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Japan winning the Pacific War


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11 hours ago, Ssnake said:

Could Japan have taken the Hawaiian islands in early 42, and defended them successfully?

I don't think so, but suppose they did. The US could have launched their subs only from the west coast, and Australia - assuming that most of the remaining campaign had gone in a similar way.

Would it have been a realistic prospect of hopping the Aleutians and then seize the Alaskan shore?

IIRC, this was one of the great debates back before King and Geoff left us - and the conclusion was nope, it would have made things harder, but not by enough to turn the game. 

 

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IMHO America was the fight Japan could not win, but it wasn't the only one on offer.

A/ Stick to China, yep there's a big problem with US sanctions but war wasn't the only option.

B/ Yield to US pressure in China by enough to cool things down from dangerously hot to tolerably warm, and turn south instead. Thailand, IndoChina are a given, but really lean into the fracture planes between the 'white' empires. Press the Dutch and see how far the US and UK will back them and each other. 

C/ Declare war on Germany in support of Britain and the allies, set the moral cat among the democratic pigeons. 

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5 hours ago, Argus said:

IMHO America was the fight Japan could not win, but it wasn't the only one on offer.

A/ Stick to China, yep there's a big problem with US sanctions but war wasn't the only option.

B/ Yield to US pressure in China by enough to cool things down from dangerously hot to tolerably warm, and turn south instead. Thailand, IndoChina are a given, but really lean into the fracture planes between the 'white' empires. Press the Dutch and see how far the US and UK will back them and each other. 

C/ Declare war on Germany in support of Britain and the allies, set the moral cat among the democratic pigeons. 

Oddly enough, I think Putin or the Saudis could have shown us the way: buy a sympathetic US Presidential hopeful and finance him all the way to the White House.

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How about waiting until the European war plays out and the US comes back from that tired of war in 1945. Sure, it's now got a dominant military force overall, but the other European nations have their hands full with rebuilding and won't be in a position to stop Japan from cleaning up by taking Argus' route to the south. Just don't poke the US and hope that war-weariness keeps them out of supporting those who are being invaded.

this utterly ignores any time pressure on the Japanese for the resources they were demanding, and obviously puts US administered areas out of reach, but there's plenty of other places to be.

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On 1/5/2023 at 7:37 AM, futon said:

There was a bunch of "kaibokan" made, ships that were 700 to 900 tons. Of the various classes, probably the most fancy class was the Ukuru class, only 20 were made in '44 and '45. 940 tons, max speed 19.5 knots. It had both active and passive sonar on it, 16 depth charge launchers and 120 depth charges. The active sonar type was based off of German design. Two following classes were an economized design that were more produced, 56 and 67 respectively, all made in '44 and '45. Both weighed less than Ukuru yet still a little slower than Ukuru. 12 depth charge launches. Still 120 depth charges, a mortar but doubtful if proved helpful. Looks like no sonar, not even passive. So even with many of these, they didn't seem to contribute anything meaningful. 

If my count is correct, 29 Ukuru-class kaibokan were commissioned, two others were launched but not completed, ten others were on the stocks incomplete, and 22 were cancelled before they were laid down.

The standard active and passive sonar (echo-ranging and hydrophone sets) as designed were Type 93, which was a prewar design that owed nothing to German technology. Eleven Ukuru-class were intended to be equipped with the Type 3 Model 5 and 6 echo-ranging sonar, which was developed from German technology but none were apparently ever fitted.

The Type C and D Kaibokan were intended to be fitted with Type 93 echo-ranging and Type 3 hydrophones but only 35 sets of the former were installed in all the kaibokan types, although 420 of the latter were installed in "merchant ships", which probably included the kaibokan. So a few C and D types may have had hydrophones.

