Chapter 1: The Tokyo Conference
Chapter 1: The Tokyo Conference:

The Japanese Empire felt betrayed ever since the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922, that was affirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and the Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament of 1930, so that it later would not be a part of the new Second London Naval Treaty of 1935/36. It all began after the creation of the Japanese puppet state, the Empire of Manchukuo under Emperor Puyi in 1932. The foreign powers mostly European Colonial Powers were unwilling to accept the Great Manchurian Empire as a independent state. It became clear to Japan, that the Europeans and the Americans would not accept Japans special needs, ties and influence in China. What the USA claimed for the Americas in the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary as natural rights, were no rights they themselves would allow the Japanese equally in China or Asia. This combined with the for many Japanese Militarists, unsatisfying outcome of the Tangu Truce in 1933 that established a cease-fire between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan, that formal ended the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that begun two years earlier lead to a coup of Imperialist in Japan in 1934. During this attempted coup young Imperial Japanese Army officers led a attack in Tokyo, Japan, in a bid to purge the government and military leadership in favor of the radical 'Imperial Way'. Roughly 1500 men joined the rebellion, successfully assassinating several leading officials (including two former prime ministers) and occupying a number of important buildings including the police headquarters. However the Emperor rejected the rebellion and it was suppressed over the following days, bringing an end to the factionalism which had divided the Japanese army.

The cease-fire with Japan gave Chiang Kaishek time to deal with the Communists in the Fifth Encirclement Campaign, forcing Mao to his Long March. At the same time the Soviet Union began to intervene in Xianjing, threatening Japanese interests in China now from two fronts and not only just from Mongolia. Japan's government realized that it's own stability and it's influence in Asia and the Pacific were still threatened by foreign, colonial powers. To find a solution to this problem the Japanese government, military and industry gathered together at the Tokyo Conference. One at the major themes at the secret Tokyo Conference was colonization and living space, racial and cultural supremacy and even mentioned jinshu (race) and minzoku (people). The members of the Tokio Conference argued that out of all Asian nations and states only Japan was able to industrialize and remain total independent. Because of this the Japanese were not only equal, but superior to any other nation on earth. At the same time the Japanese Sun should guide and liberate the Asian people, seen as children or apprentice to a wise and old Japanese father or mentor/master nation and culture. Other Asian cultures and nations should therefore become more like Japan and while the main slogan was "Asia for Asiatics" it really meant sphere of Japanese Puppet States and Influence orbiting around Japan, like the planets around the sun.

While the Coup failed, it created a new path and ideology (later known as Coprospism) in Japan that believed that the goal to expand Japanese colonies and influrence could be archived trough nationalism in a non-ethnic way, independence from (European) imperialist domination, divine rule and the people's livelihood (free trade and modernization). While the Nationalist Government of China fought Mao and his communists, the Tokyo Conference declared communism a competing ideology for their plans in China as well as the East Asian and the Southeast Asian Continent. To establish their own ideology and plans as a attractive model against Communist or Capitalist inference, the Tokyo Conference decided a similar strategy than the Nazis would have in Germany and Europe, clearly taking influence from them. For this goal to counter capitalism and communism, the Japanese declared the recreation of the Korean (Cosen) Empire as a independent, protected nation just like Manchukuo to claim their goal of liberating, educating and modernizing other asian nations. Korean Empress Sunjeong had till then became a widow on 24 April 1926, when Emperor Yunghui died without issue at the Changdeok Palace in Seoul.

