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Thread: Yet this will go onward the same: the Yamato Destiny

  1. #221
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    So having become little but an electoral machine of convenience, one presumes the Patriotic Union is about to fissure on lines of pure opportunism ... or does someone finds an issue of principle.

    Interesting to see that even after 2 centuries you are struggling to integrate and develop your Chinese possessions
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    So having become little but an electoral machine of convenience, one presumes the Patriotic Union is about to fissure on lines of pure opportunism ... or does someone finds an issue of principle.

    Interesting to see that even after 2 centuries you are struggling to integrate and develop your Chinese possessions
    Mainly principle, I think, although I daresay that individuals within the PU will look upon the decision with one eye on their careers. The Patriotic Union only existed to beat the Loyalists, which they've done handily. Its two constituents parts - the Court and the isolationists - have very different takes on foreign policy matters and so long as Oyama's in power only the isolationists will get a look in.

    It's actually quite heartening to see how relatively backward the mainland is compared to the Home Islands. It would be too easy for the game to treat all states as equally happy under Japanese rule (as was the case in EU3). Instead, I'm constantly reminded that I'm running a pretty nasty show here. Japanese citizens enjoy some rights (most notably the limited franchise), but in China it's a different story, with the result that they're not accounted citizens even in the land of their birth (see the use of the term "citizens and subjects", which basically means "the Japanese and the rest").
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    1857: The price of peace

    It has often been made a reproach against Russia that she has a habit of inveigling her weaker neighbours into imprudent treaties, and then, when their stipulations are broken through, with making that a pretext first for war, and subsequently for their conquest. But the encroachments of Russia have never been considered to be justified by being carried on by this insidious policy; on the contrary, it has always been regarded as rendering her spirit of aggrandisement not less but more dangerous, and has always been cited as a proof of her ambitious designs.

    State opening and Emperor's speech

    To the casual observer, 1857 opened with the Patriotic Union at the height of their powers: they had built upon their electoral success of four years ago by completely removing the Loyalist's influence from the Imperial Council and now enjoyed control of both the Cabinet and the Diet.

    However, the stunning success at the polls had inadvertently undermined the Patriotic Union's whole rationale. With the Loyalists seemingly in full retreat, there was suddenly nothing holding the governing party’s factions together. While the full consequences of this were not immediately obvious, the Patriotic Union had become much less resilient as a result.

    But for now, the government was riding high on a wave of electoral and economic achievement. The 1857 Budget did not, as had been widely expected, reverse the tax cuts that had preceded the election. Growth had been strong the previous year, with the result that deficit had fallen by half and the Treasury's reserves still stood at comfortably over £1 million.




    Domestic affairs

    The speed with which railways had been built across the Empire was testament to the economic boom times Japan was enjoying. By mid-1857 the first wave of these projects were coming to fruition.



    As the government had recognised, the railway boom had occurred without much thought having been given as to how to create a unified network to transport goods and people long distances. The first steps to rectify this were taken in November, when the Diet passed an amendment to the Railways Act designed to allow firms to co-operate over long distance routes.



    Investors reacted with great enthusiasm to the new possibilities that had just opened up for them. The Empire's railway mania showed no sign of abating.

    Following the passage of the Railways (Amendment) Act 1857, the Diet was asked to approve a Bill permitting the expansion of naval dockyards. Although Prime Minister Oyama was instinctively hostile to the to the proposals, he knew that his position was weakening and that some nod towards military realities was needed. The decision to bolster the navy rather than the army was designed to mollify his opponents while focusing on defence rather than aggression.

    The year also saw fresh intellectual advances. Japanese scholars theorised that organisms - including humans - had some way of passing their distinctive qualities down to their offspring.



    Although the idea first came to prominence among botanists, it was soon taken up in other fields. Medical practitioners believed that the new theory could help explain the distribution of congenital diseases, while others saw in the idea the possibility of breeding out weaknesses to allow mankind to approach a perfect state - a concept as alluring as it was dangerous.


    The Khorasani crisis

    While the government's domestic record was good, it was foreign policy that would provide the greatest threat to Prime Minister Oyama's position. In April, the Russians looked to capitalise on Khorasan's weakness following the latter's humbling by Manchukuo.

