Japan-US negotiations after Pearl Harbor

Building "dummy" carriers and battleships. How would the Japanese go about this? And given the U.S. had good aerial reconnaissance I should think the U.S.N. would recognize a fake carrier or battleship from a real one.
Erect dummy flight decks or turrets and superstructure on expendable old ships. If the dummy is the right size and shape, it would pass. Nobody had "good aerial reconnaissance" in 1941-1942. Certainly not got enough to see through a well-made disguise on a brief pass at long range .

Then if the US attacks and sinks a dummy, are the US attackers going to report anything other than "SCRATCH ONE FLATTOP" or "SCRATCH ONE BATTLEWAGON"? (Air attack only; the Japanese are smart enough to keep the dummy ships out of surface action range. Or a sub gets lucky - the view from a periscope is very limited.)
Pretending to abuse U.S. P.O.W.s would only enrage and galvanize support behind the war effort. The reports of the atrocities inflicted by the Japanese during the Bataan Death March to name only one fueled the hatred the Americans felt for Japanese after Pearl Harbor. News of such atrocities would serve to harden American resolve so even if the American fleet suffered a disastrous mauling the Americans would still be united against a perceived evil enemy.
I guess you missed the part about releasing all civilian internees and sick or wounded PoWs with strictly humane and respectful treatment to report. At which point all atrocity stories (actually rumors based on fragmentary reports from random neutrals and escapees) are exploded. At that point, many Americans would recall the "Beastly Hun" propaganda of WW I, which exaggerated German misconduct so wildly that many people even today think it was all lies. A key element of the isolationist narrative was that the US had been tricked into joining WW I by such British lies.
Invading Malaya, Borneo, and the rest of South East Asia does not necessarily guarantee the U.S. entry into war.
And if the US stays out, so much the better for Japan.
On the other hand, from Japan's point of view they couldn't leave the Philippines as they were because they feared America would declare war and move to cut off Japanese supply lines to the south.
They were afraid the US would go to war against them, so they made sure the US would go to war against them... Can we agree this was not a sensible line of thought? The US forces in the Philippines were very weak, and no real danger to the Japanese offensive. If the US declared war, that would be time to crush the Philippines.
Of course if Japan kept strictly hands off, the US could build up a powerful force in the Philippines - but it would take at least six months if the US started sending everything available there.
 
They were afraid the US would go to war against them, so they made sure the US would go to war against them... Can we agree this was not a sensible line of thought? The US forces in the Philippines were very weak, and no real danger to the Japanese offensive. If the US declared war, that would be time to crush the Philippines.
Of course if Japan kept strictly hands off, the US could build up a powerful force in the Philippines - but it would take at least six months if the US started sending everything available there.
The Japanese were closely watching developments in the US. By their calculation the US Navy would be stronger than the IJN by late 1942 so they thought it best to go to war in 1941, I agree it was not a sensible idea. With or without Pearl Harbor the idea of a victorious war in less than a year did not make a lot of sense. They were short a lot of raw materials, particularly oil. I have read that Roosevelt did not intend to cut off all oil in mid 1941 but that Dean Acheson was at the Treasury Department and he implemented the quota system to cut off all oil. Whether that was the final straw for Japan is debatable. The Army, which was running the government, was basically nuts. Yamamoto was a realist and knew that Japan could not win but his Pearl Harbor plan was exactly the wrong move. I don't think it would have made much difference in US resolve if there had been 15 minutes or even 24 hours notice of war before the attack.
Remember despite the burning hatred of Japan it was until Casablanca in January, 1943 that Roosevelt announced the goal of unconditional surrender. I find it difficult however to see a negotiated settlement in 1942 even if Pearl Harbor had not been attacked. I think the best case scenario for Japan would have been to go to war against the British and the Dutch and then try to get some sort of deal with America to allow for Philippine independence and neutrality. I don't think it would have happened but that would be teh best case.
Another thought that occurs to me is what if Japan decided to become an anticolonial power fomenting wars of national liberation. While this was the Communist line in the 1930s Japan was in a stronger position than the USSR to support revolution in Southeast Asia. It would have forced a different course in China but the 1937 war was not exactly a successful operation.
 