The Japanese therefore declared Crown Prince Uimin (also Euimin), son of the last true Emperor Gojon (Sunjong) the new Hwangje (Emperor) and reestablished his rule. Also known as Prince Ri Gin in Japan, the new Chosen Emperor had in December 1907, been taken to Japan and was enrolled at Gakushuin Peers' School, and upon graduating entered the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, both in Tokio. Graduating from the academy on 25 May 1917, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry on 25 December, and steadily rose up the ranks, receiving promotions to lieutenant (April 1920), captain (July 1923) and to major (August 1928). In 1920, he married Princess Masako of Nashimoto (born 4 November 1901), the eldest daughter of H.I.H. Lieutenant Nashimoto Morimasa, linking the Japanese and Chosen Royal Dynasties by doing so. In reality the new Hwangje of the Empire of Chosen had as little influence and power as Puyi in Manchukuo. The truth was that the Japanese military and conglomerates (Zaibatsu) secretly ruled both nations, political, militarily and otherwise. Sometimes directly, sometimes with local branches of their own, like the Imperial Chosen Railway or the Imperial Chosen Army. While Chinese and Koreans made up the majority of the workers and soldiers, Japanese foreman and officers would lead and guide them.
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Chapter 2: The Beginning of the Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chapter 2: The Beginning of the Co-Prosperity Sphere:

All three Empires, that of Japan (Nippon), Chosen (Korea) and Manchukuo signed a treaty in April 1935, creating the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Similar to the Soviet Union who was dominated and ruled by the Russian SFSR, the new federation and alliance that called itself the Co-Prosperity Sphere and promoted the ideals defined in the Tokio Conference was in reality not much more then a Japanese colonial empire, ruled and guided by the Japanese military and conglomerates while it looked like a equal federation on the outside. To promote their propaganda and ideology (later known as Coprospism) as well as to gain more profit, resources and material from Korea and Manchukuo, the Japanese started many projects to industrialist these areas. At the same time the Japanese language was established as the common community language inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere thanks to schools and propaganda. Since citizens of each member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere were defined as equals, this opened Korea and Manchukuo for massive Japanese immigration. The main official goals of the Co-Prosperity Sphere were:
  • The countries of the Co-Prosperity Sphere through mutual cooperation will ensure the stability of their region and construct an order of common prosperity and well-being based upon justice.
  • The countries of the Co-Prosperity Sphere will ensure the fraternity of nations in their region, by respecting one another's sovereignty and independence and practicing mutual assistance and amity.
  • The countries of Co-Prosperity Sphere by respecting one another's traditions and developing the creative faculties of each race, will enhance the culture and civilization of all territory within the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
  • The countries of the Co-Prosperity Sphere will endeavor to accelerate their economic development through close cooperation upon a basis of reciprocity and to promote thereby the general prosperity of their region.
  • The countries of the Co-Prosperity Sphere will cultivate friendly relations with all the countries of the world, and work for the abolition of racial discrimination, the promotion of cultural intercourse and the opening of resources throughout the world, and contribute thereby to the progress of mankind.
But the Imperialists in Tokio were not pleased and soon demanded more, knowing that Nationalist China under Chiang Kaishek was busy fighting the Communists. The Imperial Japanese Army used this situation to back a collaborationist government in Outer Mongolia. The Japanese civilian government meanwhile attempted to improve the Sino-Japanese relations, and on 22 January 1936, Japan announced a policy of non-aggression against China. In response, Wang Jingwei of the Chinese government announced a suspension of the Chinese boycott of Japanese goods, and the two countries agreed to upgrade relations to the ambassadorial level. However, these improved relations between Japan and China were counter to the secret aims and goals agreed to in the Tokio Conference that planned further influential and territorial expansion into China.

Not prepared at the time to go to war with Japan when their forces were still tied down in a campaign to exterminate the Communists, the National Chinese Goverment agreed to comply. The terms of the Agreement gave Japan virtual control over the province of Hebei, Shanxi, Pingyuan and Shandong, under the aegis of former government members of the Fengtian and Shanxi Clique. The Japanese also planned to include other northern Chinese Warlords into their zone of influence.

The Shōwa Emperor and the Japanese Emprie in reality did not accept the idea of national self-determination, and never truely changed the Japanese policies in Korea and China, where the Japanese state secretly remained a policy of imposing the Japanese language and culture on the native population, while officially using Pan-Asian rhetoric. The Emperor viewed Asia through the notion of "place", meaning that all of the Asian peoples were different races that had a proper "place" within a Japanese-dominated "co-prosperity sphere" in Asia, with the Japanese as the leading race. While the Japanese tried to get the Chinese to accept their creation of the Great Manchurian Empire and the Chosen Empire as independent states, they also negotiated for their new puppets like the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region to be recognized as the state of Mengjiang (or Mengguguo) while they expanded Manchuria by annexing the Jehol region. In the He-Umezu Agreement the government of Nationalist China was forced to accept the Japanese demands in exchange for peace and more time that they still needed to deal with Mao's Communists. A anti-communist cooperation or alliance meanwhile as the japanese had hoped was not very realistic as many Chinese still viewed the Japanese as evil-spirited outsiders or imperialists just like the Europeans.

