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Countdown to War

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The Mukden Incident

September 18 1931, 2222H - A bomb exploded near the South Manchurian Railway. The perpetrator was unknown. The explosion then caused the railway to be destroyed. This is to be known as the Mukden Incident.

Mukden Incident

A section of the South Manchurian Railway. The caption in the side of the picture reads "Railway Fragment".

September 18, 2230H - A train soon passed over the damaged track. The train soon derailed and tumbled down into the countryside. The train was carrying some petroleum and kerosene cargoes along with Japanese passengers. The petroleum and kerosene cargoes soon was exploded, a few moments after the derailment of the train, causing death to almost 14 Japanese dead and 37 Chinese. Only 5 of the passengers of the train survived.

September 19, 0310H - A Japanese telegraph from Mukden soon arrived to Tokyo. The news was then released into the media. In response to the incident, the Japanese Government then launched an investigation team into the site.

September 19, 0400H - Even though the investigation team from Mukden haven't reach the railway site yet, Japanese troops from the 19th Regiment of the Kwantung Army began firing their artillery into the nearest garrisons from the site.

September 19, 0900H - The Japanese investigation team launched by Tokyo immediately made a conclusion. They claim the incident was done by Chinese Nationalist. The Chinese government automatically denies any involvement in the incident. The incident caused an outcry in Tokyo and Kyoto, demanding for blood. 

September 19, 1100H - Mukden was now secured under the Japanese Flag. The The Commander-in-Chief of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria, General Shigero Honjou then agreed on a full mobilization of the Kwantung Army (even though Tokyo hasn't said anything yet). 

September 19, 1330H - Commander Senjuro Hayashi of the Chosen Army of Japan in Korea send in soon reinforcements. The Japanese Army in Manchuria is now in full mobilization. 

The Japanese Invasion of Manchuria

Mukden 1

Japanese Troops entering Mukden

September 20, 1931 - The Japanese Government in Tokyo was shocked. The civilian populace do want blood, but this was too much. The diet at first demanded to stopped all operations in Manchuria, but soon the Emperor steps in and said to wait and see what would the invasion would do to Manchuria. He was soon supported by the Prime Minister.

September 21, 1931 - Zhang Xueliang, claiming to have received a directive order from Chiang Kai-shek, have imposed a non-resistance policy against the Japanese. He then urged his men not to put up a fight against the Japanese troops.

September 20 - 25 1931 - The Japanese blitz was fast. In a matter of days, the Japanese has immediately captured  Hsiungyueh, Changtu, Liaoyang, Tungliao, Tiaonan, Kirin, Chiaoho, Huangkutun and Hsin-min.

November 1931 - The Japanese movement in Manchuria vegan to slow down. The Chinese forces began to show up some resistance against the Japanese Kwantung Army but it was too late.

November 15, 1931 - The Japanese send an ultimatum to the Chinese forces. The Chinese forces declined.

November 19, 1931 - The League of Nations then sent a a resolution to the Japanese government to withdraw its forces from Manchuria. The Japanese Government even though they haven't declared war yet to the Chinese Government, soon declined.

220px-Puyi-Manchukuo

Emperor Pu Yi became the head of state of the new state under the Japanese influence.

January 3, 1932 - Chinchow falls to the Japanese.

January 4, 1932 -  Shanhaiguan falls to the Japanese. The conquest of southern Manchurian is now over.

January 7, 1932 - The United States issued the Stimson Doctrine, that the United States would not recognized any government that would be established in Manchuria as a result of the Japanese campaign. The Japanese Government simply ignores it.

January 28, 1932 - The Japanese attacked Shanghai.

February 4, 1932 - Harbin falls to the Japanese. Northern Manchuria is now secured.

February 27, 1932 - General Ting Chao offered to cease the fighting in Manchuria. The Japanese accepted the offer.

March 1, 1932 - The Puppet State of Manchukuo is formed. Emperor Pu'yi became the head of the new puppet government of Japan. The League of Nations, however, decided not to recognize Manchukuo as a sovereign state and condemned the Japanese actions in the China.

