If Japan have attacked Russia and not the Usa?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today.
ThomasG
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Post by ThomasG » 05 Dec 2007 10:11

LWD wrote:Even if they could get oil concessions how long would it take for them to start recieving any significant quantity of Soviet oil? Well into 42 at best and probably 43 or later. In the mean time they have no strategic flexability at all during 42 and the US and allies are in a much stronger position than the historical case.

This does not matter because Japan can stay in peace with the US.

Well once Germany and the Soviets are no longer fighting the Japanese have to be at least a little nervous about what the Soviets will do.

Why should they fear a disarmed country which is internal turmoil?

There is no guarantee that the US won't get in the war. There is also a very good chane that most of the Japanese army will be destroyed . Fighting the Soviet Union and China on the ground in east Asia with the US supplying and under writing them doesn't seem like an intelligent thing to do for a relativly small country. Especially when the US is likely to take a more and more active roll.

The US entry to war if it happens would not happen before late 1942. It also likely won't happen if Japan does not declare war against Britain or other Western powers. The US would not fight a bloody war to preserve Bolshevism in the Soviet Union. The US did not declare war against Finland and it would not declare war against Japan if it was fighting a sepate war against the Reds. A large segment of the American people would consider a war of aggression against Japan unjustifiable.

If you look at the progressivly worsenting realtions between the US and Japan this is probably the most disasterous possible course. The entry of the US is all but guaranteed and the chance of the Japanese getting in a surprise knockout blow is just about nil. It just about guarantees a quicker and more complete defeat than the historical case.

Defeating the Soviet Union in 1941 or 1942 was the only chance of victory for the Axis. A Japanese declaration of war against the USSR would improve the odds of this happening. Japan cannot win a war against the US in any case.

And as I explained already if the Axis invasion to the Soviet Union fails and it looks like that the Allies are winning the war or the US threatens to enter the war Japan can negotiate a peace with the Soviets. The Soviets would naturally accept the Japanese offer because this would help them to transfer more forces to the west and make them stronger against Germany.

Therefore, invasion to the Soviet Union leads to a better outcome in the best case and the worst case. There was no hope of negotiated peace historically with the US.

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Post by ThomasG » 05 Dec 2007 10:40

Jon G. wrote:Japan already has huge tracts of Chinese territory, and why would she aim for winning a war in which an oil supply might be part of the peace treaty? Why not bargain for oil without going to war?

Unfortunately for the Japanese, the Soviet Union was not going to sell necessary amounts of oil and could not sell the oil when it was in war with Germany.

Or take the Dutch East Indian oil?

Difficult to do without provoking a US DoW.

Why does Japan desire Soviet territories?

Japan's policy was guided by similar racial Lebensraum ideology as the Nazi ideology. Japan's was a small, densely populated country and it desired territory for the Japanese people from the Western powers which in Japanese view controlled an unfairly large part of the world.

Japan desired Siberia so much that it occupied huge swathes of Russian territory in Spring 1918 which caused strain in its relations with the Allies. Attack to the USSR would be consistent with Japan's previous policies.

...
2) demonstrated that Germany was not trustworthy. That harmed Japan. It may also have caused second thoughts (along with the outcome of the Khalkin Gol battle) about the wisdom of striking at the USSR with an ally that could not be trusted.

This should raise more questions about the wisdom of striking to Pearl Harbor. There was a risk that even if Germany won the war it would just abandon its ally Japan which would be defeated eventually by the US. Such huge risks are not involved in the attack to the USSR.

Japan was willing to risk war with the US in order to gain access to old European colonial possessions at the negotiating table. War with the USSR might have been less risky - note however that Japan had many mainland Asian territories which could potentially be lost - but the rewards would also have been correspondingly smalller. Quite apart from the fact that attacking the USSR because the US has initiated an economic blockade on you is illogical.

Japan needed the oil to secure the economic future of the country and finish the war with China succesfully. China itself was a huge prize.

How does going to war with the Soviet Union guarantee that Japan will not end up being at war with the US as well?

See my response to LWD.

And how does going to war with the USSR break the American blockade of Japan?

If Japan prevails it gains oil from the USSR and becomes self-sufficient with the raw materials from China.

Why would Japan want Soviet oil at the negotiating table if the Dutch East Indian oil was there for the taking?

It was not there for the taking without a war with the US in 1941. And it would not be wise to start that war. If the Soviet Union was defeated and Germany negotiated a peace with Britain the situation might change.

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Post by Jon G. » 05 Dec 2007 11:54

I have real problems with your logic. You chuck out assumptions left and right, yet make no attempt to back them, nor do you in any way acknowledge it when your assumptions are shown to be false. To wit:

viewtopic.php?p=1147566#1147566
1) There was oil in Sakhalin. 2) Japan does not need Dutch oil. 3) It had enough oil reserves to fight the war one year. 4) That is enough time to defeat the USSR if it can be defeated.

5) A victory against the USSR would solve Japan's oil problems definitely as Japan and Germany could force the rump-USSR to supply Japan with oil.
.

