A Day in July: An Early 20th Century Timeline

Just wanted to thank all off you for the kind words. I am really happy to know that you have enjoyed my writing in the past.

Seems like waiting a week before I start posting the proper updates should give some time to catch up to where we left off.

I am just going to outline what is covered in the next three updates:

Update 28 - The Balance of Asia: China, Japan -/- India, Afghanistan, Khiva, Persia (both) and Kuwait/Arabistan.

Update 29 - The Victorious Red Banner: Siberian Campaign, Post-Siberian Campaign -/- Asian Communism and Revolutionary Catholicism.

Update 30 - The Gathering Storm Clouds: United States 1928 Elections, US Post-1928 Elections -/- Colonial Africa and Ethiopia, Mesopotamia.

Bear in mind that I am uploading half updates, so where they are divided by a (-/-) is what I am uploading.

I look forward to seeing what you all think of what is to come.
Can we have updates about other colonies in Asia too? (like French Indochina, British Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, etc...)
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Can we have updates about other colonies in Asia too? (like French Indochina, British Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, etc...)
Indochina will have extensive updates a bit further down the line (Update 32 has a full section on the region), and I am currently in the process of writing on an update which addresses both Indochina and Malaya - possibly also the Dutch East Indies (they haven't quite become relevant just yet, whereas the other regions have). There has been a major shift towards going into greater detail with what is happening in the wider world - in Asia, Africa and the Americas, than earlier in the TL. That is not to say that the US, Europe and Russia aren't getting their fair share of coverage, just that the weight of divergences is spreading further.
Interlude Four: Ombra's Flag of the Soviet Republic of Russia
Hi, everyone! As @Zulfurium has already mentioned in his way-too-kind message, I will be helping out with the timeline. It was ADiJ that first pushed me out of lurker limbo on these forums, and before I set out to write original projects, I thought it would be wise to learn the trade with one of the best authors I've encountered over the years. You'll learn more about what exactly I will be writing about in the near future, although you can expect my supporting material to be mostly an in-depth look at some of the themes, political entities and actors at the very heart of the timeline. Now, you've all seen the teaser video, but under Zulfurium's guidance, I've created another small visual teaser - you can think of it as a taste of things to come :p without further ado, let me introduce you to the official flag of the Soviet Republic of Russia!

Update Twenty-Eight (Pt. 1): The Balance of Asia
The Balance of Asia

Zhang Zuolin, Grand Marshal and Prime Minister of Imperial China

The Jiangning Cabal​

The unification of China under Grand Marshal Zhang Zuolin and the Xuantong Emperor in March of 1925 was far from the end of China's troubles. While overt opposition to the Fengtian Clique had ended and the various warlords espoused support of the government in Beijing, the country remained divided under the rule of the warlords, particularly south of the Yangtze where the shattering of the Kuomintang had led to the emergence of new warlords - most prominently Chiang Kai-shek, who proclaimed support for Zhang Zuolin but were effectively autonomous. While Zhang's grip on the north was stronger, even here he was forced to rely on a network of generals to exert control over the country - most prominently Wu Peifu - who had emerged as Zhang's right-hand, Yang Yuting - his Japanese-trained Chief-of-Staff, Zhang Xueliang - Zhang's eldest son who held North-East China in an iron grip for his father, Zhang Zongcheng - the colorful if brutal Dog-Meat General, Feng Yuxiang - the Christian General, and Yan Xishan - the internationally popular governor of Shanxi. It was this clique of six generals who made up the most prominent members of the Fengtian Clique, and it was amongst this group that Zhang Zuolin would experience the greatest tensions. Zhang Zongcheng was a constant eyesore to the international press, with a harem filled with foreign women so large that he resorted to numbering them in order to keep track of them and the heart of an inveterate gambler, but he was fiercely loyal to Zhang and his family. Wu Peifu was widely considered the cleverest of the Chinese warlords, and had been instrumental in the Fengtian clique's successes, but he was fiercely resistant to foreign influence and resented Zhang's reliance on the White Russians and Japanese - clashing publicly with the pro-Japanese Yang Yuting on more than one occasion. Yan Xishan was an exceedingly effective governor, but guarded his fief of Shanxi like a hawk and rejected any efforts on the part of Zhang to extend governmental control into the province, while Feng Yuxiang had proven himself an immensely changeable man - enforcing Christianity with violence amongst his soldiers while at the same time courting support from the Communists and even flirting with jumping ship from the Fengtian clique at one point during the preceding conflict with the Kuomintang - having previously built a strong friendship with the former KMT General Chiang Kai-Shek. The first year proved relatively peaceful despite these tensions, with a few revolts crushed by individual warlords, while Zhang Xueliang went on a major industrialization and infrastructure building effort across North-Eastern China - further strengthening the Zhang family's control in China's industrial production. Further south, Zhang had placed trusted generals in positions of power, like Chu Yupu in Guangzhou, Li Jinglin in Jiangning, Chiang Kai-Shek in Wuhan and Zhang Zongcheng in Shanghai, in order to ensure the loyalty of these otherwise suspect regions (1).

