The Soviet plan to invade Japan

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megjur
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The Soviet plan to invade Japan

Post by megjur » 30 Apr 2003 06:05

As late as August 22, 1945 the Soviets had serious plans in the works to invade Hokkaido, Japans north island. The job was to have fallen on the 87th Rifle Corps and was to commence on 8/21. There was unexpectedly heavy resistance on the Russian take over of Sakhalin however and the Hokkaido operation was moved to August 24 or 25. The landings would occur at Rumoi, and though the assault fleet could be considered rag tag in comparison to the American fleet, there was less resistance expected and the Russians were confident they could carry it out. This invasion of the Japanese homeland would be coming a full 2 months earlier than the planned Operation Olympic invasion of Kyushu. Even though the Russians were prohibited by the Potsdam agreement from moving into Hokkaido, the fact that they continued to fight the Japanese even after the Emperors August 15th surrender announcement would give the Russians an excuse to keep fighting and move into Hokkaido, Potsdam allowing for "contingency planning." Imagine the geo-political fallout from the Russians occupying Hokkaido and a divided postwar Japan. The threat of Russian occupation of Japan may have also influenced Trumans decision to use the A-bomb and thus hasten the wars end. Stalin canceled the Hokkaido invasion when he saw that Japans surrender was inevitable and further Russian advance would damage relations with the allies and possible lead to U.S. naval action, and possible conflict. Trumans firm stand with Stalin regarding Soviet incursion into Japan ranks as one of the most important decisions ever made by Truman.

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Post by James McBride » 01 May 2003 05:07

That is an intersting note. I had asked why America would drop both bombs in such a hurry. One could have done the job. If we wanted to get the war over in a hurry to prevent Russian expansion, that at least provide a bit of an explantion.

James

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Robert Rojas
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RE: The Soviet plan to invade Japan.

Post by Robert Rojas » 01 May 2003 06:54

Greetings to both brother Megjur and the community as a whole. In reference to your commentary of Wednesday - April 30, 2003 - 6:05am, you might want to review my notations about the numeric strength of the Soviet Pacific Fleet under the thread entitled as THE JAPANESE CAPITULATION also located within the W.W.2 IN THE PACIFIC & SINO-JAPANESE WAR section of the forum. The entry in question is dated Wednesday - April 02, 2003 - 8:01am. On an incidental note, there is a thread entitled as U.S.S.R. INVADED JAPAN MAIN ISLANDS which is located on the adajcent WHAT IF section of the forum. The author of this thread goes by the nom de plume of Von Mannteufel. In this WHAT IF thread, Von Mannteuful also asserted that the Soviet Union had the naval wherewithal to mount an amphibious assault upon the home islands of Dai Nihon. When I pressed him for his sources of information regarding the strength of both the Soviet Pacific Fleet AND the Soviet Pacific Merchant Marine sealift capacity, all I received was a convenient claim of amnesia (the entry in question is dated Thursday - April 24, 2003 - 4:33am). Now, please forgive my skepticism, but what naval and merchant marine assets were actually available to support a serious amphibious assault against Hokkaido Island? I do not doubt that the Soviet Navy could mount a serious raid (such as the Anglo-Canadian raid on Dieppe), but sustained power projection borders on incredulity. What REALLY mystify's yours truly is the thundering silence from the forum's Soviet constituency on this subject. Normally, they are Johnny on the spot to oafishly pontificate on the issue at hand. The "suspense" is killing me! Well, that's my two kopecks on the subject. In anycase, I would like to bid you a wonderful day down in the Lone Star State.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob 8)

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megjur
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Post by megjur » 01 May 2003 08:01

According to David Glantz, the Russian force would have used 6 assault craft escorted by 4 destroyers and torpedo cutters for the first division, followed 2 hours later by 4 frigates 4 trawlers, and "4 large craft called hunters" to land the remainder of the lead rifle division and secure the Rumoi region. How the Russians expected to accomplish this if there were any Kamikaze action is beyond me. Perhaps they counted on the shorter distance from Sakhalin to Hokkaido as somehow making up for the shortfall in shipping, with ships making several sorties to land soldiers.
Another point to consider is that even if the invasion was a improvised affair, even a smallSoviet foothold on mainland Japan at the time of the surrender would have been very problematic and most likely led to a Soviet claim on all of Hokkaido. Either that or the U.S. would have had to force them to leave.

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Post by Musashi » 04 May 2003 20:54

In my opinion the Soviets had not enough number of the landing crafts to invade Japan.
Regards,
Musashi

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megjur
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Post by megjur » 05 May 2003 06:31

I think all the Soviets were looking for was a foothold on Hokkaido at the wars end. That would give them a good bargaining chip in their efforts to keep the whole island. At wars end they would begin occupying Hokkaido and it would probably take U.S. force to remove them, or at least the threat of force which would possibly bring the U.S. and USSR to the brink of war. The U.S., in order to stop occupation would have had to use its significant naval advantage to block the Russians....sort of like a Cuban Missile crisis without the missiles.

