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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter One: 1936 - Mobilizing the Nation
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    It was a calm and beautiful morning in Osaka as the Sun began to rise over the Pacific, letting out rays of sunshine that so many of us remember on those cold wintry days. All the while the Sun began to reflect off the freshly packed snow which covered rooftops, roads and lawns that sprawled throughout the city of Osaka. As dawn began to break, many of Osaka’s inhabitants began their early morning routines of getting ready for either work or school. For the Kenji family this was the beginning of both work and stay-at-home parenting. Shin Kenji was a new father of a baby girl with a beautiful wife named Takara, of whom were married for just over a year. The Kenji’s were bakers and they worked just outside Osaka’s farmer’s market which was located downtown. This morning however would be different from any other for the Kenji’s as a loud and abrupt knock on the front door came to be as the Kenji’s were enjoying breakfast before setting off for their day.

    As Shin made his way to the front door another knock would sound from the door, creating an uneasy tension for Shin as he stepped a bit faster towards the door before opening. A soldier of the Imperial Army with papers in one hand and a fist clenched on the other ready to knock again was standing on the outside of Shin’s house. “Shin Kenji?” said the soldier.

    “Yes.” replied Shin.

    The soldier presented Shin the papers in his hand and responded “Congratulations! You have been drafted into the Imperial Army. Follow the instructions in the letter and we will be in touch.” The soldier smiled and turned about and continued down the sidewalk to the next household of an eligible male. Shin looked down at the papers in disappointment and closed the front door and made his way towards his beloved wife and newborn daughter.

    “Who was at the door, honey?” said Takara.

    Shin tried to hide his frustration from his wife but he was too annoyed. “A soldier. He gave me conscription papers. I’m to be drafted into the Army in a week.“

    In shock Takara replied “What? I can’t work and raise our daughter by myself!” She paused before continuing “Did you at least try to reason with the man?”

    “There’s nothing I can do, Takara. Once you’re drafted, you’re drafted.” Shin thought for a few moments to himself before continuing “Talk to your mother. She can help with the baby while you work at the bakery. I’ll still be getting paid. Just by the Army instead. I’ll make arrangements to make sure you get the money, Takara.”

    Frustrated herself Takara shook her head in disbelief and sighed “I suppose that will have to do, Shin. I will miss you! Please write home when you have the chance.”

    “It will be alright, Takara. I have a week to get things in order before I’m to report to the barracks. At least we have that.”

    “You’re right my love.” Takara walked closer to Shin before Shin began to hold her in an attempt to comfort his wife. Takara began to softly cry as Shin held her closer. Their daughter watched from the kitchen trying to understand what had happened. The closeness of Shin and Takara always found a way to comfort their child in a way they could not do otherwise. Shin was a family man and his entrance into the Army would make or break him as he and his wife never go more than a day or two without each other. These would be trying times for the Kenji’s as well as the nation of young families as a whole but they would learn to soldier on and serve their country in the coming months ahead.

    *****​

    Meanwhile, as the draft continued on the Home Islands of Japan the central government of Japan began reorganizing industry to field a large army. Factories and dockyards were of prime concern and with the newly established draft forty eight divisions of Regulars were to be trained before the years end. Future plans for the Imperial Army was to include modernized armor divisions for future expansion in mainland Asia should Japan continue on its current path. For now though the Imperial Army would have to rely on infantry as its main force on the mainland.


    On the navy side of the military, the old ships of the past were scrapped for resources while research and development would begin on advancing warships. It was still undecided by high ranking officials in the Imperial Navy whether or not to invest in large battleships or carriers but that was a concern for the future. For now the Imperial Navy would invest in smaller ships and work its way up to capital ships at a later date. It was a bold decision to scrap the entire Imperial Navy but it would pay off in the future to have modern warships over refitting old, less reliable vessels. However, there was still the IJN Nagato, the pride of the fleet, which was conducting exercises on the Coast of Japan to further gain experience for the Imperial Navy. Battleship Nagato would allow the Navy to greatly increase its ability to research naval technology and implement them into a new, modern naval force.


