Japan decides upon the IJA “strike north” plan instead of IJN’s “strike south”

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Admiral Beez

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Oct 21, 2019
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Instead of the IJN's striking south to get the DEI, the Japanese government decides on the IJA's Strike-North Faction - Citizendium Of course Hitler would be delighted, Hitler Would Rejoice: What If Imperial Japan Invaded World War II Russia?

This being an aviation forum, how are the IJA and IJN air services impacted? With no move on the DEI, what does Japan do for fuel oil? Do Britain or the US declare war on Japan? If not, what is the IJN's Kido Butai doing throughout 1941-43? They can't afford to run a huge fleet of carriers and hundreds of carrier aircraft without purpose - will some carriers be put into reserve?

How is Barbarossa impacted?
 
Fuel comes from the USA, the Dutch East Indies, and from Russia. None of this goes to Japan.
Indeed. Presumably the IJ Army had a plan to keep the military and economy fueled and fed. Otherwise there's no point in seizing Russia's eastern barren wastelands.
Hokushin-ron was largely supported by the Imperial Japanese Army. General Kenkichi Ueda was a strong believer in the Hokushin-ron policy since he believed that Japan's main enemy was communism and that Japan's destiny lay in conquest of the natural resources of the sparely-populated Northern Asian mainland. Northward expansion (Hokushin-ron) would gain the natural resources of Siberia by attacking the Soviet Union via Manchuria.
Sakhalin Island has the most important oil reserves in the Russian Far East. In 1936, the Ohka oil wells extracted about 470,000 tonnes; one-third were obtained for Japanese concessionaires. In the Emba River area about 466,000 tonnes were extracted from about 20 pits of a total of 300 yaciments in 1937.

Japan decides to steel the lot.
 
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Indeed. Presumably the IJ Army had a plan to keep the military and economy fueled and fed. Otherwise there's no point in seizing Russia's eastern barren wastelands.
Hokushin-ron was largely supported by the Imperial Japanese Army. General Kenkichi Ueda was a strong believer in the Hokushin-ron policy since he believed that Japan's main enemy was communism and that Japan's destiny lay in conquest of the natural resources of the sparely-populated Northern Asian mainland. Northward expansion (Hokushin-ron) would gain the natural resources of Siberia by attacking the Soviet Union via Manchuria.
Sakhalin Island has the most important oil reserves in the Russian Far East. In 1936, the Ohka oil wells extracted about 470,000 tonnes; one-third were obtained for Japanese concessionaires. In the Emba River area about 466,000 tonnes were extracted from about 20 pits of a total of 300 yaciments in 1937.

Japan decides to steel the lot.
First geography.

The Emba River basin is in what is today west Kazakhstan in Central Asia. The river itself flows into the Caspian Sea. It is an awful long way even from Japanese occupied Manchuria and southern regions of Mongolia. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Sakhalin is an easier proposition since Japan occupied the southern part of the island between 1905 and 1945.

But it is not just getting oil. It is about getting enough oil to meet Japan's needs both military and civilian.

Very roughly there are about 6.42 barrels of oil per ton of oil. So 470,000 + 466,000 = 936,000 tons = appox 6.0 million barrels per year.

The Japanese produced 3 studies of their oil position between June and Dec 1941 for the first 3 years of the war. These took account of both their own domestic production (which they anticipated expanding but would still only have reached about 4.5 million barrels by 1944) and consumption by the IJA/IJN/civilians. The estimated consumption figures to Sept each year are as follows:-

1941/42: 33 - 38 million barrels
1942/43: 31 - 35 million barrels
1943/44: 30 - 35 million barrels

IJN consumption formed about 50% of that consumption. 1941/42 was higher as they were assuming the "decisive battle" with the USN would occur. And even then some of the later estimates did not include all consumption. Even with the reserves they had in 1941 the conclusion was that with the ongoing US/British/Dutch embargo they would be out of oil in about two years.

So any oil from those two Russian sources hardly makes a dent in the Japanese oil problem. Even if you park up the entire Japanese navy, you don't solve the oil problem, merely prolong the agony unless something drastic happens politically, like a Soviet collapse giving access to oil in the Caucasus, but Germany also wants that.

So logically, the only possible sources with enough oil to satisfy Japan's consumption needs were the USA and the DEI. Looked at in those terms even the IJA had to come to the realisation of which direction needed to go.

I've posted this before but it is worthwhile posting it again.
 
Even if the Japanese collaborated with the Germans to knock the USSR out of the war in 1941, they're still going to have to head south anyway if the oil embargo is a fact. I don't see any change in America's attitude if the Japanese strike into USSR rather than SEA. Oil still embargoed, no other Western trade as well, Japan's economy is still hamstrung, and they still must go south, only with a big troop/logistics commitment to the north on top of it all, and still they need to deal with the possibility of US intervention.

