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What if Japan Surrendered Earlier?

Both Scott and David have explored Japan lasting longer in the war, either fighting the Americans to a standstill or being smashed into the ground.  Iím going to explore the other side of it; what if Japan left the war earlier?  As Scott is fond of noting, this timeline only works if you assume that the Emperor had real power and a good knowledge of the war situation. 

After 1944, Japan has nothing to bargain with.  The POD needs to before then, but after Midway, as Japan thought it was winning the war until then.  (Some Japanese thought that it was winning the war after then as well, which shows how stupid some people can be.)  So, letís start just after Midway.  The Emperor calls a strategy conference and outlines the following blunt truths. 

The war is lost.  Japan may live for two more years at most.  At the moment, however, Japan can bleed the allies badly, while Germany is pushing the USSR back.  Therefore, Japan can use that as a lever to get a good peace out of the allies. 

The Japanese send out peace feelers to the allies.  The allies are not sure what to do with them, while Japan leaving the war would make it easier to crush Germany, it might also mean letting the Japanese survive the war without a change of government.  However, FDR, concerned about allied lives, orders a careful response. 

As a gesture of good faith, Japan withdraws from Burma and Indochina, leaving nationalist forces in control.  They also quietly tip off Chiang Kai-Shek that they might leave Hong Kong so he can move a force into position to seize it before the British can get there.  They do give Chiang a few further notes of warning, but the Japanese want to try and hold onto Manchuria at the peace conference, so they basically place a mortiuem on further offensive action.  While China signs no agreement, she does hold off attacking Japan before the conference. 

The peace conference is bitter, but finally comes to some agreements. 

1)      Japan will admit defeat publicly,

2)      Japan will withdraw from all conquests since 1933.  This includes Korea and all of China,

3)      Japan will surrender the entire Imperial Navy (IJN), apart from ten destroyers and five cruisers,

4)      America will supply Japan with foodstuffs to avert starvation,

5)      Japan will provide technical expertise to China as compensation for the war,

6)      All Japanese named as war criminals will be surrendered to the allies for trial,

7)      This does not include the emperor, who will remain on the throne,

8)      There will be no occupation of the Japanese Home Islands, apart from a single American force on one of the Islands.

Japan, under some protest, signs the treaty.  Almost imminently, some disputes break out between the allies, as China retakes Hong Kong and refuses to return it to Britain, and Australia takes the East Indies, displacing both the Dutch and the nationalists.  Further, the Indochina nationalists refuse to allow the French to return and the Chinese Communists have managed to take a large number of Japanese surrenders and refuse to submit to Chiangís authority.  Britain receives the surrender of most of the Japanese fleet, as the fleet command is reluctant to surrender to America.  

The relatively lenient peace inspires members of the German resistance, conspiring against Hitler.  They start preparing to kill their leader.  Meanwhile, the allies ship troops to the African field and to Britain.  The plan is for a direct invasion of France in 1943.  With extra reinforcements, Rommelís forces are pushed back by the allies and he is defeated in November 1942.  He is returned to Germany by Hitler just before the final defeat and sent to France to build defence lines.

Now, hereís one of those that might be difficult to follow.  A quicker German defeat in North Africa is good for the Germans - and hereís why.  Instead of having two high priority desperate situations, theyíll only have one to deal with Ė Stalingrad.  That means that the Germans wonít have to send reinforcements to Africa, which included planes, tanks and men, all desperately needed at Stalingrad.  Therefore, winter 1942 sees the Germans last longer, manage to break out most of their force from the trap in the city, and knock the soviets back when they attempt to follow up their victory.  Both sides claim a victory, and neither side is right. 

The allies build up rapidly in Britain, defeating the U-Boats in early 1943, as theyíve been able to move huge reinforcements to the Atlantic.  The combined bomber offensive is really beginning to hit the Germans, although they compensate by improving their defences and moving plants eastwards.  The allies then build up in Africa and invade Sardina as a staging post, which falls in March. 

The allies then issue Vichy France with an ultimation.  If they allow the allies to land in the south of France unopposed, the allies will allow France to retain her colonies after the war.  If not, the allies will take Franceís colonies and will hand them over to the natives.  They point to Indochina, now being run by the natives and becoming a British client state. 

Petain hesitates.  If he allows the allies to land, Hitler will turn France into a battleground.  But if he refuses, Franceís chances of returning to world power will be destroyed.  He decides to allow the allies to land, which they do in southern France in April 1943.  Hitler is unsurprised by the landing, although he believes it to be a feint, and orders several German divisions south to contain the landing and push the allies back into the sea.  The Vichy forces join the allies and ship most of their forces in Algeria over to join them.

This gives the allies a problem.  They backed the Free French, but now they have forces that are loyal to Vichy in the battle zone as well.  They solve that problem by telling both sides to co-operate with each other or else.  This attempt at American domination sours relations with the French, while the weakening of the troops in Algeria sparks revolution, which the allies wonít let the French move troops back for as Rommel has started a powerful counter attack.

May 1943 sees the allies land a powerful force at Normandy, rapidly breaking out of the landing zone and threatening to cut Rommelís forces off from their bases.  Hitler makes matters worse by ordering Ďno retreatí, which Rommel disobeys, but Germany has lost most of France.  This provokes the resistance in Germany to launch a coup, which they do in June.

Germany sees the beginnings of a civil war as a bomb destroys Hitlerís base, with him and Himmler inside.  Several SS and army factions attempt to seize power in the chaos that follows, but finally Rommel emerges as the new furher.  He orders negocations to begin with the west.  Stalin is unhappy and demands a seat at the conference table, threatening a separate peace of his own.  Rommel is unwilling to deal with Stalin if it can be avoided, and therefore begins discussions with the polish government in exile.  They sign an agreement with Germany that lets them have their 1939 borders, independence and American troops in Poland to protect them from any foe, notably Germany or the USSR.  The Germans hand out one final blow at the soviet forces in Russia and withdraw.  Rommel offers Stalin a deal, Germany wonít destroy the land if Stalin agrees to recognise polish independence and that of the other German allies. 

The west is offered a similar bargain.  Most of the war criminals have been killed in the fighting in Germany.  Hitlerís cronies have been purged.  With the withdrawal of German troops from Poland, Rommel can launch a heavy attack on the allied forces.  Therefore, the allies reluctantly agree to a ceasefire.  Germany will withdraw from France and the Belgium states, while the allies will agree to defend Poland.   After Stalin reluctantly agrees, the German forces withdraw back to Germany and their ally states, often handing over their weapons to nationalists.  World War Two is over. 

The aftermath of the war continues to rock society.  Japan concentrates on building up her economic strength, while making trading contacts throughout Asia, including Indian and Indochinese nationalists.  Japan also propagates revisionist histories that see them as brave fighters who made a truce to end the bloodshed.  Ironically, Japanese troops serve as volunteers in many nationalist armies, including the force that defeats the French in Indochina in 1946.  A Japanese-led co-prosperity sphere may not be an impossibility.  

India becomes quieter as Britain can send more troops to stamp on rioting.  With the early end to the war, Britain can lead the Indians towards united independence, instead of partition.  Britain leaves a peaceful, united, India in 1945. 

Germany manages to hide much of the evidence of the nazi holocaust.  Without that burden, Germany becomes a powerful member of Europe again in 1960, forming the European union in 1961, with a France weakened by colonial wars and the rest of Europe following.  The Soviet Union survives until 2000, without the need to garrison Poland, but they slowly become democratic with the influx of polish goods.  Stalin, however, spends the last years after the war grinding out the nationalist movements in the subject regions. 

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