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Taiwan (/Formosa) if Japan remains neutral in WW2

SinghSong

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Admittedly inspired a bit by @Ricardolindo's thread about Italian Libya, with a bit of mental side-tracking from there setting me off on this train-line of thought instead. So then, thinking about it, if Japan had remained neutral in World War II, would Taiwan still be a part of it today? Would there be any plausible way for Taiwan not to be fully integrated as a part of Japan in such a scenario?
 

Gary Oswald

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Neutral Japan is different to neutral Italy, in that neutral Italy just doesn't get involved in any wars, where as Japan depending on what your POD is could still be at war in China just not with the Western powers.

So a lot depends on how Japan's war in China ends, which government in China drives them out and whether they'd be able to buy a navy or whether Japan would be able to get the nuke in that scenario.

Japan's ability to hold on to it also depends on whether it's broken out in civil war between the navy and army or not.
 

Ricardolindo

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Neutral Japan is different to neutral Italy, in that neutral Italy just doesn't get involved in any wars, where as Japan depending on what your POD is could still be at war in China just not with the Western powers.

So a lot depends on how Japan's war in China ends, which government in China drives them out and whether they'd be able to buy a navy or whether Japan would be able to get the nuke in that scenario.

Japan's ability to hold on to it also depends on whether it's broken out in civil war between the navy and army or not.
Before the Pacific War, China did not believe a recovery of Taiwan to be possible. They only wanted to prevent the same happening to Manchuria.
 

Gary Oswald

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Before the Pacific War, China did not believe a recovery of Taiwan to be possible. They only wanted to prevent the same happening to Manchuria.
Oh yeah, but like Japan is invading china, it is knee deep in a bloody war. It doesn't have the resources to put the chinese down for good but nor do the chinese have the resources to kick them out.

Eventually that stalemate is going to be resolved by the Japanese leaving, it just is. And then I don't believe that any chinese government wouldn't to some extent reopen the taiwan question, though whether or not they actually go for it will depend like I say on their naval powers and whether japan have nuked.

But a China who has removed Japan from the continent will be far more confident in terms of their position vis a vis Japan and that means Taiwan staying Japanese depends on the balance of power between the two states.
 

History Learner

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Oh yeah, but like Japan is invading china, it is knee deep in a bloody war. It doesn't have the resources to put the chinese down for good but nor do the chinese have the resources to kick them out.

Eventually that stalemate is going to be resolved by the Japanese leaving, it just is. And then I don't believe that any chinese government wouldn't to some extent reopen the taiwan question, though whether or not they actually go for it will depend like I say on their naval powers and whether japan have nuked.

But a China who has removed Japan from the continent will be far more confident in terms of their position vis a vis Japan and that means Taiwan staying Japanese depends on the balance of power between the two states.
Most likely Japan decisively knocks the Chinese out by 1943 or sooner; IOTL 1942 they were preparing Operation No. 5 which was later revised into Ichi Go in 1944 which almost knocked the Chinese out of the war. Here, without a Pacific War, it'll definitely occur here and the lack of food will enable a Japanese conquest. In the long run would China prove too troublesome to manage? Maybe so, but the Brits did stay in India and the Russians in Central Asia for over 150 years, after all.
 

Incognitia

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Most likely Japan decisively knocks the Chinese out by 1943 or sooner; IOTL 1942 they were preparing Operation No. 5 which was later revised into Ichi Go in 1944 which almost knocked the Chinese out of the war. Here, without a Pacific War, it'll definitely occur here and the lack of food will enable a Japanese conquest. In the long run would China prove too troublesome to manage? Maybe so, but the Brits did stay in India and the Russians in Central Asia for over 150 years, after all.
The "long run" will be 5-10 years, not 150, because the other major powers won't stand for Japan locking them out of the China trade (on a cynical view) and won't stand for the abuses Japan would inflict in trying to hold China (on a more principled view).
Unlike Britain or Russia, Japan in the mid 20th century cannot sustain it's economy and industry without resources controlled by the very powers hostile to their Chinese ambitions.

I mean, this is the logic that led to OTL, after all. Assume a US government isolationist enough to let Japan defeat all open resistance in China - there's nothing to stop the next administration from cutting off the scrap iron, oil etc and pressuring the UK and Netherlands to do the same.
 

