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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Prologue : Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office HQ, November 20th, 1935
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    • For the Motherland
    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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    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"
     
    Chapter Two : The First Steps - 1.1.1936 To 17.1.1936
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    Utsunimiya's War
    (HoI3 TFH - Interactive Japan AAR)
    Chapter Two : The First Steps - 1.1.1936 To 17.1.1936


    After the meeting in The Imperial General Headquarters of the 1st of January, and the collection of feedback from the many advisers and officials who could not take part in the meeting, a summary of the suggested plan on how to prepare and carry out a conflict with China was prepared. It was then presented to the Emperor by the Head of the Government Keisuke Okada during a second meeting within the Imperial General Headquarters.

    Once the Emperor gave his approval things started to move somewhat quickly. Or at least quickly for a government.

    First, nobody was surprised by the lack of a interest to align with one bloc or another. Most advisers and government officials seemed to have a wait-and-see attitude when it came to joining up with any of the powerful nations.

    True, there were Anglophiles, or in general Westopiles, among the advisers who felt joining up with the UK would be a good idea.


    Of course these people also drank their tea with cream and sugar while also going out in European (or American) fashion. Some women even wore their hair in a European style. This, of course was understandable given the two nations’ history, but it was still discouraged.


    Without any foreign policy to restrict him the Foreign Minister was able to make trading agreements with anybody he wanted. Which he did. He bought metals from the Soviet Union, rare materials from the US, and even sold some of Japan’s excess coal to the Netherlands.

    As this was happening the Minister of Armaments, Chūji Machida, carefully planned out what Japan’s industry would start producing for the conflict with China. First, the equipment for four Mountain Divisions were placed at the top of the list. The order would come in two waves with enough uniforms, rifles, and support for two Divisions each. The first Divisions would be created some time n June.

    The next order was equipment for a total of four Cavalry Divisions. Like the Mountain Divisions this order had been split into two waves.


    After reviewing the air force units available for the conflict the military had agreed that only one Wing of Kawasaki Ki-48s were needed. Which, compared to the rest of the demands, was a simple request.

    The next order came from the Navy who wanted six Carriers. Chūji Machida agreed to construct them BUT only two at time. Of course, it was likely these Carriers, along with their CAGs, would likely NOT be ready for the Second Sino-Japanese war but there wasn’t much he could do about that without delaying one of the other orders.

    At the bottom of the list were cargo ships and escorts for the convoys as well as anti-aircraft guns and new garrisons for the Pacific Islands.

    The problem was, of course, noticed right away. The new orders changed the needs of the nation’s industry. The factories and ship builders and clothing shops and power plants needed even MORE resources than before.

    So now everything was in the red even with the new trade agreements. The only thing in the green was the treasury. But the Minister of Armaments didn’t panic.

    “Government isn’t a business,” he remarked to his subordinates. “Some things are going to be in the red. Calm down.”

    ---



    The City of Dalian​

    Field Marshal Hideki Tojo was waiting in his inner office for the two other men. The room was cold. Being the southernmost city of the Liaondong Peninsula, right next to the Yellow Sea, did little to help with that. On top of that Hideki Tojo hated to waste coal just to keep the office warm. His duty kept him warm and he assumed everybody else could learn by his example. And of course nobody complained. He had a habit of slapping people.

    The city of Dalian was a mixture of many styles of building. The British had occupied it in 1858 but later returned it to the Chinese. Then Japan took it in the first Sino-Japanese War, but the Triple Intervention by Russia, France, and Germany forced Japan to give it back. At which point Russia “coerced” a lease from the Qing Dynasty. The Russians built a modern port city on the spot and linked it to the Trans-Siberian Railway. As a ice-free port the Russians were very happy to get it. They were so proud they called it Port Arthur.

    Then they lost to the Japanese in the Treaty of Portsmith after the Russo-Japanese War. A Treaty both sides had issues with. The irony.

    The building his staff was occupying at the moment had been, at one time, had belonged to a Russian shipping company. He didn’t like the style but it served his purpose.


    One of the men he was waiting for, Field Marshal Jirō Minami, had been in command of the North China Army. He still was. It had just been renamed “China Operations”.

    Jirō Minami was a veteran of the Russo-Japanese and had even been part of the siege of Port Arthur which helped win the war. He had commanded many Cavalry Brigades and Divisions, had served in the Army General Staff, had been the War Minister during the Manchurian Incident, and even been the Japanese ambassador to Manchukuo at one point.

    There was a knock on the door and one of Tojo’s clerks poked his head in and said, “Field Marshal Minami is here, sir.”

    “Send him in,” ordered Tojo sternly.

    As Minami entered the office Tojo bowed from his sitting position and gestured towards one of the two chairs before the desk. “Good to see you, Field Marshal. Walking through the streets must bring back memories.”

    Minami sat down and nodded. “Mostly bad ones. I still remember being in the trenches wondering when one of those 500 pound shells would burst above me. Over fifty-seven thousand dead on our side to get this piece of ground.”

    “Yes. It ended too soon,” remarked Tojo. “We should have received all of Siberia. Damn the Americans.”

    Tojo, like most Japanese, had never forgiven the Americans for the Treaty of Portsmith. They had acted like a third party to help end the war. But the end result was the creation of a underlining Anti-American feeling towards the US among much of the Japanese populace.

    On top of that Tojo had once visited the United States and his impression of them just added to the anger. He saw them as weak, uncontrollable, drunks. It didn’t help that he visited during Prohibition.

    Minami glanced at the second chair as he sat down and placed his hat in his lap. “Who are we waiting for?”

    “Field Marshal Toshizō Nishio,” replied Tojo. “He is now the newest commander of the Manchukio Operations. A new Army Group placed in the order of command between me and the Armies facing the Russians.”

    “Good man?”

    “Saw some combat in the Russo-Japanese war,” responded Tojo, “but mostly, since then, he has held training positions or staff jobs. BUT he is known for being a winter specialist.”

    Minami grunted. “I can see how that will help up north.”

    They chatted, mostly about the latest news as they waited for the third member of the meeting. Tojo was NOT good at small talk. But luckily for Minami, Field Marshal Nishio was on time and was shortly escorted into the office by the same clerk.

    Both Tojo and Minami bowed from their sitting position as Nishio took the empty seat. He returned their bows with his own, plus a smile, as he placed his hat onto his lap.

    “Make sure we are not disturbed,” stated Field Marshal Tojo as the clerk left.

    As the door was closed Tojo turned to the two officers and said, “Field Marshal Nishio. Welcome back to China. I hope you had a good journey. Now, I don’t wish to seem rude. But what do you gentlemen think about the interesting plan we have here?”

    “Well,” remarked Minami. “I have already found what may be a mistake in it. Why is Yongqing one of my objectives? It has nothing of value. The paperwork says it has airbases but none of my maps show that.”

    Tojo nodded. “Yes, I think the Colonel who made the plan has confused Yongqing for Beijing.”

    “We’ll want official conformation before we change the plan,” added Minami. “Could be he wants us to encircle it. Also, I noticed all the aircraft have been moved to the home islands. I thought they were only taking our Naval Bombers and Strategic Bombers?”

    “They want to reorganize them into larger groups,” replied Tojo. “You’ll be assigned the Interceptors and Tactical Bombers when they are done with them. And as for the Strategic Bombers, well, nobody has Strategic Bombers.”

    “I’m starting to worry about this plan,” grumbled Minami while tapping his hat.

    “As am I,” remarked Nishio. “I have been given command over all the Armies along the border with the Comintern’s but for the Mongol Army. General Koiso seems to be under the command of the IGH. Is there a reason for that?”

    “I believe they were worried about how many Armies you could handle at once,” stated Tojo with a frown. “Not sure why. At least they could have attached him to my HQ.”

    “They gave me command of the Korean Army but not the Mongol Army?” commented Nishio with a shake of his head. “That makes no sense.”

    “For a plan made within just two months it isn’t that bad. I dare say it could work,” pointed out Tojo. “As long as the Chinese decide to go along with it.”

    The other two men nodded their heads in agreement. “Maybe we should send them a copy?” jested Minami.

    “Maybe,” stated Tojo who had no sense of humor. “Now, before we start working on the details, who wants some tea?”

    Both men knew better than to turn down the offer.

    ---


    Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya was happy to be back in Tokyo. The train trip back had been even somewhat enjoyable. Well, at least the car he had been in was heated and had been close to the dining car. And it helped that some of the female passengers liked men in uniform.

    His apartment, while not much bigger than the room he had stayed at in the inn at Hiroshima, had been a welcomed sight. His own tiny kitchen, his own cheap little radio, his own restroom and his own tiny heater.

    For some reason Utsunimiya had always enjoyed privacy a little more than most. Many Japanese just learned to ignore what was happening around them. In the crowded streets, small restaurants, pubic bathhouses, and apartment buildings with super-thin walls being able to create invisible, sound-proof, walls around yourself was a skill everybody learned. He had learned how to do it also as a child.

    But sometimes he needed REAL privacy. Really space around him.

    The best part was he had returned a day ahead of schedule which had given him one day to recover and prepare himself for his next meeting. And he needed the time. Because he knew the next meeting was going to be stressful.

    The morning of the meeting Utsunimiya made sure to dress warmly, had a good breakfast, and made sure his papers were in order.


    When he arrived at the gate protecting the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff Office he took a moment to adjust his cap and make sure he looked presentable before pulling out his papers and moving up to the guards.

    The Imperial General Headquarters might be in Hiroshima but Field Marshal Ishiwara, wishing to be closer to the decision makers of the Imperial Government, had procured some offices in the Imperial Japanese Navy HQ. In other words he had asked, nicely, for some of the rooms in the Navy General Staff Office in Tokyo.

    The Colonel was somewhat nervous to meet Field Marshal Kanji Ishiwara. The man was a ultranationalist who believed that it was Japan’s divine mission to take over China and he had helped organize the Manchurian Incident. Him getting this position had been one of the major reasons the Army had been willing to even approval of the whole idea of working along side the Navy.

    The guards waved him through after checking his paperwork. The Naval staff was waiting for him and one of them guided him through the long hallways and confusing rooms to the area where the Field Marshal had set up his own offices.

    There he was handed over to the Army personal and they, in turn, took him to the outer office of Field Marshal Ishiwara. He barely got there when the Field Marshal's secretary waved for him to enter the inner office.

    "He said for you to enter the instant you arrived," the man said. The Colonel nodded and, after a polite knock, entered the office.


    The office did NOT fit Field Marshal Kanji Ishiwara. The bookcases full of naval literature, the paintings of old sailing ships, and the battleship models which lined the room's walls. There was even, in one corner, a massive globe that was so big Utsunimiya wondered how it been brought into the room.

    He bowed and sat in one of the chairs in front of the desk. Between the two chairs meant for visitors stood a small table onto which he placed his small brown briefcase and his hat. "Field Marshal, Colonel Shō-ichi Utsunimiya reporting for duty."

    "Greetings. But you are no longer Colonel," replied the Field Marshal as he opened a drawer in the oversized desk. He pulled out a small leather pouch and a small case. He stood up and walked around the desk. Of course Shō-ichi Utsunimiya stood up also - one did not stay seated when approached by a superior.

    The Field Marshal opened the case and showed him the insignia of three stars on a yellow background. It was missing the three thick red stripes of a Colonel's insignia like the ones currently on his shoulder straps. Instead there were two thin stripes the ran along the top and bottom. He was staring at a pair of General's insignias.


    The Field Marshal handed him the case and the leather pouch. He then stood up ramrod straight and saluted him while saying, "General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya."

    Utsunimiya returned the salute. He tried not to show too much emotion but his eyes did become a tad wet to his embarrassment.

    The Field Marshal held out his right hand and shook the man's hand. "Welcome to the Imperial General Headquarters. The pouch holds the details of your new command. You can replace your old insignia's later."

