Japanese victory in the pacific war - is it really ASB?

Hey guys. I've long been interested in the pacific war, and the main question on my mind has ever since been: Did the japanese have a chance to win? I read a lot of threads on this site and the predominant opinion seems to be that a japanese victory in the pacific war (i.e. gaining dominance over Asia and forcing the US to make peace on terms favourable to Japan. So a victory according to actual japanese plans, not some "Man in the high castle" stuff) is completely and utterly ASB. However, after some research, I dare to disagree with this statement. In my opinion Japan could have won the war in Asia, and its chance weren't that bad. So I decided to write a short scenario, and would like to know what you guys think about it.

But first some context:

Many people believe that once the japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, they had no chance to win. But one has to ask then, why DID Japan attack Pearl Harbour? Where all people in the japanese government and military command just stupid? Of course not. One has to take a closer look at Japans war strategy to understand why they did this.

The USA had allways stood in the way of japanese expansion. After Japan had invaded China in 1937 and occupied Indochina in 1940, the US had enacted an oil embargo which crippled Japans industry. Japan had wanted to conquer South East Asia for a long time, but after the oil embargo, they were directly dependent on the ressources of the region. However it was no secret that the US had close ties to Britain and France (which in turn were allied to the Netherlands), the nations which controlled these territories. So the oil embargo together with the USAs expected protection of SEA made it clear to the japanese that war with america was inevitable.

The japanese leadership knew well that they had no chance against the US in pure military terms, as Japan had only 1/8 of the USAs industrial capabilities. However war is not just crude force. The japanese looked at the american society in the 20s and 30s, and recognized that the american people firmly rejected any foreign military engagement. So the plan was to conquer South East Asia to archieve autarky for the empire and then establish what the japanese called a "defensive perimeter". They planed to win a series of decisive battles (naval and ground ones) against the US and its allies, and after experiencing defeat after defeat the american peoples willingnes to fight would be broken. In the end the US government would have no choice but to make peace and recognize japanese conquests in Asia. Overall the conflict was planed to be a multi-year war of attrition, in which Japan ultimately was to have more staying power than the US.

The attack on Pearl Harbour was meant to be the first of these decisive battles, dealing a fatal blow to the americans (it actually was a sizable victory, at least in military terms).

Now I'm going to try to craft a realistic scenario for a japanese victory in the asian war:

Lets say the japanese actually decide that, on top of attacking the US naval base at Pearl Harbour, an actual ground invasion of Hawaii would be neccessary (there supposedly were such suggestions inside of the Mikado in OTL, yet they were scraped). A lot of people believe that this would've been impossible, yet the japanese had naval superiority at this stage of the war and they definetly had the troops and ressources to pull it off (in OTL they actually kept 18 fully maned and equipped Divisions in Siberia to monitor the soviet border, despite the fact that the USSR obviously was not willing nor able to wage war against Japan before 1945).

So on 7. of December 1941 Japan attacks Hawaii, the IJN engages the US navy in Pearl Harbour, while 2 Divisions of ground forces land on the beaches of O'ahu. Though defences on the island are strong, the japanese, with air and naval superiority, eventually break all resistance and the entirety of Hawaii is occupied by the Empire (the loss of Hawaii would cripple the US way more than many people belive. In OTL the attack on Pearl Harbour only sank/damaged a part of the american ships in the base. Had O'ahu been occupied most if not all of the ships would've been destroyed or seized in port. So overall, with the loss of Hawai, the americans loose the bulk of their Pacific Fleet, their oil deposits on the island and their most important naval base in the pacific).

At the same time Japan would launch its South East Asian campaign. Honestly it would take a bit longer than in OTL, yet, again, according to the orriginal japanese plans,only 2 Divisions would have been neccessary to occupy Hawaii. Only a small friction of Japans merchant fleet would've been needed for this operation, and even a smaler friction would have been sunk. So, again contrary to many peoples opinion, I think that Japans merchant fleet would have definetly been able to support an invasion of both Hawaii and SEA. Not even to mention the fact that Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and the DEI were only lightly defended and basicly cut off from supplies.

