Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Feb 2021 13:59

OpanaPointer wrote:
13 Feb 2021 13:47
...
If the Japanese government hadn't been controlled by the military it might have been possible for the country to become the industrial powerhouse it became post-war. The US might have supported it to prevent a war in eastern Asia and this would have reduced the military construction drain on the economy. Japanese goods would have been available to the European colonies for their own growth and defense, and demands would have snowballed with Germany went to war in 1939.
Its been discussed multiple times before. Including in a fashion within the US and British governments. Unfortunately the diplomatic efforts foundered over the issues of the China war, & the Japanese did not see a substantial long term gain for Japan in British & US economic policies. Perhaps had the China war not occurred some sort of agreement could have been reached. By post war calculation Japan possessed near 10% of the global war making capacity. The Brits could have made some use of that 1940 & on at a profit for Japan.

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by OpanaPointer » 13 Feb 2021 14:22

Japan's government was hijacked by the military round-about then as well.

As for changes, US transports picking up Japanese made armored vehicles and dropping them off in Port Said. No Atlantic transit to run.
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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Feb 2021 18:39

OpanaPointer wrote:
13 Feb 2021 14:22
... As for changes, US transports picking up Japanese made armored vehicles and dropping them off in Port Said. No Atlantic transit to run.
Judging from the examples I've seen in museums I skeptical you would want armored vehicles made in Japan. Im convinced the tank I looked over in Ropkeys collection near Crawfordsville had a turret made of cast iron. The chief mechanic Skip Warvell told me they were unable to weld the cracks & sent ample of the metal to a welding supply company to identify the correct welding rod material. The response was the samples were cast iron, or steel of such low grade there was no difference. I've had people argue vehemently against this conclusion, but I know a little bit about metals and the cracks in the turret looked like in those fractured cast iron drain pipe.

My best guess is the tank makers were cheating on specifications.

Of course fighting Italian tanks in Ethiopia the quality might not be a issue?

Trucks, construction equipment, utility vehicles, certain classes of ammunition, transport aircraft. Japan was already building a licensed version of the DC-2 or DC-3. If you want combat material it might be better to get a DoW out of the Japanese and have them send some naval squadrons. Or posting all those trouble making army officers to regiments sent to fight in Africa might be a good idea. Col Tsuji leading the charge at Dieppe sounds like a great idea. How would LtCol Ichhi do defending Bir Hakkim? The possibilities are endless :D

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by OpanaPointer » 13 Feb 2021 18:50

Licensed models, Stuarts and the like, easily within the skill level. And US advisors could have come over to nudge things down the right path.
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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Takao » 13 Feb 2021 19:05

Put simply, if you want to curb Japanese expansion...The US embargoes Japanese oil right after the Marco Polo bridge incident. Japan is left high&dry before she has a military to be a bother.

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by OpanaPointer » 13 Feb 2021 19:08

Takao wrote:
13 Feb 2021 19:05
Put simply, if you want to curb Japanese expansion...The US embargoes Japanese oil right after the Marco Polo bridge incident. Japan is left high&dry before she has a military to be a bother.
Pity the Soongs hadn't yet gone to work on the US public.
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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Futurist » 13 Feb 2021 22:18

OpanaPointer wrote:
13 Feb 2021 13:47
(If this is a derail please forgive me, hard to track everything on a cell phone in an O2 tent.)

If the Japanese government hadn't been controlled by the military it might have been possible for the country to become the industrial powerhouse it became post-war. The US might have supported it to prevent a war in eastern Asia and this would have reduced the military construction drain on the economy. Japanese goods would have been available to the European colonies for their own growth and defense, and demands would have snowballed with Germany went to war in 1939.

Poorly thought-out, I know. Sorry.
Sounds very reasonable, actually. :)

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by OpanaPointer » 13 Feb 2021 22:49

Never sure given the regular doses of morphine I get.
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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Feb 2021 20:32

Takao wrote:
13 Feb 2021 19:05
Put simply, if you want to curb Japanese expansion...The US embargoes Japanese oil right after the Marco Polo bridge incident. Japan is left high&dry before she has a military to be a bother.
Im wondering how close to political possibility that was in 1937. The sanctions actually executed look really weak. Japan was buying most of its petroleum from the US then. I wonder how much Depression strapped oil companies might have howled if 5-10 % of their sales halted from the sanctions. Then there is the question of getting other nations to participate.

