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View Full Version : What if Japan attacked Russia rather than USA?



DVX
02-15-2011, 06:36 PM
Ok, Japan Army learnt the lesson at Khalkin Ghol, but what if Japan would pull Russia definitely out of the war after the German attack, instead of attacking Pearl Harbor?

or

Because the pact Rome - Berlin - Tokio was a "classic" defensive pact (common help in case of aggression without provocation), Rome and Berlin could say to Tokio: we declare war to USA if you declare war to Russia.
In this case we have the possibility of two parallel wars, with opposite sides in friendly links, but not properly allies. What if in this case?

History is not made by "if"... however, say your own!!! :D

Rising Sun*
02-16-2011, 06:24 AM
Japan's preferred option was to move into Siberia, but it discounted this as beyond its abilities and chose instead to go southwards.

That's not a 'what if' but a real decision based upon a careful analysis by Japanese military and political leaders of all relevant factors and Japanese ambitions, which says all that needs to be said about what was likely to happen to Japan if it attacked the USSR.

The Soviet forces marshalled against Japan at the time and throughout the war were probably sufficient to repel a Japanese attack. The Japanese military leaders certainly thought so.

A Japanese attack on the Soviets would probably have been contained by local Soviet forces without any impact on German actions to the west.

However, by not attacking the US, Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia to the south and east, Japan would have allowed those nations to focus their resources solely upon Germany, which would only have hastened the defeat of Germany.

pdf27
02-16-2011, 06:57 AM
It **might** have had the effect of delaying/preventing the transfer of the Siberian divisions to Moscow in the winter of 1941, but even if they hadn't been transferred and Moscow had fallen, and Napoleon discovered Moscow isn't actually that important to Russia. It's an important rail junction, but that's about it as far as irreplaceable things are concerned.
Japan on the other hand would be attacking over terrain well suited to Soviet doctrine and equipment, and very poorly suited to their own. Fighting in the jungles to the south flattered the Japanese army historically - had they invaded Siberia it would have been Khalkin Gol all over again but on a far larger scale. Enough, quite possibly, to knock Japan out of the war.

Of course, this is where it gets really interesting - if the Soviets do knock Japan out of the war, would the US ever join it?

Rising Sun*
02-16-2011, 07:31 AM
Of course, this is where it gets really interesting - if the Soviets do knock Japan out of the war, would the US ever join it?

That's the critical question, isn't it?

Pearl Harbor gave Roosevelt the grounds to go to war, ably assisted by Hitler's idiotic decision to declare war on the US which then enabled Roosevelt to go to war against Germany, which was the desired course of Roosevelt, Churchill and American and British policy and planning to secure their various national interests.

Japan never counted for all that much in the grand strategic planning of the US or Britain, as demonstrated by America never devoting more than about 15% of its war effort to the war against Japan.

Without Pearl Harbor American popular sentiment was unlikely to favour joining another European war and Hitler was unlikely to have declared war on the US, so that the US might have been kept out of the war at a fully committed level (ignoring Atlantic convoy escorts and Lend Lease which were a long way short of putting American troops on the ground)

A Japanese attack on the USSR might have avoided the so-called Pacific War (anyone noticed the contradiction between 'pacific' and 'war'), but at the same time it would have allowed the Allies to divert to the war against Germany all the resources devoted to the war against Japan, which would have hastened Germany's defeat.

But the big question which remains is: Would America have gone to war?

DVX
02-16-2011, 12:32 PM
That's the critical question, isn't it?

Pearl Harbor gave Roosevelt the grounds to go to war, ably assisted by Hitler's idiotic decision to declare war on the US which then enabled Roosevelt to go to war against Germany, which was the desired course of Roosevelt, Churchill and American and British policy and planning to secure their various national interests.



I agree.
But the declaration of war on US was decided just for "tactical" reasons: to give free way for all Atlantic to the Axis submarine fleet, still to US coasts, the possibility to ignore once for all the problem of nationality of convoys (the memory of Lusitania scared German command) and their escorts and to outcome the lack of neutrality of US in escorting British convoys with its units and in supplying the Axis enemies.
Hitler still believed to defeat Russia during the next year, a time in wich US forces would totally or most engaged by Japan.
I think the real Hitler's idiotic decision was to attack Russia before Britain was pulled out of the war. He was obsessed for the fear of a war on two fronts, and he opened the second front by himself...
He should at least delay the Operation Barbarossa one year, concentrating the forces in Mediterranean theatre to push out the Britons from Middle East, and later Gibraltar to...

Deaf Smith
02-16-2011, 08:37 PM
If Japan had attacked Russia that would have spelled doom Japan just that much faster.

Why?

