Ring of Fire- or Japan joins the Central Powers in 1917

So mulling over some kaiserreich stuff and I'm basically wondering- say the Kaiser has a dose of sanity and agrees to cede Tsingtao (and possibly the rest of German Asia) to Japan in 1914, thus preventing their joining the Entente.

Very little changes beyond Japanese neutrality- a few hundred extra soldiers (Japanese and otherwise) are alive, and Japan isn't helping patrol the Mediterranean or Pacific, but ultimately the course of the war in Europe is probably unaffected by Japanese neutrality.

Fast forward to 1917. The US has entered the war, and Russia is collapsing into revolution.

Japan has two options. If they're smart they pull a Turkey and DoW Germany in 1917/1918. If they're not...
they invade Russia, de facto declaring war on the Entente.

Say that some level of stupidity happens (on both sides TBH since I doubt Britain wouldn't care much if Japan is "restoring order" in Bolshevik Siberia; blame Wilson for picking a fight with "orientals" I guess) and Japan ends up at war with the Entente.

What happens next?

TBH I think the answer is still "not much." I doubt the Entente (or realistically the US who is the only one with the bodies to spare) feel like going the distance in the Pacific, especially if it's because of some stupidly racist thing Wilson said or whatever. Japan probably walks away almost as cleanly as OTL, at most maybe she loses some of the islands (thinking Australia, IIRC the delegate was supremely racist/white supremacist even by early 20th century standards) and/or trades them for north Sakhalin.

Possibly Germany holds out a few months more- with the US probably sending troops to the Pacific maybe they naively think they can get a more negotiated settlement (and they might not be wrong... but I sort of doubt they'd be willing to offer terms the Entente would accept ie Alsace Lorraine and at least some Austrian territory), but by 1919 Germany is on her last legs and the brink of revolution and throws in the towel.
The biggest difference is in the dynamics of the peace conference.

First- Japan is now nominally an enemy. There is no appeasement- Germany's outposts in Shangdong are outright given to China (rather than Wilson having to accomodate Japan) rather than having to wait until 1922. As mentioned they possibly lose a few of the islands to Britain/Australia and/or the US- but Korea, Taiwan, etc. are still kept, and North Sakhalin is possibly up for grabs depending on how the cards shake out.

Second- Italy and France have a somewhat better position. No Japanese support means that Britain has to depend a bit more on her other allies for naval patrols- and the fighting in the east, however briefly, possibly allows both powers (especially France) to win brownie points with a bit of extra support. The bigger change is in Europe- if the Germans hold out until 1919 then France is probably beyond the OTL armistice line- possibly liberating all of France and Belgium and possibly even crossing into Germany (doubt they get across the Rhine though- French troops entering German lands probably triggers the armistice). Italy meanwhile has finished destroying the dregs of Austria and is probably squatting on Istria, Tyrol etc (and possibly squabbling with the Serbs over eg Dalmatia). On the whole both powers probably have a somewhat stronger position- Italy, for instance, probably gets Istria outright, and France the Saarland and/or some additional colonies.

Then there's Wilson- the man ran himself ragged over the League of Nations but I doubt his health is much better here, especially since even a brief Pacific War could easily double US casualties (it's not like the US won't be sending doughboys to die in France either), so he very well could have a stroke before the conference happens. In which case who gets sent to Paris?

Finally there's outside possibilities like China DoW-ing Japan and probably getting a bit more out of the conference- the German concessions, as mentioned, as I doubt something like Taiwan is in play barring a longer conflict. Siam also could play a bit more of a role- but I doubt France or Britain give them anything for it.

All of this assumes the Japanese don't decide to fight to the bitter end (or that the Entente don't decide to do that rather) which is a whole mess on its own.

Thoughts?
 

trurle

Banned
Possibly Germany holds out a few months more- with the US probably sending troops to the Pacific maybe they naively think they can get a more negotiated settlement (and they might not be wrong... but I sort of doubt they'd be willing to offer terms the Entente would accept ie Alsace Lorraine and at least some Austrian territory), but by 1919 Germany is on her last legs and the brink of revolution and throws in the towel.
The biggest difference is in the dynamics of the peace conference.

First- Japan is now nominally an enemy.

...

All of this assumes the Japanese don't decide to fight to the bitter end (or that the Entente don't decide to do that rather) which is a whole mess on its own.

Thoughts?

I think the negative impacts on Japan at the end of WWI would be largely cancelled out by the absent Siberian Intervention. This mean Japan is drifting more anti-US and pro-Soviet in the interwar period. As end result, Japanese-Soviet border war is either not happening or happening on much smaller scale. Karafuto prefecture (southern Sakhalin and Kuriles) would be more populous by at least 20% in 1940, because development resources of Japan are now less diluted.

It is difficult to extrapolate further than this point - disturbances of inevitable WWII will tend to erase existing trends, producing random effects depending on the details of diplomacy and fortunes of war.
 
