France vs Japan in WWII without outside interferance

Sep 2013
436
France
I would argue that the basic premise in that scenario is flawed, in that the French people didn't lack a will fight the Germans in the Second World War.

France fell because it was strategically outmaneuvered by the Germans, because air power and armor and had fundamentally changed warfare since the First World War, and because France did not have as anywhere near as much territory as the Soviets from which to weather early losses and continue fighting, or the English Channel to retreat behind.

Nevertheless the French military did fiercely defend the country. Keep in mind that the Germans lost about 27,000 men over the course of 46 days, which is close to half the number of of total KIA suffered by the US in the entirety of the Vietnam War.
This.
France fought heavily in 1939-40, and then from 42 to 45.
In 1939-40 alone, french forces suffered 92 000 killed. Then 58 000 on the western front, and 20 000 killed in the resistance. French forces fought in Africa, Italy, and then again in France and finally invading Germany. Not that bad for a nation who had no will to fight.
The french plan for the war was not that bad, but was based upon two things that went wrong: first that USSR would not join germany (which was quite realistic), and then that Germany will not gamble the war launching a vast offensive in the Ardennes. Beside the Ardennes, there was the maginot line, and the first french army on the other side, which outrun the German in Belgium to fight them and stop them on a short front.

German gamble is 1939-40 is really a masterpiece; they won totally outmanoeuvring the allies, cutting the supply lines of the main french forces engaged in Belgium, passing through the lines. The true mistake in the french plan was that there were absolutely not sufficient forces in reserve, as such a rapid offensive in the Ardennes hadn't been even considered.

About a french/japan war during the WWII, where would have it occured ? France could not have fought a war with a big power in Asia, by any mean. Her army was designed to stop Germany, that's all. And I don't see how on earth could Japan have fought a war in Europe.
My guess is that Japan navy and air force were best by far, especially the navy, but the land forces were so different... difficult to judge, but Japan didn't perform very well against russia in 1938.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,780
UK
Japan would invade Indochina. Whether France could send a naval force to defeat the Japanese Navy, and retake Indochina, is moot. I doubt they could. they could win naval battles but not have the projection to invade and regain their colonies.

The USA couldn't invade mainland Japan without very high costs, but was able to have the resources and men to invade the far smaller Pacific Islands.

Maybe France could inflict enough naval casualties on Japan to ensure it couldn't hold on to Indochina, but Japan has the upper hand.
 
Jun 2017
2,976
Connecticut
Likely outcome is the Japanese seize French Indochina and the French eventually give up. Japan's closer to French Indochina and have a superior navy. Indochina would be more of a priority to the Japanese then the French who still have an African and Middle Eastern colonial empire. Japan also has a larger population and even if numerically the Japanese navy only has slightly more capital ships, Japan also has the best battleships in the world and aircraft carriers. I'm picking the Japanese. In our timeline outside interference was necessary for the French to(kind of sort of, temporarily) get French Indochina back.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
France's navy was smaller than Japan's and geared primarily for conflict in the Mediterranean. It would have been woefully deficient in carriers and carrier-aircraft for any naval war against Japan in the Pacific. As such it is hard to imagine any scenario where France could win that conflict without direct support from an ally like the United Kingdom or the United States. Alone, it would surely not have been able to protect it's colonial possessions in Asia and the Pacific.

Japan would almost certainly have been the victor in any conflict between the two powers that does not involve a coalition.
 

Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,050
Brazil
Sure France lacked the will to fight Germany........
That's a myth. They fought to the end and lost.

But how would it have been against a nonwhite nation invading the homeland? Remember the French were pretty aggressive about maintaining their colonies after WWII and while the wars were ultimately lost because of the general populace's waning support, the French military fought much harder than in WWII
Impossible. The French army in WW2 sacrificed about 300,000 men over a period of 42 days. Those are higher casualties than all wars involving their colonies combined over the past 200 years.

And of course the fact Nazi Germany was a white nation who inflicted heavy casualties to the Western nations-while Japan despite being a superpower was scoffed down as a pushover and France hadn't fought Japan before and suffered such casualties..........
Japan wasn't a superpower by any means. It was a poor backward developing country that was more developed than it's Asian neighbors but it was far less developed than European countries.

See for instance, Broadberry and Fukao (2015) (https://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/users/Broadberry/JapanUK8a.pdf) estimate Japanese labor productivity at only 35.6% of the UK in 1935 which is about the same than as the difference between Mexican and American labor productivity today.

