Japanese Invasion of America?


  • '12

    Kurt, yep, pretty much my thoughts.  I think if the US could turn the Pacific into a Vietnam then the American hearts and souls would not be in it and they would be willing to sue for peace on favourable terms.

    I think once you attack the US mainland or occupy Hawaii permanently you get the US citizens willing to fight to the death.  Perhaps taking Hawaii and offering to return in during peace negotiations or ‘liberate’ it.  Mind you, the Japanese idea of liberation didn’t work out well for the locals.

    Now, if the Japs had been nice to the local countries and truly did ‘liberate’ them then perhaps they could raise forces from those locations.

    If Japan had concentrated on the hearts and minds of everybody starting the 20s, used some north american PR they could have carved themselves a nice sphere of influence and played a significant role against the USSR.

    I think once you pissed the US population off by the ‘cowardly’ surprise attack, then it was all over but the crying and a few years on the calendar before the inevitable crush of the US GDP swept them away.



  • I would have to agree, Japan attacking the UK and commonwealth forces would have been the better option. I would like to strongly recommend the book “Rising Sun Victorious” as something anyone intrested in this thread should read. Most of the ideas I’ve put forward were inspired by what i’ve read in this book, if not directly borrowed from. Im going to post a link to a review to this book and I hope some take the time to check it out.

    http://www.epinions.com/review/Rising_Sun_Victorious_The_Alternate_History_of_How_the_Japanese_Won_the_Pacific_War_edited_by_Peter_G_Tsouras/content_147268079236


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    Here is a page which might interest the participants in the current discussion:

    http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm

    It includes a hypothetical scenario in which the U.S. loses all three of its carriers at Midway and Japan loses none of its four carriers, then speculates on what the comparative carrier strengths of the two countries would have been in each of the next few years due to the imbalance of the industrial production capacities of the two countries.  Its conclusion: “Even if it had lost catastrophically at the Battle of Midway, the United States Navy still would have broken even with Japan in carriers and naval air power by about September 1943. Nine months later, by the middle of 1944, the U.S. Navy would have enjoyed a nearly two-to-one superiority in carrier aircraft capacity.”



  • There have been some very good responses in this thread!

    The book Clyde mentioned looks like a worthwhile read. I came across the following quote from the Amazon book review page:


    For instance, one essay examines what might have happened had the American divebombers been unsuccessful in finding the Japanese carriers at Midway. . . .  the Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown [would have been] dispatched to the bottom of the Pacific. . . . In the long run, however, the author concludes that American industrial might and greater population would still have carried the day.


    Quotes like the above give the impression that the book had been written by level-headed experts–people who were aware, at least in general terms, of the data CWO Marc recently posted. The link Marc provided is to an excellent summary of the relative military manufacturing potential of the U.S. and Japan. I have heard it said that, when Japan launched the Pearl Harbor attack, the United States had ten times the industrial capacity of Japan. Japan industrialized during the war, and produced over five times as many military aircraft in '44 than it had in '41. But even in '44, the U.S. produced about 3.5 times as many military aircraft as Japan.

    As Malachi Crunch correctly pointed out, Japan’s only real hope of avoiding defeat in a war against the U.S. would have been to arrange conditions under which American support for the war would gradually have eroded, much as it had during the Vietnam War. He also correctly noted that beginning with a Pearl Harbor-style attack was not the right way to go about arranging those conditions!

    A unique series of factors came together in Vietnam–factors which eroded America’s will to fight. Those factors included the following:

    • The American radical left wanted the Viet Cong to win.

    • More moderate members of the American left were much less interested in opposing communism than in opposing fascism.

    • A large subset of the American left is pacifistic.

    • North Vietnam becoming united with South Vietnam does not seem nearly as threatening to the United States as would Japan’s conquest of the Pacific and creation of an empire spanning a quarter of the world’s surface.

    • A guerrilla war can take a very long time, and success or failure can be hard to measure. A body count is a far more depressing way to measure success than victories or defeats in land or naval battles.

