How badly does Japan lose if a 1938/1939 border conflict escalates with USSR? (Nomanhan, etc)

I could go through one by one again and compare "people on the Internet" with published author (in 2012 btw, includes the 2002 article you've referenced. If you really want a break down of why taking a tiny sample and assuming that rings true for the whole front then you'll have to wait as I don't have a pc.

Please, has anyone here actually read any of the literature on nomonhan? I am glad to have this information about the invasion of manchuria.
Drea, Coox and the Institute of Oriental Studies have been cited; how much literature are you asking for?

Note the bold. But I guess this historian and the Kwangtung army itself is wrong and actually the Soviets were weaker in every regard (apart from apparently useless tanks)
The author is definitely wrong, given basic research into the TOE of 1st Army would reveal it was only superior in tanks. Furthermore, attempting to utilize a single sentence, which does not include a single citation for its claim, is the definition of "taking a tiny sample".

Now the quotes about fuel is interesting, so you're saying soviet gains would be limited based on their logistical capacity?
I'm saying there would be no gains; the Soviets had to pull from STAVKA reserve in the European USSR just to make a Corps-level action against a single Japanese division possible at a time when a relief force, at the Corps level, was already being assembled by the Kwantung Army.

So what happens then? The Japanese storm to the urals? Easily brushing aside the incredibly weak Soviets?
Best case, probably overrun everything South of the Amur River. Worst case? Stalemate. Either is extremely bad for the Soviets come 1941.
 
Mine is based primarily on Goldman's Nomonhan, 1939.
This seems to be the issue, as I did some digging on this and the book was trashed in official reviews and for good reason. He did not, for example, utilize Soviet sources at all or, at best, very little for the portion of his book concerning the fighting at Nomanhan and, further, most of his bibliography is from before 1970.



Indeed, reading the blurb on Amazon was enough to immediately set off alarm bells, given how many "pop history" memes it contained:
Goldman not only demonstrates the linkage between the Nomonhan conflict, the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, and the outbreak of World War II , but also shows how Nomonhan influenced Japan s decision to go to war with the United States and thus change the course of history. The book details Gen. Georgy Zhukov s brilliant victory at Nomonhan that led to his command of the Red Army in 1941 and his success in stopping the Germans at Moscow with reinforcements from the Soviet Far East. Such a strategy was possible, the author contends, only because of Japan s decision not to attack the Soviet Far East but to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and attack Pearl Harbor instead. Goldman credits Tsuji Masanobu, an influential Japanese officer who instigated the Nomonhan conflict and survived the debacle, with urging his superiors not to take on the Soviets again in 1941, but instead to go to war with the United States.
The "Siberian Divisions" is a myth that has been debunked for decades and Tsuji Masanobu had absolutely no effect on Japan's decision to Strike South; Japan had been actively preparing to go to war against the USSR in 1941 until U.S. economic actions forced their hand.
 
Well if the book is wrong then I have no basis for my positions.

Thanks for the info.

What book do you recommend? Audiobook preferably

"The assertion that the Soviet Union was prepared for and unafraid of a war with Japan was a bit of an overstatement, although Stalin certainly had cause for optimism in the battlefield situation and the larger East Asian strategic balance.," from the book

" With artillery, however, it is size and weight that counts. From the start, the Japanese artillery offensive had no chance of success. First, they simply did not have enough ammunition. Never having engaged in such an operation before, they had no idea how much ammunition would be consumed. Kwantung Army allocated 70 percent of its entire artillery ammunition stock to this operation. Two-thirds of that was expended in the first two days. As the Japanese rate of fire slackened, Soviet fire intensified. Zhukov had more ammunition, more guns, and better guns. The Japanese gunners were not trained to fire artillery much beyond 6,000 yards and howitzers not beyond 5,000. They had never conducted live-fire practice at maximum range. But the Soviet heavy guns were deployed in several lines, the closest 8,000–10,000 yards away. Beyond this line were other guns, especially 152-mm artillery that the Japanese guns could not even attempt to engage, but which were able to hit the Japanese gun lines at 14,000–15,000 yards. A Japanese artillery regiment commander said his guns were once attacked by Soviet 152-mm cannons at 18,000 yards. The maximum range of the Soviet heavy artillery was 20,800 yards; of their best 152-mm howitzers, 16,500 yards. In addition, the Soviet artillery commanders, some of whom had been operating in the area since May, knew the east shore of the Halha intimately. Not only did they use good spotting techniques, but they had also preregistered potential targets. To some Japanese officers, the region seemed like one vast Soviet firing range.63"

It's a real shame people would write and publish lies like this, how misleading
 
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Presuming the Soviets achieve operational/territorial success against the Japanese, what territories will they make the priority, especially in the second and third campaigns, and in what order will they evict Japan from various territories:

Here is the order I would propose, let me know if you think things would go in a different order for the Soviets and why:

a) holding their own and Outer Mongolian territory
b) Manchuria along the CER and north of it
c) south Manchuria to Yalu river (possibly excluding Kwangtung peninsula)
d) northern China to Yellow River (Shansi, Beijing area, Shandong) & Kwangtung peninsula
e) east-central China (if not already liberated by Japanese forces
f) Korea
g) Sakhalin
 
1. Nomonhan was the farthest point from a railhead along the whole border
2. The Japanese had initial numerical superiority
3. The Japanese had operational advantages (allowed to invade territory)
4. The operational advantage allowed tactical surprises: destruction of soviet airpower on the ground, invading of Mongolia for a pincer attack, attacking first and at night
This. (^^^)
 
This seems to be the issue, as I did some digging on this and the book was trashed in official reviews and for good reason. He did not, for example, utilize Soviet sources at all or, at best, very little for the portion of his book concerning the fighting at Nomanhan and, further, most of his bibliography is from before 1970.
The linked to review does offer criticisms on the attempt to link the fighting with events in Europe (which is where the whole "bibiliography from before 1970" criticism comes in) but it describes the account of the fighting itself as quite successful. Also, I like how you ignore the fact that he draws heavily on Japanese sources means that everything RMcD94 says about how Japan's stocks of fuel, ammunition, etc. and Kwantung Army's own assessments is accurate.
 
The linked to review does offer criticisms on the attempt to link the fighting with events in Europe (which is where the whole "bibiliography from before 1970" criticism comes in) but it describes the account of the fighting itself as quite successful. Also, I like how you ignore the fact that he draws heavily on Japanese sources means that everything RMcD94 says about how Japan's stocks of fuel, ammunition, etc. and Kwantung Army's own assessments is accurate.
Give what Bob has posted, I think that can be dismissed handily. The Japanese had a single division with those issues and still inflicted greater losses.
 