The situation in China, however, was soon to change as the imprisonment of Emperor Roman in Siberia and an increasingly Navy-aligned Japan caused some amongst the warlords to see weakness in the Zhang regime. Feng Yuxiang, who had spotted a useful patsy in General Guo Songling - a man initially aggrieved over a friend's removal from command during the campaign against the KMT and later angered over his exclusion from the list of men appointed to important commands in the south, decided to make an initial foray against the regime. Over the course of several months, Feng gradually stoked Guo's resentments and urged him to act on his anger - eventually prompting Guo to march his division, which was encamped on the border with Shanxi, towards Beijing in October of 1926, in the process catching Zhang Zuolin by complete surprise. It would prove to be the swift actions of Zhang Xueliang, who had forces encamped in northern Hebei protecting the work being done on rail lines from Manchuria to the capital, which saved Zhang Zuolin's regime. Learning of this sudden and shocking advance, Xueliang set out on foot at rapid speed with his men in time to head off Guo Songling at the Juma River near the village of Zhangfeng, south-west of Beijing, where Guo was forced to a halt in the face of intense opposition. The following month would see a rapid deployment of tanks and aircraft from Xueliang's North-East Army to completely crush Guo's forces, with Guo himself falling prisoner on the 3rd of December 1926 alongside his wife - both of whom were executed two days later. Guo's rebellion sent subtle but serious shockwaves through China, for while Guo had been defeated, it had proven a far more dangerous affair than anyone could have predicted. Had Xueliang been a day late, Beijing - which had seen its garrison significantly weakened to provide loyal troops for trusted commanders in the south, could well have fallen into Guo's hands alongside the Old Marshal and the Emperor himself (2). This course of events was to spur further treason and betrayal around the figure of Feng Yuxiang, who viewed this as the best chance for him to emerge as the most powerful warlord in China. Over the course of half a year, Feng slowly and secretively began to inveigle Yan Xishan, Li Jinglin, Li Zongren - a Chiang-aligned warlord in Guangxi, and Chiang Kai-Shek himself in a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Fengtian regime. Having come to agreement on uniting forces, the five would meet secretly in Jiangning on the 22nd of May 1927. Over the course of a week, during which the fivesome sought to obscure their location from Zhang Zuolin, a plan was gradually developed for a coup - to be implemented later that year, and for a subsequent division of the spoils of success. According to this agreement, Chiang Kai-Shek would be given Guangdong and authority over the southern warlords, Yan Xishan would see his territory extended to include Shaanxi and Henan, Li Jinglin would receive Shanghai, Li Zongren the Chinese interior and Feng Yuxian would claim the Fengtian heartland of North-East China. This group was to be known to posterity as the Jiangning Cabal, so named for the city in which they had secretly met, and was to set the conditions for a fundamental reshaping of China, laying the groundwork for an end to the lengthy and murderous Warlord Era (3).

Knowledge of the planned coup remained tightly controlled by the Jiangning Cabal, who proceeded to covertly amass forces - particularly in Shanxi and around Wuhan where Fengtian support was limited - while a select few troops, numbering no more than a couple hundred, were smuggled into Beijing in preparation for the coup. With everything set, the plan moved forward on the 4th of August. Raids by masked men occurred across Beijing, during which firefights erupted with the greatly strengthened Beijing Garrison and Beijing Police, while the Forbidden Palace was attacked by a force of nearly two hundred men in a bid to secure the Emperor - resulting in a four hour firefight before the attackers were subdued. Assassinations occurred across the city, with Wu Peifu's wife being killed in an attack aimed at her husband while Zhang Xueliang was forced into an extended firefight outside of a opium bar he was known to frequent before swiftly mustered armed police could kill the attackers. Zhang Zuolin narrowly escaped when a bomb was thrown into his car as he was being driven to his office - only for the bomb to prove a dud. The chaos unleashed on the 4th would take days to quell, with Beijing only properly pacified by the 7th, while declarations that Zuolin had been killed, that the Japanese had invaded, that the Communists had taken Shanghai and various other falsehoods flooded the Chinese airwaves under Feng Yuxiang's direction. Claiming to be liberating Beijing, Yan Xishan marched his troops into Hebei and immediately drove back the dispersed military forces in the region. At Wuhan, Chiang Kai-Shek gathered an army and set off down the Yangtze, making for Jiangning wherefrom the plan was to take Shanghai in a coup de main. At the same time, revolts erupted across the south and Chu Yupu was attacked in Guangzhou, taking a bullet to the knee which would leave him lame for the rest of his life (4). However, the Fengtian leadership were not caught completely by surprise. In July, suspicions about a buildup of forces in Shanxi had prompted Zhang Xueliang to begin mustering Fengtian forces north of Beijing and to meet with his father about his suspicions regarding Feng Yuxiang and Yan Xishan relationship - which was the reason he was in Beijing on the 4th of August in the first place. Thus, when Yan Xishan's forces entered Hebei, Zhang Xueliang had nearly 100,000 men of the North-East Army on standby north of the capital who could be rushed into Beijing. Even as word of events in the south were arriving, Xueliang and Zuolin were repelling Yan Xishan south of Beijing. The resultant three-day Battle of Beijing saw not only Yan's forces pushed back, but totally overrun as the heavily armed and armored Fengtian North-East Army completely routed the Shanxi forces. The bloody pursuit soon saw the situation turned completely on its head in the north - with Feng Yuxiang forced to flee south to Wuhan while Yan Xishan put up a brave struggle in Shanxi itself. In the south, Guangzhou found itself cut off from the countryside as rebel warlords rose up, occasionally under the Kuomintang banner but just as often in an independent capacity - none of them having been party to the Cabal's plans, while Shanghai came under siege after Zhang Zongcheng massively beefed up the garrison. Notably, Zhang Zongcheng negotiated an agreement with the powerful Communist presence in the city to aid in its defense - in return for a blind eye towards their activities in Shanghai in the future. At the same time, the South saw a surprising number of peasant armies and local warlords emerge flying the Fengtian Banner and declaring their allegiance to the Xuantong Emperor - soon leaving the region riven by intercine conflict. Thus, by the start of September, the Fengtian North-East Army was forcing its way into Shanxi, the Yangtze Valley had fallen into the Cabal's hands except for Shanghai which was put under siege later in the month even as the south collapsed into bloody chaos (5).