    And finally the central government itself was altered. The Kodoha faction was being dismantled and any sympathizers would be arrested. This would quickly allow the Emperor and his trusted staff to form Japan into an ideal position on the world’s stage. The rise of Imperial Japan had begun and the Emperor’s ambitions were bold. With the Kodoha faction soon to be out of the picture Emperor Hirohito would begin forging a new empire from Japan’s proud past. A new empire to rule Asia and its surrounding islands in the south. Japan would now enter a reign of glory.
     
    Chapter Two: 1937 - Prelude to War
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    After a long day of drills and helping the combat engineers of 5 Hoheishidan build a company barracks on the soil of East Hebei, Shin Kenji was able to settle into his bunk and grab a pencil and paper and begin writing home of his experiences being deployed as an Imperial Army Soldier. As he wrote crisp whistling winds blew through the cracks between the boards which held the barracks upright. Shin shivered and brought his covers closer to his shoulders before continuing to write his wife who was back in Osaka, Japan.

    Dearest Takara,

    As I write to you today 5 Hoheishidan, the infantry division of which I have been assigned to, has been just north of China for the past eleven days. Hebei is a barren landscape. There is not much here but foothills and dirt. We are fighting the cold as well. The winds pick up pretty fierce if you are not in shelter and we are still learning to deal with it. This is a very different place than Osaka and I miss home.

    I hope you are well Takara. How is our daughter? Is the bakery treating you well? These are all questions that run through my mind as I dig trenches, machine gun emplacements and run drills with the rest of my platoon. We wake up at dawn and run for what seems like hours. They call this conditioning and its supposed to make us a better soldier. I see their point but I would rather dig a deeper hole or clean my rifle for the tenth time.

    There are good times though. After a series of drills we break for chow and can feel like regular men back on the Home Islands. We joke and talk about our lives back home and who we are serving for. I have grown close to several of the men her in my platoon. I have not met anyone from Osaka yet but I am sure I am not the only one here in Hebei.

    Anyways, I hope this reaches you soon my dear wife. You and our daughter are in my thoughts. Always.

    Shin

    *****
    While the Imperial Army began securing a foothold on Japanese territory in Asia, the Central Government held talks with ambassadors from both Germany and Italy. An anti-Comintern pact had been established which would allow the transfer of intelligence on Comintern activity as well as domestic raids on those suspected of aiding the Comintern ideology. This would sow a mutual friendship between Japan, Germany and Italy and would be just the beginning if things were to continue to transpire as the have been this past year.

    Now that Imperial Intelligence had been properly funded for the time being, civilian factories along with military factories and dockyards were developing at full speed. Soon Japan would have itself a booming domestic industry to rival the most prestigious of Western Powers. With this new found potential Japan could ramp up production of not only its army but it’s navy and air force as well. Currently infantry division equipment and supplies were prioritized for the Imperial Army but within a year the Imperial Army projected that it could begin development of modern light armor along with supporting motorized infantry. The Air Force however were not likely to see any gains until late 1937 or early 1938.


    As Japan continued to ramp up its civilian and military economies its future seemed bright. Soon Japan would no longer have to worry itself with trade and focus all production from domestic supplies, barring a massive need for steel should the Imperial Navy require it in the future. Steel however was easy to come by so it was of little concern, especially at Japan’s current state of industry. Infrastructure was looking good as well with construction cued for East Hebei and the surrounding area. In the not so distant future however, infrastructure would also be developed on the Home Islands of Japan to further increase precious resource gains.

    1937 would be a year of great interest for Japan. All that the Empire would have to do is stay the current course and wait for the most ideal moment to strike against its most ambitious goal, China. With the Imperial Army in place and plans for the Imperial Navy to start constructing and fielding ships relatively soon, time would be on the Empire of the rising Sun’s side.
     
