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What if Japan decided not to attack china in 1937(NO OIL EMBARGO)

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by ww2fan, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I would have loved to read the paper you wrote.

    About separating the Axis partners, well, I agree it would not seem likely but that doesn't mean it would be impossible.
    The Imperial Japanese Navy enjoyed strong ties with the Royal Navy and that could've been used as a conduit for backchannel talks. I know it's only a possibility, even a slight one at that. But this is a what-if, I mean an alternate history right?

    It's a shame that Roosevelt was right about using the threat of an oil embargo to force Japan to take a certain course of action.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I'll see if the prof. still has a copy.
    "Magic" gave the US very good reason for not thinking a split would be possible.
    Yeah, but now we know that it would have just delayed the inevitable for a while.
     
  3. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Opana, I agree that the magic intercepts gave the US the ability to learn Japanese intentions, thus cementing US officials view of Japan.

    What I did mention was the IJN's links with the Royal Navy. That's an entirely informal path and wouldn't have involved the US or at the most very little US involvement.

    Whatever chance this backchannel had, however, would be dashed when Togo and his ilk expanded their control over Japan.

    It's not really easy to look back and discuss what could have happened if this or that occured.

    As for this scenario of a no US oil embargo, I'd say I would back your view of a Japanese policy of divide and conquer in China. However, I would say that policy would have a better chance of being adopted if Togo and his group was not in power.

    Maybe the backchannel talks with the British could galvanize more moderate elements of the IJN to step up and exert an influence on events. At best, I see them stopping the militarists in their tracks. I concede this is unlikely but it is not impossible. Middle case, they would've slowed down events a little until cooler heads prevailed. At worst, they would've ended up with the same fate as the Japanese CEO who spoke out too much against the militarists.

    Nails that stick up get hammered down.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I was aware of the RN/IJN relationship. Capt. Packenham was on the bridge of Mikasa at the Battle of Tsushima Strait and his reports influenced Jackie Fisher's design of Dreadnought.

    "Going to War With Japan" talks a hard look at the English "contribution" to the Pacific War. Have you seen it?
     
  5. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    No. I haven't. Thanks for recommending the book.
    I admit that I won't have time to be reading any new books on WWII because of developments here in the PI.
    The military went on red alert April 30 and as journalists, we're on red alert, too.
    I doubt anything will happen but as everyone knows elections can bring about surprises. I hope these would be pleasant, even welcome surprises.

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. I look forward to reading your other posts.

    One final note, do you consider the RN/IJN link strong enough to do what I have mentioned?
    The Army had the most influence in Manchuria, come to think of it.
    From the little I've read, it seems the more moderate force in the Japanese military was the Navy, not the Army because their sailors and officers have more chances to be in contact with foreigners. Is this view realistic?
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I wouldn't give the RN/IJN moderation idea a lot of weight. The Navy wasn't as expansionistic as the Army to begin with, and while the Navy ruled the waves, the Army ruled the home islands, including the Emperor. When the Army decided to go to war, the country went to war.
     
  7. Karma

    Karma Member

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    Regarding your question, I'll say that that it is realistic. The figures who wished to refrain from war were dominantly navy officers. It is often said that the Japanese mistake in WWII was to grossly underestimate the industrial and military might of the Allies, and this was usually attributed to the army's stubborn mindset that they were capable of wresting victory. The army often trained with German military experts and the navy trained with the British, the latter also having more attaches and liaisons in foreign navies. Tojo's cabinet was also army oriented and because of the cold rivalry between the two military branches, it was obvious that there was no real cooperation, which also led to the army's belief that their own country's navy was capable enough of taking the Allied navy head on. Also the various military factions that fought over internal matters in order to gain the upper hand on each other were army based, one of them becoming Tojo's cabinet. The navy though didn't have much weight in internal matters because of the overwhelming strength of the army back home so they didn't have much of a say to determine their country's course.
     
  8. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Thanks for your explanations, Karma and Opana. I will definitely keep them in mind.
    It seems we have temporarily exhausted the possibilities in this scenario. After our discussion, I can't seem to come up wth other possible courses of action.
    How about the rest of you guys? You might have other ideas.
     