I really don't think either Japan (believing they could completely knock the US out of any Pacific war) or the United States (Roosevelt didn't feel like he could unilaterally declare war on Germany and needed something to convince America to fight) wanted to actually come to peace terms.

Having said that, and realizing that this is probably more than a little ASB ... I've wondered if Japan could come up with a "spheres of influence" treaty. Japan invades the Philippines ... and sends the captured troops to Australia, instead of the Death March. Then Japan declares it will stay east of the date line and north of Australia, and leave India and Russia alone, so that the US and Britain and Russia can concentrate on Germany. And in fact, possibly even declare war on Germany (and hey, here's an aircraft carrier - that didn't go to PH - and planes and troops to use as needed). So now the US has two bad options - declare war on an "enemy" of the Third Reich, or accept Japan's atrocities.
 
By their calculation the US Navy would be stronger than the IJN by late 1942...
By just about any metric, the USN was stronger than the IJN at any point in time. The USN had substantially more battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. The IJN in 1941 had a narrow edge in aircraft carriers.

Maybe the IJN was looking at the USN in the Pacific, since the USN had to keep a large force in the Atlantic.
 
Interesting discussion. It is starting to be clear that the PH was the point of no return. Even the Philippines might nto have caused the war to break out.

I have been reading an article by Prof Dennis Showalter (The Pacific War Companion).

He is claiming that US did not fully understand the severity of the embargoes they imposed. Oil was the trigger in many ways. The Japanese economy was simply too fine-tuned to absorb this blow. The scrap metal embargo and other could have been absorbed, but not oil and not the sequestership. That made sure Japan could not pay for any oil import from other sources (which did not really exist. it was all US oil imports).

What Japan failed to see was the moral indignation caused by its action in China. If we look at the developments in 1930's rather than 1940s atrocities, it might be understandable insofar as US were not so concerned with the German treatment of the Jewish populations. Japan might not have understood this.

Prof Showalter is also talking about the 'Co-prosperity sphere'

He is somehow arguing that it did offer an opportunity for China to seek a middleground away from Communism or away from the corrupt regime of Shang-kai-check.

It did get perverted and failed due to its basic racist attitudes and hubris.

If the Co-prosperity thing had been genuine - talking to the nationalists in the colonised areas, it could all have been very different. It was not a given that the Army would have won the contest.

After PH, it was too late to amend the US embargo policy. But it might have been an option prior to PH. That however is beyond the scope here and could deserve a separate thread.
 
Don't forget that even though the USN code breakers were decoding the Japanese codes it was almost too much of a good thing. They had no way to figure out what was important to the USA and what wasn't. In addition, the US figured that the Japanese were going to attack but they figured that the attack would hit the Philippines not PH. They didn't have a clue that the Japanese would be bold and stupid enough to hit the USN at PH.
 
All,

The Japanese strategy was never to 'defeat' US. That all agreed was not possible, at least in the 1941 time frame.

The entire strategy was built on hitting US Pacific Fleet enough to not interfere while gobbling up the areas Japan really wanted to get: Philippines, Dutch East India, British possessions and Vietnam (French).

After a good hit at PH, it was envisaged (sic!) that US would be devastated and seek peace rather than fight (cowards as they are!).

It did not go according to plan, really.

First of all: the declaration of war should have been deposited in Washington PRIOR to the attack. Due to decoding delays and things, it now became q sneak attack without warning.

As has been discussed (to death) is that any Japanese strategy involving occupation of SW Pacific had to counter a US intervention. PH was required.

After the initial easy victories strategy changed into 'let us do more'. And that was not a great idea either.

So, let us now imagine:

1) The declaration of war is delivered on time. It is not a sneak attack (less a few hours).
2) Let the carriers be in PH and get killed - not a necessity really in this WI
3) The Japanese have a limited run as per the first initial plan. No expansionist dreams of further conquests.

Here is the thing:

Japan is suing for peace via a 'broker'. (USSR, Spain, Brazil, ???)

Japan is guaranteeing that no US possessions will be harmed and that Philippines will be -co-governed.

Japan is only 'taking' the oil and timber and Singapore and .... -? all British and Dutch possessions, trying to tell US that there is no need for any war now.

