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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


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Eurasia

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Intro To Utsunimiya's War​

Welcome folks to Utsunimiya's War! This is a AAR of Hearts of Iron 3 (Their Finest Hour) I have been planning for the last few months. It will likely be much slower than my other AARs as it will be Mildly Interactive AND mostly written from third person point-of-view. With some background slipped in here and there.

There is only one Mod in use (Francesco’s Models Mod) and I have created three brand new military leaders - one for Japan, one for Germany, and one the USSR . I didn’t know which nation I would be playing next, after the American AAR, so I decided to prepare characters for each nation. And now that they exist why not just let them live on?

I WAS planning a 1984 AAR but, while the first two chapters were fun to write, the HoI3 version of the 1984 Mod is limiting in many ways and I decided to stay with a more vanilla run.


This IS a alternate history which will allow me explain some of the changes in both the Japanese government and Japanese military when compared to our own timeline. I will try to stay in-character as much as possible. Which comes to your part in the story!

YOU, the readers, will sometimes be presented with a decision. A list of options, in which you, as Imperial Advisors to the Reigning Emperor, will have to pick as what you think it the best to go with. In reality he has no authority but your advice will be listened to by the Cabinet and those in power. So present them as best as you can.


Be careful! The decisions you make could mean the difference between victory and forming a Great East Asia Co-Prosperity or defeat and becoming somebody’s puppet in the next world war.

Pay? The rice is in the mail.

Let the AAR begin!

"Mild Interactivity approved by Mr. C on 28 Oct"
 
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Prologue : Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office HQ, November 20th, 1935

Eurasia

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Utsunimiya's War
(HoI3 TFH - Interactive Japan AAR)
Prologue : Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office HQ, November 20th, 1935 (1)


To say Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya felt out of place in the waiting in the outer office of the Chief of the Army would have been a understatement. He had no idea why he had been ordered to present himself to Prince Kan’in at the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office in Tokyo on this chilly Thursday morning. (2)

He had gone over it in his head, again and again, why he had been sent for and the only answers that made any sense slightly confused the young man.

Yes, he had graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1934 and had been lucky enough to get employment with the China Department which dealt, mostly, with the gathering of intelligence of that vast region.

He had enjoyed working for military intelligence and, to his knowledge, had done a very good job at it. He liked solving mysteries and was willing to work on any project or problem given to him. It explained why such a young man had advanced so quickly up the ranks.

And now he was about to meet the head of the whole organization. The man who oversaw not only Shō-ichi’s work but the work of thousands of people working in the other Intelligence Departments, as well as the Departments dealing with Tactics, Land Surveying, Transportation, Communication, and all aspects of the operational art of war. At least for the Army.

Of course the Navy had their own people doing the same work for them. To say that the relations between the Army and the Navy was frosty would have been an understatement.

The Army saw the greatest threat to Japan in the Soviet Union and that the strategic interests of the nation was on the Asian continent. The problem being some of those interests the Army was interested in were parts of the Soviet Union such as Siberia.

The Navy saw the greatest threat to Japan in the United States and felt that the nation’s interests was in the Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Of course many of those islands were controlled by European powers.

The split between the two branches of the military had caused headaches for much of the civilian parts of the government and was sometimes blamed for a lot of wasted resources. The Imperial Government also proved, in many cases, unable to halt policy decisions made by the military. This was due to the fact that the military acted autonomously. (3)

The male secretary finally stepped out of the Prince's office and, with a smile, said, "You're next Colonel. Go right in."

Utsunimiya nodded, stood up, give himself once last check to make sure his dress uniform was clean, his hat in the proper hand, and his hair was neat. He left his coat on the chair. He then gave the door a polite knock and stepped into the room.

The office of Prince Kotohita Kan'in, the Chief of the Army, reflect the man's power and strong sense of tradition. The room, when compared to the rest of the building, was a island of calmness. The furniture, the paintings on the walls, even the map of the Asia that hung on one of the walls, looked at least a century out of place. But Japan was very like that. The Capital of city of Tokyo was a mixture of overlapping periods of time. Modern buildings and busy roads full of cars sitting among ancient Temples and green parks.

The Prince wasn't pretending to have been doing paperwork or acting like he had been busy. He was an gentleman and an officer of the old school. He refused to play such games.

"Colonel Utsunimiya please sit down," he said with a hand gesture towards one of the comfortable chairs in front of his desk.

Utsunimiya gave a brief bow and sat down on the chair. He made sure he was straight, his hands on his legs, his face serious and alert.

The Prince's face was serious and alert but also seemed to hold a certain amount of comfort. He was a man born to power and perfectly fit the position he was in. He seemed to project a sense of calm and confidence.

Born in 1865, he had initially been sent to a temple at the age of three to be raised as a Buddhist monk. But in 1872 his future changed when he was selected to revive a branch of the Imperial family - the Kan'in-no-miya.

He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1881 and was sent to France in 1882 as a military attaché to study military tactics and technology. He then went to and graduated from the Army Staff College in 1894. He had specialized in cavalry and, in fact, had commanded the 1st Cavalry Regiment from 1897 to 1899.

He was a veteran of both the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. He rose in rank very quickly, from Lieutenant General, to full General, and became a Supreme War Councilor in 1912. He became the youngest Field Marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army in 1919.

He became Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff in 1931 and, to be honest, looked the part. He was 66 years old but carried himself as if much younger. The only feature that gave away his age was his large mustache which was very much from the last century.

"How is the China Department?" the Prince asked after allowing the younger officer time to settle down. "I hear you enjoy the work?"

"Yes, Sir," replied Utsunimiya with a nod. "I enjoy the work there very much. I enjoy problem solving."

"Good," said the Prince. "I am happy to hear that. In fact that has a lot to do with why I have asked you here today."

The Prince stood up and stepped over to the map of Asia. Outdated it still, up to a point, was roughly correct in a board sense. The Russian Empire was no longer an Empire and China's borders had changed but most of it was still correct.

"As you know Colonel," stated the Prince in a voice that sounded more like a teacher's than an officer's, "this is no longer the Asia we live in. The Republic of China is no longer the ideal future many in China, and the rest of the world, had hoped for. And the Communist Chinese didn't do as well as they, and their Russian allies, had hoped."

The Prince turned to Utsunimiya and added, "While Russia is focused, right now, on Europe I see no reason NOT to see it as a real threat to Asia and Japan. I agree with much of the Army that our future is in Asia and, sooner or later, war with the Russians."

The Prince stepped over to his desk and took his desk. He waited for few moments to let his statements sink in before continuing.

"Of course not all see the same future for Japan," he remarked. "The Navy sees the United States and their growing presence in the Pacific as the greatest danger while the resources in the European colonies would be the best target for future expansion."

The Prince straightened his jacket, as if to collect his thoughts and find the perfect words for what he was going to say next.

"I believe the future is somewhat a mixture," he said looking Utsunimiya right in the eyes. "The Army has a foothold in Asia. They can use the Kwantung Army to gain more and more territory in China. But the Navy, who make up much of the Imperial General HQ, will wish to target the islands of the Pacific. War is coming to Europe and the Navy officers believe the colonies will be easy picking."

The Prince pointed at the map. "This will bring us into conflict with the United States if not in direct conflict with the UK, France, and even Russia."

"The Army and the Navy have to work together," added the Prince. "And you can see the issue with that?"

Colonel Utsunimiya nodded. The Imperial General Headquarters had been established, in 1893, to coordinate the efforts between the IJA and the IJN during wartime. Yet, it was still independent of the civilian government and had, in the past, denied entry of Prime Ministers unless ordered by the Emperor himself.

"I have no problem with trying to coordinate the two branches," stated the Prince. "We want to integrate the decisions and needs of the military with the resources and policies of the rest of the government. But it is...often difficult."

The Prince stared right into Utsunimiya's eyes again and asked, "How would you like to help the branches work together?"

"I would be happy to, Sir. But how?"

