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(2,188 posts)
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:26 PM Aug 2015

What if we beat the rest of the Axis powers like we did, but lost to Japan?

There was an old HBO movie called Fatherland which is about the US winning the war with Japan, but losing to Germany. But I would like to talk about the opposite.

Let's say we beat Germany exactly like we did. For some reason, we don't use "The Bomb" on Japan, and we just invade them. One million die, and we retreat. What would happen next? What would happen in the immediate years, like the 50's and 60's? What would the world look like today? How long would the ground war have lasted? 10 years? More?

Edit: Please folks, the purpose of this thread is to solely talk about what would happen if Japan had repelled a potential US invasion. Please don't make comments like "There is no way they could have won" or "They would have surrendered after the invasion." Remember, on paper it looked like there was no way we would not prevail in Vietnam.

Second edit: I'm sorry for not being more clear. I'm only talking about had they successfully repelled a US invasion, not if they attacked the US mainland.

45 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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What if we beat the rest of the Axis powers like we did, but lost to Japan? (Original Post) Reter Aug 2015 OP
Japan's defeat was inevitable after Germany fell. geek tragedy Aug 2015 #1
My thread is a "what if" they won Reter Aug 2015 #3
you'd have to invent a world that didn't exist. geek tragedy Aug 2015 #7
Vietnam could never win Reter Aug 2015 #11
Are we Vietnamese now? jberryhill Aug 2015 #26
big fan of alternative history, I'll give it a shot. a long shot. lol Javaman Aug 2015 #21
I've seen that exact scenario before geek tragedy Aug 2015 #23
LOL exactly. :) nt Javaman Aug 2015 #25
Screw everything... build up in Indochina jberryhill Aug 2015 #27
Wouldn't Japan have also.. Motown_Johnny Aug 2015 #30
Sounds good Buzz cook Aug 2015 #42
If the US didn't have "the bomb" it could have just continued the process of firebombing Japan into PoliticAverse Aug 2015 #2
But what if the US lost? Reter Aug 2015 #6
We'd have pixelated p0rn. n/t PoliticAverse Aug 2015 #8
Then we could all get a chance to try Green Tea KitKats now! Erich Bloodaxe BSN Aug 2015 #4
+1 nt Javaman Aug 2015 #22
Green tea Kit Kats are pretty good Art_from_Ark Aug 2015 #43
I want some underwear davidpdx Aug 2015 #44
The only way to "lose" to Japan is to be invaded and conquered by them. arcane1 Aug 2015 #5
That's what I mean Reter Aug 2015 #9
I laid it out above, if they couldn't use a ground invasion, they'd literally starve Japan. geek tragedy Aug 2015 #14
No way we could have lost. MicaelS Aug 2015 #10
How exactly would we lose to Japan? I know this is all hypothetical, but where do we start? Rex Aug 2015 #12
I was not talking about them invading the US mainland Reter Aug 2015 #15
Oh okay gotcha that is easier to speculate imo. Rex Aug 2015 #16
If we retreated after 5 or 10 years, they would have had devastating losses Reter Aug 2015 #18
I think they would have been at war with the USSR and the US and in very bad shape. Rex Aug 2015 #20
Anyone's guess but... sarisataka Aug 2015 #13
If China had fallen before Pear Harbor Buzz cook Aug 2015 #17
check out my long shot alternative history at #21. nt Javaman Aug 2015 #24
On August 9, 1945, the Red Army invaded the Japanese-held Manchuria . . . Journeyman Aug 2015 #19
Eventually, we would have given up interests in the Pacific Motown_Johnny Aug 2015 #28
Who's "we"? Spider Jerusalem Aug 2015 #29
That movie, Fatherland, was based on a book. Dr Hobbitstein Aug 2015 #31
Japan had lost in fall of '44. HooptieWagon Aug 2015 #32
Japan lost at Pearl Harbor. oneshooter Aug 2015 #33
The U.S. was on the defensive for about a year. HooptieWagon Aug 2015 #34
I wouldn't say we had inferior planes, we just had different goals with our planes. NutmegYankee Aug 2015 #35
The P-40 was inferior, but they developed effective tactics against the Zeros. HooptieWagon Aug 2015 #36
Thew wildcat was outperformed, but that ruggedness served it well. NutmegYankee Aug 2015 #37
The big advantage it had... HooptieWagon Aug 2015 #38
Agree. nt NutmegYankee Aug 2015 #39
We would burn their cities and mine their harbors. AngryAmish Aug 2015 #40
If Japan had not lost RobertEarl Aug 2015 #41
I'm not a fan of alternative history davidpdx Aug 2015 #45

geek tragedy

(68,868 posts)
1. Japan's defeat was inevitable after Germany fell.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:31 PM
Aug 2015

There was no hope for it to prevail.