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Takao » 15 Feb 2021 21:12

Ideally, 1932-33 with their invasion of Manchuria would have been the best time to turn off the oil tap. But, in 1937, it was still workable.

The oil companies were never "Depression strapped", and were raking in tens of millions in profits at the height of the Depression in 1933(78 million in profit from Standard oil alone).

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Feb 2021 03:50

OpanaPointer wrote:
13 Feb 2021 13:47

If the Japanese government hadn't been controlled by the military it might have been possible for the country to become the industrial powerhouse it became post-war.
Not merely what it became postwar: Had Japan retained Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria (and avoided the WW2 catastrophe) its economy would have been far larger than any Western one and could have rivaled America's in 1960.

The U.S. probably backs Japan's intervention in China during the Cold War under the banner of anti-communism - short of Hitler there's nothing too bloody to outweigh anti-communism in U.S. tastes.
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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by OpanaPointer » 16 Feb 2021 13:36

And millions of people wouldn't have died. Oh what a brave new world.
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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Feb 2021 14:18

Takao wrote:
15 Feb 2021 21:12
...
The oil companies were never "Depression strapped", and were raking in tens of millions in profits at the height of the Depression in 1933(78 million in profit from Standard oil alone).
The stockholders & others thought differently after the boom years of the preceding decades. A oil embargo would knock a couple percentage points off short term revenue, & panic folks. Japan was becoming the #1 Asian trading partner for the US. There would be others disinclined to support such a altruistic move. More so since many of the same people supported landing the Marines across Latin America to fight th Banana Wars, or the Sanghai occupation 1927.

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Feb 2021 14:24

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 03:50

The U.S. probably backs Japan's intervention in China during the Cold War under the banner of anti-communism - short of Hitler there's nothing too bloody to outweigh anti-communism in U.S. tastes.
Without the weakening of the KMT in a Japanese war its unlikely the Communists of any type have any resurgence in the next few decades. The urban Marxists had been destroyed as a organization in the late 1920a & Maos group had no traction beyond their isolated province. Odds are China remains a oligarchy administered by the KMT. If the Germans retain influence post 1937 then it becomes a sort of pariah state like Spain in the 1940s, & later a anti Communist ally.

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Re: Japan curbs expansion in the late 30's.

Post by History Learner » 16 Feb 2021 22:38

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
13 Feb 2021 13:15
History Learner wrote:
13 Feb 2021 03:15
Japanese-Soviet tensions pre-dated the Second Sino-War; there was, for example, a very notable and large war scare with direct fighting in 1934. If Japan is seeking to reinforce its rule and develop its colonies in Manchuria and Korea, the Soviet threat to the North will always be a going concern, one which the firmly Anti-Communist IJA officer class always desired to take on. Case in point is the fact that offensive planning against the USSR in the Far East continued as late as 1944.
Yes the leaders would have to stuff that idea as well. I can't say what the actual threat from the USSR was. For whatever reason Stalin failed to turn border disputes 1929 - 1938 into actual territorial conquests of any significance. The theoretical plans are unknown to me other than there was planning done. On the Chinese side there was a broad desire to recover influence or direct control of Manchuria and Korea. KMT leaders discussed this as a important long term goal, after power was firmly established and long term economic recovery progressed. However realistic the Chinese ideas might have been the Japanese leaders knew the clock was running on this & some time in the 1940s or 1950s they'd be facing a more capable China. This became one of the arguments against the 'Strike North' concept. KMT run China would have to be neutralized first. Of course there was a counter argument the USSR was the larger danger, but that one seems to have been sidelined one way or another.
Stalin largely failed because of the logistics and the quality of the Kwantung Army; the Trans-Siberian wasn't double tracked to Vladivostok until almost the end of WWII IIRC. More often than not the IJA defeated their Soviet counter-parts, with the only real Soviet success being in 1939 and that still saw the IJA get the better of them in casualties even with Tokyo tying a hand behind its back. If the Japanese are focusing on turning Manchuria and Korea into the economic heart of their Empire, eventually they will still be drawn into conflict with the Soviets given the obvious strategic collision afoot there.