The Prince smiled and pulled open one of the desk's side drawers. He pulled out a tan folder which he placed on the desk, untied the red string that kept it closed, and opened it. "This is our file on you."

The Utsunimiya fought the impulse to lean close and try to see what it said about him. He kept his spine straight and his eyes forward.

"Good grades in the Academy. The teachers seemed to think well of you. But I notice a pattern. No extracurricular activities. No known political activities. No rallies. Never joined any of the societies. Somewhat of a loner. And you never got into trouble." The Prince closed the folder and said, "How do you feel about the Navy?"

"It is a fine institution, Sir,” answered Utsunimiya.

“Yes,” commented the Prince. “Not the answer I would normally get from a Army officer. I need somebody to act as a go between not just between the different HQs but also the two branches. Let me get to the point. I need somebody to help the Army and Navy work together. Somebody they will have no reason NOT to trust. Otherwise I fear Japan is lost.”

“Sir, surely it isn’t as bad as all that,” replied Utsunimiya, looking a tad worried.

“The two branches have different dreams for Japan,” stated the Prince. “They are going to pull in different directions and in doing so waste lives, resources, and, very likely, bring the anger of both the US and Russia down on our heads. We don’t have the luxury of idealism clouding our view. The two must work together.”

The Prince stopped to straighten his jacket and added, “I am not one of those within the military who wants to see a overall command structure created to control the military. I believe the spreading of power among the military and government is as important to protecting our rights and freedoms as the Emperor is important to preserving our culture. But they NEED to work together and that requires a person who can work with both branches without malice or disrespect. I believe that man is you Colonel.”

“Yes, Sir,” replied Utsunimiya.

“At the start of the new year there will be a Conference of most of the military,” continued the Prince. “You will be there. I would want you to present a rough outline for a future invasion of the Republic of China. Plus present clear lines of authority. I want you to decide which branch has responsibility for which part of the operation. I don’t want any debate about who does what.”

“Yes, Sir,” replied Utsunimiya trying to keep the panic from creeping into his voice. That gave him less than two months to create a plan on how the Army and Navy would work together to invade China.

“Good,” said the Prince with a smile. “Don't worry. War with China is still at a year away. But I doubt I can keep the hotheads in the Army under control for long. Of course, you will likely get a field promotion once I transfer you to the Imperial General HQ.”

“Sir?” stated Utsunimiya with his voice almost breaking like he was a teenager again.

“We can’t have a Colonel telling Generals and Admirals what to do, now can we?” responded the Prince with a chuckle.

“No, Sir,” replied Utsunimiya. He pondered how he had found himself in such a situation.

---



The Creation of Manchukuo​

Why had Colonel Utsunimiya found himself in such a situation? It all started after the Japanese won the Russo-Japanese War. Japan gained the Russian leasehold of Kwantung (Guandong) in the southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula and the Russian rights to the South Manchurian Railroad Company's line which linked Changehun and Port Author (Lushun). In other words the Chinese still owned the land they just now had different tenants.

The military dispatched some troops to the region to protect Japan's interests. The Imperial Japanese Army cherished strange feelings towards the area. They had fought and died on the lands in question. Japanese blood had soaked the soil. And they felt this desire to control all Manchuria. And what was referred to as "The Manmo (Manchuria-Inner Mongolia) Issue" by Asian historians remained one of the Army's strongest desires right up to the 1930s.

During World War I the Japanese presented its "Twenty-One Demands" to China in 1915 in order to expand its rights in Manchuria. The Chinese saw these demands as a form of humiliation which fueled its independent movements and increased their wish to regain full rights over their territories.

In 1926 the Koumintang leader Chang Kai-shek, determined to unite China's broken state, launched the Northern Expedition in 1926. This put pressure on Manchuria-Inner Mongolian. Which, in turn, put even more pressure on the Imperial Japanese Army to do something to strengthen their grasp on the region. One of the regional warlords, Chang Tso-Lin, was given support and, finally, the Cabinet sent two waves of Japanese soldiers, between 1927 and 1928, in order to block the Nationalist movement north and to protect Japanese citizens.

The Japanese government held a "Conference on the East" in 1927 on the future policy of China and what was to be done with Manchuria. The Army suggested creating a Pro-Japanese government headed by Chang Tso-Lin. While this plan did not gain much support among those of the Imperial Government in the end the warlord did have a part to play.

He was assassinated in 1928. The new warlord, his son, let it be known that he would be siding with the Nationalists. The Japanese residents within Manchuria became alarmed. They formed a Manchurian Youth League which demanded that Manchuria become an independent state.

At this point many officers within the Kwantung Army were starting to feel they should take matters into their own hands. Then they did.

On September 18th, 1931, the tracks of the South Manchurian Railroad Company's line were pounded with bombs in northeast China. A group of high ranking officers of the Kwantung Army (Japan's field army in Manchuria) were responsible and this would mark the beginning of the Manchurian Incident. Of course the Army blamed the Chinese and moved in. In other words the event triggered the conquest of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army. (4)


The Cabinet was alarmed and tried to localize the affair but were unable to halt the intensification of the military operations that followed.

The end result was the formation of the puppet state of Manchukuo by 1932 by the Kwantung Army. Of course the League of Nations denounced the Incident as an act of Japanese aggression. They even suggested that Manchuria become a independent state. Of course neither Japan nor China wanted that and rejected the idea.

Japan left the League of Nations on March the following year. Its logic was simple - many European powers had control of parts of China. So, why didn't Japan have the right to control Manchuria? The idea that China belonged to the Chinese sounded nice on paper but the reality was that China was a broken puzzle controlled and owned by many different nations. Most of them European.

And then Japan tried to strengthen its control over the area to protect its interests with the creation of the North China Separation Operation. As you could guess this just added fuel to the Chinese resistance within the region. Armed resistance.

Sooner or later war between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China was going to happen. But who would start it? And who would win it?

---​

As Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya left the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office he pulled up the collar of his coat to protect himself against the cold. But his thoughts were not on the autumn weather but on what he would have to do to create a plan worthy to present to some of the most powerful men in Japan.

His plans for Friday, in which he had put time aside to work a report with his staff on the Republic of China's exports for 1934 and 1935, would have to wait for another time. Tomorrow he would be spending much of the day just collecting as much information as he could on the Republic's most important provinces and the conditions of their ports. His friends in the archives were about to see a LOT more of him for the next two months.

He would likely had to work through the weekends. No chances to catch the latest movie or news reels. No going out with the few fellow coworkers he liked for drinks. His small apartment would soon be cluttered with books, folders, old newspaper, and maps.

As he walked down the sidewalk he was so focused on his future plans he ignored the beauty of the park like surroundings that was the grounds of the Army General Staff Office. He ignored the lake and the trees and the lovely landscaping.

What he couldn't ignore was the growl that came from his stomach. He chuckled to himself.

"Time for a late breakfast or a early lunch I guess," he mumbled to himself and pondered where to go for a hot meal. He had some good things about a German restaurant in the city and had always planned to try it out. Why not now?


But even as Utsunimiya went in search for a taxi to take him to the restaurant his mind was still focused more on the future, the far future, and the inevitable war with China.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
Author's Notes:

1. Tenth year of the Showa Era.

2. For this translation made for those whose first language is English Japanese names will be presented in the given name-family name order that the reader would likely be more comfortable with then the traditional Japanese order of family name-given name. Chinese names will still be family name-given name.

3. This had come about due to a fear of placing too much power into a single person or entity. While on paper the supreme command of the military rested in the hands of the Emperor in reality the Imperial Headquarters were independent of both the Emperor's Cabinet and even the Diet. They could even shape foreign affairs.

4. Sixth year of the Showa Era.
 
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nuclearslurpee

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Well, this looks exciting! To clarify, are you asking for volunteers to fill specific cabinet positions, or will the AARdience simply serve as miscellaneous experts a la the characters in Talking Turkey but with actual influence? Either way I'm interested.

