Would Imperial Japan inevitably cause a world war?

Huh? PoW and Repulse didn't have any submarines with them (not that it would have helped them).
That was my mistake. I didn’t realize that ASW was referring to their Anti-Submarine warfare. I thought that it was a more general statement about the quality of the Japanese Navy.
 
Just have Japan be on the Central Powers side and have the centrals win. Indochina rebels and sides with Japan. Due to postwar instability, Britain falls into internal turmoil allowing the Japanese to seize control of Malaysia.
 
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Why would Japan inevitably cause a world war? It didn't OTL. And the second Sino-Japanese war was a pretty contingent event. The Japanese war with the Dutch, British and US even more contingent (specifically on Germany causing a massive mess in Europe that made the Japanese think they had a chance).

fasquardon
 
Why would Japan inevitably cause a world war? It didn't OTL. And the second Sino-Japanese war was a pretty contingent event. The Japanese war with the Dutch, British and US even more contingent (specifically on Germany causing a massive mess in Europe that made the Japanese think they had a chance).

fasquardon
my thought process is admittedly reliant on TTL but i figured the question itself was simple enough to go without elaborating on that too much, but i guess not :p the concept with a Japan-caused world war is mainly that, due to other butterfly effects, a fleet that the Japanese had send to the Indian Ocean isn't recalled and so their imperial ambitions are extended to (more of) southern Asia as well as potentially to the Middle East and eastern Africa, particularly up to the Suez Canal. for TTL specifically, that could bring them into conflict with France, who controls the Canal here, and in turn could bring France's allies into the war. France also happens to have a stronger rivalry with Britain, strong enough to the point that they've waged several proxy wars against each other up to this point, so what if Britain got involved on Japan's side, and got its own allies involved as well? that's where i started wondering if Japan might eventually cause a world war to take place despite my having long been planning for there not to be any world wars ITTL.

whenever i make threads asking questions like this, i'm pretty much always just trying to cover all my bases--it's equally possible that Japan might not get far into the Indian Ocean because they get bogged down in a Southeast Asia that's mostly controlled by France and it instead just becomes another proxy war with Britain supplying the Japanese, or that they pretty much only focus on China for the most part, or other possibilities that i haven't yet considered or even conceived of.

EDIT: this had slipped my mind earlier, but one other thing i wanted to mention is that what i'm thinking of as "Japan inevitably causes a world war" is that they take a step too far and that's how said war could theoretically take place, as opposed to Nazi Germany deliberately causing such a war IOTL by invading Poland
 
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Why are you assuming that they wouldn’t try to challenge the Japanese surface Fleet?
Because it doesn't matter, Japan is an island nation once it's cut off from trade it cannot win the war with the colonial powers.

The British submarine force wasn't really geared toward mercantile warfare and its historical performance (tons sunk/year) was about on par with Japan's. Meanwhile the RN surface force couldn't compete with the Japanese in carrier operations while the French Fleet had no carriers to speak of.
Except historically the RN wasn't the primary opponent of Japan and was also busy fighting the Italians in the Med, I doubt the Brits couldn't have ramped up their effectiveness in anti-merchant operations especially if they're only focusing on the Far East
 
Sadly neither the government controlled the Army nor the Army High Echelons did control what the actual front line officers did. As long as that situation is not addressed they are going to have a China war they cannot end ( in terms of their liking) so imho they would inevitably crash on a major war
I have hard time believing that front line officer initiated Mukden Incident without authorization from army head office. Considering Japanese society was very hierarchical, soldiers were trained to obey and follow. How could anyone dare to plan and execute such risky behaviors.
 
Germany couldn’t win either World War, but it didn’t stop them starting one and helping the other come about. Starting a War doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be able to win it.

To the OP, if you have want Japan to achieve what you’ve laid out, a World War is certain. To even have the slightest of chances to succeed, Japan needs allies or a vastly expanded Empire of “lesser” nations, either of which requires a coalition of nations to defeat them.

Your probable right, but that wasn't apparent at the time. The Germans had a better chance of winning WWI, then WWII. Japan has no chance, I can think of attaining any Asian allies, without occupying them first. Japan would never start a war against the Americans, and the British without major allies. Even they know the odds were just to long.
 
