A quick sweep across the waters
USA quickly established supremacy in the Pacific in 1942 - 1943. It had about twice the resources available as in OTL and there is greater urgency vs. Japan (in OTL about a third of the US resources were used against Japan, there is no Europe-First strategy in ATL). There is growing concern over Stalin’s land grab in Asia and continued frustration with Chiang Kai Shek’s inactivity vs. Japan or Russia. Roosevelt decides against Admiral King’s blockade-and-bomb strategy and in favor of Marshall’s plan for amphibious assault - Operation Olympic.
It was understood that casualties would be high but there was perceived to be no good alternative. The first stage of the assault against Japan was the amphibious landings on Kyushu. The scope of this amphibious assault had never been tried before and it was a logistic nightmare. It proved to be impossible to keep the plan secret from the Japanese and they were able to improve their defenses on Kyushu. The conquest of the island lasted through the spring of 1943 and into the summer. The US forces where eventually victorious but there were 82,000 US casualties (compare this to Okinawa’s OTL number of 12,000 and the USA D-Day number of 6,600 OTL).
Marshall considered this to be a “heroic success”. He now had possession of a large island very near to the big island of Japan - a good place to stage the next stage of the attack. The troops did not agree. Marshall and the cost of the “Battle for Kyushu” was also very unpopular back home and several members of congress called for Marshall’s resignation. President Rosevelt verbaly continued to support Marshall but moved him to Chief of Asian Operations - China. Publicly this was a lateral move but everyone understood it was a demotion. Roosevelt decided to switch to a blockade-and-bomb strategy against Japan. General Eisenhower was placed in charge. It was thought that if forces could keep the Soviet Union from making any further advances in Asia then the US could afford to be patient against Japan.
US forces landed in China and were only there to fight Japanese forces, but they also offered as much support as possible to Maoist forces and to Chinese Nationalist in their defense against Russia. Washington also let Stalin know that it would not tolerate more Soviet expansion in Asia. Stalin decided to spend the winter 1943 and spring 1944 consolidating his current gains and gearing up for future “contingencies”.
Despite the USA’s strong talk, Stalin landed a small force on the island of Hokkaido in the summer of 1944 . Japan had suffered greatly from the US fire bombing and was now faced with a Soviet threat. Several camps increased their negotiating efforts with the US but America had lost too much blood to allow Hirohito to remain emperor. Another claimant to be Emperor of Japan, however, was sounding better and better to the US - Kumazawa Hiromichi.
Japan (Hirohito) surrendered to the USA in September 1944, the Soviet Union dropped its claim on Hokkaido but retained control over Manchuria and Korea. Hirohito stepped down and was kept in house arrest at an out-of-the-way palace which is publicly called a prison. Kumazawa Hiromichi was recognized as the true Emperor of Japan. Kyushu and Okinawa were returned to Japan but the US retained a strong presence there. Japan dropped all claims to the Asian mainland but kept Formosa.
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