Isn't the more likely play for Japan to do both? Scoop up the German colonies, profess their deep and abiding commitment to friendship with England and with western democracy, then do some freelance peacekeeping in the Russian far east?
 

trurle

Banned
Isn't the more likely play for Japan to do both? Scoop up the German colonies, profess their deep and abiding commitment to friendship with England and with western democracy, then do some freelance peacekeeping in the Russian far east?
Political support for Siberian intervention was poor in Japan even with Entente mandate. Without mandate, the political will to intervene would be null.
 
You need an earlier POD. Article 3 of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 states that either party will come to the aid of the other if involved in a war with more than one Power. As Germany and Austria-Hungary are both great powers, as soon as the UK is in the war Japan is obliged to help, which she did. Now Japan did send an ultimatum saying turn over Tsingtao and withdraw their warships or else, but obviously that would be refused and provide an excuse for war. If they thought the Germans would not agree, they would probably have sent a harsher ultimatum, they were obliged to join the war on the Entente's side

Japan staying neutral means her reputation takes a huge hit, nobody is going to trust her to keep her word
 
You need an earlier POD. Article 3 of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 states that either party will come to the aid of the other if involved in a war with more than one Power. As Germany and Austria-Hungary are both great powers, as soon as the UK is in the war Japan is obliged to help, which she did. Now Japan did send an ultimatum saying turn over Tsingtao and withdraw their warships or else, but obviously that would be refused and provide an excuse for war. If they thought the Germans would not agree, they would probably have sent a harsher ultimatum, they were obliged to join the war on the Entente's side

Japan staying neutral means her reputation takes a huge hit, nobody is going to trust her to keep her word

Maybe, but that didn't stop Italy for instance. If Japan wants to weasel out on the claim that Britain isn't fighting defensively or whatnot l think that she could take that hit.
 
Maybe, but that didn't stop Italy for instance. If Japan wants to weasel out on the claim that Britain isn't fighting defensively or whatnot l think that she could take that hit.
Italy had an excuse. The Triple Alliance, as renewed 1912, obliged Austria-Hungary not to alter the status quo in the Balkans without first consulting with Italy and agreeing with regards to compensation, yet they did just that in 1914. Ergo Italy considered them in default of their obligations as specified in Article 7 of the Treaty and was no longer bound by it

The Anglo-Japanese alliance doesn't have that sort of thing involved. It did not specify whether the war was defensive or not, while the Triple Alliance did actually specify it being defensive only. Japan doesn't have a good excuse to not follow through on their obligations
 
Italy had an excuse. The Triple Alliance, as renewed 1912, obliged Austria-Hungary not to alter the status quo in the Balkans without first consulting with Italy and agreeing with regards to compensation, yet they did just that in 1914. Ergo Italy considered them in default of their obligations as specified in Article 7 of the Treaty and was no longer bound by it

The Anglo-Japanese alliance doesn't have that sort of thing involved. It did not specify whether the war was defensive or not, while the Triple Alliance did actually specify it being defensive only. Japan doesn't have a good excuse to not follow through on their obligations

What about Article 4? Japan could claim that the Triple Entente fulfills the requirements for a separate agreement prejudicial to the 1902 alliance. As evidence, they'd cite the fact that Britain had entered a war on behalf of France and Russia, thereby threatening to drag Japan into a Franco-Russian war against its will. Grey's speech to the Commons that focused more on Britain's obligations to France than anything concerning Belgium could be cited as well to counter that potential objection.
 
What about Article 4? Japan could claim that the Triple Entente fulfills the requirements for a separate agreement prejudicial to the 1902 alliance. As evidence, they'd cite the fact that Britain had entered a war on behalf of France and Russia, thereby threatening to drag Japan into a Franco-Russian war against its will. Grey's speech to the Commons that focused more on Britain's obligations to France than anything concerning Belgium could be cited as well to counter that potential objection.
The Triple Entente was not an actual agreement, merely an understanding. In addition this understanding dates to 1907, predating the 1911 renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, if Japan was concerned about the Entente they missed their chance
 
The Triple Entente was not an actual agreement, merely an understanding. In addition this understanding dates to 1907, predating the 1911 renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, if Japan was concerned about the Entente they missed their chance

They could make the argument that Grey had misled them and his own government on that point, with his arguments during the July Crisis making it clear that he considered the understanding to be more binding than he'd presented it to be at the time.
 
They could make the argument that Grey had misled them and his own government on that point, with his arguments during the July Crisis making it clear that he considered the understanding to be more binding than he'd presented it to be at the time.
And its still not an agreement and still not prejudicial to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Its blatantly trying to weasel out of an obligation to go to war as specified in an alliance. Italy was never obligated to go to war, and merely obligated to stay neutral and had proof the other party did not live up to their agreement to remove that obligation

Also elephant in the room. Italy was European, Japan was Asian, anything they do will be seen as worse
 
And its still not an agreement and still not prejudicial to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Its blatantly trying to weasel out of an obligation to go to war as specified in an alliance.