  9. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    Carl, interesting thoughts and possibilities.
    Is it not possible, that as China and Japan work to expel European interests from China, friction increases between the Japanese/Chinese and the U.S.? The U.S. business interests in China would seek to expand influence, as would Japanese business interests. The Japanese are now overt partners with the KMT. I can see the U.S. losing influence precipitously.
    Is there the potential for a KMT, Japan, Gemany, Italy Axis vs. an Franco-ABDA, CCCP-Maoist Alliance? Lot's of variables, if that happens. Only one player changes sides.
    Even without such an alliance, I see war as occurring. I don't see anything which will make Prince Saionji's ghost smile.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Or perhaps just the opposite. They (Japan and China) still need western goods. If they are trying to expel the European interest particularly those that held cities in China then the US becomes the obvious alternative source. In any case prior to the oil embargo US oil made up ~80 of Japanese oil imports. Plenty of reasons for them to keep relations with the US friendly.
     
  11. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    I'm presuming that the timeline is early 1937. Would increased trade with Germany and Italy be sufficient to procure necessary western goods for China and Japan?
    The Chinese and Japanese, acting in concert, can expel the Europeans without substantial effort.
    In order to regain lost market share and to finesse the Germans in trade and Americans somewhat in resources, would Britain and the Dutch be willing to increase oil deliveries to the Chinese and Japanese?
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well Germany really needs raw materials but doesn't have much to export during that time frame. Then when things heat up in 39 not much is going to be moving at least by sea.
    If they try in in 37 the Japanese are going to have a lot of problems. The British fleet is signficantly stronger and doesn't have much else to do. China might be able to survive being cut off but I'm not sure Japan can. Japan is also more vulnerable to naval bombardment. I would think the object would be to accomplish this without a war which will take several years. Once WWII starts they do have a bit more leverage though.
    Well there own demands go up at that time as well. I'm not sure what the capacity of the Dutch oil fields was but I suspect the Japanese are still going to need or at least want American oil.
     
  13. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    "Nevarinemex"; I don’t think China can be included here, they were still in the midst of their own Civil War which they only put on semi-hold to fight the invading Japanese. Mao and Chiang had been at each other’s throats since the death of Sun Yet-sen in 1925, and getting them to stop fighting and join or act in concert with the Japanese is highly unlikely.

    The Chinese had lost too much territory and prestige to the Japanese in the late 19th Century for that to happen. The Chinese themselves didn’t need "imported goods" other than arms so they could fight each other. On the other hand the Japanese needed to import iron, tin, coking coal, rubber, wool, raw cotton, petroleum, soybean products, some of their rice, and other grains.

    I think the biggest problem for the Japanese in the thirties isn’t "procuring" necessary western goods, but paying for them in any fashion. The fact that both Germany and Italy needed to import nearly the same items to produce their own goods doesn’t help either. Plus add in that the Japanese had little they could export which the other nations would want during a "Great Depression" which was still ongoing. Japan needs to export as much as she imports in value just to break even at the time. Japan’s only asset really was an abundance of water power and a skilled and dedicated labor force.

    Remember that many nations (about thirty importing nations actually), had placed restrictive tariffs on goods which Japan did export. Their most "value added" commodity was both raw and spun silk, and during the Depression silk was definitely a luxury commodity. They also had to import the raw cotton to produce the cotton fabric they exported as well. Then consider that until war broke out, even through the Great Depression, it was the US which purchased about 90% of all the silk (raw and fabric) which Japan exported. Another valuable, but not specifically "quantitative" export is artwork and skilled crafts like porcelain, etc.

    Now, not taking anything away from the Japanese and their "steel making" ability, but exporting steel they make out of imported ore and coking coal isn’t likely to off-set anything, since both Germany and Italy don’t need nor want Japanese steel.

    Since they couldn’t export most of the stuff they made, they turned to producing "war goods" for their internal consumption. In 1931-32 the government spent 31% of their tax revenue on their armed forces, both material and troops, and in ‘36-37 the number went to 47%, and by 1938 the armed forces were gobbling up 70% of their government revenue.

    The Japanese had gone to an industrial society from a feudal one in an incredibly short time, and increased their population by many multiples while not increasing their food and fiber producing ability. Consequently they gone from a nearly self-sufficient society for food and fiber to one which needed to import those items to feed and clothe its increased population. In contrast Manchuria was rich in natural resources and very sparsely populated. And as such had obvious advantages for a densely populated and resource-poor Japan. Amongst Manchuria's resources coveted by Japan were iron, coking coal, soybeans, salt and above all land, arable land.