Because Roosevelt would have still CUT OFF JAPAN'S OIL OVER CHINA. And thus Japan would have had to fight Russia without any gas.

So I really doubt Japan would have even considered seriously attacking Russia while leaving the U.S. able to bar exports of oil and steel.

Deaf

forager
05-11-2011, 12:40 PM
Good post.
I think we had far more leverage at the time.
They significantly underestimated our response on so many levels, though.

Rising Sun*
05-11-2011, 08:12 PM
Because Roosevelt would have still CUT OFF JAPAN'S OIL OVER CHINA. And thus Japan would have had to fight Russia without any gas.

So I really doubt Japan would have even considered seriously attacking Russia while leaving the U.S. able to bar exports of oil and steel.

Deaf

Like forager said, good point.

Was there any known oil in Siberia at the time to substitute for the Netherlands oil if Japan went into Siberia?

imi
05-19-2011, 04:38 PM
I think that was "better" way to the help the germans in the Barbarossa.
Japan only open another front line and made the axis failure with the attack of the USA

Chevan
06-24-2011, 02:37 AM
Like forager said, good point.

Was there any known oil in Siberia at the time to substitute for the Netherlands oil if Japan went into Siberia?

No, there were absolutly no oil developed in Siberia that period.Otherwise the Red Amry never fough so desperatively for Caucaus and Stalingrad- to hold ONLY the source of oil for Soviet industry- Caucasian.

Chevan
06-24-2011, 02:43 AM
Because the pact Rome - Berlin - Tokio was a "classic" defensive pact (common help in case of aggression without provocation), Rome and Berlin could say to Tokio: we declare war to USA if you declare war to Russia.
:D
Berlin can't say this coz after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact we were the sort af neitral "allies" with Germany. Japanes felt themself pissed on Berlin after that pact, coz it was direct violation of their previous Triple "anti-commintern" pact with Germany.Stalin , though, made a wise step - Japane was politically isolated from possible anti-soviet war for two fronts.

Rising Sun*
06-24-2011, 05:47 AM
No, there were absolutly no oil developed in Siberia that period.Otherwise the Red Amry never fough so desperatively for Caucaus and Stalingrad- to hold ONLY the source of oil for Soviet industry- Caucasian.

So what real economic or other benefits would Japan have got from taking Siberia, apart from getting more land?

Or was more land sufficient reward, given that Japan was trying to find space for its expanding population?

Chevan
06-24-2011, 06:58 AM
The USSR as i know send a military help to still resisting China.( both to Gomindan and Communist forces) . The Japane plan was to push the Red Army to the North ( further from Manchgurian border) and cut off the lines of suplies.This mean the invasion to Syberia and capturing the big and unpopulated territories . The original Japane plan, as i read, supposed to reach the Baikal Lake in offensive, if initial attack will be succesfull.

Rising Sun*
06-24-2011, 08:40 AM
The USSR as i know send a military help to still resisting China.( both to Gomindan and Communist forces) . The Japane plan was to push the Red Army to the North ( further from Manchgurian border) and cut off the lines of suplies.This mean the invasion to Syberia and capturing the big and unpopulated territories . The original Japane plan, as i read, supposed to reach the Baikal Lake in offensive, if initial attack will be succesfull.

Even if that is successful, does it allow Japan to cut off the lines of supply permanently or does it just spread out Japanese forces and make them weaker and less able to resist a concentrated attack by the Soviets at any point(s) in their defensive line?

Did Japan have the resources in vehicles, fuel and everything else to supply its forces in a Siberian winter while fighting Soviet forces, or was it just going to be another disastrous assault on Russia like Napoleon's and Hitler's?

Rising Sun*
06-24-2011, 08:50 AM
The USSR as i know send a military help to still resisting China.( both to Gomindan and Communist forces) .

I am completely ignorant on this point.

My only knowledge of Allied support for China after Pearl Harbor is the US and British support coming through Burma.

I assumed that as the Soviet and Japanese forces were facing each other in Manchuria that nothing was getting through those lines.

Were Soviet supplies going to China through other routes? If so, how much and where? I'm wondering if there were any Lend Lease supplies coming through Russia and the USSR to China, or if Russia and or the USSR were supplying China from their own resources?

Chevan
06-26-2011, 04:24 AM
Even if that is successful, does it allow Japan to cut off the lines of supply permanently or does it just spread out Japanese forces and make them weaker and less able to resist a concentrated attack by the Soviets at any point(s) in their defensive line?