March 5, 1932 - A ceasefire between Japanese and Chinese troops in Shanghai was signed and made Shanghai a demilitarized zone.

March 6, 1932 - The fighting in Shanghai ceased.

The Japanese Warpath

October 2, 1932 - The Lytton Report was published. The report clearly rejected the Japanese claim of self defense on the Manchurian invasion and occupation. The report also asserted that Manchuria (or Manchukuo) was a product of Japanese aggression in China. The League of Nations refused to acknowledge Manchukuo as an independent state. Japan was outrage from this conference and walked out.

Great Wall Defense

Japanese Forces charging into the Great Wall

January 1, 1933 - Operation Nekka has been initiated. Japanese garrison commander staged an incident by exploding hand grenades and a few shots. The Kwantung Army immediately used this as an excuse for Chinese soldiers to evacuate the Shanhaiguan. The Chinese immediately refused. The Battle of Shan Hai has begun. 

January 3, 1933 - Overwhelmed and outgunned, the Chinese commander in Shanhaiguan evacuated their positions and retreated.The Battle of Shan Hai was over.

February 23, 1933 - The Japanese forces launched an offensive to Rehe. The Battle of Rehe

March 4, 1933 - Chengde was captured. The Battle of Rehe was over.

March 11, 1933 - The Japanese forces has reached the Great Wall.

March 21, 1933 - The Japanese took Yiyuankou Pass.

March 27, 1933 - Japan finally leaves the League of Nations after the League of Nations, according to the Lytton Report, has stated that Manchukuo is a part of China and thus should not be recognized as a nation or anything close to it.

April 8, 1933 - The Japanese captured Xifengkou Pass.
Tanggu Truce Map

The Area demilitarized by the Tanggu Truce

April 11, 1933 - The Japanese has secured Lengkou Pass.

May 20, 1933 - The Chinese finally retreated and leave the Great Wall to the Japanese.

May 22, 1933 - The Chinese forced to sign the Tanggu Truce. In addition to that a 100 mile demilitarized zone was established. The Chinese aren't allowed to place in troops in the demilitarized zone, however, the Japanese are allowed to conduct aerial reconnaissance in the area. The Chinese were also forced to recognized the new state of Manchukuo.


The Rising of the Sun

June 20, 1933 - Emperor Hirohito boldly declared in front of the Japanese people in Tokyo that Japan will began full militarization of the country. The Japanese people greeted the new declaration of the Emperor with a thundering applause.

June 22, 1933 - Emissaries from different countries sent a protest to the Japanese government. The Japanese government simply ignored the letters, putting a strain on Japanese relations on the world, especially the United States of America and some European countries.

November 12, 1933 - Japan began an extensive military program. The government soon established the Imperial Commission on Military Evaluation. The purpose of this institution is to study and make plans about the implications of the effectiveness of the Japanese Government to its military as well as the evaluation and accounting of the military.

December 29, 1933 - Seeing that Japan requires a more powerful navy, as per recommended by Imperial Commission on Military Evaluation, the Japanese Prime Minister boldly declares in Tokyo that Japan renounces the Washington Naval Treaty and the London Naval Treaty. Adding to that, the Prime Minister declares that Japan is going to double its military spending. The world powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom meet the declaration with full protest.
Japan renouncing Washinton Naval Treaty

The renouncement of the Japanese Government on the Washington Naval Treaty made headlines in the United States as international tensions between the two countries continued to grow.

February 14, 1934 - Japanese officials and economists made a report to the imperial government that if Japan continues to expand its military aggressively, America, as Japan's major trading partner, might declare an embargo, which could then crippled the overall economy of Japan. This is to be known as the Osaka report.