I'm also not entirely sure it should be taken as a given that conflict between the Japanese and Chinese was inevitable. To quote David Tenner:
In 1934 it seemed that a Chinese-Japanese rapprochement (based on Chinese
*de facto* recognition of Manchukuo and Japanese promises not to move any
further south) was a possibility. In Japan the key figure supporting such
a policy was Hirota Koki, who either as Foreign Minister (as in 1934) or
as Prime Minister was the most important civilian politician in Japan in
the mid-1930s: "cooperation among Japan, Manchukuo and China" was his
slogan. Hirota appreciated Chiang Kai-shek's efforts to destroy the
Chinese communists. Hirota also wanted reconciliation with America and
Britain--provided of course that they would recognize the new realities in
East Asia. (After all, shouldn't the US realize that Japan was seeking no
more in East Asia than the US enjoyed in Latin America with the Monroe
Doctrine?) According to Akira Iriye, "Japanese aggression and China's
international position, 1931-1949" in the *The Cambridge History of China,
Volume 13: Republican China 1912-1949, Part 2* (edited by John K.
Fairbank and Albert Feuerweker (Cambridge UP 1986), pp. 510-511 (all
references in this post are to this book, unless otherwise indicated):

"Hirota was not without success in 1934. At least outwardly, the Japanese
military endorsed the strategy of using peaceful and political means to
consolidate Chinese-Japanese ties and promote Japanese interests in China.
There were, to be sure, those in the Kwantung Army and the Boxer Protocol
Force in Tientsin (the so-called Tientsin Army) who were already plotting
to penetrate North China. The South Manchurian Railway, anxious to keep
its monopoly in the economic development of Manchuria but coming, for that
reason, under increasing attacks from non-business Japanese expansionists,
was also interested in extending its operations south of the Great Wall.
At this time, however, these moves were not crystallizing into a
formidable scheme for Japanese control over North China. Certainly in
Tokyo the government and military leaders were content with the
achievements of 1931-3.

"The powers, on their part, were generally acquiescent in the Japanese
position in Manchuria. They even showed some interest in investing money
in economic development there. With Japan stressing cooperation anew, the
confrontation between Japan and the Anglo-American powers was
disappearing. There were irritants, to be sure, such as the Amo [Amau]
statement of 17 April 1934, in which the Foreign Ministry spokesman
strongly rejected other countries' military aid to China as well as such
economic and technical assistance as had political implications. The
statement was ambiguous, and when Washington and London sought
clarification, the Foreign Ministry immediately backed down, reiterating
its adherence to international cooperation. No amount of rhetoric, of
course, could hide the fact that Japan perceived itself as the major East
Asian power. However, it was ready to re-establish the framework of
international cooperation on that basis..."

As for Nanking, some personnel changes suggested that it too was ready to
deal:

"T. V. Soong, the outspoken denouncer of Japanese aggression, when he
returned from London in late 1933, had been replaced by H. H. Kung. Wang
Ching-wei [Wang Jingwei] stayed on as foreign minister, and T'ang Yu-jen,
a Japanese educated bureaucrat, was appointed vice foreign minister. Kao
Tsung-wu, another graduate of a Japanese university, was recruited to
become acting chief of the Foreign Ministry's Asian bureau. Underneath
these officials, there were many more who had been trained and educated in
Japan. Unlike more famous diplomats such as Alfred Sze and Wellington
Koo, who were almost totally Western-oriented, these officials had
personal ties with Japanese diplomats, intellectuals, and journalists.
Matsumoto Shigeharu's memoirs, the best source for informal Chinese-
Japanese relations during 1933-7, lists not only Wang, T'ang, and Kao, but
scores of businessmen, military officers, intellectuals, and others with
whom he had contact at this point, most of whom, he reports, expressed a
serious desire for accommodation with Japan." (p. 512)

Those who felt this way had various motives. Some thought that the
Communists, both Chinese and Russian, were a more serious threat to China
than Japan was. Others wanted Japanese help in the industrialization of
China; they looked to the Western powers as well for capital and
technology, but they believed that such enterprises could not succeed if
Japan was excluded. Finally, of course, they all wanted to stop further
Japanese aggression, and felt that only by recognizing what Japan had
already achieved and co-operating with the relative moderates in the
Japanese government could the expansionist extremists in Japan be checked.