Did Japan have the resources in vehicles, fuel and everything else to supply its forces in a Siberian winter while fighting Soviet forces, or was it just going to be another disastrous assault on Russia like Napoleon's and Hitler's?
To supply the forces in Syberia should't be the problem for Japane bases , mate, if japanese captured the Transsib (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Siberian_Railway)( the single and major railway road along the Chinese-Soviet-Mongolian border.Thay might easly supplied the troops from bases in Manchguria and Northen China.If you know - the distance from Moscow to Syberia is twice LONGER then from Japane;)
Endeed Japan wasn't even nedeed to move deep in Syberia- all they need is to cutt of the Transsib.After that the downfall of Vladivostok and entire rusian Far East would be just matter of time.There is simple one rule in the Syberia - Who controls the Transsib- that one owned the Syberia:). So as i said, all the opetrative minimum that Japans planned- to cuptured the Transsib where they mightto hold the big forces near the railway and us it as a bases for advance deep into Syberia later.

Chevan
06-26-2011, 04:37 AM
I am completely ignorant on this point.

My only knowledge of Allied support for China after Pearl Harbor is the US and British support coming through Burma.

I assumed that as the Soviet and Japanese forces were facing each other in Manchuria that nothing was getting through those lines.

Were Soviet supplies going to China through other routes? If so, how much and where? I'm wondering if there were any Lend Lease supplies coming through Russia and the USSR to China, or if Russia and or the USSR were supplying China from their own resources?
Yes we had a separate line of supplies from the North.
We have a long common border of Soviet Kazahstan and China in Xinjiang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang)Since most begining of 1930-yy there was built a special road. Also we had an international airline Alma-ata--Lanchgoj.All those ways of supplies were financed by the USSR and were guarded by Red Army. The aim was to help the CHineses communists in fight initially against Chiang Kai-shek. But during the Japane occupation - the big part of help got the Chinese regular army.

Rising Sun*
06-26-2011, 06:00 AM
Chevan, thanks for your last few posts which are all new information for me. I think this is probably another area where the Cold War resulted in information not getting out of the USSR or, if it did, the West not wanting to publicise it.

Do you know how the quantity of materiel etc flowing to China from the USSR would compare with the materiel etc coming up the Burma Road from the southern end? I'm wondering if there might have been a large contribution from the USSR which isn't generally known in the West.

Some quick Googling didn't throw any light on it, but it did throw up the following quote. Is it true? If so, do you you know anything more about that scheme?


During the Second World War (or the Great Patriotic War as the Russians know it) Joseph Stalin planned to undertake secret tunnelling from Vladivostok to the Kuril Islands, and from there to invade Japan by troop-trains brought under the ocean. The plan was not a mere day-dream - prisoners of war, and prisoners from the soviet gulags, were put to work on the project. The approach-tracks were built, along with the descent to below sea-bed level and the first four kilometers of undersea track. The death-tolls in explosions and tunnel-collapses were allegedly massive. At that point the war came to an end, and - according to unconfirmed records - the prisoners killed their guards and deserted the project. In 2002 the Russian Railways Ministry announced a feasibility study into reopening the project on a commercial basis, presumably this time with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Japanese this time. No report was ever published. http://www.trans-siberian.com.au/history_trans_siberian_railway.html

Chevan
06-26-2011, 09:31 AM
Do you know how the quantity of materiel etc flowing to China from the USSR would compare with the materiel etc coming up the Burma Road from the southern end? I'm wondering if there might have been a large contribution from the USSR which isn't generally known in the West.
Well i tryingto search some details about soviet military help. That's a bit of infor..
http://tank.uw.ru/books/opolev/soviet-chinese-history-43/
21 august of 1937 the USSR and CHinas National govenment ( i.e. Chiang Kai-shek) had signed the peace military and trade treaty. The USSR has provided the special credit for fighting China - $150 millions , yet additional 150 and 50 in 1940. For this money ussr send the wearpon to CHina.
there are some figures. since 1937 to 1941 ( befor the Germans attack of USSR) were send..
1285 aircrafts,
1600 guns all of calibers,
82 tanks,( medium class)
1850 trucks
14 thousand of machinguns and ets..
Moreover the USSR has built in CHina the military avia-plant.
Those figures don't show the help, providing to CHina after ww2.
I don't know how much it is compared to Allied aid, but if to take into consideration fact that Chinas communist finally won the war- the soviet help was deciding:)


Some quick Googling didn't throw any light on it, but it did throw up the following quote. Is it true? If so, do you you know anything more about that scheme?

This is qute another story
You've found the infor about Sakhalin Tunnel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakhalin_Tunnel), my friend.