You're probably right, but that wasn't apparent at the time. The Germans had a better chance of winning WWI, then WWII.
I don’t want to derail the thread but Germany had no chance of winning WWI once America entered and German actions caused American entry. Ergo, Germany had no chance of winning either World War. But I agree they didn’t see that at the time.

Japan has no chance, I can think of attaining any Asian allies, without occupying them first. Japan would never start a war against the Americans, and the British without major allies. Even they know the odds were just to long.
That’s one way of looking at it, but although Japan had Allies in the form of Germany and Italy (and the various associated Powers I suppose) what help did they provide? The entire Japanese strategy depended on the European Powers defeating France and Britain to prevent them moving major forces to the Far East, fair enough. But it was the Japanese attack on America that brought America into the war. What help is Germany and Italy meant to realistically provide against America?
 
Why are you assuming that they wouldn’t try to challenge the Japanese surface Fleet?
Because challenging the Japanese surface fleet is dumb?

Very generally... From about 1920 the RN plan to deal with Japan was to put a bunch of long range subs and cruisers in Singapore, cut off the oil, tin, and rubber from South East Asia, then watch the hi jinks as the fleet moves in from the rest of the Empire. Just for fun they would probably buy up US oil just to stop any convoys coming from that direction.

If the Japanese surface fleet tries to interfere it has to move into the South China Sea, a bowl filled with English submarines and aircraft. Carrier aircraft were not the equal of land based craft. The Japanese Navy got very good at some things. But in a non WW2 scenario where the competent English are not dead or in Europe they are going to struggle to a point of not even starting.




Back to the OP. Take out WWI and things are very different for Japan. Less of a free pass for a lot of gains. Less penetration into China. Less glory for the armed forces. Less antagonism between the armed forces. Less intensive for overt military control of the government.
 
The Japanese fleet would not be decisive in a war against France and Britain - because the Japanese objectives all require major land campaigns. Fundamentally, it'd be a very different beast to the Pacific War - probably closer to the Mediterranean campaign, where naval power was important but was constrained by land-based air and the actual matter was decided on land anyway.

If we assume that Japan wants resources, then the objectives are French Indochina, Malaya and the DEI. As an aside, this prevents it being a war against Britain and France, but adds in the Netherlands and, almost certainly the US too. But let's ignore that...

Japan's problem here is that Britain and France will start by fighting a defensive war. For this they need well-supplied ground troops and land-based air, OR to defeat the IJN and thus cut off the Japanese troops from resupply. OTL, they had neither. While doing the latter makes the former easier, it isn't required. Also problematic for the Japanese is that such a naval engagement would occur in the vicinity of hostile territory, exposing the IJN and its primitive, eyeball-based fleet defence system to land-based air and subs.

Unless the Japanese can rush the defences before major French and British forces arrive in theatre, then their inferior logistics will mean the attack will bog down and fail. You could imagine Indochina falling, but Malaya and much of the DEI holding.

Now the western powers seek to defeat Japan and end the war. And the IJN's problem is that this doesn't require the IJN to be defeated - not while Japan's enemies are either sitting on, or interdicting access to, Japan's key resources. They may try to engage the IJN in open water, and they may get their teeth kicked in, but such a victory still doesn't reopen the supply routes to Japan. And Britain and France don't need an unconditional surrender or invasion, so there's no need to fight their way to Tokyo Bay.

In such a scenario, it's conceivable that the IJN wins every battle and Japan loses the war.
 
While there is a degree of racially fueled underestimation or disregard vis a vis the RN to the IJN (and undoubtedly by the USN), this doesn't mean that the RN suddenly starts drinking lead paint. As @Jellico says, the RN looked at the fleet composition of the IJN fairly early, compared their own, and made a strategy that complemented their forces, rather than attempting to match their potential foes.

If you are to engage in a childishly simplistic argument of 'if the RN/MN fought exactly like the IJN intended, against Japan; they would lose', then you are correct. Sadly, different countries will have differing ways of choosing to engage their enemies, regardless of what we know in hindsight works well, and how effective the IJN were at doing so. This is because the European countries are operating under different constraints - from fleet composition and treasury limitations, to territory management and ship maintenance, are just a few examples of why the forces opposing the IJN might choose another way of doing things.