The obstacles are of course:
1) PH is hard to not avenge
2) China is still unresolved - and that was the sole reason for the oil embargo
3) Philippines - co-governing? really? ----> comments on this one or other suggestions
4) other things

What possibly could enable something like this:
1) US is now onto 'Germany first' - Japan is on the back-burner and a cease fire/peace could be a great idea to buy time
2) If a cease fire/non-fighting situation is allowed to sir for several months, the entire campaign might 'fizzle'. It is hard to keep the animosity going for many months
3) US primary interests might not be threatened (this is debatable I should think).
4) US population might not be so interested in Japan if the casualty figures a low and as US is now going to war in Europe against Germany. After all, more US citizens were of European descent (1st and 2nd generation) than of Asian descent. They might have felt that Japan is too far away but the 'motherland' is just around the corner.

Of course this all depends on Japan to curb its ambitions and humble itself a bit - and that could be difficult.

Any takers on this fanciful idea?
The US is a cowboy culture. It is war to the knife. No peace save in Tokyo Bay.
 

Geon

Donor
The US is a cowboy culture. It is war to the knife. No peace save in Tokyo Bay.
I agree, but to pursue the main idea of this thread. Did the Japanese at any time offer anything like a "reasonable" peace deal after the attack on Pearl Harbor? One that the U.S. wouldn't have simply laughed out of the room or thrown in a convenient waste basket?
 
Well yes. But even if it is a 'cowboy culture' it is probably worth looking at the level of the 'provocation'.

What could US accept and ignore ? where was the threshold? After all, US was involved in an 'un-declared' shooting match in the Atlantic.

Panay was not enough to create a war (albeit small fry really), so something bigger was the trigger.

Let us look at what Japan could have offered (maybe):

1) Co-governing of Philippines
2) Saying sorry for PH
3) Release all POWs and treat them well
4) More suggestions?

Is there a possibility of driving a wedge between US and UK/Dutch? After all, Japan was not interested in US possessions (in essence).

Could we see a situation where a 'ceasefire' is acceptable (US only) and where UK will support this as US is indeed needed in the Atlantic and 'Germany First'?

How willing was Churchill to sacrifice Pacific? and could he persuade Roosevelt? (King would obviously be spitting blood).
 
Well yes. But even if it is a 'cowboy culture' it is probably worth looking at the level of the 'provocation'.

What could US accept and ignore ? where was the threshold? After all, US was involved in an 'un-declared' shooting match in the Atlantic.

Panay was not enough to create a war (albeit small fry really), so something bigger was the trigger.

Let us look at what Japan could have offered (maybe):

1) Co-governing of Philippines
2) Saying sorry for PH
3) Release all POWs and treat them well
4) More suggestions?

Is there a possibility of driving a wedge between US and UK/Dutch? After all, Japan was not interested in US possessions (in essence).

Could we see a situation where a 'ceasefire' is acceptable (US only) and where UK will support this as US is indeed needed in the Atlantic and 'Germany First'?

How willing was Churchill to sacrifice Pacific? and could he persuade Roosevelt? (King would obviously be spitting blood).
Why would the US agree to this? They have been attacked. Their blood was up. Why would they accept:

1) Sharing power with their attacker in a territory that was taken from them and that they were planning on giving independence soon. This would extend their need to be there longer than they wanted and force them into cooperation with a nation they have no reason to trust or want to work with.
2) Accept an apology for what was, to them, an obviously pre-meditated sneak attack that killed hundreds of American soldiers and sailors. They wanted revenge, not an apology.
3)Something that is included in any peace treaty as a matter of course (the release of POW) and something that they feel shouldn't ever be in doubt to start with (treating them well)

I don't think Japan has anything to offer except maybe withdrawal to a territory small enough to not be a threat to US interests again. And that would defeat the whole purpose of PH and the East Asian campaigns.
 
Well yes. But even if it is a 'cowboy culture' it is probably worth looking at the level of the 'provocation'.

What could US accept and ignore ? where was the threshold? After all, US was involved in an 'un-declared' shooting match in the Atlantic.

Panay was not enough to create a war (albeit small fry really), so something bigger was the trigger.