Give what Bob has posted, I think that can be dismissed handily.
But nothing Bob posted actually address how the Japanese are supposed to prosecute a much larger war having already expended on the order of 70% of their theaterwide supplies just at Nomonhon? Nor how the mere 2,000 trucks the Japanese have are supposed to support the proposed deep thrusts into Soviet territory that are being advocated for here? The Soviet Union in 1939 has 200,000 motor vehicles in Red Army and can mobilize another 200,000 from the civilian economy if need be (as they did during Barbarossa). Finland is a War of Choice where as a Japanese invasion of the Soviet Far East is not. If the choice is between shifting massive logistical support down the Trans-Siberian to crush a major Japanese attack or attacking little old Finland that the Soviets didn't even believe would be that hard, it's pretty clear to me which Stalin will choose.
 
Japan's turn wasn't decisively linked to the American economic actions, the Japanese motive for the 1941 Northern Strategy was entirely opportunistic to begin with. Thus, as the German advance into European Russia weakened and then stalled, the mood in Japan turned pessimistic about the prospects of a war against the Soviet Union, well-before the American economic actions in late July, as the (now available online) Classified War Journal of Imperial General Headquarters' entries throughout July shows, and by July 25 supports within the General Staffs was evaporating. Another detrimental concern was that the Japanese could not observe any significant reduction of the Soviet military deployment in its far eastern provinces, one major condition for the initiation of war against the Soviet Union.

Senshi Sosho vol.73 says (page 65) that the Minister of Army (Tojo Hideki) met and persuaded the Chief of the First Section of the General Staff Office (Tanaka Shinichi) to abandon the plan on July 31, and while this became the official policy only on August 9 it is clear that the actual point of Japan's strategic turn predates that date.
 
But nothing Bob posted actually address how the Japanese are supposed to prosecute a much larger war having already expended on the order of 70% of their theaterwide supplies just at Nomonhon? Nor how the mere 2,000 trucks the Japanese have are supposed to support the proposed deep thrusts into Soviet territory that are being advocated for here? The Soviet Union in 1939 has 200,000 motor vehicles in Red Army and can mobilize another 200,000 from the civilian economy if need be (as they did during Barbarossa). Finland is a War of Choice where as a Japanese invasion of the Soviet Far East is not. If the choice is between shifting massive logistical support down the Trans-Siberian to crush a major Japanese attack or attacking little old Finland that the Soviets didn't even believe would be that hard, it's pretty clear to me which Stalin will choose.
@BobTheBarbarian (I'm sorry lol)
 
But nothing Bob posted actually address how the Japanese are supposed to prosecute a much larger war having already expended on the order of 70% of their theaterwide supplies just at Nomonhon? Nor how the mere 2,000 trucks the Japanese have are supposed to support the proposed deep thrusts into Soviet territory that are being advocated for here? The Soviet Union in 1939 has 200,000 motor vehicles in Red Army and can mobilize another 200,000 from the civilian economy if need be (as they did during Barbarossa). Finland is a War of Choice where as a Japanese invasion of the Soviet Far East is not. If the choice is between shifting massive logistical support down the Trans-Siberian to crush a major Japanese attack or attacking little old Finland that the Soviets didn't even believe would be that hard, it's pretty clear to me which Stalin will choose.
The answer is: except for the most basic defensive operations the China war would terminate immediately and Japan would be forced to redeploy most of its army to Manchuria in accordance with the operational plans outlined previously. This was one of the reasons why Japan was so unwilling to escalate at Nomonhan, out of all active forces they had only 9 divisions in Manchuria and Korea and only 1 in the home islands; all the rest were in China.

70% of their theaterwide supplies just at Nomonhon?
It wasn't the case. Prior to the renewed Japanese offensive on 23 July Komatsubara received reinforcement in the form of the 3rd Artillery Brigade from Mainland Japan. It became part of an artillery corps under Maj. Gen. Eitaro Uchiyama together with the 13th Artillery Regiment (the 23rd Division's organic unit) and the 1st Independent FA Regiment. These weapons were supplied with 5 "kisu" (Japanese term for ammunition loads) amounting to approximately 14,800 shells. According to the offensive plan, starting at 0800 on 23 July 70% of this stockpile was to be expended in support of the ground forces then jumping off and for the suppression of opposing batteries. [Coox p. 503] But, after three days of fighting (that is, by the 25th), 4.5 kisu of ammunition had been burned through and Soviet artillery remained a threat (even Japanese estimates admitted that RKKA firepower had only been decreased by about a half, and suppression of batteries =/= destruction). The ground offensive failed.

After the encirclement of the 23rd Division the Kwantung Army's reinforcement group was allocated a much greater quantity of ammunition; survivors of the 13th Artillery Regiment (refurbished with new equipment) were authorized to expend as much ammunition in a week as they previously did over the course of three months. [Coox p. 912] Of course, nothing came of this because the battle was already over.

Nor how the mere 2,000 trucks the Japanese have
Don't know where this comes from either. The shortage of trucks was a huge issue, but there were more than 2,000. At the time there were approximately 9,000 motor vehicles in Manchuria, but only about half could be expected to pass inspection. JSOM vol. IX p. 351 states that the 1,000 committed to Nomonhan was "the maximum available for Kwantung Army use," while the reinforcement group above had 21 truck companies (50 each) plus the Manchukuo Railway Bureau motor units - 1,500 vehicles. [Coox p. 848]
 
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Sorry for double-post

Japan's turn wasn't decisively linked to the American economic actions, the Japanese motive for the 1941 Northern Strategy was entirely opportunistic to begin with. Thus, as the German advance into European Russia weakened and then stalled, the mood in Japan turned pessimistic about the prospects of a war against the Soviet Union, well-before the American economic actions in late July, as the (now available online) Classified War Journal of Imperial General Headquarters' entries throughout July shows, and by July 25 supports within the General Staffs was evaporating. Another detrimental concern was that the Japanese could not observe any significant reduction of the Soviet military deployment in its far eastern provinces, one major condition for the initiation of war against the Soviet Union.
I can't read Japanese (at least, I can't readily translate it when it's written vertically), but Coox's "Nomonhan" describes the situation as follows:

"Given the continuing power of the Russian forces in Siberia, in late July the AGS [Army General Staff] was still toying with the idea of further increasing the attack strength of the Kwantung Army by transferring four more divisions from the homeland and five from China [Bob note: that is, on top of the 14 in Manchuria and 2 in Korea]. Gen. Hata Shunroku, however, the commander in China, lodged an unexpectedly strenuous complaint against the proposed weakening of his forces. Hata was not alone in objecting to the more grandiose Go-North plans. One war ministry bureau chief told his subordinates, "Forget about our 'missing the bus.' The bus is not moving." General Itagaki, bound for Seoul to assume command of the Korea Army, confided to associates that he was dubious about German prospects and was worried about the fact that the objectives of the Kantokuen buildup would apparently not be attained until the end of September. The experience of Nomonhan warned against trying to fight when the Manchurian winter was at hand.