    The Field Marshal moved back to his chair behind the desk. "Besides the staff work which you will be doing to help me, and my officers, in organizing the Naval side of the upcoming war you are now in command of a newly formed Special Corps."

    "Special Corps?" replied the brand NEW General as he sat down. "I did not realize I would have the honor of being in combat."

    "It may be an honor or a disaster," responded the Field Marshal with an ironic smile. "You will be leading the invasion of Shanghai. Three Infantry Divisions, of different strengths, and the Imperial Guard Division. In between the planning and staff work you will also need to make sure your officers and men are prepared for the operation. In the end you will earn that promotion."

    "Sir...did you say the Imperial Guard?"

    The Field Marshal nodded as he pulled open a folder that had been on his desk. "Yes. THE Imperial Guard Division. The hope is a Corps should be enough to carry out Plan Two. Reinforcements COULD be sent if needed. Now, I suggest we start with the simpler details. Let's start with what to do with the Pacific Garrisons. Right?"

    "Yes, Sir!" replied Utsunimiya as he opened his briefcase and pulled out his own notes.

    ---


    Organizing the Garrisons were simpler than the rest of the Navy. Mostly there was little that could be done with them. The Divisions were scattered like some child had tossed the units all over the Pacific in some kind of rage. Many islands were protected by one-Brigade Divisions while others were protected by multiple Divisions.

    Truk had two Divisions, for example, who were ordered to form into one. The same happened to the Divisions on the islands of Ponape, Eniwetok, and Saipan where they were formed into one unit. Of course all the new units were given Commanders.

    The staff even found a three-Brigade Division on the Island of Mili without a Commander in charge. Of course a Commander was sent as soon as the paperwork could be processed.


    By the 3rd of January Utsunimiya, as he started to receive the information on the Naval Fleets, Groups, and Flotillas, heard the rumors that the industry of Japan was barely functioning. It was supplying the people with the televisions, and phones, and cars they demanded and was also able to pump out the supplies needed by the military. But the factories producing the military orders for NEW war material had ground to a halt.

    On top of that many of the units in the Army, and even a few in the Navy, were complaining about a lack of supplies. There were plenty of supplies but it wasn't reaching those who needed it.

    Of course it didn't help that mainland Asia had horrible roads and few railroads. Luckily, Manchukuo and Korea were free of any freedom fighters to add to the problem. Most of them had been "weeded" out by the police or had simply fled years ago.

    Utsunimiya dismissed the rumors. There was nothing he could do about the supply issues. He had to focus on the job he had been given.

    The Navy's ships were slowly formed into three Task Groups, which had Carriers, and the 2nd Navy which were the leftover warships. Trying to find the right balance of capital ships and screening units took the longest times. The transports were split between two of the Task Groups.

    Of course there was also the submarines who were grouped into three Flotillas. They worked best when on their own. They were rebased to ports nearer to what would be their future hunting grounds.

    Utsunimiya spread the Navy over the ports of the home islands so they didn't eat into each other's supplies and fuel.


    Then there were the Air Forces. Utsunimiya was somewhat shocked. He had not realized just how small the combined Air Forces were.

    The Naval Bombers were formed into a Group and sent to the airbases in Naha, Okinawa.

    Of course the Tactical Bombers were formed into two Air Groups of two Wings each and returned to the Army. The fifth Wing was held back so it could form up with the new Wing being produced. Utsunimiya suggested, and everybody agreed, that the third Tactical Air Group should be under control of the Navy for the operations against Nanjing.

    As for the Interceptor Wings he was amazed to see they were made up of Kawasaki Ki-10s. Biplanes! Utsunimiya was sure they were superior to anything the Chinese had BUT it still looked weird to see them next to the other, more modern looking, aircraft.

    So the offices were buzzing with activity for the first few weeks. The Field Marshal, his new General, and other Imperial General staff were working around the clock with only a few breaks to have a sandwich and, sometimes, enjoy some tea.

    As Utsunimiya was taking one of these breaks, trying to shove a tuna sandwich down his throat without chewing, when he heard some news from another staff member. Seems Siam had offered to buy some rare materials from Japan and the Minister of Armaments had agreed to it. It seemed the Ministry of Armaments had plans for the growing treasury.

    Then he heard something else about the Ministry of Armaments. It seems that they refused to do anymore upgrades. If you had a crappy rifle, too bad, learn to live with it. The men and resources were being put into Production. They had deadlines to meet and to heck with everything else.

    By the 17th of January things had slowed down a tad. One of the last things Utsunimiya had approved was the handing of the Mongol Army over to the Kwantung Army Theater.

    ---


    In fact Shō-ichi Utsunimiya was able to take half the day off. Being the afternoon of a Friday he was able to get a seat, easily, at the local movie theater. Most everybody else was still at work. It was a movie he had REALLY wanted to see. The movie, An Inn in Tokyo, was a silent film that had come out in November of last year. But he had been so busy he had failed to see it. Now that he had the free time he had decided to finally enjoy it.

    His friends and coworkers had warned him it was boring. But he ignored them, made sure to get a seat up front, and found out they were right. The plot was centered on a father who needed a job and had to do with the ups and down of such a life. In the end the father resorted to stealing but then, after a scolding from another character, turned himself in to the police. A film about traditional values and a waste of his time.

    As he walked out he wondered if the directors would EVER make movies for the newer generation. But before he could ponder this for very long he noticed something was going on at a nearby bar. There was a crowd around the entry and a lot of gesturing. Was it a fight?

    He stepped up to the back of the crowd and asked, "What's going on?"

    One of the men, looking somewhat excited, turned to Utsunimiya. He looked like a laborer from one of the docks. He gestured towards the bar like a puppet gone nuts as he said, "Germany has marched into the Rhineland with soldiers! There is talk about a European conflict! It was just announced on the radio!"


    Utsunimiya blinked. Germany was REALLY flexing its military muscles? By remilitarizing the Rhineland it was violating both the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties. Germany had already violated the Treaty of Versailles last year by increasing the size of their army to over 100,000 men. Surely they would wait a little longer before going up against the French?

    Utsunimiya went home and turned on his own radio. He soon found one of the news channels and listened for a few minutes. Soon he realized that the man at the bar was right. Germany, had indeed, decided to move troops into the Rhineland.

    And the taking of the Rhineland, according to the Germans, was just a response to the French-Soviet Pact of 1935. But no matter how you looked at it Germany was playing a dangerous game. A very dangerous game.

    As Utsunimiya switched the radio to his favorite music station and started making his dinner he wondered if Japan was also playing a very dangerous game.
     
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    Chapter Three : New Laws - 18.1.1936 To 14.2.1936
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    Chapter Three : New Laws - 18.1.1936 To 14.2.1936


    Over the weekend the radio stations were buzzing with the news from Europe. Would there be war? Would there be peace? Would the French demand the Rhineland back? Would Germany back down?

    Shō-ichi Utsunimiya spent his free time catching up on the reports from the Kwantung Army, when not trying to get some sleep and keep his stomach from growling. It seems he had lost some weight due to the not-so-healthy habit he had picked up at work of skipping lunch.

    When Monday morning came about he found the inbox at work was full of new reports, messages, and just demands. Demands for more men, equipment, and material. Much of which he just passed on to the proper authorites. But much of it he had to deal with himself.


    For example, the China Operations Headquarters wanted to clarify if the Province of Yongqing was one of the objectives of the first stage of the war or was it the Province of Beiping. Utsunimiya was embarrassed by this mistake on his part and sent a letter directly to Field Marshal Minami in which he corrected the information and apologized for the mistake.


    He also had been notified that the 31. Kaigun, the 21. Kaigun, and the 22. Kaigun, which were all Submarine Flotillas, had reached the Ports of Gaoxiong, Naha, and Saishu, respectively. This confused him for a second. He had gotten the impression that there had been only two Flotillas of Submarines.

    He shook his head and decided to be more mindful in the future. Such mistakes could cost men their lives.

    As the events in Europe became old news other pieces of news was brought back into the public’s attention. The Italian war in Ethiopia continued without a victory in the foreseeable future. The Japanese populace, on one hand, understood the Italian’s need for Empire.


    On the other hand the war had started in October of last year, caused by a border incident between Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland in December, and the Italians were becoming desperate to win. In fact it was reported the Italians had used phosgene gas spread by aircraft in their Christmas Offensive. A chemical used in World War One it had been responsible for the death of over 85,000. It was said the use of it by the Italians in this African conflict had killed thousands. This information was so shocking that few believed it.

    On top of that both nations were members of the League of Nations who was unable to stop the war. The “Abyssinia Crisis”, as it would become to be known by historians, was just another example on how useless the League was.

    ---


    On the 24th of January, after deciding that the influx of cash for the treasury had become stable enough the Foreign Minister, Kōki Hirota, decided to break the Trade Agreement with the Netherlands. Surely, it was better to keep some of the coal for the power plants and refineries?

    Soon everybody was complaining. Not only was the Japanese industry using up the coal, crude oil, and other material faster than it could bring those resources in but now the treasury was LOSING money. Just to save on some damn coal!

    The Minister of Armaments was said to call up Hirota, himself, and demand he fix the problem before the nation want bankrupt. And he wasn’t the only one to complain. The Japanese Imperial Government AND the Japanese Imperial Military were both in a uproar.

    Soon the Foreign Minister found himself trying, as quickly as he could, to create deals that would put the Japan’s treasury back in the green.

    He first made deals with both the nations of Brazil and Belgium to sell them coal. Then he made a deal with Tibet to sell THEM coal.

    By the 30th of January the treasury had become stable. Money was coming in as fast as it went out. But that wasn’t enough. The future plans of the nation required the treasury to GROW. So the Foreign Minister put on his best smile and went out to deal some more.

    He finally made a deal to sell coal to Norway which finally meant that the treasury was, slowly, filling up once again.

    ---


    After the excitement died down from the “Treasury Crisis” the radio stations, newspapers, and news reels went back to focusing on foreign affairs. For example, Greece and Manchukuo both had government scandals. And the nation of Costa Rica had a massive Peace Demonstration.

    The news agencies also found out that the Americans had been willing to sell Japan rare materials but this deal had been turned down. The Foreign Minister had learned his lesson about giving away too much of the nation’s money.

    Then there was news of worker strikes in Belgium. No doubt upset by all the coal being imported from Japan. The Belgium government decided to break up the strikes and arrest the leaders. The news reels showed the police plowing into the crowds, sometimes on horseback, and using clubs. As the film was silent the screams of the workers could not be heard.

    At this point it was decided, by the Head of Intelligence, to send some spies to the US. They would do their best to support any political group who supported a Pro-Japanese stance. If a Pro-Japanese government could be put in place that would make things so much easier.

    The domestic spies working on keeping the nation’s unity were also increased. Anybody who didn’t show proper support for the Empire, anybody who didn’t smile at good news or failed to shout as loud as they could at rallies, would likely be visited by the police.

    At the Kwantung Army HQ it was noticed that there was a large gap in the front facing the USSR. But there was no forces avail to fill the hole. It was likely there would be some in the future but, at the moment, China was the biggest threat not the Russians.


    In the middle of February Lithuania had a economic boost. No doubt the rest of the world, with their worker strikes and scandals, looked on the small nation with a certain amount of envy. At the same time the nation of Siam offered to sell Japan rare materials but once again it was turned down.

    Then the news reels were full of scenes of more worker strikes. But this time in Sinkiang. Like Belgium the government of Sinkiang decided to break up the strikes and put the leaders in jail. The silent films didn’t allow you to hear the shouting but it did allow you to see the violence as the police chased the workers around. And the blood on the streets looked like pools of tar on the big screens.

    ---


    The invite to meet with the Minister of Armaments had been a surprise but as Chief of Staff, Hajime Sugiyama, knew that keeping in touch with all branches of the Imperial Government and Imperial Headquarters was needed he had no issue with agreeing to the meeting.

    So he arrived on time at the Ministry of Armaments (also known as the Ministry of Munitions) and was quickly escorted into the office of Chūji Machida who greeted him with a bow.