The only question was just how painful its surrender would have been.

It was surrounded, with no way to import fuel or other necessities.

If they had repelled a land invasion, they still would have had an airtight blockade to deal with.

They would have been starved into submission.


geek tragedy

(68,868 posts)
7. you'd have to invent a world that didn't exist.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:35 PM
Aug 2015

it's like asking what if water ran uphill.

Japan could never win. Yamamoto realized this.



(62,444 posts)
26. Are we Vietnamese now?
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:30 PM
Aug 2015

And that's largely the point here.

The cost of containing Iraq after the first Gulf War was, even on a projected basis, lower than turning it into a shambles as we subsequently did.

Here's a question...

Some guy comes up to you on the street and threatens you with a knife. You manage to disarm him of the knife and kick him down to the pavement injured with, say, a couple of broken ribs and a broken right wrist.

What is it you do next?

Do you start jumping up and down on his chest in order to kill him?

Who does that? How is it that people get into fights all of the time, and don't usually fight to the death of their opponent?


(62,328 posts)
21. big fan of alternative history, I'll give it a shot. a long shot. lol
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:19 PM
Aug 2015

Germany doesn't invade Russia. Keeps Russia as an Ally.

First invasion by U.S. and British forces of Europe fails and we retreat to try another invasion from southern France 3 years later.

In the mean time, Russia runs roughshod over India and pushes into Africa.

Germany doesn't care for Russia's land grab and denounces von Ribbentrop pack. they go to war.

As a result. Japan, who was once also Russia's ally, and still an ally of Germany, chooses instead to observe a cease fire against. Pissing off Germany, thus breaking their alliance.

Russia invades the middle east attacking German forces. And pushes back, simultaneously against Germany's Eastern front.

The US invades Europe again and finally gains a foot hold and pushes on Germany's Western front.

In the mean time, in Northern Africa, the battles between U.S./British forces against the German/Russian forces that were in a stalemate with the U.S./British forces losing ground, suddenly break open. Germany without Russian assistance begins a bloody and costly retreat for both sides.

In the mean time, due to the failure of the first invasion of Europe, the U.S. is short on man power as well as the Brits and Australians (now having to commit must needed pacific troops to Europe) struggle on the ground and in the air in the Pacific theater. However, the allied navel war does well, in preventing further Japanese gains on the islands, but helps little against the land war in Asia.

In the mean time, Japan's land war gains more ground and resources.

By the time Germany falls, so much in the way of man power and resources have been expended in the European theater, that when the focus of the war switches in earnest back to Asia, the American will to fight is draining.

However, lacking an atomic bomb, the allies switch to day and night sorties to cripple Japanese industry. But due to Japan being now virtually unopposed on land in Asia, they are able to resupply and retool quickly.

And because of the cease fire agreement between Japan and Russia, we can expect no help from the Russians.

In fact, seeing the US now having a formal presents in Europe, Russia takes a step back and unknown to the allies, begins supplying Japan with weapons, training and supplies. The last thing the Russians want is to have a U.S./European powers on both their opposing borders.

Now faced with this new obstacle (Russia helping Japan), discovered via cracking the Japanese secret code, the U.S. mulls the idea of a type of Peace.

How was that? Massive leaps of faith!! LOL



(62,444 posts)
27. Screw everything... build up in Indochina
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:32 PM
Aug 2015

Then take Australia in a loop and put a cork on it in Indochina.

28 moves and done. Max.


(22,308 posts)
30. Wouldn't Japan have also..
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:45 PM
Aug 2015

... fortified strategic positions on Islands east of the main land making the Island Hopping tactics of the Americans much less effective?

If we assume that air bases on the islands were more established, then the advances made by US carriers might not have been as effective. Without the carriers, and the air dominance they provided, the entire war would play out differently. For instance, Kamikaze attacks might never have happened.