    Citing a desire to protect its merchants amidst the chaos following the partition, the Russians would eventually parlay this into a claim on northern Khorasan "to better protect our mutual borders and prevent attacks by criminal elements". If the Tsar believed the Surids would meekly accede to Russia's demands, he miscalculated: the dynasty had been greatly weakened by its recent defeat, but this made the young Shah's uncles all the more determined to fight for what was left.



    In Japan, the war was greeted with shock and alarm. The sizeable anti-Russian faction held that the Tsar's actions were yet another sign of his ambitions for Asian hegemony and demanded that the Empire respond in kind. To the Prime Minister the situation was less clear cut. While it was true that Russia's aggression was unprovoked, it appeared to be opportunistic rather than part of a grander scheme directed against Japan. Oyama and his partisans noted that Khorasan and Japan shared no borders and that Russia's land grab would not bring the two powers into closer proximity.

    Unfortunately for Oyama, this sentiment was not shared by some of his Cabinet, Finance Minister Iwao chief amongst them. In an effort to placate his critics, the Prime Minister authorised the Foreign Ministry to provide a subsidy to Khorasan for the duration of the conflict. Unbeknownst to Oyama, Iwao also mobilised his contacts in the diplomatic service to approach the Surid court with a view to signing a co-operation treaty: a treaty that would give Japan a pretext to intervene on Khorasan's behalf.

    However, time was for now on Oyama's side. By the close of 1857 the Russians had succeeded in occupying Bishkek and were pushing eastwards over the Kyrgyz Alatau mountains until a counterattack forced them to return to defend their gains. A swift end to the war would strengthen Oyama's hand, but at the same time heighten fears over Russia's true objectives.


    Foreign affairs

    A notable result of the Russian attack on Khorasan was an increased recognition of the importance Manchukuo as a buffer between the Tsar's forces and the Empire. Even Oyama was forced to concede that an attack on Manchukuo would be grounds for Japanese intervention, although the Prime Minister calculated that such a move was unlikely.



    Despite this, Castile joined the diplomatic dance alongside Russia and Japan. The Empire enjoyed good relations with the Spanish power, seeing Castile as another check on Russian expansionism, but at the same time it viewed as unacceptable any challenge to its hegemony over Manchukuo. Under threat of seeing its trade with the Empire embargoed, Manchukuo declared Castilian diplomats persona non grata.

    The ongoing war between Scotland and Britain descended further into farce when both sides launched invasions along their shared border in northern Britain. Japanese military observers were puzzled at Britain's inability to put sufficient troops into the field to finish off the Scots, more so given the former's army was almost ten times as large.



    While the war would continue beyond 1857, the strain was making itself felt on Scottish society. Maritime trade had been brought to an almost total stop due to the predations of the Royal Navy, while Scotland's colonies in the Great Eastlands were at the mercy of the British. It seemed likely that the Scots would have settled for ceding Ulster as the British had initially demanded, but Britain's war aims were now much wider and so the struggle continued.

    In June, Modena became the latest to join in the dismemberment of Morocco.



    While the declaration of war was not in itself particularly notable, the Foreign Ministry was mindful that similar adventures in the past had provided Milan with the opportunity to strike at its Italian neighbour while Modena was engaged elsewhere. A debate over Japanese intervention in Italy was one that Oyama did not relish, and the Prime Minister urged Imperial diplomats to impress upon the Milanese court the need for restraint.

    Already at war with Egqyt, Morocco felt that it had no choice but to sue for peace in order to concentrate on the Modenan threat.



    The result for Egypt was yet another nigh-painless victory to add to its success against Funj. The acquisition of Tunis and its hinterland gave the Egyptian state another piece of a North African coastline that was becoming an ever more confused patchwork of territories.

    A momentous change occurred in April when the other great powers recognised the rising star that was Colombia. Never before had a nation based entirely in the Great Eastlands risen to such prominence in world affairs.



    For Japan, Colombia's elevation posed problems given the Empire's close ties to its former colonial master, Trebizond. Colombia still laid claim to territory along its borders and a war would likely to produce pressure for Japanese intervention.


    End of year

    The year ended uneasily for Oyama and the Patriotic Union. The Prime Minister's studiedly non-interventionist policies enjoyed broad support, but so too did those calling for a more robust response to the foreign policy challenges faced by the Empire.