"This was the background of the talks Minister Ariyoshi Akira held in 1934
with Chinese officials, including Foreign Minister Wang Ching-wei. The
atmosphere was so cordial that Wang issued only a perfunctory protest when
the Amo statement was published. A series of negotiations was
successfully consummated, covering such items as mail and railway
connections between Manchuria and China proper, tariff revision, and debt
settlement. Toward the end of the year Japan expressed its readiness to
raise its legation in China to the status of embassy, symbolizing Japan's
recognition of China's newly gained position as a major nation...[A
rapprochement] would entail at least tacit recognition of the status quo,
China accepting the existence of Manchukuo as a separate entity and Japan
pledging not to undertake further territorial acquisitions southward.
China would also promise to suppress anti-Japanese movements by students,
journalists, politicians and warlords, in return for which Japan would
assist its economic development." (pp. 512-13)

One thing that caused Chinese officials to favor rapprochement with Japan
was that the Chinese were disappointed with how other nations were acting.
The international ostracism of Japan which the Chinese had hoped for had
not come about. The US under the Silver Purchase Act was buying up silver
at a price above world market rates. [1] "The immediate result was a huge
drainage of silver from other countries, notably China, causing severe
shortages and monetary crises. Banks closed and shops went out of
business. Resentment of the United States mounted, matched by a belief
that China might have to live with Japan. Britain stood ready to help put
China's finances back in order, but it was unlikely to undertake large-
scale projects without Japan's endorsement..." (p. 513)

In 1935, the Nationalist government did crack down on anti-Japanese
boycotts and demonstrations, and Japan did raise its legation to an
embassy, an elaborate ceremony being held in Nanking on June 15. However,
that same year saw the beginning of the end of the reconciliation.
According to Iriye, General Doihora Kenji, head of the Kwantung Army's
special affairs division, was the man most to blame for undermining the
incipient accommodation. Doihara argued that Chiang Kai-shek and Wang
Ching-wei should not be trusted; they were not true friends of Japan but
were simply acting as such because China was so weak. The only correct
policy was for Japan to consolidate its power in northern China by bold
moves. He aimed to remove Kuomintang power in northern China, establish
separatist "autonomous" puppet regimes there, and integrate the area
economically with Manchukuo.

If Hirota was serious about reconciliation, he had to suppress Doihara's
separatist moves in North China. These moves coincided with the coming to
East Asia of the British economic mission led by Frederick Leith-Ross,
aiming at Anglo-Japanese cooperation for the development of China:

"By rejecting the British offer to cooperate, the Japanese government
showed a complete lack of flexibility and imagination. Now more than ever
before such cooperation should have been welcomed, but this was the very
thing the army expansionists were determined to oppose. International
arrangements to rehabilitate China not only would restrict Japan's freedom
of action, but also would strengthen the central government at Nanking.
These very reasons might have convinced Foreign Minister Hirota to take a
gamble and work with Leith-Ross, but he utterly failed to grasp the
significance of the mission and did nothing to encourage it. Nor did he
do much to oppose separatist moves by the army in China..." (p. 515)

China's leaders could not remain conciliatory while the Japanese army was
stripping China of its northern provinces. Chiang might have preferred to
postpone a showdown with the Japanese until he had destroyed the
Communists (the former to Chiang were a "disease of the skin" whereas the
latter were a "disease of the heart"); but however authoritarian Chiang's
government was, it could not ignore public opinion. Students held massive
demonstrations in defiance of government bans. The Chinese Communists
began to agitate for a new United Front. Pro-Japanese officials like Wang
Ching-wei lost influence; Wang was the target of an assassination attempt
in late 1935. Meanwhile, the Japanese, having alienated both China and
the "Anglo-Saxon" powers, turned to Germany and joined the "anti-Comintern
pact"--but all this did was to encourage the USSR to strengthen China's
defenses and press harder for a KMT-Communist united front. This
culminated in the Sian (Xi'an) Incident, which left China united as it had
not been for decades. At the same time, the hope for a self-sufficient
Japan-Manchukuo-China economic bloc proved illusory: In 1936 Asia
accounted for only 38.2 percent of Japan's total imports and 50.9 percent
of its exports. There was a heavy balance of payments deficit with the US
(which provided more than 30 percent of Japan's imports and took more than
20 percent of its exports) and the UK.

