Hayashi crosses the Korean border at his own discretion
Ishihara and his group, hoping the incident would spread to other parts of Manchuria, devised a plot to send Japanese troops in Mukden to Jilin in the name of protecting of Japanese residents there, and asking Japanese troops in Korea to dispatch reinforcements to defend Mukden.
The decisions made by Shigeru Honjo, Commander of the Kwantung Army, and Senjuro Hayashi, Commander of the Korea Army, were later subject to criticism. On September 20, Honjo turned down a proposal from a group of staff officers to send troops to Jilin where they said the situation was being destabilized. At the time, the Kwantung Army’s duties were limited to guarding the coastal area of southern Manchuria, which embraced Dalian and Port Arthur (Lushun), and districts along the South Manchurian Railway. Jilin was outside the Kwantung Army’s area of authority. Nevertheless, Itagaki was eventually successful in persuading Honjo to agree to the proposed troop deployment to Jilin.
After the Second Division of the Kwantung Army left for Jilin, Hayashi issued an order at his own discretion to his troops on September 21 to march beyond the border into Manchuria as reinforcements, as strongly insisted on by Staff Officer Masatane Kanda of the Korea Army.
In his diary which referred to the Manchurian Incident, a Kwantung Army staff officer wrote: “In the event the Korean Army does not arrive, [we] will end up repeating virtually the Third Year of Showa Incident [the assassination of Chinese warlord Chang Tso-lin in 1928]. Our efforts will result in failure unless we get them involved.”
The public in Japan hailed Hayashi as “Ekkyo Shogun” (Border-crossing General), but such praise led to an acceptance of disarray in the supreme command—namely the Emperor’s prerogative as stipulated in Article 11 of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. Goro Morishima, chief of the First Division of the Asian Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry who happened to be in Mukden, recalled: “Honjo was in a position similar to being confined in an in-house jail, while Miyake had no power to control his staff. Itagaki, Ishihara and Hanaya were the dominant players.”
A post-incident scenario was also drawn up by Ishihara, Itagaki and other staff officers of the Kwantung Army. On September 22, they presented their proposal to the central command of the Imperial Japanese Army in Tokyo, calling for the installation of Puyi as Emperor of Manchukuo. Kenji Dohihara—the head of the Mukden Special Service Agency who had been secretly preparing for the return of the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty—told Kazue Kuwashima, Japan’s Consul General in Tianjin, “It is owing exclusively to the work of the military here that the Manchurian issue has been settled as much as it has to date. If Puyi, the Emperor of Xuantong (1909–11), is installed [as head of state of Manchukuo], it will be extremely strange for the government [in Tokyo] to stop the move...such a government policy is out of the question.”
How did the Manchurian Incident influence the military?
According to a journalist specializing in modern Japanese war history, one consequence was an increasing tendency to regard arbitrary acts not in conformity with military governance or discipline as inevitable amongst patriots. This phenomenon had a recurring impact on Japan until the end of World War II.
According to historian Ikuhiko Hata: “The maneuvers that took place before and during the Sino-Japanese War were all just modeled after what Itagaki and Ishihara had done. Staff officers should have borne greater responsibility, but, in reality, they were completely free from legal responsibility... Ishihara, Itagaki, Honjo and Hayashi would have deserved the death penalty under a code of martial justice.”
However, they were not taken to a court martial. Instead they were promoted and received military decorations.