SenatorChickpea

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Most likely Japan decisively knocks the Chinese out by 1943 or sooner; IOTL 1942 they were preparing Operation No. 5 which was later revised into Ichi Go in 1944 which almost knocked the Chinese out of the war. Here, without a Pacific War, it'll definitely occur here and the lack of food will enable a Japanese conquest. In the long run would China prove too troublesome to manage? Maybe so, but the Brits did stay in India and the Russians in Central Asia for over 150 years, after all.
Except Ichi Go is premised on going up against a China whose supply lines have been cut. Here, that's not the case. So long as China is receiving any appreciable amount of supplies through Burma, Indochina and the Soviets, Japan cannot knock them out of the war.
 

History Learner

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The "long run" will be 5-10 years, not 150, because the other major powers won't stand for Japan locking them out of the China trade (on a cynical view) and won't stand for the abuses Japan would inflict in trying to hold China (on a more principled view).
Unlike Britain or Russia, Japan in the mid 20th century cannot sustain it's economy and industry without resources controlled by the very powers hostile to their Chinese ambitions.

I mean, this is the logic that led to OTL, after all. Assume a US government isolationist enough to let Japan defeat all open resistance in China - there's nothing to stop the next administration from cutting off the scrap iron, oil etc and pressuring the UK and Netherlands to do the same.
Again, presuming something close to OTL WWII is going on, they won't have much choice.

U.S. strategic planning in 1940-1941 envisioned bringing the Japanese on board as part of a global containment network against the Russo-German Axis. As late as November of 1940, President Roosevelt had advised Pacific commanders that the United States would not go to war over a Japanese invasion of European colonies according to the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack. IOTL Roosevelt was greatly relieved that Japan had taken the step of triggering the conflict with Pearl Harbor, and that “In spite of the disaster at Pearl Harbor and the blitz warfare with the Japanese during the first few weeks, it completely solidified the American people and made the war upon Japan inevitable” (Roosevelt and Hopkins by Robert E. Sherwood, pg 335-336). Polling certainly backs this up, in that in February of 1941, Gallup conducted a poll in which respondents were asked “Do you think the United States should risk war with Japan, if necessary, in order to keep Japan from taking the Dutch East Indies and Singapore?”. The response was Yes (39%), No (46%) and No opinion (15%). By November of that same here, as a result of increased Japanese aggression and increasing global tension, that the response had flipped; asked "Should the United States take steps now to prevent Japan from becoming more powerful, even if this means risking a war with Japan?”, the response was now Yes (64%), No (25%) and No opinion (11%).

In a situation where Japan has refrained from expanding the war into Southeast Asia and the Nazis are taking full focus, Japan will take the backburner, so to speak, and by the time the Allies can return their focus (if?), the IJA will be able to present a fait accompli which the exhausted Allies will be in no position to contest. Should they try, Japan now has access to the resource base of China itself to make up for such; IOTL they had large industrial projects ongoing in Manchuria for oil, synthetic rubber, iron/steel, etc which were derailed by the path to the war. As late as 1940 they were still able to sign deals with American oil companies for equipment and help prospecting, for example.

Except Ichi Go is premised on going up against a China whose supply lines have been cut. Here, that's not the case. So long as China is receiving any appreciable amount of supplies through Burma, Indochina and the Soviets, Japan cannot knock them out of the war.
Not necessarily, no; none of these supply routes have sufficient capacity to solve the food issue of several hundred million people, which was one of the major effects of the offensive as it overrun much of the remaining good agricultural land. If WWII still happens as per OTL, the Soviet and French routes are taken out, while the British were successfully pressured to close the Burma Road in 1939.
 

Hendryk

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Most likely Japan decisively knocks the Chinese out by 1943 or sooner; IOTL 1942 they were preparing Operation No. 5 which was later revised into Ichi Go in 1944 which almost knocked the Chinese out of the war. Here, without a Pacific War, it'll definitely occur here and the lack of food will enable a Japanese conquest.
OTL Ichi-Go was a success because, for one, its Burmese supply line had been severed as @SenatorChickpea pointed out (to which I will add that if Japan stays out of WW2 then it means supplies can also be delivered via French Indochina); and for another because Stilwell had made a mess of an already complicated situation. The same Japan that had failed to "knock the Chinese out" between 1937 and 1941 would be no more successful at it if the war remains a one-on-one match. It would be a slow, bloody war of attrition, and it's one that Japan can only lose because it has fewer men to throw in the meatgrinder, and because the Chinese aren't going to give up.