The interesting thing is that by the spring of 1937 the Japanese
government actually realized that its policy was not working. The key
documents in its self-appraisal were "Implementation of policy toward
China" and "Directives for a North China policy," both adopted on April
16, 1937 by the four ministers' conference (the foreign, finance, war, and
navy ministries. As Iriye summarizes them (p. 517) "The documents
stressed 'cultural and economic' means to bring about 'coexistence and
coprosperity' between the two countries, and the need to 'view
sympathetically' the Nanking government's effort to unify China. It was
decided not to seek North China's autonomy or to promote separatist
movements...The economic development of North China...should, according to
the new directive, be carried out through the infusion of Japan's private
capital as well as Chinese funds. Third powers' rights would be
respected, and cooperation with Britain and the United States would be
promoted." It was a remarkable reversal of policy, but made too late:
Nobody in China trusted Japan any more, and Chiang Kai-shek's authority
depended on taking a strong anti-Japanese stand. The Western powers too
were less inclined to appease Japan than they had been a few years
earlier. Any chance for reconciliation was destroyed by the Marco Polo
Bridge Incident--which, incidentally, might plausibly have been avoided;
unlike many of the "incidents" of the prior years, it seems to have been
an accident, not something premeditated by the Japanese Army--and
subsequent Sino-Japanese War.

So the question is: Can we imagine either a Hirota willing to stand up to
the Kwantung Army back when doing so might have made a difference (1935)
or alternatively a Kwantung Army led by someone less rabidly anti-Chiang
than Doihora? With regard to the former possibility, Japanese civilian
politicians who defied military pressure in the 1930s risked their lives,
so perhaps the latter hypothesis is more worth exploring. I don't think
it inconceivable that an alternate leadership of the Kwantung Army might
have concluded that at least a temporary reconciliation with Chiang was
desirable so as not to distract Japan from a possible future war with the
Soviet Union. Surely in the event of such a war it would help to have at
least a neutral (if not actually favorable) China, US, and UK; and
certainly the last thing that a Japan concerned about the Soviet Union
should want would be to get bogged down in fighting in China. (A problem
of course is that even in 1937 the Japanese did not believe they ever
*could* get bogged down in China; after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident,
they expected at most a short, victorious war, limited to North China...)

One other thought: If Sun Yat-sen had lived, what would be his attitude?
(Of course if he had lived, all sorts of other things might have changed--
for example, it is possible that the Kuomintang-Communist break might
never have occurred, but I will deal with that question in another post
some day...) Sun seems to have had a sentimental attachment to Japan and
the idea of pan-Asianism throughout his life, even when he had to concede
that Japan was behaving worse than the "white" powers. Even as late as
1924, when Sun had decided on an "anti-imperialist" alliance with the
Soviet Union and a United Front with the Chinese Communist Party, he still
appealed to Japan for help--perhaps hoping to reduce his one-sided
dependence on the Soviet Union. (As one might expect, the appeal fell on
deaf ears; Japan, like the western powers at that time, preferred to deal
with the warlords of Beijing.) Wang Ching-wei and other advocates of
reconciliation with Japan loved to refer to all the pro-Japanese
statements Sun had made throughout his life. In fact, when Wang later
became head of the Japanese puppet government in China, he had an
anthology of Sun's pro-Japan and pro-pan-Asian writings and speeches
published under the title *China and Japan: Natural Friends, Unnatural
Enemies.* (Shanghai: China United Press, 1941). It is indeed possible
that Sun would have acquiesced reluctantly in the loss of Manchuria.
According to Marie-Claire Bergere, *Sun Yat-sen* (Stanford University
Press 1998), pp. 265-6, "In January 1914, Sun Yat-sen gave his blessing to
Chen Qimei's expedition to Manchuria. Not much is known of this
expedition, but the plan probably involved having the revolutionaries make
contact with Prince Su's monarchists and help establish the separatist
kingdom of Manchuria that some Japanese leaders already had in mind. It
is known that unlike Song Jiaoren and a number of the other revolutionary
leaders, Sun had never evinced any passionate nationalism with regard to
these regions of the northeast. Perhaps this was because they had
formerly been the territory of barbarian tribes, only annexed to China at
the beginning of the twentieth century. Sun considered that these
territories were 'not all of China,' if they were lost, 'the true China,'
the China of the Han, would still remain." Also, in 1915, worried about
the negotiations between Yuan Shih-kai and the Japanese, Sun wrote a
letter to the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs "in which he offered
the Tokyo government even greater concessions than those claimed in the
Twenty-one Demands." Bergere, p. 264. Wang has often been criticized for
his opportunism, but perhaps in this respect he was being more faithful to
Dr. Sun's memory than is usually believed...

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