    “Greetings Chief Sugiyama,” said the old man as he gestured towards one of the chairs in front of his desk. “A decision must be made and approved by the Imperial Government. To be honest, I think the choice is obvious, but maybe the advisers know something that I do not. And due to the nature of the decision the Imperial Military should have some say in it also.”

    Sugiyama raised an eyebrow as he settled into the chair, his hat on his lap, as he pondered what had just been said.

    “If it is so obvious then why ask for input?”

    “Because I’m too old to think I know it all,” replied the Minister. “Age brings wisdom. The wisdom to know you don’t know everything.”

    Sugiyama nodded and said, “So, explain to me what this decision is about.”

    The Minister of Armaments cleared his throat and said, “The treasury of Japan had reached a level in which we can afford to carry a change in our laws. We can only afford ONE choice.”

    The Minister opened one of the drawers of his desk and pulled out three slim folders. He placed them on his desk and tapped one of them.

    “This law would allow us to switch from a two-year draft to a three-year draft. As you can guess that would be useful if we plan to be in prolonged wars with...I don’t know. Let’s say Russia.”


    He then moved his finger to a second folder and tapped it. “The second law had to do with training. We can switch from Basic Training to Advanced or even Specialist Training.”

    Sugiyama frowned. “But that would lengthen the time it took to form units, would it not?”

    “Yes,” replied the Minister. “But they would enter combat better skilled to handle it.”

    The Minister then moved his finger to tap the last folder. “And this is the obvious pick.” He gave the Chief of Staff a small smile. “My favorite in fact. A law allowing us, ME, to move from a Consumer Product Orientation to a Mixed Industry. Which SHOULD help ease our supply issues. Just a tad.”

    Sugiyama nodded. “Yes, I can see how the latter would be helpful. China is causing problems with our logistics.”

    “Yes,” replied the Minister, “which is why I prefer the last choice. But those in the military might prefer one of the other two. Better trained soldiers DO better in combat. And survive longer.”

    Sugiyama nodded and stood up. “I will ask our advisors to make a decision. I will send them a small summary of this meeting to aid them in their decision. I am sure we can have a response for you within a reasonable amount of time.”

    “Good,” said the Minister as he stood up and gave the Chief of Staff a bow. “Thank you for coming. And stay warm. It seems to be getting colder.”

    Sugiyama bowed and left the office. Yes, he thought as he walked through the Ministry of Armaments, even for winter it seemed very cold. Very cold indeed.

    ---​

    Before the end of day sealed packages were delivered, by hand, to the advisers of the Empire. Men of industry, wealth, knowledge, and great wisdom.

    From: Hajime Sugiyama (Chief of Staff)
    To: ______ _______
    Date: 14.2.1936

    Dear Sir,

    Once again, gentlemen, I write to you with an important decision to be made. Included within this package, along with this letter, is a short summary of a meeting I had with the Minister of Armaments.

    But to put issue at hand as simply as I can we are, at this time, able to change the laws that allow us to retool our industry to become a mixed industry OR make changes to our drafting system OR make changes to the training of our military.

    But the treasury can only support ONE of these changes. Please choose the one you feel will best serve the Empire in the long run.

    1. Which Law Should Be Changed?

    A. Three-Year Draft
    B. Advanced Training
    C. Specialist Training
    D. Mixed Industry

    I doubt I have to remind you but, once again, please reply as soon as possible. And make sure the information does not fall into the wrong hands.

    Signed,

    Hajime Sugiyama
     
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    Chapter Four : A New Destroyer Flotilla - 15.2.1936 To 20.2.1936
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    Chapter Four : A New Destroyer Flotilla - 15.2.1936 To 20.2.1936


    With the announcement of the Mixed Industry Laws many within the military, including General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya, became very happy. Mostly because of just how useful the new Laws would be. The policies now would allow more factories to be retooled to produce rifles, munitions, and equipment. This almost meant basic military supplies would also be increased and, therefore, more of the fuel and supplies the Divisions needed would get to them.

    The problems of logistics and supplies was not a modern problem. It went back as far as Alexander the Greet whose supply trains made up of mules had to carry enough food for the horse cavalry and men they were supplying AND enough for themselves. In the modern Army, with trucks and mules working together, the transporters had to not just supply the troops but also themselves. Trucks would burn some of the fuel they were carrying. Just as mules would eat some of the grain they were transporting. And of course the drivers and mule handlers had to be fed.


    This meant the farther an Army went into hostile territory, the longer the supply line became, the more supplies had to be transported just to fed the very people (and animals) transporting the supplies. This is why the Army capturing the ports as they moved south would be so important. It was required to make sure they received the fuel, munitions, and food they needed to do the job.

    Around the same time the Laws were going into effect the last of the destroyers for 24 Kuchikukantai were coming out of the dry docks in Tokyo.


    Made up of ten Fubuki-Class Destroyers they were assigned to the 1st Task Force. They joined the screening force which, up to that point, had been nothing but Light Cruisers. The Fubuki-Class would be, by historians, described as the first modern destroyers. They would set the standard NOT just for all future Japanese destroyers but all future destroyers of the world’s Navies. (1)

    ---


    General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya’s own office was almost just as big as the Field Marshal’s and just as cluttered with Naval articles. Paintings of storms at sea, models of lighthouses, and bookshelves full of books on maritime history filled the room. But it didn’t bother him that much. Yes, he was an Army officer. But he just never felt that anti-Navy hostilely that many within the Army seemed to feel.

    His desk had been just as big as the Field Marshal’s and, usually, there were only two chairs in front of it with a small table between. But today he had added two more chairs. For, sitting before him today were the four men under his command. Each one of them in their dress uniforms, hats in their laps, looking serious and calm.

    Going from his left to his right General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya examined each man carefully.

    The commander to his far left was Major General Tada of the 2. Hohei Shidan. He was known, like Utsunimiya, for being somewhat skilled at logistics. He had three Infantry Regiments in his Division. (2)

    The next commander was of the 5. Hohei Shidan. The Major General Ushijima was also known for his knowledge of logistics. He was also part of the “Old Guard” which was likely why he had been favored with four Infantry Regiments under his command.

    The next commander was Major General Nishihara. The man had more skill than the other commanders and was in charge of the Konoe Shidan. He was known as a trickster and was said to be very learned when it came to offensive tactics. His Division was made up of three Imperial Guard Regiments and a Guard Artillery Regiment. Utsunimiya reminded himself to use the Imperial Guards when he needed soldiers who were hard hitting and tough. (3)

    The last commander was Major General Toyoshima. He, like Major General Nishihara, had slightly more skill than the other two commanders but no specialization. The 4. Hohei Shidan only had three Infantry Regiments in it. Yet his skill might allow them to fight a tad harder, a tad longer, then other units.

    Shō-ichi Utsunimiya had already gone through the formal greetings and the introductions between the four men. He now cleared throat and pulled out a small map of the objective where Operation “Underbelly”, the new name for Naval Plan Two, would be carried out.


    On seeing a map of Shanghai all Major Generals sat straight up in their chairs and looked very interested.

    “We, as you know, have been formed into the Special Corps,” stated Utsunimiya with the calmest voice he could muster. “And our first mission will be during the second war with China. We are to land in Shanghai and move to cut off the four Provinces here. Including the Province of Hangzhou which also has a port.”

    The four men nodded their heads but said nothing. They understood the importance of such a port and didn’t really need the following information. But they received it anyway.

    “The airbases would allow our Tactical Bombers,” Utsunimiya continued, “to bomb the Capital of the Republic. We assume that the Nationalist aircraft will be up north. The operation, of course, will be timed to start TWO weeks after the war starts. We hope that the Chinese Navy will be gone or crippled by then. Any questions?”

    The first two commanders shook their heads but Major General Toyoshima nodded and, once Utsunimiya nodded back, asked, “Will there be any reserves in case it is decided four divisions are not enough?”

    “None have been selected yet,” answered Utsunimiya. “It is felt that the Special Corps is enough to handle anything the Chinese leave behind. Shanghai IS an important port. But we hope within two weeks that the Chinese would have been forced to send most of their units to the north to either replace lost divisions or reinforce weakened ones.”

    Major General Nishihara nodded and added with confidence, “Once we have a foothold we should be able to sweep them out of the provinces easily.”

    Utsunimiya nodded in agreement. He wasn’t surprised Nishihara felt that way. It was likely the Major General would feel confident invading Christian Hell if asked to do so. They don’t pick timid commanders to take charge of Imperial Guard units.

    “We should review equipment requirements, training, and get into the finer details so we are ready,” remarked Utsunimiya. “It might seem like a way off. But we all know there isn’t ever enough time for an operation like this.”

    The four other officers nodded. And soon they were discussing rations, how much ammo a soldier should carry, and even going over the streets of Shanghai on the map. There was a LOT to do and not much time to do it in.

    ---


    As the plan for “Underbelly” was slowly worked over by General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya and his officers the military were training the new recruits to climb ropes and ride horses. It was predicted that the first two Cavalry Divisions and the first two Mountain Divisions would be available sometimes in May of that year.

    There was also some debate about what to do with the southern half of the Sakhalin Island and the settlement of Toyohara. That part of the island had been given to the Japanese in the Treaty of Portsmouth and, at the moment, it was completely open to invasion if the Russians decided to do so. The center of the debate was whose job was it to take responsibility for that territory.


    As it had been part of Russia‘s territory, and therefore not part of the home islands, the Imperial General Headquarters said it was the Kwantung Army‘s problem.

    The Kwantung Army, of course, said that Toyohara was on an island and, therefore, an issue for the Imperial Japanese Navy and the IGH to deal with.

    And so the infighting between the Army and Navy continued.

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

    1. Fubuki - Blizzard or Snowstorm. “Fuku” mean blow and “Yuki” mean snows.

    2. Hohei Shidan - Infantry Division

    3. Konoe Shidan - Imperial Guard Division
     
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    Chapter Five : FOUR Submarine Flotillas - 21.2.1936 To 5.3.1936
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    Chapter Five : FOUR Submarine Flotillas - 21.2.1936 To 5.3.1936


    Field Marshal Hideki Tojo entered the small office and bowed to Field Marshal Jirō Minami. The leader of "China Operaions" returned the bow and gestured for his superior officer to take a seat.

    His office was inside a peasant's house on an abandoned farm. The farm's soil had turned out to be horrible for growing...well, anything, and the owners had left. The house had required a lot of repair to make it livable. But it was close to the border with Shanxi and also allowed his staff's radios to keep in contact with all his subordinates along the front.

    "Greetings sir," said Minami with a brief smile. "Would you like some tea? I was somewhat surprised when I was told you were coming. There won't be any action for at least a year."

    Tojo sat down and waved off the offer of tea. "I won't be here long. Just to pass on something. A request from me and the Chief of Staff."

    "Hajime Sugiyama?"

    "Yes," replied Tojo. "As you know he had been bragging that the Army will be able to defeat the Chinese within a couple of months. So we are both asking you to be aggressive when the war starts. Push and push and push."

    Before Minami could respond Tojo held up both hands and said, "That is not the only reason I wish for you to be aggressive. Not just because of one man's ego. But because I wish for the war to be as short as possible. We NEED the resources that China holds for our industry. And a prolonged war would drain the resources we DO have. Yes, it would be good for the nation's spirit and also bring glory to the Army. But first, and foremost, I want you to win the war as quickly as you can so we have the materials needed to keep our military in ONE piece."

    Field Marshal Jirō Minami nodded. "I understand sir."

    "Wonderful," said Tojo. "How ARE you feeling about the war with the People's Republic?"

    "I think we could win it as we are right now," replied Minami with a smile. "And with the promise of two Corps on the way...well, we may BE able to win in two months. Or three."

    Tojo nodded. "I am sure the Chief of Staff will be happy to hear that. You know, I might say yes to that offer of tea after all."

    ---


    As the Imperial Japanese Army planned the outside world kept rolling along. In its weird little ways. For example the People's Republic of China, the United States of American, and the United Kingdom all wanted to sell Japan rare materials.