    • LBJ had very little interest in actually winning the Vietnam War. His reason for being there in the first place was to prove to the American people that he was a political moderate. Someone who could be trusted to oppose the spread of communism, but without adopting the kinds of measures one might associate with Barry Goldwater.

    • Many in the American military did not feel they had the moral authority to wage a full-scale war. For example, there was serious opposition to the use of snipers. (American snipers proved very effective, but few were deployed.) Within the American military, many felt that it is one thing to kill an enemy soldier when he’s actively trying to kill you. Not only are such killings a sort of self-defense, but the enemy soldier had presumably had the chance to surrender, which he didn’t take. But if you kill an enemy soldier before he even sees you–which is what a sniper is supposed to do–it was seen as an act of murder. This contrasts sharply with America’s attitude during WWII, when it was willing to destroy entire enemy cities, and hundreds of thousands of civilians, on the off chance the bombings might shorten the war.

    • The American military’s level of organizational effectiveness was low during the '60s and '70s–much lower than it had been during WWII.

    More generally, the American Left formed a natural nucleus around which opposition to the Vietnam War could coalesce. There was no similar natural nucleus for opposition to a war against Japan. In the American South, many feel that once the President goes to war, you must stand behind the President. (The only exception to that rule being if the President appears weak or indecisive.) Members of the radical American left would have favored a war against Japan, because that war would have reduced or eliminated the threat Japan posed to the Soviet Union. While more moderate members of the American left would have been less excited about the idea of dying for communism, they would still have liked the idea of opposing Japanese imperialism and fascism.

    But if Japan did not attack the United States, declare war against it, or give it reasonable belief to see itself as provoked, and if the U.S. nonetheless declared war (because of Japan’s conquest of British and Dutch Pacific possessions), it’s possible that an anti-war movement could have had significant effects on the subsequent course of American foreign policy. A series of lightning victories would make FDR look weak and inept; potentially losing him some of his support in the South. But if the anti-war movement were to succeed in getting the U.S. out of its war with Japan, it would be necessary for Japan to keep making FDR’s war strategy look weak and ineffectual for many years. The anti-war movement would need those years to build up momentum and political force. America’s industrial capacity was great enough that the anti-war movement would not have been given those years. Additionally, FDR was much more interested in destroying fascism than LBJ was in destroying communism. It is impossible to imagine FDR using Vietnam-era weak half-measures in a war against Japan. History shows that FDR and Truman were willing to do whatever was necessary to obtain Japan’s unconditional surrender, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons against civilian targets.



  • @KurtGodel7:

    There have been some very good responses in this thread!
    … it’s possible that an anti-war movement could have had significant effects on the subsequent course of American foreign policy. A series of lightning victories would make FDR look weak and inept; potentially losing him some of his support in the South. But if the anti-war movement were to succeed in getting the U.S. out of its war with Japan, it would be necessary for Japan to keep making FDR’s war strategy look weak and ineffectual for many years. The anti-war movement would need those years to build up momentum and political force. America’s industrial capacity was great enough that the anti-war movement would not have been given those years. Additionally, FDR was much more interested in destroying fascism than LBJ was in destroying communism. It is impossible to imagine FDR using Vietnam-era weak half-measures in a war against Japan. History shows that FDR and Truman were willing to do whatever was necessary to obtain Japan’s unconditional surrender, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons against civilian targets.

    I think your analysis is very sound.  I would add, however, that the Japanese atrocities in China (such as the rape of Nanking) along with various German atrocities (though the Holocaust itself would not be publicly known until the end of the war) would further diminish or even prevent entirely any anti-war movement.

    Instead of creating and nurturing an antiwar movement, I think a better option for the Axis would have been to foster the isolationist movement which was quite powerful in American politics even as late as 1940.  Even this would have been quite difficult for them to do so however because the British (by destroying all undersea communication cables to Europe) controlled most of the news media (except a small trickle via wireless - Axis Sally) and therefore was better able to shape American public opinion.  Japan was in no better position as American sympathies were towards the Chinese, and Japan was clearly the aggressor…and Tokyo Rose did not change American public opinion.



