In order to go through some of Japan’s basic moves I’m going to have to make some assumptions since there are quite a lot of variations they can see due to the play out of R1 thru UK 1. So I’ll assume any bid went to Germany, Russia attacked some combination of Wrus, Belo or Ukr, Germany took Egy, cleared out the Med of all Allied ships, and countered what it could in Europe, while the UK landed in Alg, countered Egy (or setup up an Afr counter in Rd 2).

Now the UK could also have attacked your sub at the Sol Is and/or your trn in the Kwa sz. They could also land a ftr at Pearl or Bury (reinforcing a Russian stack) so I’ll deal with some of these as they come up but overall I won’t be going into detail on countering a full blown KJF or the presence of a UK IC on India. I’ll be looking at Japan from the perspective of a KGF or at the very least an Allied strategy that doesn’t commit to either a KGF or KJF until US 1.

I will mainly deal with a slight “worst case” (in terms of a KGF) and go from there, so assume the UK took out your Kwa trn with its Ind DD and attacked sub vs. sub at the Sol Is.

I think there are only two “must attacks” on J1 and they are Pearl and China. Any other attack that can safely be made is certainly fair game but be very cautious about doing too many and speading yourself too thin.

One of your first priorities should be to set up a strong presence in Asia so you can increase your IPCs. I’ve found the best way to do this is to attack China with maximum force (6-7 inf and 2-3 ftrs). Your other priority should be to eliminate as much of the US Pacific Navy as possible so you will have free reign to pick up your infantry on your islands in later turns and set your sites on more IPCs by claiming Aus, NZ, and HI.

If India is left empty it might be worth it to send in one infantry but if UK leaves behind one infantry I don’t think it is worth it to divert 2 inf and 1-2 planes to take, esp since UK is probably set up to counter on UK 2. Don’t throw away those early inf. Instead, if you attack China with 6-7 inf and 2-3 ftrs (or more) you can all but be assured to take with 5-6 inf which puts immediate pressure on Sin and would now require additional Allied troops to fend off a potential attack of 5 inf and 4 ftrs on rd 2. Encountered with these kinds of numbers the Allies are likely to vacate Sin prior to J2 giving you more easy IPCs without slowing your advance toward Moscow.

If you have to, you can deal with Kwa sz DD with your EI BB, AC and a ftr and that shouldn’t take away from your two main attacks. Which brings us to Pearl…

I prefer Pearl Heavy and will focus on that since I think Pearl Lite has the potential to go really bad and in most cases is not worth the risk. So regardless of what is at Pearl, I’ll attack with 1 sub (if I still have it), 1 dd, 2-3 ftrs, 1 bom, 1 bb. My goal is to take it out in 1 rd of battle while hopefully limiting myself to only 2 hits. If I don’t have the sub, I’ll take one hit on my BB and lose a ftr (if I brought in 3), If I do have the sub, I’ll take the hit on the BB and lose the sub. I’m always looking to take Pearl with:
1 dd, 1 ac, 2 ftrs, 1 bb – with the bom landing in Japan

This all but assures no US counter. I’d even consider losing a ftr over the sub in some cases (if I was able to attack with 3 ftrs).

You have lots of options with your ftrs in terms of where they can go to attack and if you have your sub you’ll only need 2 ftrs at Pearl, you don’t necessarily need one for the Kwa sz, while 2 for China can work if you attack with 6-7 inf. So find a comfort zone that works for you, but I tend to overload China and Pearl in most cases.

Now what about the possible UK sub at the Sol Is.?
Ignore it if there is the DD at Kwa, otherwise you can just use some of those units for the sub. But you still have to be concerned with a possible submerging sub (since your DD is probably heading to Pearl), so I tend to suck it up and buy a DD on J1 unless it is safe to have undefended trns in Sz 61. Watch out for that Allied air.

Now, what to do about Bury? If it is stacked Heavy (6 inf + uk ftr) I’ll ignore it, if it has just the 6 Russian inf, it is a very tempting target. This is a judgment call on what you think you can get away with elsewhere. It will require a lighter Chi attack and a lighter Pearl, but killing off 6 Russian inf is a big bonus. In this case you can still send the BB and AC to Sz 59, forget India and go 5 inf, 2 ftrs to Chi, 3 inf, 1 rt (or arm) + planes to Bury, and the rest to Pearl. If you lost your sub in the Sol too you’ll probably be open to a counter by the US, but it isn’t as big of a deal since there will now be nothing to stop Japan with its center and northern push in Asia. So if the US wants to risk its air and lighten the pressure on Germany that is usually fine by me.

Any time Bury is lightly defended (1-3 inf) you can either attack or ignored it on J1. It is not a real problem to leave that for J2 and I would not risk bad results in Chi or Pearl in that case. This is an instance where if I already have multiple other attacks I’m doing this one probably gets put off. If Bury is empty you can do a walk-in using your trn or wait a turn if the UK sub is within range of Sz 60.
Again, it won’t kill you to pass up that 1 ipc for a turn.

You probably won’t have much in terms of NCM, just make sure your trn(s) is protected and out of range from any Allied ftrs or bombers.

Now, what should you buy?

I think a case can be made for:
1 – IC + trn
2 – trns + land
3 – trns + air
4 – 2 IC
5 – trns + defensive navy (dd or ac)
6 – other

Of all of these, I think #2 is the most diverse and doesn’t require any particular setup or master plan other then you want to make sure they can’t be hit by Allied air. I prefer to buy 3 trns and 1 arm or 1 rt or 1-2 inf and save an ipc or two.

I like to wait on the IC b/c I don’t want to lock myself into a certain path until I make sure the US is going to be going after Germany.

With a 3 trn purchase you will be set to get 8 more units to Asia in Rd 2 and will maintain maximum flexibility. It also should give you a good foundation to build upon for the remainder of the game.