IJA's outlook was flawed by these points no matter what. Japan won't get the oil, rubber, and manganese or bauxite it needed in Siberia, not at that time when in that area resource extraction was so underdeveloped -- and rubber nonexistent there.
 
The US impose oil embargo on Japan and Japan decides the north attack? This is not only historical but theoretical contradiction as Japan has to go south immediately.
The US should be neutral at least if the what-if of this thread can be realized.
Japanese were idiots but were not so stupid as you may imagine :)
 
I think we've covered off the reasons why the northern attack wouldn't, couldn't or shouldn't have occurred. Let's now consider the impact on the IJ Air Force and naval air service had Japan gone ahead with the IJA's strike north move regardless.
 
The Tripartite Pact was signed on 13 September 1940, the US soon had a copy (it was written in English) and knew about the clauses about what was supposed to happen if the US entered the war in Europe. There was another signing ceremony in April 1941 when the Japanese Foreign Minister was in Berlin. Also in September 1940 the US imposed an embargo on scrap metal to Japan.

The Japanese Soviet Non Aggression Pact was signed on 13 April 1941.

22 June 1941 Barbarossa, no warning to Japan.

Great Battles on the Eastern Front by T.N. Dupuy and Paul Martell. The chapter on the Soviet Campaign in Manchuria. Strength in the Far East is put at 23 rifle, 1 cavalry, 8 tank and 13 air divisions on 22 June 1941. On 1 December 1941 that had changed to 24 rifle, 2 cavalry, 4 tank and 23 air divisions. On 1 July 1942 it was 29 Infantry, 3 Cavalry, 2 tank and 10 air divisions. During this time period (22 June 1941 to 1 July 1942) an additional 17 infantry and 19 tank brigades were added. Personnel is put at 704,000 on 22 June 1941, to 1,343,000 in December 1941 peaking at 1,450,000 in July 1942 and thereafter kept at around 1,100,000 to 1,200,000 until May 1945. Never less than 2,000 tanks and 3,000 combat aircraft. For the August 1945 offensive the Soviets transferred an additional 400,000 troops and 2,100 tanks, to join the troops already present.

The Japanese army was 51 divisions in 1941, rising to around 130 in 1945. Disposition in 1941, divisions, 5 in Japan, 2 in Korea, 13 in Manchuria, 10 in North China, 11 in Central China, 4 in South China, 2 in French Indo-China, 2 in Formosa and Okinawa, 1 in Hainan Island, there were 22 independent brigades. To match the Red Army divisional count the IJA would need Japan + Korea + Manchuria + North China

In early 1941 the Dutch were already wary about trading with Japan, believing correctly some items were on shipped to Germany. It does not seem likely any country fighting Germany would continue trading with Japan if Japan joined Germany attacking the USSR. A similar US policy would follow, the USSR was declared eligible for Lend-Lease in November 1941 and was given a loan before this.

The go north policy would give Japan a severe timetable to achieve a win or a two front war.

The 2 July 1941 Imperial conference "for the sake of her self sufficiency and self defence Japan shall continue necessary diplomatic negotiations with the nations concerned..... In order to achieve these purposes Japan shall not decline war with Britain and the United States" It includes a statement Japan will act in accordance with the Tripartite Pact if the US enters the war.

23 July the occupation of the remainder of French Indo China began, this gave control over the rice and rubber production there, useful items if Japan wanted to mobilise more personnel.

25 July Japanese assets were frozen in the UK and USA, on the 28th also in the Netherlands East Indies.
 
The go north policy would give Japan a severe timetable to achieve a win or a two front war.
Same goes for the go south policy. The Japanese seized the DEI oil fields as they intended, but they had no plan on how to refine and get the oil to where it was needed, proving unable to do either even before the USN submarines began sinking all the oil tankers. But we're going to get bogged down in the feasibility discussion.

What does the IJN do if the go north policy is launched? What are the priorities, such as taking all of Sakhalin? The Kido Butai can't just swing at its anchor.
 
Same goes for the go south policy. The Japanese seized the DEI oil fields as they intended, but they had no plan on how to refine and get the oil to where it was needed, proving unable to do either even before the USN submarines began sinking all the oil tankers. But we're going to get bogged down in the feasibility discussion.
We have been over this before. Japan did have a plan. They did implement it (despite the loss of some of the oil field personnel on the Taiyo Maru in May 1942 which casused some delay). And most of the DEI refineries were brought back on line. And it was late 1943 before Allied policy was changed to focus on Japanese tanker traffic. In 1942 they actually managed to increase the size of their tanker fleet.

I strongly recommend once again that you take the time to read the article I've posted before.