The outcome might have been dramatically different had the Japanese High Command not already committed itself, as a result of the imperial conference of 2 July, to accomplishing the preliminary phase of the Go-South alternative also. In practice, this meant the occupation of southern French Indochina by the last part of July, an intention known to the U.S. government from signal intelligence intercepts as well as from the Vichy regime. But whereas the hard-pressed Russians remained quiescent in the north, the Americans retaliated immediately. On 26 July, invoking an "unlimited national emergency," Roosevelt issued an executive order freezing all Japanese assets in the United States and controlling all financial and trade transactions involving Japanese interests. Britain and the Dutch government-in-exile followed suit, effectively shutting down trade between Japan and the three countries. On 1 August, the Americans embargoed the export of oil. Since an invasion of Siberia would do nothing to improve Japan's fuel situation, which would soon reach a crisis, the sanctions contributed to the abandonment of the Go-North plan and the diversion of emphasis to the south. Indeed, IGHQ officers term the 26 July date critical because it narrowed Japanese options.

General Tanaka [Shinichi] did not lose hope easily. He and his supporters wanted Kantokuen to proceed, with even higher strength limits authorized for the attack mode and lightning countermeasures readied in case of a Soviet pre-emptive strike, which IJA hawks were hoping for. Since Tojo's support was vital for a report to the Throne, Tanaka conferred with the war minister at the end of July. Concerning the preemptive-strike theory coupled with Japanese retaliation, Tojo deemed it best that the Emperor be tendered no more than an estimate of the situation for the time being. The war minister favored the continuation of Kantokuen and indicated agreement with the idea of a 24-division target for the hypothetical main offensive on the eastern Manchurian front. But these were only paper plans and, significantly, Tojo spoke of other priorities - the China war, the southern theater, and the powerful role of the Navy.

The chain of command called for Sugiyama to address the Throne in connection with the Kantokuen project and AGS estimates. When he did so on 30 July, the monarch revealed uneasiness about Kantokuen. The special maneuvers, remarked the Emperor, had been exerting ill effects abroad; if the process continued, Japan's stance might be weakened gradually. As for the Russians, the shifting of their forces westward might be slowed to an undesirable extent. Shouldn't the Japanese mobilization be suspended? In an audience on 1 August, when the matter of the second stage of Kantokuen came up, the Emperor sought reassurance that war would not follow the arrival of the reinforcements. Sugiyama, of course, was convinced that the reinforcement of Manchuria was crucial, even for the readiness mode, in order to support diplomatic efforts toward the Russians and to shield the southern flank at the very time that junbi jin preparations went forward in the south. In accordance with the national policy decision approved on 2 July, the buildup of men and materiel was far along. Sugiyama therefore wanted the army to be allowed to proceed with Kantokuen. On the understanding that matters would not be handled carelessly, the Emperor seems to have concurred reluctantly." [pp. 1045-1046]
In other words, despite increasing misgivings Kantokuen was official policy until at least August 1st, the day of the US oil embargo. After more debates over how to respond to possible Soviet air intrusions, a "radio blackout" crisis caused by a magnetic storm, and conflict with the navy, the "Go South" policy was adopted on the 9th regardless of any future developments in the Soviet-German War. In light of this, it seems like the United States was the decisive factor - or at least the last straw - in why Kantokuen was abandoned.

Senshi Sosho vol.73 says (page 65) that the Minister of Army (Tojo Hideki) met and persuaded the Chief of the First Section of the General Staff Office (Tanaka Shinichi) to abandon the plan on July 31, and while this became the official policy only on August 9 it is clear that the actual point of Japan's strategic turn predates that date.
I was previously unaware of this interaction; if it is the same as described in the third paragraph above, the interpretation of what happened appears to disagree with Coox.
 
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In other words, despite increasing misgivings Kantokuen was official policy until at least August 1st, the day of the US oil embargo.
If we go by official policy Kantokuen remained on the table until 1942 since the official word was "No initiation of war against the USSR in this year". This mobilization "exercise" remained active well into 1942 after all. But in Tokyo the Northern Strategy was discarded by then. The Northern Strategy went coma for all practical purposes when even the General Staffs, the strongest proponent of the project, was no longer confident of its prospect. Which is, according to the Classified War Journal date, by July 25, a day before a series of international economic sanctions hit Japan.

After more debates over how to respond to possible Soviet air intrusions, a "radio blackout" crisis caused by a magnetic storm, and conflict with the navy, the "Go South" policy was adopted on the 9th regardless of any future developments in the Soviet-German War. In light of this, it seems like the United States was the decisive factor - or at least the last straw - in why Kantokuen was abandoned.
In the end, the pre-determined condition for the war - reduction of the Soviet troops in the Far East by half - was not achieved, rendering the Kantokuen as a war plan unfeasible. This alone did not, necessarily, forced Japan to opt for the Southern Strategy, or even the war against the USA. And indeed General Hata and others argued for concentrating on China Theater first and capture Chongqing, however impractical such a campaign would be. The American sanctions removed such possibilities and the Army's popular idea of 'the Southern Strategy without provoking the Americans' (known as Eibei Kabunron 英米可分論 in Japan) was made unworkable, but I disagree it discoursed Japan from the Northern Strategy, because by then the Strategy was already collapsing. Maybe it worked as a nail on the coffin and it certainly did convince Japan that there's no other viable course.

I was previously unaware of this interaction; if it is the same as described in the third paragraph above, the interpretation of what happened appears to disagree with Coox.
Apparently. Senshi Sosho's word is that Tanaka, after realizing Tojo's stance on that day, wrote that "Now we have no other option than to force-through the Southern Strategy as an unmovable state policy" (もはや南進政策の強行をもって不動の国策としなければならなくなった) or so, in a memorandum dated on August 2. It is possible he was more concerned by the American oil embargo announced on the same day (taking account of time discrepancy), than the discussion with Tojo, but such statement in any case runs against the narrative that Tanaka remained firm in his support for Kantokuen.
 
If we go by official policy Kantokuen remained on the table until 1942 since the official word was "No initiation of war against the USSR in this year". This mobilization "exercise" remained active well into 1942 after all. But in Tokyo the Northern Strategy was discarded by then. The Northern Strategy went coma for all practical purposes when even the General Staffs, the strongest proponent of the project, was no longer confident of its prospect. Which is, according to the Classified War Journal date, by July 25, a day before a series of international economic sanctions hit Japan.
Was it the same "Kantokuen?" After the initial campaign in the south some forces were returned to Manchuria, new army headquarters (including the Mechanized Army/Kikogun) were created, and so on, but as far as I'm concerned the Special Maneuvers ended before Pearl Harbor. In any case Japanese forces in Manchuria were hardly ready for offensive war in 1942 and most of that period was spent reorganizing before the Kwantung Army was torn down again.

