The Circum-Pacific War or Pacific Rim War was a short but brutal conflict taking place from March 13th 1971 to July 17th 1971. Centered around the Pacific, the Japanese Empire sought to take on the United States and evict it from its last satellite state in the Pacific. It began following the end of the Vietnam War in which the United States and its WDP allies were forced to withdraw leaving the Philippines potentially open to the same kind of guerrilla-style conflict. While not the case, the Japanese attempted not only to encourage a popular uprising with its "Asia for Asiatics" motto, but employed a surgical strike to try and hit the US naval forces docked in Manila. The US air force was able to prevent the casualties and shortly after the attempted surprise attack, the United States and its WDP allies declared war on the Japanese Empire and the Greater East Asian Union. The Main participants on both sides were the United States of America, the Mexican Federation, and the Federal Republic of Brazil on the side of the WDP facing off against the Empire of Japan, The Chinese Federation, and the Republic of Vietnam.
While a generally short conflict, only three months in length, nearly 900,000 people died in the conflict and with nearly 1.7 million wounded, it was the deadliest official war since World War II. It ended the outwardly aggressive foreign policy Japan had pursued since 1948 in attempting to remove the imperial powers from Asia. Having been relatively successful in removing the final vestiges of French influences from Laos and Cambodia which had been unofficial colonies of France following the Second World War, as well as successfully starting a revolution in Indonesia which followed suit and joined the GEAU quickly following its independence. This evicted the British and Dutch from some of their most profitable colonies leaving only Malaya and Singapore in Asia as remaining colonies of the European powers. The consequences of the war fully came to realization with the nuking of Iwo Jima which saw the final battle of the war end in a decisive US victory.
Greater East Asian Union
Japan following its Meiji restoration underwent an extreme period of militarism from 1920 until 1937 with the Nanking massacre ending it. Emperor Hirohito, unable to stomach the path his Empire was taking, especially with the discovery and development of vital resources that the country previously needed. The Japanese empire underwent a relatively impressive transformation from an increasingly Militaristic society into one that was much more willing to consolidate its gains and develop along a more peaceful path. While this was the case, in the later years Hirohito was much more aggressive in including many Asian countries within the new Greater East Asian Union, a new economic bloc developing to fight off the West, the Soviets, and most importantly the United States.
This not only led to a successful and aggressive campaign to evict most of the colonial powers from Asia, but led to the Reorganized Chinese government from truly reforming into a sovereign nation known as the Chinese Federation which championed the Idea specifically in terms of remaining separate from the now communist Peoples Republic of China. The Japanese quickly saw the inclusion of Indonesia, The Chinese Federation, the Republic of Vietnam (which did not officially join until the end of the Vietnam War) and maintained a close trade link with the newly independent Republic of India.
A Wanted Market
A major motivation for the US for the intervening periods from the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Circum-Pacific War was the US being able to gain access to spread its influence into the Japanese market now one of the most powerful in the world. Following the Second Sino-Japanese war the Japanese economy had undergone a massive advance economically with its automotive, industrial, technological, and nearly every other industry a quality rival for the United States which did have some sort of attraction for American buyers and investors. The reverse was also true with Japanese entrepreneurs wanting Access to the absolutely massive American market and industries. Both parties economists predicted (correctly as the post war shows) that a mutual agreement between both countries would skyrocket the two countries well beyond their current states. This was especially attractive to the GEAU members as they were unable to gain the entirety of the investment needed from Japan itself to satisfy the development of their countries.
On the other hand the government of Japan still operating under the assumption of "Removing the West" from Asia refused to allow any and all American access to its markets which, of course, led to the US doing much of the same. While Japan had made great strides over the intervening period in playing industrial catch up becoming industrially tied with the United Commonwealth and both sitting just behind the Soviet Union, and then the United States. Japan,, however, was unable to truly harness the entirety of their industry the way the US had requiring an inordinate amount of it to maintain the high developmental quality in Manchukuo, now a direct set of Japanese provinces with significant Japanese population. This was much to the chagrin of the GEAU members which were doing their best to modernize and industrialize as well but were unable to gain the required materials needed from Japan to fulfill their needs even though they were providing the needed resources for the Japanese.
