Japan already had interests in the area - Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 gave them Port Authur and railway/mining interests.
Japanese wanted it because it had natural resources, was a market for their goods, and was a dumping ground for migrants.
Manchuria was controlled by the Chinese.
Japanese were in trouble economically - Manchuria was thought to be a way out of it. Kwantung Army (in Port Arthur) thought this. Government not for it - army thought "fuck it" and went in anyway. Engineered an incident.
Japan blew up its own railway - blamed Chinese and went for it, Sept 1931.
WAR - overrun Mukden in hours, next day another city - invasion proper. Govt. said "no more" to outside world and army - disobeyed twice. Foreign observers ignorant of internal happenings - called government deceitful and hypocritical. Got all of Manchuria in a month.
PEOPLE - happy about war - improved economy; called army patriots and heroes and lots of nationism. Govt. had to accept situation.
Japanese said Manchuria was independent - called it Manchukuo - March 1932. Ignored by world (puppet state). U.S. objected because it violated Nine-Nation Treaty of 1921 (Washington Conference) but couldn't act because of depression
China objected to League Of Nations - enquiry presented Oct 1932 by Lytton. Agreed with US. Shrugged off by Japanese.
INSIDE Manchuria - coal/iron/petrol industries up. Taxes up cause of army. No emmigration because nowhere good to go. Resulted in international suspicion and hostility - Japan an agressive bully.