In the end, the pre-determined condition for the war - reduction of the Soviet troops in the Far East by half - was not achieved, rendering the Kantokuen as a war plan unfeasible. This alone did not, necessarily, forced Japan to opt for the Southern Strategy, or even the war against the USA. And indeed General Hata and others argued for concentrating on China Theater first and capture Chongqing, however impractical such a campaign would be. The American sanctions removed such possibilities and the Army's popular idea of 'the Southern Strategy without provoking the Americans' (known as Eibei Kabunron 英米可分論 in Japan) was made unworkable, but I disagree it discoursed Japan from the Northern Strategy, because by then the Strategy was already collapsing. Maybe it worked as a nail on the coffin and it certainly did convince Japan that there's no other viable course.
If I may say so, I think we are talking about two (or even three) different things; the reasons are as follows:

1.) According to Coox, immediately after the Soviet-German war the Japanese Army General Staff developed a contingency plan in late June, outlined below.

a. Given the observed transfer of Soviet forces westward, it would be reasonable to expect that, by early or mid-August, 50% of rifle divisions and 2/3 of supporting equipment (tanks, aircraft) would have shifted away from the Far East, leaving approximately 15 rifle divisions, 900 tanks, and 1,000 aircraft behind.

b. The Kwantung Army, reinforced to 22 divisions in 2 phases, would therefore be twice as strong (850,000 men) as the Soviets opposing them.

c. With this favorable balance of forces achieved, the Japanese would quickly defeat the Soviet Army and occupy Primorye. The approximate timetable was as follows:
  • 28 June: Decide on mobilization
  • 5 July: Issue mobilization orders
  • 20 July: Begin troop concentration
  • 10 August: Decide on hostilities
  • 24 August: Complete readiness stance
  • 29 August: Concentrate two divisions from North China in Manchuria, bringing the total to 16
  • 5 September: Concentrate four further divisions from the homeland, bringing the total to 22; complete combat stance
  • 10 September (at latest): Commence combat operations
  • 15 October: Complete first phase of war
2.) The War Ministry as a whole, however, did not agree with the Army "hawks" and instead preferred to limit the extent of the mobilization to only the first-phase level of 16 divisions (which was what actually happened). The 16-division force was intended to maintain diplomacy with Stalin's government or could perhaps take advantage of some catastrophic Soviet collapse, but in the view of the Army General Staff it was "completely impossible" to engage the Red Army with such a small force and in fact it would be "rather difficult" to do so on the 22-division level. The disagreement was summarized by the metaphor of "the persimmon," that is, whether Japan should 'wait for the fruit to ripen and fall' or 'shake it from the tree while it was still green?'

3.) Independent of (1) and (2), Major General Shinichi Tanaka, Chief of the AGS Operations Bureau, proposed a third plan. Tanaka and his supporters, as discussed above, advocated an extremely aggressive view that an even larger force of 25 divisions should be allocated to war with the USSR. This was to be prepared in three stages - the readiness stance (No. 100 setup) and the offensive stance (Nos. 101 and 102 setups). On July 5th Tanaka convinced War Minister Tojo about the "rightness and viability" of the General Staff's theories, and on July 7th General Sugiyama obtained Imperial support for the mobilization.

^^This is the "Kantokuen" plan which we have been discussing, and was intended to make available the necessary strength ('Given the continuing power of the Russian forces in Siberia . . .') to fight the Red Army whether the persimmon was ripe or not. Because of a combination of events mobilization did not proceed past the 16-division level - let alone achieve the goals set by the Tanaka faction's mobilization plan - but if it did, my understanding is that Japan would have possessed the ability to take the offensive against the Russians "at a moment's notice," and indeed the emperor was deeply worried that the Kwantung Army would have done so on its own ('gekokujo') if this came to pass.

Of course, none of the above scenarios, even the "Kantokuen" proposed by Tanaka, automatically guaranteed a war with the USSR. As we have discussed, there was not even unanimity within the Army over how many divisions should be committed, while at the same time the Navy wanted to proceed with preparations for war in Southeast Asia.

Apparently. Senshi Sosho's word is that Tanaka, after realizing Tojo's stance on that day, wrote that "Now we have no other option than to force-through the Southern Strategy as an unmovable state policy" (もはや南進政策の強行をもって不動の国策としなければならなくなった) or so, in a memorandum dated on August 2. It is possible he was more concerned by the American oil embargo announced on the same day (taking account of time discrepancy), than the discussion with Tojo, but such statement in any case runs against the narrative that Tanaka remained firm in his support for Kantokuen.
I imagine that he was. In chapter 1 of Japanese Monograph no. 150 (pp. 7-9) and other documents, the economic sanctions and danger of being completely cut off from oil and other raw materials are described as the decisive factor leading to war between Japan and the United States. With Japan determined not to back down as a matter of "face" while flouting honest diplomacy with Roosevelt's government, there was simply no room for an invasion of Siberia under those conditions.
 
Was it the same "Kantokuen?" After the initial campaign in the south some forces were returned to Manchuria, new army headquarters (including the Mechanized Army/Kikogun) were created, and so on, but as far as I'm concerned the Special Maneuvers ended before Pearl Harbor. In any case Japanese forces in Manchuria were hardly ready for offensive war in 1942 and most of that period was spent reorganizing before the Kwantung Army was torn down again.
It is true that no further mobilization order was issued after no. 102 on July 16, but material mobilization continued and supplies were being procured under Kantokuen as late as February 9 1942. Technically, the exercise finished only in July 1942. (Senshi Sosho vol.73 p.22)

If I may say so, I think we are talking about two (or even three) different things; the reasons are as follows:

1.) According to Coox, immediately after the Soviet-German war the Japanese Army General Staff developed a contingency plan in late June, outlined below.

a. Given the observed transfer of Soviet forces westward, it would be reasonable to expect that, by early or mid-August, 50% of rifle divisions and 2/3 of supporting equipment (tanks, aircraft) would have shifted away from the Far East, leaving approximately 15 rifle divisions, 900 tanks, and 1,000 aircraft behind.​
b. The Kwantung Army, reinforced to 22 divisions in 2 phases, would therefore be twice as strong (850,000 men) as the Soviets opposing them.​
c. With this favorable balance of forces achieved, the Japanese would quickly defeat the Soviet Army and occupy Primorye. The approximate timetable was as follows:​
  • 28 June: Decide on mobilization
  • 5 July: Issue mobilization orders
  • 20 July: Begin troop concentration
  • 10 August: Decide on hostilities
  • 24 August: Complete readiness stance
  • 29 August: Concentrate two divisions from North China in Manchuria, bringing the total to 16
  • 5 September: Concentrate four further divisions from the homeland, bringing the total to 22; complete combat stance
  • 10 September (at latest): Commence combat operations
  • 15 October: Complete first phase of war

2.) The War Ministry as a whole, however, did not agree with the Army "hawks" and instead preferred to limit the extent of the mobilization to only the first-phase level of 16 divisions (which was what actually happened). The 16-division force was intended to maintain diplomacy with Stalin's government or could perhaps take advantage of some catastrophic Soviet collapse, but in the view of the Army General Staff it was "completely impossible" to engage the Red Army with such a small force and in fact it would be "rather difficult" to do so on the 22-division level. The disagreement was summarized by the metaphor of "the persimmon," that is, whether Japan should 'wait for the fruit to ripen and fall' or 'shake it from the tree while it was still green?'