1) Yes, a throbbing 6% of what the Dutch East Indies had. And Japan already had access to half of Sakhalin's oil.

2) No? Why then did Japan negotiate for Dutch oil before she went to war?

3) Actually, a war against the USSR is not likely to be very oil-intensive, given that it probably would not have involved many major fleet actions.

4) Assuming, of course, that Japan subscribes to the German notion that the USSR must be defeated quickly.

5) Japanese planners seem to have concluded otherwise. In the event of Japan and Germany conquering the USSR, nearly all Soviet oil fields would fall within the German sphere, unless you assume the Japanese sphere of influence stretching all the way to the Urals. How does that alternative spell out compared to the comparatively nearby, comparatively defenseless Dutch East Indies?

viewtopic.php?p=1148019#1148019
...(in the event of an Axis victory over the USSR)Japan demands that the USSR pays reparations in oil. Germany has reasons to support these demands...


What reasons does Germany have to support Japan's demands?

(Soviet oil is)rail-transported to Vladivostok and then loaded to Japanese tankers...


*Giggle* Yes. And it's at Germany's mercy. Hold that alternative against the historical Dutch East Indies scenario again if you please. Which scenario do you think that oil-fixated Japanese planners would have preferred?

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...The Far East is of secondary importance in the war.


Do you think this is how the Japanese see it?

viewtopic.php?p=1149240#1149240
I am not claiming that they would achieve any spectacular victories. They would simply tie the Soviet troops which were historically transferred to the west which would help the Germans much...


Again, do you think that Japan would go to war simply to tie down Soviet divisions to the overall benefit of Germany? And do you think that it would be a paramount strategic objective for Japan to help the Germans for the purpose of getting access to Soviet oil *after* the war?

viewtopic.php?p=1149494#1149494
...Germany was not Japan's ally in 1939 as the Tripartite pact had not yet been signed.


False. Both countries were signatories to the Anti-comintern Pact.

Your comment about Germany following her self-interest is irrelevant if you don't explain how this could harm the Japanese...


Germany followed her own self-interest and signed a pact with the USSR while Japan was embroiled in the Khalkin Gol affair. Which conclusions would you draw from that if you were in a Japanese planner's shoes? That you could do one better than Khalkin Gol, and that the Germans would keep their promises the second time round?

Now, regarding your last post:

ThomasG wrote:
Jon G. wrote:Japan already has huge tracts of Chinese territory, and why would she aim for winning a war in which an oil supply might be part of the peace treaty? Why not bargain for oil without going to war?

Unfortunately for the Japanese, the Soviet Union was not going to sell necessary amounts of oil and could not sell the oil when it was in war with Germany.


A simple conclusion to draw from that line of thought would be not to go to war with the USSR, and also actively discouraging Germany from doing the same.

Or take the Dutch East Indian oil?

Difficult to do without provoking a US DoW.


Actually it might have been doable - but the Japanese would then have had to accept the Philippines (which at least theoretically could have been bypassed) as a US outpost astride the supply line of oil from the Dutch East Indies. Hold that against your own proposal that Japan recieves oil via the Germans, who would sit on nearly all known Soviet oil reserves in the event of a victorious Barbarossa.

Why does Japan desire Soviet territories?

Japan's policy was guided by similar racial Lebensraum ideology as the Nazi ideology. Japan's was a small, densely populated country and it desired territory for the Japanese people from the Western powers which in Japanese view controlled an unfairly large part of the world.


Yes. And as it has been explained to you, there was Lebensraum a-plenty in China.

Incidentally, the USSR was not a Western power. Your scenario suggests that Japan leaves the Western powers alone.

Japan desired Siberia so much that it occupied huge swathes of Russian territory in Spring 1918 which caused strain in its relations with the Allies. Attack to the USSR would be consistent with Japan's previous policies.


Yes. But the Japanese occupation of Siberia turned out to be as fruitless as the German occupation of the Ukraine after Brest-Litovsk, and oil wasn't on the calendar in 1918 in the same way that it was in 1941.

...
2) demonstrated that Germany was not trustworthy. That harmed Japan. It may also have caused second thoughts (along with the outcome of the Khalkin Gol battle) about the wisdom of striking at the USSR with an ally that could not be trusted.

This should raise more questions about the wisdom of striking to Pearl Harbor. There was a risk that even if Germany won the war it would just abandon its ally Japan which would be defeated eventually by the US. Such huge risks are not involved in the attack to the USSR.


In your scenario, Japan does not do anthing to solve the problems posed by the US economic blockade.

Japan was willing to risk war with the US in order to gain access to old European colonial possessions at the negotiating table. War with the USSR might have been less risky - note however that Japan had many mainland Asian territories which could potentially be lost - but the rewards would also have been correspondingly smalller. Quite apart from the fact that attacking the USSR because the US has initiated an economic blockade on you is illogical.

Japan needed the oil to secure the economic future of the country and finish the war with China succesfully. China itself was a huge prize.