Without the A bombs, and without sustained bombing of the mainland. Plus resupply from Russia, Japan could have held out indefinitely.

We would have eventually sued for some type of peace and given up the interests in the Pacific that Japan wanted in the first place.

Buzz cook

(2,469 posts)
42. Sounds good
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 11:30 PM
Aug 2015

We need some big changes to have the Soviets stay on the German side.
Leaving the US war weary is a great move. If we want to add some intrigue we could have the Nazis playing up to die hard confederates.

Pacifying East Asia and bringing them into the empire requires a big leap to. The way the Japanese dealt with the subjugated peoples would have to change dramatically. It wouldn't be hard to treat the Chinese people better than Chang. Loyalty often follows a full belly and tens of thousands died because Chang's rule was so corrupt they couldn't move food from places with abundance to places with famine. Mao would be a harder nut to crack.

Having an infrastructure that could process and transport material around the empire would also be a daunting task. Our Japanese would have to start planning in the teens or twenties. Prefab factories that could be placed on a transport ship and assembled where the resources were.

Man Power, our Japanese need to get conscripts and semi-skilled labor that will serve the empire with good will. Slave labor would not be enough.

Better equipment, The Zero was a great plane but... Almost all of the Japanese war making machines were inadequate for fighting the allies.

Time: Smoot Haley was passed in 1930, I think that has to be when we start the clock on our alternate history. Before then there was enough of a non-military group in Japan to keep our plans from being implemented. After Smoot the militarists took over.
At best we have a small group of men that did all the paper prep, but building our mobile factories can't start earlier.

Japan invaded Korea in 1910, so there is some wiggle room there. They invade China in 1931, not much to work with there.


(26,366 posts)
2. If the US didn't have "the bomb" it could have just continued the process of firebombing Japan into
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:32 PM
Aug 2015


From: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Fog_of_War

Why was it necessary to drop the nuclear bomb if LeMay was burning up Japan? And he went on from Tokyo to firebomb other cities. 58% of Yokohama. Yokohama is roughly the size of Cleveland. 58% of Cleveland destroyed. Tokyo is roughly the size of New York. 51% percent of New York destroyed. 99% of the equivalent of Chattanooga, which was Toyama. 40% of the equivalent of Los Angeles, which was Nagoya. This was all done before the dropping of the nuclear bomb, which by the way was dropped by LeMay's command. Proportionality should be a guideline in war. Killing 50% to 90% of the people of 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional, in the minds of some people, to the objectives we were trying to achieve.

Erich Bloodaxe BSN

(14,733 posts)
4. Then we could all get a chance to try Green Tea KitKats now!
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:33 PM
Aug 2015

But I don't think I'd want underwear vending machines on streetcorners.


(27,247 posts)
43. Green tea Kit Kats are pretty good
Fri Aug 7, 2015, 03:09 AM
Aug 2015

But they're only a seasonal item.

And underwear vending machines are only found in a few of the sleaziest red light districts.



(38,613 posts)
5. The only way to "lose" to Japan is to be invaded and conquered by them.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:33 PM
Aug 2015

Gotta love this bizarre American idea that we can invade other people's countries, and if they kick us out, we "lost".



(2,188 posts)
9. That's what I mean
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:38 PM
Aug 2015

We retreat and not win. Not technically a loss. With that being said, what happens next?


geek tragedy

(68,868 posts)
14. I laid it out above, if they couldn't use a ground invasion, they'd literally starve Japan.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:42 PM
Aug 2015

It would run out of bullets, and food, and gasoline, and gunpowder, and tanks, and anti-aircraft defenses, and electricity.

Japan was going to fall. Victory for them would have meant a much more painful defeat later on.


(8,747 posts)
10. No way we could have lost.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:38 PM
Aug 2015

They did not have the fuel, rubber or other resources to go on the offensive. If we did not use the bomb in an invasion we probably would have used poison gas during the invasion. We manufactured 7,000 TONS not pounds of gas during WWII in case we needed it.

Even if we did not invade, we could have instituted a naval blockade and starved them into submission. It might have taken years, and millions would have died.



(65,616 posts)
12. How exactly would we lose to Japan? I know this is all hypothetical, but where do we start?
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:40 PM
Aug 2015

They beat us in the Islands? Bombed our navy out of existence? What part of fiction are we adding here? Need a starting point of reference first.

