Could Japan defeat China in WW2 if no war with US?

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,267
Lisbon, Portugal
Chiang Kai Shek thought it would have been impossible for Japan to conquer China and he was sure they would eventually be defeated. I also always assumed there was no way for Japan to win. Reading a bit more about it, I guess it all depends how we define winning. I believe, without the war against the US and Britain, the Kuomintang would have lost. Either the Japanese would have taken Chongqing or the corruption, economic crisis within territories sill under the Kuomintang's control would have led to the defeat of the nationalist forces. Taking that into account, I don't think the Japanese would have been able to maintain control over China. They would have faced guerrillas everywhere and never had to manpower to really do anything about it.
They would create puppet states and would use Chinese loyalists to do the job of facing guerrillas and alleviate their lack of manpower. In fact they were already doing that during the course of the war.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,558
If the Soviet Union gets involved, Japan would most likely still face defeat. But lets make unrealistic speculations and assume that doesn't happen, and China is all on her own, albeit receiving Soviet and American support in weapons and ration.

Chiang Kai Shek thought it would have been impossible for Japan to conquer China and he was sure they would eventually be defeated. I also always assumed there was no way for Japan to win. Reading a bit more about it, I guess it all depends how we define winning. I believe, without the war against the US and Britain, the Kuomintang would have lost. Either the Japanese would have taken Chongqing or the corruption, economic crisis within territories sill under the Kuomintang's control would have led to the defeat of the nationalist forces. Taking that into account, I don't think the Japanese would have been able to maintain control over China. They would have faced guerrillas everywhere and never had to manpower to really do anything about it.
People seem to overlook the most important wild card in this conflict: the 8th route army of the CCP.
Had the war continued, the more powerful opponent after 1945 would have been the Communists, not the Nationalists. By the end of 1945, the Communist force has grown from around 60,000 in 1937 to 1.2 million regulars and over 2 million militias. Lets not forget that the CCP did in fact fight part of the remaining IJA in China in 1945, as the US ordered the Japanese forces in China to surrender to Chiang Kaishek and not to the Communists and even airlifted Nationalist forces to the major urban centers. Conflict broke out between the Communists and the Japanese in many areas in Shangdong even after Japan surrendered, leading to the CCP overruning the weakened Japanese remnant forces there.

Time would only further strengthen the Communist forces, and its likely that Chiang's armies would at least hold against Japan without completely collapsing beyond 1945. The CCP forces already infiltrated into large parts of rural Shangdong, and parts of Hebei, with a "liberated zone" which had close to half of China Proper's population the month Japan surrendered. The CCP land reform policy in rural areas was one of the decisive reasons it was able to beat the ROC and strangle the urban centers from the country sides. As Philip Kuhn noted, Japan faced the same problems as the ROC in trying to control the Chinese country side and failed in the same way. The CCP outdid both the Nationalists and the Japanese in that area and was able to have a large supply of military reserves as a result. If the CCP also had Soviet support in weaponry (which is most likely) even if the later does not intervene, then it is very likely to give the Japanese a serious run for their money (especially seeing their performance against the American army in Korea), and push them out of China Proper, albeit it might take many years, or even over a decade. It is unlikely however, that the PRC would defeat Japan in Manchuria, at least initially, as most CCP infiltrations in that area have been stamped out by the Japanese in the 1930s. There might be a cease fire, until the PRC consolidates itself and resume war; although the possibility of Japan developing an atomic bomb in the 1950s is always there, there are way too many unknown factors involved.
 
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heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,558
They would create puppet states and would use Chinese loyalists to do the job of facing guerrillas and alleviate their lack of manpower. In fact they were already doing that during the course of the war.
While the CCP did little fighting against the IJA itself, they have annihilated hundreds of thousands of collaborationist forces and added them into its own ranks throughout the war. The CCP also controlled the bulk of the country side which neither the ROC nor Japan could do and hence have the greater advantage in resupplying its ranks than either. The only problem they would have, is if Japan recognized their potential threat and choose to shift their primary strategic objective and strike at the Communists first before finishing the Nationalists. As Mao recognized the fragile alliance with the Nationalist party since the 1930s: " Chiang, Japan, and us, we are the three kingdoms."