The shocking speed at which China degenerated into all-out war caught foreigners by complete surprise and filled countless news columns around the world with stories of horror. Particularly harrowing would prove to be the three month siege of Shanghai, as quickly drafted conscripts from across the Yangtze River Valley were thrown headlong against the city's defenses in human waves. Armed communist militia brigades fought side-by-side with the garrison troops under Zhang Zongcheng while the Japanese navy provided supplies and indirect fire by sea, keeping the defenders well supplied in food and arms while the meager rebel air force launched strafing runs along major city thoroughfares, including into the foreign quarters - to the great outrage of the international community. In the meanwhile, the Zhang Xueliang-led North-East Army slammed through Shanxi, breaking through one line of defenses after another by sheer technological advantage as Yan Xishan was forced into constant retreat, eventually holding a last stand at Yuncheng in southern Shanxi following a month of bitter struggle. After a day of intense and bloody fighting the last remaining position under Yan collapsed and he committed suicide. The loss of Shanxi would prove to be a critical turning point in the Jiangning Rebellion, as it reopened contact to the northern interior and cleared out all opposition north of the Yangtze River Valley. This in turn allowed Zhang Xueliang to launch a cross-country campaign - crossing Henan into Anhui in ten days before slamming home against the defensive lines around Jiangning. The Battle of Jiangning would last another month, during which the Siege of Shanghai reached its highest intensity as the Jiangning Cabal sought to end the threat to their rear so that they could turn to deal with Xueliang. However, this effort was to prove in vain, for on the 18th of November the defensive line north of Jiangning collapsed while the city's commander, Li Jinglin, fled incognito - disappearing into the countryside, wherefrom he would only emerge years later when a routine military inspection in southern Hunan led to his discovery, capture and execution. The collapse of Jiangning fundamentally undermined the Jiangning Cabal's positions, cut off the besieging army at Shanghai and reopened the south to Fengtian forces. Chiang Kai-Shek, who was leading the army at Shanghai, ultimately found himself and his army surrounded and forced to surrender after weeks of intense fighting - having been trapped against Shanghai's defenses by Xueliang. Chiang was soon conducted to Beijing, where he was put on trial and executed as a traitor to the Chinese Empire. At the same time as the Siege of Shanghai came to an end - on the 11th of December, the two remaining conspirators, Li Zongren and Feng Yuxiang, came to blows in Wuhan, with each convinced the other had betrayed the plan. Supporters of either general soon began firing upon each other, quickly escalating further as the forces in the defensive lines around the city heard word and turned their guns against each other - when they didn't simply desert. Even as the North-East Army approached the city, Wuhan was descending into open warfare. During the fighting Li Zongren was killed and Feng Yuxiang's forces were driven to the outskirts of the city. Realizing the situation was hopeless, Feng Yuxiang and a few of his closest guards took the opportunity to make their escape into the chaos of Southern China, wherefrom they would eventually make a reappearance in Singapore two years later. From Singapore Feng would direct a small resistance movement against the Fengtian regime while dodging assorted assassins hoping to cash in on the substantial cash reward offered by the Fengtian government for Feng's murder. The arrival of the North-East Army would finally bring peace to Wuhan, as the remaining forces surrendered in the face of Fengtian power and the deaths or desertion of their own commanders - marking the official end of the Jiangning Rebellion on the 18th of January 1928 (6).

