Japan and China, WW2.

Jun 2017
61
UK
#1
by time japan attacked the Dutch, British, and American colonies and territories, the war had mostly stopped in China. why was this? why not wrap up the sino conflict to better prepare for a possible soviet conflict?

if I was presented this question by someone, I’d reply with that there weren’t any oil to gain, and that was what the japs needed most. along with China is just huge.

but the reason I’m asking something I effectively just answered, is simply because I want a more refined and factual opinion on it entirely. did they gas out fighting them? the western colonies something fresh and new to fight? or was it as I said, just about oil.

and yes, I’m aware the navy and army weren’t cooperative. often arguing on who to take on next.

Regards.
 
Jan 2015
2,951
Rupert's Land ;)
#2
The war in China never stopped.
China/Burma/India held the bulk of the Japanese Army units, while naval & air assets were deployed against Anglo-American forces.

Dominating China was the end goal, so it couldnt be abandoned
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,998
Dispargum
#5
Logistics. The deeper Japan penetrated into China, the longer their supply lines became, and the more difficult it was to sustain forces at the front. Units standing on defense consume fewer supplies than units that are attacking. The Japanese could keep their army in defensive supply, but not in offensive supply. Another issue is that as armies occupy more enemy territory they have to detach more troops to garrison the rear area. Eventually you reach a point where there just are not enough troops remaining at the front to sustain an offensive. The Chinese employed extensive partisan forces behind Japanese lines, so again, the more territory the Japanese occupied, the more difficult it was to control.

In 1940 and '41 the Chinese counter-attacked. This attack failed, but it probably limited Japanese options as far as launching any attacks of their own. In late 1941, the Japanese probably had to divert forces out of China for their upcoming attacks on the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma, etc. I'm not finding specific references to troops withdrawing from China, but given that most of the Japanese Army was in China, the troops for the other attacks had to come from somewhere.

The Japanese never seriously considered attacking the Soviet Union. The Germans would have benefited from such a war, but there was little in that strategy for Japan. There had been fighting on the Manchurian border in the 1930s, but by the 1940s Japan was too busy elsewhere to take on the Soviets, too. The Japanese were concerned of a Soviet invasion of Manchuria, but China, SE Asia, and the Pacific were higher priorities. As Lord Fairfax said, the Japanese didn't stop fighting in China because the Japanese were not yet satisfied. They wanted more.
 
Likes: Lord Fairfax

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,998
Dispargum
#7
In 1941 the Japanese Army consisted of 51 divisions: 27 in China plus 13 more in Manchuria. Which means 11 divisions garrisoned Japan, Korea, and French Indo China. The various Pacific and SE Asian invasions consumed four divisions sent to the Philippines (4th*, 16th*, 21st*, and 56th), two to Burma (33rd* and 55th), two to the Dutch East Indies (2nd* and 48th), three to Malaya (Guards*, 5th, and 18th*), and one to Hong Kong (38th* later reinforced DEI).
*divisions were pulled out of China or Manchuria.

The Chinese Nationalists expended the last of their offensive capability in early 1941. For the rest of the war they only fought defensively, at least in China. Chinese units did attack in Burma later in the war. In the 1930s, the Chinese Nationalists and Chinese Communists tried to unite their efforts against the Japanese with little success. By 1941 a full on three way war had broken out between the Nationalists, the Communists, and the Japanese.
 
Last edited:
Jan 2015
2,951
Rupert's Land ;)
#8
Good explanation from Chlodio

In 1940 and '41 the Chinese counter-attacked. This attack failed, but it probably limited Japanese options as far as launching any attacks of their own. In late 1941, the Japanese probably had to divert forces out of China for their upcoming attacks on the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma, etc. I'm not finding specific references to troops withdrawing from China, but given that most of the Japanese Army was in China, the troops for the other attacks had to come from somewhere.
.
At the end of 1941 of the Japanese divisions, only twelve were deployed against the US/UK forces.
For the primary Japanese divisions engaging the British & Americans, only 4* of 12 were withdrawn from fighting the Chinese the previous two years, the 18th & 33rd.



IJA 23rd Army - Hong Kong

38th division - previously on garrison in South China, facing Hong Kong
+ Garrison forces

IJA 14th Army - Philippines

4th division*
16th Division - Withdrawn from China mid 1939, converted to Triangular and then in reserve in Japan
21st division*
48th Division - Formed in Taiwan mid 1940, by adding third regiment to a brigade
56th division - Formed in 1940 in Japan
+ 65th garrison brigade

IJA 15th Army - Burma

33rd division* - Withdrawn from China
55th division - Formed in Japan mid 1940

IJA 16th Army - Netherlands East Indies

2nd division - Had been on Soviet border after Khalkhin Gol, withdrawn late 1941
48th division - transferred from Philipines after US withdrawal to Bataan
56th division - transferred from Philipines after US withdrawal to Bataan

IJA 25th Army - Malaya

5th division - deployed to French Indochina in 1940/41
18th* division - Participated in battle for Nanking, then transferred to invade Malaya.
Imperial Guards division - garrison in Hainan in 1940-41
 
Last edited:
Jan 2015
2,951
Rupert's Land ;)
#9
In 1941 the Japanese Army consisted of 51 divisions: 27 in China plus 13 more in Manchuria. Which means 11 divisions garrisoned Japan, Korea, and French Indo China. The various Pacific and SE Asian invasions consumed four divisions sent to the Philippines (4th*, 16th*, 21st*, and 56th), two to Burma (33rd* and 55th), two to the Dutch East Indies (2nd* and 48th), three to Malaya (Guards*, 5th, and 18th*), and one to Hong Kong (38th* later reinforced DEI).
*divisions were pulled out of China or Manchuria.

The Chinese Nationalists expended the last of their offensive capability in early 1941. For the rest of the war they only fought defensively, at least in China. Chinese units did attack in Burma later in the war. In the 1930s, the Chinese Nationalists and Chinese Communists tried to unite their efforts against the Japanese with little success. By 1941 a full on three way war had broken out between the Nationalists, the Communists, and the Japanese.
LoL we both wrote replies at the same time.
You are correct, except that the 2nd, 16th, 38th & Guards weren't withdrawn from "fighting the chinese" on the Chinese mainland in 1940-41, so didn't really subtract from active fighting capacity in China.

2nd was guarding the Soviet border, was not needed there and withdrawn after Stalin pulled divisions to Europe
16th has been in Japan for two years reforming & in reserve
38th had no battles against major Chinese forces, it did garrison duty in Guandong.
Part of the Guards (1st brigade) was in Indochina while (2nd brigade) was on Hainan island, neither had major action against Chinese in 1940-41.
 

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