Overall in 1936, French per capita GDP was 475.24 dollars in 1936 while Japan's per capita GDP was 82.11 dollars. For comparison, US was 651.22 dollars, Germany was 499.49 dollars while UK was 514.42 dollars. Hence, in the 1930's western countries were much more developed than Japan was. Japan was more developed than other Asian countries which were terribly poor, like China, whose per capita GDP was 17.32 dollars in 1936, less than 3% of the US's. So Japan was more developed than the rest of Asia and hence was able to be technologically superior and hence conquer then but Japan was still vastly less developed than the Western countries in 1936.

Those calculations are made using 1936 official exchange rates.

Japan became a developed country between 1945 and 1975: it's GDP per capita grew 10 fold over this period.

How would France do in this scenario? People criticize the French as having a terrible army and lacking the morale to fight.
Only if by "people" you mean persons who are oblivious to history.

I am especially curious in how long the battle would last in scenario one with the same general anti militarist and anti patriotic spirit in France during the pre-war period. Would a nonwhite enemy rouse up a different response from those seen in OTL against the Germans?
That depends on the situation. It's true that given France's general superiority over Japan in terms of development means they have an advantage, Japan still had a bigger navy and a bigger population.

So I think that determination would decide the outcome in that case: if France get's fully determined to win like the US did after Pearl Harbor then I foresee a French victory but it will take years for France to build up the naval forces required for them to conquer Japan.
 

Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,050
Brazil
I would argue that the basic premise in that scenario is flawed, in that the French people didn't lack a will fight the Germans in the Second World War.

France fell because it was strategically outmaneuvered by the Germans, because air power and armor and had fundamentally changed warfare since the First World War, and because France did not have as anywhere near as much territory as the Soviets from which to weather early losses and continue fighting, or the English Channel to retreat behind.

Nevertheless the French military did fiercely defend the country. Keep in mind that the Germans lost about 27,000 men over the course of 46 days, which is close to half the number of of total KIA suffered by the US in the entirety of the Vietnam War.
This video has a good explanation:


I don't think that airpower was that decisive in France's defeat though.

In my impression the main differences between the failure of Germany defeating France in 1914 and their success in 1940 were: first, in 1914 Germany was simultaneously at war with Russia so they couldn't focus exclusively against France while in 1940 they had a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union so they could and did focus exclusively on defeating France. Second, when WW1 started the German army wasn't prepared for total war and was much smaller than in the beginning of WW2. By 1940 the German army was building up for years and by the time they attacked France it was over 3.5 million strong over 150 divisions of which 135 were directly involved in the invasion of France. So, after invading the Low Countries, the Wehrmacht was an overwhelming powerful force of 135 divisions that directly attacked the French army, which was outnumbered without their allies, as they had 90 divisions. In WW1 the French army was never in such difficult position as they were in June 1940.
 
Jan 2017
84
North Carolina
Not by much if that's the case, while the Japanese have a superior air force as you can see by how it was able to resist the US for close to five years.



It's not. Any psychological factor is nullified by better military organisation and technology.
You are aware even with airforce battles are often rarely a landslide? I mean in Guadalcanal the Japanese had air superiority but could barely use it. In addition the early USSR lacked airpower at least outside of Russia but yet the Germans could not destroy local forces and had to send in their artillery and infantry to finish the job.

Airplanes are actually very terrible even in coordinated attacks in defeating infantry as seen when Americans attempted bombings across the pacific. In fact it was actually the artillery that was the Germans' main deciding factor in defeating many Airpowers in the war in battle.

I mean no matter how many bombings Americans did, they could not dislodge German and Japanese forces even in coordinated attacks with infantry, tanks,artillery,etc.

Thats not even counting logistical problems with planes such as gasoline, ammo, etc. Did you know despite having a dominant airpower at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese retreated rather than resume attacking Pearl? Because they ran out of gas. Even in China you had cases of airplanes not being used for hours after a single bombing run because of the need for planes to rest and be repaired (and don't get me started on gas and ammo problems).

Also you really underestimate how important infantry and artillery is. This is the sole reason why German defeated France and also why the Japanese even without airpower conquered so much of Asia (for example in Malaysia, airpower was almost nonexistent).

Because even with bombings, it takes a hell lot to damage even a single factory.

You also ignore the Zero was primarily a fighter plane, not a bomber. If you knew anything about aerial warfare, up until Jets, fighter planes are terrible at bombing compaigns.

And of course you also ignore that France had a large airforce, one of the largest and most powerful in Europe, and they actually gave the Luftwaffe a fight. It didn't matter because the speed of how Germany was able to attack with infantry (thanks to advanced military transportation vehicles-something Japan is solely lacking and superb radio coordination esp with tanks, another thing Jpan was always far behind even late into the war).