Rising Sun*
06-27-2011, 07:49 AM
Well i tryingto search some details about soviet military help. That's a bit of infor..
http://tank.uw.ru/books/opolev/soviet-chinese-history-43/
21 august of 1937 the USSR and CHinas National govenment ( i.e. Chiang Kai-shek) had signed the peace military and trade treaty. The USSR has provided the special credit for fighting China - $150 millions , yet additional 150 and 50 in 1940. For this money ussr send the wearpon to CHina.
there are some figures. since 1937 to 1941 ( befor the Germans attack of USSR) were send..
1285 aircrafts,
1600 guns all of calibers,
82 tanks,( medium class)
1850 trucks
14 thousand of machinguns and ets..
Moreover the USSR has built in CHina the military avia-plant.
Those figures don't show the help, providing to CHina after ww2.
I don't know how much it is compared to Allied aid, but if to take into consideration fact that Chinas communist finally won the war- the soviet help was deciding:)

Interesting figures.

I can't find anything on the total quantities delivered over The Hump etc, but the Soviet figures are impressive and clearly made a major contribution to the Chinese forces resisting the Japanese.

The 1285 aircraft, regardless of what types they were, makes the 60 or so serviceable fighters of the US Flying Tigers under Chennault look insignificant.

I've seen references to Chennault learning from Soviet pilots fighting the Japanese in China, but I can't find one now.

I wonder if any tanks, let alone 82, were delivered up the Burma Road?

Info from anyone with knowledge in this area would be appreciated.

Chevan
06-30-2011, 02:10 AM
I wonder if any tanks, let alone 82, were delivered up the Burma Road?

Info from anyone with knowledge in this area would be appreciated.

I don't know the figures but as i read, the Birma "road" in many places were not a road but ..... narrow path. And they had to re-load all the amunition from trucks to the pack animals or to their own ..hands.

Rising Sun*
06-30-2011, 06:17 AM
I don't know the figures but as i read, the Birma "road" in many places were not a road but ..... narrow path. And they had to re-load all the amunition from trucks to the pack animals or to their own ..hands.

I was using Burma Road in its widest sense, to include airlift over The Hump.

I don't know what aircraft were used for transport and what their lift capacity was for taking any tanks, either assembled or as parts, but I'd expect that the DC 3 / Dakota / Gooney Bird was the backbone of the operation

Chevan
06-30-2011, 11:50 PM
I'm not sure the DC 3 was able to lift up even the super-light tank, exept may be the few exotic models;)..
But i think the allies though had supplied the tanks to china using the Ledo Road later ,since 1942.

Der Toten Kaiser
07-09-2011, 03:43 PM
Yeah, Russia could not only defeat the Japanese without having problems with the germans, but if they really wanted they could conquer Manchuria, Korea, because of their tank superiority and of the size of the red army. However it could not be an easy conquer to the reds, because the japanese had a better air-force (air superiority, destroys tanks,etc), and a better navy. It would be an interesting fight, maybe the soviets could bomb Tokyo even before the americans in 1942.

leccy
07-10-2011, 07:26 AM
By the time the Soviets entered the war against Japan the Japanese Navy and Air-forces were spent. The Navy was soundly beaten and lacked fuel to even sortie out far. The Air-force was reduced to poorly trained pilots with ageing aircraft designs. There was precious little of the 1941 forces left to fight or train the new recruits.

Korea was already split between a Soviet Zone and a US Zone prior to troops actually entering.


By Der Toten Kaiser
Yeah, Russia could not only defeat the Japanese without having problems with the germans

The Soviets were having difficulty defeating the Germans in 1941 and still into 1942 so a Japanese attack as well may have had some influence but after the Battle of Khalkhin Gol the Japanese did not have much stomach for heading West.

Rising Sun*
07-10-2011, 08:41 AM
However it could not be an easy conquer to the reds, because the japanese had a better air-force (air superiority, destroys tanks,etc),

Japan did not have an air force in WWII, nor did America.

Japan, like America, had aviation branches in its army and navy.

Why would the Japanese naval air arm have been overwhelming in a tank destroying role in Siberia, with particular reference to armaments carried on IJN ships some distance from Siberia and balanced against available Soviet air forces and anti-aircraft defences?

'A better air force', whatever that may mean and even if Japan had one, is not the same thing as 'air superiority' in a specific theatre. Why would Japan have had air superiority in Siberia?


and a better navy.

Even if Japan had a better navy than the Soviets, how would this have altered the result in a land war, rather distant from the sea, if Japan had thrust into Siberia?

Nickdfresh
07-10-2011, 11:25 AM
I'm not sure the DC 3 was able to lift up even the super-light tank, exept may be the few exotic models;)..
But i think the allies though had supplied the tanks to china using the Ledo Road later ,since 1942.