Looking in hindsight after the war, the Japanese Loss quite easily saved the empire and the GEAU. The loss humbled the emperor who had abandoned racial supremacy decades earlier only to trade it out for economic supremacy which was harming the unity of the Bloc. It can be seen that if the Japanese had in fact kicked the United States garrisons out of the Philippines, then the relatively industrialized and modernized Philippines would have served as the tertiary developer to the bloc giving Japan everything they needed to save the organization. Instead they lost quite a bit of prestige and were on the verge of invasion by the Moscow pact by the end, but had gained temporary American protection as well as a surprisingly profitable trade agreement between the US and its WDP and the GEAU.
Along side many of the other inherent issues which had developed in the Pacific the end of the Vietnam War had left the United States flying home with a black eye and a hurt pride. It had lost the country it had attempted to make like a second Philippines which was a commonwealth and a steadfast American ally. This did not happen and from 1950 (officially 1955 in the US) to 1970 the United States gradually had to ramp up its involvement in Vietnam until it had nearly 900,000 troops in the small Asian state. While not well known to the general public the US intelligence agencies recognized that Ho Chi Minh, a Vietnamese nationalist was being bankrolled by the Japanese but was unable to prevent shipments. With massive conflict happening all over the country, the shipping in of equipment was becoming more and more of an issue as the US was entirely unable to uncover how it was being smuggled in. This was ironically through the Peoples Republic of China which hoped to play both nations against each other and come in last minute to take Vietnam into the Moscow Pact.
Remaining the longest war in US history the US failed to pacify Vietnam and was forced to leave in 1971 leaving behind thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of broken wounded men, and any attempts to increase their influence by forming a defence pact in Asia. Shortly after the Vietnam war, just before the beginning of the Circum-Pacific War, the newly founded and independent Republic of Vietnam voted to join the GEAU and much to the criticism of the United States. This was the final nail in the coffin which brought back some sort of public support for addressing the issue to the Japanese in some way. Shortly there after in March the attack by the Japanese prompted the US public opinion still at an all time high to handle the Japanese to fight the Japanese and break them. While the entirety of this attitude did not prevail through the war due to its unexpected ferocity, the US was able to maintain at least gaining something from the war.
United States and its Allies
According to the US state department and multiple correspondents in the Philippines during the outset of the war, its said that nearly 150,000 US troops, and a combined troop count of 300,000 troops from Brazil and Mexico were all in the Philippines at the opening of the war. All of these troops were well equipped and under arms, having been very recently engaged in the Vietnam War, having not returned home yet. The US navy was the largest force in the area with three carriers in the area, the Kitty Hawk, Enterprise, and the John F. Kennedy. These ships were accompanied by roughly 30 destroyers, seven light/heavy cruisers, various submarines (direct count is classified), and multiple frigates. The modernized Battleship Missouri was in the area as well accompanied by two heavy cruisers seven destroyers, three frigates, and two attack submarines. These fleets were all in the process of being redistributed around the Pacific for different deployments.
The Brazilian and Mexican forces were under the process of bringing in their own fleets mostly transports and their escorts to transport the remainder of their ships home with the Mexican Carrier group Iturbide under best possible speed to Manila. The Brazilian battle group Saõ Paulo was also under way with the carriers Saõ Paulo and Recifé on route with multiple escorts.
By the initial Japanese attack in March of 1971 was planned as a quick and overwhelming strike on the Philippines designed to overwhelm and take out the majority of the Philippine commonwealths forces in the first 12 hours. This was relatively unsuccessful as the Japanese high command failed to take into account that the US and its allies had not brought all its troops back. This put the Japanese fully up against 200,000 Filipino troops, and a combined force of 450,000 US and other WDP forces.
Empire of Japan and its Allies
The Empire of Japan at the time of the conflict had nearly 2.6 million troops under arms with the vast majority being deployed to its Manchukuo frontier territories as a deterrent to the Soviets and Peoples Republic of China. this left roughly 600,000 troops for use in the Pacific as needed, acting as a mobile defensive force for the Empire to be used along side the Japanese amphibious troops. Also at their disposal were some Vietnamese Regulars numbering 50,000, Indonesian naval units as well as roughly 100,000 initial units offered to help in the attack, and 50,000 soldiers from the Chinese federations crack Federal Guard divisions. The Japanese however had access to nearly 70% of its fleet for the operations deferring duties to its Indonesian allies as needed trusting more in the more modern and well trained Japanese naval units.
