• '17 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '12

    Interesting article.  The last point was a total understatement. Japan had, next to Germany, the most powerful submarine fleet in the world in 1941.

    They squandered it when they could have sent it on long range convoy-interdiction missions.  You think the Allies had a hard time closing the air gap in the Atlantic?  Just imagine trying to do the same in the immense expanse of the Pacific.

    Total Japan fail.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Interesting read.  Thank you for sharing.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Yes interesting. Thanks.


  • The only one I agree with is hitting allied shipping with submarines but other than that, the currently Japanese warplane was basically the best they could of done which was the bulk of land forces would rage in Asia while the navy that was doing nothing would knock out the Pacific Fleet. Basically, Japan not attacking Army during Pearl Harbor and not getting our carriers is what stopped Japanese Pacific Victory and anyone who continues to try to argue that Japan needed to invade the US clearly doesn’t understand what the Japanese actually wanted.

  • Customizer

    Organize and finance a beatnik movement in the USA. This would portray the Allied war effort as imperialist,  racist and militaristic. Release film footage of Americans committing atrocities on Okinawa, and suggest the internment of Japanese-Americans borders on genocide. Invite Jane Fonda to Tokyo to pose with Japanese anti-aircraft gunners. Sponsor Bill Clinton and his buddies to dodge the draft.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Interesting article, though there are no great revelations here; many of the points made in the article have been made on this forum many times in the past in various discussion threads.  The statement that Japan “inexplicably” failed to wage unrestricted submarine warfare on the US is perplexing because the explanation is well known.  Japan’s military culture, i.e. its warrior ethos, put too much emphasis on pure combat and gave too little consideration to dull (but, in modern warfare, essential) factors like logistics.  The Imperial Japanese Navy felt that the proper job of submarines was to sink enemy combat vessels, not enemy cargo ships.  The US Navy, by contrast, understood that a) combat vessels with empty fuel tanks are harmless; and b) cargo ships are easier to sink than combat vessels; and c) Japan needed to import all of its oil over long sea routes; and d) Japan had a nonchalant attitude towards convoy protection…all of which added up to the obvious conclusion that US subs should concentrate on sinking Japan’s merchant fleet, and especially its tankers.  And it worked; by 1945, Japan was near the point of economic strangulation, and US subs were apparently even running out of targets.  Submarine operations aren’t the only area where Japan’s combat-oriented Bushido code ended up working against Japan’s interests.  The IJN, for example, placed little importance on rescuing downed pilots, who were regarded as honourable combat losses.  The USN, by contrast, viewed trained pilots as valuable commodities and felt that it was a good investment to conduct search and rescue missions for them so that they could be returned to combat; it also good for morale, which was an important added bonus.


  • @CWO:

    Interesting article, though there are no great revelations here; many of the points made in the article have been made on this forum many times in the past in various discussion threads.  The statement that Japan “inexplicably” failed to wage unrestricted submarine warfare on the US is perplexing because the explanation is well known.  Japan’s military culture, i.e. its warrior ethos, put too much emphasis on pure combat and gave too little consideration to dull (but, in modern warfare, essential) factors like logistics.  The Imperial Japanese Navy felt that the proper job of submarines was to sink enemy combat vessels, not enemy cargo ships.  The US Navy, by contrast, understood that a) combat vessels with empty fuel tanks are harmless; and b) cargo ships are easier to sink than combat vessels; and c) Japan needed to import all of its oil over long sea routes; and d) Japan had a nonchalant attitude towards convoy protection…all of which added up to the obvious conclusion that US subs should concentrate on sinking Japan’s merchant fleet, and especially its tankers.  And it worked; by 1945, Japan was near the point of economic strangulation, and US subs were apparently even running out of targets.  Submarine operations aren’t the only area where Japan’s combat-oriented Bushido code ended up working against Japan’s interests.  The IJN, for example, placed little importance on rescuing downed pilots, who were regarded as honourable combat losses.  The USN, by contrast, viewed trained pilots as valuable commodities and felt that it was a good investment to conduct search and rescue missions for them so that they could be returned to combat; it also good for morale, which was an important added bonus.

    We can agree that Japanese Moral is to die for the empire so loosing experience soldiers are worth it because that’s what God wanted.

