japanese Children and Youth.
Since Japan’s first encounter with the Mongols in the 13th century, Mongolia and Japan’s bilateral relations were hindered by geopolitical instabilities and expansionist ideologies involving not only Japan but also Russia and China, followed by the years of Cold War spoils.
The Battle of Khalkhiin Gol of 1939 – known as the Nomonkhan Incident in Japan – was the culmination of the geopolitical competition between Japan’s Kwatung Army and Soviet Russia over the eastern territories, including Mongolia’s borders. In the words of Japanese historian Atsushi Kawai, “The defeat of the Battle of Khalkhiin Gol, for the Japanese government, was the turning point from the Northern Expansion Doctrine (Hokushin-ron) to the Southern Expansion Doctrine (Nanshin-ron) then to Pacific war.” The Battle of Khalkhiin Gol, often unheeded in the world history, was indeed a watershed moment in shaping the policies of the Northeast Asian countries.
It would take more than four decades for Mongolia and Japan to normalize diplomatic relations. It wasn’t until 1968 that Mongolia and Japan actively discussed bilateral friendship. The then- chairman of Mongolia’s Peace Committee, D. Adilbish, attended the opening ceremony of the Japan-Mongolia Friendship Association and a conversation took place that opened the door for future diplomatic relations. Later, in 1970, Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) Prime Minister Tsedenbal Yumjaa reiterated Mongolia’s readiness to normalize relations with Japan.
Source – Diplomat