None of that explains why attacking the USSR would be a better option for Japan.

How does going to war with the Soviet Union guarantee that Japan will not end up being at war with the US as well?

See my response to LWD.


As for your speculations over US public opinion, you should note that Lend-Lease credit was extended to the USSR before the US entered the war. Also, taking Vladivostok does not seal off Lend-Lease. The most important entry point for LL was via Iran.

And how does going to war with the USSR break the American blockade of Japan?

If Japan prevails it gains oil from the USSR and becomes self-sufficient with the raw materials from China.


What were the prospects of prevailing against the USSR given the recent Khalkin Gol experience? Re raw materials, why did Japan decide to strike for mineral-rich European Asian colonies, rather than aim for dividing the spoils of Russia with German?

Why would Japan want Soviet oil at the negotiating table if the Dutch East Indian oil was there for the taking?

It was not there for the taking without a war with the US in 1941. And it would not be wise to start that war. If the Soviet Union was defeated and Germany negotiated a peace with Britain the situation might change.


You're jumping to assumptions. Japan decided to run the risk of war with the US, gambling that a negotiated peace could be reached with Japan at one end of the table and the US at the other. In your scenario, it would be Japan and Germany at one end of the table and the USSR at the other; Britain's Asian colonies would be off-limits I presume, and Japan would still have to face the problems posed by the US economic blockade.

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Post by ThomasG » 05 Dec 2007 14:03

Jon G. wrote:1) Yes, a throbbing 6% of what the Dutch East Indies had. And Japan already had access to half of Sakhalin's oil.

Yes.

2) No? Why then did Japan negotiate for Dutch oil before she went to war?

The context was that the Soviet Union can be defeated without seizing the Dutch oil.

3) Actually, a war against the USSR is not likely to be very oil-intensive, given that it probably would not have involved many major fleet actions.

One reason more to invade to the Soviet Union.

4) Assuming, of course, that Japan subscribes to the German notion that the USSR must be defeated quickly.

It had to be defeated quickly because the Soviets out-produced the Germans.

5) Japanese planners seem to have concluded otherwise. In the event of Japan and Germany conquering the USSR, nearly all Soviet oil fields would fall within the German sphere, unless you assume the Japanese sphere of influence stretching all the way to the Urals. How does that alternative spell out compared to the comparatively nearby, comparatively defenseless Dutch East Indies?

viewtopic.php?p=1148019#1148019

A war with the US means the inevitable defeat of Japan because of the American industrial might. If Japan cannot obtain the oil in Dutch East Indies without a war with the US they are out of her reach.

What reasons does Germany have to support Japan's demands?

The preservation of useful military alliance with Japan.

*Giggle* Yes. And it's at Germany's mercy. Hold that alternative against the historical Dutch East Indies scenario again if you please. Which scenario do you think that oil-fixated Japanese planners would have preferred?

They should have preferred the scenario which does not cause a war with the US. Invasion to Dutch East Indies provided greater short-term benefits but it would lead to Japan's eventual defeat with certainty as Germany loses the war.

Do you think this is how the Japanese see it?

Why not? The Far East is indeed of secondary importance in the war against the Soviet Union because there are no important strategic objectives other than Vladivostok in the Far East and consequently the Japanese do not need to advance much.

Again, do you think that Japan would go to war simply to tie down Soviet divisions to the overall benefit of Germany? And do you think that it would be a paramount strategic objective for Japan to help the Germans for the purpose of getting access to Soviet oil *after* the war?

This is a better option than staying neutral. And a much better option than the horrible historical Pearl Harbor scenario.

False. Both countries were signatories to the Anti-comintern Pact.

The Anti-Comintern Pact was not a treaty of alliance. It is true that Germany breached the treaty though.

Germany followed her own self-interest and signed a pact with the USSR while Japan was embroiled in the Khalkin Gol affair. Which conclusions would you draw from that if you were in a Japanese planner's shoes? That you could do one better than Khalkin Gol, and that the Germans would keep their promises the second time round?

The reasonable alternatives are to stay in peace with both the US and the Soviet Union or attack the USSR. They give Japan the chance to avoid defeat and destruction. Which one of them would you prefer?

Jon G. wrote:A simple conclusion to draw from that line of thought would be not to go to war with the USSR, and also actively discouraging Germany from doing the same.

If I was leading Japan I would give up China and Indochina to stop the oil embargo. However, this was politically impossible (and not the what-if scenario we are discussing).

Actually it might have been doable - but the Japanese would then have had to accept the Philippines (which at least theoretically could have been bypassed) as a US outpost astride the supply line of oil from the Dutch East Indies. Hold that against your own proposal that Japan recieves oil via the Germans, who would sit on nearly all known Soviet oil reserves in the event of a victorious Barbarossa.