Due to the massive additional losses the US suffered at Hawaii, the japanese keep naval superiority in the pacific theatre for much longer than in OTL. In this situation, Japan is in a much better position to attack Midway. After the remainder of the US pacific fleet is crushed in a very different naval battle in the region, the japanese landing force takes the island after a fierce battle (american defences on the island were pretty strong, and the original japanese invasion plan dedicated way to few forces to the operation. However a) the later can be changed and b) an occupation of midway, while of course beeing a major victory for the japanese, is not absolutly necessary).

Furthermore the japanese are now able to take all of New Guinnea. This gives them control over the important naval and airbase of Port Moresby, from which Australia is bombed.

The Empire is now able to launch Operation FS (the original plan, though not impossible, was very ambitious. To increase the chances of success, lets say in this TL more troops and ressources are dedicated to the operation).
New Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa are taken. Australia, facing heavy bombing, a naval blockade and the threath of invasion, is forced to make peace and New Zealand, now unprotected, swiftly follows suit.

Late 1942 only sees a series of minor naval clashes, of which allmost all are defeats for the US. In an action that resembles the OTL "Doolittle Raid", L.A. is bombed by Japan (the bombing itself is insignificant of course, but it deals a devasting blow to the american peoples morale).

Yet by 1943 the american navy has recovered somewhat, and because the US government desperately needs to raise morale, a counteroffensive is launched in the northern pacific in an attempt to retake Hawaii. However the ill planed attack is a desaster and a large part of the US fleet assigned to the attack is sunk. 2 to 5 US Divisions are trapped on O'ahu, and after some days of bitter fighting they are overwhelmed. The second battle of Hawaii, like the first one, is a crushing defeat for the americans.

By this point, the situation on the american homefront looks grim. The US has suffered defeat after defeat against a seemingly all-powerfull japanese jugernaut. The domestic supply of consumer goods has constantly worsened as more and more former civilian factories start military production.

Mass protests against the war (mostly the war in Asia, till now the US hasn't really contributed that much to the war in Europe. Beeing engulfed in this very different pacific war, the US never launches Operation Torch, though some forces are dedicated to the european theatre) take place in larger cities, and american boys do everything they can to avoid beeing drafted. Strikes in arms factories happen regularly and violent clashes with the police occur. [*]

In late 1943 large-scale mutinies break out amongst american forces in the pacific, including the crew of fleet carrier Dakota. The US government fears that the situation may spill out of controll and quickly starts peace negotiations with the japanese.

Japan actually offers reasonable terms, promising to give back all US territories occupied during the war (including the japanese pupet kingdom of Hawaii, which's royal family goes into exile to Japan. The post-war pollitical, social and cultural situation of Hawaii would be very interesting), if the US in turn ends the oil embargo (actually the japanese don't really need american oil anymore, now that they control the East Indies) and recognizes japanese gains in Asia ae legitimate and permanent. The Phillipines remain in Japans sphere of influence.

The british government is furious about the americans giving in, however, beeing dependent on US aid against fascist Germany, they don't complain too loud publicly.

Japan lauches an offensive into Burma, crushing british forces in the region. The japanese begin to advance towards Calcuta. Unrest spreads in the subcontinent and many indian nationalists are ready to cooperate with the japanese. Britain fears a rebellion and therefore sues for peace with Japan, granting them all they have conquered. Tokyo accepts. Now the japanese can focus on China. Another offensive begins and (considering what they accomplished in OTL during Ichi-Go in 1944 despite american bombing) the japanese quickly throw the KMT back. The IJA advances towards Chongqing, the provisional capital of the ROC after the fall of Nanking, absolutely stomping on the chinese forces on the way. Though japanese logistics are strained they are able to slowly advance onwards due to their massive superiority in equipment and firepower. In the end Chonquing falls, Sheng-Kai-Shek is killed and China falls under japanese occupation. The war in Asia is over and has ended in a total japanese victory.

Now many people will claim that the japanese could never occupy and hold all of China. However I think this is wrong. To reach a ratio of 1 japanese soldier to 250 chinese civilians, the japanese would need roughly two million soldiers, a number they could provide. Also there were a large number of collaborateurs in China. If the japanese pupet government(s) in China only managed to legitimize itself/themselves somewhat reasonably, Japan wouldn't even need to sustain a complete military occupation of China. This is actually the case for all of japanese controlled Asia.