  • @221B:

    I think your analysis is very sound.  I would add, however, that the Japanese atrocities in China (such as the rape of Nanking) along with various German atrocities (though the Holocaust itself would not be publicly known until the end of the war) would further diminish or even prevent entirely any anti-war movement.

    Instead of creating and nurturing an antiwar movement, I think a better option for the Axis would have been to foster the isolationist movement which was quite powerful in American politics even as late as 1940.  Even this would have been quite difficult for them to do so however because the British (by destroying all undersea communication cables to Europe) controlled most of the news media (except a small trickle via wireless - Axis Sally) and therefore was better able to shape American public opinion.  Japan was in no better position as American sympathies were towards the Chinese, and Japan was clearly the aggressor…and Tokyo Rose did not change American public opinion.

    You’ve raised an excellent point about the importance of controlling information flow. Communists–especially in the Soviet Union–were guilty of mass murder on a truly terrifying scale. But Western media outlets were often silent about these atrocities, or else sought to downplay them. Many in America and elsewhere formed the opinion that the communists were somehow “the lesser of two evils” in comparison with the Nazis, even though the communists had killed more people.

    It’s also worth noting that because of the British (and later American) food blockade of Germany during WWII, Germany could not feed all the people within its borders.


    As 1940 drew to a close, the situation for many of Europe’s 525 million people was dire. With the food supply reduced by 15% by the blockade and another 15% by poor harvests, starvation and diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, typhus and cholera were a threat. . . .  Former president Herbert Hoover, who had done much to alleviate the hunger of European children during WW1, wrote

    | The food situation in the present war is already more desperate than at the same
    | stage in the [First] World War. … If this war is long continued, there is but one
    | implacable end… the greatest famine in history.

    . . .

    In January Herbert Hoover’s National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies presented the exiled Belgian Government in London with a plan he had agreed with the German authorities to set up soup kitchens in Belgium to feed several million destitute people.[60] . . . However, Britain refused to allow this aid through their blockade. . . .

    Hoover said that his information indicated that the Belgian ration was already down to 960 calories – less than half the amount necessary to sustain life – and that many children were already so weak they could no longer attend school, but the British disputed this.


    Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were similar in that both killed millions of innocent people. Nazi Germany’s mass killings took place during famine conditions, at a time when it could not possibly hope to feed everyone within its borders. Most of the Soviet Union’s mass killings occurred during a time of peace, when the Soviets were actually exporting food to fund Stalin’s industrialization effort.

    For a more in-depth look at Germany’s wartime food situation, as well as the intersection between economics, diplomacy, and military policy, I strongly recommend Adam Tooze’s Book Wages of Destruction.

    I realize I’ve drifted a little off topic, except insofar as the contrast between actual facts and public perceptions of facts illustrates a) the importance of media bias, and b) the fact that during WWII, the American media strongly preferred the Soviet Union and Britain to Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. I have also seen it alleged, by a source which came across as plausible, that during the late '30s and early '40s pro-isolationist American media outlets were being bought out by pro-war media outlets.

    But most of that pro-war sentiment was directed against Germany, not Imperial Japan. This means that Japan might have been able to have invaded British and Dutch possessions in the Pacific without causing the U.S. to declare war.

    Japan’s best option would have been to avoid war with the U.S. completely. Its next-best choice would have been to delay that war as long as possible. That delay would have given it the chance to industrialize itself and its Manchurian possessions, thereby greatly reducing the production gap between itself and the U.S. It’s worth noting that the Allies produced four times as many military aircraft as the Axis in 1942, but only twice as many as the Axis in 1944. In 1942, the U.S. produced over five times as many military aircraft as Japan. That margin had been reduced to 3:1 by 1944.


  • '12

    Kurt, you make many excellent points.  I however…get extremely uncomfortable when you steer the debate to the ‘German Food Shortage’ tact to some how explain nazi actions.  It was the action of nazis, not Germans I note just as it was the actions of a brutal dictator Stalin than it was the actions of communism as an idea in action.