March 23, 1934 - One month after the Osaka report, supporters from the scientific, engineering and economist groups have increased many folds over. The report has become a classified sensation among the Japanese community. Seeing this as a way to improve Japanese standings in the world, after multiple debates and discussions, Japanese Prime Minister Saito Makoto declared that Japan should move with a scientific approach. The committee accepted the Prime Minister's offer. 17 government officials, 12 economist, seven scientists and eight military officials then began drafting a new doctrine. The doctrine shall be named the Osaka doctrine - named after the city where the report was first filed

April 2, 1934 - A new top-secret doctrine has been created. Seeing that Japan as nation which is overly dependent on oil imports have suggested that Japan must go to something not oil. The government meet the agreement with welcoming arms. The Imperial Department of Technical Research has been established. Its main objective is to develop brand new technology for and only for the empire. 

May 16, 1934 - Tohuko university professor Hikosaka Tadayoshi's atomic physics theory was released. Hokosaka pointed out that the huge energy by nuclei and the possibility that both nuclear power generation and weapons could be created. Seeing this document - the Imperial Department of Technical Research rapidly made their move to compile every known document regarding about nuclear technology.

RIKEN in Taisho era

RIKEN in the Taisho era

June 17, 1934 - The Imperial Government began to notice the progress of RIKEN regarding about high energy physics. One month after the release of Hikosaka's atomic physics theory, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and under the support of the Ministry of War and Ministry of Navy, immediately started organizing an energy program which is to develop a power plant which operates without the need of natural gas and oil. The center of research for this new technology is at RIKEN which is under Yoshio Nishina. 

February 2, 1935 - Looking at RIKEN institute making contributions to the Imperial Government (and its well funded programs which includes the development of nuclear energy), the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service began making programs of its own with the help of Nakajima and Mitsubishi companies to produce new plane models for the army.

April 17, 1935 - Given enough funding by the Imperial Government, Yoshio Nishina began building a cyclotron in RIKEN. 

May 20, 1935 - Seeing the Japanese aggressive military buildup in the Pacific, the United States President Franklin Roosevelt demanded that Japan should let the United States investigate the seemingly "increasing scientific activities" of the Empire. Japan refused.

August 17, 1935 - The first Japanese cyclotron was finished. 

August 25, 1935 - The Imperial Navy passes an article to the diet about full integration of the Imperial Navy Fleet. This is to become on the costliest naval expenditure and the biggest naval project ever conducted in the 1930s. The name of the project is project Rouringu-ha. The aim of this project is to turn the Japanese navy into an effective fighting force as well as an amphibious force, and doubling up the number of the Japanese fleet.

Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho

The Japanese Aircraft Carrier Hosho - one of the first aircraft carrier of its kind in the world.

September 10, 1935 - The diet has agreed and signed the Rouringu-ha. However, there were limitations and conditions. Rouringu-ha is expected to be finished by 1942. Second, the naval expansion was only limited to 45% less than what is stated on the document. Third, the navy is allowed to expand, but most be annually inspected for progress. And finally, the navy is allowed to build and develop new weapons, however, the government must be notified about the development. The two parties then reach into agreement.

January 1, 1936 - The new year. Japanese emperor Hirohito made his appearance on this year on his trips to the RIKEN facility just outside Tokyo and then to the naval shipyards in Yokohama. He then made his announcement in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, welcoming the new year along with blessings and a promise of a more powerful Japan. 

February 26, 1936, 0300H - Tokyo exploded into violence. The residence of Okada residence, Takahashi residence, Suzuki residence, Saito residence, the Ministry of War and the police headquarters were all attacked by the group known as the Righteous Army. The coup d'etat known as the 2-26 incident had begun.

1st Lt. Yoshitada Niu and his company on February 26, 1936

1st Lt. Yoshitada Niu and his company on February 26, 1936

February 26, 1936, 0900H - The Ministry of War and the Police Headquarters were secured. The rebels soon stated there demands to the Emperor. These are the demands:

  1. The rapid resolution of the situation by Kawashima in a way that "advanced the cause of the Restoration"
  1. The prevention of the use of force against the Righteous Army
  1. The arrest of Kazushige Ugaki (Governor-General of Korea), Jirō Minami (commander of the Kwantung Army), Kuniaki Koiso (commander of the Korean Army), and Yoshitsugu Tatekawa for being "the source of the destruction of military command".
  1. The immediate dismissal of Lt. Col. Akira Mutō, Col. Hiroshi Nemoto, and Major Tadashi Katakura from the army for promoting "factionalism"
  1. The appointment of Araki as the new commander of the Kwantung Army.