I'm also a bit confused about the map in your topic post. Is this the actual map at the start of the game, or a teaser of how things will turn out?
 

Eurasia

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Well, this looks exciting! To clarify, are you asking for volunteers to fill specific cabinet positions, or will the AARdience simply serve as miscellaneous experts a la the characters in Talking Turkey but with actual influence? Either way I'm interested.

I'm also a bit confused about the map in your topic post. Is this the actual map at the start of the game, or a teaser of how things will turn out?
The readers will be asked to be miscellaneous experts. They don't have to role play any Cabinet positions or anything like that.

The map in the opening post is the map from the 1984 AAR that I started working on but decided was not worth going on with.
 
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roverS3

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What a hell of a job. To get the IJA and IJN to work together towards the same goals seems near-impossible. I do wish Utsunimiya all the best on his quest.

It will be my pleasure to help advise the Colonel towards a favourable outcome for the the Empire of Japan. (I'm not sure yet what my alter-ego will be in this universe...)

I like where this is going with the character development and the involvement of the readAARs. Interesting to see you experiment with the format.
 

Bullfilter

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Aha! This should be a fun ride. I wonder if you will end up fighting a long campaign against the Americans trying to retake Mindanao down the track? ;)

This will explore a country I haven’t played yet in HOI3 (Japan) though way back I did play Nationalist China. Also, I’m not as familiar with the naval mechanics as I am land and now increasingly (via Talking Turkey, of all things) air combat. I also assume the AI will get a test out, though with some firm guidance.

Count me in, of course! :D
 

Wraith11B

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Can't wait to participate in the war here!
 

stnylan

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So he is being given the opportunity to be a hero, to boldly and bravely take the fight to the enemy.

Oh and incidentally just put himself in the firing sights from both sides. And the Navy's guns are bigger. :D
 
Chapter One : Imperial General Headquarters, January 1st, 1936

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Utsunimiya's War
(HoI3 TFH - Interactive Japan AAR)
Chapter One : Imperial General Headquarters, January 1st, 1936 (1)


As the (yet to be promoted) Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya showed the soldiers his papers he took a few seconds to examine the building's architecture.

The Imperial General Headquarters had been created in 1893 to coordinate the efforts between the Army and the Navy. In function it was the equivalent of the Americans' Joint Chiefs of Staff or the British Chiefs of Staff Committee. At least on paper.

The soldiers in charge of security passed Utsunimiya through and he quickly moved out of the way as the next person in line had his papers checked. Security had increased lately within both the military and the government institutions.

Seems something had spooked those in power. But there were always rumors among the paranoid intelligent and security branches of both the military and government. The Kenpeitai were always looking for excuses to flex their power. (2)

Utsunimiya stood still to check the paperwork in his briefcase. The soldiers had checked it but, luckily, had done no damage to his maps.

He, of course, was once again in his dress uniform. It had been brushed, checked and double checked, before being worn today. He had decided to travel light taking only his slim briefcase and his coat.

Not that he had brought much with him to the city of Hiroshima to begin with. He had traveled down on Monday, via rail, and was staying in a old fashion inn. With the old fashion small room with the tatami matted floors, the communal baths, and all paid for by the Army.

A part of him wished he had picked a heavier coat. The gray winter sky was enough to make one feel cold even without the wind that seemed to go right through the few layers he had on.

He made sure his cap was at the perfect angle before asking one of the staff for directions. As he had never been in the Imperial General Headquarters, or even in the Province Capital of Hiroshima before, he made sure to listen carefully.

---



The City of Hiroshima​

The city of Hiroshima, by 1936, was not only the Capital of the Province of Prefecture but had become a important port city for the nation's military. As the Japanese economy had moved, in the 1870s, from farming to industry it had become a major urban center. It helped that one of the seven English language schools were established in Hiroshima AND the Ujina Harbor was built in the 1880s.

The expansion of railways and the First Sino-Japanese War increased the city's importance. In fact the Japanese government, along with the Emperor Meiji, were both moved to it temporarily during the conflict. The later Russo-Japanese in 1904, which increased the demand for military equipment and supplies, just encouraged more industrialization in the city.

During World War One it became the focal point of military activity and even held about 500 German prisoners of war on one of the islands in the bay.

It was a military town through and through.

----​

Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya finally found the right chamber and ran into a familiar face right away. Prince Kotohito Kan’in was already sitting down at the massive central table in the middle of the room. The seats around the table were reserved for the Chiefs, Ministers, and other VIPs of the Empire of Japan.

Officers and people of lower rank, such as the Colonel, would be getting seats arranged along the walls. Ready to join in the exchange but also out of the way when not needed.

Utsunimiya selected a seat, hanging his coat on the back, and sat down with his cap and briefcase on his lap. He knew his part would happen after those of high rank had said their piece.

As the room filled up he noticed some of the most powerful men in the Empire of Japan. Not all of them were from the military. And some of them were holding newly created positions.


Besides Prince Kotohito Kan’in there was Baron Mineo Ōsumi who was Chief of the Navy. Best known for his belief that Carriers would replace Battleships in naval warfare it was likely his first, second, and third demands during the meeting would be for more Carriers.

Then there was Hajime Sugiyama, the Chief of Staff, a brand new position created to try to help the Army and Navy get along with each other. At least on paper. In reality the Chief of Staff was no more than a referee to keep meetings, such as this one, on track and polite. It is said that he believed in a war with the “West” and rumors said he predicted that a war with China would be over within a few months.

Another brand new position was the Chief of the Air Force. Before its creation the air forces of both branches were handled by MULTPLY Inspector Generals. They dealt with training and equipping the pilots, for both combat and non-combat operations, which created a TON of waste. Shunroku Hata had been selected because he had been the Inspector General of the Army Air Service in 1935.


The Army and Navy had, reluctantly, agreed that coordination among the two air forces would be better. Instead of two companies making two aircraft designs, with the same capabilities, for the different military branches now one company could make a aircraft design that fulfilled the requirements of both branches and just paint the aircraft different colors. So they had allowed the position to be created.

The Head of Intelligence, Yasuji Okamura, was also present. Not only had he held many positions within the Japanese Army General Staff during and after World War One but he had been a military attaché in Manchukuo from 1933-1934. He had even been a military advisor for a Chinese Warlord in the 1920s whose maps he had copied. Funny enough, those same maps had been very useful during Utsunimiya's research for the invasion of southern China.

Then there was the Minister of Security, Fumio Gotō, the man in charge of the military police, the secret police, and other organizations which dealt with protecting Japan and it's holdings. A lawyer who had served in the House of Peers in the Diet and, lately, had been the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Why he had become the Minister of Security was beyond the Colonel's understanding.

The Foreign Minster, Kōki Hirota, was also present. Utsunimiya wasn't too sure why he was there. Outside of his support of the invasion of China the Colonel was unsure what he could contribute to the meeting.

Then one of the most important Ministers entered the chamber and took his seat. Chūji Machida was the Minister of Armaments. He had been a member of the House Budget Committee and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry for a couple of administration, as well as being the Minister of Commerce and Industry AND the Minister of Finance. And now he was in the position to decide what was and was not built in the nation's factories.

Hajime Sugiyama gestured towards one of his staff nearest to the chamber's doors. The man talked to the soldiers outside the doors and then shut them.

"Good morning gentlemen," said the Chief of Staff. "I welcome you to, what I hope, will be a very common sight. All branches of the military government and imperial government working together BEFORE policy is selected by the lower ranks of the military. No more Gekoujo nonsense." (3)

Some people chuckled. Most did not. The Chief of Staff decided to move on.

"The reason we are here is to talk of the future," he added. "The invasion of the Republic of China. And what we need to do here is work together to support this military operation before it happens. And what happens afterwards."