Even if Japan would have found some way to beat us, they could have never invaded the mainland and taken America. So if they would have won, they would have probably sent people over to be vassal lords - that would have been chopped up and sent back home with a note that says "come and get it".

IOW, try as I might there really is no scenario that has Japan lording over the US inland. OR I cannot come up with one, someone else might.



(2,188 posts)
15. I was not talking about them invading the US mainland
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:46 PM
Aug 2015

I should have been more specific. I was speculating on if we retreated after attacking them.



(65,616 posts)
16. Oh okay gotcha that is easier to speculate imo.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:52 PM
Aug 2015

They would probably demand all kinds of things from us, but I suspect they would stay on their mainland islands and rebuild their military force. So, maybe after some time has past there would be another war after we both rebuilt our navies. Japan would probably still send out expedition forces to probe our weaknesses and maybe some scouting missions to see if it was possible to invade America.

IOW, it would have lead to another war imo down the line maybe just a few short years later.



(2,188 posts)
18. If we retreated after 5 or 10 years, they would have had devastating losses
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:59 PM
Aug 2015

They would also have had a super-high level of patriotism, and proclaimed victory. Not sure if they would have ever planned to attack us, but they would despise us for their death toll. It may have just been a "cease fire" like N and S Korea.

Would they have sided with the USSR during the Cold War? Perhaps they would have stayed neutral. If that happened and there were no more wars today, they would likely have a huge active military. They might even be a super power.



(65,616 posts)
20. I think they would have been at war with the USSR and the US and in very bad shape.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:07 PM
Aug 2015

The USSR was drooling over the idea of controlling Japan, I think after the war they would not have become friends and stayed enemies. I agree, Japan would be ultra nationalists and military fanatics after beating us and probably would have ramped up their military production to extreme levels.

Since we lost (in another universe), I think they would have gone back into China and captured a lot of territory with the USSR keeping a worried eye on Japan as it starts to expand it's area of control.

Would Japan make it down to Australia? Would they take back Midway and wrestle control of Hawaii from us? Interesting What Ifs.


(18,019 posts)
13. Anyone's guess but...
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:40 PM
Aug 2015

We would have ended the war as it stood, maybe demanding the return of some small occupied islands. Japan would readily agree as long as they could retain the majority of their Asian conquests. It would enable them to concentrate their remaining forces.

Britain and France would be upset at territories they would loose but without U.S. support and war exhaustion, they would acquiesce to whatever token reparations were offered.

As Japan would no longer be a strategic threat we would focus entirely on Europe. The Marshall Plan would be somewhat expanded and we would build a nuclear arsenal to stay ahead of the Soviets. We would not know the horrors of what happens if you actually use an atomic bomb.

Somewhere in the 50's we would court Japan as an ally against Communism, specifically the U.S.S.R. Bygones would be bygones and we would support their efforts to suppress uprisings in China and South East Asia. We would likely attempt to create SEATO including Japan and, in the ultimate irony, assist in rearming Japan with the weapons we fought against them.

Buzz cook

(2,469 posts)
17. If China had fallen before Pear Harbor
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 01:56 PM
Aug 2015

Both National and Communist that is and a Pax Japanica had ruled North East Asia and Japan had established a non-aggression pact with the Soviets, then that would have been a start to a negotiated peace with the Allies.
Victory would have needed abandonment of the attack on Pear Harbor and American entrance into the war at a later date or only against Germany at first.

The Japanese Southern strategy could have by passed the Philippines AND British Asia scooping up only European colonies owned by countries already under German control or independent ones such as Thailand.

Given enough time to build an industrial base and given use of Chinese conscripts the Japanese would have a formidable empire which might have stood up to allied aggression.


(14,979 posts)
19. On August 9, 1945, the Red Army invaded the Japanese-held Manchuria . . .
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:00 PM
Aug 2015

in rapid order (days) the Soviets defeated Japan's Kwantung Army and terminated Japanese control of Manchukuo, inner Mongolia, northern Kore, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands.

There is no possibility the Japanese would have prevailed against the combined might of the US and USSR.



(22,308 posts)
28. Eventually, we would have given up interests in the Pacific
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:34 PM
Aug 2015

since Japan could never attempt to invade the American mainland.

