Freedom Rises With the Sun: A Democratic Japan AAR
Prolouge: Changing Times
Japan had always had its warrior tradition, dating back to their earliest conquests and campaigns. It made for the stuff of legend, though some leaders were recalled more than others. Famed warlords like Nobunaga Oda and Tokugawa Ieyasu, among others, were heard of more often than some of the more ancient leaders. These warlords made the Emperor little more than a figurehead; that is, until Japan was forced to open its doors to the west again.
Commodore Matthew Perry's breaking of Japanese isolation would bring about myriad changes in the ancient nation.
American Commodore Matthew Perry arrives to meet with the Shogun in 1853.
The Meiji Restoration returned power to the Emperor, and the nation began to rapidly modernize itself. But that warrior spirit - the spirit of Bushido - refused to die out despite the changes being made. One neglected warrior of the nation's past would come to play a surprising role in the new Japan.
One night, Emperor Meiji had a strange dream. In it, a woman in armor appeared to him; she told him that in order for Japan to survive in the new world, the Imperial Succession must be altered. He was to ensure that, in the future, should a princess be the eldest child of an Emperor, she would ascend to the throne with the full powers that a male counterpart would enjoy. When he questioned her identity, she revealed that she was the spirit of Jingo Kogo; an early Empress who had led an invasion of Korea.
Critics would later say Meiji's move to alter the succession was to combat the difficulty he'd had in bearing an heir to the throne at all, let alone a son. Whatever the case, it ensured that any future Empress would enjoy unprecedented powers.
Empress Jingo Kogo, who supposedly appeared to Meiji in a dream.
The full effect of this westernization was seen when Japan went to war with, and proceeded to defeat, the Russian Empire in 1905. Victory in the Russo-Japanese war gained the state attention from other European powers as well. Closer ties were formed with Great Britain especially, as Japan itself continued to expand its own empire. During the Great War, Japan sided with its new European friends and siezed for itself the former German provinces in the Pacific.
Japan also played a role in the European war, sending detachments of the Imperial Navy to the Mediterrenean and the Imperial Army to the Western Front. Despite the gains made in the war, the public was growing frustrated with the spending and consequent taxing the expanded involvement in the War had brought. This would lead to protests, and eventually, the first democratic elections in Japan's history.
The 1920s were a time of unexpected prosperity for Japan, as democracy flourished along with capitalism. 1922 saw the extension of sufferage to all Japanese, including women. In 1929, though, the world economy crashed. As the Social Democratic government struggled to do anything to alleviate the disaster, extremist parties sought to gain support. On the right, the fascistic parties enjoyed support from influential military leaders. On the left, the growing numbers of unemployed Japanese began to turn to socialist and communist parties.
Until 1932, Japan lingered in the Depression, with the Social Conservatives managing to hold onto power. Things had failed to improve, so the people turned to a new policital coalition: the Social Liberals. Promoting democratic socialism of sorts, the Social Liberals won a surprising landslide victory in parliamentary elections. Basing their economic reforms on the New Deal that was being instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt in America, Japan slowly found itself coming out of the economic darkness.
By 1935, Japan's economy had recovered, and the Social Liberals had won a new round of early elections in '34. To satisfy conservative factions, the Social Liberals allowed the military more funding than they'd originally intended. As then-parliament member Tanaka Motoko said, "Compromise is the essence of democracy; we must no shut out differing viewpoints simply because we do not like them."
HIM Atsuhito, Emperor of Japan (1915-1935)
The year 1935 also saw the death of Emperor Atsuhito, who had reigned since 1915. Seen as the man who had embroiled Japan in Europe's war, the more leftist parties vilified him; those more on the conservative side saw him as something of a hero. Atsuhito had left no male heirs - only his young daughter, who according to Meiji's Proclamation of Imperial Succession would be the new, fully-empowered Empress.
Funeral procession of Atushito in Tokyo.
At the age of 21, Empress Yoriko officially ascended to the imperial throne in Tokyo. Leaving her university studies in Britian, she assumed her duties as Japan's head of state. The first reigning Empress in nearly a century and a half, she quickly called a meeting with her new cabinet. This included the new Prime Minister Tanaka Motoko, who became the first female head of government when her predecessor, Nosaka Sanzo, stepped down due to political pressure from moderates within his own party.
While the people generally supported her, seeing Yoriko as a welcome change from her father and a face of the new Japan, some in the military hierarchy were not pleased. This and the future course of the Japanese Republic would be discussed in their meeting on January 1, 1936...
Hi everyone, and welcome to my second AAR! The Rampant Rooster - A Tale of Wallonia is still ongoing, but will not be updated until.. well, until there's enough developments to warrant an update. Updates there will be slower than anticipated, but it's not dead. I just wanted to try my hand at this one too.
You may notice several things differing between this Japan's history and the actual, real life details. This will be a very, very alternate Japan in which the land of the rising sun is a democracy. Call it a parallel universe or something if you like. Some figures, such as Emperor Atsuhito, Empress Yoriko, and Motoko Tanaka, are obviously fictional. They're there to try and give this story a little bit of a different flavor.
And as Japan is a democracy throughout the 1920s-30s, Manchukuo will likely not exist. As such, it's likely to be given to one or more Chinese warlords.. or maybe the Red Menace. Of course, they could exist as a new warlord faction too, headed by the deposed emperor Pu-Yi. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated...
And yes, I will someday do a Peruvian AAR as promised, but this was just a sudden inspiration I decided to pursue first.