In this scenario Germany loses the war while Japan remains neutral. However, the victorious Allied powers will have little tolerance for Japan's imperial ambitions and Japan has to surrender the Dutch East Indies after the lawful government has been restored to the Netherlands. The US and the Soviet Union would pressure Japan to withdraw from China, Indochina and Korea. From Japan's perspective this is a worse option than helping Germany to win the war against the Soviet Union. In the event that Germany still loses the result is about the same for the Japanese who can make a separate peace with the Soviets.

Thus, it would be a good idea to attack both the Soviet Union and the Dutch East Indies.

Yes. And as it has been explained to you, there was Lebensraum a-plenty in China.

There was no Lebensraum in the densely populated China.

Incidentally, the USSR was not a Western power. Your scenario suggests that Japan leaves the Western powers alone.

If Japan really wants Dutch East Indies and the other Asian territories it occupied it has better chances of success after the Soviet Union has been defeated. Historically, Britain or the US were not going to make peace with Japan as long as the Soviet Union was still fighting. In any case it is clear that in 1941 Japan should invade the Soviet Union.

Yes. But the Japanese occupation of Siberia turned out to be as fruitless as the German occupation of the Ukraine after Brest-Litovsk, and oil wasn't on the calendar in 1918 in the same way that it was in 1941.

Japan was willing to take major risks to keep these territories and the militarist opposition were even ready to risk a war with the US. However, because of the German defeat Japan had to give them up.

In your scenario, Japan does not do anthing to solve the problems posed by the US economic blockade.

No, Japan increases her self-sufficiency with the Soviet oil and other raw materials.

None of that explains why attacking the USSR would be a better option for Japan.

Germany attacked to the USSR to force Britain accept peace. Japan has the same motive. It is possible that Britain and even the US would be willing to surrender their territories in Asia to Japan if the Soviet Union has been defeated. Otherwise this is not possible and Japan will face a certain defeat.

Invasion to the Soviet Union is the best thing Japan can do to improve her strategic position.

As for your speculations over US public opinion, you should note that Lend-Lease credit was extended to the USSR before the US entered the war. Also, taking Vladivostok does not seal off Lend-Lease. The most important entry point for LL was via Iran.

The Persian Corridor will be blocked if Germany reaches Astrakhan. This aid was not even in important role in the time frame (1941-1942) we speak of.

What were the prospects of prevailing against the USSR given the recent Khalkin Gol experience?

Those prospects depend on Germany but Japan could do much to increase the chances of Germany's success as the divisions transferred from the Far East were in a crucial role in Soviet defense.

Re raw materials, why did Japan decide to strike for mineral-rich European Asian colonies, rather than aim for dividing the spoils of Russia with German?

They provided very attractive resources. However, Japan's decision to attack Pearl Harbor was based on mistaken assumption that the US would be willing to negotiate a peace after major defeats.

You're jumping to assumptions. Japan decided to run the risk of war with the US, gambling that a negotiated peace could be reached with Japan at one end of the table and the US at the other. In your scenario, it would be Japan and Germany at one end of the table and the USSR at the other; Britain's Asian colonies would be off-limits I presume, and Japan would still have to face the problems posed by the US economic blockade.

So far you haven't given any reasons why attacking to Pearl Harbor could lead to a better outcome than the invasion to the USSR. Japan's gamble failed which was inevitable because of the American industrial might and willingness to fight after Pearl Harbor.

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Post by LWD » 05 Dec 2007 17:49

ThomasG wrote:
LWD wrote:Even if they could get oil concessions how long would it take for them to start recieving any significant quantity of Soviet oil? Well into 42 at best and probably 43 or later. In the mean time they have no strategic flexability at all during 42 and the US and allies are in a much stronger position than the historical case.

This does not matter because Japan can stay in peace with the US.

??? Niether the US or the Japanese believed this at the time. Japan engaging in another offensive war isn't going to help. Even if there is no declaration of war the US is going to be helping both the Soviets and the Chinese.
Well once Germany and the Soviets are no longer fighting the Japanese have to be at least a little nervous about what the Soviets will do.

Why should they fear a disarmed country which is internal turmoil?

Who stated the Soviets would be disarmed? and internal turmoil even if it occurs isn't going to last forever.
..
The US entry to war if it happens would not happen before late 1942. It also likely won't happen if Japan does not declare war against Britain or other Western powers. The US would not fight a bloody war to preserve Bolshevism in the Soviet Union. The US did not declare war against Finland and it would not declare war against Japan if it was fighting a sepate war against the Reds. A large segment of the American people would consider a war of aggression against Japan unjustifiable.

Looks like a number of unjustifiable opinions mixed in with some clearly poor analogies. Comparing the situation with Finland to that of Japan is way off base. The Finns were originally attacked by the Soviet Union. They were not viewed as aggressors (or for that matter a threat to US intersest). Japan on the other hand was clearly an aggressor and a threat to US intersest. Note that the AVG was sent to China prior to the US and Japan going to war. In the absence of a PH attack there is little reason to believe the US wouldn't have expanded this effort especially as the US population supported it and was becoming more and more hostile to the Japanese. Once the US interse the war with Germany it will inter it with Japan if not before as the Soviets are a vital ally against Germany. In the absence of a PH attack given the way US popular opinion was moving the US would almost certainly have been in the war before the summer of 42. Japan had vew supporters in the US population and would have had even less if they attacked the Soviet Union. War with Japan would not have been viewed as an offensive war in the US in any case.
Defeating the Soviet Union in 1941 or 1942 was the only chance of victory for the Axis. A Japanese declaration of war against the USSR would improve the odds of this happening. Japan cannot win a war against the US in any case.