As for the food supply, Sichuan is one of China's breadbaskets, so as long as the Nationalists hold it, their food situation is secure. You seem to be under the impression that China needed to import food, but that wasn't the case. Certainly a few tons of canned meat here and there were nice to have, but they never made a significant difference either way.
 

SinghSong

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Except Ichi Go is premised on going up against a China whose supply lines have been cut. Here, that's not the case. So long as China is receiving any appreciable amount of supplies through Burma, Indochina and the Soviets, Japan cannot knock them out of the war.
Even in this scenario though, where it's the Japanese who get knocked out of their war with the Chinese and forced to abandon their conquests there (including Manchuria/Manchukuo, and potentially even including Korea as well), would it really ever be feasible for Taiwan/Formosa to either get 'liberated' via invasion by China, or for it to successfully secede from Japan?
 

Hendryk

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Even in this scenario though, where it's the Japanese who get knocked out of their war with the Chinese and forced to abandon their conquests there (including Manchuria/Manchukuo, and potentially even including Korea as well), would it really ever be feasible for Taiwan/Formosa to either get 'liberated' via invasion by China, or for it to successfully secede from Japan?
I don't think a Taiwanese secession movement is likely to receive enough support among the local population to be more than a thorn in the side of Japanese governance, unless the Japanese handle the situation in such a ham-fisted way that it actually becomes popular. Unlike Korea, Taiwan didn't have a pre-existing national identity. If it gets reattached to China, the initiative will come from the mainland, and given Japan's naval superiority, that's unlikely to happen even if the war in China proper is eventually lost, as it is pretty much bound to be.
 

History Learner

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OTL Ichi-Go was a success because, for one, its Burmese supply line had been severed as @SenatorChickpea pointed out (to which I will add that if Japan stays out of WW2 then it means supplies can also be delivered via French Indochina); and for another because Stilwell had made a mess of an already complicated situation. The same Japan that had failed to "knock the Chinese out" between 1937 and 1941 would be no more successful at it if the war remains a one-on-one match. It would be a slow, bloody war of attrition, and it's one that Japan can only lose because it has fewer men to throw in the meatgrinder, and because the Chinese aren't going to give up.
In the aftermath of the Tientsin Incident, the Japanese were successfully able to apply pressure on the British to close the Burma Road for a time; I see no reason they could not do the same on the French, particularly if we make the assumption France itself has fallen. Likewise, it's important to note that Japan did not knock out China from 1937 to 1941 precisely because of very specific reasons, namely the fact they had already occupied most of the valuable parts and because to expand further would require a full mobilization of the IJA. Ultimately, because of the expansion of the war into the wider Pacific Basin, Japan did do such and ended up raising almost 300 Divisions, which enabled it to launch Operation Ichi Go in 1944 even as its fortunes on all other fronts were in decline. Here, obviously, there is no such Pacific-wide distractions and thus the entire focus can be on the Chinese.

Should the desire be there, they definitely have the means and ability to crush the Chinese, Burma Road or no. The Chinese may have pure numbers, but in the context of industrialized warfare and the lack of the Chinese ability to engage in such-particularly given how much of their industrial base was overrun in 1937 and 1938-means the Japanese will win a war of attrition simply by ensuring their soldiers are better armed and equipped then the Chinese can in turn do. It's worth noting in this context the Chinese were only able to conduct two strategic offensives the entire conflict, one in 1940 which failed disastrously and the other in 1945, which was a costly success and aided by the fact IGHQ had elected to withdraw in part to deter expected American landings on the Chinese coast.

As for the food supply, Sichuan is one of China's breadbaskets, so as long as the Nationalists hold it, their food situation is secure. You seem to be under the impression that China needed to import food, but that wasn't the case. Certainly a few tons of canned meat here and there were nice to have, but they never made a significant difference either way.
Not that they needed to import food, but rather that the IJA had overrun most of the agricultural land. Even with the Sichuan Basin remaining in Chinese hands after Ichi Go, from 1944-1945 mass starvation did break out in China; numerous accounts attest to rampant cannibalism, for example.
 

Incognitia

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If I remember right, Britain "agreed" to close the Burma road during the monsoon when it wasn't particularly usable in the first place...
 

Hendryk

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Should the desire be there, they definitely have the means and ability to crush the Chinese, Burma Road or no.
Ah yes, in OTL the Japanese invasion of China was such a half-hearted affair.