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '12

    I’d say the main lesson to draw from Japan’s WWII experience is that extremely hierarchal and rigid societies tend not to make very good strategic decisions.  This was compounded by the fact Japan was dealing with two rigid hierarchies: the army and navy.  Sure there were intermediate gains from such a system, such as the spirit of discipline and sacrifice.  But these were subsumed by the concomitant unrealistic thinking and failure of rigorous analysis.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Caesar:

    We can agree that Japanese Moral is to die for the empire so loosing experience soldiers are worth it because that’s what God wanted.

    It’s worth it in terms of the values of a warrior culture, which is the mode in which Japan was operating at the time.  It’s not worth it in terms of cost-benefit ratios, which is how the Americans – who in WWII had a less romantic and more managerial approach to warfare than Japan – tended to view the matter.  Take for instance the stories that some Japanese naval fighter pilots were so aggressive that they would supposedly ram enemy airplanes when they ran out of ammunition.  That kind of behaviour illustrates the traditional difference between warriors and soldiers.  The warrior tradition (by which I mean the warrior tradition of many cultures going back to ancient times, not just Japan’s WWII culture) places a high value on single combat and on individual deeds of heroism which bring personal glory to the warrior.  An example from the ancient world would be the Greek and Trojan heroes of the Illiad.  In the soldier tradition, by contrast, it’s not individual glory which is prioritized; it’s unit cohesion and teamwork.  An example from the ancient world would be Roman legionaries, who were expected to operate by the book and who were trained in what could be called rational fighting methods.  For instance: Roman legionaries were armed with a short sword that was used primarily for thrusting.  The Romans understood that thrusting a sword-point just a few inches into an enemy’s body was often lethal, and that this thrusting technique kept a legionary’s sword arm close to his own body.  Raising a sword overhead for a sweeping cut was discouraged, even though it looked very dramatic: sweeping cuts tend to be less deadly than straight thrusts – unless they’re delivered by a curved saber – and they expose the side of a soldier’s body to attack.  In the soldier tradition, ramming an enemy plane when you run out of ammunition in a routine combat situation is a waste not just of a good airplane but of an expensively-trained pilot; it kills one enemy, but it’s less efficient than landing, reloading, taking off again, and going into combat against more enemies.  The Americans understood this in their war with Japan, and in a long-term war of attrition the math eventually worked in their favour.


  • @CWO:

    @Caesar:

    We can agree that Japanese Moral is to die for the empire so loosing experience soldiers are worth it because that’s what God wanted.

    It’s worth it in terms of the values of a warrior culture, which is the mode in which Japan was operating at the time.  It’s not worth it in terms of cost-benefit ratios, which is how the Americans – who in WWII had a less romantic and more managerial approach to warfare than Japan – tended to view the matter.  Take for instance the stories that some Japanese naval fighter pilots were so aggressive that they would supposedly ram enemy airplanes when they ran out of ammunition.  That kind of behaviour illustrates the traditional difference between warriors and soldiers.  The warrior tradition (by which I mean the warrior tradition of many cultures going back to ancient times, not just Japan’s WWII culture) places a high value on single combat and on individual deeds of heroism which bring personal glory to the warrior.  An example from the ancient world would be the Greek and Trojan heroes of the Illiad.  In the soldier tradition, by contrast, it’s not individual glory which is prioritized; it’s unit cohesion and teamwork.  An example from the ancient world would be Roman legionaries, who were expected to operate by the book and who were trained in what could be called rational fighting methods.  For instance: Roman legionaries were armed with a short sword that was used primarily for thrusting.  The Romans understood that thrusting a sword-point just a few inches into an enemy’s body was often lethal, and that this thrusting technique kept a legionary’s sword arm close to his own body.  Raising a sword overhead for a sweeping cut was discouraged, even though it looked very dramatic: sweeping cuts tend to be less deadly than straight thrusts – unless they’re delivered by a curved saber – and they expose the side of a soldier’s body to attack.  In the soldier tradition, ramming an enemy plane when you run out of ammunition in a routine combat situation is a waste not just of a good airplane but of an expensively-trained pilot; it kills one enemy, but it’s less efficient than landing, reloading, taking off again, and going into combat against more enemies.  The Americans understood this in their war with Japan, and in a long-term war of attrition the math eventually worked in their favour.

