Japan declares war on France over Indochina in 1940

Could the British perhaps pay Thailand to intervene/occupy part of FIC, with the Indian Army as a potential backup if Japan tried to widen the war?
 
Could the British perhaps pay Thailand to intervene/occupy part of FIC, with the Indian Army as a potential backup if Japan tried to widen the war?
KMT China is already at war with Japan, they seem the more logical proxy for either GB or even Germany? the French made at least overtures to them.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
I can't see the British antagonising Japan without being fairly sure of US support. As noted in a previous post, Britain did close the Burma Road under Japanese pressure in 1940. Churchill, for all his bombast, will not bring another enemy into the war without commensurate support from FDR.
 
Possibly but certainly not assuredly. There are loads of possibilities depending on the reaction of the different actors. So of these make life easier for Japan, others improve the British situation. Below I have written down some things to consider, divided in categories.

Succes of the Japanese invasion of French Indochina
If the Empire of Japan invades FIC after a French refusal of the basing rights, how succesful will that invasion be? One could say that any resistance is going to be detrimental for the Japanese as their forces will inevitably be more damaged as OTL. How much is a bit up in the air. Bussemaker has this to say about the strenght of the French Army in FIC

[...]the disposition of the French Armoe de Terre in FIC was as follows in 1939: 21 battalions were used to guard the continental frontiers, 9 battalions covered the three most probable landingg beaches at Haiphong, Hue and Cam-Ranh, a powerful reserve of 12 battalions was kept around Hanoi, 6 battalions were kept in reserve along the Annamite coast and 4 battalionss around Saigon. Therefore, around 45% of the French Empire's colonial army was concentrated In FIC. Moreover, a system of forts had been implemented along the Northernn frontier between Langson and Hagiang.

On the whole, the French Armee Coloniale as deployed in FIC was larger in terms of men and better armed in terms of firepower, than any other colonial Army in S.E. Asia. It was. however, less mechanized and motorised than the Dutch and English battalions. Nevertheless, especially in static defense, it was a force to be reckoned with
Reviewing the French plans for the defense of FIC, the casual observer is struck by the Frenchh fixation of their Eastern frontiers in Europe, the planned use of the resources of their Empire for the defence of the motherland, and their total underestimation of Japanese forces, until it was too late to redress the balance. At least the English and Dutch governments clearly saw the danger from Japan in the first decade of the century. The French local commanders however were more worried about a Chinese or Thai invasion in FIC than about a Japanese military threat. This may explain the vacillating attitude of the Pétain government, when it was confronted with an aggressive Japan.
Later on he describes the battles that followed the Vichy capitulation to the Japanese demands as, in typical fashion, the Chinese Expeditionary Army was of the opinion that the French were not compliant enough. These battles were fierce and even though the Japanese forces suffered quite some casualties, the French were shocked to see themselves overclassed and some indigenous units deserted. Following these battles there were also a number of nationalist and communist uprisings, these were easily crushed OTL but if the French are busy fighting the IJA these might be more succesful.

So from this perspective this is a win for the Allies as the IJA is going to suffer at least somewhat if they attack FIC.

Thai component
Right after the above mentioned battles the Thai started to put pressure on FIC which would result in a short war in January of 1941. It is pretty likely that ATL the Thai may join the Japanese invasion and go firmly over to the Japanese side. This is a big problem the British position in Malaya. If the alliance holds after the conquest of the FIC - not 100% guarenteed as Japan showed itself to be pretty greedy in these kind of matters - the IJA is free to deploy on the borders with the British Empire in Malaya and Burma without the need to hitch a ride from the IJN. The IJN is able to deploy (small) units right on Singapores doorstep, on both sides of the peninsula and in the Andaman Sea. The Thai military was no slouch either so if they get frimly on the Japanese side this could be a great help. Again, only if the different Japanese factions can refrain from their usual gimme-gimme-gimme antics.

From this perspective the ATL is very, very problematic for the British position.

Response from the British
If the British see invasion of FIC as a direct threat to their possessions in South East Asia this could lead to the deployment of badly need reinforcements. This would ofcourse be very beneficial for the defense of Malaya compared to OTL but it is quite frankly far from guarenteed. The British knew that Japan would come knocking at some point. They just valued other fronts and interests higher. Not sure if one could change that. However, if Thailand is allied with Japan that means that Great Britain will have to deploy considerable forces to Burma or risk a swift invasion of India. Then there is the question of where the UK is going to get those forces from. This scenario could be beneficial to European Axis!

Another possibility is that the British High Command decides that with Singapore in such - litteral - dire straits the best course of action is to abandon the Singapore-strategy in favour of a more secure position on Java or even further away.

Response from the USA
There is no way that the US is going to directly intervene in the Japanese invasion of the FIC, otherwise they would have given a territorial guarentee before that invasion happened in the first place. What is the US going to do though? If they slap on the same trade restrictions as they would do after the Japanese occupation of South Vietnam that could seriously alter the Japanese timetable of OTL. Is Roosevelt going to risk that with the elections coming up though? And if the American response is not that strong, will the Japanese then conclude that the Americans are never going to intervene anyway and only attack the British and the Dutch in 1941?
 
Succes of the Japanese invasion of French Indochina
If the Empire of Japan invades FIC after a French refusal of the basing rights, how succesful will that invasion be? One could say that any resistance is going to be detrimental for the Japanese as their forces will inevitably be more damaged as OTL. How much is a bit up in the air.