The Chinese may have pure numbers, but in the context of industrialized warfare and the lack of the Chinese ability to engage in such-particularly given how much of their industrial base was overrun in 1937 and 1938-means the Japanese will win a war of attrition simply by ensuring their soldiers are better armed and equipped then the Chinese can in turn do.
A first objection to that is that, if better equipment was a factor in winning wars of attrition, the Americans would have won the Vietnam War and the Soviets the Afghan War. A second objection is that, in terms of industrial capacity, WW2-era Japan was in the ballpark of Italy. Most of its military operations were conducted on a logistical shoestring, and the longer it remained on a war footing, the worse the strain on its economy grew. Even without a US embargo it would eventually have run out of hard cash to pay for oil and other strategic imports.
 

History Learner

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Ah yes, in OTL the Japanese invasion of China was such a half-hearted affair.
Compared to what we know they could do, yes. 1941, the IJA had 35 Divisions in China; over the following years, the IJA raised over 220 Divisions. In that context, can we really say the China effort was a full throated one? I have no doubt the Japanese zeal was real, but they were trying to run the operation on a peace time or partial mobilization level, rather than a full out one.

A first objection to that is that, if better equipment was a factor in winning wars of attrition, the Americans would have won the Vietnam War and the Soviets the Afghan War.
It's worth noting the Americans and Soviets did beat the insurgencies they faced; Saigon fell to NVA tank columns while the DRA outlasted the USSR itself. Generally speaking insurgencies don't work and for every "Vietnam" there is the Kashmir Insurgency or the Malay Emergency which see successful COIN. Specifically in context, however, we can also see from the Hundred Regiments Offensive in 1940 that the China Expeditionary Army was doing a pretty good job controlling their rear areas. This continued right on into 1945, with the CCP generally failing to overcome IJA control of areas.

A second objection is that, in terms of industrial capacity, WW2-era Japan was in the ballpark of Italy. Most of its military operations were conducted on a logistical shoestring, and the longer it remained on a war footing, the worse the strain on its economy grew. Even without a US embargo it would eventually have run out of hard cash to pay for oil and other strategic imports.
According to Bankrupting the Enemy by Edward S. Miller, the Treasury Department spent most of 1940-1941 thinking the Japanese were about to run out money until Treasury investigators in mid-1941 found the Japanese had a hidden account in a New York bank; estimates then provided that it could last Japan until 1944, perhaps until 1948, even. This is just one account, it's worth noting. Outside of this, I have a feeling this statement about Japanese industrial probably comes from Paul Kennedy's work but I have to say I'm less than impressed with his assertions on the matter. To illustrate my point:

Steel

1942:

USSR: 8,100,000 tons
Japan: 8,000,000 tons

1943:
USSR: 8,500,000 tons
Japan: 8,800,000 tons

1944:
USSR: 10,900,000 tons
Japan: 6,500,000 tons

1945
USSR: 12,300,000 tons
Japan: 800,000 tons

Coal

1942

USSR: 75,500,000 tons
Japan: 61,300,000 tons

1943
USSR: 93,100,000 tons
Japan: 60,500,000 tons

1944
USSR: 121,500,000 tons
Japan: 51,700,000 tons

1945
USSR: 149,300,000 tons
Japan: 11,000,000 tons

Iron Ore

1942

USSR: 9,700,000 tons
Japan: 7,400,000 tons

1943
USSR: 9,300,000 tons
Japan: 6,700,000 tons

1944
USSR: 11,700,000 tons
Japan: 6,000,000 tons

1945
USSR: 15,900,000 tons
Japan: 900,000 tons

Aluminium

1942
USSR: 51,700 tons
Japan: 103,000 tons

1943
USSR: 62,300 tons
Japan: 141,000 tons

1944
USSR: 82,700 tons
Japan: 110,000 tons

1945
USSR: 86,300 tons
Japan: 7,000 tons

That Japan had arguably the most powerful Navy from 1940-1942, and thereafter remained in the top three while raising about 70 more divisions than the U.S. and UK combined should speak volumes about their industry. I don't have the figures handy at the moment-I'll try to find them-but they also had like two or three times the amount of machine tools of the USSR.
 
