In 1936, the Japanese government approved a plan to move five million Japanese people - seven per cent of the population of 68 million - to its puppet state of Manchukuo in China. The purpose was to reduce population pressure at home and tighten control of the new lands. After the army conquered Manchuria in 1931 it had decided that settlement was vital for long-term control of the region. In late 1937, the government started a national propaganda campaign to persuade farmers to move, offering them financial incentives. By August 1945, 330,000 people had migrated to Manchukuo. Their demise began on August 9, when the Soviets attacked Manchukuo on a wide front. Unknown to the settlers, their forces had withdrawn to the south. Settlers in remote villages who had no knowledge of how badly the war had gone were surrounded by hostile Chinese. Fearful of rape, torture and years in Soviet labour camps, many took their own lives. Mass suicides saw women and children and the few remaining men gather in schools and set fire to them. As the winter set in, more died of hunger and illness. Fleeing parents entrusted about 5,000 children, between the ages of two months and 10 years, to Chinese families who raised them as their own. Of the 330,000 migrants, about 80,000 died, and the rest were repatriated to Japan by the end of 1946.