Looking at it with 20:20 hind sight the axis had now chance of winning the war after the attack on the Soviet Union and little before that. From the view at the time the Japanese thought they had a reasonable chance of defeating the US with the PH attack.
And as I explained already if the Axis invasion to the Soviet Union fails and it looks like that the Allies are winning the war or the US threatens to enter the war Japan can negotiate a peace with the Soviets. The Soviets would naturally accept the Japanese offer because this would help them to transfer more forces to the west and make them stronger against Germany.

This appears to be contrary to the Japanese thinking at the time. If not they would have at least made some serious offers earlier in the historical case. The US will probably be threatening from the very inception of the war. As for it looking like the allies winning by that point in time Japan will be in pretty deep already and would at least be required to give up most if not all her conquests on continental Asia.
Therefore, invasion to the Soviet Union leads to a better outcome in the best case and the worst case. There was no hope of negotiated peace historically with the US.

No. In the worse case it leads to Soviet occupation of at least part of Japan. Even in the best case ie the defeat of the Soviet Union Japan is left in a postion where they will probably have to either concede most of their conquest or go to war with the US when the latter is much stronger and they are much weeker.

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Post by LWD » 05 Dec 2007 17:55

Jon G. wrote:...
(Soviet oil is)rail-transported to Vladivostok and then loaded to Japanese tankers...


*Giggle* Yes. And it's at Germany's mercy. Hold that alternative against the historical Dutch East Indies scenario again if you please. Which scenario do you think that oil-fixated Japanese planners would have preferred?
....


I missed this. Just how much oil do you think the Soviets could move over a single line rail road especially given the state of their rail system. Then just how much do you think they would actually move?

questions are not meant for Jon G although I wouldn't mind seeing his estimates :)

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Post by LWD » 05 Dec 2007 18:20

ThomasG wrote:The context was that the Soviet Union can be defeated without seizing the Dutch oil.

Of what import is this when it essentially wrecks the Japanese military and economy even if it "suceeds".
4) Assuming, of course, that Japan subscribes to the German notion that the USSR must be defeated quickly.

It had to be defeated quickly because the Soviets out-produced the Germans.

And this was obvious in 41? The axis didn't know a lot of the Soviet production had been moved east of the Urals. Furthermore Soviet production was significantly enhansed by LL. Again the effects would have been far from obvious in 41.

They should have preferred the scenario which does not cause a war with the US. Invasion to Dutch East Indies provided greater short-term benefits but it would lead to Japan's eventual defeat with certainty as Germany loses the war.

Do you think this is how the Japanese see it?

Why not? The Far East is indeed of secondary importance in the war against the Soviet Union because there are no important strategic objectives other than Vladivostok in the Far East and consequently the Japanese do not need to advance much.

They viewed, quite reasonably from what I can see, a war with the US as inevitable. The alternative was backing down in China.
This is a better option than staying neutral. And a much better option than the horrible historical Pearl Harbor scenario.

Staying neutral was not an option but had it been it would have been perferable. I suspect the historical PH option actually turned out better for them than your alternative would have. The Soviets historically were not as forgiving to those who attacked them. Given what they knew and believed at the time the PH alternative looked better.
The reasonable alternatives are to stay in peace with both the US and the Soviet Union or attack the USSR. They give Japan the chance to avoid defeat and destruction. Which one of them would you prefer?

Japan's options were basically to acknowledge US superiority and give up her conquests in China or go to war with the US. Once the second course was decided on the PH option gave them the best chance of winning. Attacking the Soviet Union first just wasted strength against a less important foe while her main opponent got stronger.
There was no Lebensraum in the densely populated China.

Not all of China was densely populated. Especially after the Japanese army moved through. Even if it was they could create room at the top which fits their imperial ambitions better anyway.
If Japan really wants Dutch East Indies and the other Asian territories it occupied it has better chances of success after the Soviet Union has been defeated. Historically, Britain or the US were not going to make peace with Japan as long as the Soviet Union was still fighting. In any case it is clear that in 1941 Japan should invade the Soviet Union.

Why should the Soviet Union being in the war or not make any difference as to whether the US and Britain made peace with Japan. It might have had some impact with making peace with Germany but that's rather irrelevent as the latter would have jumped at the chance and probably been just as happy to see the US and Britian continue fighting the Japanese.
In your scenario, Japan does not do anthing to solve the problems posed by the US economic blockade.

No, Japan increases her self-sufficiency with the Soviet oil and other raw materials.

That's very quesitonable. The Soviets would have needed all the raw materials they had and in any case couldn't have shipped much to the Japanese.
Germany attacked to the USSR to force Britain accept peace.