    Neither did the Diet elections hold much cheer for the government. The liberals continued to edge towards power, even as conservative support dwindled. At this rate, the Patriot Union would lose its majority in the Diet before the next election, and Oyama was not certain from where he could assemble sufficient support to get the government's business through.
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  4. #224
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    as ever utterly fascinating, I love the discussion of Russia as a land hungry agressor when you are sitting on a huge multinational (& somewhat unwilling) Empire of your own
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  5. #225
    I have an in-built Victoria 2 hatred of all things british so I am really hoping scotland can rally and push the brits back. Not looking good though. They might hold on for longer but I think it is just going to end in more pain for them.

    Pity.

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    First off, sorry for the long hiatus that this AAR has been on. As some of you will know, I became a father last October, and thus I have a lot less free time than I thought I'd have when I started this project. I do have some time when William's gone to bed, but that doesn't always mean I'm in the right mindset for writing.

    Happily, I am in the right mindset at the moment, and I am determined to finish this someday, so hopefully we'll get a few more updates in before William goes to university.

    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    as ever utterly fascinating, I love the discussion of Russia as a land hungry agressor when you are sitting on a huge multinational (& somewhat unwilling) Empire of your own
    That's absolutely the sort of double-standard I was shooting for. From Japan's point of view, all its actions can be justified, but that doesn't mean that that's the objective truth. That said, Russia's been appealingly active throughout, which makes for a nice bit of drama.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blxz View Post
    I have an in-built Victoria 2 hatred of all things british so I am really hoping scotland can rally and push the brits back. Not looking good though. They might hold on for longer but I think it is just going to end in more pain for them.

    Pity.
    Scotland have done surprisingly well, but they have colonies in North America that they simply can't defend, which means their war exhaustion will rise much faster than Britain's. I think a human player might be able to win this war, but possibly not from this point.
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    1858: Differences of opinion

    The House was then called together, in consequence of a sudden panic, which spreading widely throughout the Continent, extended to this country, threatening to give a serious check to all commercial enterprise, and did in fact cause the most widespread alarm and embarrassment.

    State opening and Emperor's speech

    The Emperor's speech of 1858 - written as it had been by the Government - stressed the benefits of stability and order within the Empire, contrasting these to turmoil abroad. In Europe, the King of Britain continued his war against Scotland - a war that would enter its fifth year in March - while the Tsar's forces were struggling to subdue Khorasan.

    For many, including Emperor Sakuramachi, Japan's refusal to stand up to Russian meddling in Central Asia was short-sighted at best and treasonous at worst. What could not be denied was that the long period of peace ushered in by the Patriotic Union had brought prosperity.



    The large deficit resulting from the pre-election tax cuts of 1856 had now largely disappeared. Finance Minister Iwao announced that there would be no changes for 1858, but it was widely expected that taxes would fall ahead of the 1861 election. There was some disagreement as to whether the consumption tax or the general tariff should be reduced, but the financial outlook was very promising.


    Domestic affairs

    Adding to the general sense of domestic satisfaction the paramount colonial project of the century - the settling of the Great Eastlands - was formally declared to have reached its end in October with the establishment of Idaho territory.



    The Great Eastlands was still many times less populous than the Home Islands or China and it was expected that migration to the new colonies would continue for decades, if not longer.

    Although Army planners fretted over how to defend the long border between the Empire and the United Kingdom, the truth was that a war confined to the Great Eastlands could never threaten Japan's security in a meaningful way. As long as Japan held its West Coast colonies, the British could not project power into the northern Pacific, allowing the Empire to ship reinforcements without fear of interception.

    February saw the publication of a controversial book The Yamato Genius dedicated to Emperor Sakuramachi to mark the fifteenth year of his reign. The thesis argued that the Yamato family in particular, and - to a lesser degree - the Japanese race in general, were a breed apart, superior to other men and especially fitted to rule the Empire which they now found themselves in possession of.



    The arguments provoked by the book were long, fierce, and cut across party lines. Some liberals liked the implicit suggestion that humanity was perfectible, while others dismissed the notion that people could be bred like livestock. Some conservatives took from it a sense that the Empire's social structure was indeed divinely appointed, while others questioned the idea that breeding alone was a sufficient hallmark of superiority, ignoring as it did the need for duty and piety.

    Political upheaval was not confined to Japan. In June a group of exiles proclaimed their intent to overthow the government of Holland in the name of liberty. Although the proclamation did not have the effect its authors desired - it was met with little popular support in Holland - it did inspire other frustrated reformers.