    It’s a fair point however we can point out tons of other failures between Japan and US, some of the largest examples of Japanese failures was the fact there nation still believe WWII would be fought like WWI and that fact they didn’t believe or accepted the notion of combined arms something the US believe in. Sure in the US there is a beef between the Army and Navy however when ordered to, they would work together based on whatever the mission desired something the Japanese did follow. I think Letters of Iwo Jima got it correctly when General Kuribayashi had problems trying to get the Japanese Marines to abandon defending the beaches and instead focus on defending the mountain where the US would have problems and the Marines basically told him to kiss their ass even though the General clearly outranked them.


  • @Karl7:

    Interesting article.  The last point was a total understatement. Japan had, next to Germany, the most powerful submarine fleet in the world in 1941.

    They squandered it when they could have sent it on long range convoy-interdiction missions.  You think the Allies had a hard time closing the air gap in the Atlantic?  Just imagine trying to do the same in the immense expanse of the Pacific.

    Total Japan fail.

    Japan did misuse the submarine fleet. The sub is suited for hunting supply ships. I’ve wondered how much longer the Pacific War would have dragged out had the Japanese underwater fleet focused on the shipping lanes around Australia and the Indian Ocean.


  • @ABWorsham:

    @Karl7:

    Interesting article.�  The last point was a total understatement. Japan had, next to Germany, the most powerful submarine fleet in the world in 1941.

    They squandered it when they could have sent it on long range convoy-interdiction missions.�  You think the Allies had a hard time closing the air gap in the Atlantic?�  Just imagine trying to do the same in the immense expanse of the Pacific.

    Total Japan fail.

    Japan did misuse the submarine fleet. The sub is suited for hunting supply ships. I’ve wondered how much longer the Pacific War would have dragged out had the Japanese underwater fleet focused on the shipping lanes around Australia and the Indian Ocean.

    Look at it like this, Battle of Guadicanal (sp?) was started by the US to capture an airfield that was going to be used to sink US shipping to Australia by air, so if Japan were using their submarines instead, that battle may of never happened.

  • 2021 '18 '17

    Great article, thanks for the discussion, OP.

    Yeah I don’t know how they could have won, not just at the theory-strategy level but just at the technical and technological level.

    I guess this can be reduced to “If they’d (NSDAP or IJN/IA Junta or US Confederacy) been truly rational or insightful, they would have seen their chances of victory as being very low, but they were neither rational nor insightful, so the war occurred.”

    Had the war not occurred (the actors having a clearer view of its potential outcome) we would not know how that world would look, because we live in the one where it did occur.

    I guess this is sort of a fatalistic view, but it is the only way we can explore the road to war or other possible outcomes because given the full set of facts and power over Japan, I would not personally have recommended war, but that also assumes that some one person or group of people (Hirohito? Yamamoto?) had these facts or this power when no one person did, or could (because the facts are only revealed in hindsight).


  • I think Japanese war with the West was going to happen eventually even if Japan stayed neutral in WWII. A fact that gets ignored a lot in WWII history was the west trying to help the Chinese jump start industrial sectors to get China on par with the modern world. Just about every major Western country either sent tech or money for this; USSR, Germany, Italy, France, UK, and US and notice how two of those became Japanese allies however the Japanese had historical beef with China and I think the West underestimate Asian Resolve in these matters; you destroy those who tried to destroy you. Japanese in the end went into China to expand their lands and this happened at a time that Germany was helping China out because it was the German way of getting revenge for what they lost to Japan during WWI. However the specific reason for US, UK, and Dutch cutting oil trade with Japan was because they were attack a nation they were heavily investing money into for industrial. So when you look at it like this, the only winning Japanese move would be to simply not invade China which is self defeating in Japanese eye’s.


  • There was no way for Japan to win the war, but there was a way for Germany to win it… and hence Japan would win as well.

    I think the only way they could have gotten a victory would have been to attack the USSR.  I know many on this board disagree with that, but most would agree that a major turning point in the German/Russian war was Stalingrad.  If the USSR had not been able to drain troops from the East they would not have had the men to counter-attack at Stalingrad and thee major German defeat there could have been avoided.  Would a German win at Stalingrad changed the war?  No one can say for sure, but if a win there led to the fall of the Caucus and a huge influx of oil to the German war machine an argument can def. be made.

    Despite the vast numerical and manufacturing advantages the Americans had the biggest factor to me is a cultural one.  I read a story where a platoon of Japanese soldiers were told to man their machine gun at a certain point to hold off the American’s charge.  Once the machine gun was set up (and the Jap machine guns sucked, they made a huge target of the person firing) the first guy went to man it and was shot by a sniper.  They moved his body and the next guy manned it and was shot by the same sniper.  This went on until the entire platoon was dead.  You can’t win a war like that.

