But the Japanese aggression continued. China invoked the aid of the League to halt the assault on Chinese territory. The League however failed to render any substantial services to the helpless Chinese due to the opposition of Japan. The League appointed a commission under Lord Lytton to investigate and report on the developments in the Far East. Thus while China received sympathy from the League members when Japan achieved substantial military success and brought the whole of Manchuria under control. The United State during this period sympathized with China.
U. S. delegates were invited to attend League Council during discussion about Japanese aggression as observes. The U. S. Foreign secretary Stimson formulated the doctrine of Non-Recognition of the territories annexed by Japan. The League Assembly in an extraordinary meeting on January 29, 1932 endorsed the Stimson doctrine and asked for immediate ceasefire and appointed a Committee of Nineteen to stop hostilities. The Lytton Commission report submitted in November, 1932 recommended the setting up of an autonomous Chinese region in Manchuria.
The Assembly voted its acceptance in February, 1936 and condemned Japanese aggression though admitting at the same time some of Japanese grievances. Following this Japanese left the League but the League action did not either affect Japan or the puppet regime of Manchukuo, under the ex-Manchu emperor Puyi, set up by Japan. This incident proved the ineffectiveness of the League as machinery for maintaining world peace and security. But Manchuria was the beginning of the end. In the meantime Hitler had grabbed power in Germany and Mussolini was busy with his design on Ethiopia. In 1934 Soviet Union joined the League.
This was a gain for the League but Soviet warnings against Fascist aggressive designs were not too heeded by the Anglo-French powers. Therefore, League efforts to maintain peace were not effective. Italy desired to connect Italian Somaliland with Eritrea by annexing Ethiopia. The desire to avenge the defeat of Adowa (1896) and Mussolinis ambition to make a display of Italian arms led to the Italian aggression in Abyssinia on October 3, 1935. But long before the actual invasion took place, Ethiopia appealed to the League on December 14, 1934 and invoked Article 11 of the Covenant following a border clash at Walwal.
The Anglo-French Powers however needed Mussolinis co-operation to help restrain Hitler and therefore they stood in the way of immediate action of the League against Italy. But the Italian action resulted in a chain of events which prompted the League to take measures for security. Many attempts of peaceful settlement were withdraw by Anglo-French sympathies for Italian claim. Ethiopia then invoked Article 15 (March, 1935) and the council appointed a Commission of Conciliation and Arbitration and on September 3, 1935 the Commission reported that in the Walwal incident neither Italy nor Ethiopia was really at fault.