    In Japan, the Government viewed the formation of a radical caucus among liberal deputies with a degree of nonchalance. The rapid increase in liberal representation in the Diet had been cause for concern, but it was hoped that the radicals would expose splits between deputies and drive the more moderate into the arms of the Patriotic Union.


    Foreign affairs

    Throughout early 1858 political pressure grew for intervention in the Russo-Khorasani war. Under the cover of general efforts to strengthen the Empire's political position in Central Asia, the Foreign Ministry signed a treaty of accord with the Surid court in February.



    A powerful clique headed by Finance Minister Iwao urged Prime Minister Oyama to use the agreement as a pretext to bring the Empire into the war. Russian troops had by this point succeeded in occupying all the territory they had demanded from Khorasan, and the Surids were believed - rightly - to be on the brink of surrender.

    Just as the Surids' wavering commitment to the war counselled swift action from the interventionists, it also reinforced Prime Minister Oyama's determination to keep Japan out of the conflict.



    In the end, Oyama and his supporters prevailed when the interventionists were handed a fait accompli. On 13th March the Surids capitulated to the Russian Empire, ending the war and Iwao's hopes of using Japan's might to check the Tsar's ambitions.

    The incident heightened the tensions within the Patriotic Union between deputies who had supported the Isolationists and those drawn from the Court Party. Iwao's belief that Japan needed to take a more active role in world affairs was becoming hard to reconcile with the compromises that had brought the Patriotic Union into being.

    The war between Scotland and Britain finally drew to a close in November, after five and half years of brutal struggle that had left both participants exhausted, but which had hit Scotland particularly hard. Scottish troops had fought well, expelling Britain from Ireland and launching invasions of England itself, but Britain's naval dominance meant that Scotland had lost control of its transatlantic colonies and was vulnerable to blockade.



    Eventually, the Scottish Government had to bow to the inevitable. The failure of the Lancashire offensive of 1857 removed even the slimmest hope of maintaining the status quo ante bellum, while the British occupation of the Lowlands cut Scotland off from much of its pre-war wealth.

    The impending defeat of Scotland and the strains produced by the war had had an unlooked for and unwelcome impact on the European economy. Although Scotland's financial import paled in comparison with giants such as France, many investors had lent money to the government or backed the development of Scottish industry.



    As it became clear that the war was lost, markets were thrown into frenzy. Ironically, the Scottish government - thanks in part to war subsidies from Japan - was never seriously threatened with bankruptcy. However, as investors sought out safe havens, several smaller states found they were unable to borrow money to cover their costs and were forced to declare themselves insolvent.

    Japanese investors were little affected by the crash, although that did not stop the handful who had lost money from calling on the Government to stop at nothing to see that the debts were honoured. Even Finance Minister Iwao was little moved by their arguments - the cost of sending a naval squadron to the Baltic or Malta far outweighed the meagre sums that could be recovered.

    Closer to home, 1858 also saw a brief war between Gelre - a long-standing ally - and Champa. Although some deputies were uneasy at the thought of further European expansion in Asia, the Government took Gelre's part in the dispute, agreeing to bear some of the cost of the war in the interests of maintaining the friendship of one of Japan's neighbours.



    Over before the year's end, the Champa war expanded Gelre's Asian presence at the expense of a state that had shown little friendship towards the Empire.


    End of year

    The Patriotic Union's hope that the radicals would temper enthusiasms for the liberals was disproved by the elections for the Diet of 1859. The liberals only lost a small number of deputies to the radical camp, and this was more than made up for by strong gains at the expense of both Loyalists and - sadly - the Patriotic Union.



    It appeared that the Patriotic Union's majority in the Diet would not live to see 1860. The factions arrayed against it could hardly be said to be unified, but could easily co-operate to block legislation. Oyama's problems were far from over.
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  8. #228
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great to see you slipping an update in ... thank you

    can't work out from your text if you were happy to escape having to decide about war with Russia or a bit frustrated the option popped relatively late in that war.

    Domestically it seems as if the Patriotic Union is a coalition that is fast losing its initial logic?
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  9. #229
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    oh, this is back!

    looks like the map is clearing itself up after all.

    I may have to play some Vicky again, I completely lost it since your AAR's been on hold

  10. #230
    I was also glad to see an update.

    Do you have further territorial expansion plans?