Many of the men at the table had known, or foreseen, what the Chief of Staff was planning to announce and had shown no surprise. But many of those who were part of the Imperial (Civilian) Government looked a tad uncomfortable. It was likely many of them hoped for peace or something in between war and peace. Anything but outright war.

"First I would like the Foreign Minister, Kōki Hirota, to explain our choices when it comes to where we stand in the world," continued the Chief of Staff.

Kōki stood up and bowed slightly to the men around the table.

"Gentlemen. I bring you a decision that seems simple on the surface," explained the Foreign Minister. "The world is slowly forming into three political and economic blocs. There is the Capitalists, such as the United States or the UK, the Communists, such as the USSR, and the Fascists, such as Germany or the Italians."


He became silent, looking around the table, letting the members of the meeting digest that fact. Then he continued.

"Sooner or later we will have to pick a side. And, depending on which side we pick, will shape everything we do from this day forward."

The Minister cleared his voice, put his hands behind his back, and the Colonel braced for the oncoming storm of words.

"Germany holds many of our views, including a strong anti-Communist stand, and are slowly rearming themselves. They are also one of the most industrialized nations in Europe."

The Foreign Minister halted for a second and then added, "BUT their Navy, is at best, a regional one. In a war with, let us say, the US, they would be little help to us. I doubt they could help themselves."

Utsunimiya nodded. Joining up with Germany would seem to be the best choice. But the fact was that Germany was a powerful European power with no ability to project its military power beyond Europe.

"The next choice is the UK and her allies," he said with a glance around the room. "An island nation like us they have helped shape us in many ways. We also share, in some ways, the same political system and some of the same views of the future of the underdeveloped nations of Asia. And trade with them would be very useful."

"They would likely ignore our expansion into Asia BUT, sadly, they, and their allies, own many of the territories whose resources would also help our industry," he remarked. "Now, trade with them would likely off set that. But I must point out that they would not likely be helpful in a war against the USSR."

Utsunimiya nodded. Japan and the United Kingdom had a long and intertwined history. They also seemed like a good choice. But both island nations wanted many of the same things and that could make being allies with them somewhat uncomfortable.

"The last choice is, of course, something hard to think about," he stated with a frown. "But we could also try becoming a member of the Comintern."

There was murmuring from the men at the table and even from of the lesser staff and officials sitting along the walls.

"They are close to us and allying up with them would protect our northern flanks," he added before anybody could speak out. "They can also help us directly in our wars if need be. There is, of course, the issue of their political viewpoints on....well....our system of government."

Utsunimiya shook his head. The Soviets had killed their own Emperor. What would they demand the Japanese do to their own in return for an alliance?

"That is the choice you must make," explained the Foreign Minister. "Every other decision will hinge on which bloc we plan to join."

Kōki then bowed and sat down.

The room was silent, no doubt from shock, as the Chief of Staff cleared his throat. "Thank you Foreign Minister Hirota. Now I ask Fumio Gōto, the Minister of Security, and Yasuji Okamura, Head of Intelligence, to review the state of affairs in their departments."

The Minister of Security stood up and bowed with a smile. "Well, gentlemen, I have very little to report. As you know the government of Manchukuo, while being friendly to us, gives the locals an impression that they have self-rule. Therefore there is no threat of revolt within that territory."

He added with a lifted right forefinger, "BUT if we plan to expand into China we will need to either increase the military divisions OR garrisons and police units needed to protect the ports, industrial centers, and major cities."

Gōto sat down with a bow and Okamura, who took a second to realize he was next, stood up with bow. In his hands he held a small shack of paperwork he had brought with him to the meeting. He adjusted his black framed glasses before starting his report.

“Yes, well, gentlemen, right now we have sixty-six spies abroad,” he stated with a glance at his papers. “A third of them are inside the Republic trying to cause confusion and chaos within their ranks. They are planting fears in the minds of the people. Should help bring them down all the faster when we invade.”

He glanced at the paper again and continued. “We also have people in the People’s Republic and Shanxi generating false rumors and fake incidents. These stories become news we can broadcast over the radios both in Japan and abroad. Some of the foreign agents pick up these stories and do the work for us. Falsehoods become facts when other nations' news agencies spread the stories on their own. This should make both nations look more like threats to their own citizens and to outsiders. But more importantly it makes them look like threats to us.”


“We may not need to carry out such operations in both of the nations,” Okamura added. “Shanxi will likely be an ally of the Nationalists and will declare war on us the second we declare war on the Republic. There is also a chance that the Republic might attack and absorb the Communists before we take action. But I like to cover all the options.”

He cleared his throat and added, “Our domestic staff are trying to do the opposite. Raise our national spirit and unit the people, that is. Of course, those who we can’t convince to support the government are arrested. We want a hundred percent support when the war starts.”

The Head of Intelligence sat down with small bow.

Utsunimiya blinked. That explained all the stories in the newspapers about political corruption in Shanxi and the People’s Republic of China. The Colonel HAD a radio in his apartment back in Tokyo but he only used it to listen to music during dinner.

The Chief of Staff, “Thank you. Now, if Machida, the Minister of Armament would explain what is being researched, what is being built, and what we need. And gentlemen, please remember, one of the reasons we will be going to war with China is our LACK of resources. So, please, don’t shoot the messenger because of the message.”

Chūji Machida, Minister of Armaments, stood up, bowed, and took off his round glasses. It seems he had memorized what was needed to be said.

“Gentlemen,” he started, “let me first explain what research projects I have ordered into being. Our science departments are working on improving our fertilizers, farming equipment, and agricultural policies. We want to produce more food with less manpower. We are also trying to find ways to make our factories more efficient. And therefore produce more with less.”


He glanced around the table and added, “We are also working on radio detection equipment. This would allow our radar systems to also act as listening stations.”

There were some surprised murmuring over that piece of news but the Minister of Armaments would not be derailed and continued.

“We are also working on supply production. If we can improve our efficiency we could make more for our troops OR even make the same amount with less men and equipment. The extra industrial capacity could be used for other products.”

He became silent for a second before saying, “We also have a few projects focused on the military. We are working on producing better small arms for the infantry. We are also working on small artillery pieces, infantry support weapons, and rifle grenade launchers.”

“In the end we have eight projects going on at the same time,” he finished. “And before the Chiefs of the Navy and Air Force ask, yes, we plan to work on naval and air force technology in the next round of projects.”

Chūji Machida stood there for a few seconds allowing this information to soak in. After a few moments, with a nod from the Chief of Staff, he continued.

“We have ordered the construction of new industrial complexes in both the Provinces of Nagoya and Nagasaki. We are also a few months away from finishing the completion of the last ships of the 21 Kuchikukantai. I am sure the Navy will be happy with the new Destroyer Flotilla.”

“Before the others ask,” remarked the Chief of Staff, “I will ask why there is nothing else being produced. I KNOW the answer but I want them to hear it from you.”

The Minister of Armaments. “Until I know what is needed for the war with China it would be stupid of us to build anything else.”


“There is one more thing I must talk about,” stated Chūji Machida with a frown. “We have plenty of coal and crude oil. But we are using up the metals and raw resources faster than we can gather it. I need to know WHO to trade with.”

He looked around the room, taking the time to make eye contact with each and every member sitting at the table, and added, “I need to know which bloc you plan to join. For example, if you pick the Germans, trading with them will improve our relationship with them.”

“Of course,” he commented, “I could just trade with anybody who will sell us metal, rudder, and so on.”

The Chief of Staff nodded. “Another major decision that has to be made. Thank you.”

As the Minister of Armaments bowed and sat down the Chief of Staff glanced over at the Chief of the Army and said to Prince Kan’in, “I believe your Colonel is next?”

Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya waited till he had a nod from the Prince before standing up and bowing, He went around the table and handed each member three maps. Once each one of them had the maps he cleared his throat and said, “Good morning gentlemen. I am Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya. Formally of the China Department of Army Intelligence.”