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Hendryk

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It's worth noting the Americans and Soviets did beat the insurgencies they faced; Saigon fell to NVA tank columns while the DRA outlasted the USSR itself.
Considering that in the Chinese theater the Japanese faced both an insurgency and a conventional army, this isn't quite the take you think it is. Furthermore, the Japanese killed some 20 million Chinese and that brought them no closer to victory, so what's your estimate of the body count they would need to reach in order to win? And what's the incentive for the Chinese to surrender, considering that Japanese policy in occupied areas was borderline genocidal?

Outside of this, I have a feeling this statement about Japanese industrial might probably comes from Paul Kennedy's work but I have to say I'm less than impressed with his assertions on the matter. To illustrate my point:
Spacebattles.com is not a credible source, all the more so as the figures seem to be quoted secondhand from a wargaming website.
 

History Learner

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Considering that in the Chinese theater the Japanese faced both an insurgency and a conventional army, this isn't quite the take you think it is.
They did indeed face both but were doing an effective job managing the situation; in 1940 they stopped cold the Chinese strategic offensive against them so badly that the Chinese would not undertake another until 1945. Likewise, the Hundred Regiments Offensive so crippled the CCP that they did not emerge as a serious security threat again until 1945, as the Japanese were basically imploding everywhere under the strain of the Allied coalition as a whole attacking them everywhere.

Furthermore, the Japanese killed some 20 million Chinese and that brought them no closer to victory, so what's your estimate of the body count they would need to reach in order to win? And what's the incentive for the Chinese to surrender, considering that Japanese policy in occupied areas was borderline genocidal?
In late 1944, they were very close to victory in the aftermath of Ichi-Go, with starvation having effectively crippled the Chinese and the situation only being alleviated by the efforts of the other Allied powers. Most likely in this ATL, this offensive comes in 1942 and by 1943 or 1944 the Chinese are effectively removed as a conventional threat. I'd imagine there would be no formal surrender, with Chiang going into exile and the KMT going underground like the CCP. For most Chinese, just like OTL, they will seek to keep their heads down; despite the IJA quite literally having hundreds of millions of Chinese behind the lines, CCP partisans were probably in just the six figures.

Spacebattles.com is not a credible source, all the more so as the figures seem to be quoted secondhand from a wargaming website.
In of itself, no, but the citations were given in the post in question. You can also compare them to other sources, if you suspect they are illegitimate; here is Sturmvogel on the Soviet data, for example.
 

Hendryk

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They did indeed face both but were doing an effective job managing the situation;
I don't think we're going to reach an agreement if your definition of "an effective job managing the situation" is getting stuck neck-deep in the Chinese quagmire and burning up one's resources in a futile attempt to bring under control a continent-sized country holding a fifth of the world's population at the time. Japan's military effort was choking its economy, and the country didn't have the necessary resources to keep going much longer--which is the reason it extended the war to the Western colonies in the first place. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that kind of desperate gamble is not something one does when one is confident in victory.

In of itself, no, but the citations were given in the post in question. You can also compare them to other sources, if you suspect they are illegitimate; here is Sturmvogel on the Soviet data, for example.
Well, if one compares these figures to, say, those provided by Mark Harrison in The Economics of World War II (page 230), one notices that Japanese steel production at its wartime maximum in 1943 wasn't 8.8 but 6.2 million tons.
 

History Learner

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I don't think we're going to reach an agreement if your definition of "an effective job managing the situation" is getting stuck neck-deep in the Chinese quagmire and burning up one's resources in a futile attempt to bring under control a continent-sized country holding a fifth of the world's population at the time. Japan's military effort was choking its economy, and the country didn't have the necessary resources to keep going much longer--which is the reason it extended the war to the Western colonies in the first place. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that kind of desperate gamble is not something one does when one is confident in victory.
Well, they had conquered the vast majority of China's industry and population, ergo its most important economic areas. Conventionally, the Chinese were unable to expulse them and partisan warfare in the rear areas was unable to lessen Japanese control nor seriously hinder their ability to exploit the Chinese territories. In such a case where the Japanese control is not in danger of collapsing, is it really a quagmire? The Chinese hadn't surrendered, of course, but in objective terms the situation was being managed effectively from a security perspective.

Well, if one compares these figures to, say, those provided by Mark Harrison in The Economics of World War II (page 230), one notices that Japanese steel production at its wartime maximum in 1943 wasn't 8.8 but 6.2 million tons.
Mainland Japanese production, yes. The chart also includes Korea and Manchuria, which takes total production up to 7 million tons; I'd imagine the discrepancy is from not including occupied China-totals as part of the Japanese figures.
 
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