    Of course the Foreign Minister turned down all the offers. The Japanese Treasury was tiny after much of it was used to retool more of the factories and ship yards for military construction. The nation would go into debt if it tried to import more rare materials no matter HOW much it needed them.

    Then there was all the news from the outside world that flooded the radio broadcasts and filled the news reels in the theaters.

    For example, in March, Italy announced that the trains were now, under the new system of government, running on time. (1)

    Then in Albania there were work strikes. The government reacted by crushing the strikes and arresting the leaders. Even while this was happening news from Xibei San Ma stated that they were having a surge of volunteers for their military.


    On top of that the nations of Czechoslovakia, Panama, and Haiti was all experiencing boosts to their economies. The photos of smiling, happy, factory workers and miners going to work in those countries filled the Japanese newspapers.

    ---


    While this was happening General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya was doing, what many would call a double-take. He was checking to make sure all the Naval units were where he wanted them to be. He was checking on the submarines when the said double-take happened.

    The 22. Kaigun was in Saishu, the 21. Kaigun was in Naha, while the 31. AND 23. Kaigun were in Gaoxiong. Which meant the Imperial Japanese Navy now had FOUR Submarine Flotillas.

    "Why do they DO this?" complained Utsunimiya to his empty office. "I need them to give me ALL the information."

    As he didn't want two Flotillas in one port he ordered the 31. Kaigun to the Port of Mokp'o on the southern tip of Korea. Within a day it had arrived at its new home port.

    And within a couple of days the Imperial Japanese Navy was complaining that the Port of Mokp'o didn't have the ability to maintain and supply the twenty submarines. (2)

    After some research Utsunimiya found that the Port of P'yongyang seemed like a good place to redeploy the Flotilla. Close to the Chinese ports and big enough to handle the submarines.

    So the 31. Kaigun was ordered to the port and arrived there on the 5th of March. There the submarines were being checked and double checked. Hulls, engines, and other systems were pulled apart and replaced. New maps were ordered for the nearby Chinese coast.

    Utsunimiya pondered if the Navy would ever trust him with the complete picture of their units and resources or would he have to fight them on it for the rest of his appointment to the IGH?

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

    1. Interviews with Italian train police and staff, decades later, would prove this statement to be false. The trains were just as bad under Fascism as they had been under any other form of government.

    2. Ten C1-Class Submarines (known as Junsen) and ten C3-Class Submarines (known as Junsen Modified). Large Submarines designed to supply and carry mini-subs.
     
    Chapter Six : Ethiopia Defeated - 5.3.1936 To 17.3.1936
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    Utsunimiya's War
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    Chapter Six : Ethiopia Defeated - 5.3.1936 To 17.3.1936


    As General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya was trying to do this best to keep on top of what was happening within the Navy the world continued to march on. Mexico, for example, had massive peace demonstrations while in Latvia there was a government scandal that rocked the nation. Something about bribes, women, and chocolate cake.


    The government of Lithuania had issues with illegal underground newspapers and they went about trying to track down the owners of the illegal printing presses. And while this was happening the government of Tannu Tuva was having some political infighting. That's what happens when you have too many parties in your government.

    ---


    Around this time the Foreign Minister, noticing that the nation had an excess of crude oil and getting approval from the Ministry of Armaments, agreed to export it to both the nations of Turkey and Brazil to increase the Treasury's income. Luckily both nations were happy for the oil.

    Of course there was some Trade Deals that WERE turned down. The Guangxi Clique asked for permission to buy metals and the Soviet Union offered to buy up rare materials. Both of these nations were turned down because the Japanese industry needed every ton of resources it could produce or dig up out of the ground, outside of crude oil, and the Foreign Minister didn't wish to get yelled at a second time.

    ---


    The biggest event during this time period happened on the 17th of March. Even the flooding in Pennsylvania (USA), which had been the center of attention for so long, had suddenly been knocked off its pillar. Replaced by the conquest of Ethiopia by Italy.

    Much of the world was either pretending to be outraged or, to be honest, focused on other problems. The Italians acted like its tiny war was an amazing feat of military might. Nobody was impressed and nobody really cared.

    The Europeans were more worried about Germans and even the Republic of China felt the Chinese Communists were more of a threat to them than the Japanese. Only the Americans seemed to think the Italians were a threat to them.

    Utsunimiya didn’t learn about this event till he was on his way to work the next day, being in a different zone time, and wondered why the Italians had bothered. Was it an ego thing? A need for glory? Or did they just enjoy upsetting the League?


    He had good news waiting for him at the office. Both the Army and the Navy were reporting that all units were in good condition. Even with the horrible infrastructure of the Asian mainland it looked like everybody was getting the food, fuel, and ammo they needed.

    The amount of notes and requests and reports in his inbox was getting smaller each day. Maybe he could take some time off soon?

    As Utsunimiya pondered maybe taking some time off to visit family the world marched closer and closer to the chaos that would be 1937.
     
    Chapter Seven : Death Of A King - 17.3.1936 To 5.4.1936
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    Chapter Seven : Death Of A King - 17.3.1936 To 5.4.1936



    Port Of Ch'ongjin​

    Much to General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya's annoyance he turned out to be only half right about everything being stable within the military. The Imperial Japanese Navy was doing fine. But the Imperial Japanese Army had an issue.

    It seems the 19. Hohei Shidan, under the command of the Korean Army, was having supply issues. It was stationed in the province of Ch'ongjin and that was what made its logistics' problems all the more confusing.


    The port of that province had become incredible important to the Japanese military as it had become a major center of the steel industry. The port, in fact, was always busy. Yet, somehow, the infantry division was not getting the ammo and rations it needed to function at tip top shape.

    How could a massive port which supported a steel industry so big that the city was called the "City of Iron" fail to keep ONE division supported? It made no sense! It was almost like the port didn't even exist. Funny enough the unit was getting all the fuel it needed from local sources. Not that it needed much in the first place.

    Utsunimiya tried to find out how to get food and ammo to the division but all pathways seemed to be blocked to him. The roads in Korea was horrible and he was told there was no way to improve on them. At least not yet.

    As a man who believed all problems could be solved and that, in fact, it was in man's very nature to overcome all problems this idea that something could NOT be solved offended him.

    But even as he struggled with the problem the world moved on.

    ---


    Sweden, for example, had a governmental scandal. It turned out some of the tax payers’ money had been going into the bank account of some politician's mistress. The citizens of the peaceful country went to the streets, in their anger, to protest and cavalry had to be called out to take action.

    In Czechoslovakia a politician went rogue by suggesting that Germany must be stopped before it started another war and the government decided to back his position. No doubt to the annoyance of the Germans.

    Then there was news that the Communist Chinese were hunting down illegal printing presses. Seems some people within the People's Republic of China were not happy with Communism and were circulating propaganda disguised as business coupons and travel brochures.

    The mess in Czechoslovakia become messier as there was a War Demonstration. Looks like the people REALLY didn't like what the Germans were doing next door.

    Then on the 25th of March the world was hit by some big news. The United Kingdom announced the death of King George the Fifth. Edward, the Prince of Wales, would become the next King of England.


    Edward VIII was well known but there was mixed feelings about him. He was pretty racist towards many of the subjects within his own empire. He also caused problems within his own government by saying and doing things they interpreted as interfering with political matters.

    As this news was flooding the radio stations and movie theaters it was barely noticed when Chile announced they were getting a surge of volunteers for their military.

    Around this time Utsunimiya got confirmation that his request for the 28th and 29th of March off had been approved. It meant he could visit his family who had a small farm just west of Tokyo. All he needed to do was find a ride Friday afternoon - it wasn't that far a drive.

    ---


    General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya was lucky that Friday. He was able to hitch a ride with one of the new tri-wheel trucks that were being produced by Mazda. The driver was from one of the villages just next door to his and was happy to help. As long as he did not mind sitting on bags of chemical fertilizers.

    Utsunimiya was happy to do so. It saved him money on a train ticket and he had a pretty good view to boot.

    The driver was a farmer, about his father's own age, by the name of Hinata, and he even knew his father by name. Hinata wore goggles and an old mining helmet while driving. Even had a scarf around his neck. Maybe he had once had dreams of being a pilot or a race car driver?

    Hinata liked to talk a lot. But he didn't require any input from his passenger which was okay by Utsunimiya.

    "I remember the bad old days when our farmers still used human and animal waste," he shouted above the noise of the engine. "Now we have chemicals and imported phosphates! Costs more but a heck of a lot more healthy! All those illnesses we use to get!"

    "And one of the other villages has gotten their local unions to buy a honest to Buddha tractor!" he added as he took a turn a little too fast for Utsunimiya's liking. "Weirdest thing you ever saw! You don't ride it! It's like a metal engine attached to a plow with wheels and you kind of guide it! Like a steel oxen!"

    Utsunimiya just nodded and tried not to die. He decided that Hinata had wanted to be a race car driver. At least the tri-wheeled truck couldn't go very fast.

    Hinata dropped him off at the edge of his village and said, "Tell your family I said hi." He then went off, scarf flapping in the air, engine buzzing.

    Utsunimiya waved, picked up his small bag which he had packed with a few days of clothing, and walked down the side road to his village.

    Soon he was on the edge of the rice paddies that announced he was entering the town's boundaries. He was back at his old hometown of Fikushontaun! Just smelling the air reminded me of his childhood. Or of horse manure.


    When people pictured a farmers’ village they pictured straw roofs, flooded rice paddies, and people in kimonos. Sadly for those people if they had decided to visit Utsunimiya’s hometown in the March of 1936 they would be really disappointed.

    First off, the rice season didn't start till April, so there was nobody planting rice shoots in the field. Right now the farmers were working on preparing the fields, repairing dikes, and other odd jobs.

    Also, not all farmers grew rice. Many on the home island of Honshū produced such fruits as applies and cherries and even grapes for wine. Many farmers produced special products such as white mulberry for the silkworms and even tea. Then there was also rye, potatoes, and even daikon - also known as a white radish. Some even bred horses!

    His hometown were mostly made up of rice farmers. His father had about three acres of paddies. Which was on the large size of the scale for a rice farmer. Of course he did other odd jobs when not working on the paddies. Most farmers needed two jobs. Sometimes even three jobs depending on the size of the family.

    He walked past the paddies and the dikes with their wooden pathways. Towards the center where the houses clustered in a huddled crowd. Like scared hedgehogs.

    He came to his house, stepped onto the front step and knocked on the door frame. He didn't even have to shout out a greeting before the door slid open and his father was before him.

    Eiji Utsunimiya was slightly shorter then his son and looked as old as the land itself. Being a farmer was in his blood but had worn him down. He loved working the soil and caring for the rice plants. But years of backbreaking work had turned him into an small, twisted, man. Muscles like rock, skin like tanned leather, eyes like slits, he looked older than he really was.

    But his smile when he saw his son was like a glowing lantern. "Son! About time you showed up. When we heard about you becoming a General we thought you would show up sooner. Come in. Let me take that."

    Eiji took Shō-ichi's bag and the young man entered his old home. It hadn't changed in all those years he was away. The fireplace in the middle of the house kept it warm in winter and cooked the meals. Sliding walls divided the one floor building into more than one room. This gave people the idea that they have some privacy.

    "We'll just have to clear out your old room," explained his father. "We've been using it for storage."

    Shō-ichi's mother had been sitting by the fireplace overseeing the evening meal. She looked up and she smiled. "Son!"

    Hisako, like Shō-ichi's father, had rice farming in her blood. She helped with the planting of the rice shoots and weaving of the straw mats and spreading of the nightsoil. Just like the other farmers and their wives.

    Her beauty was still there. But it wasn't the traditional beauty of fair skin and a fragile nature. It was the beauty of strong arms and keen eyes of a sharp mind. She handled the household funds and the purchased what was needed. The life of a farmer was harsh and her mind had become sharper under the pressure of keeping a house clean and a family fed with a tiny income and few resources.