    But most of that pro-war sentiment was directed against Germany, not Imperial Japan. This means that Japan might have been able to have invaded British and Dutch possessions in the Pacific without causing the U.S. to declare war.

    Japan’s best option would have been to avoid war with the U.S. completely. Its next-best choice would have been to delay that war as long as possible. That delay would have given it the chance to industrialize itself and its Manchurian possessions, thereby greatly reducing the production gap between itself and the U.S. It’s worth noting that the Allies produced four times as many military aircraft as the Axis in 1942, but only twice as many as the Axis in 1944. In 1942, the U.S. produced over five times as many military aircraft as Japan. That margin had been reduced to 3:1 by 1944.

    Right on the mark.  The US killed Japan’s economics with sub warfare.  If Japan had sonar, anti-sub techniques and used convoys and a protection schemes their production combined with production from outside Japan would have tipped the scales of production towards a much closer ratio.



  • @MrMalachiCrunch:

    Kurt, you make many excellent points.  I however…get extremely uncomfortable when you steer the debate to the ‘German Food Shortage’ tact to some how explain nazi actions.  It was the action of nazis, not Germans I note just as it was the actions of a brutal dictator Stalin than it was the actions of communism as an idea in action. . . .

    Right on the mark.  The US killed Japan’s economics with sub warfare.  If Japan had sonar, anti-sub techniques and used convoys and a protection schemes their production combined with production from outside Japan would have tipped the scales of production towards a much closer ratio.

    You make excellent points as well, and I’ve enjoyed reading your posts in this and other discussions.

    I’d like to get a better understanding about why you feel uncomfortable with my discussion of Germany’s wartime food situation. My own feeling is that any nation unable to feed everyone within its borders would have to make difficult choices about who was to live and who was to die. I do not feel that the choices Hitler made in that situation were the best possible ones. In particular, I think the Jews were unfairly singled out. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this matter. If I’ve left something out, or have presented anything in an unfair or inaccurate light, I’d definitely like to know of it!

    You hit the nail on the head with your comment about the damage U.S. sub warfare did to Japan’s economic and production ability. I also agree that if Japan had had sonar technology, and had used it in conjunction with convoys, America’s sub warfare would have been much less effective.

    Before WWII, Japanese researchers had made important advances in radar technology. However, the Japanese military saw little promise in radar. Pre-war radar installations were expensive, and were too large to be mounted on ships. Their detection ranges were limited. Japan’s radar research program was not given adequate funding, which is why Japanese radar technology languished. More generally, Japan’s military leaders tended to believe that technology and industrial capacity were no substitute for valor or the will to win. Japan’s military leaders feared that emphasis on the former could distract it from the latter; and therefore emphasized the latter to the exclusion of the former. These attitudes changed as the war went on, and as they saw how useful technology and industrial capacity really were.


  • '12

    I think you summed up the ‘Food Shortage’ situation.  I would substitute ‘not best possible choice’ with ‘insanely evil choice’.  I would further add that the ‘choice’ was made before the food shortage occurred.   To argue that the food shortage was primarily the reason for the attempted genocide of the Jews I think is misguided.  Perhaps the argument is to determine what percentage the food shortage contributed to the ‘choice’ of implementing the genocide, let the unknown percentage be represented by the variable ‘X’.

    Now, one could in an academic setting debate the value say 0 <x<20% say.=""  i="" would="" think="" it="" a="" stretch="" to="" conclude="" the="" ceiling="" value="" of="" x="" were="" any="" greater="" than="" 20%="" as="" hints="" hitler’s="" genocidal="" intent="" evident="" long="" before="" food="" shortage="" manifested="" itself.=""  so,="" we="" are="" debating="" whether="" choice="" hitler="" made="" was="" insanely="" evil=“100%-X.”  <br="">I feel dirty even spending this much of my time contemplating this and articulating my discomfort.  Of all the interesting topics to discuss…this is what you WANT to talk about?  This doesn’t make my top 5000 topics I care to discuss.