Only in gliders. And the tank (tankette really, called the "Locust?" IIRC) was pretty much useless in combat and the airborne/glider-borne troops would have been better off with scout cars and trucks towing anti-tank guns--or even more bazookas/Piats! Although I suppose they could have brought heavier weaponry in in pieces to be assembled at forward areas?

Nickdfresh
07-10-2011, 11:31 AM
By the time the Soviets entered the war against Japan the Japanese Navy and Air-forces were spent. The Navy was soundly beaten and lacked fuel to even sortie out far. The Air-force was reduced to poorly trained pilots with ageing aircraft designs. There was precious little of the 1941 forces left to fight or train the new recruits.

Korea was already split between a Soviet Zone and a US Zone prior to troops actually entering.

And the Japanese occupation army in Manchuria had largely been gutted in favor of defending the home islands as well...


The Soviets were having difficulty defeating the Germans in 1941 and still into 1942 so a Japanese attack as well may have had some influence but after the Battle of Khalkhin Gol the Japanese did not have much stomach for heading West.

True. The main reason being for the lack of stomach on the part of the Japanese was the massive inferiority in transport, armor, anti-armor weapons, doctrine, etc., highlighted in the early clashes with Soviet forces on open terrain...

Nickdfresh
07-10-2011, 11:40 AM
...However it could not be an easy conquer to the reds, because the japanese had a better air-force (air superiority, destroys tanks,etc)...

A bit of a falsehood. Aircraft were more indirectly effective against tanks than directly so. I think I read in Normandy, a study by the RAF looking at tactical air support provided by their excellent Tempest fighter arms said that a given fighter-bomber only had about a four-percent chance of destroying a panzer using rockets and cannon fire on a given strafing run! A postwar American Air Force(s) study concurred that relatively few German panzers were destroyed by tactical air forces. Tactical fighters were much more effective against the tanks' support network of soft-skinned trucks and equestrian transport and logistical network...

I'm not even sure the IJA or IJN possessed even the most basic anti-armor weapons to begin with...


It would be an interesting fight, maybe the soviets could bomb Tokyo even before the americans in 1942.

With what?

leccy
07-10-2011, 02:23 PM
Only in gliders. And the tank (tankette really, called the "Locust?" IIRC) was pretty much useless in combat and the airborne/glider-borne troops would have been better off with scout cars and trucks towing anti-tank guns--or even more bazookas/Piats! Although I suppose they could have brought heavier weaponry in in pieces to be assembled at forward areas?

The Tetrarch (Light Tank MK VII) was used in limited numbers by the airborne forces in Madagascar (May 1942) and on D Day but was hopelessly outclassed as a gun tank (2 pdr main gun, even when equipped with the littlejohn adaptor). It was withdrawn not long after D Day and the M22 (Locust) was used on Op Varsity instead in very small numbers.

The Harry Hopkins (Light Tank Mk VIII) would possibly have been a better vehicle especially the Alecto SPG or Dozer variants if it had been available.

Rising Sun*
07-11-2011, 09:01 AM
The Tetrarch (Light Tank MK VII) was used in limited numbers by the airborne forces in Madagascar (May 1942) and on D Day but was hopelessly outclassed as a gun tank (2 pdr main gun, even when equipped with the littlejohn adaptor). It was withdrawn not long after D Day and the M22 (Locust) was used on Op Varsity instead in very small numbers.

The Harry Hopkins (Light Tank Mk VIII) would possibly have been a better vehicle especially the Alecto SPG or Dozer variants if it had been available.

How would these have gone against the Japanese tanks in China and Manchuria?

I'm wondering whether the Japanese relied upon tankettes in those theatres as they did in their southern thrust?

leccy
07-11-2011, 12:20 PM
I would love to find out how the Tetrarch fared in Soviet service as 20 were sent and received by them.

It was a small tank armed with the standard 2 pdr and was relatively fast. Having them in service as the light tank in 1940 with the BEF instead of the MkVI (which they were supposed to replace) may have made a significant contribution.

The were probably comparable to the Japanese light tanks and much better than the tankettes, Having them airlifted into the areas to provide immediate mobile fire support would probably have been worth the expenditure (fuel, munitions, spares and repairs).

As a personal preference if they had concentrated on the Harry Hopkins (Light Mk VIII) and especially the Alecto SPG (95mm Howitzer) and Dozer variant, they would have had 2 very useful light support vehicles (Light dozers come into a whole usefulness of their own)

royal744
07-26-2011, 05:56 PM
Japan's preferred option was to move into Siberia, but it discounted this as beyond its abilities and chose instead to go southwards.

That's not a 'what if' but a real decision based upon a careful analysis by Japanese military and political leaders of all relevant factors and Japanese ambitions, which says all that needs to be said about what was likely to happen to Japan if it attacked the USSR.