  11. #231
    Field Marshal Malurous's Avatar
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    Seems that the Social Darwinists are seeking to reinforce the notion of Yamato Destiny.

    Thrilled to see an update again, and of sky high quality as well.
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  12. #232
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    No update today (1860 has been played, but I haven't started editing the screenshots yet), but I'll take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who have replied to an AAR that's now over a year old. Even if I can keep to the pace of an update a week, it'll be 2014 before this is finished!

    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    great to see you slipping an update in ... thank you

    can't work out from your text if you were happy to escape having to decide about war with Russia or a bit frustrated the option popped relatively late in that war.

    Domestically it seems as if the Patriotic Union is a coalition that is fast losing its initial logic?
    I had about a month's grace to decide whether to intervene or not. Had I done so, Russian war score would have fallen to the point where they couldn't impose a peace, although I suppose it's possible Khorasan would have still folded. Even in that case, I'd still have been able to fight on. The other consideration is that Russia can field more brigades than I can. I can build more, but that should logically be rather unpopular with the electorate, since more of their taxes will go to pay for a fight that Japan has little to gain from.

    Personally, I'd probably have taken the option to fight - if only for interesting times - but it didn't really seem like the sort of think the current Japanese government would get involved in and I couldn't think of a way of arranging things such that they would. An open split in the Patriotic Union might have done the trick, but that should either trigger an election (which would mean the war ended before the results came in) or a tie-up between Iwao's faction and the Loyalists, which isn't really on the agenda.

    Quote Originally Posted by vasziljevics View Post
    oh, this is back!

    looks like the map is clearing itself up after all.

    I may have to play some Vicky again, I completely lost it since your AAR's been on hold
    There's more consolidation to come. I'm a little worried about Scotland's long-term prospects since the UK has cores on them and continues to hoover up independent states on the British Isles. Of these, I have good relations with Northumberland and possibly an alliance with it. Scotland, on the other hand, is a GP, so I can't sphere it, nor can I get an alliance to stick.

    Morocco, which started the game holding a large part of North Africa, has been everyone's punching bag. The Ottomans and Egypt have done better, but the Med is pretty much France's lake, what with it holding Anatolia, the Balkans and Greece.

    We'll see more of Italy in the next update, but suffice to say consolidation looks set to continue. My only regret here is that Italy is unlikely to form with Austria and France sitting on some of the required cores. I might alter the files to allow the formation of Italia Minor, possibly with only slightly more than Milan has now, allowing it to use the unification CB on the remaining Italian states.

    Germany is a mess. I don't really have a good solution for this. In game, Austria owns so much that it's unlikely the NGF or SGF can form. Again, I might mod the files to allow an Austrian-dominated SGF or an independent kleine NGF. I'm sort of hoping a pan-nationalist revolution will do the work for me, but so far we've had a couple and nothing's come of it - I would guess the states in question haven't been sphered by Austria (at present, the only German-cultured GP).

    South America is still dominated by the European powers. I'm a bit put out by this as I'd like to see more states forming down there, but perhaps it's fairly accurate as unlike 19th century Spain all bar one of the colonising nations are still first rate powers (France, Austria and the UK). The exception - Aragon - barely has a European presence at all, so it's probably fair to say they've spent more time and effort protecting their American possessions than was historically the case.

    Africa and Asia are doing better. Africa has a few native states (Mali, Morocco, Egypt, Adal, Karem Bornu and Zanzibar) and the Yemenis have a substantial presence too. Asia has lots of smaller states under the protective umbrella of the Empire. From a player perspective I'd like to see India form, but from a role-playing standpoint that's just not in Japan's interests as both of the major states (Sindh and Madurai) are spherees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omen View Post
    I was also glad to see an update.

    Do you have further territorial expansion plans?
    In short, not really. I'd like to grab Alaska at some point, but I've not been focusing on life-rating techs so I might miss out on that. However, if it is colonised by Russia or the UK then I might go to war to deny them access to the Pacific (or more access in Russia's case).

    I might expand my African territories a bit (I could protectorate one of the native states) with a view to future colonising, but I'm plenty big as it is and more territory just means more headaches when it comes to defending it.

    All in all, Japan is a satisfied power. The north American colonies are more than enough free land for the time being. What matters now is maintaining the balance of power in Europe and Asia.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malurous View Post
    Seems that the Social Darwinists are seeking to reinforce the notion of Yamato Destiny.