You certainly do make some rather original statments in this thread.
Japan has the same motive. It is possible that Britain and even the US would be willing to surrender their territories in Asia to Japan if the Soviet Union has been defeated.

I'm really tempted at this point to ask what planet you live on.
Invasion to the Soviet Union is the best thing Japan can do to improve her strategic position.

Actually it was one of the worst. It would have consumed vital resources including men and equipement as well as oil to little benefit if it was successful and if it failed thereatened Japans holdings on the mainland gefore she even faced her most serious foe.

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Dec 2007 10:54

LWD wrote:...I missed this. Just how much oil do you think the Soviets could move over a single line rail road especially given the state of their rail system. Then just how much do you think they would actually move?

questions are not meant for Jon G although I wouldn't mind seeing his estimates :)



That is an interesting but also rather complex question. But I think we can find ample proof that there was no way that all the Soviet oil which ThomasG presupposes that Germany makes freely available to Japan in his scenario could be trucked over great distances by railroad alone.

Rather than waste time addressing ThomasG's circular reasoning point-by-point again, I thought it better to provide some data to the dicussion.

An article by American geographer A. J. Grajdanzev in The Pacific Review, vol. 14, no. 4 (December 1941; the article was written in September 1941) discusses the usefulness of the Trans-siberian railroad in the event of war between the Soviet Union and Japan.It is interesting that Grajdanzev more or less takes for granted that in the event of war between Japan and the USSR, the USA will be on the Soviet side. That, alone, should blow this what-if scenario out of the water. Or perhaps ThomasG - who for his part is working on an assumption that the US would stay neutral in the event of a Soviet-Japanese war - should endeavour to explain why Lend-Lease credit was extended to the USSR already in August 1941, well before the US entered the war, a point he has so far ignored.

That aside, let's see some of the data Grajdanzev provides.

Here's a map of the Soviet rail network east of the Urals in 1940
Image

...as can be seen, many side-branches had not yet been completed. The numerous feeder lines which can be seen on the western part of the rail network were mostly there to provide raw materials (chiefly coal) to Soviet industrial areas (particularly steel mills) whose production had outgrown the local coal supply by the mid-1930s. Coal was also imported to Siberia although the author calculates that local Siberian coal supplies may be sufficient to cut coal imports from the rail network, thus freeing up more rail space for military traffic.

Grajdanzev then proceeds to produce this very interesting table of traffic on the Siberian railroads:

Image

...pay particular attention to the transit figures. Those are the figures which will tell us how much oil could be moved from Soviet oil production areas in the Caucasus across to Siberia.

Traffic grew from 1935 to 1940 and onwards - Grajdanzev estimates from the 1935 figures that whereas a rough 4 million tons could be carried yearly in each direction (=2 million tons of, say, oil, in one direction), reduced internal imports and greater local self-sufficiency would allow a traffic increase to 3 million tons each way.

Grajdanzev optimistically projects that even this figure can be improved - at an optimistic, but attainable, 36 trains a day, each train carrying an optimistic, but attainable 1,000 tons of cargo each, the Siberian railroad system should be able to carry 13,140,000 tons a year. With 50% of capacity set aside for domestic/internal needs, we arrive at a yearly figure of 6.55 million tons a year both ways, or 3.275 million tons of, say, oil being transported one way each year - this assuming that all available capacity be devoted to the transport of oil.

In other words, the rail network east of the Urals would be able to transport about the same amount of oil which could be found in much nearer Sakhalin.

ThomasG's assumption that Japan's oil needs could be transported by rail to Vladivostok is false.

Edit: numbers, grrr
Last edited by Jon G. on 06 Dec 2007 12:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Dec 2007 11:16

Addendum: the earliest parts of the Trans-Siberian railroad was built with 54 lb./yard rails; interim parts had 72 lb./yard rails, but by 1940 76 lb. and 87 lb./yard rails were becoming standard - all lighter rails than comparative American railroads had at up to 130 lb./yard. Immense amounts of capital had been poured into the Siberian railroads - 17.1 billion rubles in the 1933-1937 plan, and no less than 37.3 billion rubles in the 1938-1942 plan.

In order to service the railroad net mapped out above, the Siberian part of the Soviet rail system employed 258,191 staff out of a total 1,755,369 employees on the Soviet state railroads.

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Post by ThomasG » 06 Dec 2007 13:47

Jon G. wrote:That is an interesting but also rather complex question. But I think we can find ample proof that there was no way that all the Soviet oil which ThomasG presupposes that Germany makes freely available to Japan in his scenario could be trucked over great distances by railroad alone.

Rather than waste time addressing ThomasG's circular reasoning point-by-point again, I thought it better to provide some data to the dicussion.

An article by American geographer A. J. Grajdanzev in The Pacific Review, vol. 14, no. 4 (December 1941; the article was written in September 1941) discusses the usefulness of the Trans-siberian railroad in the event of war between the Soviet Union and Japan.It is interesting that Grajdanzev more or less takes for granted that in the event of war between Japan and the USSR, the USA will be on the Soviet side. That, alone, should blow this what-if scenario out of the water.