The Soviet forces marshalled against Japan at the time and throughout the war were probably sufficient to repel a Japanese attack. The Japanese military leaders certainly thought so.

A Japanese attack on the Soviets would probably have been contained by local Soviet forces without any impact on German actions to the west.

However, by not attacking the US, Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia to the south and east, Japan would have allowed those nations to focus their resources solely upon Germany, which would only have hastened the defeat of Germany.

Don't forget, Rising Sun, that Japan had a current and ongoing treaty with the Soviets at the time. This served the Soviets because it allowed them to focuds on the Germans and served the Japanese because it safeguarded Manchuria. It's true, apparently, that the Japanese had been badly bloodied by the Russians earler by armies led by Marshall Zhukov.

Still the "careful" calculations of the Japanese Imperial Army were incredibly badly informed if it meant that they thought that attacking the US would be easier than attacking the Russians. My thinking is that the Japanese planners were very poorly led, but were definitely seduced by the lure of Dutch-controlled oil in Indonesia. Why the Japanese thought that attacking Hawaii would make the acquisition of that oil easier is anybody's guess since the US would definitely NOT have declared war on Japan if it had simply gone after British and Dutch possessions in the far east. As it happened, the only viable force that could counter the Japanese - American carriers - was not even in Hawaii at the time of the attack.

Frankly, the history of Japanese actions prior to and during WW2 in the Pacific amounts to a series of devastating blunders all around.

Chevan
07-27-2011, 12:26 AM
The soviet-japane agreement was rather ..fictional. Westerners traditionally forgetting about a MILLION FAR-EAST Red army that stay there ALL the war as guaranty of Japanese "friendly intentions ":).i read, even during fierce battle of Stalingrad the Stavka keep this reserve untouched. The same role played the Kwantung army - almost 1 million had been keeped out of active war in Pacific.
I do believe that indeed Japanses has chosed the "South direction" of agression only in november 1941 i.e. when it has became clear - the Barbarossa was failured. I will not wonder if Moscow falls in september 1941 as Hitler promised to all the world- the Japane might easy to attack the Russian far east yet in december.

leccy
07-27-2011, 04:19 AM
Don't forget, Rising Sun, that Japan had a current and ongoing treaty with the Soviets at the time. This served the Soviets because it allowed them to focuds on the Germans and served the Japanese because it safeguarded Manchuria. It's true, apparently, that the Japanese had been badly bloodied by the Russians earler by armies led by Marshall Zhukov.

Still the "careful" calculations of the Japanese Imperial Army were incredibly badly informed if it meant that they thought that attacking the US would be easier than attacking the Russians. My thinking is that the Japanese planners were very poorly led, but were definitely seduced by the lure of Dutch-controlled oil in Indonesia. Why the Japanese thought that attacking Hawaii would make the acquisition of that oil easier is anybody's guess since the US would definitely NOT have declared war on Japan if it had simply gone after British and Dutch possessions in the far east. As it happened, the only viable force that could counter the Japanese - American carriers - was not even in Hawaii at the time of the attack.

Frankly, the history of Japanese actions prior to and during WW2 in the Pacific amounts to a series of devastating blunders all around.

Treatys seemed to matter little to many of the countries engaged in hostilities during WW2 so there would be no reason to really assume that the Japanese/Soviet one would be honoured if either side considered it to be advantageous to discard it (as the Soviets did in 1945).

The Kwantung Army seemed to be left to its own devices during 1939, it did not seem to be under close control and was given a fair degree of latitude in it's actions. I don't think the Battle of Khalin Gol was actually a strategic decision by the Japanese High Command, more of a 'its happened can we profit from it but not go to all out war'.

Rising Sun*
07-27-2011, 08:02 AM
Treatys seemed to matter little to many of the countries engaged in hostilities during WW2 so there would be no reason to really assume that the Japanese/Soviet one would be honoured if either side considered it to be advantageous to discard it (as the Soviets did in 1945).

You stole my thunder there.


The Kwantung Army seemed to be left to its own devices during 1939, it did not seem to be under close control and was given a fair degree of latitude in it's actions.

My reading suggests that it was less a case of being given latitude than the Kwantung Army going off on a frolic of its own when it suited it, and Tokyo being unable - or in some cases perhaps choosing to be unable - to assert control. This was a consequence of the fractured political and military lines of control in a difficult domestic political situation created by the tensions between the militarists and the civilian government.


I don't think the Battle of Khalin Gol was actually a strategic decision by the Japanese High Command, more of a 'its happened can we profit from it but not go to all out war'.

That's pretty much my understanding of it. A small border incident grew into something a lot bigger and was abandoned when Japan realised it was going to get flogged.