    Now if you look at the Japanese Americans who fought you see a completely different kind of soldier.  The same bravery and willingness to die for their country was there, but they did not behave like… well idiots.  Sacrificing your life for your country is the ultimate expression of patriotism.  Throwing your life away for no good reason is the ultimate expression of stupidity.


  • I have to agree with Zooey over here. The only way the Axis could have won. Japan would have to attack Russia together with Germany, in a joint operation. And this joint operation would have to start in may 1941. Next year Russia would be too strong. But, as we know, after the fall of France in 1940, Japan decided to go south with a Pacific strategy. So when the German attack on Russia come one year later, Japan was out of position to help.


  • @Caesar:

    However the specific reason for US, UK, and Dutch cutting oil trade with Japan was because they were attack a nation they were heavily investing money into for industrial. So when you look at it like this, the only winning Japanese move would be to simply not invade China which is self defeating in Japanese eye’s.

    I am not saying you are wrong, but my history books says that oil and scrap metal embargo come right after Japan had occupied French Indo China. We never will know, but I guess history would have been different if Japan ignored FIC and focused on China, or maybe even put some pressure on Far East Russia too

  • '17 '16

    @Zooey72:

    There was no way for Japan to win the war, but there was a way for Germany to win it… and hence Japan would win as well.

    I think the only way they could have gotten a victory would have been to attack the USSR.  I know many on this board disagree with that, but most would agree that a major turning point in the German/Russian war was Stalingrad.  If the USSR had not been able to drain troops from the East they would not have had the men to counter-attack at Stalingrad and thee major German defeat there could have been avoided.  Would a German win at Stalingrad changed the war?  No one can say for sure, but if a win there led to the fall of the Caucus and a huge influx of oil to the German war machine an argument can def. be made.

    Despite the vast numerical and manufacturing advantages the Americans had the biggest factor to me is a cultural one.  I read a story where a platoon of Japanese soldiers were told to man their machine gun at a certain point to hold off the American’s charge.  Once the machine gun was set up (and the ��� machine guns sucked, they made a huge target of the person firing) the first guy went to man it and was shot by a sniper.  They moved his body and the next guy manned it and was shot by the same sniper.  This went on until the entire platoon was dead.  You can’t win a war like that.

    Now if you look at the Japanese Americans who fought you see a completely different kind of soldier.  The same bravery and willingness to die for their country was there, but they did not behave like… well idiots.  Sacrificing your life for your country is the ultimate expression of patriotism.  Throwing your life away for no good reason is the ultimate expression of stupidity.

    The Siberian troops were more a matter of propaganda than a real increase in numbers for the Eastern Front. I read a very detailed analysis about this wwii myth. The truth is that Soviet conscription and enlistment of soldiers was the real deal in the 6 months after june 22nd 1941.

    But it does not imply that a two fronts war for Soviet Union could not have make things much harder from a logistical POV.

    I also read elsewhere that Lend-lease for Soviet Union was around 5% of all Soviet war productions. Was it an essential part of their war effort? IDK exactly what kind of material was send to them.

    Caucasus oil was just a day-dream for Hitler. Stalin made sure that any derrick been sabotaged so to make it inexploitable without a lot of time-consuming effort. Think how many months it takes to stop oil fires in Irak with specialized teams.

    Bushido (individual sacrifice for Glory of Empire) and soldier approach (sacrifice for the combat unit and brother in arms before the Nation pride) was quite different.
    And clearly did not help Japan. Loosing experienced pilots because of bushido approach was IJN demise in PTO.  Being the underdog, IJN should have had the US approach for training pilot and saving them as much as possible  (using Subs to rescue them), while US could have stand a rigid Bushido style of attrition amongst pilot. Stalin showed that quality can be compensate with numbers to win war.

    Freedom of thinking at tactical level was not encouraged either.

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16

    I agree with much of the analysis above. Here’s my addition:

    If Japan had overcome the limitations of its Bushido culture and focused on submarine warfare, Japan might have been able to impose high enough costs on the United States that the US got tired of war and agreed to split the Pacific with Japan – but that’s an inherently risky strategy, because the key variable (war weariness) is out of your control. Even if you sink 100% of Pacific shipping forever, you can’t force the United States to make peace that way; the US economy was perfectly capable of surviving and even thriving without any Pacific shipping at all.