Unlike in OTL, in this scenario the RN and MN are engaged solely in the pacific, with no distractions in the Med, running convoys across the Atlantic, or bottling up their competitors fleets-in-being. Also unlike OTL, there are no examples to showcase what works well in terms of naval operations. I'll grant that even without Taranto Harbour, the IJN will still have a fair inkling of how to successfully attack a major naval base, but that's because they too, were not drinking lead paint. Theirs was an entirely different brew.
 
Because challenging the Japanese surface fleet is dumb?

Very generally... From about 1920 the RN plan to deal with Japan was to put a bunch of long range subs and cruisers in Singapore, cut off the oil, tin, and rubber from South East Asia, then watch the hi jinks as the fleet moves in from the rest of the Empire. Just for fun they would probably buy up US oil just to stop any convoys coming from that direction.

If the Japanese surface fleet tries to interfere it has to move into the South China Sea, a bowl filled with English submarines and aircraft. Carrier aircraft were not the equal of land based craft. The Japanese Navy got very good at some things. But in a non WW2 scenario where the competent English are not dead or in Europe they are going to struggle to a point of not even starting.

Back to the OP. Take out WWI and things are very different for Japan. Less of a free pass for a lot of gains. Less penetration into China. Less glory for the armed forces. Less antagonism between the armed forces. Less intensive for overt military control of the government.
1) Where’s your source? From what I’ve read, Britain’s plans in case of a war with the Japanese would have involved moving most of their surface Fleet to the Pacific.

2) Whether they can hold the Japanese off if they decide to invade Britain’s colonies is a big question mark too. OTL, it was a crushing defeat and they did it on shoe string logistics. Assuming that the Japanese aren’t heavily involved in occupying China, they’d have much more resources to put into a war against the British.

3) I’m not sure what you mean by the competent English being dead or in Europe. Britain’s primary efforts were in the Mediterranean after the initial defeat in 1940 and many of the officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen in the Far East when Japan struck south had originally taken part in the war against Germany and Italy.
 
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I tried to find something on British war plans for the Japanese pre-WWII and a google search brought this up. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it seems fairly believable, given the British thinking towards America at the time. As it’s an extract (I didn’t want to pay for the full book just on this thread alone) it cuts off mid sentence towards the end, but the meaning is clear.


The years 1920/21 marked a major shift in Admiralty perspectives on the IJN. Pressures to retrench plus the possible non-renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance compromised Britain’s ability to constrain an expansionist Japan. In 1919 RN planners felt Japan could be disregarded as a threat ‘whether as an individual power or as a partner in any combination’ and the USN was the only navy that concerned them. However, in 1920 a shift occurred with the appointment of Beatty as First Sea Lord. He highlighted the enormous disparity in naval spending between the USA and Japan and later told the Prime Minister: ‘Japan’s naval power is almost as great a menace as that of the United States’. He then pointed out that Japan and the USA, having established a construction lead, would ‘thus relegate Great Britain to the third Naval Power’. This growing concern was underlined by the Admiralty’s refusal in 1920 to allow an IJN visit to the carrier Eagle or to provide a naval aviation mission. In January 1921, war plans drawn up against Japan suggested that long-range operations against Australia were unlikely, but that they might take Hong Kong either to keep or to bargain with and that seizing Singapore was possible but unlikely. The plans recommended a fleet larger than the Japanese main fleet to move to Singapore, provided fuelling arrangements were in place. The British Fleet was then to seek out and defeat it at the first opportunity and then, from Hong Kong or further north if captured, to implement a blockade and anti-submarine warfare strategy in order to bring Japan to its knees. In July, Beatty addressed the Imperial Conference on the need to plan for a war with Japan. He stated Japan would strike quickly once hostilities were declared, hitting Hong Kong first and then possibly Singapore and Borneo. Everything depended on the speed with which the British Fleet could reach the Far East, engage in a decisive battle, destroy the main Japanese Fleet, gain control of sea communications and then blockade Japan. Beatty stated that holding Singapore would eliminate all danger to Australia and New Zealand, noting Singapore was an important base for offensive operations against the IJN...