3.) Independent of (1) and (2), Major General Shinichi Tanaka, Chief of the AGS Operations Bureau, proposed a third plan. Tanaka and his supporters, as discussed above, advocated an extremely aggressive view that an even larger force of 25 divisions should be allocated to war with the USSR. This was to be prepared in three stages - the readiness stance (No. 100 setup) and the offensive stance (Nos. 101 and 102 setups). On July 5th Tanaka convinced War Minister Tojo about the "rightness and viability" of the General Staff's theories, and on July 7th General Sugiyama obtained Imperial support for the mobilization.

^^This is the "Kantokuen" plan which we have been discussing, and was intended to make available the necessary strength ('Given the continuing power of the Russian forces in Siberia . . .') to fight the Red Army whether the persimmon was ripe or not. Because of a combination of events mobilization did not proceed past the 16-division level - let alone achieve the goals set by the Tanaka faction's mobilization plan - but if it did, my understanding is that Japan would have possessed the ability to take the offensive against the Russians "at a moment's notice," and indeed the emperor was deeply worried that the Kwantung Army would have done so on its own ('gekokujo') if this came to pass.

Of course, none of the above scenarios, even the "Kantokuen" proposed by Tanaka, automatically guaranteed a war with the USSR. As we have discussed, there was not even unanimity within the Army over how many divisions should be committed, while at the same time the Navy wanted to proceed with preparations for war in Southeast Asia.

All 'variations' of Kantokuen were prepared by Tanaka and his staffs, all the same. There wasn't fundamental disagreement over how it should progress either. On the alert posture (警戒態勢), or 'readiness stance' as you worded, all 14 divisions in the theater were to be mobilized to full strength while 2 divisions would be transferred into the Kantogun. The Army Ministry tried to reduce the size of mobilization to 15 divisions, but eventually agreed to activate the alert posture as demanded by the General Staffs.

Then there was the offensive posture (攻勢態勢), or 'offensive stance'. 6 to 14 additional divisions were to be deployed into the theater, depending on the timing, as Tanaka himself would talk about 22 divisions on June 26, then raise his bet to 30 divisions (while placing the minimum required strength at 25 divisions. see Senshi Sosho vol.2 p.364 "...七月十一日省部間の折衝に当たり、作戦部は三〇コ師団、少なくとも二五コ師団の兵力行使を主張したがそれは...") on July 11. Additionally, this posture could only be activated when the decision is made to initiate war on the Soviet Union, but since mobilization take quite a time the General Staffs wanted to mobilize 25 divisions-equivalent of subcomponent units and logistics units in advance before such the decision can be made. The Army Ministry resisted but Tojo intervened, thus the Kantokuen began its full swing.

However the much anticipated decision was never issued, and the posture never upgraded, as the already discussed pre-determined condition (reduction of the Soviet troops in the Far East by half) set by none other the General Staffs itself, was never met. Here the real question lied. The Persimmonism (熟柿主義) was indeed a thing within the Army Ministry, but there was no disagreement over taking appropriate measures once the opportunity would present itself. But that opportunity never came, and as the days went by support for the Northern Strategy died off quickly, nor the news from the German-Soviet Front sounded promising. As observed in the War Journal, even the General Staffs with its 25 divisions plan was no longer confident, and the operational dispute between the Kantogun and the General Staffs was in motion at the same time. As summarized by Senshi Sosho's one subchapter title, the Northern Strategy was "fading away from the beginning" (初めより影薄かりし北進論), and that was the result of a chain of events unrelated to the American sanctions.


I imagine that he was. In chapter 1 of Japanese Monograph no. 150 (pp. 7-9) and other documents, the economic sanctions and danger of being completely cut off from oil and other raw materials are described as the decisive factor leading to war between Japan and the United States. With Japan determined not to back down as a matter of "face" while flouting honest diplomacy with Roosevelt's government, there was simply no room for an invasion of Siberia under those conditions.

But I still see no reason to dispute Senshi Sosho's statement that it was Tojo who persuaded Tanaka, and I see that the quoted Japanese Monograph pages does not refer the economic sanctions as the decisive factor in terminating the Northern Strategy. There's no contradiction to the assertion that while it did removed all other possibilities for Japan it was not a decisive factor in stopping the Northern Strategy because its demise came from its own reason and predates the American sanctions.
 
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It is true that no further mobilization order was issued after no. 102 on July 16, but material mobilization continued and supplies were being procured under Kantokuen as late as February 9 1942. Technically, the exercise finished only in July 1942. (Senshi Sosho vol.73 p.22)
Ok. Was the Kikogun part of the original mobilization plan?

However the much anticipated decision was never issued, and the posture never upgraded, as the already discussed pre-determined condition (reduction of the Soviet troops in the Far East by half) set by none other the General Staffs itself, was never met. Here the real question lied. The Persimmonism (熟柿主義) was indeed a thing within the Army Ministry, but there was no disagreement over taking appropriate measures once the opportunity would present itself. But that opportunity never came, and as the days went by support for the Northern Strategy died off quickly, nor the news from the German-Soviet Front sounded promising. As observed in the War Journal, even the General Staffs with its 25 divisions plan was no longer confident, and the operational dispute between the Kantogun and the General Staffs was in motion at the same time. As summarized by Senshi Sosho's one subchapter title, the Northern Strategy was "fading away from the beginning" (初めより影薄かりし北進論), and that was the result of a chain of events unrelated to the American sanctions.
Then it looks like the Soviet/Russian narrative of events is right. Japan wanted to win "maloy krov'yu, moguchim udarom" (little blood, mighty blow), but the chance to do so never came; this suggests to me that Japan was not nearly as serious about invading the USSR as I previously believed. I wonder it the outcome would have been different if there was more cooperation with Germany from the beginning, for example if Hitler extended a formal request to Matsuoka for a joint attack during his visit to Berlin in March. Historically Matsuoka went on to conclude the Neutrality Pact with the USSR in April but then turned around and advocated for war after Barbarossa began in June. There were also the preparations for the offensive south after the imperial conference on July 2.

But I still see no reason to dispute Senshi Sosho's statement that it was Tojo who persuaded Tanaka, and I see that the quoted Japanese Monograph pages does not refer the economic sanctions as the decisive factor in terminating the Northern Strategy. There's no contradiction to the assertion that while it did removed all other possibilities for Japan it was not a decisive factor in stopping the Northern Strategy because its demise came from its own reason and predates the American sanctions.
I see.