    So ideally, Japan’s long-term strategy should have involved achieving some goal that would force a win regardless of political conditions in the USA. That’s not realistic as long as the USA is out-producing Japan’s industry by a factor of 10:1…so the only reliable path to a Japanese victory involves tripling the size of Japan’s economy. How do you do that? To some extent you can improve the economy by securing oil, steel, and rubber resources in Borneo, Manchuria, and Indochina…but after that you run into hard constraints based on the Japanese empire’s relatively small population. Japan had 70 million subjects on the home islands, plus 25 million in Korea and 50 million in Manchuria, for a total loyal-ish population about 150 million. The USA had 150 million citizens inside its own borders, plus 20 million people in Mexico, 25 million in Brazil, 20 million in Argentina, 10 million in Colombia, 20 million in the Caribbean, etc., all of whom were officially or unofficially supporting the US war effort. Essentially the entire Western Hemisphere was an economic bloc that was unified in its opposition to Japan – dockyard workers in San Francisco were eating bananas grown in Honduras and using rubber farmed in Bolivia. So in addition to Japan having a much smaller industrial base and a shortage of natural resources, Japan’s population is outnumbered roughly 2:1.

    So, you need to expand the loyal population of the Empire. Where can you do that? Not in China; by the time WW2 started, the Chinese already had lots of good reasons to resent the Japanese. Not in Siberia or Australia; almost nobody lived there.

    One option is to incorporate the peoples of the former Dutch East Indies into your Empire. There were 60 million people there at the time, and it was actually fairly industrialized for that region of the world – there were 1200 miles of railroads, there were banks and telegraphs and local newspapers and so on. The Javanese welcomed the Japanese as liberators from colonial oppression, and if the Japanese of the time hadn’t also been huge colonialist jerks, they could have made the most of the positive public sentiment.

    Another option is to try to convert or at least neutralize a portion of British India. Again, the Indians had very little love for the British by that point in history, and, if they’d been given suitable terms, part or all of the region’s 370 million people might have been willing to voluntarily join Japan. In mid-1942, the British had few assets available for reinforcing India; their tropical armies were heavily committed in Egypt facing down Rommel, and their logistics were stretched to the breaking point by German submarines in the Battle of the Atlantic. Rather than getting bogged down in jungle/mountain warfare that favors the defenders (Burma and Imphal), the Japanese should have smashed the remnants of the British Eastern Fleet and then launched amphibious assaults on the flatlands around Calcutta, Chennai, and Ceylon, carving out fiefdoms along India’s eastern coastline with support from the indigenous population.

    Other than that, I would say make peace with the Chinese as best you can – voluntarily withdraw to the borders of Manchukuo as a sign of good faith; you don’t need Shanghai or Wuhan or Shanxi province for any strategically critical goals, and you can’t actually knock China out of the war. Even if China won’t literally sign a peace treaty with you, you can at least withdraw to some more defensible borders and reduce the Chinese motivation to attack you – they are, after all, internally divided between the Communists, Nationalists, and warlords, and if you don’t give them a strong, continuing reason to resist you, they probably won’t attack you very often or very hard.

    Similarly, voluntarily withdraw from the Caroline Islands and the Solomon Islands (leaving Iwo Jima and Rabaul as your forwardmost naval bases). You don’t need or even particularly want control over the surface of the Central Pacific, and there’s no reason to waste scarce manpower or shipping on trying to establish an “outer perimeter” that only looks good on a map. Instead, focus your resources on building massive flotillas of destroyers to protect your jugular vein: the flow of oil from Borneo to the home islands. You don’t need to station tiny garrisons on tiny specks of coral in the mid-Pacific; you do need to be able to cost-effectively wipe out any enemy submarines that come within 100 miles of Borneo.

    If you can protect the flow of oil, rubber, and iron ore into the home islands while doubling the size of your loyal population by welcoming the Javanese and the Bengals, then at that point you become essentially unconquerable – you now have the same level of population and natural resources as America does. Your industrial base is smaller, but this is offset by America’s need to ship oil, ammunition, food, and men all the way across the Eastern, Central, and Western Pacific. By abandoning most of the Pacific, which is, after all, a vast desert of little or no economic value, you impose maximum supply line disadvantage on the Allies.