No. You have totally ignored the point of this what-if. From the Japanese perspective, having no oil at all would be preferable to attacking to Pearl Harbor and losing the war against the US with certainty. (I now the mean Japan's objective national self-interest, not the fantasies of Tokyo jingoists)

You have so far argued only that because the Japanese leadership was in the belief that the US would be willing to negotiate a peace favorable to the Japanese after it had been soundly defeated in the Pacific an attack to Pearl Harbor would be more understandable and attractive option for the Japanese who had inadequate information.

There is no controversy in this point. Attack to Pearl Harbor would make perfect sense if things really had been as the Japanese hoped and believed they were. The truth was that the US was not willing to make a separate peace and consequently attack to Pearl Harbor was a mistake.

Or perhaps ThomasG - who for his part is working on an assumption that the US would stay neutral in the event of a Soviet-Japanese war - should endeavour to explain why Lend-Lease credit was extended to the USSR already in August 1941, well before the US entered the war, a point he has so far ignored.

Despite the Lend-Lease credit to the USSR the US did not declare war against Germany and would not declare war against Japan either in 1941 unless either of these countries committed an act of aggression against the US.

FDR had plans to join the war anyway but this would not happen until late 1942 and at that point the Soviet Union might have been defeated in this scenario.

ThomasG's assumption that Japan's oil needs could be transported by rail to Vladivostok is false.

Thanks for the correction but this changes nothing. The reality is that in 1941 Japan and Germany have their eggs in the same basket. Japan cannot hope to preserve her Empire if Germany is defeated. The hostile attitude of both the US and the the Soviet Union towards their imperialist wars was known to Japan. Allied victory in WWII means that Japan has to withdraw from China, Indonesia and likely also from Korea. Japan wants to avoid this and thus it has to help Germany to victory. Pearl Harbor was not the way to accomplish this though because this only made the strategic position of the Axis powers worse and guaranteed the defeat of Japan. Invasion to the Soviet Union would give Japan a better chance to keep her holdings in e.g. China than neutrality.

We are approaching this question from a different perspective. You are arguing what would be the most rational decision for the Japanese in 1941 considering that they have limited information and they gain considerable short-term benefits with their historical actions. I agree that the decision to attack Pearl Harbor was most understandable from all available options. However, this decision also meant that Japan was going to lose the war.

I am simply asking the question how a Japanese invasion to the USSR would affect the strategic position of Germany and Japan. It is obvious to me that a Japanese invasion would have a considerable impact on the war on the Eastern Front and possibly swing the tide in favour of the Germans. You question merely the motivations the Japanese could have but in my view they are of secondary relevance. Japanese invasion to Siberia was seriously considered by the Japanese in the 1930s (so-called "Northern Option") and feared by Stalin. These facts alone make it worth exploring what a Japanese invasion would mean from a military perspective.

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Dec 2007 14:11

ThomasG, I am not arguing for the historical Pearl Harbor scenario. I don't really have to. The US oil embargo forced Japan on a collision course with the US - and US planners knew that. Japan can't avoid that confrontation simply by going north rather than south.

You, for your part & as I see it, argue that Japan should have attacked the USSR instead. You rationalize that by pulling Soviet raw materials out of thin air and magically transferring them to Japan, by presupposing a US neutrality which wasn't there, by assuming a hitherto unknown mutual coordination of Axis strategy and war aims, and, most galling of all, by simply rejecting Japan's recent & negative experience with land warfare against the Soviet Union. You are simply ignoring the political and strategic background for Japan's actions.

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Post by LWD » 06 Dec 2007 14:32

ThomasG wrote:..
No. You have totally ignored the point of this what-if. From the Japanese perspective, having no oil at all would be preferable to attacking to Pearl Harbor and losing the war against the US with certainty. (I now the mean Japan's objective national self-interest, not the fantasies of Tokyo jingoists)

And even better yet is gain access to oil by ending the war with China in such a way that the US either does not embargo or drops the embargo. Attacking the Soviet Union almost assuredly merely assures that Japan has incurred another very vengeful opponent.
...
FDR had plans to join the war anyway but this would not happen until late 1942 and at that point the Soviet Union might have been defeated in this scenario.

Could you document the "late 42" bit. From what I've read of the way opinion was changeing in the US some time in the spring of 42 seams most likely and even earlier is possible. Again it is my impression from what I've read that Roosevelt might have been able to get a declaration of war through Congress in late 41 but he wanted more of a consensus than he would have had at that time. An unprovoked attack by Japan on the Soviet Union would have shifted the US opinion even more to the war camp.
....
I am simply asking the question how a Japanese invasion to the USSR would affect the strategic position of Germany and Japan. It is obvious to me that a Japanese invasion would have a considerable impact on the war on the Eastern Front and possibly swing the tide in favour of the Germans. ....