    Of course the next words out of her mouth was, "Do you have a girlfriend yet?"

    Eiji laughed as he placed the bag inside Shō-ichi's old room. "Let the boy sit down before you start the questioning!"

    "What?" said Hisako as she stood up to get a third bowl and set another place for her son around the fire. "He isn't a boy. He is a General. A man. He needs to find a wife to make grandchildren. And a good traditional wife too. Not one of those harlots who dress like a European woman. Like those actresses do in the movies!"


    Both men rolled their eyes as they sat down to dinner. The thick soup Hisako served them was mainly rice noodles and vegetables. There was, of course, plenty of hot tea to wash it down with.


    And so Shō-ichi Utsunimiya's weekend started with a dinner with his parents. They mostly talked about local business. Weddings, rumors. new babies born, farmer's business, and the latest hopes, fears, and dreams of small village life.

    He learned that the local farmers' union was debating about buying some modern equipment for the village. But of course there was the normal debates about such a purchase. How much would it cost to maintain? Would they share it with nearby villages? Should they rent it out? How long would it last? Who would store it and fuel it and fix it?

    Of course his mother was against such things. She was against modern music and modern dress. She had never liked having radios in the house and rarely went to the theaters to see a moving picture show. If it was up to her mankind would still be using oil lamps and using horses for transportation.

    Before retiring for the night he shared some rice wine with his father and enjoyed the sight of a star filled sky. It was hard to see the stars in Tokyo.

    Saturday and Sunday was more of the same. During the day Shō-ichi spent the time visiting old friends and trying to catch up on what was happening in their lives. Most of the time they wanted to hear about what HE had done with his life. Sadly, he could only tell them so much about his work and mostly focused on how it was like to live in Tokyo.

    And when the evening came about the Utsunimiya family invited the neighbors over for dinner and mom would brag to her friends about her son the "General". And hinted to them that he was available for their daughters IF the young women were good enough for her son.

    Very late Sunday evening, after dinner, Shō-ichi said goodbye to his parents. His father had arranged for a ride back to the city with one of his friends who was a truck driver named Aiichi. Aiichi had a four wheeled imported truck from Russia. A massive thing that gave off the impression that it was always grumpy and whose engine sounded like the end of the world.

    "Be back in April to help with the planting?" his father asked as Shō-ichi tossed his bag into the cabin of the truck. When compared to his ride on Friday it had plenty of room.


    "No," he said with a grin. "I don't think the Army will like a General walking in the rice paddies up to his knees in mud."

    His father chuckled while the mother added, "Next visit I want to see a girlfriend with you!"

    Both men rolled their eyes.

    The ride back to the city was not as fast but more comfortable then the first one that had taken him to his hometown. He didn't have the wind in his face and dust in his eyes. And Aiihci was more the silent type.

    The sounds from the engine worried him. It sounded like the thing was always on the verge of breaking. He suspected the driver didn't take care of it as well as he should and was thankful when they finally arrived at his apartment building.

    ---


    When General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya entered his office the next morning, on the 30th of March, he felt recharged and ready for anything.

    There was some interesting news from the Foreign Ministry. Seems the Imperial Japanese Army was going to share, with the government of Manchukuo, a lot of their weapon's technology and other research results. This, in theory, should help with the war on China as many of the units in the operation were Expeditionary Forces from the Manchukuo military.

    Therefore helping the Manchukuo military would help them be more effective in China AND, later, with the Soviet Union if needed.

    The rest of the news came from outside of Japan. Both Poland and Australia had massive demonstrations by pro-War segments of their populace. The Polish were starting to feel a strong military was needed as they were between Russia and Germany. And Australia was likely starting to feel that Japan might be a problem in the future.


    Afghanistan was rocked by a scandal within their government while Iraq had a increase in volunteers for their military.

    Then on the 5th of April Canada ALSO had a war demonstration. This surprised Utsunimiya has he had always pictured Canada as a, mostly, peaceful nation. To hear they were supporting a more warlike policy towards the events in Europe was somewhat shocking.

    So we leave General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya in his office as the world continues to march towards a dark and unstable future.
     
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    Chapter Eight : Compromise - 10.4.1936 To 18.4.1936
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    Chapter Eight : Compromise - 10.4.1936 To 18.4.1936


    Shō-ichi Utsunimiya wasn't given much time to enjoy his return to the office. The outside world had many, many, many events that needed to be observed, understood, and filed away.

    For example Germany prohibited the formation of new political parties. This, no doubt, angered a large part of the populace but what could they do? The National Socialist German Worker's Party, and its allies, had a firm control over the government, law enforcement, and the military already. This was more of a formality then anything else.

    In Ireland Pro-War demonstrations blocked the streets while in the People's Republic of China the Communists finally nationalized the private business sector.

    There was also rumors that Turkey was sending out feelers to the Soviet Union. An interesting development. While the Guanngxi Clique decided to ignore the illegal printing presses that flooded their streets with different view points. They had more pressing matters to deal with. If the rumors were correct it seemed they were having issues with Panda smugglers.


    In Sweden a rogue politician suggested that all workers should be issued umbrellas and bikes so that they could get to work even on the most rainy of days. He believed that many thousands of hours of labor was lost to bad weather and workers staying home. The government supported this idea and so did many of the workers' unions.

    Later on Germany was in the news again as there seemed to be some feuds within the government. Knowing what he knew about politics Utsunimiya assumed it was infighting between the three military branches.

    Then France was in the news. Seems they were having Peace marches in Paris and other major cities. This made complete sense. They had suffered greatly during the Great War and it was likely the idea of another war was just too horrible for many of them to imagine.

    ---



    Emblem of Karafuto Prefecture​

    While this was all happening Utsunimiya had two issues on his hand. The first was the city of Toyohara in the Prefecture of Katafuto. The undefended part of the map just seemed to annoy him every time his eyes fell onto it.


    The region had been established, in 1907, as external territory. In other words a colony. But there had been Japanese living and working there since the 17th Century and Japan had unilaterally proclaimed sovereignty over the whole island in 1845. Japan, at one point, had given up control of it to Russia in exchange for the Kuril Islands. But with the Russio-Japanese war it was able to get the southern portion back. And, once again, it was declared external territory in 1920.

    Utsunimiya wanted to make sure it did not exchange hands AGAIN!

    The second issue was that the staff of "Manchukio Operations" were demanding more forces. Mostly in the form of aircraft and tanks. Utsunimiya shook his head at the idea. Where would they get the fuel for the tanks and planes? Where would they find the airbases, close enough to the lines, for all the planes they wanted?

    Then he smiled. Maybe he could try to solve both problems at once? He picked up his phone and called up one of his staff.

    "Ask if Field Marshal Ishiwara is available?" he asked.

    Field Marshal Kanji Ishiwara was available and a meeting was set for that very day,

    As Utsunimiya entered with his paperwork, and bowed, he noticed that many of the books had been replaced with books about mainland China, the history of Russia, and even a few books on the United States.

    "Field Marshal," he said as he took a seat. "I have an idea on how to make the Army in Manchuria happier and defend the settlement of Toyohara. What is the saying...kill two birds with one stone?"

    "Interesting," replied the Field Marshal as he leaned back in his chair. "Tell me."

    "The territory in question is in danger of easily being taken by a simple advance by the Russian troops already on the island," started Utsunimiya. "The colony is defenseless."

    He leaned forward in his chair. "By all reason this should be an Army concern. But they don't have the men needed to cover the colony. They barely think they have the men to fight the Soviet Union."

    Utsunimiya added, "So we give them the 7. Hohei Shidan stationed, currently, in Akita."

    "The Navy will not agree to that," remarked the Field Marshal with a shake of his head. "They might be willing to let go of some garrison units but three whole infantry regiments? They would never agree to that."

    "We promise them both, the Army and the Navy, TWO divisions in the future," replied Utsunimiya with a slight smile as he placed his paperwork on the desk and pushed it towards the commander of the Imperial General Headquarters.

    The Field Marshal frowned and picked up the paperwork. Before his eyes was a request for more garrison divisions for the "China Operations" AND four new infantry divisions. Two for the IGH and two for the "Manchukio Operations."

    Each division would be made up of two infantry regiments, a artillery regiment, and an anti-tank regiment. He nodded his head. The Army units facing the Russians might want Japanese tanks but what they REALLY needed was something to deal with the Russian tanks.

    "Let me talk to the Chief of Staff and see if he can get the rest of them to agree to this...bribe," said the Field Marshal as he reached for his own phone.

    ---



    City of Toyohara​

    Within a day the 2nd Task Force was on their way to pick up the 7. Hohei Shidan. With its five Transport Flotillas it could easily take the men, and their equipment, to their new home.

    By the 18th of April the division was unloading in Toyohara. The official handing over of the unit to the 6. Hendan by the North Japan Army happened at this time. Now the Army had a extra unit and responsibility for defending the southern tip of the Island of Sakhalin.


    But of course this did not please them. They still wanted tanks and planes for the future conflict with the USSR. They seemed to dismiss the issues of horrible roads, inaccurate ports, bad weather and a lack of airbases. They also seemed to forget that there wasn’t a Japanese tank that could likely handle a Russian tank. In fact, at the time, there were NO Japanese Armoured units at all.

    The Navy on the other hand wasn't as upset by the deal. One less island they had to worry about and soon the unit they had given up would be replaced by two. So at least they were happy. For now.
     
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    Chapter Nine : Cavalry - 19.4.1936 To 6.5.1936
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    Chapter Nine : Cavalry - 19.4.1936 To 6.5.1936


    General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya, when not at work, was a person who enjoyed quiet time. He preferred going to the park over going to the movies. And while he did go to a popular club or a famous restaurant with coworkers every once and awhile he spent much of his free time by himself.

    Therefore he did a lot of listening to the radio when at home or reading the newspapers when on the go. So his mind was always being flooded with information from the outside world. Let's face it - he was an over-thinker.

    Austria, for example, had a surge of volunteers for their military and so did Portugal. The former case was likely due to what was happening in Germany. In the latter case was likely linked to the governmental issues of their neighbor, Spain, which was making Portugal fearful that the political violence happening there might spread into their nation.

    In Yugoslavia the government nationalized the private sector which was somewhat shocking to him. Utsunimiya had always linked such a action with a left-leaning government. It was somewhat weird to see a monarchy carry out such an action.


    And talking about monarchies the UK announced that Edward VIII had stepped down. This meant that George VI was now the King of the Empire of Great Britain. King Edward had married his mistress and had been forced to leave the throne. His younger brother, Prince Albert, was now the King. Seems he had been reluctant to accept. There was also a lot of gossip within Britain that the Prince was not capable of handling the kingship. Time would tell.

    Then the Netherlands had a massive peace demonstration while Bolivia had a massive war demonstration. And while this was happening Ireland had a economic boost.


    Then Iraq announced it was having a surge of volunteers for its military forces while Mexico was having worker strikes. The government responded by going after the strike leaders in a very brutal manner.

    Then Siam had the choice of reorganizing their Foreign Ministry but decided against it. Seems it would cost too much and upset too many people within their own government.

    To Utsunimiya this was his bread and butter. Information, from any source, could prove very useful in the long run.

    ---


    Of course while this was going on there were important events happening within the Empire. The research and development branch of the Ministry of Armaments had two breakthroughs during this time period.

    One, announced on the 27th of April, was an advancement in small arms. Japanese soldiers would be issued better rifles and pistols. Then, on the 3rd of May, they announced improvements in infantry support weapons. In other words the ground troops would be getting small, portable, artillery pieces.

    The scientists who had been working on these two projects were given new projects to work on. The Ministry of Armaments decided to start working on air technology which was one of their promises they had given the military. So one team started working on small external fuel tanks to increase how much fuel the fighters could carry. While the other team started working on making semi-metal aircraft. It was hoped that by redesigning fighter planes with more armour and rearranging some of their components it would make them less vulnerable to enemy hits.