The Japanese soon used the demilitarization of the Hebei, Shanxi, Pingyuan and Shandong regions besides the demilitarization Mengjiang Region of Suiyuan to establish a new puppet regime in northern China. Thanks to the terms of the He-Umezu Agreement these regions fell virtual under Japanese control and influence. Although the Agreement was reached in secret, its details were soon leaked to the press, causing an upsurge in indignation and anti-Japanese sentiment in China. Local embargo followed or the sheer unwillingness to buy Japanese products. Outside of China the European Powers as well as the Soviet Union protested and some embargo's were enforced. The new pro-Japanese Government (Provisional Government of Beijing/ Yankoku) in Peiping (Beijing) was similar to that of the Japanese puppets in Chosen, Manchukuo, or Mengjiang. The state itself was called Yan, after a ancient Chinese state in the area and soon became known as Yankoku (also Yankukuo or Yanjiang). Residing in the former palace in Peiping, Yan Xishan (who saw the name of the new state more directed towards himself than it's old meaning), the former warlord of Shanxi who had sided with the Japanese during their quick seizing of control in the area reigned as the de-facto Emperor of Yan. He had great interest in Japanese conglomerates modernizing his new, expandet territories, but his loyalty at the point remained questionable for the Japanese. Because of that most of the Imperial Yan Army was made up by Japanese Soldiers and Yan Xishan quickly realized that he did not have the true military power and breaking free from the Japanese once would not be as simple as he thought.

The new puppet state of Mengjiang meanwhile expanded with the help of the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Manchukuo Army (mostly the Kwantung Army) into Qahar and later with the Embargo of some European Powers against Japan into Suiyuan to seize Suiyuan's large iron deposits (24% of all iron in China). At the same time while it also claimed Ningxia and the Outer Mongolian Region (Mongolia) as his own mongol territory. Mengjiangs leader Demchugdongrub (also known as Teh Wang or De Wang) saw himself on a mission to inherit the great spirit of Genghis Khan and retake the territories that belong to Mongolia, completing the grand task of reviving the prosperity of the nationality. The Soviet Union saw the Japanese deployment in China with great worries and strengthened the own troops alongside the Sowjet-Manchukuo, Soviet-Chosen and the Mongolia-Mengjiang boarder. Unlike Chosen, Manchukuo, and Yankoku the Soviet Union refused to acknowledge Mengjiang, as they saw Mengjiang's territory as the outer region of the pro-soviet Mongolian People's Republic. Mengjiang and Yankoku joined the Co-Prosperity Sphere a few days after their creation and Japan quickly guaranteed the independence of all member states within the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
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Chapter 3: Development of the Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chapter 3: Development of the Co-Prosperity Sphere:

Directed by the Japanese military, Japanese conglomerates (Zaibatsu) began to develop the infrastructure inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere by building roads and railways, while Japanese Zaibatsu or their subsidiary companies like the Chosen Railway Company, or the Yan Railway Company maintained the facade of full independent states. In reality Chosen, Manchukuo, Mengjiang and Yan had much fewer independence then the similar semi-independent Dominions in the British Empire. The Imperial Japanese Army soon dad different branches inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere, like:
  • the Imperial Chosen Army (6 Infantry Divisions, 1 Motorized Division, 1 Tank Division and 1 Marine Division) under Kenkichi Ueda, with the task to secure the Korean Peninsula and the Chosen-Sowjet Boarder.

  • the Imperial Manchukuo Army (7 Infantry Divisions, 1 Cavalry Division, 1 Motorized Division and 1 Tank Division plus purely Manchukuo Divisions) under Tomoyuki Yamashita, with the task to subdue communists and other rebels inside Manchukuo as well as to guard the Manchukuo-Soviet and Manchukuo-Mongol Boarder.