Rising Sun*
07-27-2011, 08:42 AM
Still the "careful" calculations of the Japanese Imperial Army were incredibly badly informed if it meant that they thought that attacking the US would be easier than attacking the Russians.

It wasn't purely an IJA decision, but a decision of the combined IJA and IJN approved at imperial conference level.

The thrust to gain the NEI oil was driven primarily by the IJN need for oil, as indeed was the decision to go to war because of the limited supplies to sustain the IJN after the oil embargoes imposed upon Japan.

This is somewhat simplistic, but it seems that the IJA and IJN pursued separate agendas and that the IJN favoured expansion into areas beyond those already controlled by the IJA, i.e. going south across the seas to give the IJA some possessions rather than consolidating the IJA land grabs in China.


Why the Japanese thought that attacking Hawaii would make the acquisition of that oil easier is anybody's guess since the US would definitely NOT have declared war on Japan if it had simply gone after British and Dutch possessions in the far east. As it happened, the only viable force that could counter the Japanese - American carriers - was not even in Hawaii at the time of the attack.

Frankly, the history of Japanese actions prior to and during WW2 in the Pacific amounts to a series of devastating blunders all around.

With the benefit of hindsight we can see them as blunders, but viewed at the time the attack on Hawaii was the final step in a logical chain which said that America had to be neutralised when Japan attacked the NEI and Malaya, which necessitated taking the Philippines to prevent America straddling Japan's lines of communication to the NEI and Malaya, which in turn required neutralising Pearl Harbor to prevent that fleet steaming to the assistance of American and Filipino forces in the Philippines. And it worked very well in the early stages but, as Yamamoto said after receiving confirmation of the decision to go to war, or something like this (Can't recall exact wording) "We shall control the Pacific for six months after the start of the war, but after that ...."

I think that Japan's critical failure in planning wasn't in deciding to attack Hawaii, for that made sound strategical sense in its overall planning, but in failing to anticipate the strength of American response, both at a popular and military level, to that attack.

Japan should be grateful for the Germany First policy, because otherwise it would have been wiped out by 1944 if America had devoted all its resources to the war against Japan as most Americans probably wanted following Pearl Harbor. And that is without the atom bomb.

royal744
07-27-2011, 08:36 PM
Treatys seemed to matter little to many of the countries engaged in hostilities during WW2 so there would be no reason to really assume that the Japanese/Soviet one would be honoured if either side considered it to be advantageous to discard it (as the Soviets did in 1945).

Actually, the Rissians did not discard it. They let the treaty lapse and informed the Japanese beforehand that they were doing do.

leccy
07-28-2011, 12:54 AM
The Treaty was a 5 year treaty signed in April 1941, it had a provision to denounce it after 4 years (basically giving 1 years notice of termination), if it was not denounced it would automatically be extended for another 5 years.
On the 5th of April 1945 the Soviets denounced the treaty as was their right, this meant the treaty stopped being in force in April 1946.

Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact


The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, guided by a desire to strengthen peaceful and friendly relations between the two countries, have decided to conclude a pact on neutrality, for which purpose they have appointed as their Representatives:

The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan - Yosuke Matsuoka, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jusanmin, Cavalier of the Order of the Sacred Treasure of the First Class, and Yoshitsugu Tatekawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Lieutenant General, Jusanmin, Cavalier of the Order of the Rising Sun of the First Class and the Order of the Golden Kite of the Fourth Class,
who, after an exchange of their credentials, which were found in due and proper form, have agreed on the following:

Article one: Both Contracting Parties undertake to maintain peaceful and friendly relations between them and mutually respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of the other Contracting Party.
Article two: Should one of the Contracting Parties become the object of hostilities on the part of one or several third powers, the other Contracting Party will observe neutrality throughout the duration of the conflict.
Article three: The present Pact comes into force from the day of its ratification by both Contracting Parties and remains valid for five years. In case neither of the Contracting Parties denounces the Pact one year before the expiration of the term, it will be considered automatically prolonged for the next five years.
Article four: The present Pact is subject to ratification as soon as possible. The instruments of ratification shall be exchanged in Tokyo, also as soon as possible.
In confirmation whereof the above-named Representatives have signed the present Pact in two copies, drawn up in the Russian and Japanese languages, and affixed thereto their seals. Done in Moscow on April 13, 1941, which corresponds to the 13th day of the fourth month of the 16th year of Showa.

V. Molotov
Yosuke Matsuoka
Yoshitsugu Tatekawa

Chevan
07-28-2011, 02:01 AM
On the 5th of April 1945 the Soviets denounced the treaty as was their right, this meant the treaty stopped being in force in April 1946.