Japan would have gotten what it wanted. More power in the Pacific, including Hawaii I would think.


Spider Jerusalem

(21,786 posts)
29. Who's "we"?
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:41 PM
Aug 2015

The Soviets beat Germany, mostly. (And the British; the major turning points of the war against Germany were at El Alamein, when Rommel's Afrika Korps was sent into retreat, and at Stalingrad, when the defeat of the German Sixth Army saw the turning of the tide on the Eastern Front; both of those happened before American troops were in combat against the Axis in Europe in any significant numbers.)


Dr Hobbitstein

(6,568 posts)
31. That movie, Fatherland, was based on a book.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 02:56 PM
Aug 2015

I've been reading it lately. Quite good. Robert Harris wrote it.



(17,064 posts)
32. Japan had lost in fall of '44.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 03:06 PM
Aug 2015

Their leaders just refused to acknowledge it, and were hiding it from the population. They would have kept fighting to the bitter end, hoping for a "divine wind".


(8,614 posts)
33. Japan lost at Pearl Harbor.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 03:52 PM
Aug 2015

When they failed to launch the third wave of bombers. They left the repair yards, fuel dumps and submarine base relatively untouched. This ment that the damaged ships could be repaired on site and not have to be moved to the west coast shipyards. The submarines could refuel and strike Japans over stretched supply line without having to go to the West coast to refuel, rearm, and get repaired. Long range patrol planes could, and did, extend the area patrolled by 1600 miles.

Yes, they did start loosing the war from the beginning.



(17,064 posts)
34. The U.S. was on the defensive for about a year.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 04:05 PM
Aug 2015

We were short of carriers, and had inferior fighter planes. But we fought a war of attrition. Japan simply didn't have the industrial capacity to replace lost ships and aircraft, and losing experienced pilots was particularly damaging.
They still had a chance to cut their losses, and stabilize their situation until the battle for the Marianas Islands. Japan lost nearly all their carriers, hundreds of planes and pilots, and the U.S. gained islands from which long-range bombing commenced which could reach Japan and start hitting their industries. It was all over then. Japan just dragged it out another 10 months.


(16,154 posts)
35. I wouldn't say we had inferior planes, we just had different goals with our planes.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 04:22 PM
Aug 2015

The pilots were not skilled in actual aerial combat while the Japanese had many veterans of warfare in China. The Zero had an impressive maneuverability but was unarmored and under-gunned versus the US planes. US planes carried far more firepower and had significant plating to protect the pilot as well as self sealing gas tanks to prevent explosion.

One of the major turning points was as our pilots got experience they learned how to use the beast qualities of our airplanes to their advantage. The zero was an engine, seat, and guns surrounded by tin foil. Our planes could take hits and keep fighting whereas the zero pilot was doomed once we got rounds to them.



(17,064 posts)
36. The P-40 was inferior, but they developed effective tactics against the Zeros.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 04:43 PM
Aug 2015

But they were land-based. The Wilcats carried by the carriers were rugged, but grossly inferior. The Hellcats and Corsairs that came out mid-war were far better.
The U.S. Navy was also handicapped by defective torpedoes used by torpedo bombers and submarines. It took a couple years to sort that out. The dive bombers were effective hitting targets, but vulnerable to attacks from Zeros.


(16,154 posts)
37. Thew wildcat was outperformed, but that ruggedness served it well.
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 04:47 PM
Aug 2015

Once we developed tactics to use its few advantages, it succeeded in downing many enemy planes.



(17,064 posts)
38. The big advantage it had...
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 05:15 PM
Aug 2015

Was it often saved the pilot. The planes could be replaced faster than training pilots. Japan was losing an experienced pilot every time a Zero went down.



(13,685 posts)
41. If Japan had not lost
Thu Aug 6, 2015, 05:56 PM
Aug 2015

We'd be buying all our electronics from Japan, and most of our cars, and Japan would have become a world power.

Oh, wait....

Japan was gonna lose their 1930's war one way or another.

The only good thing about the two bombs that have been dropped in war time is that there have been only two.


(22,000 posts)
45. I'm not a fan of alternative history
Fri Aug 7, 2015, 07:30 AM
Aug 2015

But I do believe that if the bombs had not be dropped, if they had failed, or if the planes had been shot down that a full scale invasion would have happened. That would have cost millions of lives.

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