End of the Line
With this airport abandoned and the passage through Inner Mongolia now closed, Japan proposed another course as late as March 1940 with Germany and the Soviet Union through Siberia in preparation for a “postwar…lifeline connecting the Orient” (Mutō 1940). The trajectory completely bypassed China, running from Tokyo to Xinjing, then Chita or Irkutsk, Moscow, and finally, Berlin.
The plan was short-lived. Within a year, this commercial alliance collapsed when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The airway across the continent never fully got off the ground, and yet throughout the 1930s, the Manchuria Aviation Company held an ocular occupation over the steppe. In a region fraught with competing territorial claims, the view from above had briefly opened up a technological imaginary, a realm of possibility, for Japanese occupiers.