EDIT: Just some more thoughts.

On page 25 of his book, Anatoliy Koshkin (mentioned below) wrote that the 30-division plan was abandoned on 31 July 1941 - partly because of the negative impact it would have on Japanese efforts in China - but that the 'wait and see' game would continue. On the following page it is stated that after the war Masanobu Tsuji recalled that in early August 1941, the War Ministry came to the conclusion that "in case of operations against the Soviet Union all oil reserves would be used up within six months to a year" and that "therefore, as far as oil was concerned, there was no way out other than moving south."

This indicates that while other factors dissuaded an all-out Japanese offensive (or at least the buildup to reach such a capability), the threat was not completely removed until Japan decided to attack the ABDA powers.

The full (translated) quote is as follows:

"Therefore, at meetings of the leadership of the General Staff and the War Ministry, the issue of allocating an additional number of divisions for war with the USSR was discussed. On July 16, 1941, the Japanese General Staff stated that, “even if the transfer of the Soviet Far Eastern army is not carried out as scheduled, an attack on the USSR must be launched.” The troops were tasked with being fully alert to launch an offensive at any time. At the same time, a further buildup of troops was planned in Manchuria and Korea. The issue of using 30 divisions with a total number of 1.2 million people was actively discussed for war with the USSR. In 1941, there were 51 divisions in the Japanese ground forces, of which 27 were fighting in China. According to the new plan, in case of war with the Soviet Union 6 divisions were to be transferred from the Chinese front. This was strongly opposed by the China Expeditionary Army. Its commander, General Hata Shunroku, said that such a reduction in troops on the Sino-Japanese front would be very risky and would inevitably lead to the China war being prolonged further. In the end, GHQ had to agree with this because Japanese forces in China had already been greatly weakened. On July 31, the plan to use 30 divisions against the USSR was abandoned in the expectation that sooner or later the Soviet leadership would be forced to begin a large-scale transfer of troops to the west."​

All 'variations' of Kantokuen were prepared by Tanaka and his staffs, all the same. There wasn't fundamental disagreement over how it should progress either. On the alert posture (警戒態勢), or 'readiness stance' as you worded, all 14 divisions in the theater were to be mobilized to full strength while 2 divisions would be transferred into the Kantogun. The Army Ministry tried to reduce the size of mobilization to 15 divisions, but eventually agreed to activate the alert posture as demanded by the General Staffs.

Then there was the offensive posture (攻勢態勢), or 'offensive stance'. 6 to 14 additional divisions were to be deployed into the theater, depending on the timing, as Tanaka himself would talk about 22 divisions on June 26, then raise his bet to 30 divisions (while placing the minimum required strength at 25 divisions. see Senshi Sosho vol.2 p.364 "...七月十一日省部間の折衝に当たり、作戦部は三〇コ師団、少なくとも二五コ師団の兵力行使を主張したがそれは...") on July 11. Additionally, this posture could only be activated when the decision is made to initiate war on the Soviet Union, but since mobilization take quite a time the General Staffs wanted to mobilize 25 divisions-equivalent of subcomponent units and logistics units in advance before such the decision can be made. The Army Ministry resisted but Tojo intervened, thus the Kantokuen began its full swing.
Since you have Senshi Sosho, may I ask a few more questions?

1.) Yutaka Imaoka (military historian/former staff colonel) recalled that on 16 September 1941 'for operational preparations lasting three months and involving 23 or 24 divisions on the offensive (including the Korea Army), the following logistical basis was decided: 1,200,000 men, 300,000 laborers, 200,000 Japanese and 200,000 Chinese horses, 35,000 motor vehicles, and 500 tanks.' Because of the term 'on the offensive,' the implication is that this excludes the 6th Army on the Mongolian front as well as internal garrison or Manchukuo forces. Compared to the original mobilization plan (22 divisions, 850,000 men) the difference is enormous; what was the source of this discrepancy? Is this the same plan (30 division variant) discussed by Koshkin?

2.) Is there a specific list of divisions, brigades, regiments, etc. that were to be mobilized under the various plans, or only vague terms like '4 divisions from the homeland and 5 from China?'

3.) Anatoliy Koshkin, a Russian historian, claims that in response to German pressure Japan developed a plan called "Operation No. 51" in the spring of 1942. This plan envisioned that in addition to 16 infantry divisions in the Kwantung Army and 3 in Korea a further 7 would be transferred from Japan and 4 from China. Of these, 17 would be used on the eastern front, 6 on the northern front, and 1 on the western front while the rest were apparently in reserve. 3 tank divisions in the Kikogun (which historically only had two) would participate in the offensive on the eastern and northern directions. This plan, says Koshkin, was shelved after the Japanese defeat in the Battle of Midway. On July 20 1942, General Tanaka wrote in his diary: "At present, it is necessary to resolve the question of the principles of managing the war as a whole. Apparently, in 1942-1943 it would be advisable to avoid decisive battles and wage a protracted war. It is currently impractical to carry out the operation against the USSR."

In reality, I understand that "Operation No. 51" was actually the code-name for an offensive in China that became Operation Ichi-Go. That said, is there any truth to the rest of the above?

Additional notes:

1. Besides Senshi Sosho, another Japanese language source I have encountered in western texts is "Boeicho Boeikenshusho Senshishitsu / Office of Military History, Institute for Defense Studies, Defense Agency," often abbreviated as "BBSS" (don't know the kanji). Do you have this text? If so, what does it say about this topic?
- Another book I've heard about but never seen: "Kantokuen: Syusenji no Taiso sen" (1974) by Hikosaburo Hata​

2. If you are interested, here are some Russian language resources (linked):

"Kantokuen: Barbarossa in Japanese" by Anatoliy Koshkin​

(If you can't read cyrillic, Google Translate does a decent job)
 
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On the following page it is stated that after the war Masanobu Tsuji recalled that in early August 1941, the War Ministry came to the conclusion that "in case of operations against the Soviet Union all oil reserves would be used up within six months to a year" and that "therefore, as far as oil was concerned, there was no way out other than moving south."
Supplies would last longer with a war beginning in 1939, as they would yet to be embargoed, though maybe the USA would see this as aggression because of the number of Soviet sympathizers in their government.

Presumably as in China the Tokyo government will commit after the Kwantung escalates

Wish someone who speaks Russian, Japanese and English went through every single historical document, books, tables, media and other sources and studies of the sources and put them all on a single website and indexed them so they were all searchable too. Would make learning much easier
 
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Supplies would last longer with a war beginning in 1939, as they would yet to be embargoed, though maybe the USA would see this as aggression because of the number of Soviet sympathizers in their government.
Depends on how the conflict starts. Japan would certainly be better able to take advantage of a "cash and carry" act than the USSR

Presumably as in China the Tokyo government will commit after the Kwantung escalates
They would be extremely reluctant to do so for the same reason they were reluctant to escalate at Khalkhin Gol: if war with the USSR could not be avoided, it would involve massive transfers from China which at the time was Japan's primary theater.