Thai component
Right after the above mentioned battles the Thai started to put pressure on FIC which would result in a short war in January of 1941. It is pretty likely that ATL the Thai may join the Japanese invasion and go firmly over to the Japanese side. This is a big problem the British position in Malaya. The Thai military was no slouch either so if they get frimly on the Japanese side this could be a great help. Again, only if the different Japanese factions can refrain from their usual gimme-gimme-gimme antics. From this perspective the ATL is very, very problematic for the British position.

Response from the British
If the British see invasion of FIC as a direct threat to their possessions in South East Asia this could lead to the deployment of badly need reinforcements. The British knew that Japan would come knocking at some point. They just valued other fronts and interests higher. Not sure if one could change that. However, if Thailand is allied with Japan that means that Great Britain will have to deploy considerable forces to Burma or risk a swift invasion of India. Then there is the question of where the UK is going to get those forces from. This scenario could be beneficial to European Axis!

Another possibility is that the British High Command decides that with Singapore in such - litteral - dire straits the best course of action is to abandon the Singapore-strategy in favour of a more secure position on Java or even further away.
the Netherlands had a government in exile, while Germany for their part waved away any authority over their occupied countries territories (both French and Dutch)

wonder if Germany did attempt to bolster the colonies, would Japan just ignore them and proceed? there is no German navy there, but the Vichy and (a speculative) Dutch State could present a united front, which would make the whole scenario a much larger effort for the Japanese?
 
the Netherlands had a government in exile, while Germany for their part waved away any authority over their occupied countries territories (both French and Dutch)

wonder if Germany did attempt to bolster the colonies, would Japan just ignore them and proceed? there is no German navy there, but the Vichy and (a speculative) Dutch State could present a united front, which would make the whole scenario a much larger effort for the Japanese?
Well in fact the Germans did regard the colonies of France and the Netherlands as their sphere of influence and they allowed France to reinforce French Indochina, though that was blocked by the United Kingdom. When Vichy gave in to Germany that meant that the FIC was now firmly in the Japanese sphere of influence and the Germans let it go. By then it was clear that the DEI was not going to accept orders from the Nazi's so the Germans gave it up.
 
Well in fact the Germans did regard the colonies of France and the Netherlands as their sphere of influence and they allowed France to reinforce French Indochina, though that was blocked by the United Kingdom. When Vichy gave in to Germany that meant that the FIC was now firmly in the Japanese sphere of influence and the Germans let it go. By then it was clear that the DEI was not going to accept orders from the Nazi's so the Germans gave it up.
historically it was all a moot point since the Nazi regime was "courting" Japan, my hypothetical question, in part because Japan had not acted against GB for approx. a year by the time of the invasion of Indochina, what if the mercurial (to put it mildly) German leadership decided the French "bird in hand" worth more than prospective Axis Japan?
 
historically it was all a moot point since the Nazi regime was "courting" Japan, my hypothetical question, in part because Japan had not acted against GB for approx. a year by the time of the invasion of Indochina, what if the mercurial (to put it mildly) German leadership decided the French "bird in hand" worth more than prospective Axis Japan?
But this is OTL.

'Bussemakers' said:
The foot-dragging of Decoux caused the Japanese to increase pressure on the French. Accordingg to Craigie in Tokyo, this was also caused by Japanese anxiety over Germany, whichh was rumored to dislike any expansion of Japan into FIC.26* 6 The Dutch chargé d'affairess in Bangkok learned from the French Ambassador to Thailand, Paul Lépissier, thatt the Germans had declared both FIC and NEI as being extensions of states subjugated by the Germans, implying German irritation at Japanese meddling in these territories.2547.
[...]
Not mentioned by [...] French historians is the interesting fact that in September/Octoberr 1940 there was a window of opportunity to send reinforcement directly from France to FIC. According to the French Ambassador in Washington, Gaston Henry Haye, the German Armistice Commission had given permission to send troops and weaponss from metropolitan France to FIC by way of the Cape of Good Hope or the Panama Canal. The French Ambassador asked the United States to mediate with the Britishh to leave these transports unhampered. The American Undersecretary Sumner Welles thereupon asked the French Ambassador to explain to him why the Germans and Italians would allow the reinforcement of FIC, while they had just concluded a Tripartite Pactt with Japan. Flustered, the Ambassador stated "that he had reached the conclusion that the permission to transport troops and munitions to Indochina had been given because of the desire of Germany and Italy to prevent Japan from extending herself too far in Southern Asia and thus facilitating a Japanese attack upon the Netherlands East Indies which Germany desired to retain for herself.'
What I think happened is that Germany realized that it was not going to gain or keep control of the French and Dutch colonies one way or the other and it accepted the Japanese take over as a fait accompli and moved on.
 
Response from the USA
There is no way that the US is going to directly intervene in the Japanese invasion of the FIC, otherwise they would have given a territorial guarentee before that invasion happened in the first place. What is the US going to do though? If they slap on the same trade restrictions as they would do after the Japanese occupation of South Vietnam that could seriously alter the Japanese timetable of OTL. Is Roosevelt going to risk that with the elections coming up though? And if the American response is not that strong, will the Japanese then conclude that the Americans are never going to intervene anyway and only attack the British and the Dutch in 1941?
The Japanese are immediately forced into 'Cash and Carry' trading, which is going to hurt them a bit.
 
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