    Now, back to this fascinating topic…

    I would think the culture of the Japanese military vis-a-vis technology being an aid would have to be modified.  Your point about valour overcoming technology is bang on.  Today, Japanese scientist produce a great deal of papers and patents, they do have a culture of innovation, though no nation seems to beat the US on willingness to embrace innovation.  I think with a combination of these factors and an emphasis on the US home front and public opinion Japan would be well poised to dominate its sphere of influence.  Post war Japan was a huge asset against the USSR, indeed, the US President Nixon embarrassed communist China against the USSR.  I could see if Germany fell eventually to the allies, a ‘neutral’ Imperial Japan would be an ally against the USSR once the US and Japan came to terms.</x<20%>


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    @MrMalachiCrunch:

    Your point about valour overcoming technology is bang on.

    A similar situation existed in the Confederacy in the early stages of the U.S. Civil War, where it was believed that the material advantages of the North (in terms of industrial capacity, natural resources and sheer population numbers) could be overcome by (if I recall the quote correctly) “the gallantry and fighting spirit of the Southern Gentleman.”  The contrary (and ultimately correct) view was expressed by a certain Northerner to a friend he had in the Confederacy: “No nation of agriculturalists has ever defeated a nation of industrialists.  You are bound to fail.”



  • @MrMalachiCrunch:

    I think you summed up the ‘Food Shortage’ situation.  I would substitute ‘not best possible choice’ with ‘insanely evil choice’.  I would further add that the ‘choice’ was made before the food shortage occurred.   To argue that the food shortage was primarily the reason for the attempted genocide of the Jews I think is misguided.  Perhaps the argument is to determine what percentage the food shortage contributed to the ‘choice’ of implementing the genocide, let the unknown percentage be represented by the variable ‘X’.

    Now, one could in an academic setting debate the value say 0 <x<20% say.=""  i="" would="" think="" it="" a="" stretch="" to="" conclude="" the="" ceiling="" value="" of="" x="" were="" any="" greater="" than="" 20%="" as="" hints="" hitler’s="" genocidal="" intent="" evident="" long="" before="" food="" shortage="" manifested="" itself.=""  so,="" we="" are="" debating="" whether="" choice="" hitler="" made="" was="" insanely="" evil=“100%-X.”  <br="">I feel dirty even spending this much of my time contemplating this and articulating my discomfort.  Of all the interesting topics to discuss…this is what you WANT to talk about?  This doesn’t make my top 5000 topics I care to discuss.</x<20%>

    I realize this may not be the world’s most pleasant conversational topic. Perhaps I was wrong to have brought it up in this thread. Sorry about that!

    That said, I’ll provide a response to what you’ve written above. If something about my response bothers you or seems out of line, please let me know.

    If I understand your position correctly, you feel that Hitler should not be let off the hook for whichever mass murders he would have committed had there not been a food blockade. That position seems reasonable enough.

    When looking at any subset of the mass deaths which occurred in Nazi Germany, it’s reasonable to ask, “Would these deaths have occurred had Germany been able to feed everyone within its borders?” In some cases that’s an easy question to answer. For example, Hitler ordered that Soviet POWs receive adequate food rations. He had a very straightforward reason for issuing that order: those POWs had been put to work in German factories to make weapons. However, the man ordered to provide food to the Soviet POWs was given an impossible task: Germany did not have the food with which to feed these men. As a result, millions of Soviet POWs starved or died from hunger-induced causes.

    The Nazi political movement was characterized by three main motivations. 1) A love for Germany, Germans, and other Nordic or Germanic peoples. 2) Indifference or hostility toward Slavs and most other non-Germans. 3) Hatred toward the Jews.

    To elaborate a little on point 2), one can consider Germany’s plans for postwar Poland. Between 30 - 50 million Poles were to be forcibly relocated eastward to make room for German expansion. If Germany was still in the midst of famine conditions, then it would have been willing to accept the deaths of many of those Poles along the way, in order to lessen the burden on its food supply. The other side of that coin is that mass deaths of Poles in the postwar era were not planned unless Germany was still subjected to famine conditions.