In March of 1971 the Japanese had six carriers 47 destroyers, three battleships, two battle cruisers, four light cruisers, 13 frigates, and multiple submarines all ready to engage at a moments notice as a grand battle fleet. However the initial attack was to be a naval aviation operation supporting the marines and Japanese commando units which would secure the port of Manila and allow the troops to unload much more easily. The total amount of Japanese troops which eventually served in the war was nearly one million due to the ferocity of the conflicts which spread across the Pacific shortly after the wars beginning. All of the Japanese allies saw their troops expand except Vietnam which saw a quick and brutal second American Occupation for nearly the entire final month of the war before it ended leaving the Vietnamese free again.
Invasion of Manila
The Invasion of Manila started on 13 March 1971. It remains a misnomer as Manila was only one of the northern locations which was invaded but just the most prominent. The Japanese forces inserted marine forces all across the northern Philippine islands and also embarked on a dual airborne/amphibious invasion of Manila proper. This was met with unexpected and absolutely fierce resistance. Of the 20,000 Japanese marines which landed in Manila alone, by the end of the day barely numbered 5000 having secured only a narrow strip of coastal territory and were under extreme pressure from US and Filipino forces. In the North of the 30,000 Marines expected to land, the Japanese and Chinese forces had nearly 12,000 by the end of the day meeting ferocious resistance from Filipino, Mexican and Brazilian forces and were essentially surrounded. The commanding officer of the Northern invasion force shot himself over his embarrassment and to prevent his imminent capture.
The Japanese having already committed significant resources to the operation were forced to embark on a risky move to evacuate its forces from Manila. With its northern forces having recently surrendered the Japanese daringly brought their fleet close into the islands. The US fleet in particular was caught off guard and one of the first ship to ship engagements since the Second World War had begun. The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the opening naval engagement of the war seeing seven major actions, and leading to thousands of casualties on either side. Coinciding with an attempt by the Japanese fleet to evacuate its amphibious forces from Manila, only 3000 of the Japanese forces were able to be evacuated. The Battle of Leyte gulf saw three fleet actions near Manila, two off the coast of Mindanao, and three more off the coast of Luzon. The massive grouping of naval battles saw the USS Kitty Hawk destroyed, the MSS Mexican Carrier Iturbide destroyed, and the USS John F. Kennedy was disabled. The Japanese lost two of its own carriers the IJN Soryu and IJN Akaga as well as as the IJN battleship Hirohito in the process. Both sides lost multiple other ships in the process leveling the local fleets in the span of the six-day naval engagement. By March 19th the Japanese and US/Allied both were reduced in strength by 68% and 65% respectively. The Japanese had failed in their attempt to quickly seize the Philippines and had lost its strategic surprise.
Operation Sundered Heart
Following the failed attack on the Philippines, the US officially declared war on the Empire of Japan and its involved allies organizing a counter attack relatively quickly. This culminated in Operation Sundered Heart the deployment of multiple airborne and marine divisions for a large counter attack aimed at invading the Japanese province of Formosa (Taiwan). With the loss of the MSS Iturbide as well as the multiple Brazilian warships, this became their operations as well providing naval cover for the operations while the US Pacific fleet reinforced the US 7th and 9th fleets which had taken the brunt of the casualties at Leyte Gulf. This was unexpected but the Brazilian Carriers Recifé and Saõ Paulo were assigned to running combat air support for the mission. These ships were reinforced by the US battleship Missouri, multiple US and Mexican destroyers, and the Brazilian battleship BNS Minas Gerais rebuilt to modern standards.
The US Airborne Divisions accompanied by marine divisions as well prepared for the attack with the operation to be launched on April 1st. The weather conditions were unexpectedly perfect for the operation, and no large scale land conflict had occurred since the Manila invasion, just some aerial conflicts and naval skirmishes as both sides licked their wounds and prepared for the next engagement. The operation began early in the morning. At 0100 on April 1st the invasion began. the 65,000 strong American force hit Formosa with a massive assault. The bombardment was perpetrated by every ship by the Sundered Heart battle group as well as its combat air group which engaged in a massive air battle over Formosa which was aptly supported by the US Air Force shortly thereafter which escorted the third wave of Airborne forces. The Marines hit at dawn which occurred rat 0645 that morning. nearly 30,000 marines hit the beaches in Formosa at Kenting Beach. The Marines suffered an appalling 7000 casualties in the first two days, but by the end of the first week of the invasion of Formosa the Japanese had been pushed out of the southern tip of the island and multiple southern towns and cities had been seized which secured port access and airports for more supplies and locations for the US air force to use to establish a local air presence on the island.
