4.1.5. The Situation in China
when Japan declares war on countries in South East Asia and the South Pacific, this action will bring her into direct conflict with both the UK and USA. Here there is a major difference to the situation facing Germany, as the Germans are able to invade more neutrals in Europe before provoking the USA and USSR into war. Thus the Japanese must plan wisely, so that when the time for war with the UK and USA comes, as it undoubtedly will,
Minus a DIRECT attack on the USA (like pearl harbor or the Philippines), how likely is it that the USA would of declared war on Japan... Could JP have attacked allied forces in New Caledonia without provoking a DOW? Could JP of negotiated that island from the French earlier on?
I guess what I'm asking is, "what would of it taken for the US to declare war on JP" and would this 'lack of hostilities' given JP the time and opportunity to concentrate on Britain and her Allies.
This is another of the great ‘what-ifs’ of WWII. My view on this (and I accept I am probably in the minority) is that the US would have declared war on Japan – possibly as early as April 1942 – as soon as the NEI is taken. The reason I believe this, is a simple look at the situation facing Roosevelt at that time – let’s say 1st April 1942.
1. Germany has taken a bit of a hit in the Soviet Union over the winter, but it’s not known how bad that is. It is still expected that the Germans would resume the offensive in the Spring/Summer of 1942 and the smart money is on Germany.
2. The British have been kicked off continent of Europe and the French taken out of the war. Vichy is neutral but there are elements within Vichy that are prepared to deal with the Germans.
3. In North Africa the Germans are established and, although suffering their first defeat to the British during Crusader at the end of the previous year, have recovered and are heading east once more.
4. In the Far East the British have lost Malaya/Singapore/Burma. Note: Because in this scenario the Japanese have ignored the US it is possible they have made moves into the Indian Ocean – Ceylon – or have headed into the southwest Pacific earlier that in real life and are looking to seal off Australia.
You mention New Caledonia and the Japanese moving into this island earlier – but my understanding was that this island was loyal to DeGaulle and, given the distance involved, it’s difficult to imagine the Japanese trying to force the issue militarily while not at war with anyone but China.
5. Perhaps more importantly the NEI has fallen to the Japanese and so Roosevelt’s oil embargo to halt the Japanese war machine has seemingly failed.
So let’s be honest, if you are President Roosevelt, the world outside of the North American continent is a bit of a mess and Axis victories in 1942 in the USSR, in Egypt (and beyond) and further advances in the Pacific/Indian Oceans and China can be expected – indeed if we move forward three months, the situation in the USSR and Egypt starts to look very worrying (and we don’t know what may have been happening in the Indian Ocean/southwest Pacific).
Of course we know the limitations of the Japanese military and we know what happened at Stalingrad in late 1942/early 1943, and at also at El Alamein, but Roosevelt doesn’t have this luxury.
Just as intriguing is the question – what would happen if the US stayed out of the war (but with the caveat that she concentrated as the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’)?
I suspect that the end in the Soviet Union would have been little different – it may have taken a little longer but ultimately the German Army was broken by the Red Army. Meanwhile, without Torch, the British would have ultimately kicked the Germans out of Africa but the timescale would have been significantly longer, allowing Italy to remain in the war. The concern for the US in Europe/North Africa was not therefore one of German victory – it was more a case of where would the Red Army end up without any British presence on the continent? The Atlantic coast? The Mediterranean?
The war against Japan is more intriguing. In the Far East, the limitations of the Japanese military makes a Japanese invasion of Australia, much less India, problematic for them. But I don’t think its fantasy to suggest that if the Japanese did concentrate in the Indian Ocean and target Ceylon and Bengal (from Burma) that the Indians may have risen up against the British? It’s possible. As a counter to that of course, if the US aren’t joining in the shooting war, the British can’t invade Europe and that means more British troops available for both the Western Desert and the defence of India – but as a further counter, the Australian and New Zealand Governments are unlikely to be agreeing to any of their troops remaining in Egypt. But the Royal Navy did not have the resources (specifically carriers) to counter the Imperial Japanese Navy (no Midway remember) in the Indian Ocean. If the Japanese took Ceylon and created a base from which to disrupt convoys in the Indian Ocean that would severely impact the British ability to deploy in India and send and receive resources/supplies to Australia and New Zealand. Then there is the question of the USSR. With the US out of the picture, and fresh from defeat of the Germans in Europe, would Stalin still attack Japan?
To my mind, and Japan aside, whoever looks like winning in Europe (and remember this is potentially all of Europe) whether Fascist Germany or Communist USSR, the Americans are not going to be comfortable. I can’t see the US being able to stay out of WWII one way or another.
England expects that every man will do his duty. Horatio Nelson October 1805