I'm a novice with regards to the Japanese economy, but with the aid of WitPTracker, I was able to bring John 3rd's economy from the brink. I'm using this same wondeful utiliity to play Japan for the first time in a PBEM using Nemo's Empire Ablaze. Which, IMO, has so many choices that you can hang yourself with poor decision making in regards to multiple areas of the economy.
Thus, my first rule is to shut down all r&d factories that are over 6 months out to start. There is a discussion on John's AAR about them not using supplies, but I rather be safe than sorry. All repairs take 1000 supply per damaged/disabled factory. So, a A6M2 Zero factory at say Gumma with (50)x 5 will cost 50,000 supply over 50 days to repair. If there are more factories being repaired - other Airframes, Armament, Vehicles, Engines, and HI, then this one base could eat up 2k to 4k per turn ( or more) and the base doesn't have enough generated to pay for it. Thus, it will probably try to get it from Tokyo every third day when the AI moves "stuff" around.
If your going to expand HI, I would look for bases that have less than 30 HI at game start. As a novice, I opened up my game/mod and made a list of each base in Japan that was able to expand HI, naval, merchant, armament, vehicles, how many airframes needed to have repairs (current and r&d), and engines. Then, go through each base and expand what can from existing to max (right them down). That way you have a list/resource of knowing what can be done where as the game progresses. Most of the low HI values are in the north at start.
WitPTracker helps me to track things daily (i.e. - which bases are below the magical 10k to facilitate repairs), the number of days I have in reserve Oil and Resources per region along with other useful things to keep an eye on. I don't think I would jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool (Empire's Ablaze) with only one swimming lesson (John's game) without it.
< Message edited by ny59giants -- 6/9/2008 9:34:49 PM >