    Thrilled to see an update again, and of sky high quality as well.
    Explaining the Social Darwinism invention was a bit of a pain as we haven't actually discovered Darwinism yet. I think it's an OK fit with the themes of imperialist rhetoric, but isn't really Darwinism (or whoever-puts-forward-credible-evidence-for-evolution-ism).

    It's much harder to work the social/philosophical discoveries into the narrative than it is to incorporate the discover of electricity. Railways are a bit of a pain too, as it's hard to explain the state's role in moving from level 1 to 2 railroads.
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    1859: Oyama vindicated

    ...but no man who has looked at the state of the Continent can shut his eyes to the fact that it is the disturbed, restless, and uneasy condition of the Italian States which endangers the peace of Europe, and that that restless and uneasy condition results from bad government in the countries to the south of the Po; and that this bad government is fostered by the confidence on which the rulers of the different States in that part of Italy rest...

    State opening and Emperor's speech

    The Emperor's speech for 1859 found the Diet more divided than ever. The election of five deputies of avowedly radical sympathies overshadowed a more fundamental problem for the Patriotic Union: their majority was now a mere three deputies. Fortunately for the Government, the radical deputies refused to take their oaths of office, objecting to the requirement it placed upon them to uphold the paramount place of Shinto in the Empire. This gave the Patriotic Union a working majority of eleven deputies - ten after the election of one of their number as Speaker - enough to get the Government's most critical business through, although controversial legislation was out of the question.



    Finance Minister Iwao announced that the budget deficit had grown over the course of 1858 due to increased industrial subsidies resulting from the financial crisis in Europe. For this reason, liberal deputies voted against the Finance Bill, arguing that the subsidy and tariff regimes distorted the market and rewarded inefficient industries at the expense of better run firms.

    Despite this resistance, the Diet approved the Budget - which was essentially unchanged on 1858's - by a healthy majority. Although the deficit had grown to nearly £143,000 a year, the Treasury had reserves aplenty for the time being.


    Domestic affairs

    The Government's methods of countering the rise of liberal sentiment among the electorate were essentially those it had deployed against the Loyalists. Included amongst these was the aggressive redrawing of constituency boundaries in order to exploit the winner-takes-all nature of the Diet's first past the post electoral system. In July 1859, Kido Matsumoto, dean of the faculty of law at the University of Kyoto, published Notes towards the legitimation of the Diet, which argued for a new system of apportioning seats to better represent voters' preferences.



    To general surprise, Prime Minister Oyama announced that the Government would establish a commission to examine the feasibility of Professor Matsumoto's proposals. Though not naturally sympathetic to such ideas, Oyama's decision was based on two propositions. Firstly, focusing the liberals on arcane debates over electoral systems would keep them from doing real mischief and hopefully allow them to be portrayed as detached intellectuals rather than leaders of men. Secondly, if support for the Patriotic Union continued to decline it might well be in conservatives' long-term interests to ensure that the party in power was not unduly strengthened by the system, lest a hypothetical liberal Government gain access to the same tricks.

    In February, the Diet passed the Navy Act 1859, authorising the extension of the Empire's naval dockyards to better accommodate steam warships. Expansion plans were initially delayed due to shortages of lumber and iron, caused by the growth of the rail network. However, by the year's end construction work at the yards was under way.



    Concerns over rising demand for iron and coal provided the Government with their next legislative priority. The Mining Bill sought to persuade firms to modernise their operations in order to increase productivity. Alongside subsidies and technical assistance, the Bill explicitly prohibited the formation and operation of labour unions, a move welcomed by mine owners, but resented by their workers.

    In May, the Navy adopted new regulations to reflect the growing use of steam propulsion.



    Greater familiarity with steam and a programme of retro-fitting existing warships with paddlewheels meant that the average fleet's cruising speed could be increased. Given Japan's military commitments in the Great Eastlands and Europe, the time thus saved was welcome indeed.


    Foreign affairs

    Diplomatically, 1859 started badly for Prime Minister Oyama, but ended with the apparent vindication of his policies. The worst news came early in the year, when it was discovered that Britain and Russia had signed an alliance.



    The spectre the Empire’s two greatest enemies co-ordinating their strategies against it sent shockwaves through Japanese politics. Oyama's studied non-interventionism was blamed for allowing Japan’s rivals to think they could act without regard to the Empire’s interests. The Loyalists demanded that the Government respond, but in truth there was little that could be done.

