Japan Becomes An American State

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Teriyaki, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. Teriyaki Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2018
    Commodore Matthew Perry forced the doors of Japan open in 1853, using his kurofune, the black ships, to force Japan to open itself to trade. He would later return in 1854 and established the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity at the Convention of Kanagawa. Perry used heavy handed tactics to force the young and sickly Tokugawa Ieyoshi to sign and agree to this Treaty.

    What if part of the Japan-Us Treaty of Peace and Amity had made Japan a territory of the United States, and eventually became a state itself? Its not outside of the realm of possibility. History saw something similar happen with Hawaii, where the US moved in and overthrew the monarchy, and then established it as a state. What would have been the reaction had the US overthrown the Emperor of Japan and taken it fully for its own?
  2. Rognvald Höfundur á Sögur

    Sep 13, 2011
    Særkland, 11th Century A.D.
    It’s a completely different beast to Hawaii.

    Hawaii had a much smaller population than Japan, with a larger White American population that had political and monetary clout, and that was close enough for the USA to project power to effectively. Hawaii also had several cultural connections with the USA (Protestant Christianity, general Westernization trends, etc.). Japan was too far, too big, too foreign, and had too much of its own identity for the USA to even dream about annexing it as a territory.
    P L Richards and Arcavius like this.
  3. The Lethargic Lett Giving Peace a Chance

    Oct 20, 2017
    Couronian Tobago
    The most likely way I can see Japan becoming a state is in a post-Operation Downfall Japan, after the Second World War, where large swaths of the population had been killed. As for the provided PoD, maybe they could get away with Japan being a 'territory in name only,' but I doubt it would mean anything to the Japanese public and political establishment, since the Americans wouldn't be able to exercise any amount of political, military, or logistical control over Japan.
  4. BellaGerant Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2017
    In the 1850s, the US population was around 23 million, give or take. Hawaii's was around 84,000. The Japanese population was, by contrast, around 30 million.

    Hawaii was annexed in the 1890s, when America finally got into overseas imperialism business with the Sp-Am War, and was only annexed after years of the US Congress pressing the Provisional Government of Hawaii to reinstate the Hawaiian Queen. It was dominated and ruled by white businessmen with economic interests in the island and would not offer much resistance to American rule.

    The US in the 1850s was not in the business of taking islands overseas for international influence (and would not do so for several decades) and Japan would make the US well over 50% East Asian. Making it a single state or giving it no representation would make Japan unholdable, if the US by some miracle managed to annex them on paper, and the continental US would not allow Japan to be split into enough states to threaten Anglo-American political dominance (Puerto Rico and the American Pacific Islands are still only territories after a century).

    And, well, militarily speaking the US didn't have much in the way of overseas power projection until after the Sp-Am War in the 1890s. Getting enough troops across the Pacific to take Japan was not a feat the US was capable of until the 20th century.