Let us look at what Japan could have offered (maybe):

1) Co-governing of Philippines
2) Saying sorry for PH
3) Release all POWs and treat them well
4) More suggestions?

Is there a possibility of driving a wedge between US and UK/Dutch? After all, Japan was not interested in US possessions (in essence).

Could we see a situation where a 'ceasefire' is acceptable (US only) and where UK will support this as US is indeed needed in the Atlantic and 'Germany First'?

How willing was Churchill to sacrifice Pacific? and could he persuade Roosevelt? (King would obviously be spitting blood).
Why would the Japanese military and the culture it represented, have ever offered such terms, especially after a victory like Pearl Harbor? Pearl Harbor being viewed as such by much of the upper echelons of the Imperial Navy.
 
Correct. The sticking point is that with the victory at PH the Japanese got too carried away. Hubris!

Cooler heads may have prevailed (but that is also hard to see).

However, PH was a success insofar as it gave Japan its 4-6 months of conquest time without any major interference from USN.

That is the period where ceasefire should have been pursued. Whether it was possible or not is exactly what this WI is all about.

If we try to look at the strategic views from a US perspective, we might see (early 1942):

1) Battle of Atlantic going full tilt. USN committed to support UK
2) UK, France and Dutch territories in Pacific gone and cannot easily be regained - if ever
3) Philippines gone.
4) USSR not going to intervene in Siberia or Manchuria
5) USSR in dire straits and not guaranteed to be able to hold in 1942
6) Middle East (and that means RN oil) not safe either

With a Germany First policy Roosevelt might just go for a 'fizzle' in the Pacific, especially if US territories are not threatened.

However:
1) US could outproduce Japan and Germany at the same time
2) US could have a Germany First policy and still be able to employ USN forces in pacific

The time factor would still be important.

Japan could get its 4-6 months, but it US would catch up -

IF THE WILL WAS THERE

... and that is what this WI is also about.
 
One big problem here is that folks are seeing the Imperial Japanese Government as being anything resembling rational. They were not, it was a military with a country attached, a military that was so utterly hyped up on its belief in its own invincibility/manifest destiny that it largely ignored reality.
 

Geon

Donor
To paraphrase the words of Stephen Ambrose who wrote the Illustrated History of World War II the Japanese inflicted such a devastating and humiliating blow on the United States with their attack on Pearl Harbor that the U.S. had no choice but to respond as it did.

And the equally humiliating defeats at Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines over the next months only fueled the anger and frustration. We were not about to settle for any negotiated settlement. If anyone is interested I wrote a TL about this entitled "Year of the Jinx" on this scenario which included a comprehensive peace deal offered by Japan to the Allied powers on behalf of the Axis. The Allies delivered a simple one word reply - NO!

Here is the story/timeline for those interested.


And I liked this comment made afterward by one poster.
I'm surprised FDR, Churchill and Uncle Joe didn't die of laughter after reading that proposal.
 

DougM

Donor
A few thoughts

Once PH happens the only way the war ends is in Tokyo with US dictating terms. The US is to powerful to be stopped and the citizens are willing to pay the cost needed tp “punish” japan.
Japan was dumb for attacking the US without a declaration of war at LEAST a couple days ahead of the attack. That just guaranteed the US would not give up.
Japan was extra special stupid for attacking on a Sunday. The US placed more significance in Sunday back then.
Japan was extra extra stupid for doing this in December in the Run up to Christmas Season.
The only way Japan could puss off the US more would have been to sign a treaty and then attack on Christmas....
Japan has NO idea (and frankly neither did Europe) how powerful the US industry was.
Japan didn’t understand the above points.
Japan (rightly) realized that the US was building up a military that would be able to easily destroy Japan.
The Japanese government (civil and military) was more then a bit obsessed with China and maintaining its internal Influence.

It is possible without PH that the US may have agreed to some sort of peace but it would not have been willing to agree to a treaty that let Japan have ANYTHING it did not have on Dec 1st.
The only way Japan is GAINING anything is if the dictate the treaty in the White House and Japan NEVER had a chance of doing that.

The reality is that Japan did as good as it possibly could have in the first 6 months or so of the war. They did so good that it is almost a Japanese wank. This is why it is hard to do. A Japan does better POD without falling into ASB areas.
 
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