    But the most important announcement from the Ministry of Armaments was on the 6th of May when two cavalry divisions became available for the military. The 5th and the 6th 'Moukogo' Kihei Shidans were now waiting in the Province of Sasebo - to be more accurate they were waiting in the port - for the military to transport them both to the mainland. (1)


    It was decided that the best place to send the units would be Huludao. The port was in the Liaoning Province and the nearest port to the border with the Republic of China that could handle the men and horses of the eight regiments.

    Once they arrived they would have to adjust to life in China while they waited for the other two cavalry divisions to be ready.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
    Author's Notes:

    1. 'Mongolian' Cavalry Division. Not to be confused with Moukogo which is in the Congo.
     
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    Chapter Ten : Fine Infantry - 6.5.1936 To 18.5.1936
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    Chapter Ten : Fine Infantry - 6.5.1936 To 18.5.1936


    While the Cavalry Divisions were on their way to the Port in Huludao the 7. Hohei Shidan was heading north to guard the border with the Russians. The problem that was foreseen was, of course, the question of logistics. The Province of Shisuka had horrible infrastructure and there nothing that could be done about that.


    By the 7th of May the Cavalry units were being off loaded from the 3rd Task Group. At that point General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya suggested the formation of a Cavalry Corps to help organize the two divisions. Therefore the 1. Kihei Gundan was formed under Lt. General Ueda.


    On the 11th of May the Ministry of Armaments announced a breakthrough in Light Artillery for the ground troops. The research team, after celebrating, started on a new project dealing with designing four engine airframes. This would open up all kinds of possibilities including transport planes to move supplies to remote military units.

    On the 15th of May the first Mountain Division, the 6. 'Kumamoto' Gokujin no Hohei Shidan, was finally finished and stationed in the Province of Sasebo to wait for the other unit before transportation. The troops had the best equipment, such as pocket altimeters, that the factories could produce. (1)


    Utsunimiya frowned when he saw the name. "The Very Fine Infantry Division?" He sighed. He needed to talk to the officers in charge of naming the new units. This was becoming silly.

    The day afterwards the Ministry of Armaments had another announcement. Their Anti-Tank Weapons team had made their breakthrough. Now ground troops would have better chances against armoured targets. After the team patted themselves on the back they started working on improving the pilot training given to Close Air Support units.


    Then the Foreign Minister, under pressure of the Armaments Minister, made a deal with the USSR. Japan would sell them supplies for cash and increase the size of the Treasury.

    General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya wasn't too sure he approved of such a deal. Giving supplies to the Reds seemed like a bad idea in the long run. But his job was to focus on the military and not get involved in the decisions of the higher ups.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
    Author's Notes:

    1. Kumamoto literally means "bear root/origin" or "origin of the bear".
     
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    Chapter Eleven : An Old Warhorse - 19.5.1936
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    Chapter Eleven : An Old Warhorse - 19.5.1936


    Lieutenant General Kenkichu Ueda stepped out of the large tent that was his field office and quarters. The hills surrounding Huludao were ant hills of activity as the two divisions, one under Major General Obata and one under Major General Asaka, drilled with their horses, cooked the next meal, and carried out latrine duty. The most hated of all duties.

    The weather was clear, not a cloud in the sky, and much of the landscape was dry. There was barely any mud on, or off, the roads. It was around 8 Celsius (or 48 Fahrenheit) and good comfortable weather for the men to work hard in. Good campaigning weather.

    It was likely this same month, next year, his divisions would be preparing for OR carrying out a campaign against the Nationalists. He let a small smile cross his lips before hiding it. He was so happy to be, as it were, ‘back in the saddle’.

    Kenkichu Ueda had graduated from the 10th class from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and the 21st class of the Army Staff Collage. He had been part of the Siberian Expeditionary Army in 1918 and had serviced in multiply cavalry brigades by the time he was promoted to a Major General in 1924.

    He was a Lt. General by 1928 and was later involved in the fighting against Chinese resistance during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria.

    Lt. General Ueda sighed and looked down at his left leg. Or what was left of it. In April of 1932 he had lost his lower left leg to a bombing by Korean Nationalists. The same bombing had killed his superior officer. After the loss of his leg he had been assigned to a staff posting with the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff back in the home islands.

    In 1934 he had come back to the Asian mainland to be the Commander-In-Chief of the Korean Army but that, in the end, was still a desk job.

    But NOW he had been given a position that would allow him back into action. True, he would have preferred a command in the north. He was a believer of the ‘Strike North’ or Hokushin-ron idea. The idea that Japan’s main foe was communism and that the conquest of the natural resources of Asia was important to the nation’s future.

    On the other hand being in either future conflict pleased him greatly. True, he had needed a special saddle to ride a horse again. It had taken weeks to learn how to ride again but it was worth it. He was a skilled veteran and well known among his men. Being able to drill and work along side them, even if it was only once and awhile, was important to him. He didn’t just want their loyalty. He wanted their respect.

    He was also an aggressive commander, as were the divisional commanders under him, and he looked forward to making the Chinese flee in horror before his men. He had not told anybody but he liked the fact that his units were called ‘Mongolian’. It tickled his funny bone. Of course he would deny having such a bone.

    Using his crutch he slowly turned about and entered his tent. As he did so he made sure his face was calm and without humor. Didn’t want his staff thinking he had gone soft. At the age of 61 he didn’t want ANYBODY thinking he had gone soft.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------​
    Author's Notes:

    OOC: The last chapter felt like it was lacking in details and I failed to show you the Commander of the new Cavalry Corps. So he gets his own chapter.
     
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    Chapter Twelve : A Decision Is Needed - 19.5.1936
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    Chapter Twelve : A Decision Is Needed - 19.5.1936


    Hajime Sugiyama, the Chief of Staff, entered the Minister of Armaments' office with a short bow. "Greeting Chūji Machida. I hear you have something that is needed to be decided?"

    "Greetings Hajime," replied Chūji. "Would you like some tea? I have some imported from China that isn't too bad."

    The Chief of Staff sat down on one of the two chairs in front of the Minister's desk and placed his hat on his lap. "No thank you. Tell me what you need to be decided on and how quickly do you need the feedback from the advisers?"

    Chūji Machida nodded and opened a folder that was in front of him. "To the point then. Our Treasury is large enough to pay for more...improvements...for our military. In other words we could have the Diet pass some new policies or laws. With the Emperor's approval, of course."

    He took a sheet of paper out of the folder and pushed it across the table. The Chief of Staff leaned forward and picked it up.

    "We have four choices to pick from," continued the Minister. "All clear cut. The first is the Conscription Laws. We could switch the Two-Year Draft to a Three-Year Draft. Which is great for the military but not very good for our economy. Less men rotating back into the fields or factories."


    "The next two choices are about our Training Laws," he continued with a nod towards his copy of the paper with the list of choices. "We can pick either Advanced Training or Specialist Training. Both will slow down training time. As you can guess the latter will slow things down the most. But Specialist Training will produce the most experienced soldiers."

    "And the final choice is, of course, to do nothing," he finished with a smile.

    "Nothing?" remarked the Chief of Staff.


    "Yes," said the Minister. "When we go to war with the Nationalist the Diet would likely allow us to pass any laws we want. For example, we could likely switch our Conscription Laws to Service by Requirement. We just need to save our money. Also, by changing our Training Laws NOW we would slow down the training of the divisions currently in our production queue.”

    “In other words our divisions assigned for the Chinese Front would be slowed down and might miss out on the war?” asked the Chief of Staff.

    “I doubt the new Training Laws would slow it down that much,” remarked the Minister. “But it would slow down those Carriers we needed a tad longer than the Navy would like.”

    “On the subject of the upcoming conflicts with the Western Powers,” stated the Chief of Staff, “sooner or later we need to start upgrading our Army units. There is no point in making new anti-tank weaponry or light artillery that our men could carry about unless we plan to GIVE the NEW equipment TO them.”

    “No upgrades till the infantry and air units are completed,” said the Minister with a firm voice. “It would bring production of all the new units to a halt.”

    “The Navy would like that even less,” pointed out the Chief of Staff.

    “True,” replied the Minister as he took off his glasses and cleaned them. “But the delay would be worth the increase in skills of the Naval officers and crew members when the Carriers were finally launched.”

    “Maybe,” said the Chief of Staff as he bowed and stood up. “We'll cross that bridge when we declare war on the Republic. But first I’ll send this out to our advisers today. I'll ask them to be swift to reply to me. Good day Chūji.”

    “Good day Hajime,” responded the Minister as the Chief of Staff walked out of his office.

    ---


    Soon small leather briefcases were being sealed and hand delivered to hundreds of addresses. Some were sent to private homes, some were to businesses, and some were to hidden postal drops.

    From: Hajime Sugiyama (Chief of Staff)
    To: ______ _______
    Date: 19..1936

    Dear Sir,

    As important advisers of the government, once again, I ask for your input in some decisions that need to be decided on before we can go forward with our plans. Please 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 Ministry of Armaments. 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 Decision are as followed -

    1. Which Laws should funds from the Treasury be used to switch to -

    A. Go From A Two-Year Draft To A Three-Year Draft
    B. Go From Basic Training To Advanced Training
    C. Go From Basic Training To Specialized Training
    D. None Of The Above - Wait

    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
     
    Chapter Thirteen : Specialized Training - 20.5.1936
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    Chapter Thirteen : Specialized Training - 20.5.1936



    The IJN Ryujo​

    Chief of Staff, Hajime Sugiyama, had always thought of himself as a patient man. One had to be when dealing with the unknowns of politics and warfare. Still, having the Chief of the Navy, Baron Mineo Ōsumi, march into his office so early in the morning to rave at him was not something he was used to.

    "Calm down," stated the Chief of Staff, making calming gestures with his hands from behind his desk. "Would you like some tea?"

    "No, I don't want any tea!" exclaimed the red faced man. "I want my Carriers built on time!"

    "They will be built on time." Hajime understood why Mineo was so upset. The man believed that Japan's very survival depended on expanding the Navy. The Baron had once told the Japanese legislators that 'the whole Japanese nation must make up its mind to cope with the situation, even if we are reduced to eating rice gruel.' Such a man would always pick guns over butter every time.

    "What? How can you say that?" said the Chief of the Navy as he waved a piece of paper at Hajime. "Have you seen the report from the Ministry of Armaments? The first Carrier, the Ryujo, WAS coming out in August of 1937 is now coming out January of 1938!"

    "Yes," replied the Chief of Staff with a nod. "Specialized Training was agreed on by the majority of the advisers. Of course, while increasing the skills of the men, both the Army's future soldiers and the Navy's future sailors, it also slowed down the whole process. You can't cram in more classes and training for each recruit and NOT lengthen the time it takes to do so."

    "This is the Army's doing!" stated the Chief of Navy as he crumbled the report in his hands.

    "Nonsense," remarked Hajime with a frown. "Please calm down and don't say such things. Their own units are being delayed. The next Mountain Division was meant to come out in May will now come out in June. Even the factories being built by the Ministry of Armaments won't be complete till March. The next air wing, the garrisons, even the many anti-aircraft guns, cargo ships, everything that was being built had been pushed back by this. Nobody is picking on the Navy."

    "And we have to be ready when we expand southward," Hajime added. "And that means making sure the Army is prepared. This should help them greatly when the time comes." He knew that Mineo was very much a supporter of the 'Southern Road' doctrine.

    The Chief of the Navy sighed, sat down onto one of the chairs in front of Hajime's desk and his face become a more naturally color. It had worked. "Maybe I could use some of that tea after all?"

    Hajime nodded, walked over to open his office's door and ask his one of his staff to bring some tea. As he returned to his desk he said, "It isn't a surprise. You knew everything would be slowed down."

    "Yes," grumbled Mineo. "But I wasn't thinking it would push back the shipbuilding THAT much. How is the Army taking this...issue?"