    Chapter Three: 1938 - War Against China
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    The Empire of Japan, in retaliation to terrorist attacks by Chinese soldiers, has declared war on its mainland neighbor, China. This decision has come from not only members of the Central Government and Imperial Army but by the Emperor himself. Emperor Hirohito broadcasted a speech on radio informing Japanese citizens of the current situation. Most of the populace was in shock at the bombing of an Imperial Army train and the lives lost in such an event. However the Japanese People would learn to persevere as they always do in such hard times and the Imperial Army would lead the way to raise the moral of not only the Army but the citizens of Japan.

    The generals of the Imperial Army had been planing an invasion of China for quite some time now and had finalized their plans on word of the attack on Japan. Imperial Intelligence was able to pinpoint enemy strongpoints and weaknesses as well as other tactical information which would allow the Army to invade with more efficiency. The broken Chinese cipher would finally be used to effect and Field Marshal Yamashita approved of the planing and issued the order to attack. Forty-eight divisions of Imperial Army Regulars were now let loose on the Chinese and the War for China had finally begun.


    The Imperial Navy, due to the declaration of war, finally cued production of 1936 Destroyers. This design was used as the penalty against submarine detection was not part of the design. If 1940 designs for destroyers were used, the penalty would take affect due to the manufacture design. Despite being an older hull design the destroyers were packed with state of the art hardware that would allow them to fight toe to toe with Chinese vessels and allow for amphibious invasion forces to land on the shores of China.


    Research wise the Imperial Navy was in the process of finishing up advanced hull armor designs for their battleships and cruisers. From the time of declaration of war it would take at most one hundred and thirty-seven days for battleship armor and ninety-four days for cruiser armor to finish research. It would take that long to field destroyers anyway so the Imperial Navy was on track considering. As far as Army research was concerned the Type-95 tanks would take an additional forty-five days and anti-tank guns would finish in less than a month.

    Construction for the Empire was a rather large task however. While great progress has been made over the past two years there was still much to do. One would say more than ever to be frank. As of the declaration of war, five additional civilian factories were on the verge of completion and fuel silos would soon begin construction. Following fuel silos would be military factories and naval dockyards respectively. This construction order would take considerable time but it was deemed necessary by the Central Government during these trying times.


    Logistically, the Imperial Army was in good shape. Infantry equipment was well in the green and howitzers were also exceeding demand. Support equipment was at just enough to sustain fighting for the immediate future and production was cued for motorized vehicles for either support regiments or armored divisions in the future as well.

    For now the only obstacle would be the sheer number of Chinese divisions on the Beijing border and the infrastructure situation surrounding the area as well. Hopefully with the enemy cipher cracked Japan would have the advantage in its engagement but due to such low infrastructure in the area it was projected that a prolonged battle would have negative consequences due to lack of supplies reaching the frontlines. Hopefully Japan would wrap things up quickly or face a prolonged fight on foreign soil.
     
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    Chapter Four: 1940 - World War Two Begins
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    Crashing waves of midnight blue slammed upon the hull. Above was a starlit night with the Moon illuminating what little could be seen in the vast East China Sea in the dead of night. The roar of the transport ships’ vessels could be heard on the deck of the ship where Imperial Army Soldiers waited to land. Loud deck gun fire could be heard coming from the distance as Heavy Cruiser Tone fired upon the shores of Northeastern China. The shells whistled by the invasion vessels that stretched parallel to the coast as they made their way quickly to shore. The men onboard the transports were nervous and scared as this was their first taste of actual combat since the beginning of the war. The thought of enraged Chinese soldiers waiting on the beach and the deafening sounds of the mighty Tone blasting through the night was enough to put a man humbly in his place.