  • the Mengjiang Army (8 Cavalry Division and 2 Infantry Divisions) under Shizuichi Tanaka, with the task to subdue unrest in the new nation and to guard the Mengjiang-Mongol boarder as well as to expand Mengjiang deeper into ethnic Mongol territory.

  • the Yan Army (8 Infantry Division, 1 Cavalry Division and 1 Tank Division) under Hisaichi Terauchi, with the task to secure and subdue the new regime in Peiping and to stop the infiltration of Mao's Communists into the region.

  • the Japanese Home Army and Reserves.

  • the Pacific Army (14 Garrison Divisions on the Pacific Islands).

  • the Pacification Army (10 Infantry Divisions) under Hitoshi Imamura, with the task to fight communists and other guerrilla and rebels in northeast China.

  • the Chinese Army along the Yan-National Chinese Boarder to counter the massive amount of troops stationed there by Chiang Kai-shek after he had driven the Communists out of eastern and southern China.
With the enforced policy of the United Front between the National Chinese and Mao's Communists by Chiangs own officers, the Japanese suddenly faced direct and unified opposition for their plans in China. As a countermeasure the Co-Prosperity Sphere started diplomatic relations with the Kuomintang allied Guanxi and Yunnan Clique (Warlord Factions) in hopes to get them to join the Co-Prosperity Sphere either against the Communists and the Nationalists in China, or to force Chiang with this move to become a member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere himself with Nationalist China and accept the leading role of the Japanese. Clearly neither Chiang or most of his government and military were for such a deal in the moment end tensions between the Co-Prosperity Sphere, National China, the Communists and Xibei San Ma in the west. At the same time Japanese Buddhist ambassadors were sent to Tibet to establish relations between Tibet and the Co-Prosperity Sphere while Japan itself promoted mostly Shintoism inside his new realm.

Between 1935 and 1936 the tensions were at the brink of war again and new boarder-disputes (some fabricated) gave plenty of reason for either side to start new aggression. Chiang despite all provocations tried further to negotiate, because he needed more time to modernize, arm and train his troops in chase of new fighting, while the Japanese tried to utilize what they already had from the Chinese resources and manpower for their own Empire and the Co-Prosperity Sphere. At the same time the building of new harbors, roads and rails was not purely economical driven since the Japanese Military coordinated these projects and plans with the goal to later use these creations for their further control or offensive against mainland China.

To have a batter chance against the European Powers or America in chase of a open aggression, Japan ordered three new Carrier and several new Battleships to be build, while it also expanded his transport fleet to increase the trade with the Co-Prosperity Sphere in northeast China. At the same time the Chosen, Manchukuo and Yan Navies were created, mostly from old Japanese destroyers and cruisers with the task of coastal and river defense of the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea that was now viewed by the Co-Prosperity Sphere as Imperial Italian under Benito Mussolini declared the Mediterranean Sea their own Mare Nostrum. The truth behind this was that the ships leased to the other members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere officially stopped to be part of the Imperial Japanese Navy (even if most maintained mostly Japanese crews). Japan political and at least a bit economical in the defensive since the harsh protests of the European Powers, the USA and the Sowjet Union for their Chinese politics hoped that by doing so it could bypass some of the limitations of the London Naval Treaty by building some of the new ships and overall tonnage for the other members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. With negotiations about Japanese possible return to the Naval Treaty the situation between Japan, the USA and some of the European Powers lightened up a bit and hopes to avoid war in Europe and Asia in our times could be heard again.
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Fascinating premise. It sounds a bit like taking some cues from the British Empire (at least in terms of stated ideals of imperialism - re: British culture everywhere).
I'm not particularly sure how realistic this TL is, but the TL is fascinating enough. As a Korean I'll be interested in where this goes
Chapter 4: Beginning Civil Wars
Chapter 4: Beginning Civil Wars:

For Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere, the starting Spanish Civil War (between the Nationalists and the Republicans) was a wonderful opportunity, since it serves as a distraction for them to start their next move in China. While most European Powers were focused on the Spanish Civil War, the Japanese Military made plans for the southern Chinese Warlord that was known as the New Guangxi Clique. At the end of the Northern Expedition, Chiang Kai-shek began to agitate to reorganize the army, the fact that it would alter the existing territorial influences among the Cliques in the party quickly aggravated the relationships between the central government and the regional powers. Li Zongren, Bai Chongxi and Huang Shaohong of the Guangxi Clique were the first to break off relations with Chiang in March 1929, which started the confrontation that lead to the Central Plains War. Chiang Kai-shek defeated the Clique in 1929. Following defeat in that civil war, Guangxi allied with Chen Jitang after he became chairman of the government of Guangdong in 1931, and turned against Chiang Kai-shek. Another civil war would have broken out if there had been no September 18 Incident, which prompted all sides to unite against the Empire of Japan and their Co-Prosperity Sphere. As a result, from 1930 to 1936, the Clique organized the reconstruction of Guangxi, which became a "model" province with a progressive administration. As a result, Guangxi was able to supply large numbers of troops. Aware of this the Japanese hoped they could get Guangxi to side with them in the Co-Prosperity Sphere and conspired with some of the military leaders and members of the government inside the New Guangxi Clique to start a coup.

At the same time the Emperor of Japan and Chosen had visited Mukden in Manchukuo to deny any involvement with the Guangxi Coup. Mukden was with great festivities established as the new Capital of Manchukuo. Emperor Puyi himself had wished to move the Capital to the old Manchu Capital and the Japanese Military accepted his decision, because unlike Hsinking, the former Capital of Manchukuo, Mukden was further away from the Soviet-Manchukuo boarder and therefore believed to be much more secure. That this movement at the same time pleased Puyi and showed the Japanese good will to work together with the other members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere and their wishes was a welcomed side effect. But while the intended coup started by the Imperial Japanese Army failed the pro-Nationalist New Guangxi Clique soon found itself in a small civil war of their own.

Luckily for Japan their involvement was unnoticed by the rest of the world for now and the fascist rebels inside the New Guangxi Clique still sided with Japan in hopes to get Japanese help against the rest of the remaining New Guangxi Clique. Similar to the Spanish Civil War, where Italy, Germany and the Soviet Union were not as neutral as they claimed, the Japanese had own plans to finish what they had started. In a daring move the Imperial Japanese Navy argued to secure the peace and the trade inside the South Chinese Sea against a new starting Chinese Civil War inside the New Guangxi Clique. The island of Hainan was quickly invaded by the Imperial Japanese Navy and the port of Guangzhou was taken, to capture all ships belonging to the Guangxi Clique, official to prevent them from falling into rebel, bandit or pirate hands. The Guangxi rebels secretly allied with Japan and the Co-Prosperity Sphere, then killed some European Merchants and the situation totally escalated. The Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy quickly used this chance to not only claim to secure and protect the South Chinese Sea but also landed their Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF/ Kaigun Tokubetsu Rikusentai) with the approval of the British Colonial Government in Hong Kong, the Portuguese Colonial Government in Macau and the French Colonial Government in Guangzhouwan -to secure the region- further allowed Japanese and Co-Prosperity Sphere Troops in their Free-Trade Zone Cities for protection against the Rebels Armies.

Japanese SNLF Troops also invaded the nearby harbor city of Guangzhou and secretly used it to ship more supplies and even whole brigades and divisions into the territory of the New Guangxi Clique in covered support of their new allies inside the territory of the Guangxi Clique. National China itself soon sended own troops to support the remaining New Guangxi Clique against the rebels. The Co-Prosperity Sphere used the so called Guangxi Civil War to test new strategies, tactics, weapons and equipment against the National Chinese loyal troops of the New Guangxi Clique.
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Chapter 5: The Guangxi Civil War
Chapter 5: The Guangxi Civil War:

Even with the National Chinese involvement the Guangxi Civil War soon turned in favor of the fascist rebels. While Chiang Kai-shek's National China mobilized 500,000 men and the nearby warlords of the Yunnan Clique and Xibei San Ma mobilized between 200,000 and 300,000 men themselves. The New Guangxi Clique had the majority of the former 1,000,000 Guangxi soldiers on their side with 640,000 troops while the fascists ally of the Co-Prosperity Sphere had only around 360,000 soldiers siding with them. But despite this unequal numbers and the fact that 76,000 Guangxi fascists died compared to 39,000 dead members of the New Guangxi Clique the war went quickly in favor of the pro-japanese and pro-Co-Prosperity Sphere government that had established itself inside the Japanese occupied city of Guangzhou that soon became the new capital of the fascist so called Third Guangxi Clique Regime. The new regime soon seized control of more parts of the New Guangxi Clique thanks to destroyers and cruisers of the Co-Prosperity Sphere lent to the Third Guangxi Clique. With this ships the fascist rebels managed to cut off the New Guangxi Clique forces from another all across the region and size major parts of the territory along the coastline and rivers. They even were able to capture the New Guangxi Clique capitol of Nanning before any other Warlord or even Chiang Kai-shek's National China could interfere fast enough.

Since Third Guangxi Clique Regime controlled area of the former Guangxi Clique involved ethnic Han and Tai, their new provisorial flag was yellow and red, representing both people and clearly inspired by the Sun Flag of Japan. Only this time the flag inner sun circle was yellow with small Triangulum stripes for the sunshine around, with a red background behind it. Right after most of the territory of the New Guangxi Clique was taken by the Third Guangxi Clique, the new autonomous state of Taikoku (also Taikukuo or Taijiang) was created. This demonstration of power and influence by the Co-Prosperity Sphere strengthened the United Front between the Chinese Nationalists and the Communists and even Xibei San Ma joined them, even if it had close ties to Tibet, the new Xianjing SFSR and Mengjiang that surrounded it. The fast victory of the Third Guangxi Clique and the membership of the new Taikoku State in the Co-Prosperity Sphere also rise new tensions between the Japanese Empire and it's puppets, National China and the nearby European and American Colonial Powers of Britain, France and Portugal. The nearby Chinese Warlord from the Yunnan Clique quickly joined the Co-Prosperity Sphere so that he would get his independence guaranteed (and more autonomy as he hopes) by Japan like the other members of it's Co-Prosperity Sphere. Clearly Guangxi and Yunnan both hoped for Japanese investors, to improve their industry, infrastructure and influence in the region. This new expansion of the Co-Prosperity Sphere lead to Tibet and Siam getting interested in the anti-colonial pan-asiatic alliance and requested observer status.

Inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere the Japanese mobilized the population for their industrialize and recruitment programms. Four years military service for men in the age from 18-35 was introduced to create standing armies and in an effort to mobilize all power of their own population the Japanese Militray and Government allowed women to work for their industry to help with the dramatically increased needs for their growing empire. The new Taikoku Army and the allied Yunnan Army were both trained and equipped by the Imperial Japanese Army under General Seishiro Itagaki. Together all three armies formed the South China Army. The Yellow Sea was now viewed as the territorial waters of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. While Britain and France from now on closely watched every step of the Co-Prosperity Sphere and took measures to increase their defenses of nearby colonies, the USA did the same with the Philippines and National China tried to get diplomatic support for their United Front against the growing expansion of the Co-Prosperity Sphere and the Soviets and was diplomatic backed by Great Britain, France and the USA (who together with the Soviets protestes the influrence of the Co-Prosperity Sphere in China as a violation to the open market agreements over China). The year 1936 had another major impact on the world beside the Spanish Civil War and the Guangxi Civil War, as the German Reich (Nazi Germany), the Italian Empire and the Japanese Empire/ Co-Prosperity Sphere together signed the Anti-Comintern Pact aiming against the global influence of the Communist International (abbreviated as Comintern).
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A consolidated Co-Prosperity Sphere can become a superpower in time, especially when Manchuria's oil supplies are developed and North Korea's rare earth minerals are exploited.

It just needs to be a lot more cautious with the Empires and be less antagonizing overall. No Rape of Nanking will help with the PR (especially as the extant warlords make China "uncivilized" and "too unstable."