From The Royal Navy and Japan, 1921–1941 by Ian T. M. Gow.
 

Now, let's remember that there are plenty of places where the plan can fail as was noted at the time. And the whole thing is colored by the reality of the OTL, which had some exceptional circumstances. eg World War 2, France being defeated, Italy joining in, etc.

And this is a plan that evolved over a 20 year period. When first mooted RN naval aviation was superior to Japanese. By the end it wasn't. Even that is highly variable. A more overtly aggressive Japan results in more Ark Royals over Armored Carriers. No invasion crisis means Fleet Air aircraft don't lose a generation to the needs of the Battle of Britain so better aircraft. The 1939 Japanese aircraft were roughly comparable to the RN aircraft. The T-class Subs aren't being killed by the Italians in shallow waters. There is a whole horde of butterflies scattering in lots of directions in the late 30s.
 
2) Whether they can hold the Japanese off if they decide to invade Britain’s colonies is a big question mark too. OTL, it was a crushing defeat and they did it on shoe string logistics. Assuming that the Japanese aren’t heavily involved in occupying China, they’d have much more resources to put into a war against the British.

3) I’m not sure what you mean by the competent English being dead or in Europe. Britain’s primary efforts were in the Mediterranean after the initial defeat in 1940 and many of the officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen in the Far East when Japan struck south had originally taken part in the war against Germany and Italy.
2) Where are they going to invade from? OTL they came from Siam and Indo China. Siam only happens because the French are forced to give up Indo China. So the Japanese are coming from Formosa, with no land route to Malaya. And they have to take Indo China from southern China. That is a little more challenging.

Now you say "Assuming that the Japanese aren’t heavily involved in occupying China". Why the heck are they invading the European colonies then? No one is going to be worried about Japan and Japan will be making nice civilian money hand over fist. No China no problems.

3) About the only experienced units were the Navy ones that came with PoW. I would have to check for the land troops for who is who.
From Wiki
"Indian III Corps was formed in mid-1941 as part of the Malaya Command when the increase in tension in the Far East necessitated the dispatch of large reinforcements to the area to deter Japan. On 7 December 1941 the Corps consisted of the Indian 9th Infantry Division, commanded by Major-General Arthur Edward Barstow, the Indian 11th Infantry Division, commanded by Major-General David Murray-Lyon, a lines of communication Area, and the Penang Fortress.[4] Due to the rapid expansion of the British Indian Army, many of the formations in the Indian divisions were ill-trained and lacked large enough cadres of experienced troops."

"The 8th Division was an infantry division of the Australian Army, formed during World War II as part of the all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force. The 8th Division was raised from volunteers for overseas service from July 1940 onwards. Consisting of three infantry brigades, the intention had been to deploy the division to the Middle East to join the other Australian divisions, but as war with Japan loomed in 1941, the division was divided into four separate forces, which were deployed in different parts of the Asia-Pacific region. All of these formations were destroyed as fighting forces by the end of February 1942 during the fighting for Singapore, and in Rabaul, Ambon, and Timor. Most members of the division became prisoners of war, waiting until the war ended in late 1945 to be liberated. One in three died in captivity. "

So yeah. Newly raised troops that never made it out of Asia, vs China veterans. Not exactly "originally taken part in the war against Germany and Italy." Which is completely logical. The War was being won or lost in Europe and Norther Africa. Why would the good troops be in Asia?
 
2) Where are they going to invade from? OTL they came from Siam and Indo China. Siam only happens because the French are forced to give up Indo China. So the Japanese are coming from Formosa, with no land route to Malaya. And they have to take Indo China from southern China. That is a little more challenging.

Now you say "Assuming that the Japanese aren’t heavily involved in occupying China". Why the heck are they invading the European colonies then? No one is going to be worried about Japan and Japan will be making nice civilian money hand over fist. No China no problems.

3) About the only experienced units were the Navy ones that came with PoW. I would have to check for the land troops for who is who.
From Wiki
"Indian III Corps was formed in mid-1941 as part of the Malaya Command when the increase in tension in the Far East necessitated the dispatch of large reinforcements to the area to deter Japan. On 7 December 1941 the Corps consisted of the Indian 9th Infantry Division, commanded by Major-General Arthur Edward Barstow, the Indian 11th Infantry Division, commanded by Major-General David Murray-Lyon, a lines of communication Area, and the Penang Fortress.[4] Due to the rapid expansion of the British Indian Army, many of the formations in the Indian divisions were ill-trained and lacked large enough cadres of experienced troops."

