From: Eastern US
Well, OK. If the "kindler, gentler" Japanese simply must hold most of the Chinese economic centers at game-start, then how about this:
A BRIEF REVISIONIST HISTORY OF THE START OF THE "WAR OF RESISTANCE" AGAINST JAPAN
All through 1937 and 1938, Japan consolidates its hold in Manchuria, continues to support friendly warlords and collaborationists, and keeps political pressure on the KMT regime to advance Japan's China Autonomous Movement policy.
The first series of agreements banned the KMT from a political or military presence in the provinces ranged between Beijing and Manuchuria and Mongolia. Although the Japanese did not occupy these provinces, the political vacuum made it easy for them to establish friendly collaborationist regimes. In China, Chiang is willing to trade space for time, as his focus is on making the National Revolutionary Army a professional force, and his hope is to defeat the Communists before engaging Japan in open warfare.
However, in the aftermath of the Anti-Comintern Pact (Novemenber, 1936), the Japanese put increasing pressure on the German government to stop assisting the Chinese military reorganization. By early 1938, German equipment shipments had stopped, and its military advisors were withdrawn. By then, 20 divisions had been trained and equipped to German standards, and were led by officers from the Whampoa military academy who were (mostly) loyal to Chiang. As the Germans leave, Chiang turns to the Soviet Union for assistance. Stalin provides aid, despite Chiang's continued pogroms against the communists. Stalin's cold-blooded calculation is that Japan is less likely to attack the USSR if it is tied down in China, and he puts aside ideology to give material support to Chiang.
The KMT-Japanese agreements covering northern China are vague (what does a ban on 'political activity' mean?) and open for dispute. There are incidents, and guerillas organized against Japanese puppet administrators, but the Japanese do not seek to push into Beijing or beyond, and an uneasy truce prevails.
Late in 1938, the Japanese shift the focus of their political pressure to Southern China. Since a 1932 incident, China's military was barred from the Shanghai region. Throughout the 1930s Japan uses its economic and military presence to build a network of dependent local governments. In 1938, Tokyo seeks to extend its China Autonomous Movement to the Shanghai region, and force Chiang to make the same concessions there, as he had in the north. With much of his army engaged in a major campaign to crush the Communists in the north, Chiang agrees, although his policy of appeasing Japan is becoming increasingly unpopular throughout China.
The Japanese install Chiang's former KMT rival Wang Jingwei, as ruler of the Shanghai region. In early 1939, Wang declares his government to be the legitimate government of all of China. Wang is clearly backed by powerful Japanese industrial and military leaders in China, but his proclamation wrong-foots the Tokyo government, which does not immediately rein him in.
Both Wang and Chiang force Japan's hand. Chiang sees Wang as a direct threat to his control of China. Chiang makes a hasty truce with the Communists and sends the 19th Route Army, including two of his German-trained divisions, to confront Wang's collaborationist troops that are moving through Jiangsu province towards the Chinese capital at Nanking. At the Tai Hu incident of August 29th, 1939, the KMT's National Revolutionary Army crushes Wang's troops near Wusih, and follows them on the road to Shanghai. The road is blocked by Japanese marines, and open warfare between Japan and China soon ensues.
Chiang sends the bulk of his German-trained divisions to Shanghai. Initially unprepared for a full-out war, it takes the Japanese ninth months to break the siege of Shanghai; when they do, the flower of Chiang's National Revolutionary Army has been destroyed. The routed KMT troops fall back and try to rally at Nanking, but the city falls in September, 1940. The Japanese troops are less-disciplined than they might be; their 200,000 casualties since the war began include most of the best small-unit leaders. The troops are exhausted by the fighting, maddened by the vicious Chinese opposition, and exhilarated by the prospect that the fall of the Chinese capital will mean the end of the war. It is the perfect recipe for the "Rape of Nanking."