Particularly with the British, it might be smart to highlight an example that proves their point about Western interference by her being a great exception. Having the Manchurian Empire and the transnational body publicly award former British and now Chinese citizen and missionary Gladys Alyward a high civilian honor for her anti-footbinding work, orphan adoption, and solving a prison riot (among others) would give goodwill for propaganda purposes in the Anglosphere in the opposite way the OTL Rape of Nanking did. It might be too much of a stretch, but it could pragmatically give some breathing room.
Chapter 6: Investment in the Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chapter 6: Investment in the Co-Prosperity Sphere:

Despite their recent archived goals and their victories, the Japanese Military and the Government realized that they would never win a two-front war against the southern European Colonial Powers and the northern Soviet Union at once. While Empire of Manchukuo had intentions to annex the Amur Province in the Russian Far East, Mengjiang claimed the Mongolian People's Republic, northern parts of he Xianjing SFSR and Tuna Tuva as a united Mongol Imperial State and Japan wished to annex north Sakhalin a new war with the Soviet Union was only favored at the moment by the Army. While there were boarder disputes between members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere and the Soviet Union and their allies, most of the Navy wished for a southern expansion route, aiming to liberate the resource rich and heavily populated European Colonies to then add them as new members into the Co-Prosperity Sphere. The main goal at the moment was to expand the Co-Prosperity Sphere into the rest of China and to kick the Soviets, Europeans and the USA out of that rich marked. Bu to ease the Anti-Japanese and Anti-Co-Prosperity Sphere protests and diplomatic protest notes, the members of the Co-Prosperity Sphere assured their concurrence in China that they would bring more security and stability into the civil war rid former Chinese Empire and accept the Open Market Agreement, but that was a lie.

While their Pacification Campaign against Communists, other Rebels and minor Warlords increased the stability inside China, the United Front still opposed the Co-Prosperity Sphere heavily and saw it as a new form of Colonialism. The Co-Prosperity Sphere Development Board oversaw the process of modernization and industrialization inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere under the aspect of supporting the Core Region of Japan and Chosen with resources and cheap, massive workforce. Prospectors searched for new minerals, ore and other resources and founded some new mining, agriculture and industrialization operations in Chosen, Manchukuo, Yankoku, Mengjiang and Taikoku. The Co-Prosperity Sphere even used European and American Investors for some of their projects, even if hey were regulate by the local governments (or more true their Japanese Advisers) and allowed outside traders and companies to have access to their part of the Chinese local marked. This assured many in Europe and the USA that the Co-Prosperity Sphere really meant stability and security for a China that was otherwise in civil war after civil war. Even some Nationalist Chinese in the Kuomintang (KMT) like Wang Jingwei saw the positive influence and argued that working together with the Japanese and Asian brothers inside the Co-Prosperity Sphere would be the better course for China. But just like under Mao' Communist China these voices remained a minority inside the United Front for now. Because of this development some European and US Embargo's on Japan were lifted again.

Realizing that a too direct and open attack against other Chinese Territories would raise new protests, embargo's or even other actions against the Co-Prosperity Sphere, Japan took another route. With the tension of nearby mobilized Xibei San Ma and other minor warlords in central China, the Co-Prosperity Sphere arrange a military mission with the Yunnan Clique Warlord to send Japanese instructors and modernizers as well as a volunteered Yunnan Army of troops from all over the Co-Prosperity Sphere to officially secure Yunnan as well the Yunnan Chinese Boarder with the British Colony of Burma. Since these security troops were placed on the boarder to Xibei San Ma and Nationalist China the British at the time did not protest and some local Burma colonial governors saw this development positively instead of facing a nearby China in full out Civil War again.
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A more accepted Pan-Asianism view from some Japanese Leaders as well as a more open acceptance for ther asian nationalists (as long as they accept Japans guide/rule over them). We will go into more detail soon.

I don't see it happening. In fact I think it's more likely for Japan to hold out to 1955 in WW2 (which requires the Americans to repeatedly make stupid mistakes against an enemy with inferior technology, numbers, and lower officer quality... day after day after day)

Don't let me rain on your parade, just have fun with yourself