In the best case the japanese "Asia for asians" and "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" propaganda would work well, and the pupet regimes would be fairly popular. In the worst case Japan would face a dozen Vietnams.

[*]
People often seem to forget that WW2 wasn't much fun for the american populace, aswell. Tires were the first item to be rationed on 11, December 1941, followed by a ban on the sale of automobiles for personal use on January 1, 1942. Sugar was the first consumer commodity rationed, with all sales ended on 27, April 1942 and resumed on 5. May with a ration of 0.5 pounds (0.23 kg) per person per week, half of normal consumption. Bakeries, ice cream makers, and other commercial users received rations of about 70% of normal usage. Coffee was rationed nationally on 29, November 1942 to 1 pound (0.45 kg) every five weeks, about half of normal consumption. By the end of 1942, typewriters, gasoline, bicycles, shoes, rubber footwear, silk, nylon, fuel oil and stoves were rationed. Meat, lard, shortening and food oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled, and frozen), dried fruits, canned milk, firewood and coal, jams, jellies, and fruit butter followed by November 1943. Scarce medicines such as penicillin were rationed by triage officers in the US military during World War II. Civilian hospitals received only small amounts of penicillin during the war.

Not to mention the (potential or actual) loss of family members and friends.

And if the japanese leadership guarantees the territoritorial integrity of the USA (very likely, again they're not stupid), people at some point will start to wonder wheater its really worth to go through all of this hardship just to prop up some european colonial empires.

Like in most wars, the public is ready to accept these conditions for a limited timespan (if support for the government is high enough). Yet, at some point, things begin to change. As the war draggs on for years and years, as enemy victories continue to fill the pages of domestic newspapers, as more and more people die, and as seemingly endless rationing continues, at some point the people are fed up.

Some people on this site sometimes seem to forget that war is not just fought by guns, ships and planes, but also by people.
 
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nbcman

Donor
How will 30k Japanese troops in slow moving transports sneak their way to invade Oahu on the south shore as the north shore is not possible in December -January due to surf conditions. You may want to look at where the US coastal defenses were located to see how feasible that south shore invasion plan is - and the KB is to the North of Oahu while an invasion force would need to come in from the south. BTW, the US forces stationed in Oahu in late 1941 was over 40k. Japan doesn't have a chance and yes the entire TL in the OP is implausible.

There have been past discussions on the Hawaiian invasion (Pacific USM); see this thread with links to even older discussions.
 
America just has too many people and too potent of an industrial capacity. They can take back Hawaii, if they need to. Not saying this wouldn't have huge historical repercussions but a Japanese victory isn't going to be one of them.
 
How will 30k Japanese troops in slow moving transports sneak their way to invade Oahu on the south shore as the north shore is not possible in December -January due to surf conditions. You may want to look at where the US coastal defenses were located to see how feasible that south shore invasion plan is - and the KB is to the North of Oahu while an invasion force would need to come in from the south. BTW, the US forces stationed in Oahu in late 1941 was over 40k. Japan doesn't have a chance and yes the entire TL in the OP is implausible.

There have been past discussions on the Hawaiian invasion (Pacific USM); see this thread with links to even older discussions.
Good argument, but if 2 divisions arent enough, make it 3 or 4. Its not that Japan didn't have enough men or guns.

The japanese merchant fleet is perhaps the biggest problem, but considering what they managed to do in OTL (conquer allmost all of SEA in one year and hold it untill 1945 despite massive losses to american submarines), it seems as if it can support such an operation.
 
Go out and read or speak to some US Pacific War veterans. They hated, hated the Japanese. All PH did was really piss off America. They were not going to just give up. Then you have the disparity in industrial capacity. The US built 24 Essex class carriers and scrapped several more being built. A crap ton of light carriers, 19,000 B-24, 12,000 F6F, 12,000 F4U and around 9,000 B-29s. 2,700 Liberty ships, around 60,000 Sherman’s, etc. The US not only had the numbers, but their equipment, training, command and doctrine was better as well. Even if, a huge if, Japan takes and actually holds (Once again from RSR: Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics) Hawaii, now America is even more mad that “The Japs” have taken US property. Then when word gets out about their raping, torturing and killing US civilians, it might get worse then OTL. IMHO it ends the same, 67 Japanese cities firebombed and 2 nuked.
 