The Chinese state which emerged from the ashes of the Jiangning Rebellion would prove to be an entirely different beast from that which preceded it and would come to be seen as the end of the Warlord Era. With centralized Fengtian might unquestionable and any potential challenger to power killed, coopted or in exile, a number of actions became possible for the government of Zhang Zuolin. The first of these initiatives was to be the mass disarmament and demobilization of the dozens of warlord armies which had troubled the Chinese state so grievously - an action conducted with limited success over the course of 1928 and 1929 as more and more of Southern China was brought to order. New legal strictures were put into place which prevented the holding of civilian and military offices while the elite forces of the various warlords were inducted into the main Fengtian Army - where they were split apart from each other and placed under the command of trusted graduates of the Baoding Military Academy, which had been re-established in 1924 by the Fengtian government with German, White Russian and Japanese instructors. The governors of every state were changed regularly, with a strict term limit of 3 years being imposed for the civilian governorships while military governorships were ordered rotated on a biannual basis, with the general staff following their commanders while the military forces themselves remained in place in order to weaken ties of loyalty between individual armies and their commanders. The sole exceptions to all of these initiatives were to prove the North-East Army and civilian governorships over North-East China, all of which remained under the control of Zhang Xueliang - and thus by default answered directly to Zhang Zuolin himself. In order to benefit from the surge in popular support for the regime as China began to settle once more, Zhang ordered the creation of a National Congress to represent popular will and provide advice and aid to the government - although sharp restrictions on accepted parties limited how representative the new body would actually be. A notable exception to these restrictions would be the Communist Party of Shanghai, where Zhang Zongcheng's promises to the communists were upheld by the government as long as they abandoned their overt support for the revolutionary overthrow of the government. The party was allowed to be represented from the Shanghai seats in the National Congress, even if it remained outlawed across the rest of China alongside the Kuomintang. The result of this was to create a unique and changing branch of Communism in Shanghai which espoused fierce loyalty to the Fengtian regime and sought to become an effective part of the emerging government while clashing with those who remained committed to revolutionary change. The Communist Party of Shanghai would experience considerable growth during this time as the only permitted left-wing political party in China, as figures of the KMT left-wing like Wang Jingwei, Liao Zhongkai and Zhou Fouhai joined the party in order to find a national platform to promote their ideas. The result was that in the first series of elections to the National Congress held on the 11th of December, the anniversary of the end of the Siege of Shanghai, the Communist Party was able to secure nearly ten seats, more than half of the seats from Shanghai itself, with figures like Wang Jingwei, Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao successfully elected. More than half of the seats in the congress would go to the loyalist Royalist Party, officially a supporter of the resurgent Qing Dynasty but in effect little more than Zhang Zuolin's personal following, while smaller progressive, conservative and liberal parties would make up the most of the rest of the difference - none securing more than 5% of the electorate (7).

(1) This section of the update is to mostly set up what follows, give an overview of the major actors and outline the situation. The relationships here take into account both OTL developments and relationships with the divergences in TTL, most prominently the central position of Wu Peifu in the Fengtian government and the inclusion of Chiang Kai-Shek following the fall of the KMT. Probably a good idea to mention here that Jiangning is the name for Nanjing/Nanking under the Qing Dynasty - it doesn't change to Nanjing (meaning Southern Capital) because the Fengtian government remains in Beijing (Northern Capital) whereas the KMT government moved to Jiangning - resulting in its name change IOTL.

(2) This is partially modelled on Guo Songling's OTL revolt against the Fengtian government at Feng Yuxiang's instigation in 1925 during the Second Zhili-Fengtian War. The circumstances are radically different, but many of the factors leading up to the revolt are similar. The key here is that Guo's rebellion ITTL will come to be viewed by historians as the instigating point for the crisis which follows, while IOTL it had little actual importance to the larger developments of the Chinese Warlord Era.

(3) Feng Yuxiang was known by another moniker in addition to "Christian General" - that of "Betrayal General". IOTL he betrayed basically anyone he ever worked with at one point or another, so I strongly doubt he would ever accept just letting matters lie. Chiang Kai-Shek was a born schemer and seems to have had a reasonably good relationship with Feng IOTL until his betrayal, so I am carrying that over and merging it with a sense of loss at the position he was forced to give up with the fall of the KMT pushing him to action. Li Zongren was part of the OTL coalition involved in the Central Plains War - which this conflict is partly based on, and I have carried that over here, while Yan Xishan reacted violently to anyone who even thought of messing with his domain in Shanxi - which, given how close it is to Beijing, has caused considerable headaches for Zhang Zuolin and Wu Peifu.

(4) The Jiangning Cabal's plan is far reaching, complicated and exceedingly ambitious - which naturally means that a good deal of it fails. The fact that they were able to smuggle forces into Beijing is impressive, but after the Guo Songling Rebellion the Fengtian central leadership beefed up their defenses considerably. Beyond that the Fengtian leadership gets lucky, with Wu Peifu's wife biting a bullet for him while Zhang Xueliang survives a gunfight - it should be noted that Xueliang was noted to visit opium dens on a regular basis with Zhang Zongcheng and others until he kicked his opium addiction.

(5) So that went well. The sudden and rapid collapse of China into open civil war hopefully doesn't come as too big of a surprise. Fengtian control of the south was never particularly strong - contrast to OTL's KMT government which struggled heartily against the constant rebellions of northern warlords even after the Northern Expedition - and the people it chose to strengthen its grip on the south weren't exactly the most reliable. Fengtian rule was established on the basis of its strong military power, and the moment that seemed threatened everyone made their bid for power. It is, however, notable that Fengtian actually had supporters in the south willing to fight for them - it goes to show that the ideological foundation Zhang Zuolin is trying to build on has its supporters.

(6) The Jiangning Rebellion really becomes Zhang Xueliang's big coming-out party and marks his rise to prominence outside of his father's shadow - he even gets a Time Magazine cover out of the affair. The fates of the conspirators are quite different from when similar situations occurred IOTL because of the fact that in contrast to the KMT IOTL, the Fengtian are considerably stronger industrially and militarily - with control of the best arms and armies, while IOTL CKS constantly struggled to deal with the powerful warlords he had subordinated. The industrial heartland of China was in Manchuria at the time, under the control of the Fengtian government, and they have spent the last half decade building one of the largest, best trained and most well-equipped armies in Asia - even the Japanese Army would have to think twice before starting a fight with the North-East Army. The Soong family jumped ship along with Chiang Kai-Shek when the KMT collapsed, and have since ingratiated themselves with the Fengtian regime but remained loyal when CKS turned against the Fengtian government - the marriage between him and Soong Meiling (Madame Chiang of OTL fame) had not happened yet, mostly due to Soong's mother disapproving of Chiang's Buddhist background as IOTL. The escape of Feng Yuxiang is a mark of constant shame to the Fengtian government, and there will be more than one attempt on his life in the years to come, but with his disappearance the last effective resistance to the Fengtian regime has come to an end.