    "Better than you did," replied the Chief of Staff with a smile. "As long as the divisions are available before any operations in China they don't care. As long as nothing gets in the way of their war."

    "And the Chief of the Air Force?" added Mineo as a staff member entered the office and carefully placed a tray onto the desk. On it was a simple tea pot and two plain white cups.

    "The Tactical Wing will be completed and joined with the other before operations. The IGH will have their bombers for Naval Plan Two," answered Hajime as he poured tea for both of them. "White Silver Needle Tea. Helps me calm down."

    "Really?" said the Chief of the Navy as he gently took the small porcelain cup into his hands.

    "The taste is so delicate that if I am not calm I can't even detect it," said the Chief of Staff. "One's mind has to be in a state of peace otherwise one misses its flavor."

    Mineo gave out a soft chuckle. "In other words you have to be calm to truly enjoy it."

    "It helps if you don't drink too much also," said Hajime. "Hard drink ruins one's sense of taste."

    As Mineo sipped his tea Hajime gave off a quiet sigh. If the Navy was upset now how upset would they be when all the resources were switched to upgrade the Army's equipment? Tea would not calm Mineo down when the dry docks went silent.

    Luckily for Hajime Field Marshal Ishiwara, the man who had direct control over Naval Operations via his position in the Imperial General Headquarters, was Army to the core. Otherwise the Chief of Staff would of had TWO men screaming at him that day.
     
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    Chapter Fourteen : Trade Deals And A International Spy - 20.5.1936 To 23.5.1936
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    Chapter Fourteen : Trade Deals And A International Spy - 20.5.1936 To 23.5.1936


    General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya, unlike many within the Navy, wasn't too upset by the slow down caused by the specialized training of the new units. The Mountain and Cavalry Divisions still being formed would be finished and in China well before the conflict started. And their increased experience would just make them all the more deadly in combat.

    Now, the slow down in increasing the cargo ships and escorts to the convoy did worry him a tad. They had been lower on the production queue and who knew when they would be finished.

    The industry was still screaming for more coal, metals, rare materials, and oil. It was using up the raw materials faster then it could dig it up or import it. On the other hand the supplies and fuel reserves were piling up due to the lack of activity among the units of the Army and Navy.

    ---


    Of course, Japan did not live in a vacuum and there were events happening outside its islands that were just as important as the new Training Law.

    The Americans, for example, suggested a Trade Agreement with the Empire. They offered to hand over a tiny amount of rare materials per day for a tiny amount of cash from Japan's Treasury. The Foreign Minister Hirota Koki agreed to this arrangement (after checking with the Ministry of Armaments).

    Then there was a intergovernmental memo from the Head of Intelligence. Seems one of Japan's spies had been captured by the government of Bolivia and 'taken care of'. Of course the Foreign Ministry had protested, saying the spy was nothing more than a traveling businessman, but it had been no good.

    And Utsunimiya's inbox was still receiving complaints from the 19. Hohei Shidan. They were still not getting the food, ammo, and other items needed and this was causing the locals some problems. Seems the division was 'borrowing' rice, fuel, and other items. In return the men were passing out 'IOUs'. In other words the officers were promising the Koreans payment in the 'near' future from the Army's own Quartermaster once supplies were available. It was something to worry about but there was not much that could be done to improve the infrastructure in that part of Korea. So those within the Japanese military and government were, kind of, looking the other way and ignoring the complaints from the outraged farmers, fishermen and business owners.

    Then there was news that the nation of Saudi Arabia had come forward with a tiny Trade Agreement. The amount of metal they were willing to export to Japan was pretty small. But it was the right price and every bit of raw sources was needed.


    Then Utsunimiya heard some information from one of his old coworkers back in the Chinese Intelligence Department. The first tier of land forts were being ordered for construction in the Province of Shisuka. Of course, at the rate that most of the projects were being carried out by the Ministry of Armaments these forts would likely not be finished till the year 1938. BUT it would hopefully help the Japanese infantry when, or if, a war with Russia began.

    At the same time this was happening another Trade deal had been put forward. This time by Australia who was willing to give Japan metal for some cash. The Trade Agreement was accepted (after some more inter-Ministry discussion).

    By the 23rd of May the rare materials were in the 'Black' but the supplies were now in the 'Red' and the Minister of Armaments was telling his people to calm down again.

    “If you think this is a juggling act now,” he remarked to them after cleaning his glasses, “wait till we’re in our little war with Nationalist China. THEN you can panic.”

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

    OOC: I have edited the chapter because trying to convert game units into real life units of measurement, as El Pip has pointed out, does not make sense.
     
    Last edited:
    Chapter Fifteen : The Victory Of Intelligence - 23.5.1936 To 26.5.1936
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    Chapter Fifteen : The Victory Of Intelligence - 23.5.1936 To 26.5.1936


    Utsunimiya was having what he thought of as an enjoyable weekend. On Saturday, of the 23rd of May, he went to a party one of his coworkers was having. The man played American jazz on his phonograph. The artist was somebody called Tommy Dorsey.

    Utsunimiya had never heard of the man but his coworker insisted the American was a great trombonist and well known bandleader among those who were fans of jazz and big band music. Utsunimiya found it interesting but was more interested in the other people who had been invited to the party. Mostly the women. Sadly, his mom would not have approved of any of the chain-smoking modern city women who enjoyed modern dancing. Nor would she have approved of their European fashion, their curly hairstyles, and their interest in the latest movies.

    That Sunday he spent much of the time reading, listening to the radio, and ironing his clothes. Mostly his shirts. While working on one of the collars, always a tricky maneuver, the news channel he had on announced some important news.

    There had been advances made in the field of agriculture. Mostly in the invention of new machinery. This would allow the fields and orchards of the nations to use less labor. Which meant more men for the factories and, of course, the military.

    The radio announcer also explained that the research team, who had made the new machinery, would now move on to improve on the anti-aircraft defenses used by the Aircraft Carriers.

    Then, after some more local news, the same radio announcer also reported that the Communist Chinese had arrested a Japanese citizen, declaring him a spy, and his fate was now unknown. The authorities assumed the man had been murdered by the 'law' system of the Communist 'gangsters'.

    Later that day, as Utsunimiya cut open a new book he had picked up on the history of Buddhism in Japan, the radio had more news that interested him. Seems the Soviet Union had broken one of their Trade Deals with Nationalist China. He wondered why. Politics? Issues with delivery? Who knew.

    When he went into work the next morning there was a buzz of rumors among both the Navy and Army officers. Many were angry at the Communist Chinese while others were debating what had happened between the Nationalist Chinese and the Russians.


    That week was an interesting one. The Americans, once again, approached the Japanese with an offer. They were offering a HUGE amount of metal for what was, from the point of view of the Japanese government, pocket change. Of course it was accepted. In the end it was six time the amount of metal that was being imported from Australia at only twice the cost!

    This DID raise a worrying point with many within the military. Just HOW resource rich was the United States? Such a deal would have been almost the entire metal output of many nations of the Asian mainland.

    Then horrible news filled the radio station broadcasts and the front papers of the nation's papers. The Americans claimed to have captured a Japanese spy. Of course, there was denial on the part of the Imperial government but it didn't help.

    As Utsunimiya tried to focus on his work more news came to his attention. This time from his friends in Chinese Intelligence. The Americans had made a Trade Agreement with Nationalist China. And that VERY day the Nationalist China had cancelled the Trade Agreement.


    Even for the Republic of China this seemed like a stupid move. Of course, the opinion of most of the Japanese government and military was that the Nationalists was not the 'brightest star in the sky'.

    The Nationalist had failed, many times, to wipe out the Communist within China. They were looked at as ineffective and clumsy by more than just the Japanese. For the Nationalists to break off trade with the USA, after their trade with the USSR had been cut off, was a huge mistake. Those nations were the two largest trading partners on the planet. True, the Nationalists in China, like the Nationalists in Germany, were both Anti-Communism and Anti-Capitalism. But it was still a illogical move on their part.

    Utsunimiya pondered on what the Republic of China was up to. Was this some kind of plan? Or were they just winging it?

    ---


    Yasuji Okamura, Head of Intelligence, had not been very happy lately. Three of his agents had been caught and their capture had not been kept silent. Oh no. The governments his men had been spying on had put their prisoners on display, judged them before the public, and then executed them. The nations had made sure to make a grand show of it.

    But they were not as smart they thought they were.

    He smiled as he glanced down at the report his staff had compiled. A report he would be sending to a few select men of the upper ranks of the Imperial government and the military.

    While the foreigners had been playing their little games for the populace, securing their future votes for the next election or outdoing their political opposition they had failed to notice what the Japanese had been up to.

    Since the start of the year his people had been generating news stories and editorials. They had been creating fake photos and false rumors. All to make the People's Republic of China and Shanxi look like threats to the people of Japan.

    The unforeseen benefit was that the American populace also now saw Shanxi as a threat to their freedoms and liberty. Even while their government screamed about the Japanese threat the people saw the tiny nation of Shanxi as the REAL threat!

    The American press, without thinking about it, had passed on the Japanese articles and photos. Without even bothering to fact check the sources. And they were not the only ones.

    A majority of the people of the People's Republic of China also saw Shanxi as a threat. And Shanxi saw the Communist Chinese as the threat. They were all falling for the Japanese propaganda designed to trick its OWN populace.

    And there was more. The Republic of China, the Nationalists, had sworn to protect Shanxi. And they also hated the Communists. Though, the Head of Intelligence admitted to himself, they had always hated the Communists. So he really couldn't take credit for that.

    But the point was that if Shanxi went to war with the Communists the Nationalist would likely join on the side of their allies. Who would win? How much damage would they do to each other? How many soldiers would be killed?

    Yasuji's smile grew bigger. Let the world catch a few of his agents. They were good men and he would miss them. But as long as the enemies of Japan failed to see the bigger picture, the picture he was creating like a spider spinning a web, then they would be helpless to do anything when Japan finally decided to strike.
     
    Chapter Sixteen : Conscription Laws - 27.5.1936
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    Chapter Sixteen : Conscription Law - 27.5.1936


    Hajime Sugiyama, the Chief of Staff, entered the Minister of Armaments' office with a short bow. "Greeting Chūji Machida. I come here so often maybe I should have my offices moved to the Ministry of Munitions? I would be right next door to you."

    The Minister of Armaments just chuckled and gestured toward the empty chair. Next to it sat a small table with a cup of tea already poured and ready. "Greetings. This time I have some tea waiting. The least I could do."

    Sugiyama sat down in the chair, placing his hat onto his lap as he picked up the tea. He closed his eyes and breathed in the scent. "Hmmm...green tea. Good for the soul." He took a sip and added, "So I assume I have been called for another decision?"

    "Yes," said Chūji with a nod of his head. "The Treasury has reached a point where we can have one of our laws changed again. Not that it has to be changed."

    "Let me guess," said the Chief of Staff, "the Three-Year Draft?"

    "Yes," replied the old man with a nod. "We can change the Two-Year Draft to a Three-Year Draft. It would increase officer recruitment BUT hurt the men available for the private sector at this point of time."

    "Or we can wait till the war starts and select Service by Requirement," added Sugiyama as he sipped his tea again.

    "If it is available," remarked Chūji as he removed his small spectacles and cleaned them. "It WOULD make more sense to wait till war was declared."

    "You always seem to prefer the waiting choice," stated the Chief of Staff with a slight smile.

    "I don't like to rush head first into anything," responded the Minister of Armaments as he returned his spectacles to the ridge of his nose. "I prefer to keep my head on my shoulders."

    The Chief of Staff gave off a snort and finished his green tea. "Well, I better prepare the packages for the advisers. I don't think it will take them very long to respond."

    "Let us hope they make the right decision," replied the Minister of Armaments.

    The Chief of Staff let off a laugh as he stood up and walked to the office door. "Have they failed us yet?" he commented as he left the office.

    As the door closed Chūji Machida said to himself, "We won't know till it is too late. Will we? After all they just have to fail us once."