    In my own opinion, Japan crossed the point of no return with the Manchurian invasion in 1931. After this, and with the militarists gaining near complete control of the government, their course of direction was sealed, and couldn’t be retraced or retracted for fear of "loss of honor (face)".

    As to the British or Royal Dutch Shell increasing their share of the oil Japan needed, that is unlikely since they aren’t going to "give it away" and Japan couldn’t afford to be held hostage to outside sources as they had been and were. The Japanese were importing about 70-80% of their petroleum from the US, the other two made up the remainder. And we (America) didn’t place an embargo on Japanese oil imports until 1941, so four years after this time-scene might develop. We did impose an embargo on aircraft quality gasoline and scrap iron after they became even more aggressive on the Asian mainland, but it was trade deficit and lack of exportable/salable goods which was the Achilles heel of the militarist Japan of the thirties.
     
  14. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    I'm presuming that the Royal Navy would be sailing around to Singapore and replenishing there. Is Singapore ready in '37, for support of the Fleet?
    I could envision attrition by submarine through the So China Sea and a major fleet action around Formosa. That is if the British send the Fleet.
    The more interesting question is how the British and French actually would respond. Germany just reannexed the Rhineland in '36. Italy colonized Ethiopia in '36. Spain was being turned into a live fire range and proving ground for the Reich and CCCP. PM Baldwin (UK) was pro-Falange and President Blum (France) was pro-Republican, so common action might be difficult to achieve.
    Considering that the Western Europeans did not respond to aggression in their own back yards, coupled with the abdication and succession to the British throne, I wonderi if there is paralysis in the West to just about anything at this time.
    So would you consider that Churchill, instead of Chamberlain, might succeed Baldwin in '37? The Japanese might have forced Englands' hand here.
     
  15. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    When I posted a similar WI on another site (Britian & France support China in 1937) my presumption was these two Allies had decided to take action. Perhaps the French had sucked it up and opposed the reoccupation of the Rhineland, or the Brits had stared down italy over Ethiopia. In any case the French & British leaders, whoever they are, begain asserting themselves 2-3 years earlier. Perhaps they do not oppose every Facist adventure in Europe, but they are willing to try in some places.
     
  16. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    As an aside, reflecting on US 'Asia' policy in these years, what is the take amoung folks here on the US deployment of the Marine Brigade to China in 1928 & the general use of Navy and Army units in China during the interwar years. Was this simply the response of the US government to businessmen in the China trade, or was there a broader international political agenda there.

    I notice the Marine brigade deployed to China coincided with the deployment of a expeditionary force to Nicaruagua, & other minor initiatives in Latin America. Were these part of some overarching policy plan, or the result of a less coherent series of events?
     
  17. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    I can see the deployment of the 4th Marines to Shanghai having policy implications. Considering Chiang's Shanghai Purge of 1927 appeared to have occurred about a month after of the 4th's arrival.
     
  18. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the deployment of the 4th Marines made under the pretext of protecting foreign interests in China as a response to the Boxer Rebellion?
     
  19. nevarinemex

    nevarinemex Member

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    Are you familiar with the term "taking a slow boat to China"? If so, then this might have been the source of the term!:)
    The deployment of the 4th happened in early 1927. I was under the impression that the Boxer Rebellion was around 1900. I can't believe that the Chinese were any happier with foreign intervention on either date.

    Chiang, on the other hand, seems to have quite a pedigree. Support from Japanese in the teens; the Soviets in the twenties; the Reich in the thirties; the U.S. in the forties. If I can set aside my Occidental prejudices for a moment, I really have to rethink just whom was manuevering whom into war.
     
  20. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    4th Marines were already long in China. The 1927 expedition was of the 3rd Brigade. Cant recall if it included the 6th or the 7th Regiment. The 3rd Brigade was set up in the US as a combined arms organization that included a air group, artillery battalion, a combat car company armored scout cars, engineers, motor transport company...

    Like the 4th Marine Regiment the US Army 15th Infantry Regiment had also been in China for many years. Stillwell had been a company commander in the 15th on his first tour in China & the regiment intelligence officer on his second tour there.
     

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