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Post by Sam H. » 06 May 2003 19:27

I'm sorry, but this is all news to me. I am somewhat familar with Soviet naval strength, they did NOT have enough transports, amph. landing craft or a sufficient surface fleet to protect any invasion of the Japanese home islands.

With no carrier support, those units would have been decimated by the kamikazies, land based aircraft would simply be to slow to react to any attack. The Soviets might hope to land a few thousand troops, but once landed, they had better hope for a quick Japanese capitulation or they are going to get wiped out very quickly.

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Post by fdewaele » 01 Aug 2003 15:53

I think that if the Soviets did manage to invade Hokkaido they were in for a bloody fight. Also by renegating their agreement with the western allies this could have consequences for the agreement over Europe as well.

Could someone tell me when exactly the US-UK troops withdrew from East Germany and Czechia into the "West German border" ?

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Kraut!
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Post by Kraut! » 02 Aug 2003 01:10

I read an article on historychannel.com. Though I'm not positively sure, I think that the withdrawl was on May 7th of 1945.

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Post by Feanor » 07 Aug 2003 19:58

In re: the Soviet invasion of Hokkaido, Western historians who have studied the issue, such as Glantz and Frank, have concluded that such an invasion would have a large probability of success. Of course, compared to the armadas the Americans were massing for Olympic and Coronet the invasion fleet was small, but it was sufficient to do the job--for instance, the lead division could be brought over in three stages, the rest would follow later.
Also by renegating their agreement with the western allies this could have consequences for the agreement over Europe as well.

Well, actually this wouldn't be reneging--after all, the Americans had gone far beyond the zones agreed at Yalta, and WWIII still didn't happen.

Could someone tell me when exactly the US-UK troops withdrew from East Germany and Czechia into the "West German border" ?

I believe this happened simultaneously with the arrival of the West Berlin garrison in late June '45.
But back to the Soviet invasion of Japan--members here have stated that they believe the Soviets would have been "wiped out" by kamikazes, Japanese resistance, etc. The point is--where are the Japanese gonna get all that. Here are some stats on the available forces Japan had:
Navy--nothing. The pathetic remnants of the Japanese navy (the largest vessel, was, I believe, a cruiser) were located in southern Japan with plans for a final suicide sally when the Americans invaded Kyushu. The Soviets wouldn't have to deal with anything more dangerous than a fishing boat.
Kamikaze/Airforce--once again, nothing. Most kamikaze planes were hidden in suthern Kyushu, and some in the Tokyo area, with just enough fuel left to hit the American landing craft as they would approach the beaches.
Land forces--on paper, the Japanese had 5 divisions on Hokkaido. In reality, this amounted to 2.5 divisions (the Soviets actually overestimated Japanese forces, believing there were 3.5 "real" divisions--if they believed they could handle that, then they could certainly handle 2.5). And unlike the divisions the Soviets faced in Manchuria, these weren't Kwantung Army divisions. They weren't of the same quality as the forces massed to counter the American landings in Kyushu. In addition, they were deployed to counter a possible American landing (mostly in the south-east) so a Russian landing in Rumoi on the west coast would be all but unopposed.
So had this happened, and had Japan not surrendered (though that involves major changes) the Soviets would easily accomplish their objective of securing the northern half of Hokkaido, since there would be "continued resistance" they would move in to the southern half. Landings on northern Honshu would also be quite probable.

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Post by Caldric » 07 Aug 2003 20:02

Feanor wrote:weren't Kwantung Army divisions


Nor were the divisions they faced in Manchuria for that matter. The mythical Kwantung Army had long since been fed piecemeal into the grinder.

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Post by Feanor » 07 Aug 2003 22:58

The Kwantung Army of summer '45, while being just a shadow of it's former self, was still "Japan's premier fighting force"
Robert Pape "Japan's Decision to Surrender: A Reconsideration"

Anyways, what I was saying is that the divisions on Hokkaido were REALLY crappy.

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Re: The Soviet plan to invade Japan

Post by HMan » 30 Sep 2010 01:09

If the Japanese forces were as weak as indicated in the North --

was there any US plan to land there before hitting the South, in the expectection that a Japanese
redoplyment would be vulnerable? (My guess is that Japan WOULD have transferred forces
up there)

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Re: The Soviet plan to invade Japan

Post by Sam H. » 26 Dec 2010 08:35

HMan wrote:If the Japanese forces were as weak as indicated in the North --

was there any US plan to land there before hitting the South, in the expectection that a Japanese
redoplyment would be vulnerable? (My guess is that Japan WOULD have transferred forces
up there)


The US Plan for the invasion of Japan was to end the war - ultimately by the capture of Tokyo. To that end, the US would land first in the South, to establish bases, then land and capture Tokyo. I have never read about any US plan to land in the North. This was simply an area not seen as strategic by the US.

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Re: The Soviet plan to invade Japan

Post by glenn239 » 28 Dec 2010 20:47

Frank covers the expansion of Allied planning as the war was coming to an end; although nothing had been decided, the stiff Japanese defenses in the south were making American generals cast their eyes further afield for alternatives.

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