    “Not much further now boys!” yelled a Navy crewman who was aiding the ship in direction to the shoreline. For him, the battle was almost over for he had little to do with the fighting other than ferrying troops to shore. As the transports quickly closed in on the beach the night became relatively quiet as Heavy Cruiser Tone stopped firing salvos to shore. The sudden realization of landing ashore now ran through some of the Soldiers’ minds. Fear broke in to anticipation as some of the troops grasped their rifles tighter as others felt sick to their stomach as the adrenaline rushed through their bodies.

    “Prepare to land!” hollered the Navy crewman. Seconds flowed almost instantly in anticipation and suddenly the vessel lowered its front hatch and it slammed on the sandy beachhead while a whistle blow would signal the soldiers to evacuate the ship and storm the beach. The sound of boots slamming against the ship’s deck before making landfall on the soft sandy shores echoed through the compartment where the troops were held and the soldiers of 3. Infantry Army began to scatter and form along the shoreline and into the landscape.


    Not a shot was fired. Not a sound other than the whistle blowing and the Navy transports coming and going form the shore. The beach was left unguarded and the soldiers of the first wave were somewhat confused but grateful at the same time. There would be no fighting tonight as the men rallied in sections just off the shoreline and began pushing forward to establish a frontline.

    The landing beach was next to a naval yard on the peninsula just adjacent to Korea. Qingdao was the name of the port and 3. Infantry Army quickly organized and expanded their lines, taking as much territory as possible before Chinese divisions began descending upon them. On the other side of the front where the rest of the Imperial Army was stationed the men began attacking through the river to halt the Chinese advance towards Qingdao, giving 3. Infantry Army more time to expand. The plan worked and the remainder of 3. Infantry Army was brought in from the Home Islands at Nagasaki to further reinforce the new front.


    Unfortunately the front could only be extended so far before overwhelming Chinese divisions descended upon the peninsula. Level two forts would be constructed along the frontline to withhold any Chinese assault from deep within China. It would seem that the Imperial Army was once again stalled but this time a breakthrough would surely be made as armored divisions were now being formed back in Japan. For now the Imperial Army would have to wait once again but this time with tanks at their disposal victory was almost certain. The final stretch was at hand. All that Japan could do now is wait for armored reinforcements and await the coming breakthrough into the heartland of China.
     
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    Chapter Five: 1941 - The South Pacific
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    On the Twenty-Fifth of November, 1941 Imperial Japan declared war on the Guangxi Clique. Both 1. and 2. Infantry Armies were well prepared for the offensive and combat started in the early hours of the morning. Resistance was expected to be light to moderate depending on the terrain as much of Guangxi was elevated with hillsides and mountains. There was little hope however for the Guangxi as the Imperial Army was battle hardened and there was no allied nation willing to support the resistance against Japan.

    In total it would take just under three months before the Guangxi surrendered unconditionally to the forces of Japan. The war was well fought as the Guangxi defended bravely the many rivers and hillsides but the overwhelming force of the Imperial Army was too much to bare. Japan would take all states and the Guangxi was officially annexed and brought into the Empire.


    With Southern China now annexed Imperial Japan could focus on the South Pacific, namely Indochina and the rest of the smaller nations along the southern peninsula. This would more than likely cause a war between the Allies and Comintern but Japan was making its final preparations to obtain Southern Asia nevertheless. The Imperial Navy now had battleships and heavy cruisers at its disposal and several destroyers to provide security for the battle fleet. Of course the limited size of this battle fleet would more than likely not survive at its current standing against the Royal Navy so time would have to be taken into consideration before declaring war against French controlled Indochina. This was a minor setback and it would allow for Army garrisons to be trained and ferried to the Pacific isles.

    At last the Emperor’s ambitions were beginning to take shape. A large portion of Asia was now controlled by the Empire and the battle hardened Imperial Army was well on its way to be recognized globally as a formidable force. All that stood in the way now was the Royal Navy and whatever French forces still resided in the area. For the time being however Japan would have to recruit more infantry divisions for the Pacific while the Imperial Navy would need more time to complete another series of capital warships.
     
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