But Chiang does not surrender. He moves his seat of government inland, first to Wuhan, then, after repeated air and naval bombardments, to Chungking. He directs the transfer of Chinese industry to the Chungking area. China's resistance has thrilled and impressed the West. Even before the Germans invade Russia in 1941, Stalin has scaled down his support for Chiang. As the Russians step down, the Americans step up. While America remains isolationist, Roosevelt is concerned by the pace of the Japanese build-up, and interested in developing China as a friendly power. He supports the proposal for an "American Volunteer Group" in China. By November, 1941, the 1st and 2nd AVGs, equipped with early-model P-40 and A-20 aircraft originally destined for England, have arrived at air bases in China and their air crews are ready to enter the fight.
After the capture of Nanking, the Japanese government takes time to reconstitute and reinforce the army, and restore its discipline. The army refits and consolidates its hold throughout 1941. Elsewhere in China, the Japanese occupy the puppet territories of the north, and capture Beijing after a brief, brisk battle. The Navy is engaged with a blockade of China, and bringing troops to occupy Canton and the port cities. By November, 1941 Japan controls the entire coast except for Wenchow and Pakhoi, and the international enclaves at Hong Kong, Macao, and Kwangchowan. The main army, at Nanking, is refit, and preparing for a campaign against Wuhan.
This scenario gives Japan at-start control of:
All the Chinese coastal cities (+ Canton) that they normally have
The cities along the line Shanghai-Nanking, plus all adjacent cities
The northern cities along the line Tienstin-Peiping-Kalgow-Tatung-Kweisu-Paotow and everything to the (map) east
China gains control of:
The Wuhan area (Hanchow + Wuchang) and the surrounding inland cities (Ichang, Anking, Nanchang)
The northern inland area bounded by Sinyang, Suchow and Chengting
China's military strength ends up about the same as is stock AE. The better-trained army fights longer and harder, but is eventually chewed up as badly as IRL.
China should have more industry in Wuhan and Chungking -- in this scenario Chiang has a lot more time to evacuate factories inland.
. . . and China gets both AVG groups (P-40Bs, and A-20As) deployed in China at start. China should also get earlier reinforcements for its own air force.
According to your parameters methinks a more plausible (and interesting!) scenario is that the Japanese control Manchuria and Korea, as you describe, but the rest of China is controlled by the Chinese, and Chiang Kai-Shek has 20 high-quality German-trained divisions at the heart of his army. IRL, only 8 of these divisions had been trained before fighting broke out in 1937 -- and they were destroyed in the fighting around Shanghai, but it took the Japanese over three months to crush them.
. . . just a thought.
Not sure that would work in terms of the game parameters, Joel. Having Japan do invasion and amphib ops against China might break the shipping and troop availability model. Think Japan needs a foothold on the coastal areas of China before opening day. This gives them the shipyards and factories they need to keep the Econ model from breaking down, but also forces them to use that China Expeditionary Army for actual ops, rather than a cheap source of reinforcements.
The IJ Army coulda been slapped hard, but never totally suppressed. And Hakku Ichiu was endemic in the culture. And Japan really, really, really thought it had certain rights in China.
Maybe the 'Marco Polo Bridge' thing happened somewhere else or a bit later (put a pressure cooker on med and it will still explode after a longer time). Maybe they didn't whack Zhang Tso-Lin when they did, but poisoned the swine a year or two later, after Chiang Kai-shek got beligerent in Beijing and he did nothing. And then, for lack of anything better to do, they went after Peanut. So there's Beijing, and it's entirely plausible for Japan to go after the industrialized coast, even down to Canton.
Heck, that would be the political sharpie in the butt that would tick off the US China lobby and get things moving. People tend to learn how to live with slowly rising levels of crap. Today ain't that much worse from yesterday, so ... Ok, then rather than the slowly rising ramp of tension, Japan gets a longer time frame in which to develop infrastructure a bit more. Then, when the fewmets finally do hit the windmill, it has the same "prompt" impact on the West's bleeding heart's as Nanking.
Just trying to find a plausible scenario where Japan starts in roughly the same circumstances, but has a hiatus in which to develop industry and discover efficiencies.
Love to hear more from you on this as well. You can always find enough corn for a side dish in a big enough pile of Cavalry horse manure
[ed] redleg devil made me say that. Garry Owen, bro.
WitP-AE -- US LCU & AI Stuff
Oddball: Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?