    I don’t think any of these strategies are realistic – during the real war, Japan was blinded by its contempt for other races, and obsessed with the Army’s grudge match against China. It was not capable of this kind of freeform strategic analysis; Japan’s goals were based much more on politics than on strategy. However, I do think that Japan could have held out indefinitely (and thereby won) if it had focused its efforts on expanding and protecting its population and industrial base, rather than on fortifying and supplying a series of irrelevant outposts in the vastness of the central Pacific and the disease-ridden trails of the Burmese mountains.

  • '17 '16

    @Narvik:

    @Caesar:

    However the specific reason for US, UK, and Dutch cutting oil trade with Japan was because they were attack a nation they were heavily investing money into for industrial. So when you look at it like this, the only winning Japanese move would be to simply not invade China which is self defeating in Japanese eye’s.

    I am not saying you are wrong, but my history books says that oil and scrap metal embargo come right after Japan had occupied French Indo China. We never will know, but I guess history would have been different if Japan ignored FIC and focused on China, or maybe even put some pressure on Far East Russia too

    I read that US oil embargo (90% of Japan oil import) was planned to restrain Japan in his war effort in China.
    And when it was done, Japan had only 2 options: cease war in China (and loosing ground and momentum giving time for Chinese to regroup and rearm with Allies help) because of lack of oil or turn toward other resources: Borneo and East Indies.

  • '17 '16

    Probably too much a gambit, but it seems the only opportunity to severly hampered US Pacific lines of communication would have required a full invasion of Hawaii, not just a raid. Probably IJN SLNF and IJA troops already too stretched with Philippines invasion and Malaya.

    Short of this possibility, a complete raid on Oil Tanks, ship repair facilities and Subs pens in Pearl Harbor would have delayed  US response in PTO.
    This would have help IJN Sub raiding Strategy.


  • @Baron:

    Probably too much a gambit, but it seems the only opportunity to severly hampered US Pacific lines of communication would have required a full invasion of Hawaii, not just a raid. Probably IJN SLNF and IJA troops already too stretched with Philippines invasion and Malaya.

    Short of this possibility, a complete raid on Oil Tanks, ship repair facilities and Subs pens in Pearl Harbor would have delayed  US response in PTO.
    This would have help IJN Sub raiding Strategy.

    The problem with an invasion of Hawaii is that Japan had no interesting in capturing colonies of the US directly next to the US. Japanese war effort against the US was simply to destroy the Pacific Fleet, force an agreement heavily on Japanese terms using the excuse of invasion if need be. Japanese end game was always China and Pacific Islands. Japan wanted to move west, not east. Japanese knew that invading US territories would be dangerous for several reasons, the US had more industrial abilities than Japan hence why they wanted a fast hard hitting strike, attacking the US means more transports and equipment something they rather use against China (if they didn’t want to invade ANZAC, what makes people think they would the US?), and one that is somewhat ignored but makes sense, the US allows their citizens to have firearms (shocker I know) so they knew that a US invasion would be a total war on a scale never seen.

  • '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '12

    @Argothair:

    I agree with much of the analysis above. Here’s my addition:

    If Japan had overcome the limitations of its Bushido culture and focused on submarine warfare, Japan might have been able to impose high enough costs on the United States that the US got tired of war and agreed to split the Pacific with Japan – but that’s an inherently risky strategy, because the key variable (war weariness) is out of your control. Even if you sink 100% of Pacific shipping forever, you can’t force the United States to make peace that way; the US economy was perfectly capable of surviving and even thriving without any Pacific shipping at all.

    So ideally, Japan’s long-term strategy should have involved achieving some goal that would force a win regardless of political conditions in the USA. That’s not realistic as long as the USA is out-producing Japan’s industry by a factor of 10:1…so the only reliable path to a Japanese victory involves tripling the size of Japan’s economy. How do you do that? To some extent you can improve the economy by securing oil, steel, and rubber resources in Borneo, Manchuria, and Indochina…but after that you run into hard constraints based on the Japanese empire’s relatively small population. Japan had 70 million subjects on the home islands, plus 25 million in Korea and 50 million in Manchuria, for a total loyal-ish population about 150 million. The USA had 150 million citizens inside its own borders, plus 20 million people in Mexico, 25 million in Brazil, 20 million in Argentina, 10 million in Colombia, 20 million in the Caribbean, etc., all of whom were officially or unofficially supporting the US war effort. Essentially the entire Western Hemisphere was an economic bloc that was unified in its opposition to Japan – dockyard workers in San Francisco were eating bananas grown in Honduras and using rubber farmed in Bolivia. So in addition to Japan having a much smaller industrial base and a shortage of natural resources, Japan’s population is outnumbered roughly 2:1.