    ---


    Within the hour a somewhat slim package was being prepared, sealed, and sent off to the advisers. It was, of course, hand delivered by men dressed in plain civilian clothes. But each of them were well trained in hand-to-hand combat and secretly armed. Just in case.

    From: Hajime Sugiyama (Chief of Staff)
    To: ______ _______
    Date: 27.5.1936

    Dear Sir,

    Once again, gentlemen, I write to you with an important decision to be made. Included within this package, along with this letter, is a short summary of a meeting I had with the Minister of Armaments.

    But to put issue at hand as simply as I can we are able to change the Conscription Law from a Two-Year Draft to a Three-Year Draft. Please choose the the path you feel will best serve the Empire in the long run.

    Please remember that this change may have negative impact on our industry during peacetime. So turning down the change is not without reason.

    The Decision is -

    1. Change To A Three-Year Draft

    A. Yes
    B. No - Wait

    I doubt I have to remind you but, once again, please reply as soon as possible. And make sure the information does not fall into the wrong hands.

    Signed,

    Hajime Sugiyama
     
    Chapter Seventeen : The Future Belongs To Cruisers - 28.5.1936 To 5.6.1936
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    Chapter Seventeen : The Future Belongs To Cruisers - 28.5.1936 To 5.6.1936


    The Imperial Japanese Army was really starting to get on General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya's nerves. First the 19. Hohei Shidan was back to complaining about not getting any supplies. Then the populace in the region complained the 19. Hohei Shidan was, in fact, getting their supplies from them. On top of that the staff of the 'Manchukuo' Operations' HQ were demanding more forces. Mostly, once again, planes and tanks.

    This WAS a problem. When, or if, conflict happened with the Soviet Union the Japanese would be outnumbered and, likely, overrun. Of course, by then, the northern forces would have likely been reinforced with brand new units and veteran units from the fighting with the Chinese. So maybe the conflict would not be so one-sided.

    Still, that didn't seem to comfort the Army who just saw what they had NOW and they wanted the reinforcements and supplies NOW. Why couldn't the Army be more like the Imperial Japanese Navy? They complained, sure, but they didn't complain continuously. They mostly got into shouting matches with the Chief of Staff. At least if the rumors were true.

    ---


    The rest of the world kept going on. The Germans, for example, offered the Guangxi Clique a Trade Agreement which it accepted. This upset many within the Japanese government and the populace as the ‘New’ Guangxi Clique wasn’t thought of as a proper government. It was more of a bunch of warlords and self-appointed generals who barely seemed to work together.

    Many parts of the ‘nation’ had to be reoccupied by bands of Guangxi loyalists. Called the ‘Guangxi Pacification Army’ it was always being called in to crush rebellions and wipe out Communist uprisings. The end result was a unstable territory under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China whose largest source of income was from taxes created to suppress, and hopefully destroy, the opium trade.

    Then the USSR signed a Trade Agreement with Germany. This confused the public. Why would the Anti-Communist nation of Germany deal with the Russians? It was almost as if the people have forgotten their own Anti-Communist nation was also dealing with the Russians. Their collective memory was horrible.

    Then in June there was some amazing news from France. It was in all the newspapers, movie shorts, and on all the radio channels. France had formed a ‘Popular Front’ in which all the left leaning parties had united and had started to pass new labor laws to change the economy into something more ‘rational‘.

    No doubt that alarmed the Germans. They were now between a rock and a hard place.

    Then the news was full of the politician in Siam who advanced the idea that the world was flat and that the League of Nations had to organize a massive program to built walls around the edges to keep the seas from draining off into space. His government ignored him. Everybody knew the Earth was a hollow sphere full of dinosaurs and lost cities.

    News came of another arrest in Communist China. Seems another agent of Japanese Intelligence had been found and murdered by the Communist Party. Of course the government said the man was innocent but it did little good.

    Bad news came out of Nationalist China as they announced they, also, had captured a Japanese spy! He was tortured, forced to confess, and killed pretty quickly. The Republic of China didn’t even pretend to give the man a fair trial.

    While the Japanese populace protested the ‘murder’ of innocent tourists in China the news that Iraq was having issues with illegal printing presses went totally unnoticed.

    ---


    On the 5th of June the Ministry of Armaments announced two technological breakthroughs. First, the research on radio detection equipment had been completed. Radar stations could become listening stations. Now the military just needed to build some radar stations. The other breakthrough was certain improvements in supply production. It was said, in fact, that supply production would now increase by almost 20 percent!

    The news was spoiled when the Communist Chinese announced they had caught ANOTHER spy. And even before this news faded away the Shanxi announced they had also found and neutralized a Japanese spy.

    Japanese mobs rallied outside many of the embassies in the capital and the Japanese police were forced to come out in force to block the roads and keep order.

    As this was happening the Ministry of Armaments was picking the next two research projects. Of course, both of the slots had been promised to the Navy. So one team was assigned to improve the Aircraft Carrier engines. To increase their range and speed.

    The second team was told to start working on 90,000 horsepower turbines for Light Cruisers. In other words they were told to work on engines for warships that did not exist. Yet.

    Of course when Utsunimiya heard about that piece of news he knew at once what Minister Chūji Machida was up to. He planned to replace the slow Battleships and old Destroyers with modern, up to date, Heavy Cruisers and Light Cruisers.

    And as the Chief of the Navy was a lover of Carriers, and more concerned with protecting them, it was unlikely he would protest the phasing out of the older warships if it meant better escorts for his precious Carriers.

    Utsunimiya shook his head. Now the Japanese industry, on top of everything else, would have to start building radar stations, close support aircraft, and dozens of cruisers. That could take forever!

    He frowned to himself. Still, it wasn’t a bad idea to start doing so soon. Very soon. Because war with the West was not that far off. A couple of years? Maybe more? Modern radar, close support aircraft for the Army, and modern warships to escort and protect the Carriers would be a plus in such a war.

    As Utsunimiya went back to focusing on his paperwork he wondered if he would live long enough to have the girlfriend his mother wanted him to?
     
    Chapter Eighteen : Comedy Of Spies - 5.6.1936 To 20.6.1936
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    Chapter Eighteen : Comedy Of Spies - 5.6.1936 To 20.6.1936


    Yasuji Okamura was not having a good time. It was if every nation on Earth was catching Japanese spies. Within a two week period Persia claimed to have captured a Japanese spy, the Communist Chinese had announced they had captured TWO Japanese spies, both Ireland and Greece had, somehow, both captured a Japanese spy, Luxemburg, of all nations, had also somehow captured a Japanese spy, and the USA had captured ANOTHER Japanese spy.

    It wasn't just embarrassing to the Head of Intelligence. He had also received quite a few angry phone calls during that time period.

    First the Foreign Minister had complained about how all these spies being captured all over the world was REALLY ruining the Japanese Empire's reputation. Which, in turn, threatened any future trade deals the Ministry wanted to make in the future.

    Then there was the phone calls from Minister of Armaments. Seems HE was worried about the current trade agreements with the US. He felt that the Americans might break the agreements if they became too upset. Which would threaten the production schedule.

    Then there was the phone calls from the Chief of Staff, Hajime Sugiyama, who was worried that the military might not like the Head of Intelligence messing up the production of their future equipment and military divisions.

    Then there was the dead rat he found in his mail. He assumed it was from the Imperial Japanese Navy.

    ---


    Of course the rest of the world wasn't just capturing spies. There was, for example, news of a huge peace demonstration in Switzerland. Seems they were worried about the Germans and how large their army had become.

    While this was happening Siam had signed a trade agreement with the UK and the Guangxi Clique signed a trade agreement with the US. And then the Guangxi Clique broke their trade agreement. In other words the Chinese were as logical as they always were.

    Then, of course, the Communist Chinese signed a trade agreement with the Nationalist Chinese. The people who hated them.


    As this was happening South Africa had a surge of volunteers for their military. An interesting development that was noted by the Japanese military.

    Then Ireland was in the news again. This time not because of capturing a spy but because of a boost to their economy. Therefore there were dozen of photos in the papers of Irish miners and factory workers. This did not concern the Japanese military as much.

    ---


    While all this was happening outside the borders of Japan a few small, but important, events did happen within its borders.

    First the Ministry of Armaments ordered the construction of defenses for the Province of Kagoshima. Here it was, a corner of the Island of Kyushu, with a small local industrial center yet with nothing to protect it. So the Minister ordered that coastal and land forts be built within the Province. Also anti-aircraft guns were ordered to be built also to protect the factories.


    At the same time the 7. Hohei Shidan had finally arrived in the Province of Shisuka. While it looked like the three Regiments were settling in without a problem there were already suggestions that they were having supply issues.

    During all this General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya was planning out how best to collect information on the Chinese Navy. While he knew they were nothing when compared to the Imperial Japanese Navy he would like to have SOME idea about their size and placement before the conflict.

    But how would he do that?
     
    Chapter Nineteen : Mountain Corps - 20.6.1936 To 22.6.1936
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    Chapter Nineteen : Mountain Corps - 20.6.1936 To 22.6.1936


    General Shō-ichi Utsunimiya sighed to himself as he read the report. The good news was that the new, second, Mountain Division was available. The weird news was it was called the 7. ‘Asahigawa’ Gokujin no Hohei Shidan. He really wished they would use standard unit names. (1)

    Now, with the 6. Gokujin no Hohei Shidan, they were loaded into the waiting transport ships of the 3rd Task Group in the Port of Sasebo.

    They were ordered to join the Cavalry Divisions in the Port of Huludao. It only took the ships a few days to reach the port and start unloading the men and their equipment.

    The two Divisions were now under the command of Lt. General Yasuyo Yamasaki who was now in charge of the newly formed 1. Yama Gundan. His first job was to prepare them for the conflict in China.

    Due to the Specialized Training the 7. Mountain Division received it was slightly more experienced than the 6. Mountain Division. With eight Mountain Brigades (and eight more on the way) these units would REALLY help in the war with the Nationalist Chinese.

    ---


    Lt. General Yamasaki watched his troops drill from his tent. The men had no REAL mountains to climb and train in this province. The hills around the port were nice enough to look at but worthless for training. But they could still climb over obstacles, march carrying full packs, and work with their equipment until they knew their gear, and weapons, like the back of their hands.

    Born in 1891, he had graduated from the 15th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1913 and had served in the Siberian Intervention. He had also seen some action in mainland China is trying to deal with advances made by the Nationalist Chinese in the late 1920s. He was a skilled General but had not seen as much combat as others among the high ranking officers.

    He was a hardcore patriot and truly wished to prove himself in the coming war. He felt he had only dealt with peasants before, in Russia and China, and wanted to test his metal against REAL enemies.

    China had plenty of mountains. His troops would prove valuable in the invasion of the Republic. And he hoped to be right in the middle of the fighting. As he sometimes joked with others 'Mountain' was in his name after all.

    He straightened his glasses and stepped back into his tent. Now, if only the other divisions made it to China before all hell broke loose.

    ---


    Even while the Mountain Corps was settling in and the 3rd Task Group was returning to Japan the Ministry of Armaments announced another breakthrough. An important breakthrough. The abilities of Industrial Production had been improved on. It was reported that the output of the nation’s factories had been increased by TEN PERCENT!

    The research team, after a short break to get drunk on rice wine at a famous night club, were assigned their next project. They would work on improving the main weaponry available for future Light Cruisers.

    Utsunimiya, once again, wondered how the Navy would take that? But it wasn’t his problem and he went back to planning on how to collect information on China. After all, he had come from the department within Army Intelligence whose job had been to collect data on China for other military departments for their own planning. Now he was going to use those skills and knowledge to work for him!
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    Author's Notes:

    1. Asahikawa is the second largest city in Hokkaido - the northernmost of Japan‘s main islands. When the Japanese started to settle in Hokkaido they misheard the native word of ‘Chu Pe’ to mean ‘river of the sun’. Asahi means ‘ray of sun/morning sun‘ and kawa means ‘river‘.