Hell if we just leave the airforce out of this, the Germans tried bombing runs on the Maginot Line and most of the bunkers and trenches were barely harmed despite hours of repeated bombings. So there goes your ignorant belief that the Japanese airforce would destroy the French army (esp since German planes were superior inmost way esp bombing tactics).

And of course you still fail to answer how the Japanese would have to deal with artillery and tanks (which I mentioned planes don't necessarily destroy easily).

Oh did I forget the large number of AA guns the French had esp at the Maginot Line section? Bye bye to your belief the Zeroes would easily destroy the French army. They'd have to destroy French Anti-Air defenses first!

And your assumption Japan would easily defeat France on land because Japan conquered China shows how brain washed you are. Not only did Japan never conquer China outside of the North and were often losing battles, the places Japan did conquer and hold was defended by poorly trained infantry. We are talking about Chinese units so shitty they literally retreated from trenches by entire platoons, even divisions, just because they Japanese did purely bayonet charges! The conquest of China (despite your brainwashed communist beliefs) is not impressive at all because the Chinese troops were so terrible that even the militias of Chinese warlords often defeated them in battle!

You really do underestimate how much morale affects battle. Wanna know why Germany failed to win WW1 despite cutting the French off guard? The French were so motivated an entire French army paid taxi drives with their own civilian money just to drive them to the battle site despite the French army completely caught off guard!

And you underestimate how racist the French could be and how this really brings u vicious determination. Despite the French populace opposing it, Vietnam is an example.

A even more brutal example that shows how racist the French were and how their belief in white supremacy is so strong they are willing to let thousands of young Frenchmen die in war is Algeria. They would not let the territory go because they saw it as the heartland of French imperialism. The French army being defeated by an Asian power trying to invade France would convince the populace to wide rapid military deployment and industrialization and God forbid a Total War. Because you are so brainwashed by Commie BS, you don't understand basic history and esp military doctrines.
 
Jan 2017
84
North Carolina
This video has a good explanation:


I don't think that airpower was that decisive in France's defeat though.

In my impression the main differences between the failure of Germany defeating France in 1914 and their success in 1940 were: first, in 1914 Germany was simultaneously at war with Russia so they couldn't focus exclusively against France while in 1940 they had a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union so they could and did focus exclusively on defeating France. Second, when WW1 started the German army wasn't prepared for total war and was much smaller than in the beginning of WW2. By 1940 the German army was building up for years and by the time they attacked France it was over 3.5 million strong over 150 divisions of which 135 were directly involved in the invasion of France. So, after invading the Low Countries, the Wehrmacht was an overwhelming powerful force of 135 divisions that directly attacked the French army, which was outnumbered without their allies, as they had 90 divisions. In WW1 the French army was never in such difficult position as they were in June 1940.
A big problem with the video is that it assumes the French were fighting an entirely trench warfare and lacked any modern advances. It ignores that not only did the French have more tanks than Germany as well as a modern airforce, but French tanks were superior to German tanks in basic stats esp firepower and armor.

It also ignored the French navy was quite advanced and that most of the French military spending was not in the Maginot Line but on the French Navy itself! While a lot of money was spent, in the grand scheme only 2% of France's military budget was used specifically on the Maginot fortifications.

In reality France did everything De Gaulle warned to do such as adopting mass number of tanks and focusing on modern mechanized vehicles and airpower (esp behicles with strong armour and firepower).

The defeat in France goes far beyond just "mechanized advancements".
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,829
It's not. Any psychological factor is nullified by better military organisation and technology.
Which was a lot better with the French. The Germans needed both Blitzkrieg tactics AND luck to put one over them. And the Germans had to gamble like that, because if they had been drawn into the kind of fighting the French had prepared, then they would have been tied up and gradually ground down. The Japanese had neither the tactics or gear to avoid that. They would have suffered horribly, pinned by the French and hammered to death.

Without both the Japanese are going to struggle with the sheer French firepower. The British when invading Syria suffered a number of setbacks to the French colonial troops there, which successfully attacked and took British prisoners on occasion. Compared to the little trouble the massive Italian armies in North Africa gave the British, the French were at least the equals of the British in 1939-40. The Japanese army was generally hampered by its lack of experience of the heavy fighting in WWI, and so generally underestimated the role of firepower. For all their faults, that was something the French really didn't.

If this is reduced just to a question of a Japanese attack on the French East Asian colonial possessions, then that's another matter, but then it's not a matter of Japan trying to invade France either.