February 26, 1936, 2000H - The rebel group after accomplishing all there targets (by assassinating former Prime Ministers Takahashi, Suzuki, and Saito and Prime Minister Okada), the rebels soon turned there eyes and began there move to capture the Imperial Palace. (Prime Minister Okada has escaped the ordeal, and managed to save his own life.) After that a response coming from the Emperor came. It said:

  1. The purpose of your actions has been reported to His Majesty.
  2. We recognize that your motives are based on a sincere desire to clarify the national polity.
  3. The current state of the national polity (including its defilement) is a matter of great regret to us.
  4. All the Supreme War Councilors have agreed to unite and move forward in accordance with the principles stated above.
  5. Beyond this everything depends upon His Majesty's will.


IJN marines dispatched to Tokyo during 2-26

IJN marines dispatched to Tokyo during 2-26 incident

February 27, 1936 - The military finally took over the the situation. 

February 29, 1936, 0600H - The military has now completed its encirclement of the rebels. 

February 29, 1936, 2100H - The coup d'etat was over. 

March 9, 1936 - The Okada Cabinet resigned. In the aftermath of the 2-26 incident, the government began to evolve into the more aggressive stance. 

May 18, 1936 - A full change in military, economic and political policy took place in Japan as a final major response by the government on the aftermath of the February 26 incident. The military has been further maximized. This change of policy was viewed by local leaders in Japan as a the most aggressive Japan has ever been in its history. 

October 23, 1936 - Talks for the Anti-Comintern Pact had begun. 
Signing of the Anti Comintern Pact

Japanese ambassador to Germany Kintomo Mushakoji and Foreign Minister of Germany Joachim von Ribbentrop, sign the Anti-Comintern Pact.

November 14, 1936 - The start of the Suiyang Campaign. Avoiding to launch a full scale war and at the same time trying not to break the Tanggu Truce, China and Japan launched a proxy war against each other in Mongolia. this is to be known as the Suiyang Campaign.

November 25, 1936 - The Anti-Comintern was signed and put into law. Japan finally joins into an alliance with Nazi Germany. 

December 19, 1936 - The Japanese were defeated in Suiyang. This sent ripples in both the Empire and China. Hostilities in China began to break in. On the Japanese side, military analyst, aware of Japan's advancement in terms of its army, navy and air force for the last three years, have suggested to the Ministry of War to prepare Japan for anything. 

December 25, 1936 - Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was arrested by Zhang Xueliang. The Communist and Nationalist China began to form a pact, forming a unified defense against Japan's expansionism. The said incident was as expected already by the Japanese government.

January 3, 1937 - Japanese generals and the Ministry of War passed a treaty to the Japanese government. It was said that Japan needs to expand its army in order to cope up with growing size of the empire. As an aftermath of the February 26 incident, the government has increased its power on the empire, giving the government more control on the army and navy. 
Japanese military

Japan, by 1937 to 1939 began intensive and drastic expansion of its military

January 20, 1937 - The government agreed on the military's request. This is to become known as the Chiba expansion doctrine (named after the place the said request originated). In the doctrine, it was said that Japan requires to expand its military from four million to eighy million by the summer of 1940. It was also declared in the doctrine the formation of Japanese paratroop divisions and amphibious divisions. Then, the military demands on the government about increasing the production of Japanese armor like tanks and anti-infantry vehicles were also granted in the doctrine. Finally, as an aftermath of the Suiyang Campaign and the Xian Incident, the Japanese army and the government agreed to increase the Japanese numbers in the Kwantung Army, expanding it from 900,000 to 1.5 million, as per recommendations of the doctrine. 