By the end of the operation on April 14th, the US and its Brazilian allies had begun shipping in nearly 300,000 troops and entrenched themselves along the southern parts of the island establishing a strong beach head with which to take the entirety of the island. Resistance however turned into a grinding, and brutal stalemate. By late April Formosa had become the major battleground with tens of thousands of casualties every day. By the end of the war the majority of the casualties had occurred in Formosa on both sides.
Conduct of the War
Following the invasion of Formosa, the Japanese had been effectively cut off from half of its allies which caused a relatively short and relatively bloodless occupation of Vietnam. With many of the occupying US forces having been there just months earlier, the US re-established control relatively quickly, knowing the territory, and seizing multiple cities in short order. The Vietnamese Army having just negotiated a peace treaty with the US offered to nominally withdraw from the conflict not wishing to rekindle a war that had just ended. The US commander of the Occupation force accepted quickly with Vietnam carrying on its with its business as it rebuilt from the previous war.
The US forces also quietly and quickly occupied multiple Indonesian islands occupying many of its smaller islands and issuing naval patrols as it sealed Indonesia, and the smaller Japanese islands such as Singapore and Malaya off from Japan. The US however had difficulty moving further north than Manila having lost Guam shortly following the initial invasion of Formosa forcing US naval fleets and supply convoys to make very awkward and out of the way paths to the Philippines.
The Battle of the Pacific
The US and Brazil having the majority of the Carriers of the Western Defense Pact engaged Japanese and Chinese Federation naval patrols all over the Pacific culminating in what is known mostly as the Battle of the Pacific. The Pacific became a battleground with many island campaigns being taken as the Japanese seized Guam, Wake island, and embarked on a failed invasion of Midway. The US navy suffered a decisive defeat at midway losing the Battleship USS New Jersey and its attendant fleet in a mismatched engagement against the Japanese Carrier Group led by the IJN carrier Unyõ. The Unyõ supported the following amphibious invasion by the Japanese marines. The USS Constellation arrived with its battle group shortly thereafter evicting the Japanese from the island and continuing on to engage a superior Japanese force in the open Pacific about 150 miles northeast from Iwo Jima scoring a decisive victory bringing US forces that much closer to the Japanese home islands.
The multitude of amphibious invasions carried out by both sides were essentially without count as many of the attacks and counter attacks were carried out on individual initiative rather than direct orders. However,by the end of the war, US forces had overwhelmed the Japanese fleet through most of the Pacific aside from the home islands and Iwo Jima came under siege for the remainder of the war lasting from April 24th through the wars duration.
Taipei Tug of War.
Over the next few months from early April until late June of 1971 the Allied Western Defense Pact Forces now consisting of US, Brazilian and Mexican forces had made considerable gains throughout Formosa only to be stopped near the middle of the islands as the Japanese Army organized an effective counter attack which stabilized a front line in early May. The Japanese in particular were reinforced heavily by Chinese Federation forces who had now entered in full force. The Japanese by this point had suffered atrocious casualties along side the US who had also taken quite the sizeable hit to its armed forces. The Draft in both countries had made the war particularly unpopular on the home front as the US quickly deployed hundreds of thousands of conscripts into the conflict shipping them over as quickly as possible. Japan did much of the same conscripting hundreds of thousands to augment its professional numbers and both sides paid dearly. This led in total to nearly 350,000 dead US soldiers and a host of other casualties by the wars end and the Japanese were suffering even more as their poor land doctrine on Formosa under multiple successive incompetent commanders forced them to use literal human wave tactics. This continued well until the beginning of July when allied forces seized an opportunity breaking through Japanese lines and rushing into Taipei. The allied forces however met fierce resistance and Taipei and the whole north of the island devolved into brutal close combat until the wars end on the 17th.
The beeline to Taipei had left a huge exposed spot for US forces as they tried to secure the islands northern tip and cut off Japanese troops from supplies leading in. This did not work as planned as the Japanese counter attacked gaining the strategic genius of General Shisui Takayama who exploited the overexposed US forces to mass flanking attacks. This lasted for well over a week until the it became functionally impossible for both sides to discern their battle lines. Northern Formosa had become a giant hand to hand combat operation with combat of all kinds taking place. By July 15h however Japanese forces received a much needed reprieve as a well drawn strategic map finally gave Japanese air support the needed locations to oust allied forces from their positions in and around Taipei and northern Formosa. The war however ended two days later preventing the momentum from carrying over.