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5 hours ago, DB said:

How about waiting until the European war plays out and the US comes back from that tired of war in 1945. Sure, it's now got a dominant military force overall, but the other European nations have their hands full with rebuilding and won't be in a position to stop Japan from cleaning up by taking Argus' route to the south. Just don't poke the US and hope that war-weariness keeps them out of supporting those who are being invaded.

this utterly ignores any time pressure on the Japanese for the resources they were demanding, and obviously puts US administered areas out of reach, but there's plenty of other places to be.

Withdraw from China back to Manchukuo and wait until the US beats Germany and comes into conflict with the Soviet Union.  Then invade China again "to fight the Communists".  Support anti-Imperialists in Indochina, Malaya, and the NEI.

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11 minutes ago, R011 said:

Withdraw from China back to Manchukuo and wait until the US beats Germany and comes into conflict with the Soviet Union.  Then invade China again "to fight the Communists".  Support anti-Imperialists in Indochina, Malaya, and the NEI.

Actually...smartest thing back then for Japan was to throw their lot in with USA and UK. And get hell out of China quagmire. 

Obviously not really realistic thing, since Japan was seething about not being appreciated by USA and UK. 

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20 minutes ago, Sardaukar said:

Actually...smartest thing back then for Japan was to throw their lot in with USA and UK. And get hell out of China quagmire. 

Obviously not really realistic thing, since Japan was seething about not being appreciated by USA and UK. 

Smartest thing for them and Germany to try to do what they did after the war in real life and concentrate on theoir economies and exports.  Get out of China, Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.

 

Mind you, that would mean slashing the Army and Navy to 1950s levels too and any proposal to do that would mean a coup with the people porposing such cuts being murdered.

Edited by R011
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If we’re just video gaming it, the obvious solution is for Japan to snap up the DEI, maybe indochina, placate the US and UK. Definite “what if Hitler wasn’t Hitler” territory, but it would have worked and not totally outside the realms of possibility. 

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5 hours ago, RichTO90 said:

If my count is correct, 29 Ukuru-class kaibokan were commissioned, two others were launched but not completed, ten others were on the stocks incomplete, and 22 were cancelled before they were laid down.

The standard active and passive sonar (echo-ranging and hydrophone sets) as designed were Type 93, which was a prewar design that owed nothing to German technology. Eleven Ukuru-class were intended to be equipped with the Type 3 Model 5 and 6 echo-ranging sonar, which was developed from German technology but none were apparently ever fitted.

The Type C and D Kaibokan were intended to be fitted with Type 93 echo-ranging and Type 3 hydrophones but only 35 sets of the former were installed in all the kaibokan types, although 420 of the latter were installed in "merchant ships", which probably included the kaibokan. So a few C and D types may have had hydrophones.

I grabbed the info straight the Japanese wiki. The info could be based on good sources but IDK since I don't own navy or air stuff to be good judge on that. I only own army ground stuff.

But both the Japanese wiki and your sources don't differ so much. Basic point being that there was an effort '44 to address the US sub threat but wholly inadequate, likely due to not enough resources. Sonar tech also being insufficient.

To which I think technology gaps like sonar is a bigger factor than the so often mentioned production numbers. Production numbers is a factor but more feasible to address in a defensive posture than technology gap. Maybe part of the issue of these discussion is the word "possible". A clearer word might better reflect what I opened the thread.. perhaps feasible or conceivable is more suitable. Feasible within the bounds of potential of existing resources of all kinds. Example: it was certainly feasible for them to replace the Type 1 47mm gun with a long 57mm. The only to change to realize that potential is the sense of need to do so. It's was entirely feasible. Then for conceivable.. it's conceivable that USS Saratoga could have been lost in 1942. Or in the opposite way, it's conceivable that even with the ambush prepared at Midway that not as many as 4 Japanese carriers would end up being lost. By wrapping up both the feasible and the conceivable as possible, it was certainly possible to hope for a better 1942 for the Japanese which would carry over a full 1943 of reinforcement of gained area. Not to say as far it definately means Japan could have held on in the following years. Clearly only I'm still exploring whether that was possible.