March 4, 1937 - The Imperial Navy signed a multimillion yen project with the shipyards in Kure Naval Yard. This project is part of the Chiba expansion doctrine. The objective of this project was to build amphibious vessels along with the new battleship class - the Yamato class, and the aircraft carrier class - the Shukaku class ... 
Archive-Japanese-Naval-photo-showing-the-Akagi-at-Kure-naval-shipyard-on-April-6-1925-01

A ship being built in Kure Naval Yard

March 18, 1937 - A new multimillion yen project has been launched. The Japanese Yokusuka Naval Yard, along with the Imperial Navy, as part of the Chiba expansion doctrine, has began the project about new types of naval weaponry. 

April 2, 1937 - 300,000 Japanese troops along with 150 tanks, 182 artillery pieces and 100 additional aircraft have been transported from Nagasaki up to Port Arthur. This are to become part of the Kwantung Army, as directed by the Chiba expansion doctrine.

April 17, 1937 - 200,000 Japanese troops have been deployed into the city of Chengde. China began to send complaints to the Japanese government. 

April 18, 1937 - The Japanese ignored the letter of opposition and complaints of the Chinese government. Tensions began to rise as two countries began rethinking of a possibility of war.

April 20, 1937 - In response with the Japanese strategic positioning of its troops, China send 400,000 troops to Beijing - focusing the countries defenses on its northern border with Manchukuo.

Tumblr ljehzsg71V1qz9tkeo1 500

Deployment of Japanese Troops in Manchuria - adding 600,000 troops to the Kwantung Army.


April 27, 1937 - With Japan placing its troops on the border with China, and with China doing the same action with Japan in Manchukuo, the the United States, Great Britain, France and other major world powers began sending in protests against Japan and threatening Japan with trade embargos if Japan continues on pushing its goals to Asia. Japan ignored this warnings, making the situation in Asia becomes more critical.

April 30, 1937 - Japan increases its forces along the railroad tracks in Beijing from 15,000 to 35,000. In addition to that, the Kwantung army, in charge of all operations in China by Japan, added in 35 tanks, 40 anti-infantry vehicles, and 40 artillery pieces. Plus in Chengde, Japan increases the number of its tactical bombers, interceptors and fighters by 40%, vastly increasing the Japanese power in the Chinese mainland causing more concerns for China.

May 7, 1937 - First confirmed nuclear fission test. While scientists in RIKEN, under Dr. Nishina, are experimenting with uranium, they accidentally fired neutrons into the uranium causing some vibration and later instability with the uranium nuclei, causing the uranium to be split into Barium and some light elements which are about the same with the mass of uranium. The energy released by the experiment was about 200 million electron volts. This was to be called by scientist working under the government in RIKEN as the Shinjuku split.

May 15, 1937 - The Chinese government began to issue a request to the League of Nations demanding the removal and unconstitionating the Boxer protocol.

June 10, 1937 - Similar experiments were then conducted by RIKEN in order to prove that the experimental data by Nishina was true. The results was similar. The administrators in RIKEN soon passed the data into the Osaka administration.

June 15, 1937 - After reviewing the experimental data released by RIKEN, the Osaka administration soon labelled the experimental result as S-class. S-class means that the the experimental data released by any research institution in Japan are to be considered as top-secret and shall only be known by someone who works on the project, the Osaka administration and some top officials in the government, as stated in the Osaka doctrine.

Nuclear fission good 1a

A Nuclear Fission Reaction

June 15, 1937 - After reviewing the experimental data released by RIKEN, the Osaka administration soon labelled the experimental result as S-class. S-class means that the the experimental data released by any research institution in Japan are to be considered as top-secret and shall only be known by someone who works on the project, the Osaka administration and some top officials in the government as stated in the Osaka doctrine.