    Clearly, Hitler was more comfortable killing Jews than he was killing Gentile Poles. His food policy towards Poland makes that point abundantly clear. Polish Jews received the lowest food priority, with the Nazi objective being to reduce Jewish caloric consumption to zero. Unskilled Polish workers had the next-lowest food priority, unskilled Ukrainian workers the next-highest, skilled Polish workers a higher priority, and the occupying German forces the highest priority of all.

    Considering the Nazi hostility towards Jews, it is certainly reasonable to ask whether the Nazis would have attempted to exterminate the Jews even if there had been no food blockade. The Nazis’ pre-war policy toward the Jews was based on emigration, not extermination.


    The 1936 Nuremberg Laws stripped the 500,000 German Jews of their citizenship, making them stateless refugees. Jewish migration was impeded by Nazi restrictions on the transfer of finances abroad (departing Jews had to abandon their property), but the Jewish Agency was able to negotiate an agreement allowing Jews resident in Germany to buy German goods for export to Palestine thus circumventing the restrictions.

    The large numbers of Jews entering Palestine led to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine.


    The above-described Nazi policy of encouraging Jewish emigration to Palestine was also explored in Adam Tooze’s book The Wages of Destruction.

    War can make people harder and crueler than they otherwise would have been. The act of killing a man–even in a just cause–can make a man less inhibited about killing other men. Additionally, desperation can also harden a man. A man who is surrounded with wealth, love, family, and security is less likely to start a fight than he might have been if he was living alone, in an alley, without a clear plan to avoid starvation or freezing to death in the winter.

    Especially toward the end of WWII, the Nazis were increasingly desperate men. Also, both the Axis and the Allies had been hardened by war. Might these things have been enough to turn Nazis’ hostility towards Jews into a full-blown plan for extermination, even in the absence of a food blockade or famine conditions? This is a possibility. But I have not seen evidence to suggest that it is more than just a possibility.

    One measure of morality is to examine motivations. Generically speaking, actions motivated by love will tend to be more moral than actions motivated by a desire to get even or exact a petty revenge. In particular, the desire to avenge wrongs or slights against oneself is a far less ennobling motive than the desire to do things for other people out of love.

    I’d argue that during the early years of the Nazi regime, their emphasis was largely on the love they had for Germany and the German people. (The best of the three above-described motives.) Wages for German workers were increased, the workweek was reduced to 40 hours for industrial laborers, work safety conditions were improved, German workers were given long vacations, and subsidized cruises were made available for them to travel to distant lands. Clean air and clean water standards were enacted. Within the German military, it was said that men and officers should receive 7 - 8 hours of sleep each night, that bullying should be discouraged or eliminated, and a spirit of camaraderie and acceptance encouraged. That same spirit pervaded most of the rest of Germany. I have seen mainstream historians state that, had Hitler left office in 1937, he would have gone down as a great statesman.

    By 1944, much of this had changed. Consider Germany’s “Vengeance Weapons,” such as the V2 rocket. The V2 had almost no military value whatsoever. And yet, I’ve seen it claimed that in 1944, Germany could have doubled its tank production had the industrial capacity devoted to V2 construction gone to tanks instead. The ostensible reason for the V2 program was to “improve morale” by convincing the German public that its advanced new weapons would win the war if Germany could hold out long enough. I suspect the real reason was different: that deep down inside, some part of Hitler believed that anything other than ultimate defeat was impossible. The Vengeance Weapons may have been intended to punish those Hitler felt were responsible for that defeat.

    If the above is correct, it means Hitler had lost sight of the primary responsibility of any political leader: to act with love toward the people and the nation he has the responsibility of serving.

    I cannot help but think of something I saw on the History Channel. An American soldier described his encounter with a German soldier captured shortly after the D-Day attack. “I pointed a gun at the man’s crotch,” the American said, “and demanded that he tell me where the land mines had been hidden. ‘Not there,’ the German responded. ‘Here,’ he said, and pointed at his own head.” One reason why that soldier, and German soldiers generally, fought so hard, and endured so much, was because they believed they were fighting for a government that loved them, and against governments which hated them.