The Wars end and outside interference
The Moscow Pact prepares
With the Japanese Empire and its allies being so handily beaten and cut off from each other many members of the Moscow Pact particularly Burma and the Peoples Republic of China began clamoring for military actions on Japan to level its empire and reclaim a whole host of lost territory.
The USSR keen on watching the relatively untouched nations fight each other decided that it would eventually get involved if the war dragged out for a few more months intending to quickly establish a new satellite state in both Manchuria, and Korea leaving Japan isolated and the PRC free to reclaim territory is lost during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
This brought huge alarm to the Japanese and the WDP but being in a state of war, the two were unwilling to cooperate. The US in general was pushing to split up the Japanese bloc and bring many of its former members into a satellite organization synchronized with the Western Defense Pact. However with the PRC getting ever bolder including multiple border incidents one of which ironically mirrored the Marco Polo Bincident decades prior, were dangerously close to provoking war. The US and its allies involved in the conflict decided only one option would end the war quickly and decisively.
The Nuclear Option
Looking to end the conflict and prevent the Moscow pact from expanding any further in Asia, the United States convened a secret meeting of all its WDP membership voting for the first time in human history to employ nuclear weapons. The WDP council seeing the threat voted almost entirely yes on the option on the condition it be a target of military importance only.
The Japanese on the other hand began mobilizing for a much larger war preparing to embark on a grand war with the entirety of the WDP and the Moscow Pact. It had started to transfer into a war economy with factories beginning to be converted, and resources being rationed to fight a long drawn out war effort. Along side this Japanese forces began to be posted back into the mainland to prepare. While also a nuclear state, the Japanese were unwilling to use the weapons unless in a last ditch effort for survival. Their usage as a purely tactical weapon was not envisioned which is why a US bomb dropped on Iwo Jima came as an absolute shock.
The US dropped a nuclear bomb on Iwo Jima on the morning of July 17th 1971. This followed a mass withdraw of US troops and equipment which had been hastily evacuated in preparation for the bomb drop. The bomb dropped on 0615 of July 17th obliterating the 100,000 defenders of Iwo Jima. By the night of July 17th the Japanese issued a formal attempt at an armistice. The US and its allies accepted and negotiations for peace began the next day..
Tokyo Peace Conference
The peace conference began less than a week later in Tokyo as the Japanese and its allies began preparing massively for the Moscow Pact invasion of the Greater East Asian Union. The WDP ambassadors were able to secure a peace with Japan relatively quickly.
- The Japanese and its allies would respect the independence of the Philippines from its bloc in Asia
- The Greater East Asian Union would open its markets to investment from all members of the WDP.
- The US will offer an umbrella of protection to Japan for the duration of a year to serve as a deterrent to an invasion of the Moscow Pact.
While these were the main terms various smaller terms were also negotiated but by August of 1971 the Circum-Pacific War ended becoming one of the bloodiest wars in American History, and was also relatively bloody for the Japanese having lost over 400,000 of its own.
The Circum-Pacific war in hindsight was a poorly executed and planned war by both sides. The Japanese had not fought a truly challenging enemy since the Russo-Japanese War and even then had brutally beat the Russians back west in short order. The United States was much in the same situation having been fighting a one sided war in Vietnam, formerly the Vietnamese Commonwealth, in an attempt to prevent the country from switching its allegiance to a more Asian set of mind. This led to a relatively bad amount of planning as both sides severely overpopulated their battlefields, and severely under planned their battles.
With the war said and done, the Irony is not lost with the post war economic agreement stipulated by the treaty causing great economic improvement to both sides. The United States and Japan both saw mutual development of each others economies and the Japanese in general saw overall improvement of the health of the Greater East Asian Union. The US and its allies in the Western Defence Pact saw their own improvements as well with cheap labor pools being opened up in Asia as well as the growing demand for many important materials that couldn't be entirely provided by Japan. While this was superseding much of the point of the GEAU the Japanese were able to reassert their control over the Bloc in 1979 following a massive restructuring of much of their industrial production. This allowed Japan to truly begin to receive the benefits of its now much more developed membership in the Union.