Well soviet side had formally explained it's decision by "Japanes will to continie the war".
There is text of Molotov's note to japanese ambassador.
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/s4.asp

On Aug. 8, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. Molotoff received the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Sato, and gave him, on behalf of the Soviet Government, the following for transmission to the Japanese Government:

"After the defeat and capitulation of Hitlerite Germany, Japan became the only great power that still stood for the continuation of the war.

"The demand of the three powers, the United States, Great Britain and China, on July 26 for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces was rejected by Japan, and thus the proposal of the Japanese Government to the Soviet Union on mediation in the war in the Far East loses all basis.

"Taking into consideration the refusal of Japan to capitulate, the Allies submitted to the Soviet Government a proposal to join the war against Japanese aggression and thus shorten the duration of the war, reduce the number of victims and facilitate the speedy restoration of universal peace.

"Loyal to its Allied duty, the Soviet Government has accepted the proposals of the Allies and has joined in the declaration of the Allied powers of July 26.

"The Soviet Government considers that this policy is the only means able to bring peace nearer, free the people from further sacrifice and suffering and give the Japanese people the possibility of avoiding the dangers and destruction suffered by Germany after her refusal to capitulate unconditionally.

"In view of the above, the Soviet Government declares that from tomorrow, that is from Aug. 9, the Soviet Government will consider itself to be at war with Japan

Rising Sun*
07-28-2011, 06:57 AM
Well soviet side had formally explained it's decision by "Japanes will to continie the war".
There is text of Molotov's note to japanese ambassador.
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/s4.asp

That's the Soviet explanation to Japan, but the Soviets were already committed to going to war against Japan as part of a long-standing agreement with the other Allies that the USSR would attack Japan after Germany was defeated.

Chevan
07-28-2011, 11:00 AM
That's the Soviet explanation to Japan, but the Soviets were already committed to going to war against Japan as part of a long-standing agreement with the other Allies that the USSR would attack Japan after Germany was defeated.
Sure, it was the matter of discussion since Tehrain conference. Yet in 1943 it were clear the USSR should join the war against Japane. The Japane knew this via the German intelligence service, but i heard the Japanese still hoped for possible the Soviet/Allies hostilities to avoid the total war against Japane.

royal744
07-28-2011, 12:13 PM
If you read John Toland's The Rising Sun, written pretty much from the Japanese perspective, you will see just how peculiarly messed up the Japanese direction of the war was and how woefully cumbersome their decision making process was. While the Japanese were quite successful at first when they launched their initial surprise attacks - surprise attacks are often successful against essentially unprepared and fairly helpless enemies (witness Hitler's Barbarossa) - they were spectacularly unsuccessful in the follow up. Consider that within 6 months of Pearl Harbor 1) the thrust to Australia had been stopped in the Coral Sea and 2) the offensive power of the IJN had been crippled at Mdway. It was all downhill from there. It took a long time to defeat the Japanese because of the tenacious and suicidal fighting spirit of their troops where personal death was honorable and held in high regard, whereas the Americans, Aussies and British preferred to be alive after the battle. But all this resulted in was the senseless deaths of millions of Japanese to no good purpose.

Rising Sun*
07-29-2011, 07:03 AM
Sure, it was the matter of discussion since Tehrain conference. Yet in 1943 it were clear the USSR should join the war against Japane. The Japane knew this via the German intelligence service, but i heard the Japanese still hoped for possible the Soviet/Allies hostilities to avoid the total war against Japane.

Which makes it all the more curious why the Japanese tried to negotiate a peace in mid-1945 through the Soviets when Japan knew that the USSR was about to, or at least likely to, attack it.

Perhaps this is just another example of Japan's failure to understand the other side's attitudes and likely responses to Japan's actions, as with Pearl Harbor.

royal744
07-30-2011, 12:14 PM
Which makes it all the more curious why the Japanese tried to negotiate a peace in mid-1945 through the Soviets when Japan knew that the USSR was about to, or at least likely to, attack it.

Perhaps this is just another example of Japan's failure to understand the other side's attitudes and likely responses to Japan's actions, as with Pearl Harbor.

"Unrealistic" and prone to fantastic schemes to avoid certain defeat characterized Japan's deliberations throughout the war. Japan was defeated the moment it attacked Pearl Harbor - they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble, lives and cities by not underestimating the allies before they attacked. As I mentioned earlier, their planning on a strategic level was terrible. Japan's ambassador to Russia had taken the measure of the Russians and knew how intractable they were and how unlikely they were to listen to Japanese proposals. His bosses in Tokyo paid no attention to his warnings.

They had "never" lost a war before. Defeat was inconcievable. The shame of it was unbearable. It took the emperor to tell them to "bear the unbearable".