“Before I go over the first rough draft for the invasion of the Republic of China let me state that the Kwantung Army Theater will only be using its North China Army Group in the invasion. With help from the Navy. But the Army Group should have reinforcements. At least a brand new Corps of Mountain Troops and a brand new Corps of Cavalry. Also, it will have to hand over its Naval Bombers and Strategic Bombers over to the Imperial General Headquarters.”

“Now I know why Field Marshal Tojo wasn’t asked to join us,” remarked the Chief of the Navy with a chuckle.

“And now I know what to add to the production line,” stated the Minister of Armaments as he made some notes.

“Of course the IGH will have to hand over, to the North China Army Group, any Interceptors and Tactical Bombers and any Close Air Support.”

“And now we know why Field Marshal Ishiwara wasn‘t invited,” responded the Chief of Army with a grin.

The Colonel waited for the laughter to settle down before continuing. “As you can see on the first map Field Marshal Minami’s first targets are, of course, the Provinces of Yonhqing and Tianjin. Both are just on the border. They will supply the Army with airbases and a major port.”


“The next objectives are the provinces of Hohhot and Taiyuan, which belong to Shanxi, which I assume will be valid targets by the time the conflict begins.”

“The next targets in the Republic will be Baoding and Jinan. The latter has airbases.”

“And what is the IGH doing while this is going on?” asked the Chief of Staff.

“The Submarines and Naval Bombers under its command will be convoy raiding,” answered the Colonel. “The Imperial Japanese Navy, which will have to be organized into Carrier Groups, will hunt down and destroy the Chinese Navy in the first stage of the war.”

“We don’t have enough Carriers to make GROUPS,” complained the Chief of Navy.

Utsunimiya nodded. “We will have to produce more Carriers. Some may be ready by the Second Sino-Japanese war. But they will not really be needed. The Chinese Navy is mostly outdated.”

“So are some of our Navy,” remarked the Chief of the Army with a grin. The Chief of Navy gave him a glare.

Utsunimiya decided to move on before things became too heated. “I have two plans for how the Navy can support the Army’s advance once the Chinese Navy has been wiped out or crippled.”

He held up the second map. “Naval Plan One. The Navy will land troops at the ports slightly ahead of the Army. This will cause problems behind the enemy lines. But also, as the IJA moves forward it will find supplies waiting for it at each port.”


“Each time the Army moves forward to take control of a port the Navy will take the next port, or ports, down the coast. This will also do damage to the Republic‘s convoy system. On top of that already caused by convoy raiding.”

“Plan One?” remarked the Chief of the Navy. “What is Plan Two?”

“The invasion of Shanghai,” replied the Colonel holding up the third map. “If taken by surprise the whole area can be held by defending just TWO provinces. Not only would we capture two ports BUT take Shanghai's airbases.”


Utsunimiya waited a few seconds before adding, “The airbases are about 146 kilometers from Nanjing. The Capital of the Republic of China.”

“Which is why you want the Strategic Bombers,” mumbled the Chief of the Army. “To strike at the heart of the enemy even while waves of their troops try to counterattack against well protected SMALL entry points.”

“Yes, sir,” responded the Colonel. "Even if they waste a couple of their units trying to push us back into the sea that is so many LESS units heading north to fight the Army."

“Could both operations, both plans, be carried out at the same time?” asked the Chief of Staff.

Utsunimiya nodded. “But it would require stripping the home islands of most of their military divisions leaving nothing behind but the garrisons.”

The Chief of Staff. “Well, I think I have an idea of the major decisions that need to be made. I will pass on the information to the Diet and the Cabinet. Once I have their input we can carry out the decisions selected by the majority. After the Emperor gives his approval, of course. Good day gentlemen.”

---​

As Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya left the building, back into cold weather, he felt slightly confused. Surely the meeting had felt somewhat short for such an important point in history? True, many decisions would be made by those in power without feedback or advice from others.

For example he was pretty sure the Minister of Armaments was going to have to balance demands from everybody. Japan needed Garrisons and Carriers and Escorts for their Convoys. And, of course Convoys. Then it would need Anti-Aircraft positions and Artillery Brigades for some of the Pacific Island Garrisons. And so on.

Some actions would just be done because they had to be done. Both HQs were going to have their Order of Battle redesigned. The Army would lose control of the Transports and Destroyer Flotillas they had in Korea and so forth.


The Colonel, for example, planned to visit a restaurant for lunch. He didn’t need any input or advice to know he wanted some hot food inside him.

---​

Soon a dozen sealed envelopes left the office of the Chief of Staff, hand delivered, to those in power. Those whose input was needed, either due to their knowledge or political clout. When opened the carefully folded letter inside held the following :

From: Hajime Sugiyama (Chief of Staff)
To: ______ _______
Date: 1.1.1936

Dear Sir,

As a important member of the government we need your input in some decisions that need to be decided on before we can go forward with our plans. Please take the time to ponder the following issues, select what you believe is the best course of action, and send a reply as soon as possible.

With this letter will come a written record of the meeting held in the Imperial General Headquarters. This information is top secret. Please make sure to burn it after use.

Once I have received all the feedback I will compile a report on the best course of action picked by those within the Diet, the Cabinet, the Special Committees, and yourself, which I will hand over to the Emperor’s staff for his approval.

The Three Decisions are as followed -

1. Who should Japan start to align with -

A. Germany
B. The UK
C. The USSR
D. Stay Independent For Now

2. Trade -

A. Trade With Anybody We Can
B. Trade Only With The Nation(s) We Align With (Use Trade As A Tool To Improve Relationships)

3. Naval Plans -

A. Use Plan One
B. Use Plan Two
C. Combine The Plans

Once again, please reply to this letter as soon as possible. And please remember this is valuable information and should not be passed on to the public or those who do not have proper clearance. Not even spouses!

Signed,

Hajime Sugiyama


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
Author's Notes:

1. Eleventh year of the Showa Era.

2. The Kenpeitai were the military police of the IJA founded in 1881.

3. "juniors prevail over seniors"
 

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I answer question 1 in order of preference:

B - The UK. The ideal option. Our first true European allies, and though they tore up that alliance at the Naval Treaties perhaps it behooves us to have forebearance on this point. We are both island monarchies, thalassocracies, and there is much mutual respect. Of course they are somewhat degenerate, but then so is everyone not of Japan. In the long-term this may place certain restrictions on our actions, but in truth whatever choice we choose will do that.

D - If it is felt those restrictions would be too onerous we should strike out on our own. To contemplate joining Russia .. it leavea bad taste in the mouth. As for Germany - why would we join ourselves to a defeated power that can do nothing to support us and only entangle us in matters not our concern?

I would regard both B and D to be positive choices.

A - If it absolutely felt necessary to join ourselves to another power, and Britain is not favoured, then I suppose Germany makes least worst sense - but really? Since when do we entrust the future of our great island to a figment of political fiction not yet a century old?

C - I refuse to even entertain such a treasonous idea. Whilst I appreciate this may be included for the sake of completeness, that is turning a virtue into a fault.

Needess to say I regard both A and C to be inherently defeatist at best, and entirely negative.

As to question 2 - trade
If we align to a nation it makes sense to direct some trade with them. Otherwise with whomever it best suits.

Naval Plans
Combine the plans. This is not the time to be timid, and do we seriously think the Chinese will have the capacity to strike at the Home Islands?

Let us not genuflect at the alter of cowardice. Be brave and take what is offered - the entire coastline for a start!
 

nuclearslurpee

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Officers and people of lower rank, such as the Colonel, would be getting seats arranged along the walls. Ready to join in the exchange but also out of the way when not needed.
I object. Clearly, the bumbling idiots who think they are in charge of the show are hardly necessary and should occupy the seats along the walls, while important people with valuable contributions such as us CommentatAARs should be arranged at the center! :D

The Army and Navy had, reluctantly, agreed that coordination among the two air forces would be better. Instead of two companies making two aircraft designs, with the same capabilities, for the different military branches now one company could make a aircraft design that fulfilled the requirements of both branches and just paint the aircraft different colors. So they had allowed the position to be created.
Cooperation between the Army and the Navy? This is heresy of the highest order against the Emperor himself! :p

Funny enough, those same maps had been very useful during Utsunimiya's research for the invasion of southern China.
Southern China? Daring today, aren't we?