From p22:-

"Also, the facts show that the Imperial Japanese Navy based many of its units in the Indies to be close to fuel
sources there, and supplied forward bases directly from its Indies oil resources. 29 And the
Japanese made important decisions – such as sending their oil workers to the Indies at the price
of neglecting their own oil industry – in the clear belief that the Indies would yield substantial
oil.30 All this supports the idea that Japan was largely successful in exploiting the Indies' oil
29 Oil Report, 50.
30 Oil Report, 57-9.

wealth. Finally, if there was overstating, I would expect it to be found more in refining results
than in crude pumped. The evidence shows that the Japanese made a relatively straightforward
job of getting the Indies oil wells producing again. They struggled more to get the refineries
back into operation.31
31 Oil Report, 45-50."



And from p48:-

"Restarting the refineries proved a tougher task. Of the five major refineries in the
Southern Zone, the largest Sumatran refinery was captured virtually intact and put into operation
within three months, two (including the IJN's refinery at Balikpapan) were operating by
September 1942, although at reduced capacities, one began limited production in January 1943,
and one was so thoroughly demolished that it was restored only in the waning months of the
Japanese occupation.91 Despite the problems, the four major Indies refineries reported
production of 14,468,000 barrels of the military oil refined products in fiscal year 1942, refining
almost 60% of the crude produced locally and converting about 94% of that crude into products
needed by the war machine. Even better, the Japanese were able to tweak the mix of products to
meet their wartime priorities. Before the war, 7% of the output of the Indies refineries had been
av gas and 28% had been fuel oil. In the first fiscal year of production under Japanese control,
reported av gas output was raised to 20% of the total and fuel oil to 47%.
91 Oil Report Appendix, 76"


The Oil Report referred to is that produced by the US Strategic Bombing Survey after the war ended.
 
I think we've covered off the reasons why the northern attack wouldn't, couldn't or shouldn't have occurred. Let's now consider the impact on the IJ Air Force and naval air service had Japan gone ahead with the IJA's strike north move regardless.
If IJA is going to help Hitler, they don't have to fight but deploy 700K troops along the Manchuria-Soviet border until Hitler wins like IJA attempted in July, 1941. Eastern Soviet territory will be given to Japan after that. If IJN wants to help, they can block the Maritime Province of Siberia.

Kantokuen - Kwantung Army Special Maneuvers
 
Since this is an ATL, and i like trying to imagine reasonable scenarios to get to such ATLs, i would suggest finding the manchurian oil in the 1930s, either Daqing or Liaohe, as a way to get to this strike north scenario. This way Japan has at least as much oil as OTL except from within it's territory, there's no immediate need to get the DEI oil and go to war with US/UK even if there is an embargo, hence striking north is much more plausible.
 
Since this is an ATL, and i like trying to imagine reasonable scenarios to get to such ATLs, i would suggest finding the manchurian oil in the 1930s, either Daqing or Liaohe, as a way to get to this strike north scenario. This way Japan has at least as much oil as OTL except from within it's territory, there's no immediate need to get the DEI oil and go to war with US/UK even if there is an embargo, hence striking north is much more plausible.
If only Japan knew they had oil within their own territory, plus that in Korea.
 
Since this is an ATL, and i like trying to imagine reasonable scenarios to get to such ATLs, i would suggest finding the manchurian oil in the 1930s, either Daqing or Liaohe, as a way to get to this strike north scenario. This way Japan has at least as much oil as OTL except from within it's territory, there's no immediate need to get the DEI oil and go to war with US/UK even if there is an embargo, hence striking north is much more plausible.
I agree... With Manchurian oil, and oil PURCHASED from DEI on a long-term basis (before things heated up), Japan would not have had to attack US/UK... But it still leaves it fighting a messy war in China with their militaristic, racist, imperialistic government still in power... Maybe the Pacific War "had" to happen for that ugly boil to be lanced... Hard to see a kinder, gentler Japan resulting from anything less than total defeat...
 
I agree... With Manchurian oil, and oil PURCHASED from DEI on a long-term basis (before things heated up), Japan would not have had to attack US/UK... But it still leaves it fighting a messy war in China with their militaristic, racist, imperialistic government still in power... Maybe the Pacific War "had" to happen for that ugly boil to be lanced... Hard to see a kinder, gentler Japan resulting from anything less than total defeat...
things had been going down hill since 1931 if not before. July 1937 really heated things up.
Sinking the USS Panay on Dec 12th 1937 didn't help things.

By the mid-1930s, the US had around 2,400 ground troops in China, with 528 Marines on station in Beijing, 785 Army troopers posted to Tientsin, and 1,100 Marines stationed at Shanghai. 4 In addition, units of the US Asiatic Fleet regularly visited Chinese ports, with Admiral Yarnell's flagship the Augusta (a heavy cruiser) anchored conspicuously at Shanghai's Battleship Row throughout the summer and fall of 1937. Lastly, the riverine gunboats of the US Yangtze Patrol provided a reassuring presence deep into the interior of China for the scattered American missionary outposts, schools, trading enclaves and businesses strung out along South China's major trade corridor, the Yangtze River.