"The 8th Division was an infantry division of the Australian Army, formed during World War II as part of the all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force. The 8th Division was raised from volunteers for overseas service from July 1940 onwards. Consisting of three infantry brigades, the intention had been to deploy the division to the Middle East to join the other Australian divisions, but as war with Japan loomed in 1941, the division was divided into four separate forces, which were deployed in different parts of the Asia-Pacific region. All of these formations were destroyed as fighting forces by the end of February 1942 during the fighting for Singapore, and in Rabaul, Ambon, and Timor. Most members of the division became prisoners of war, waiting until the war ended in late 1945 to be liberated. One in three died in captivity. "

So yeah. Newly raised troops that never made it out of Asia, vs China veterans. Not exactly "originally taken part in the war against Germany and Italy." Which is completely logical. The War was being won or lost in Europe and Norther Africa. Why would the good troops be in Asia?
1) This seems a bit hypocritical to me. If Japan is tied down garisoning China in this potential war, we should also assume that Britain and France will be tied down in Europe by the Germans and Italians. Even if their isn’t a hot war in Europe, they’ll need to leave behind a significant number of ships, men and materiel to deter a potential war in Europe and that would drastically limit their ability to project power in Japans sphere. We already know what happened OTL in this exact situation. The Japanese ran roughshod over them.

2) This doesn’t give any details. How did their training defer from the training of the British troops that took part in the wars in Europe and Africa? A lot of the times, when I read about military units that suffered a defeat, the author writes that they were poorly trained without actually going into the details about their training.
 
Japan bit off more than they could chew when they invaded Manchuria in 1931.
The only thing that unites China is foreign invasion.
And thats what they did.
 
Japan bit off more than they could chew when they invaded Manchuria in 1931.
The only thing that unites China is foreign invasion.
And thats what they did.
Nah, that invasion was a good one. Japan needs a weak China, even today. The rest was bad.
 
I don’t want to derail the thread but Germany had no chance of winning WWI once America entered and German actions caused American entry. Ergo, Germany had no chance of winning either World War. But I agree they didn’t see that at the time.



That’s one way of looking at it, but although Japan had Allies in the form of Germany and Italy (and the various associated Powers I suppose) what help did they provide? The entire Japanese strategy depended on the European Powers defeating France and Britain to prevent them moving major forces to the Far East, fair enough. But it was the Japanese attack on America that brought America into the war. What help is Germany and Italy meant to realistically provide against America?

America entering WWI in 1917 is near the end of the story. Not attacking Belgium in 1914, and turning the army East would have kept the British out of the War, and would have been war winning move. Germany might have won the war in 1914. Having 6-8 more divisions at the Battle of the Marne might have won the war right there. Unrestricted U-Boat warfare in 1915 carried to the end might have defeated the British by early 1916. There are no effective depth charges till the spring of 1916. Continuing the offensive against Russia in 1916, instead of the Verdun Offensive might have defeat Russia by the spring of 1917. Attacking the French in summer 1917 during the mutinies might have led to a French collapse.

Germany, and Italy were absorbing most of the allied war effort for the whole of WWII. Operation Drum Beat, was a U-boat Blitz on the U.S. East Coast in the first half of 1942. Shipping losses were very serious. The Battle of the Atlantic absorbed the bulk of allied ASW forces for the whole war. Operation Point Blank, the bomber campaign against German tied up the bulk of allied air production for the whole war. The U.S. Army mobilized 90 divisions in WWII, 60 of them served in the ETO, and MTO. The war against Japan got the left overs. Most of the USN Battle, and Carrier Fleet went to the Pacific, but even the amphibious forces were smaller then in Europe. Only the invasions of the Philippines, and Okinawa compare to Sicily, and Italy, let alone Normandy. Luzon was the biggest land battle of the Pacific War with the Americans deploying 10 Divisions, and 5 independent regiments, vs. 260,000 Japanese Troops.
 
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