"The reason we are here is to talk of the future," he added. "The invasion of the Republic of China. And what we need to do here is work together to support this military operation before it happens. And what happens afterwards."
Already some interesting and radically ahistorical departure here in the Japanese corridors of power. To my recollection, the Kwantung Army was chomping at the bit to get into China, but the IGH was not interested in such an invasion at the time of Marco Polo, and of course the IJN wanted no part of such Army matters. Here we seem to already have a unity of command very much dominated by IJA concerns, which ought to change the historical dynamics considerably.

"Gentlemen. I bring you a decision that seems simple on the surface," explained the Foreign Minister. "The world is slowly forming into three political and economic blocs. There is the Capitalists, such as the United States or the UK, the Communists, such as the USSR, and the Fascists, such as Germany or the Italians."

Clearly, we cannot ally with the Capitalists, as their mustache game is so far behind as to be not even worth the mention. The Fascists I suppose at least have a chance to keep up but it is not looking good for them either.

"That is the choice you must make," explained the Foreign Minister. "Every other decision will hinge on which bloc we plan to join."
I can't help but notice that the choice to remain unaligned and "neutrally belligerent" was not really mentioned, but should also be considered.

The Minister of Security stood up and bowed with a smile. "Well, gentlemen, I have very little to report. As you know the government of Manchukuo, while being friendly to us, gives the locals an impression that they have self-rule. Therefore there is no threat of revolt within that territory."

He added with a lifted right forefinger, "BUT if we plan to expand into China we will need to either increase the military divisions OR garrisons and police units needed to protect the ports, industrial centers, and major cities."
I'm curious, perhaps minimal garrison in Manchukuo is fine, but what about Korea? I'm sure the population there are none too fond of their Japanese protectors, and may harbor thoughts of revolt even if that would certainly not be in their best interests.

“Before the others ask,” remarked the Chief of Staff, “I will ask why there is nothing else being produced. I KNOW the answer but I want them to hear it from you.”

The Minister of Armaments. “Until I know what is needed for the war with China it would be stupid of us to build anything else.”
Nuclear bombs. Lots and lots of nuclear bombs. :p

“Of course,” he commented, “I could just trade with anybody who will sell us metal, rudder, and so on.”
I would agree here, the relations boost from trading is not really that important except for the benefit of securing cheaper trades. For alignment the relations are immaterial and the question is purely one of pragmatism.

“Could both operations, both plans, be carried out at the same time?” asked the Chief of Staff.

Utsunimiya nodded. “But it would require stripping the home islands of most of their military divisions leaving nothing behind but the garrisons.”
I have consulted with the Japanese AI, and have been assured that this plan is absolutely flawless.

As Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya left the building, back into cold weather, he felt slightly confused. Surely the meeting had felt somewhat short for such an important point in history?
Funny, isn't it, how often 1 Jan 1936 comes up as an "important point in history" in the ATLs we write about? :p

From: Hajime Sugiyama (Chief of Staff)
To: ______ _______
Date: 1.1.1936

Dear Sir,
Ooh, "Sir", now I feel quite well-respected! :p

1. Who should Japan start to align with -

A. Germany
B. The UK
C. The USSR
D. Stay Independent For Now
I would rank the options in order: D, C, A, B. I think the best is to remain independent and not be tied down to any particular faction, perhaps forming an alliance of military convenience in the event that it might be necessary. Out of the factions, I think the Comintern are the best bet if we can maintain the integrity of our government (perhaps steps towards mild socialism would appease Stalin, and may also be in our own interest - nationalizing the industry, for example, could be beneficial and appear to be a step taken against capitalist influences). SIberia is not as great for resources as some might think, and assurances that Stalin will respect the integrity of our mutual border would be welcome. Failing that, Germany is ideologically aligned and could serve as a useful foil against our enemies. The Allies are the worst faction for us by far, as we should maintain the option to seize their colonies if and when the opportunity arises, especially if the war in China goes a bit tipsy.

2. Trade -

A. Trade With Anybody We Can
B. Trade Only With The Nation(s) We Align With (Use Trade As A Tool To Improve Relationships)
Certainly A here. Improving relationships is of minimal concern, faction decisions should be dictated by geopolitics more than anything. And ideally we don't need to align at all.

3. Naval Plans -

A. Use Plan One
B. Use Plan Two
C. Combine The Plans
I vote for B, as historically. There's not much point in wasting IJN resources taking ports that our Army will reach quickly enough anyways. Shanghai is far enough from the main advance, and close enough to the Chinese capital, that it is a valuable target. From there, I would say we can hop along down the coast to isolate Chinese trade while the Army pushes inland.

Once again, please reply to this letter as soon as possible. And please remember this is valuable information and should not be passed on to the public or those who do not have proper clearance. Not even spouses!
And certainly do not go posting the contents of this top-secret document on a public internet forum where anyone with a search engine can find it! :rolleyes:

Author's Notes:
As a minor side note, I personally find the use of footnotes in AARs to be annoying at best. As an AAR does not have physical pages to be flipped back and forth, the act of scrolling up and down every time a footnote is referenced becomes tiresome when reading, especially on a mobile device or tablet which I do use on occasions.
 

roverS3

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The Army and Navy had, reluctantly, agreed that coordination among the two air forces would be better.
That seems rather unlikely... I would really like to know who managed to achieve this unexpected level of cooperation, and exactly how many high ranking military personnel had to be threatened, bribed, blackmailed, or a combination of those, to achieve the merger of the IJN and IJA Air Forces into one single service.

Besides Prince Kotohito Kan’in there was Baron Mineo Ōsumi who was Chief of the Navy. Best known for his belief that Carriers would replace Battleships in naval warfare it was likely his first, second, and third demands during the meeting would be for more Carriers.
I don't like all those newfangled Carrier Fleet theories. I would like to suggest that we all take a hard look at the designs for the construction of 4 massive battleships with 9 18" guns each. I strongly believe that Carriers are only there to support a powerful fleet of massive battleships by providing air cover and spotting enemy targets. Osumi is really going off the deep end if he thinks we can win the next war without building several super-battleships to provide overwhelming naval firepower.

A lawyer who had served in the House of Peers in the Diet and, lately, had been the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Why he had become the Minister of Security was beyond the Colonel's understanding.
It was all a front, obviously, he has been using his cover as Minister of Agriculture to spy on foreign farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen. With great success, hence his promotion to Security Minister...

1. Who should Japan start to align with -
A. Germany
B. The UK
C. The USSR
D. Stay Independent For Now
Let's do some realpolitik here. As mentioned by others above, there is no ideal partner here. Germany will stay out of our hair in the Pacific, and could supply some technological and diplomatic support, but they won't be able to lend any physical support in our theatre of operations. Another problem is that Germany, and Italy (another potential partner) are both lacking in resources, meaning that if we were to find ourselves in an alliance with either of them, or both, we won't be able to get the resources we need through favourable trades with our allies.
The Royal Navy would be a great asset to have on our side, especially if we get embroiled in a war with the US. The problem is that the British imperialists and their close European Allies hold many of the most resource-rich territories in the far east. They are right up there in our sphere of influence. If they were to give us a very preferential price on the resources we need, an alliance could still be worthwhile, sacrificing some territorial expansion for industrial expansion, a safe stream of resources, and naval support from the RN.
Joining the Comintern will eliminate a major land-based threat and allow us to concentrate on China, and then on the Western Colonies. The Soviet Union can also be a great source of the resources we need. That said, their navy is worthless, meaning that we would have to concentrate heavily on building a very powerful navy, and even then we may run into trouble, especially if we somehow find ourselves in a Royal Navy - United States Navy sandwich. And then there is the clear Anti-Imperial tilt of the Soviet leadership which brings into question the compatibility of our two governments.
If the Tsar was still around, I would say Russia is our best bet, but he's not, and the Soviet Union also seems less interested in it's navy than the Tsar was. And that's not even mentioning Soviet efforts to get a piece of China through Mao's Communists, or resentment over the last Russo-Japanese war.
As there are no good options, I say D, stay independent for now, and see how the major powers react to our upcoming invasion of China.