(7) There is a lot going on here, so I will try to clarify. The Fengtian government, having secured complete victory, are now able to use the leverage they have won to disarm the various warlords - while this is by no means a peaceful affair, with more than one army needing to be crushed and its leaders executed, it has the effect of firmly solidifying Fengtian power. The reforms to term limits on specific posts are also placed so as to prevent anyone from developing too close of a bond with their territories - preventing a situation like what occurred with Yan Xishan - and keeping the military outside of trusted hands (those of Zhang's own son) disconnected from factionalizing within the army. While the exclusion of Zhang Zuolin and Zhang Xueliang from these new strictures cause comment, they are accepted without too much opposition. It is also worth noting that in times of crisis and emergency many of these strictures will end up being eased should the need arise and it be in the best interests of the ruling part. I actually hadn't expected the developments that occurred in Shanghai with the Communists when I first started working on the update, but I find this an interesting direction for events to go. The exclusion of Shanghai from a wider prohibition on Communist, Anarchist, Socialist and KMT-aligned parties creates a powerful draw towards the city which will with time make Shanghai one of the premier cities of leftist thought - if a distinctly different brand of it than that present in Russia, Italy or elsewhere.

Crown Prince Yasuhito of Japan

A Most Nipponese Intermezzo​

The government of Yamamoto Gonbee during the 1924 to 1928 period experienced constant fracturing and reformation, the ruling Kenseito, Kokuminto and Kenseikai coalition barely lasting long enough for the government to find its footing. Over the course of the two years, from May of 1924 when the elections were first held and until August of 1926, the ruling coalition would see its member parties change more than fourteen times as party members clashed over platform, leadership and role in the coalition itself. Throughout this period, Yamamoto remained at the center of the constantly shifting coalition - eventually deciding to bring order to the chaos by forcing together his partners in order to form a unifying party which he pledged to take leadership of personally, thereby forcefully ending the constant jockeying for leadership in the lesser parties. The result was the establishment of Rikken Minseito, a liberal center-left party dedicated to constitutionalism, democratic reforms, liberal economic policies and support for the Navy (8). The formation of Rikken Minseito would prove vital to the consolidation of the center of Japanese politics, ending its fractured state and forcing together rivals against their will but in the interests of their party. With his ruling coalition unified under the Minseito banner, Yamamoto was able to push forward with a series of policies which included successfully redeeming the discounted Kanto Earthquake Bonds which had been issued in the aftermath of the earthquake - Yamamoto personally appealing to order when rumors that the bonds would not be repayable spread and nearly triggered a run on the banks. This was followed by a series of industrial rationalization programs supported by the Mitsubishi and Yasuda Zaibatsu - the two major Zaibatsu supporting Minseito. A major foreign policy endeavor of this period proved to be the strengthening of diplomatic ties to the Fengtian Government prior to an after the Jiangning Rebellion and while increased naval spending, primarily spent on naval aviation efforts, caused anger to erupt in Army circles. Finally, Yamamoto would sponsor a women's suffrage bill in late 1927 which would open the franchise to women over the age of 25 and allow them to stand for office with the permission of their husbands or fathers (9). The years in opposition to the Minseito government allowed the conservative Rikken Seiyukai a chance to develop its ideological basis as a contrast to the government - allowing it to build closer ties to the Army, increase its support from the Mitsui Zaibatsu and voice an opposition to the increasingly liberal initiatives of the Yamamoto government. The unemployment troubles provoked by industrial rationalization and growing power of the business elites in the Minseito government proved another topic of great interest to Seiyukai politicians - who blithely ignored their own ties to the Mitsui Zanbatsu. Most importantly, it was during this period that Seiyukai found their next leader as a result of the roiling political clashes of the governmental coalition in its first years of government. This came in the form of Inukai Tsuyoshi, founder and leader of the Kokuminto, who had found himself marginalized in the unification of parties into Rikken Minseito. Angered at this development - and clashing personally with Yamamoto, he had left Minseito alongside his supporters and directly entered into the Rikken Seiyukai, swiftly emerging as the party's leader by mid-1927. By the time the elections of 1928 neared, the political situation in Japan had finally begun to settle - coalescing around the center right-leaning Seiyukai and center left-leaning Minseito (10).