Back to the point of technology gap being US 40mm AA vs the old Japanese 25mm, computer radar-guided ship cannons, and proximity fuse. Japanese were also behind in radar for a bit but I think they closed the gap to a manageable level. Technology-wise, fighter aircraft quality also was able to broadly keep up with US fighters. So sonar is another technology gap.

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8 hours ago, Sardaukar said:

Actually...smartest thing back then for Japan was to throw their lot in with USA and UK. And get hell out of China quagmire. 

Obviously not really realistic thing, since Japan was seething about not being appreciated by USA and UK. 

Well, come the summer of 1941, Matsuoka (foreign minister) had been anti-US and pro-Germany, but Konoye removed him as part of trying to warm things back with the US. He had wanted a meeting with FDR and the departure of China may have been in his mind. I don't think leaving the axis would have been so hard. After all the investment and sacrifice thus far made in China, ironing out details and getting assurances that oil will return is a reasonable thing to do. But the US side wasn't going to set that arrangement up. Surely the US side and not just FDR himself could assume a minimum position by Japan at such a meeting would be US recognition of the Manchukuo state and the return of oil in exchange of withdrawing from China. So if the FDR side was unwilling to budge on Manchuria, then is it really the smart to leave all of China and Manchuria so suddenly with hope oil supply comes back soon without even a Konoye/FDR meeting? I don't think the weight of the oil embargo/out-of-China pincer is understood well enough. Oil is not only the makings of a modern military but also of a modern nation. Play fair with out-of-Manchuria as part of out-of-China, maybe US should have offered out-of-Phillippines/Guam as well. Complying with such a demand is setting up a precedent of a down trend in prominance in power. One can talk about how economically great post-war Japan has become, but as far as power goes, even a runt place like DPRK is a threat. Even when Abe visited Iran on Trump's behalf, disrespect of shooting another Japanese cargo ship while Abe is literally in Iran is an example how in reality pathetically weak Post-War Japan had been. Would the same thing happen had Japan had the IJN? Pacific War IJN only managed on equal level 2 years vs USN that had some if its force devoted to the Atlantic. Imagine 1980s JMSDF vs USN... lol, its over in a week. The security dependency is astonishing, only slightly peeling away now because the PRC is going beyond what the USN can handle on its own in the Western Pacific. So exiting China and Manchuria by hardplay of oil embargo in context of no meeting between Konoye and FDR is an answer that the IJN should answer. Otherwise, what's the point in having a navy at all? IJN would have to try with the predetermining limiting terms placed on it as far back as early 1920s in the naval treaties and the loss of GB as an ally.

Edited by futon
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2 hours ago, futon said:

I grabbed the info straight the Japanese wiki. The info could be based on good sources but IDK since I don't own navy or air stuff to be good judge on that. I only own army ground stuff.

But both the Japanese wiki and your sources don't differ so much. Basic point being that there was an effort '44 to address the US sub threat but wholly inadequate, likely due to not enough resources. Sonar tech also being insufficient.

To which I think technology gaps like sonar is a bigger factor than the so often mentioned production numbers. Production numbers is a factor but more feasible to address in a defensive posture than technology gap. Maybe part of the issue of these discussion is the word "possible". A clearer word might better reflect what I opened the thread.. perhaps feasible or conceivable is more suitable. Feasible within the bounds of potential of existing resources of all kinds. Example: it was certainly feasible for them to replace the Type 1 47mm gun with a long 57mm. The only to change to realize that potential is the sense of need to do so. It's was entirely feasible. Then for conceivable.. it's conceivable that USS Saratoga could have been lost in 1942. Or in the opposite way, it's conceivable that even with the ambush prepared at Midway that not as many as 4 Japanese carriers would end up being lost. By wrapping up both the feasible and the conceivable as possible, it was certainly possible to hope for a better 1942 for the Japanese which would carry over a full 1943 of reinforcement of gained area. Not to say as far it definately means Japan could have held on in the following years. Clearly only I'm still exploring whether that was possible.