Wish someone who speaks Russian, Japanese and English went through every single historical document, books, tables, media and other sources and studies of the sources and put them all on a single website and indexed them so they were all searchable too. Would make learning much easier
I consider the Kantokuen article on Wikipedia to be fairly decent (might be a bit biased on that one though). For sure there aren't many other places you can go to get such information in English without paying. The main drawbacks are:

- Lack of access to Senshi Sosho and BBSS (which are the "official" Japanese histories of the Pacific War - we make do with the Monographs and JSOMs)
- Some numbers are approximates (though this is indicated in the article itself)

Additionally there are certain details and clarifications needed: different sources make different claims about the narrative (as can be seen here) and so on.
 
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Ok. Was the Kikogun part of the original mobilization plan?
I couldn't find anything that indicates such. A reconstructed 'hypothetical' (予想の一例) order of battle for Kantokuen as suggested by the Kantogun on July 8 is in the Senshi Sosho vol.20 as an appendix, but no such tank formation appears there. Operational maps suggests tanks units being scattered to the two main formations, the Third Army and the Fifth Army. For the Kikogun itself vol.73 p.107 cites Hara Tomio in pointing the Yamashita mission of 1941 as its origin.

Then it looks like the Soviet/Russian narrative of events is right. Japan wanted to win "maloy krov'yu, moguchim udarom" (little blood, mighty blow), but the chance to do so never came; this suggests to me that Japan was not nearly as serious about invading the USSR as I previously believed. I wonder it the outcome would have been different if there was more cooperation with Germany from the beginning, for example if Hitler extended a formal request to Matsuoka for a joint attack during his visit to Berlin in March. Historically Matsuoka went on to conclude the Neutrality Pact with the USSR in April but then turned around and advocated for war after Barbarossa began in June. There were also the preparations for the offensive south after the imperial conference on July 2.
The General Staffs was very serious about it, and information about the impending German invasion of the Soviet Union was known to the Army since April 16 when ambassador Oshima reported back about the German preparation. It was barely after the Soviet-Japanese Treaty was signed, and Foreign Minister Matsuoka in his wisdom simply ignored him, but certain figures within the Army including Tanaka accepted Oshima's information as genuine, with Tanaka himself drawing a general layout for a future operation against the Soviet Union, detailed in his journal entry for April 22 1941. Tanaka's 45 volume long war journal isn't available online and only accessible from the NIDS library, (page 128 of this catalogue) but on the matter of Kantuken, other historians have read and referred Tanaka's documents. According to Yoshii Kenichi's 'The actual conditions of Kanto Army Special Practice', this April plan called for the Japanese force in China to be skeletonized by 10 divisions, with 5 divisions being transferred to North China through the Jinghu Railway, 3 to Manchuria through Dairen, and the remaining 2 to Korea through Busan. This plan operated on an assumption that the Soviet Theater would be supplied with three Kaisenbun to each divisions, and to this end other theaters were to be slashed with only one Kaisenbun.

The problem is that everyone in Japan had their agenda each and not a single figure in the government could settle differences to set a straight course. The Northern Strategy was one of such agenda of the General Staffs, pet project even, specifically of Tanaka, but not of whole Japan. When the July 2 conference was held the Army was indecisive because the Army itself was divided over the question of North or South, the Navy was absolute in its support for the Southern Strategy, all the while the Foreign Ministry suddenly found itself pushing for a war on the Soviet Union. Thus they arrived on the consensus that, since they couldn't decide for either way, they should follow both the course and prepare for the Southern Strategy and for the Northern Strategy too.

I see.

EDIT: Just some more thoughts.

On page 25 of his book, Anatoliy Koshkin (mentioned below) wrote that the 30-division plan was abandoned on 31 July 1941 - partly because of the negative impact it would have on Japanese efforts in China - but that the 'wait and see' game would continue. On the following page it is stated that after the war Masanobu Tsuji recalled that in early August 1941, the War Ministry came to the conclusion that "in case of operations against the Soviet Union all oil reserves would be used up within six months to a year" and that "therefore, as far as oil was concerned, there was no way out other than moving south."

This indicates that while other factors dissuaded an all-out Japanese offensive (or at least the buildup to reach such a capability), the threat was not completely removed until Japan decided to attack the ABDA powers.

The full (translated) quote is as follows:

"Therefore, at meetings of the leadership of the General Staff and the War Ministry, the issue of allocating an additional number of divisions for war with the USSR was discussed. On July 16, 1941, the Japanese General Staff stated that, “even if the transfer of the Soviet Far Eastern army is not carried out as scheduled, an attack on the USSR must be launched.” The troops were tasked with being fully alert to launch an offensive at any time. At the same time, a further buildup of troops was planned in Manchuria and Korea. The issue of using 30 divisions with a total number of 1.2 million people was actively discussed for war with the USSR. In 1941, there were 51 divisions in the Japanese ground forces, of which 27 were fighting in China. According to the new plan, in case of war with the Soviet Union 6 divisions were to be transferred from the Chinese front. This was strongly opposed by the China Expeditionary Army. Its commander, General Hata Shunroku, said that such a reduction in troops on the Sino-Japanese front would be very risky and would inevitably lead to the China war being prolonged further. In the end, GHQ had to agree with this because Japanese forces in China had already been greatly weakened. On July 31, the plan to use 30 divisions against the USSR was abandoned in the expectation that sooner or later the Soviet leadership would be forced to begin a large-scale transfer of troops to the west."​

So a nail on the coffin as I contended. To add on the Tsuji's statement, Senshi Sosho vol.73 p.4 points to Shibafu Hideo from the War Preparations Section of the Army Ministry (Chief: Okada Kikusaburo) as responsible for the study resulted in that conclusion.

Since you have Senshi Sosho, may I ask a few more questions?