The mid-late 1920s was a period of marginalization and internal dissent for the Japanese Imperial Army, which saw the Navy emerge as the dominant military arm under the Admiral-Prime Minister Yamamoto Gonbee. With the stain of failure hanging over the Army from the assassination of the Crown Prince, which had led to the retirement of the preeminent military figure Tanaka Giichi, the Army was left with a leadership vacuum. While the Navy's political left-wing proved ascendant, with men like Navy Minister and Yamamoto's son-in-law Takarabe Takeshi, Admiral Taniguchi Nomi and Vice Admiral Sakonji Seizo finding a patron in Admiral Yamamoto, it was the right-wing of the army - already a right-wing institution by any definition of the word, which saw the greatest gains. The appointment of Minami Jiro as Minister of War, wherefrom he would be responsible for a drastic reduction in Army funding - including the dismissal of nearly 2,000 officers, would make Minami a hated man in the Army, and soon saw widespread protests across much of the army. This would culminate in early 1927 when Minami was gunned down by one of those very officer dismissed by his cost-saving programme. The crisis that resulted, known as the Minami Incident, would eventually see Yamamoto forced to accept the appointment of the Army's favored choice for minister in the form of Sugiyama Hajime, a protege of a prominent General who had first been suggested for the post but had been rejected by Yamamoto - Ugaki Kazushige (11). The appointment of Ugaki's protégé was to truly set a course for internal conflict in the Army as opposition to Ugaki, who many in the army viewed as too moderate in outlook, began to coalesce around the form of the prominent general and political thinker Araki Sadao. In 1924 Araki had founded the Kokunhonsha, a secret society of prominent right-wing figures from political, military, business and governmental spheres, which soon came to dominate the ideological framework of the Japanese ultra-right wing with its focus on a rejection of foreign ideals, a strengthening of Japan's militarist soul and ultimate loyalty to the Imperial family. It was the last of these which would prove most crucial, because Araki found his most important supporter in the figure of the new Crown Prince and Regent Yasuhito, who threw his full-throated support behind the Kokunhonsha and its associated organizations, participating in club meetings held at the palace and participating in an avid exchange of letters with Araki and his followers. The only thing keeping Yasuhito in check would prove to be his father Emperor Taisho who, despite a bout of pneumonia in 1926 which nearly killed him, undermined the Crown Prince's ability to act completely according to his own wishes for fear of finding himself set aside when the time of succession came - Prime Minister Yamamoto having built a strong rapport with the disabled Emperor, potentially significant enough for Yasuhito to be replaced by his brother Nobuhito, who was popular with the Navy due to his background as a Navy man. The efforts of Araki and Yasuhito were therefore primarily turned towards securing firm control of the Army itself, which came to expression in three attempted assassinations of Ugaki and two of Sugiyama, which left the latter with a paralyzed left arm, by fringe supporters of the Kokunhonsha and the sponsoring of various attacks both violent and non-violent on government figures and policies by the organization (12).

The term of Saito Makoto as Governor-General of Chosun was to last uninterrupted throughout the 1920s. During this period Chosun, known to the west as Korea, remained in a largely peaceful state. The loosening of military rule and institution of civilian government, as well as the loosening on cultural strictures, was to prove key in the flourishing of Korean culture which resulted. The further influx of White Russian refugees from the instability of Siberia and growth in Japanese settlements, while resulting in tensions, were to bring a further flavor to these cultural developments. Amongst the most significant developments of the time was the establishment of the Korean History Compilation Committee, which aimed to compile Korean history - if with a variety of creative Japanese additions - and the protection of an independent Korean culture. Despite Japanese involvement, major archeological excavations were undertaken and countless priceless artifacts were preserved as a result of the colonial administration's efforts, allowing for the further ferment of Korean culture during this period. Furthermore, the 1920s saw a flowering in Korean music as occurred with Yun Simdeok, a talented soprano singer educated in Tokyo in classical western music who was eventually forced to abandon such efforts given Korean unwillingness to embrace the genre - stymied, she became a pop singer and actor to support herself while maintaining a tumultuous relationship with the married author and playwright Kim UJin. After recording the song "In Praise of Death" in Tokyo, the pair took sail back to Korea - however, on the trip back the pair were discovered on the deck preparing to jump overboard, causing considerable scandal. Yun Simdeok returned to Korea with a shattered relationship, Kim Ujin being forced to return to his wife or risk disinheritance, but with a shocking musical superhit. Yun Simdeok would soon find herself catapulted into stardom, among the first real modern musical stars of Korea. During the next years she would record a series of major musical hits, seeing a growing interest in her classical music passion while fundamentally rejuvenating the Korean musical scene (13). During this time, Saito Makoto was faced with a complex and shifting situation as the Korean Independence Movement experienced infighting and fracturing as leadership, ideology and methodology all became contested matters. This period saw the authority of the Korean Provisional Government, founded in exile in 1919 by Rhee Seungman and Ahn Changho, prove insufficient to coordinate the resistance and the development of competing resistance movements. This was particularly the case with the Heroic Corps, revolutionary groups aligned with Kim Wonbong's ideological framework of violent resistance to the Japanese which refused any compromise with the occupiers, who conducted a series of bombings and assassinations throughout the 1920s while outraging the Japanese colonial government and resulted in bloody reprisals against imprisoned revolutionaries. By the end of the decade, Japanese land ownership crossed 50% - a growth of nearly twenty percent during the decade - which left large sections of the Korean population farming land owned by Japanese landlords.

