Thursday, August 27, 2009

DBTL 28: Everyone Avoids Me Like a Cyclone Ranger

This is the latest installment in the Drowned Baby Timeline, an alternate history where Adolf Hitler drowned at birth and where World War II never took place. With the election of Robert Taft as President of the United States in 1940, American oil continues to flow to the Japanese Empire, and diplomatic relations between the two nations remain, if not cordial, then at least correct. However, the Japanese go to war with the Soviet Union in December 1944, and the war is going badly . . .

Tokyo, Home Islands, Japanese Empire
18 March 1946

The Cabinet was subdued as it met on Monday morning. The fate of the carrier Akagi the previous day was uppermost in the minds of all present. Its aircraft had been assisting the defense of Wonsan in Korea when a flight of Red bombers based in Hamhung had attacked and sunk it.

"The loss of Akagi was a fluke," insisted Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. "Our forces continue to hold firm in Korea. The Soviets are preoccupied with the renewed civil war in China. It is only a matter of time before our heroic troops achieve total victory in Korea and move on to liberate Manchukuo from the Bolsheviks."

The Japanese language has a number of polite circumlocutions for use in place of the phrase "I disagree with you". Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo used one of these before saying, "The loss of Akagi was a foretaste of greater losses to come. In the last six months, the number of Soviet aircraft in the Eastern theatre has increased fivefold." With the Red Army dominating the land, and the Imperial Japanese Navy dominating the sea, the war between Japan and the USSR had mostly been fought in the air. "Both Army and Navy air arms are suffering unsustainable levels of losses of both aircraft and crew. Despite the fighting which has engulfed China since the assassination of Mao Tse-Tung and the collapse of the coalition government last month, the Red Army continues to press us. They have maintained their redoubt on Sakhalin, and they continue their advance in Korea. If we continue the war with the USSR, there can be only one outcome. We will be driven from the Asian mainland completely, and Soviet forces will then advance down Sakhalin to threaten the home islands themselves. We should advise the Emperor to bring the war to an end, accepting the loss of China and Manchukuo. I would be remiss if I failed to remind those present that the Soviets offered us just such a truce one year ago, and that if we had accepted their terms we would still hold all of our former territories in China."

Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai, Minister of the Navy, said, "I do not believe the Foriegn Minister's assessment to be in line with the current situation. Estimates of Soviet air strength may be exaggerated, and there can be no talk of invasion of the home islands. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy safeguarded the British home islands against attack for twenty years while the British and their allies gathered strength for the final assault upon Napoleon. The Imperial Japanese Navy stands ready to safeguard the home islands for twenty times twenty years, until final victory over the Soviets is concluded."

General Korechika Anami, Minister of War, said, "I concur with Admiral Yonai's assessment. A decisive battle has not yet been fought in Korea, and we maintain our positions in the Chinese port cities of Amoy and Swatow, from which we can advance at will into the Chinese hinterland. It would be premature to accept Soviet control of China, especially given the fluid political situation there. It is only a matter of time before we dislodge the Red Army from Sakhalin. I do not believe that the current military situation warrants acceptance of any truce terms likely to be offered by the Soviets."

Tojo said, "Do I take it then that we are all in agreement concerning the continued prosecution of the war against the Soviets?" Tojo waited for several seconds, but there were no dissenting voices. "Very well. I shall advise the Court concerning the results of our deliberations. This meeting is adjourned."

As the various Cabinet ministers left for their respective ministries, a look passed between General Anami and Prime Minister Tojo. If the ideas expressed in that look were to be translated into ordinary speech, they would take the form of the following exchange:

Anami: Do you think I should have Togo assassinated?

Tojo: Not just yet. Let's see how the war goes. If we suffer any more reversals, and he starts to sound off again about a truce, then we can whack him.

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