2. Trade -
A. Trade With Anybody We Can
B. Trade Only With The Nation(s) We Align With (Use Trade As A Tool To Improve Relationships)
I don't think we have the luxury of picking and choosing our trade partners. Our significant shortfalls of rare materials and Oil make it necessary for us to take the best possible offers on the markets. I would suggest a balanced approach, meaning that we buy from all the major resource-rich nations (Soviet Union, UK, US, ...) and that we build up a stockpile of both Rare Materials and Oil in case we get subjected to an embargo or embroiled in a major war. China itself has quite a bit of Coal and Metal, but not many Rare Materials, that means that taking China will allow Industrial expansion, but only if we secure advantageous trade deals for Rares and Oil. For Rares, the best trade partners will probably be the UK, the USSR and the US, for Oil, it's the last two and Venezuela. Building up relations with resource-rich minor powers should further help diversify our avenues for these important trades. To pay for all these trades, I would suggest selling Military supplies to the highest bidder.

3. Naval Plans -
A. Use Plan One
B. Use Plan Two
C. Combine The Plans
I do believe plan 2 will lead to less conflict between the IJA and the IJN over command and jurisdiction. That said, when the Army inevitably bogs down up north, it may be necessary to execute plan 1, after plan 2, to bail them out.

Clearly, the bumbling idiots who think they are in charge of the show are hardly necessary and should occupy the seats along the walls, while important people with valuable contributions such as us CommentatAARs should be arranged at the center! :D
Yes, very nice, I would also like a seat at the table in the centre...

I'm dismayed at continued attempts to force the glorious IJN to work together with the IJA. I'm shocked at the lack of talk about new Battleships, after all it was Battleships that brought us our victory at the Tsushima Strait.

Captain RōbāS3,
Big gun battleship proponent. Distrusts the IJA's motives.

Funny, isn't it, how often 1 Jan 1936 comes up as an "important point in history" in the ATLs we write about? :p
I'll have you know that 'Odin's ATL starts on the 5th of January 1937...
 

Wraith11B

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First off, allow me to post my responses:

1. Who should Japan start to align with: D. Stay Independent For Now

We have no real need of allies and the so-called international "community" has already made their displeasure with us clear over our initial forays into carving our rightful place in Asia. It is as if they mean to shut the door behind them and say that the days of "empire building" are over! As if!

2. Trade - A. Trade With Anybody We Can

Again, we are ever the best when we are building our own trade deals, and with anyone, we create an illusion for those Western nations that would be otherwise believing us to be acting against their benefit.

3. Naval Plans - B. Use Plan Two

Our future lies in the Pacific, and what better way to validate our own nascent amphibious capability than to invade the Chinese coastline? It will provide us valuable experience when the time comes to ensure the freedom of maneuver in our acquisition of the territories of the Pacific.

As a minor side note, I personally find the use of footnotes in AARs to be annoying at best. As an AAR does not have physical pages to be flipped back and forth, the act of scrolling up and down every time a footnote is referenced becomes tiresome when reading, especially on a mobile device or tablet which I do use on occasions.
This is good to know, and I will make sure that I apply this in my own AAR... as I did in the previous update (taking a page out of @Bullfilter 's book) by making it a different colour.
 

nuclearslurpee

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This is good to know, and I will make sure that I apply this in my own AAR... as I did in the previous update (taking a page out of @Bullfilter 's book) by making it a different colour.
I second this idea. It may occasionally feel a tad 90s-HTML, but using a lot of colors to separate out different segments of the text is a highly effective organizational trick for AARs and many other kinds of writing! :D
 

smatsik

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On alignment I vote D for now. My instinct is that we may be pushed to eventually operate as if we were in A. For now I don't want to close out options into the UK held regions of SE Asia and I doubt SU would accept us without being at least neutral to the Chinese Communists. Howeve, I expect at some point to be at war with the UK and then probably neutral to the SU. The best for the present is to be independent.
As an Independent I am in favor of trading with anyone who will trade with us. Also remember that once the war starts most of our long convoy routes will be closed by enemy activity so trade is basically until we get in a war with any faction except the axis.
I favor going straight to Shanghai. If needed we can send forces back to make things easier on the army, but I doubt that any major effort is needed along the coast north of that.

On the discussion about using color instead of footnotes. I like the idea but be careful in your color choices. I am red color deficient and anything that relies on distinguishing small addtions of red can confuse me or even be unreadable. Sharp contrasts like yellow or lime green against this background would be best for my vision.
 

Bullfilter

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I will be replying in detail, but need to do it on my PC rather than phone :)

Edit: OK, here goes, having also had a chance to fire the game up to have a look at Japan's at start position but, more relevantly, reminding myself of the game's Victory Conditions for the three factions.

Which, before I get to specifics, clarified one thing for me (and here I now slip into character).

Memo
Top Secret
From: Mr Matabai Burufirutā (Chief Strategic Adviser to the Prime Minister)
To: Field Marshal Hajime Sugiyama (Chief of Staff)

Dear Field Marshal,

Thank you for your memo of 1 January 1936. I have read the memo and accompanying minutes from the meeting enclosed. Before I can confirm my advice in response, I respectfully request clarification on one matter.

I find the question of Japan's future alignment (or decision to avoid such a commitment) to one of the world's developing power blocs to be lacking in one crucial aspect. Or crucial at least for someone like myself, who takes a 'grand strategy' approach to our national policy: What are our ultimate strategic objectives?

Do we seek regional domination and, as part of a defined faction, the founding of a new world order of which we are one of the leaders? Or do we simply seek dominance of the East Asian region and sufficient access to trade and raw materials to achieve that aim, accompanied by national security and prosperity?

For example, we can seek what additional resources we may need (on top of those we may be able to secure from mainland China) through trade. In that case, an alignment to either the USSR or the UK might be wise.

For example, working to join the Allies would remove the threat of war against the only two powers with navies in the Pacific - or anywhere for that matter - with any chance to threaten us. We could concentrate the vast bulk of our production and research efforts on land and air forces. And even some of the reputed 'special super weapons' being discussed by atomic theorists. There would be no need to build, research, maintain or refuel and resupply a large Navy, nor would we need to be drawn into defending long and vulnerable supply and convoy lines to far flung 'flea specks' in the Pacific or South East Asia that would follow if we pursue a more aggressive resource campaign through an alignment with the Axis.

Joining the Soviets in a strictly 'realpolitik' arrangement of convenience may be morally distasteful, but as long as it advantages us, who cares about that? If they end up fighting the Germans, then we're better out of it. They would know their Far Eastern front is secure and we would have no fear of them stabbing us in the back later. So long as we don't find ourselves at war with the Allies until much later, if ever, it would also minimise the threat of the disadvantages described above re fighting the UK and US at sea. Again, it would leave us free to concentrate on our ambitions in mainland China; trade with the Comintern would be open and with the Allies on a cash-and-carry basis.

Finally, if our objective is to secure our resources with 'certainty' by direct control through military means, meaning war with the Allies (and eventually, most likely, the US) then we have two broad choices: doing so 'on our own', without the entanglement of joining the Axis and drawing Germany's enemies on to us by association. Or deciding we may as well join the Axis, draw whatever advantages we can and be an active part of a New World Order that we help to shape. If pursuing this path, I advocate remaining non-aligned if our objectives are limited to simply securing whatever resources we need that can't be won by trade. But if it's glory and world dominance (in company) we seek, then we take the great risk and join the Axis.