Japanese Communism finds its origins in 1922 when a collection of Japanese leftist activists united to establish the Japan Communist Party - Nippon Kyosanto. The new party united former rivals, with anarchists, syndicalists, Marxists, Christian socialists, national socialists and other more esoteric socialist factions uniting, inspired by the developments of Muscovite Communism. Of particular note were the syndicalist Yamakawa Hitoshi, the anarchist Osugi Sakae, the Marxist Nosaka Sanzo and the national socialist Kita Ikki - who led their respective factions at the founding of the party (14). The two most prominent figures of the foursome, Yamakawa and Osugi, would clash over leadership of the party during its first year of existence - only to be cut tragically short when Osugi was brutally murdered together with his lover Ito Noe and his six-year old nephew during the Kanto Earthquake massacre. The killings of such well known leftists, Ito herself having been a prominent feminist and anarchist figure, alongside a child provoked scandal and outrage - ultimately leading to Lieutenant Amakasu Masahiko, who had led the death squad, being jailed for ten years. Osugi's death left the anarchist wing of the party in shambles just as the Peace Preservation Laws of the Yamamoto Government were passed and Nippon Kyosanto was outlawed alongside every other socialist, anarchist and communist organization in 1924 - resulting in a major weakening of the anarchist movement in Japan. Nevertheless, it wouldn't take long for the Communist Party to be restored, as the recently arrived Marxist Fukumoto Kazuo - who had spent time studying in Europe since 1922 - made common cause with Nosaka Sanzo to re-establish the party in 1926, while Hitoshi united with Kita, the trade unionist Noda Ritsuta, who chaired the powerful Hyogikai trade union alliance, and Ritsuta's friend Oyama Ikou to establish the rival Labour-Farmer Party - named Rodonominto in Japanese. These two parties, Nippon Kyosanto and Rodonominto, would soon begin to diverge in their ideological foundation, most prominently over the issue of the Emperor. The most significant disagreement between Fukumoto and Yamakawa lay in the issue of whether a Communist Japan could exist under the rule of the imperial house - with Yamakawa in favor of retaining the monarchy while Fukumoto vocally opposed such ideas, believing that it would undermine the efforts at equality inherent to their movement. Further, Rodonominto would soon find itself sweeping to unprecedented popularity amongst the peasantry as Kita Ikki's flamboyant nationalism, which built on pre-existing State Shinto efforts, united with a powerful agrarian land reform platform and a militant pan-Asianism to closely fit what many Japanese peasants wanted out of their government. Nippon Kyosanto would find its niche to a greater degree in the factories and industrial cities, although even there it found itself challenged by Rodonominto as well as other, smaller, proletarian parties, who also possessed alluring labor platforms. The most significant development during this period would prove to be the unexpected, but welcomed, success of Kita Ikki and Rodonominto's ideology amongst the common soldiery of the Japanese army, wherefrom it would slowly begin to seep into the lowest ranks of the Army's officer corps - even finding a niche following in the Imperial Military Academy. By the end of the decade, it had become clear that Rodonominto would emerge as the foremost Communist party in Japan, leading Fukumoto and Nosaka to throw in the towel and merge their party into Rodonominto in return for positions of considerable power within the unified party, once more operating under the name of Nippon Kyosanto (15).

(8) While they share a name, there are definite differences between the Rikken Minseito of OTL and TTL. Most significant is the fact that it aligns much more closely to Yamamoto Gonbee's ideological position - which means less emphasis on business, much more focus on democratic and constitutional reforms and finally a significantly closer relationship to the Navy than IOTL. It is less overtly opposed to foreign entanglements but retains its vocal opposition to the involvement of the bureaucracy and remaining Genro in political affairs.

(9) The most significant changes from OTL present here is that Japan is able to avoid the Showa Financial Crisis which IOTL saw the Japanese economy sputter to a halt. ITTL the economic situation is somewhat better in Japan and, most significantly, Yamamoto cuts a significantly more trusted figure than the OTL leadership of Wakatsuki Reijiro, preventing a panicked run on the banks. Furthermore, Minseito is able to attract more support from the Zaibatsus than IOTL, bringing the Yasuda in to support their party alongside Mitsubishi which was the sole sponsor IOTL. Finally, Yamamoto passes a women's suffrage bill four years earlier than OTL.

(10) It is important to note that the Seiyukai and Minseito are not the only parties in the Japanese political system - they are just the two most significant at this point. There is a large, and growing, labor movement which struggles to make itself heard despite the legal ban on socialist, communist and anarchist parties, while there is a wide range of right-wing parties with varying degrees of extremity. It is also worth mentioning that the legal ban on leftist parties largely falls apart within a year or two of its passage.

(11) There are some rather significant differences in who is appointed, when and to what positions here. The most important things to note are that the OTL Treaty Faction of the Navy (although they aren't called that ITTL) are firm supporters of Yamamoto and as a result have risen to dominate the Navy. They are politically aligned with Minseito and belong to the left-wing politically within the Navy itself. Jiro Minami was a moderate IOTL, and as a result came to the attention of Yamamoto and was appointed by him to counter the virulence of the Army. The dismissal of officers was conducted by Kazushige IOTL which ultimately led to him losing his position of prominence in the Army - as such the appointment of Jiro keeps Kazushige in play within the army and eventually sees him emerge as one of two leaders in the Army.

(12) The most significant divergences are in this section - namely the fact that the Crown Prince, now being Yasuhito, is a firm backer of the Army - and specifically of Araki Sadao, which suddenly bumps up Araki's profile quite considerably. The second major divergence here is that Emperor Taisho survives his bout of Pneumonia in 1926 and as a result the regency continues. It is important to note that Yasuhito is not anywhere close to as popular as his brother Hirohito was and that his position as Regent is far more precarious. As long as Taisho lives, he will be unable to really make much in the way of major moves.

