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Macau was a Portuguese Colony right next door to Hong Kong. Why didn't Japan invade it during WW2?

Japan did invade Hong Kong, and they did invade Portuguese Timor too. Yet I am not even sure if Japan ever declared war on Portugal.

Other colonies they invaded were French Indochina, British Burma, American Phillipines, Dutch Indonesia. I may have missed some, but Macau is very obviously standing out here.

The Japanese were ostensibly very anti-colonial and proselytized their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and Macau is a very obvious colony right in range of them.

Wikipedia has this to say about it:

In August 1943, Japanese troops seized the British steamer Sian in Macau and killed about 20 guards. The next month they demanded the installation of Japanese "advisors" under the threat of overt military occupation. The result was that a virtual Japanese protectorate was created over Macau.

I don't know if that counts as an invasion, but I'm inclined to think not. It sounds similar to the situation in Vietnam where first Japan stationed troops there with Vichy French consent, which I have never heard described as an invasion. (Later, Japan moved in a much larger force without permission, and this has been described as invasion.) In any case, what did these "advisors" do or enforce in Macau, if anything? Did these "advisors" see any combat?

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    Portugal was neutral throughout the war. Japan invaded Portuguese Timor because the the Allies had invaded and occupied it first - of course the Japanese weren't going to just ignore a thousand commandos camping next door. As far as I am aware that was not a concern at Macau. – Semaphore Mar 3 '18 at 16:09
  • I think you'll have to ask the bit about the Macau advisors in another question, but the implication I get is they weren't military advisors. They effectively ran the government under threat of invasion. – Schwern Mar 3 '18 at 20:04
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Macau was a Portuguese Colony right next door to Hong Kong. Why didn't Japan invade it during WW2?

Because they didn't need to.

The Portuguese were steadfastly neutral. They weren't a military threat. Macau had no real military value and the authorities there were cooperating. Why spend the resources to invade and occupy an already compliant port and risk adding another country to your already long list of enemies?

However, by the end of 1943, Macau was effectively a Japanese puppet state. Japanese "advisors" took over under threat of occupation.

Japan did invade Hong Kong, and they did invade Portuguese Timor too.

...after the Allies occupied it.

Timor was a key Allied air link to the Philippines, occupying it would harm the Allied defend there, and add to the Japanese defense ring.

The Allies on Dutch Timor were worried about leaving neutral Portuguese Timor weakly defended. Japan could invade and attack on a new flank. So on Dec 17, 1941 they sent over a small force (but larger than the Portuguese garrison) to defend the territory.

Up to this point, the government of Portugal had declined to co-operate with the Allies, relying on its claim of neutrality and plans to send an 800-strong force from Mozambique to defend the territory in the event of any Japanese invasion. However, this refusal left the Allied flank severely exposed, and a 400-man combined Dutch-Australian force subsequently occupied Portuguese Timor on 17 December.

After the necessary protests, the Portuguese agreed to send a stronger defense force if the Allies would leave. This new force sailed from Mozambique on January 28, 1942, but the Japanese invaded before it arrived. The Japanese couldn't leave an Allied force on their flank, and it was the perfect excuse to take the whole island, so they invaded both halves of the island. Initially the Japanese promised that Portuguese neutrality would be respected and they would leave as soon as the battle was over, but they didn't.

  • One quibble - a battalion or two on a flank is significantly different from "... an Allied army on their flank". Perhaps ""... an Allied force on their flank" works better. – Pieter Geerkens Mar 3 '18 at 20:10
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    @PieterGeerkens You got it. – Schwern Mar 3 '18 at 20:14
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    @Schwern I edited an apparent typo in the last paragraph, from Jan 28 1941 to Jan 28 1942. If that wasn't a typo, please rollback my edit. BTW, good details, but do you have a source for Initially the Japanese promised that Portuguese neutrality would be respected and they would leave as soon as the battle was over, but they didn't.? I would like to know the exact timing of those things because it seems so contrary to their goals of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. – DrZ214 Mar 4 '18 at 0:18
  • @DrZ214 Thanks. What do you see as contrary? Wikipedia dryly nails the problem with understanding the goals of the Co-Prosperity Sphere, "the intent and practical implementation of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere varied widely depending on the group and government department involved." While I'm sure there were some who believed in its stated goals, it was a zone of Japanese domination and defense similar to the Warsaw Pact. – Schwern Mar 4 '18 at 0:29
  • @Schwern I always understood the whole idea of the Sphere was to kick out unfair European Colonialists from those colonies and replace it with some super-integrated Pacific market or something along those lines (run by Japan ofc). I don't know much about Portuguese Colonial history, so I can't say if the brutality over the centuries was comparable to other colonies, eg, Haiti :( But I understand that Japan could be just proselytizing it while not really meaning it, like so many other war propaganda, just to incline people to their side. That's why I used the word "ostensibly" in the OP. – DrZ214 Mar 4 '18 at 0:36

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