    @MrMalachiCrunch:

    Now, back to this fascinating topic….

    I would think the culture of the Japanese military vis-a-vis technology being an aid would have to be modified.  Your point about valour overcoming technology is bang on.  Today, Japanese scientist produce a great deal of papers and patents, they do have a culture of innovation, though no nation seems to beat the US on willingness to embrace innovation.  I think with a combination of these factors and an emphasis on the US home front and public opinion Japan would be well poised to dominate its sphere of influence.  Post war Japan was a huge asset against the USSR, indeed, the US President Nixon [embraced] communist China against the USSR.  I could see if Germany fell eventually to the allies, a ‘neutral’ Imperial Japan would be an ally against the USSR once the US and Japan came to terms.

    You are absolutely correct. Japan had (and has) a significant potential for innovation and technological advancement. But it wasn’t until later in WWII that Japanese power holders embraced (rather than stifled) this innovation.

    Had Imperial Japan avoided both a war against the U.S. and an alliance with Germany, it could (as you’ve pointed out) have emerged as a major player in the postwar era. Had the main theme of that postwar era been a competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union for global dominance, it’s possible each side would have seen Japan as a potential ally against the other. It wouldn’t surprise me if, on a personal level, Japanese leaders preferred Western democracy to Soviet communism. Even so, they might have decided to ally with whichever superpower offered the better deal. Or, they could have refrained from taking either the U.S.'s or the U.S.S.R.'s side. The thought process here would be, Neither of the two superpowers are going to want to upset us too much, lest we be driven into the arms of the other. As long as this continues to be the case, we have free rein to do whatever we want. Within reason, of course.

    The main problem I see with this strategy is that once China became unified, it would want its territory back. All of it, including Manchuria. After China militarized and industrialized itself, Japan would not be strong enough to resist these demands alone. (China’s population base is much larger.) This situation could force Japan to side with whichever superpower offered to help Japan keep its Chinese territory.

    To avoid being forced into that kind of alliance out of weakness, Japanese leaders might have attempted to remain stronger than China even over the long run. One possible strategy for achieving this would have been the following. 1) Mass deportations of people out of Manchuria and other parts of China, followed by Japanese colonization of those areas. 2) Interference in the Chinese civil war, intended to weaken whichever side seemed strongest, and therefore most likely to unify China. 3) Massive industrialization of Japan proper and of Japan’s core overseas territories. 4) embracing the culture of innovation and technological advancement you mentioned earlier.

    It’s also worth noting that Japan would be significantly stronger in the postwar era with the British and Dutch territory it had gained in 1941 - '42 than it would have been without that territory. However, it’s possible the diplomatic consequences of holding onto that territory–or even of acquiring it in the first place–would have outweighed the gains.



  • @CWO:

    A similar situation existed in the Confederacy in the early stages of the U.S. Civil War, where it was believed that the material advantages of the North (in terms of industrial capacity, natural resources and sheer population numbers) could be overcome by (if I recall the quote correctly) “the gallantry and fighting spirit of the Southern Gentleman.”  The contrary (and ultimately correct) view was expressed by a certain Northerner to a friend he had in the Confederacy: “No nation of agriculturalists has ever defeated a nation of industrialists.  You are bound to fail.”

    That’s an excellent example. I looked up the Civil War and found that the North experienced twice as many combat deaths as the South. That ratio would seem to partially justify Southern leaders’ faith in their strategy. However, the overall ratio of military deaths was 1.4 to 1. The reason for this is that so many soldiers on both sides died from disease, exposure, and other causes.

    Later in the war, the North increasingly benefited from activities which did not necessarily involve a clash between the main Northern and Southern armies. The increasingly effective naval blockade is a good example of this, as are some of the coastal raids the North performed later in the war. The Southern economic collapse which resulted from the naval blockade is still another example. Later in the war, Grant capitalized on the Northern advantage in manpower by sending several secondary forces to invade the South, while the main Southern forces were occupied by their Northern counterparts.


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