(13) IOTL the story of Yun Sim Deok and Kim U-Jin ends tragically with the pair committing suicide on the trip back from recording "In Praise of Death" - in the running for most tragic title of the century. The story of the dual suicide would result in a skyrocketing in the popularity of the song, which has come to be considered the first Korean "Popular" song. Here things play out more happily, if with the relationship with Kim U-Jin ended. Yun Sim Deok ends up performing both western and pop music to audiences as highly placed as Governor-General Saito. If you are interested there is a six episode series on Netflix under the title "The Hymn of Death" which covers the story.

(14) It is absolutely critical to note that the Nippon Kyosanto of TTL is an entirely different beast from that of OTL. In OTL Kyosanto was a strictly Marxist-Leninist platform of the Comintern, founded to represent the communist ideology out of the USSR. ITTL, the divergent development of Russian Communism results in a far broader coalition coming together to create the first Communist Party in Japan. Of particular note here is the fact that you have figures who might otherwise be considered far-right, like Kita Ikki, who are part of the party.

(15) It is important to note that the disagreement between Fukumoto and Yamakawa over the role of the Emperor in a Communist state is an OTL one which Fukumoto "won", although both of them were condemned by the Comintern. ITTL, there is no real external ideological determinant to decide the matter either way, which leads to a temporary dividing of the Communist party over the issue. During this period Kita Ikki really rises to prominence as one of the Communist Party's foremost ideologues - a sharp contrast to OTL - and that Kita's ideological structures still prove as popular in the Army and with the peasantry as IOTL. A couple things to note beyond that; (1) most of the far-left eventually coalesces around either Kyosanto or Rodonominto during the four year period from 1926-30, and as such when the two parties merge there are very few other alternatives on the far left, (2) Yamamoto Gonbee significantly loosened the strictures of the Peace Preservation Laws when Rikken Minseito was formed - or at least didn't enforce them actively - and embarked on a larger struggle with the military instead, and (3) despite Rodonominto winning the struggle with Kyosanto, the merger ends up using the latter name. This is because Nippon Kyosanto as a name allows for comparisons to the global Communist movement and as such has a rather hallowed status in left-wing ranks - this is also part of why Fukumoto's Kyosanto was able to hold out for so long against Rodonominto.

End Note:

And with that we close out the first half of our first update back from Hiatus. I hope you enjoyed the delving into Chinese and Japanese developments. I have been on something of a deep dive into East Asia for about a year and a half at this point, so it was where I started when I went back and got to work on the TL again. The first few updates are a bit rough compared to later updates, but I hope that it lives up to people's expectations.

Oh, I recently realized that I absolutely loathe working with Japanese names in Wikipedia. Where Chinese and Korean names are written ordinarily - last name, first name - on Wikipedia pages about Japanese figures the specific usage of first name, last name or last name, first name is completely and totally arbitrary. I have had to go back through and correct more than 20 different names because they had been written in the wrong format. While I can usually recognize the difference in Chinese and Korean, I for some reason have a lot harder of a time figuring out differences between last names and first names in Japanese. /end rant. I have been using the last name, first name format to the best of my knowledge as that is how names are structured in Japan, but there could be a couple mistakes left behind.
Loved the update! What’s the balance
Of power like in the new unified Japanese communist party look like? I assume that the “muscovite” faction has some support while the majority agrees with the more expansionist ideals of the victorious rodonominto. Anyway can’t wait to see the rest of asia!
Loved the update! What’s the balance
Of power like in the new unified Japanese communist party look like? I assume that the “muscovite” faction has some support while the majority agrees with the more expansionist ideals of the victorious rodonominto. Anyway can’t wait to see the rest of asia!
Bear in mind that the Trotskyite/Muscovite Communist does not translate completely outside of Russia. Japanese Communism is its own creature which, while influenced by developments in Russia, is nevertheless shaped by its local context. The topic of Japanese Communism is covered in the second half of Update 29 in greater detail, but basically it is the Rodonominto faction's ideas which win out. The result is that Kita Ikki becomes one of the principal ideologues of Nippon Kyosanto, the Communist movement acknowledges the potential for the continued rule of the Imperial House even in a Communist Japan and that the party takes considerable interest in the international revolutionary movement.

Happy to hear that you enjoyed it, and look forward to sharing it as well!
With China completely under the thumb of the Fengtian ittl. If the Japanese tries to invade like OTL, they're in for a severe beating. Also with the Navy emerging victorious after the struggle with the army, I wonder how Japanese foreign policy will change from OTL.
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With China completely under the thumb of the Fengtian ittl. If the Japanese tries to invade like OTL, they're in for a severe beating. Also with the Navy emerging victorious after the struggle with the army, I wonder how Japanese foreign policy will change from OTL.
Seconded, and it's almost inevitable for China to play a crucial role in Tokyo's strategic calculus irrespective of everything else anyway. The wonderful thing about Japan in this period and in alternate history, is that its foreign policy is so delicate to get right, and has to balance so many competing options, that predicting which way it's going to go is seriously complicated. But a stronger China, and so much earlier, surely will affect more than just Japan imho - biggest player in world history, all that. And in the meantime, the ideologies in the background shift and change. It will be supremely interesting to see how this plays out.
I remember A Day in July -it was one of the first stories I read on this site. Nice to see it awaken from its long slumber.
I remember A Day in July -it was one of the first stories I read on this site. Nice to see it awaken from its long slumber.
Happy to hear that you enjoyed it. I really cannot wait to get into everything to come. The 1930s are going to be incredibly intense, there are so many important events lined up for that decade which I look forward to getting into.