Back to the point of technology gap being US 40mm AA vs the old Japanese 25mm, computer radar-guided ship cannons, and proximity fuse. Japanese were also behind in radar for a bit but I think they closed the gap to a manageable level. Technology-wise, fighter aircraft quality also was able to broadly keep up with US fighters. So sonar is another technology gap.

Hi futon

Maybe this report by the USN Technical Mission to Japan on Japanese ASW will assist in answering some of your questions:

http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/primary_documents/gvt_reports/USNAVY/USNTMJ Reports/USNTMJ-200I-0244-0309 Report S-24.pdf

From the introduction it looks like the USN was understandably not impressed with IJN ASW effort and criticised them for not making the best use of available resources that they did potentally have like radar and better sonar gear. Training also seems to have been minimal.

Broadly the USN Technical Mission to Japan was set up at the end of the war to gather information/intelligence etc on Japanese methods, technology etc and compare it to the then current USN practices to see if any potential improvements could be made to the American side of things. They ended up reporting in 1945/6 on a whole range of stuff, most of which you can download from here:

http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/primary_documents/gvt_reports/USNAVY/USNTMJ Reports/USNTMJ_toc.htm

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Captain Hurricane said:

Hi futon

Maybe this report by the USN Technical Mission to Japan on Japanese ASW will assist in answering some of your questions:

http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/primary_documents/gvt_reports/USNAVY/USNTMJ Reports/USNTMJ-200I-0244-0309 Report S-24.pdf

From the introduction it looks like the USN was understandably not impressed with IJN ASW effort and criticised them for not making the best use of available resources that they did potentally have like radar and better sonar gear. Training also seems to have been minimal.

Broadly the USN Technical Mission to Japan was set up at the end of the war to gather information/intelligence etc on Japanese methods, technology etc and compare it to the then current USN practices to see if any potential improvements could be made to the American side of things. They ended up reporting in 1945/6 on a whole range of stuff, most of which you can download from here:

http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/primary_documents/gvt_reports/USNAVY/USNTMJ Reports/USNTMJ_toc.htm

 

 

 

That looks like good stuff, thank you.

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12 hours ago, Sardaukar said:

Actually...smartest thing back then for Japan was to throw their lot in with USA and UK. And get hell out of China quagmire. 

Obviously not really realistic thing, since Japan was seething about not being appreciated by USA and UK. 

Or follow the example of The Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

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1 minute ago, DougRichards said:

Or follow the example of The Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

The Mouse that Roared? :D

Considering Japan was allied to Western powers in WW I, it is not too far-fetched for that to continue...in another universe...

Internal politics of Japan in 20s-30s is..well..interesting. I can understand why they felt slighted by Western powers, but that doesn't justify anything that did follow. 

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13 hours ago, Angrybk said:

If we’re just video gaming it, the obvious solution is for Japan to snap up the DEI, maybe indochina, placate the US and UK. Definite “what if Hitler wasn’t Hitler” territory, but it would have worked and not totally outside the realms of possibility. 

I doubt the US would tolerate anything like that.  DB's suggestion to hunker down and do nothing, and RO11's suggestion to withdraw from part or all of China are probably the best options most to avoid war with the USA.  But even with these options, the US was building a two ocean navy and with every new hull coming down the slipway, the US was more in a position to dictate terms to Tokyo.

Edited by glenn239
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3 hours ago, TrustMe said:

What about if Japan learned about the US's development of nuclear weapons. Would they of had a preemptive attack earlier than December 1941?

"On 9 October 1941, President Roosevelt approved the atomic program"

A program that was experimental at best, with no assurance of success at all and that could have failed at any point. The Japanese would have needed a crystal ball.

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1 hour ago, RETAC21 said:

"On 9 October 1941, President Roosevelt approved the atomic program"

A program that was experimental at best, with no assurance of success at all and that could have failed at any point. The Japanese would have needed a crystal ball.

