This item has been sold, but you can get on the Waitlist to be notified if another example becomes available, or purchase a digital scan.

1940 Mantetsu Map of Manchuria and North China Railway Network

現地鐵道線路圖 附鐵道規程 / [Current Railway Route Map with Railway Regulations Appended]. - Main View

1940 Mantetsu Map of Manchuria and North China Railway Network


Guidebook for Japanese railway imperialism.


現地鐵道線路圖 附鐵道規程 / [Current Railway Route Map with Railway Regulations Appended].
  1940 (dated)     7.75 x 81 in (19.685 x 205.74 cm)     1 : 1650000


This is a rare 1940 (Showa 15) foldout map of the rail network, list of regulations, and registry of telegraph codes of the South Manchuria Railway Company (Mantetsu), the main instrument of Japanese imperialism in Manchuria. The map has numerous handwritten annotations, suggesting regular use by a railway employee.
A Closer Look
A set of stamps on the foldout show that this edition of the map and regulations belonged to Shiozuka Mitoshi (塩塚美利) of Suifenhe (綏芬河), in eastern Manchuria, on the border with the Soviet Union. The main map includes a legend showing the color-coding of the main lines in the network. The black lines at right show the connection of Manchuria railways with those in Korea, under the Chosen Government Railway (朝鮮總督府鐵道). In addition to rail infrastructure, the map also shows auto roads, waterways, and maritime routes.

At top is the northern portion of the Manchurian rail network, including the critical stretch between Xinjing (Changchun) and Harbin, along with a small inset showing the connections of the railways in Manchukuo with the Soviet Union and northern China. The southernmost, green-colored rail lines of the North China Transportation Company (華北交通會社), a Mantetsu subsidiary, reached through Hebei, Shandong, and Jiangsu Provinces, nominally in Chinese territory but under the administration of Japanese puppet regimes. Additional insets describe the distance and cost (divided by class) of maritime routes between Dalian and Kagoshima/Nagasaki, between Pusan and Shimonoseki, and between Rason/Chongjin and Tsuruga/Niigata. At bottom are an inset map of the Chinese rail network, an inset map of the rail network in Manchuria with distances (in kilometers) between major stations, and a blank table to write in the distances between one's origin and destination.
Textual Content
As for the text portion, the top part just below the title are a list of regulations for the railways, mostly relating to freight transport, an indication of the railways' economic importance. The large chart is a list of telegraph codes for each train line and station in the network – the top half is the Manchurian network, and the bottom half is the North China network. A fun feature worth noting is that above the title, along with the publication information, are the lyrics of the Mantetsu Anthem (滿鉄社歌).
A Fine Tuned Machine
This map and accompanying tables show how seamlessly the components of Japan's empire fit together, and how smoothly new components were added, as the former national boundaries between Korea and China (or later between Japanese Korea, Manchukuo, and China) were neatly breached by the ever-expanding rail network.
Mantetsu and Manchukuo
The Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905) granted to Japan, among other rights, the southern section of the China Eastern Railway, from Changchun to Port Arthur (Lüshunkou), which became known as the South Manchuria Railway. The company created to manage the southern section, the South Manchuria Railway Company (南滿洲鐵道株式會社), soon developed into a mega-conglomerate, akin to the chartered corporations of early modern Europe. The company oversaw hotels, mines, mills, power plants, publishing, and much more, that expanded Japanese influence in Manchuria to the point that it became a virtual colony. By the 1930s, Mantetsu was the largest company in Japan and by itself formed a significant portion of the Japanese economy.

All along, Mantetsu maintained a close relationship with the Japanese military, in particular the Kwantung Army occupying Port Arthur, a hotbed of ultranationalist officers commited to expanding Japanese influence. After the Kwantung Army invaded Manchuria in September 1931 and established the puppet state of Manchukuo, a Manchukuo National Railway (滿洲國有鐵道) was created. In reality, Mantetsu retained control, while also launching into new ventures (urban planning, architecture) and expanding continuously in northern and eastern China throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
Japanese Railway Imperialism
This document was made in a period when Japan's imperial expansion in East Asia, particularly in China, seemed unstoppable. With Japan poised to become the dominant power in eastern Eurasia, imperial planners sought to integrate new possessions into an economic and transportation network that already included Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan. By 1940, Japan had captured most of the main ports along China's coast, including Shanghai, and as well as the Chinese capital of Nanjing. There was every reason to believe that China would be subordinated by one means or another, and that railways would expand there as they had elsewhere in Japan's empire to become the arteries of political and economic control.

Though nominally a railway company, the South Manchuria Railway Company had many branches and subsidiaries, including several investigation bureaus that were essentially informal intelligence units of the Japanese military. By 1940, Mantetsu had established investigation bureau offices in several Chinese cities to conduct research on Chinese politics, social conditions, and possibilities for future expansion of the transportation network.

Trying to occupy one of the largest countries on earth with a relatively small army, Japan found it difficult to exercise control over the Chinese countryside and relied on railways to shuttle troops around to trouble spots throughout their zone of occupation. Unsurprisingly, partisans targeted railways for sabotage to counter these moves. Until the end of the war in 1945, a continuous game of cat and mouse raged over the rail lines in Manchuria and China (among the guerrillas was Kim Il-Sung, future leader of North Korea), frustrating Japanese efforts to move troops, supplies, and materials across China's vast territory.

A number of leading figures in Mantetsu played an important role in postwar Japan, including Sogō Shinji (十河信二), who directed Mantetsu from 1926 - 1934. He drew on his experiences there, including early prototypes for high-speed 'bullet trains' known as the 'Asia Express,' when he became director of Japanese National Railways in the postwar period, overseeing the development of the Shinkansen.
Publication History and Census
This map was made by two Mantetsu employees surnamed Iwamoto (岩本) and Matsuguchi (松口), respectively. It was printed on September 10, 1940, by Yamada Hiroyuki (山田浩通) of the Toa Printing Co., Ltd. (東亞印刷株式會社) based in Dalian, and distributed by Murata Rokurō (村田緑郎) of the Japan-Mantetsu Advertising Agency (日満鐵道廣告社) on September 20. The map was inspected for accuracy on March 23, 1940. It is not known in any institutional holdings and has no known history on the market.


South Manchuria Railway Co. (南満州鉄道株式会社; 1906 - 1945) was a conglomerate initially formed to manage the southern section of the China Eastern Railway, won from Russia in the Treaty of Portsmouth after the Russo-Japanese War. In time, Mantetsu would move into a wide range of industries including shipping, hotels, mining, and publishing, and become the largest company by value in Japan, constituting a significant portion of the Japanese economy in itself. Mantetsu was the primary means by which Japan colonized Manchuria, a process well-underway before the establishment of Manchukuo in 1932. Its publications, often in conjunction with Mantetsu's various 'investigation' bureaus, generally dealt with the economy, infrastructure, and society of Manchuria and northern China but later expanded to cover all of China and beyond, in effect serving as an intelligence wing of the Japanese government and military. More by this mapmaker...

Yamada Hiroyuki (山田浩通; fl. c. 1928 - 1935) was a Dalian-based publisher, editor, and author who produced several works on various topics, including some relating to Manchuria itself. Learn More...

Toa Printing Co., Ltd. (東亞印刷株式會社; fl. c. 1922 - 1958) was a publisher based in Dalian that published works on history, economics, and military affairs relevant to Japan's imperial project in Manchuria. The company appears to have become briefly re-established in Tokyo in the postwar period. Learn More...


Very good. Some fold and edge wear.