That's why i don't think looking for an auto-victory is the right way to attend to this game in a Pbem match.
A match must be fun for both players and, for the allies, the real fun arrives from 1943 on. So any japanese player should, as he starts playing a pbem match, ask himself: "Am i ready to fight when things will become blue?"
And to do that, imho, the Jap player should never look for auto victory: the goal should always be to estabilish a defensive perimeter that allows you to last as long as possible. So even the offensive adventures of 1942 should be only seen as a way to fortify your defences, nothing more.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (you young guys look it up ) I will trot out once again:
The Allied player MUST win an auto-vic. Under the game design there is no other way for him to win. The Japanese player must only survive to achieve at least a draw. The Allied player must win, not just not-lose.
From the Japanese side then there are multiple ways to proceed. He can try for an auto-vic himself after 1/1/1943. Or he can play for a draw. Or he can play to win by not losing. This presupposes, however, that the Japanese player does not adopt this somewhat bizarre notion that they "are not playing for VPs." Which I believe John has announced. If Japan is "playing for the experience" many Japanese players will quit when the "experience" of blowing things up and breaking things becomes less intense. OTOH, if they are playing to win THE GAME this transition period is immaterial. When Japan transitions to defense the game experience changes, but it is still challenging, and above all, if one is true to the game design, it is still very possible to win the game.
IMO, any Allied player seeking a PBEM partner should well understand the exact position of his opponent on the GAME, not the war. As well as the Japanese player's position on whether Japanese auto-vic is "easier" to try than a traditional Japanese game winning strategy of survival.
There is one other hope .. the Allies use more than 2 A-bombs .. Automatic victory for the IJ ..
That rule itself is . . . bizarre!
After Cup of Coffee #2 I realized I dissed Greyjoy and his valid point. While I disagree that a Japanese player should never go for auto-vic--it's there, it's a valid strategy which can make for an exciting game--I would note that the key is for the Japanese player to not quit if it fails to work. The true measure of a masterful Japanese player would be one who "went for auto-vic", failed, and then backed into defense, played to not-lose under the design, and won the game after all.
To my knowledge that has never been done in an AARed game.