1.) Yutaka Imaoka (military historian/former staff colonel) recalled that on 16 September 1941 'for operational preparations lasting three months and involving 23 or 24 divisions on the offensive (including the Korea Army), the following logistical basis was decided: 1,200,000 men, 300,000 laborers, 200,000 Japanese and 200,000 Chinese horses, 35,000 motor vehicles, and 500 tanks.' Because of the term 'on the offensive,' the implication is that this excludes the 6th Army on the Mongolian front as well as internal garrison or Manchukuo forces. Compared to the original mobilization plan (22 divisions, 850,000 men) the difference is enormous; what was the source of this discrepancy? Is this the same plan (30 division variant) discussed by Koshkin?
While Senshi Sosho vol.73 p.80 indeed confirms that the force size being limited to 23-24 divisions after August, for Yutaka's numbers I have no idea. If it is on Senshi Sosho I couldn't find them. The most significant change to the operational plan after Kantokuen was splitting its offensive operation into two stages. At the first stage, the Ussuri front was to be overwhelmed within 21 days, and then a second offensive would be launched to north, targeting Blagoveshchensk. This was change from the original plan that called the both front to be attacked simultaneously. The background history behind is detailed in Senshi Sosho vol.20 pp.364-367, as I quoted above, but in short, this was the result of an operational dispute between the General Staffs and the Kantogun, originating from the Kantogun's uneasiness with the planned northern drive on Blagoveshchensk. On July 9, as an alternative to the proposed offensive towards north, the Kantogun suggested attacking Khabarovsk in further east instead, but no consideration for such operation was previously done, and operational study and planning from scratch would require at least six weeks. The General Staffs dismissed this alternative version, but tried to alleviate the concern by increasing the planned size of the northern offensive force, which became the origin of the 30 divisions plan of July 11, but nothing ever came out of it.

By July 29, when the Kantogun sent Tokyo a new variation of the operational plan, the General Staffs' 30 divisions plan was no longer in the picture of the Kantogun. In this plan, the force size was as originally conceived under the 25 divisions plan, but while the Ussuri front was strengthened to 16 divisions, an increase of 3 division from 13 divisions in the original plan of July 8, the Northern front (Blagoveshchensk) was shrunken to 2 divisions from 6 divisions from the original plan. On the very next day, July 30, the Chief of the General Staff (Sugiyama Hajime) discussed the matter with the Vice Chief of Staff of the Kantogun (Ayabe Kitsuju), and informed him that the initiation of the war wouldn't be decided within August, and that if the war ever comes, the window for military operation would be limited to October. A new variation that employed only 24 divisions was drawn, of which 17 divisions were to be concentrated to the Ussuri front, but as the planned drive towards Blagoveshchensk was kept in the operational plan as the second stage operation in the next year, it would appears this version was discarded too.

2.) Is there a specific list of divisions, brigades, regiments, etc. that were to be mobilized under the various plans, or only vague terms like '4 divisions from the homeland and 5 from China?'
As I mentioned above, there's a reconstructed 'hypothetical' order of battle for Kantokuen in the Senshi Sosho vol.20 pp.365-366. It's hypothetical because aside from the original 16 divisions that were mobilized in real history, all other transferred divisions on this list were frompicked based on the authors' estimatesspeculation, (edit - tried to word better)





It has four variations, the first two are the 20 divisions plan and the 25 divisions plan, both prepared by the Kantogun on July 8. The third one is the modified 25 divisions plan as prepared by the Kantogun on July 29, the fourth and last one is the 24 divisions plan drawn after the meetings between Tojo and Tanaka on July 31 established the 24 division limitation.

For limited but more precise information, its p.369 notes that five divisions in China were earmarked for the transfers, on the presumption that the decision to initiate the war would be made no latter than August 10.

The 21st Division from Baoding, scheduled to start moving in mid August, estimated to arrive North Manchuria by early September
The 33rd Division with its main strength assembled in Taiyuan, same as above, with its detached infantry regiment in Jiujiang estimated to arrive North Manchuria by September 15
The 4th Division from Hankou, scheduled to start moving once the war decision has been made, estimated to arrive North Manchuria by September 15
The 6th Division from Wuhan, scheduled to start moving once the war decision has been made, estimated to arrive North Manchuria by late September
The 41st Division, scheduled to be assembled to Linfen, estimated to arrive North Manchuria by late September

While discussing the contingency plan of January 14 1942, the Senshi Sosho vol.35 p.366, the authors name 16th Division, 51st Division, 52nd Division, and 71st Division as the potential reinforcements to the Kantogun.

3.) Anatoliy Koshkin, a Russian historian, claims that in response to German pressure Japan developed a plan called "Operation No. 51" in the spring of 1942. This plan envisioned that in addition to 16 infantry divisions in the Kwantung Army and 3 in Korea a further 7 would be transferred from Japan and 4 from China. Of these, 17 would be used on the eastern front, 6 on the northern front, and 1 on the western front while the rest were apparently in reserve. 3 tank divisions in the Kikogun (which historically only had two) would participate in the offensive on the eastern and northern directions. This plan, says Koshkin, was shelved after the Japanese defeat in the Battle of Midway. On July 20 1942, General Tanaka wrote in his diary: "At present, it is necessary to resolve the question of the principles of managing the war as a whole. Apparently, in 1942-1943 it would be advisable to avoid decisive battles and wage a protracted war. It is currently impractical to carry out the operation against the USSR."

In reality, I understand that "Operation No. 51" was actually the code-name for an offensive in China that became Operation Ichi-Go. That said, is there any truth to the rest of the above?
It is true that early in 1942 Tanaka and his staffs operated under the presumption that the 'favorable moment' would eventually arrive in that year, according to the Senshi Sosho vol.35 p.602. However such optimism was apparently gone by April when an American B-25 bomber from the Doolittle Raid landed on the Soviet Union. He still was fairly confident that the Soviet Union and Japan would eventually go to war against each other, but he wasn't after the German pressure but the American pressure. As noted in the earlier discussion, the potential air campaign launched from the Soviet territory was a serious consideration in 1941, and that just became a threat. Tanaka in his journal on April 20 suspected the Americans of emanating pressures to force the Soviet Union to enter the Pacific War. Under such consideration he visited the Kantogun to inspect their war preparations, but after two weeks of closer inspection throughout late April and early May as observed in the Senshi Sosho vol.59 pp.107-120, Tanaka now aimed for 1944 in completing the preparation, beginning with his observation about the northern Manchuria border on April 30. Delaying the potential operation against the Soviet Union to 1944 became the official policy only on June 9, and I have no evidence to prove that this inspection is what caused Tanaka to back off, only the timing is such like that.

Additional notes:

1. Besides Senshi Sosho, another Japanese language source I have encountered in western texts is "Boeicho Boeikenshusho Senshishitsu / Office of Military History, Institute for Defense Studies, Defense Agency," often abbreviated as "BBSS" (don't know the kanji). Do you have this text? If so, what does it say about this topic?
- Another book I've heard about but never seen: "Kantokuen: Syusenji no Taiso sen" (1974) by Hikosaburo Hata​

2. If you are interested, here are some Russian language resources (linked):

"Kantokuen: Barbarossa in Japanese" by Anatoliy Koshkin​

(If you can't read cyrillic, Google Translate does a decent job)
I've had no chance to read Hata Hikosaburo's book, sorry. And the "BBSS" isn't text but a government office that collects and publishes military history, the Senshi Sosho series being one of such work. This link leads to its official website. I'll take time to read both the Russian books, thanks for the links.
 
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