Good argument, but if 2 divisions arent enough, make it 3 or 4. Its not that Japan didn't have enough men or guns.

The japanese merchant fleet is perhaps the biggest problem, but considering what they managed to do in OTL (conquer allmost all of SEA in one year and hold it untill 1945 despite massive losses to american submarines), it seems as if it can support such an operation.
Which of the operations that the Japanese did conduct in December '41 are you going to postpone to provide the shipping and troops for this operation? The Philippines? And leave that large American bastion across your supply lines? The Dutch East Indies? But the whole reason for the war was to get access to oil.

If anything I would suggest attacking and capturing Midway in conjunction with PH (advanced intelligence base, pushes the defensive perimeter way out, staging base for future operations against the Hawaiian Islands and maybe the West Coast. but even that is iffy.

The only chance the Japanese had was for a quick shocking strike and then a negotiated peace. that wasn't happening after PH.
 
Only chance for a cease fire after PH, is if the Japanese declared War a day in advance, then caught PH and PI by surprise, and fight Clean in the PI, and ask for Terms once US has retreated to Bataan.
 
Go out and read or speak to some US Pacific War veterans. They hated, hated the Japanese. All PH did was really piss off America. They were not going to just give up. Then you have the disparity in industrial capacity. The US built 24 Essex class carriers and scrapped several more being built. A crap ton of light carriers, 19,000 B-24, 12,000 F6F, 12,000 F4U and around 9,000 B-29s. 2,700 Liberty ships, around 60,000 Sherman’s, etc. The US not only had the numbers, but their equipment, training, command and doctrine was better as well. Even if, a huge if, Japan takes and actually holds (Once again from RSR: Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics) Hawaii, now America is even more mad that “The Japs” have taken US property. Then when word gets out about their raping, torturing and killing US civilians, it might get worse then OTL. IMHO it ends the same, 67 Japanese cities firebombed and 2 nuked.
No doubt the americans in total ouproduced Japan 8 times.

No doubt the average american hated the Japanese Empire, at the latest after Pearl Harbour.

But, again, industrial power, i.e. more tanks, guns and planes don't allways win wars. And no people is immune to war exhaustion, not even the american one. And thats the point in my opinion (the whole "Invasion of Hawaii" part of my scenario was only to weaken american morale. You could also have Operation Downfall end in a horrible failure with the americans loosing hundreds of thousands of men, yet even if more or less white peace is archieved with the US afterwards, its not really favourable for the japanese, considering they allready lost Manchuria and Korea). If the war draggs on and on without an end in sight, if losses mount highter and higher, and if rationing seems to continue indefinetly, eventually the burning hatred against the japanese dies down in favour of the simple wish to live a normal life again.
 
I can see a victory if it’s just against Britain, but they never stood a chance against the United States. Not only did their production numbers dwarf those of Japan, but their technology was superior and they had more manpower to throw into the war.
 
Which of the operations that the Japanese did conduct in December '41 are you going to postpone to provide the shipping and troops for this operation? The Philippines? And leave that large American bastion across your supply lines? The Dutch East Indies? But the whole reason for the war was to get access to oil.

If anything I would suggest attacking and capturing Midway in conjunction with PH (advanced intelligence base, pushes the defensive perimeter way out, staging base for future operations against the Hawaiian Islands and maybe the West Coast. but even that is iffy.

The only chance the Japanese had was for a quick shocking strike and then a negotiated peace. that wasn't happening after PH.
If the DEI campaign is the delayed for 6 months, then so be it. If it's the Phillipines, it doesn't matter either. If the invasion of Hawaii is successfull the american Pacific fleet would be all but wiped out, or at least way more crippled than in OTL. Yes the americans would rebuild, just like in OTL, but it would take way longer, Japan would keep naval superiority for way longer and so would still be able to invade the DEI in late 42 or maybe even early 43.
 
A wider question would be "When was the last time the USA could realistically lose a conventional, global war?"