I thought it got started in 1939. I remember reading on the internet years ago that someone patented Atomic Power in Britian in 1937. I don't know if thats true or not. 

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4 hours ago, TrustMe said:

What about if Japan learned about the US's development of nuclear weapons. Would they of had a preemptive attack earlier than December 1941?

For the Pearl Harbor attack, the availability of the recently commissioned 5th Carrier Division, (Zuikaku, Shokaku) was a key factor.  October was just too early a timeframe for them to be available.  4 carriers on the raid instead of 6 might not have been considered wise.  In terms of the southern drive, the strategy there was to sieze the resources and then hold on until the Americans gave up, so attacking earlier would have zero effect on the American nuclear program.   Preparations getting forces to their jump-off points in Indochina and elsewhere I doubt could have been completed by October.

I think if the Japanese had found out about the A-bomb project they'd have just convinced themselves that it would fail, because that was the handiest conclusion for what they wanted to do anyways.

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Everyone, including Japan, had a nuclear weapons program starting around 1940.  If they didn't know the Allies had a program, they would have guessed it. 

The Japanese program was apparently more advanced than the German one as the Germans took a couple of wrong turns.  Whether they'd ever have made the jump from research to working devices is another question.

If the Japanese military knew in advance that they hadn't the slightest hope of winning and that the Allies would defeat them so thoroughly, they might have reconsidered the war.

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55 minutes ago, R011 said:

Everyone, including Japan, had a nuclear weapons program starting around 1940.  If they didn't know the Allies had a program, they would have guessed it. 

The Japanese program was apparently more advanced than the German one as the Germans took a couple of wrong turns.  Whether they'd ever have made the jump from research to working devices is another question.

If the Japanese military knew in advance that they hadn't the slightest hope of winning and that the Allies would defeat them so thoroughly, they might have reconsidered the war.

Talking out my ass without sources handy, but IIRC:

1) Japan actually had a lot of good scientists working on their nuke program, but they were so perpetually resource-starved that it was a non-starter (Ian W. Toll had a quote about the program trying to get ahold of some sugar for an "important special weapons program" and failing). The US nuke program was insanely resource-intensive and I doubt that any other country would have been able to pull it off -- massive industrial base, secure homeland, brilliant expat Jewish scientists just dying to get back at the Axis, etc.

2) Roosevelt's China-related sanctions honestly were what made Japan go to war (and it's been done to death by historians since like 1941). I don't know if you can count that as a US foreign-policy blunder, it was up to Japan whether or not they were willing to immolate their nation because of it, but I do wonder if the US expected full-scale war to be the result. (For all the complaints about US anti-Asian racism, the US gov were China fanboys far and beyond what was realistic). From what I've read the Japanese lost their shit about it and went full Death or Glory. 

Edited by Angrybk
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On 1/5/2023 at 10:46 AM, futon said:

The only other person that would argue that Japan had a chance to win is Glenn. 

Returning to the original premise of the thread, you were asking towards how Japan might actually fight the United States and win.  To reiterate, I don't think it's possible, the only thing Japan realistically could have done was to lose less painfully.  However, in pursuit of the original question, some general points.

1.  The IJN's decision to place low priority on ASW was, IMO, actually the correct one for the war they chose to fight.  Japan cannot win a long war against the US, and ASW is necessary in a long war, but not a short war.  Hence, a waste of resources, unless the point is to lose as slowly as possibly.

2. I don't think there was anything Japan could do militarily that would cause the US to bargain a resolution to the war.  Hence, any Japanese victory is predicated on (1) a short war and (2) a political, not military, resolution.

3. The political prospects of the Axis alliance, for Japan, really was poisoned by Barbarossa.  To fight the United States, Japan had to be allied with both Germany and the Soviet Union.  This was impossible from before the war. 

4.  In terms of combat potential, the only thing the Japanese could have started the war already with that would have shaken US resolve deeply was the kamikazes.  Not saying it was likely or even particularly realistic to go down that path, but it's the one thing that was theoretically possible.

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