So, you see my dear Field Marshal, just as operational, technical and industrial policy will flow from which Faction we may (or may not) choose to align to, we need to be clear about our overall strategic objectives before we make that choice.

I have enclosed an appendix with some more specific considerations for the three Factions being considered.

your humble servant,

Matabai Burufirutā


The 'appendix' is in fact a consideration of more game-related points that would have been a bit out of place in an in-character memo.

Essentially, what I'm asking is what are your personal objectives for the game? To get a Victory Condition win (which can only be done as part of a faction)? Just to secure resources and keep Japan strong and secure until a set point in time? To see how many VPs (as opposed to grand VCs) you can get by a certain time? Or some personally-set objectives related to geographical targets? Or perhaps you haven't decided that yet and are seeking this input to reach that decision?

The analysis from the meeting was very operationally focused - as would be expected from the gathering and the briefing by an operational planner as the centrepiece. But what about after China is dealt with? It did not really shed any light on the longer term questions. Anyway, having worked at both the military operational planning level and then 14+ years at the national defence strategic level, these are the observations I'd make if provided a draft policy paper of this nature. ;)

Re the gamey bits (and assuming you are after the classic 'join a faction and try to win the game' aim):

Comintern

Of the 15 VCs for them, you could contribute Op August Storm, Tokyo and (if the Unthinkable eventually happens) Hong Kong to the objective list. You'd get resource access from the Comintern and still be able to trade on the open market with everyone else (though losing the Axis as trading partners if/when the Soviets go to war with them). You'd be relying on the Soviet AI to secure the rest of the objectives, but having Japan in their camp would no doubt help a lot. A long philosophical stretch I know - but if Turkey can do it, so can Japan! :D Of course, it would be a long process to realign from where Japan is now, in the Axis corner of the triangle, but there is time I suppose (have never tried it to know how feasible it is or how long it would take).

Allies
Main strategic points already made above in Burufirutā's memo. The only VC you deliver them is 'Japan not Axis or Comintern'. The rest you rely on them to achieve - though again, you'd think having Japan in their camp would make it very difficult for the Axis. Trade should be great: get through diplomacy what you'd risk by war. You could even look to send a large expeditionary force to North Africa or Europe to help with the war later on!

No need to spend a thing really on the Navy: heap it all into Army, Air Force (equipment and doctrine) and modernising the economy and perhaps nuclear weapons. If France goes Vichy, you could grab Indo-China. Same if Thailand goes Axis. Secure China, build a great army with excellent tac air support and then gear up for an Op Unthinkable at the end if you wanted to, after Germany is beaten. Though that doesn't really add anything to the Allied VCs - maybe just some fun after what would otherwise be a pretty boring limited war demolishing China (the Nats and other satellites) and waiting for the rest of the Alliance to do its thing. Unless you do get all expeditionary, which could be lots of fun! As for the Comintern, a long way to re-align.

Axis
The classic choice and the VCs are designed to lead you that way of course. Then once in, to over-extend in an OTL fashion: Singapore; Manila; Batavia; Shanghai; Port Moresby - five out of the fifteen possible Axis VCs. Risks and benefits pretty well known and highlighted above. Conflict with the UK and US (therefore heavy Navy emphasis required); the war in China and no ultimate guarantee of peace with the Soviets, so Army development needed too. Air for supporting both arms. Need to secure resources by military action, therefore exposure to convoy destruction and need to protect them (escorts, screens etc). Fun, but risky: though the Germans having a human playing Japan should help them too, if you do decide to intervene against the Soviets and keeping the Allies and US occupied. And easy to complete the alignment.

Trade: in the short term (depending on your long-term choice) just get the best trade you can, but with first priority to your planned future Faction partners (mainly so as to benefit them, not your eventual opponents); then the rest to get what you need at the best rate.

China: I'll keep Burufirutā focused at the strategic level for now - plenty of good advice there and all tactical plans start to change as soon as you cross the line of departure anyway; then operational level plans fairly soon thereafter! ;) If strategic plans change every day, then you're in trouble, or not planning strategically! :D
 
Last edited:

Eurasia

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Essentially, what I'm asking is what are your personal objectives for the game? To get a Victory Condition win (which can only be done as part of a faction)? Just to secure resources and keep Japan strong and secure until a set point in time? To see how many VPs (as opposed to grand VCs) you can get by a certain time? Or some personally-set objectives related to geographical targets? Or perhaps you haven't decided that yet and are seeking this input to reach that decision?

The analysis from the meeting was very operationally focused - as would be expected from the gathering and the briefing by an operational planner as the centrepiece. But what about after China is dealt with? It did not really shed any light on the longer term questions. Anyway, having worked at both the military operational planning level and then 14+ years at the national defence strategic level, these are the observations I'd make if provided a draft policy paper of this nature. ;)
The long-term goal is to unite all China, Southeast Asia, and their resources into the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". In other words "EastAsia" with Japan as the head.

I don't really care which Faction wins if Japan is independent. For example, if the Allies crush the Axis and, yet, the Empire of Japan controls much of Asia and the Pacific I would think of that as a win. If we do join a Faction then, yes, our Faction's Victory would be something to work for.

The problem is, in our time line, I am not sure if even those in power within Japan's government and military had a "final picture" of what they wanted. And as you say, plans have to be flexible. But in the end I am thinking Japan needs to make its own "Asian" Bloc.
 

Bullfilter

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The long-term goal is to unite all China, Southeast Asia, and their resources into the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". In other words "EastAsia" with Japan as the head.

I don't really care which Faction wins if Japan is independent. For example, if the Allies crush the Axis and, yet, the Empire of Japan controls much of Asia and the Pacific I would think of that as a win. If we do join a Faction then, yes, our Faction's Victory would be something to work for.

The problem is, in our time line, I am not sure if even those in power within Japan's government and military had a "final picture" of what they wanted. And as you say, plans have to be flexible. But in the end I am thinking Japan needs to make its own "Asian" Bloc.
Interesting. The only practical problem in this set of objectives (as in OTL) is who currently owns those bits you want to grab. Mainly (other than the Chinese mainland) that’s the Allies. So you can’t join them. If you join the Axis, I’m not sure what benefits accrue. As you say, Axis will be fighting them anyway. But if the US join the Allies and you attack the UK, then one in all in and it’s Yamamoto’s nightmare.

Is there a way do you think of going to war with the Allies early, before the US joins them, and trying to keep out of war with the US? Not attacking the Philippines (clearly - so leaving them out of the co-prosperity sphere) and using concerted diplomatic efforts to try to keep them from joining the Allies - for as long as possible, anyway?

That way, not joining the Axis works best because they will still be at war with the UK anyway and if they go to war with the US eventually, maybe you can stay out of that (limited war - though not sure whether that is likely to work). And the UK still has to fight the Germans and Italians. Japan then still needs a strong navy, but if war with the US can be avoided, the RN becomes a more manageable foe and your convoys may not be throttled by US sub warfare. I think you’d still want a strong carrier arm though, just in case war with the US proves unavoidable.

If you don’t care about the game’s victory conditions, then I opt for D - the Fourth Way. But if there’s a faction (other than the Axis, because that is easy) you think you might want to join in the longer term, or at least have it as an option, there shouldn’t be any harm in aligning early. You can always call it off and you are not forced to join, even if you do get close enough to do so.

As back pocket options, I’m thinking here either:
1. Allies - as insurance in case the Soviets come for you one day, but means you have to hold off taking their SEA and East Asia colonies until you’ve decided to pursue it or not; or
2. Comintern - vice versa and might at least ensure they can never stab you in the back and you have them as partners vs the Allies if it comes to it.

How all that might work in practice is of course variable, depending on how long it takes to re-align and who you want to attack or who you get attacked by in the interim.
 

guillec87

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Dec 25, 2009
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