    Emboldened by the new alliance, the United Kingdom continued to pursue the reconquest of the British Isles, this time turning its attention towards a troubled England, whose only territory was - paradoxically - north Wales.



    The war was a short and relatively bloodless affair. England's newly-installed democratic government had not endeared itself to its citizens and struggled to raise forces to oppose the British invasion. This was underlined by the fact that it was unable to make much use of proffered Japanese financial support. The war ended in September with Britain victorious. In all England and Wales, only Northumberland remained independent.

    The ink had hardly dried on the Russo-British alliance when it became clear that the Tsar's government was losing ground internationally. Its surprisingly rapid defeat at the hands of Japan in the war of 1847 had shown that Russia had little stomach for a fight against a committed power - a fact that subsequent victories over the minor states of Central Asia could not conceal.

    That apart, the Russian economy was falling further and further behind those of more developed nations. The nineteenth-century had passed its mid-point, yet Russian society was still overwhelmingly rural and agrarian. Russia's army remained huge by Western European standards, but its capacity to wage war was limited by the need for conscripts to return home to help with the harvest.

    By contrast, tiny Brabant had all the makings of an industrial and technical powerhouse. States across Germany and the Netherlands looked to Brabant for inspiration, support and advice, all the while scorning Russia as a symbol of a bygone era, little relevant to the modern world.



    The immediate outcome of the decline of Russian influence was a lessening of diplomatic pressure in Sindh and Manchukuo. Where once Japan had worked hard to counteract Russian meddling, now Sindhi and Manchu nobles refused to meet with Russian ambassadors.

    The waning of Russian prestige was badly received in St. Petersburg, but the Tsar's reaction was to prove costly. On 2 March, Russia declared war on Castile, laying claim to the latter's colonial settlement in Talaya. Spurred by a need to demonstrate Russia's superiority over an acknowledged power, and believing that the alliance with Britain would prevent foreign intervention, the Tsar hoped that a short, victorious war would restore Russia to her rightful place in world affairs.


    Almost immediately, these calculations were found to be false. The British, fearing a French response and mindful of the difficulties of transatlantic communications in the face of a hostile French fleet, demurred, pointing out that they had not requested Russian assistance against England. When the Russian ambassador demanded that Britain honour its commitments, the British Foreign Minister replied that he had no intention of taking the United Kingdom to war to satisfy the Tsar's wounded pride. In truth, the diminution of Russian influence had reduced the value of the alliance in Britain's eyes. In the final account, Prussia was the only ally to stand by Russia.

    With no possibility of British intervention, France was emboldened to come to Castile's aid. The last clash between Russia and France had ended in stalemate in 1847, but the French Government were confident that they had since grown stronger even as Russia had weakened.

    In Japan, the dissolution of the Russo-British alliance was greeted with relief by Prime Minister Oyama, whose caution now appeared justified. The Diet swiftly approved a generous subsidy to support the Castilian war effort.



    The Castilian government, once it had got over the initial shock of finding itself at war, was pleasantly surprised by how well events had turned in their favour. France, Modena and a handful of other allies had stood by them, while Russia had been deserted. With this in mind, Castile decided to capitalise on its unexpected good fortune by making demands of its own, although few international observers regarded territory on the Baltic as a good choice.

    Japan's foreign policy successes were crowned in late April with the repudiation of the British-Mexican friendship treaty, which had given the former privileged access to the latter's markets, and - more worryingly - had raised fears of a two-fronted assault against Japanese possessions in the Great Eastlands.



    Years of patient diplomacy came to fruition with the removal of Sir John Baker as Mexican Foreign Secretary following a vote of no confidence in Parliament. His replacement, Lord Stevenson, was less sympathetic to British interests than his Harrow-educated predecessor, and - it was hoped - would soon lead Mexico back into the Japanese camp. Continued British aggression against England helped to persuade Mexican MPs that their former colonial masters might turn their attentions to their wayward colony after they had finished the conquest of the British Isles. For its part, Britain was too preoccupied with the war and the repercussions of the short-lived Russian alliance to notice Japan's growing influence in Mexico until it was too late.