That the Foreign Minister felt the need to stand in front of Parliament and tell them that the Entente obligated them, and by extension, Japan, to support the French is evidence enough of the prejudicial nature of the provisions. That fact seems far more relevant than semantics regarding whether an "understanding" or an "agreement" is dragging Japan into a French war, no?

Italy was never obligated to go to war, and merely obligated to stay neutral and had proof the other party did not live up to their agreement to remove that obligation

Also elephant in the room. Italy was European, Japan was Asian, anything they do will be seen as worse

The Japanese have proof from the mouth of the British Foreign Minister that the agreement with Russia and France isn't what they thought it was at the time. They can argue that they were deceived about the nature of the Entente and Asquith will hardly be in a position to contradict them. As for the elephant in the room, that didn't stop Japan from doing other things that could be interpreted badly, like the 21 demands. For that matter, it also didn't stop them from launching a surprise attack on Russia before their DOW in the Russo-Japanese War. If they don't want to fight, then they can suck that up. They weren't that averse to actions that result in bad press.
 
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That the Foreign Minister felt the need to stand in front of Parliament and tell them that the Entente obligated them, and by extension, Japan, to support the French is evidence enough of the prejudicial nature of the provisions. That fact seems far more relevant than semantics regarding whether an "understanding" or an "agreement" is dragging Japan into a French war, no?

The Japanese have proof from the mouth of the British Foreign Minister that the agreement with Russia and France isn't what they thought it was at the time. They can argue that they were deceived about the nature of the Entente and Asquith will hardly be in a position to contradict them. As for the elephant in the room, that didn't stop Japan from doing other things that could be interpreted badly, like the 21 demands. If they don't want to fight, then they can suck that up.
No it is not. Semantics matter in terms of treaties. If Britain did not enter an actual agreement, than Article 4 is not broken and Japan has no excuse. Asquith is in a position to contradict them, he can open the Foreign Offices records and invite them to point out where exactly in them did the UK actually agree to go to war on France's behalf. Since the UK never did that Japan has no leg to stand on in claiming Article 4 was violated for that reason

The 21 Demands did hurt Japans reputation but does not outright violate a treaty. They can still try to weasel out of the AJA, but it will completely trash their reputation which was the whole point I was making
 
No it is not. Semantics matter in terms of treaties. If Britain did not enter an actual agreement, than Article 4 is not broken and Japan has no excuse. Asquith is in a position to contradict them, he can open the Foreign Offices records and invite them to point out where exactly in them did the UK actually agree to go to war on France's behalf. Since the UK never did that Japan has no leg to stand on in claiming Article 4 was violated for that reason

The 21 Demands did hurt Japans reputation but does not outright violate a treaty. They can still try to weasel out of the AJA, but it will completely trash their reputation which was the whole point I was making

Asquith can argue otherwise, but he would then contradict his own Foreign Minister. That Grey presented the Entente as binding strengthens the Japanese case that the Entente is more than it was presented to have been, and that deception throws into question the notion that Britain didn't enter into an actual agreement. But I suspect we're going to go around in circles now, so I'll leave it here.
 
Asquith can argue otherwise, but he would then contradict his own Foreign Minister. That Grey presented the Entente as binding strengthens the Japanese case that the Entente is more than it was presented to have been, and that deception throws into question the notion that Britain didn't enter into an actual agreement. But I suspect we're going to go around in circles now, so I'll leave it here.
Grey specifically said in his speech they are not party to the alliance nor obligated by honor to join the war. Their obligation to join the war on behalf of France is one of Friendship Grey says, and obviously friendship with France is not against Article 4. The actual commitment to France Grey made in that speech was that the UK would keep the HSF out of the Channel, which he says Germany would agree to if Britain would remain neutral and UK neutrality does not violate article 4. So no he is not contradicting Gray

Regardless Japan would take a major hit no matter what even if your view is correct. She's Asian so anything she does is looked askance at, since she is doing this in 1914 it looks scuzzier than Italy doing it in May 1915 and her cause is more arguable than Italy's, and Italy still took a diplomatic hit
 
Given the diplomatic repercussions and the fact the Kaiser is not going to be prescient enough to surrender all of his colonies (which would be the bare minimum) it would probably require something different to alter attitudes in Japan- the fact that she was allied to Britain and wanted a seat at the table (and that it would cost her almost nothing to do so) would lead her into the war for the same reason that Siam and China joined- prestige.

Short of altering the war I'd say it would have to be something else- say that Japan tries to make the 21 demands happen earlier, before her DoW, and that this causes Britain to intervene like OTL, with Japan deciding that this breaks the alliance and sitting it out or even simply invading China or whatnot.
 
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