Now we can argue about if the US was pissed that the Japanese were poaching America's "unofficial" colony or not but there is little doubt that the Japanese were much more brutal in their treatment of the Chinese. The League of Nations had shown that they were powerless to do anything about just about any countries aggression to any other nation.

As a side note some of the Marines at Guadalcanal were "old China Hands" as were some men in the Army 15th Infantry Regiment although the 15th was withdrawn after the Panay incident and was later used in Morocco and Europe. Audie Murphy severed with the 15th.
 
things had been going down hill since 1931 if not before. July 1937 really heated things up.
Sinking the USS Panay on Dec 12th 1937 didn't help things.

By the mid-1930s, the US had around 2,400 ground troops in China, with 528 Marines on station in Beijing, 785 Army troopers posted to Tientsin, and 1,100 Marines stationed at Shanghai. 4 In addition, units of the US Asiatic Fleet regularly visited Chinese ports, with Admiral Yarnell's flagship the Augusta (a heavy cruiser) anchored conspicuously at Shanghai's Battleship Row throughout the summer and fall of 1937. Lastly, the riverine gunboats of the US Yangtze Patrol provided a reassuring presence deep into the interior of China for the scattered American missionary outposts, schools, trading enclaves and businesses strung out along South China's major trade corridor, the Yangtze River.

Now we can argue about if the US was pissed that the Japanese were poaching America's "unofficial" colony or not but there is little doubt that the Japanese were much more brutal in their treatment of the Chinese. The League of Nations had shown that they were powerless to do anything about just about any countries aggression to any other nation.

As a side note some of the Marines at Guadalcanal were "old China Hands" as were some men in the Army 15th Infantry Regiment although the 15th was withdrawn after the Panay incident and was later used in Morocco and Europe. Audie Murphy severed with the 15th.
Sort of reminds me of the movie "The Sand Pebbles" although the Japanese were not in it yet.
 
the US Asiatic Fleet regularly visited Chinese ports, with Admiral Yarnell's flagship the Augusta (a heavy cruiser) anchored conspicuously at Shanghai's Battleship Row throughout the summer and fall of 1937.
USS Augusta (CA-31) was often present at historic events. Her China service would have been some of the most exciting foreign service in the interwar USN. Followed by FDR hosting Churchill aboard CA-31 for the Atlantic Conference in Newfoundland in April 1941. As an aside, Newfoundland was not yet part of Canada, and was a British colony until 1949. Then embarking General Patton for Operation Torch in Nov 1942, followed by hosting King George VI for lunch with Admiral Kirk. In Jan 1945, CA-31 again embarked President Roosevelt for the trip back to the US following the Yalta Conference. And then in July 1945, CA-31 again conveyed VIPs, in President Truman, Secretary of State Byrnes, and Fleet Admiral Leahy to the Potsdam Conference, where enroute General Eisenhower joined ship. Lastly, in Aug 1945, Truman hosted a repeat of KGVIs visit to the ship. If there was ever a USN presidential flagship it's CA-31.
 
First geography.

But it is not just getting oil. It is about getting enough oil to meet Japan's needs both military and civilian.

Very roughly there are about 6.42 barrels of oil per ton of oil. So 470,000 + 466,000 = 936,000 tons = appox 6.0 million barrels per year.

The Japanese produced 3 studies of their oil position between June and Dec 1941 for the first 3 years of the war. These took account of both their own domestic production (which they anticipated expanding but would still only have reached about 4.5 million barrels by 1944) and consumption by the IJA/IJN/civilians. The estimated consumption figures to Sept each year are as follows:-

1941/42: 33 - 38 million barrels
1942/43: 31 - 35 million barrels
1943/44: 30 - 35 million barrels

IJN consumption formed about 50% of that consumption. 1941/42 was higher as they were assuming the "decisive battle" with the USN would occur. And even then some of the later estimates did not include all consumption. Even with the reserves they had in 1941 the conclusion was that with the ongoing US/British/Dutch embargo they would be out of oil in about two years.

So any oil from those two Russian sources hardly makes a dent in the Japanese oil problem. Even if you park up the entire Japanese navy, you don't solve the oil problem, merely prolong the agony unless something drastic happens politically, like a Soviet collapse giving access to oil in the Caucasus, but Germany also wants that.
If Japan stops moving south further into China (and maybe even draws back a bit) in order to supply men, etc for the push into the USSR, the US may well loosen the embargo - especially if the IJN is also diverted from the southern areas to service the move northwest and mostly stays around the East China Sea/Yellow Sea/Sea of Japan/Okhotsk Sea.

Consumption would drop maybe 25%, and if we combine this with discovering the Manchurian fields, then Japan is pretty well set.
 

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