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Japan, great military power or regional power?

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Post 23 Apr 2012, 21:06
As in every piece of information that I've ever read or watched about Japan during WWII it seems as if they were portrayed as sort of an Asian Germany. Seeing as there were no real military powers in Asia and the Pacific, besides the Soviets and Americans, I wonder in actuality how powerful their military really was.

Would they be capable of say, invading Australia or India? How would they fare up to the British, French, or Germans had Japan been in Europe? (hypothetically)
Post 26 Apr 2012, 03:18
Soviet192491 wrote:
As in every piece of information that I've ever read or watched about Japan during WWII it seems as if they were portrayed as sort of an Asian Germany. Seeing as there were no real military powers in Asia and the Pacific, besides the Soviets and Americans, I wonder in actuality how powerful their military really was.



I think the Japanese get overrated quite significantly. While they did fight the war, more or less on a shoestring budget, whenever they faced serious, prepared opposition they fared very poorly.

I am hard pressed off the top of my head, to find many japanese victories that were not surprise attacks, attacks on isolated garrisons or similar.

Quote:
Would they be capable of say, invading Australia or India? How would they fare up to the British, French, or Germans had Japan been in Europe? (hypothetically)


Australia is a huge landmass to occupy, in very unpleasant terrain and with fairly limited means of transportation. Add to this the US and royal navies sinking your supply ships, and the fact that a Sherman is to a japanese tank what the Tiger was to Shermans in Europe.
Post 26 Apr 2012, 05:32
Also, Japan's "hold" of China was nowhere nearly as complete as Germany's hold over Central and parts of Eastern Europe. I remember watching the US "Why We Fight" newsreels which illustrated that point very clearly.

It was natural to label Japan an Asian Germany based on the similar economic and political structures, notwithstanding the emperor; rigid hierarchical societies with a large, intrusive government in bed with influential large businesses (zaibatsus, in this case), an appetite for empire among its neighbors, whose inhabitants were deemed as inferiors. The only thing though was that the industrial production centers of Japan's enemies were far from Japan, whereas most of them were close enough to Germany for the Germans to do substantial damage.
Post 18 Nov 2012, 22:13
The war between Japan and China was indeed going on throughout the rest of WWII; the Japanese never managed to bring China to its knees. Part of the reason for the Pearl Harbor attack was that Japan needed more resources to prosecute the war with China (there was a US oil embargo against them, based on the occupation of Indochina and war on China), and that they were convinced that the US would intervene if they attacked the European powers in the Pacific. Hence the need to weaken the US Navy in a surprise attack as much as possible.

To label Japan as just a "regional power" would be taking things a bit too far, but they were "Asia's Germany" in one sense: they could never hope to defeat all their potential enemies in a prolonged war in terms of pure logistical and economic power. That's why they both tried to go straight for the jugular with audacious offensives like the invasion of France or the attack on Pearl Harbor. Anything else would have made any expansionist ambitions impossible.

So Japan was certainly not as much of a "great power" as they are sometimes mentioned to be. Just consider the fact that they never really had any possible avenues for attacking Australia or North America, just like how the Germans had no realistic possibility of landing in England. Japan certainly wanted to become the sole overlords of Asia, with the establishment of puppet governments, but that obviously didn't last long.
Post 20 Nov 2012, 01:45
They could influence events outside Asia and even into Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Post 09 Jan 2013, 13:11
I think in the situation of 1920s-1940s Asia, Japan was a great power, probably the greatest military power in Asia at that moment. But on a worldwide scale they couldn't compete with the US and the UK, or with the USSR after the military modernization it underwent. In the 1930s, however, Japan was a significant threat for the Soviets, not to be underestimated. The espionage activities of Soviet spies in Japan in the early 1940s was of massive importance because the USSR found out that Japan had no intention of attacking the USSR, which allowed Siberian troops to be used in European Russia.
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