    The final surprise of an eventful year came in August. Taking advantage of Castile's war with Russia, King Ascanio of Milan launched the fourth Modenan war, laying claim to the remainder of southern Italy. Ascanio's gambit was well-timed - Castile felt unable to commit to a fresh war, while Modena now found itself facing both a distant Russia and an aggressive Italian neighbour.



    Unlike previous Milanese wars, King Ascanio this time declined to call on his Japanese allies for assistance, believing that he should be able to win the war outright and seeing no reason to share in the glory. Thus it was that the Army of Italy stood on the sidelines as Milanese and Modenan troops vied for control of the Po valley.

    By Christmas, Milan had succeeded in occupying Modena itself, at the expense of losing control of Lucca and seeing Florence itself put to siege. As the year ended, the main Milanese army had reversed course, marching to the relief of the capital and to what promised to be the decisive battle of the war.



    Although Modena fought on, it appeared as if Milan would inevitably triumph. The growing power of Japan's ally and the fact that the Empire itself could remain unengaged while reaping the benefits of victory was seized on by isolationist politicians, who argued that their political opponents' adventurism would have cost far more blood and treasure and produced no better results: Oyama's vindication was complete.


    End of year

    Despite the year's foreign policy triumphs, the Patriotic Union's support showed no signs of rallying at the 1860 elections. For the first time, conservative deputies no longer made up a majority of the Diet, although the continued exclusion of the radicals meant that they still enjoyed a five-seat lead over the combined partisans of the Loyalists and the liberals.



    Somehow, Oyama needed to find a way to stem the liberal tide.
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  14. #234
    Colonel vasziljevics's Avatar
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    Brabant... O.o lol! Russia must be very rural indeed if they are no longer a GP.

    I am curious about the slow but steady decline of the Patriotic Union - and especially about how desperate they could be when it comes to holding on to power...


    and Austria/Germany has been very silent recently...

  15. #235
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewirix View Post
    focusing the liberals on arcane debates over electoral systems would keep them from doing real mischief and hopefully allow them to be portrayed as detached intellectuals rather than leaders of men
    I'm sure that no contemporary reference was meant by this?

    It looks is if the decline and collapse of Russia is going to be the international event of the coming years. Can see that creating massive amounts of disruption.
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  16. #236
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    The isolationists are certainly getting some good material for their campaigns, as far as warfare goes you're doing nothing and almost everything falls into your lap!

    Some very helpful changes for Japan in both Russia and Mexico.
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  17. #237
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewirix View Post
    The British actually have their capital in America, so any war is likely to see Japan start at a substantial disadvantage.
    More than a little surprising to put it mildly. Although nowhere near as surprising as Brabant taking Russia's position as a GP!

    Oyama is proving himself a most canny leader, although I don't always agree with his isolationist policy it has proven very successful thus far. With the continued growth of the liberals and the friction between himself and Iwao the political situation remains very intriguing. Not a surprise that Scotland was thrashed by Britain in the recent war, the only surprise was how long it took Britain to achieve victory.

    As ever great stuff, the next update promises to be a most interesting one.
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  18. #238
    Wonderful. Updates a-plenty. Been a little busy with work so didn't get the chance to read and comment until now.

    I have to say your focus on isolation is actually very interesting for me. I like to see all these other nations becoming more powerful and doing their thing. I fear that when this government loses power that it could be a little boring with Japan stomping everyone into the ground again and stopping them from achieving any of their goals. Still, given what you have shown so far I have no doubt that it will be well written at the very least.

    As for finishing in 2014, fear not. I am still young and have a few good years left in me. Keep chipping away and you may finish one day. You might even fall in love with the campaign enough to mod it for HOI3 (haha, 1 sided war that would be, unless you changed countries). Keep up the good work.

  19. #239
    I just recently discovered this. What a treat! Thank you for such great reading. I look forward to more.

  20. #240
    Maestro Director's Avatar
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    A brief look at a map would lend credence to the idea that your Japanese superpower is the sole and untrammeled arbiter of the fate of nations. But every big empire comes to understand that it is impossible to be overwhelmingly strong at every point - hence Oyama's preference for economic aid and manipulation of the sphere of influence.

    Russia may be backward and weak, but there is a lot of it - and it is mostly very poor terrain to fight on. Staying out of a war in Central Asia looks like solid policy to me. Let Khorasan go. But using Castile to sop up Russians looks like a fine idea. Let the other powers fight it out for the priveledge of being second.
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