June 30, 1937 - More troops from Japan reached China with a total of 300,000 troops - pushing the Japanese numbers in China from 1.2 million to 1.5 million. More than 200 tanks, 400 anti-infantry vehicles and 500 artillery pieces arrived in to China via Port Arthur. Then Japan also deployed several squadrons to China, which mostly consists of interceptors and tactical bombers. This drastic Japanese increase of force was a direct response by Japan to the US demands, China's attempt to outlaw the Boxer protocol and a warning to the Chinese government.

July 4, 1937 - China sends an ultimatum to Japan in response with the increasing number of Japanese forces in Beijing and Manchukuo saying that Japan should withdraw its forces in China or China will retaliate. The Japanese government ignored the Chinese ultimatum.


The Marco Polo Incident

July 7, 1937 2000H - In the Japanese garrison at Wanping, a walled town southeast of Beijing, the Japanese commander of the area began a headcount of his own troops. One soldier was then reported missing. His name is Private Shimura Kikujiro. 
Marco polo bridge

The Marco Polo Bridge: The place where everything starts

July 7, 1937, 2300H - The Japanese commander of the area send an order to the Chinese Commander Ji Xingwen demanding permission to enter Wanping to search for the missing soldier. The Chinese refused.

July 7, 2330H - The Japanese commander, thinking that he has the advantage, decided that they need to mobilize now. On the Japanese commander's approval of Wanping, almost 15,000 troops all around the Beijing southern area mobilized.

July 8, 1937, 0130H - Private Shimura Kikujiro has returned to his posts. It was then confirmed to the central command in Beijing. However, mobilization between the two forces are already ongoing, 

July 8, 1937, 0300H - Japanese and Chinese forces began to open fire.  

July 10, 1937, 1200H - The news from the fronts reached Tokyo. The Japanese government was shocked at the news. However, some have seen the news something good. Debates about what to do with the Wanping conflict and the Marco Polo incident.

July 13, 1937, 0900H - The news had now reached the public. The public soon showed there supports on the conflict. However, the government says otherwise. However, doubting about the implications of war with China to the Japanese economy, Prime Minister Konoe made efforts on stopping the Japanese advance in China.

July 13, 1937, 1300H - The government has decided. Japan shall initiate a full-scale attack against China. However, the government are divided in half on whether to declare war with China or not. Another group of Japanese anti-war faction in th government, leaded by Prime Minister Konoe, made their stand on the National Diet. However, the protest of the Konoe faction regarding about the war on China was futile. Most of the government members expresses their supports on the move to militarization of Japan.

July 13, 1937, 1450H - Even without a declaration of war, the Japanese high command in Tokyo authorized a full-scale attack on China. It was immediately received by the Kwantung Army. Resistance from the Konoe faction is still active in Tokyo, however, fails to convince the National Diet, the Japanese populace and Ministry of War to change anything.

July 13, 1937, 1700H - The entire Japanese army stationed on the border have begun a full-scale offensive. 

July 13, 1937, 2000H - The Japanese command in Beijing finally received the go order from the headquarters in Manchukuo. Japanese forces immediately began to open fire on military targets in Beijing. The Japanese Air Force wings in Port Arthur began mobilizing. 

July 13, 1937, 2030H - All 15,000 troops garrisoned in Beijing and surrounding areas began to make their move. The Chinese forces soon launched a counter attack against the Japanese forces with 42,000 troops. The Japanese soon realized they were outnumbered 3:1.

July 18, 1937, 0900H - A Japanese artillery brigade of the Kwantung Army has reached Beijing. Japanese artilleries began to support the Japanese forces fighting in Wanping.

July 18, 1937, 1200H - Despite fierce support of the government on the war against China, a call from the Prime Minister finally arrived in the headquarters of the Kwantung Army. Prime Minister Konoe said on the phone to ceased all infightings in China. 

July 18, 1937, 1230H - A negotiation finally began to take shape in between China and Japan when a telegram from Tokyo reached Nanjing suggesting about a ceasefire agreement. 

July 18, 1937, 1400H - Learning about the actions of the Prime Minister, supporters for war against China in Tokyo and in the Kwantung Army began to plan on moving to do wage war against China. 

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