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The Pacific Empire

After contact with Europe, the Japanese shogun orders the complete destruction of the Japanese fleet and the abandoning of all contact with the outside, apart from limited Dutch contact in one place.  However, many of the Japanese navy men and fishermen are going to be ruined by this order, so they take their ships and head away, either to one of the outlying islands of Japan or down towards Taiwan, setting up base there. 

As they know ships very well, they soon form a trade group and explore the pacific, trading with the inhabitants of the Indies and the Philippines, setting up small, Hong Kong style bases and improving the native technical skills as they go.  After several conflicts with Spanish forces, they cut the Spanish off from their bases and the Philippines return to their natives. 

They trade with the Dutch a lot as the Dutch have tools they need, although they are quick to copy Dutch and later English shipbuilding techniques and weapons.  This and their nearby bases (as well as considerable support from the natives of the Indies) gives them the edge in fighting with the natives.  The English still settle Australia, as a continent is not particularly interesting to the nomads, but New Zealand becomes part of their trade empire, as do most of the Islands. 

The Dutch are forced out of the pacific by 1760, while the French and British concentrate on India.  The British prove to be better at relating to the nomads (they're both sea powers) and they help the British push the French out of India in exchange for British recognition of their informal empire.  Trading is allowed, but no formal empire or native crushing. 

The nomads continue to expand; taking Hawaii and most of the Islands for their expanding population, which is augmented by absorbing the native populations into their system.  They also force contact with Japan, although they have no love for the Japanese emperor and take every opportunity to humiliate him, while persuading many of the common people to leave Japan and join them. 

The massive influx of modern technology changes the shape of their empire.   They begin to form a formal empire in the pacific, annexing most of the Islands and assuming a ‘protectorate’ over Japan.  They also push the Chinese into allowing them to trade with them, while backing several anti-Manchu factions in hopes that they could take over the china and deliver it into the hands of the nomads. 

When the Europeans start pushing into the pacific, they send out their ‘pacific doctrine’.  Based on the US Monroe doctrine, it states that the pacific islands, with the exception of Australia, belong to their new Pacific Empire.  While the Europeans are allowed to trade with the Eastern Nations, they will not be allowed any further colonising or conquest.  Such conquests would be far more difficult, in any case, as the tech level is far higher than OTL.  The British get to stay in India, but Ceylon becomes part of the Pacific Empire and Burma (and all lands eastwards) are either independent or part of the Empire.

This provokes several problems with the European powers.  The British have enough problems with their empire in India, so they are more than willing to allow the Pacificans to rule the rest of the pacific, as long as they get to trade.  One difference, however, appears as the Chinese attempt to stamp out the opium trade is more successful than OTL, as the British can’t bring forces to China.  The French, however, push their claims to be superior to all non-whites, trying to make contact with dissident Japanese factions (an act that finally leads to Japan being annexed) and claiming a number of small, uninhabited Islands.  This leads to a short naval war, which is won by the Pacificans as the French supply lines are terrible.  The Americans are content to trade, although many of them find the empersis on racial equality to be worrying, as they fear it sets a bad example to the black Americans. 

The spread of democratic ideals from Europe in the 1870s leads to the establishment of a congress and other democratic institutions.  This leads to the slow absorption of Indochina and Burma, while links are developed with Madagascar and east Africa.  This brings the Pacificans into conflict with the French and Italians; nether of whom want an empire that teaches racial equality in their empires.  However, the British are more reluctant to support them here, and so they broker a truce that leads to recognition of the French influences in Africa. 

The Chinese Empire self-destructs, with a little help, in 1890.  The Pacificans launch a take over campaign, first through surrogates and then directly.  As they are strongly anti-nobility/mandarins and are willing to treat the Chinese as equals, they have far more success than OTL Japan and manage to absorb most of china by 1900.  However, this forces them to develop a large army (based on the Prussian model) as Russia is also pushing down into china.  The Russians end up with North Manchuria, and skirmishes are common. 

The world enters a period of increased tension.  The French, Germans Italians and Russians are unhappy that they have little access to the wealth of Asia, while the Americans are unhappy about Pacifican dominance in China.  The British are being forced to grant more democratic rights to the Indians as they see those rights being used by fellow Asians, which makes the British government more democratic.  War breaks out in 1909, as France and Russia launch attacks on British territory and trading interests.  The Russians also attack the Pacificans in China, although the Pacificans have massive superiority in numbers.  The war continues with French victories in Africa until the royal navy cuts their supply lines, which are complicated by the Italians joining the war and managing to knock the British out of Egypt. 

However, the vast naval superiority enjoyed by the allies, British and Pacifican, means that they can cut their foes away from their colonies and start to take them one by one, crushing Boer revolts as they go.  As Russian defeats lead to massive unrest across the Russian empire, the Germans invade and defeat the Russians, annexing western Russia, and then threatening France.  The French and Italians sue for peace, losing most of their empires as the price for peace. 

As the aftershocks of the war spread across the world, the planet settles into several power blocs.  The Germans use their victory to push Europe into a confederation, with most of the power in German hands.  The British integrate their new territories and start to democratise their empire, while the Pacificans work on integrating the remainder of china. 

Author’s Notes:  This AH grew out of a challenge on the AH board.  Japan did close its borders in1638, allowing only limited trade with the outside world.  In OTL, I don’t know what happened to the Japanese traders, so I’ve found them other employment.  There are cases of people fleeing such persecution from the Napoleonic wars, but I don’t know of any similar cases from the east.

In 1640-1760, the Europeans had not yet penetrated East Asia to any considerable extent, so there was a window for any Asian society to catch up and run the area.  The Japanese exiles would have started on an equal bases in technology with the Spanish and Dutch, while they would have been able to relate to the other Asians far better than the Europeans could. 

Their existence as traders allows many tribes and island natives to overcome the European reluctance to trade firearms and advanced weapons.  Their trade network expands the level of technology and the Europeans don’t have any major advantage.  Further, their tactics will become well known before they try to take over. 

I suspect that they would have the Indies, Japan, china; trade routes pretty well covered by the time the British arrive.  They’ll be dealing with equals, so the British would probably trade, rather than fight them. 

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