    So, you need to expand the loyal population of the Empire. Where can you do that? Not in China; by the time WW2 started, the Chinese already had lots of good reasons to resent the Japanese. Not in Siberia or Australia; almost nobody lived there.

    One option is to incorporate the peoples of the former Dutch East Indies into your Empire. There were 60 million people there at the time, and it was actually fairly industrialized for that region of the world – there were 1200 miles of railroads, there were banks and telegraphs and local newspapers and so on. The Javanese welcomed the Japanese as liberators from colonial oppression, and if the Japanese of the time hadn’t also been huge colonialist jerks, they could have made the most of the positive public sentiment.

    Another option is to try to convert or at least neutralize a portion of British India. Again, the Indians had very little love for the British by that point in history, and, if they’d been given suitable terms, part or all of the region’s 370 million people might have been willing to voluntarily join Japan. In mid-1942, the British had few assets available for reinforcing India; their tropical armies were heavily committed in Egypt facing down Rommel, and their logistics were stretched to the breaking point by German submarines in the Battle of the Atlantic. Rather than getting bogged down in jungle/mountain warfare that favors the defenders (Burma and Imphal), the Japanese should have smashed the remnants of the British Eastern Fleet and then launched amphibious assaults on the flatlands around Calcutta, Chennai, and Ceylon, carving out fiefdoms along India’s eastern coastline with support from the indigenous population.

    Other than that, I would say make peace with the Chinese as best you can – voluntarily withdraw to the borders of Manchukuo as a sign of good faith; you don’t need Shanghai or Wuhan or Shanxi province for any strategically critical goals, and you can’t actually knock China out of the war. Even if China won’t literally sign a peace treaty with you, you can at least withdraw to some more defensible borders and reduce the Chinese motivation to attack you – they are, after all, internally divided between the Communists, Nationalists, and warlords, and if you don’t give them a strong, continuing reason to resist you, they probably won’t attack you very often or very hard.

    Similarly, voluntarily withdraw from the Caroline Islands and the Solomon Islands (leaving Iwo Jima and Rabaul as your forwardmost naval bases). You don’t need or even particularly want control over the surface of the Central Pacific, and there’s no reason to waste scarce manpower or shipping on trying to establish an “outer perimeter” that only looks good on a map. Instead, focus your resources on building massive flotillas of destroyers to protect your jugular vein: the flow of oil from Borneo to the home islands. You don’t need to station tiny garrisons on tiny specks of coral in the mid-Pacific; you do need to be able to cost-effectively wipe out any enemy submarines that come within 100 miles of Borneo.

    If you can protect the flow of oil, rubber, and iron ore into the home islands while doubling the size of your loyal population by welcoming the Javanese and the Bengals, then at that point you become essentially unconquerable – you now have the same level of population and natural resources as America does. Your industrial base is smaller, but this is offset by America’s need to ship oil, ammunition, food, and men all the way across the Eastern, Central, and Western Pacific. By abandoning most of the Pacific, which is, after all, a vast desert of little or no economic value, you impose maximum supply line disadvantage on the Allies.

    I don’t think any of these strategies are realistic – during the real war, Japan was blinded by its contempt for other races, and obsessed with the Army’s grudge match against China. It was not capable of this kind of freeform strategic analysis; Japan’s goals were based much more on politics than on strategy. However, I do think that Japan could have held out indefinitely (and thereby won) if it had focused its efforts on expanding and protecting its population and industrial base, rather than on fortifying and supplying a series of irrelevant outposts in the vastness of the central Pacific and the disease-ridden trails of the Burmese mountains.

    Such an analysis!  what are you?  a lawyer?

  • 2021 '19 '18 '17 '16

    Such an analysis!  what are you?  a lawyer?

    Takes one to know one, my friend. Merry Christmas!

Suggested Topics

  • 45
  • 6
  • 2
  • 1
  • 58
  • 1
  • 153
  • 11
I Will Never Grow Up Games
Axis & Allies Boardgaming Custom Painted Miniatures
Dean's Army Guys

65
Online

15.8k
Users

37.3k
Topics

1.6m
Posts