Late 1800s?
Probably early 1800s (war of 1812-ish). I don't think any power or combination of powers could defeat the Civil War-era USA what with all the massive numbers of troops raised, ironclads, etc.

Also, any notion that American morale would break, especially after all the abominable things the Japanese militarists did, is ludicrous. Those "samurai" thought that way too, and look where it got them.
 
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nbcman

Donor
If the DEI campaign is the delayed for 6 months, then so be it. If it's the Phillipines, it doesn't matter either. If the invasion of Hawaii is successfull the american Pacific fleet would be all but wiped out, or at least way more crippled than in OTL. Yes the americans would rebuild, just like in OTL, but it would take way longer, Japan would keep naval superiority for way longer and so would still be able to invade the DEI in late 42 or maybe even early 43.
What fuel would the IJN operate on without taking the DEI in early 1942 plus consuming more fuel in operations not pursued like Op FS? I am sure the Dutch would have no problem using those additional 6+ months to rig up even more of the oil wells & refineries to be demolished. They struck South for resources but now they are leaving the area that holds all the resources unoccupied for 6 months or more?
 
Probably early 1800s (war of 1812-ish). I don't think any power or combination of powers could defeat the Civil War-era USA what with all the massive numbers of troops raised, ironclads, etc.

Also, any notion that American morale would break, especially after all the abominable things the Japanese militarists did, is ludicrous. Those "samurai" thought that way too, and look where it got them.
American morale broke in Vietnam (honestly things were different there, and against Imperial Japan the americans have the "morale high ground", at least initially. On the other side losses and hardship were/would've been higher). British morale broke in Afghanistan. French morale broke in Algeria. Portugese morale broke in Angola and Mozbique.

Why should the americans be immune to that? Especially the longer the war draggs on. But I think I'm repeating myself.

What fuel would the IJN operate on without taking the DEI in early 1942 plus consuming more fuel in operations not pursued like Op FS? I am sure the Dutch would have no problem using those additional 6+ months to rig up even more of the oil wells & refineries to be demolished. They struck South for resources but now they are leaving the area that holds all the resources unoccupied for 6 months or more?
Yep I'm officially stupid. But anyway, the japanese in OTL landed 107k troops and only lost 671 men (!) in the DEI campaign (the campaign went way smoother than they thought). So the initial invasion force can be reduced.

At the same time the japanese can delay the Phillipines campaign and/or stop offensives and reduce the oil consumption in China for a few months. Additionally they can also tighten fuel rationing at home.

And again the DEI were barely defended at all, so this shouldn't be that much of a problem.
 
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I'm just curious, weren't the Kido Butai at the end of its logistical tether making the PH raid? How are they going to sustain operations around Hawaii while the invasion takes place? Or, is the IJN just going to dump the troops on the beach, say sayonara and steam off?
 
And all those Chinese guerillas are just going to sit there and watch.
Japan cannot win in the pacific.
The IJA and IJN were literally at each other's throats for most of the war.
IJA wanted china while IJN wanted to decisively destroy the USN.
Japan simply doesn't have the resources or manpower to do 2 things at the same time.
 
And if the japanese leadership guarantees the territoritorial integrity of the USA (very likely, again they're not stupid), people at some point will start to wonder wheater its really worth to go through all of this hardship just to prop up some european colonial empires.
Japan was just revealed to a be a duplicitous backstabbing untrustworthy nation that killed over a thousand US servicemen in a surprise attack while they were negotiating with the state department why the fuck would anyone in the US take them at their word?
So on 7. of December 1941 Japan attacks Hawaii, the IJN engages the US navy in Pearl Harbour, while 2 Divisions of ground forces land on the beaches of O'ahu.
So they get chopped by the 24th and 25th Infantry and the several dozen odd USAAC aircraft on the island plus the litany of shore batteries
 
And all those Chinese guerillas are just going to sit there and watch.
Japan cannot win in the pacific.
The IJA and IJN were literally at each other's throats for most of the war.
IJA wanted china while IJN wanted to decisively destroy the USN.
Japan simply doesn't have the resources or manpower to do 2 things at the same time.
As late as 1944, the Japanese were making massive gains of territory in China even with the backing of the United States.
 
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