The problem with this is was it in any way possible or reasonable? If the answer is no it's not a historical what if it's historical fantasy. Furthermore depending on the nature of the Japanese intervention which you have not described the impact could have been very much the other way.

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Post by ThomasG » 06 Dec 2007 15:00

Jon G. wrote:ThomasG, I am not arguing for the historical Pearl Harbor scenario. I don't really have to. The US oil embargo forced Japan on a collision course with the US - and US planners knew that. Japan can't avoid that confrontation simply by going north rather than south.

No, the short-sighted Japanese leadership simply did not realize the risk that the US can transform itself itself to a military giant which at the end of the war had the capacity to bomb and nuke Japan to oblivion. If the real US potential to generate power in the sea and air was known to the Japanese the only rational option would be the avoid the war with the US.

One option to avoid the war and oil embargo would be to retreat from Indonesia and possibly also China which would be regarded as shameful and was politically very difficult. Another option would be an invasion to the Soviet Union with Germany and that invasion had every chance to succeed according to the best wisdom of contemporary strategists. In this case the oil embargo would remain and a war with the US would be possible but Japan would have a chance to keep her holdings in China.

You, for your part & as I see it, argue that Japan should have attacked the USSR instead. You rationalize that by pulling Soviet raw materials out of thin air and magically transferring them to Japan,

That is one of the reasons. Certainly, Japan would have benefited from war reparations from the Soviet Union which had enough strategic reserves to deliver all oil and other raw materials the Trans-Siberian railroad could tranfer to Japan.

However, the main reason still is that unless the Soviet Union is defeated and Germany wins Japan cannot keep her holdings in China and Indochina.

by presupposing a US neutrality which wasn't there,


In my view this would delay the US entry to the war at least until late 1942 and in the event that the Soviet Union would be defeated it might not happen if Britain sues for peace.

by assuming a hitherto unknown mutual coordination of Axis strategy and war aims, and, most galling of all, by simply rejecting Japan's recent & negative experience with land warfare against the Soviet Union. You are simply ignoring the political and strategic background for Japan's actions.

Hardly. The Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka visited met with Hiter on March 27, 1941 and after Hitler hinted at the possibility of a war with the Soviets and Matsuoka gave his opinion that he could could not conceive of Japan not striking at the Soviets if war broke out. After June 22 Matsuoka advocated in the cabinet that Japan should attack the Soviet Union as soon as possible.

The majority had the view that Japan should attack only after the Soviet Union had been decisively defeated. Matsuoka endorsed a perfectly rational alternative Japanese policy. What if he had succeeded in persuading other key members of the Japanese leadership?

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Dec 2007 15:42

ThomasG wrote:
Jon G. wrote:...by assuming a hitherto unknown mutual coordination of Axis strategy and war aims, and, most galling of all, by simply rejecting Japan's recent & negative experience with land warfare against the Soviet Union. You are simply ignoring the political and strategic background for Japan's actions.

Hardly. The Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka visited met with Hiter on March 27, 1941 and after Hitler hinted at the possibility of a war with the Soviets and Matsuoka gave his opinion that he could could not conceive of Japan not striking at the Soviets if war broke out. After June 22 Matsuoka advocated in the cabinet that Japan should attack the Soviet Union as soon as possible.


You left out what happened in April. Japan signed a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union. Something which the Germans had suggested. So much for Axis coordination of plans.

As I understand it, Matsuoka was so antagonistic towards the US that he was eventually sacked in July 1941, by which time Japan had definitely decided to strike south, rather than north.

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Post by LWD » 06 Dec 2007 15:47

ThomasG wrote:....
No, the short-sighted Japanese leadership simply did not realize the risk that the US can transform itself itself to a military giant which at the end of the war had the capacity to bomb and nuke Japan to oblivion. If the real US potential to generate power in the sea and air was known to the Japanese the only rational option would be the avoid the war with the US.

This seams to at least some extent to be counter factual. The Japanese knew how many BBs and CVs and lesser ships we were building in 41 and were committed to building in 42 it's part of the congressional record. They knew in a long war they would be over powered. Thier miscalculation had more to do with the emotional and political impact of the the attack on PH.
..... Another option would be an invasion to the Soviet Union with Germany and that invasion had every chance to succeed according to the best wisdom of contemporary strategists. In this case the oil embargo would remain and a war with the US would be possible but Japan would have a chance to keep her holdings in China....

If the embargo remains then Japan's situation is worse in say mid 42 than it was in late 41. They have significantly less fuel and a few more ships. On the other hand the US has a bunch more ships and planes the Philipines and PH have been further fortified and the US military in gerneral is much stonger. They have lost ground and are relativly weaker. Further more the US and allies have even more reason to insist Japan relinquish her conquest, this is especially true of the war in Europe has concluded. Furthermore your statement [b]"an invasion to the Soviet Union with Germany and that invasion had every chance to succeed according to the best wisdom of contemporary strategists"[b/] seams to me to be a reach unless you are using a very strange definiont of "best wisdom".

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