Discussion:
What if Japan invaded & occupied Thailand in September 1941?
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Rob
2017-06-07 23:33:06 UTC
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What if, upon being embargoed after occupying southern Indochina, decided that while war had become more likely, *they* needed to make a show of resolve short of war.

In this case, the Japanese decide to invade and occupy Thailand. The reasons are to: 1) tit for America's tat, 2) gain control of more territory to bargain with, 3) Better position Japanese forces for an all-Southeast Asia campaign if it does come to war with the ABCD powers [air power can be projected even more quickly and powerfully to Sumatra, Burma, Malaya, Java, the Maldives and Sri Lanka from the Kra Isthmus than it can from Indochina, same with ground and naval power], and finally 4) to secure the food and labor resources of Thailand.

So the Japanese invade Thailand by land, sea and air on 1 September 1941.

How quickly can they occupy the whole country?

Will Britain or the US declare war over this action?

Will the Thai surrender and possibly switch sides, and if so, how quickly?

Assuming that neither Britain nor the US jump into war with Japan right there and then, what do the western powers do besides complain?

I would assume they would get more serious about defense, especially the British in Burma and Malaya and Singapore.

What else? The US, having frozen assets and embargoing oil, is out of economic cards to play.

Do the Americans follow their pattern developed in the Atlantic (like they did in occupying Greenland and Iceland and Caribbean bases), and occupy strategic island groups like Fiji, the Solomons and Gilberts (with British consent) or New Caledonia?

Would the Americans refuse the negotiations they took part in outright, thus leaving Japan certain it needs to start the war even earlier, in October or November.

Finally, if the Japanese occupy Thailand in early September, there is no war but rather continued buildups on all sides, concurrent with diplomacy, and then war starts on December 7-8 as in OTL, how are the early campaigns and the peak territorial extent of the Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere effected.

Do the Americans and British make any more effective use of their time, becoming prepared enough to hold back the Japanese in one or more areas?

Does this ultimately make Sri Lanka or Assam or Yunnan more accessible to Japanese power at its peak than it was in OTL, by putting Japanese troops into Burma, and Japanese ships into the Indian Ocean more swiftly than OTL?

Does a heightened level of anxiety for Burma and Malaya result in any changes to deployments of Australian troops at home or abroad?
Rich Rostrom
2017-06-09 21:05:27 UTC
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Post by Rob
Will the Thai surrender and possibly switch sides, and if so, how quickly?
Thai forces resisted the Japanese landings at Singora
and Patani on 12/7/41. They inflicted several hundred
casualties and held out for a few hours, until ordered
to surrender by Thai HQ.

So Thailand would definitely resist Japan - unless
perhaps Japan first issued an ultimatum and extorted
Thai surrender before entering Thai territory.
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Rob
2017-07-08 04:14:07 UTC
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Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Rob
Will the Thai surrender and possibly switch sides, and if so, how quickly?
Thai forces resisted the Japanese landings at Singora
and Patani on 12/7/41. They inflicted several hundred
casualties and held out for a few hours, until ordered
to surrender by Thai HQ.
So Thailand would definitely resist Japan - unless
perhaps Japan first issued an ultimatum and extorted
Thai surrender before entering Thai territory.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.
http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
The Thai performance seems similar to the Iranian performance in the face of Anglo-Soviet invasion, fight for a short while for "honor" and then surrender before getting too badly hurt.

Why would Thailand resist for more hours than in OTL, in this ATL?

If we're thinking in terms of Thai guerrilla resistance, I'd note that Viet Minh and Chindit operations didn't do much of anything against Japan's ability to flexibility to move troops, so my instinct on any Thai guerrilla resistance is "big deal"


......moving on:

With a starting point on the western and southern Thai borders the conquest of Burma can be quicker and Japan, which still had offensive steam through may, could keep going. What would be a more productive direction for the them to go, Assam in eastern India, or China's Yunnan province and Kunming. Success in either direction forces the "Hump" aircraft to fly on longer legs between air bases, either limiting its capacity or cutting it off.

If Japanese advances make "the Hump" less feasible and productive, could this make the Allies just give up on trying to make a near to medium term reclamation of Burma? Or will the Allies simply commit the same resources or more than OTL to support a less efficient air route?
Rich Rostrom
2017-07-08 21:20:31 UTC
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Post by Rob
With a starting point on the western and southern
Thai borders the conquest of Burma can be quicker
and Japan, which still had offensive steam through
may, could keep going.
OTL the Japanese began the invasion of Burma from
western Thailand, on 20 January 1942. This was six
weeks after the start of the Pacific War. Thai
resistance to Japan had ended within 24 hours of the
first Japanese moves; it is not clear what delayed
Japan's invasion of Burma.

There was some necessary delay for Japanese forces to
deploy on the border with Burma, but not six weeks.

One supposes Japan's moves into Malaya and Burma would
be facilitated if Japan could deploy its forces along
the land borders before initiating hostilities. For
instance, if Japan established air bases in the Kra
Isthmus, that would put Singapore and the Strait of
Malacca under Japanese air control immediately. Japan
could even deploy warships to the west coast of the
Isthmus, giving them a naval presence in the Andaman
Sea at the start.

However, this move by Japan would certainly lead to
changes in strategy and deployment by the Allies. The
Allies might try to redeploy and reinforce the
additionally threatened areas. But the Far East was at
that time a lower priority area, and the additional
assets required weren't available without robbing
other sectors.

So the Allies might conclude that Singapore was
indefensible, and _reduce_ forces there to a minimum.
(OTOH the Allies deployed thousands of troops to Hong
Kong for a defense which was obviously futile.)

Another point is that this action would make the
Japanese intent to attack obvious and not subject to
deterrence. Churchill and Roosevelt did not want a
Pacific War, as it would be a huge diversion from the
on-going war effort against Germany. They believed
that the firm stand exemplified by the oil embargo
would deter Japan and avoid a Pacific War.

If (as of October) Allied leaders could see that the
Japanese attack was certain, then much would change.
The Pacific and Far East would become a higher
priority. Burma would be reinforced. Possibly Chinese
forces would be invited to help protect Rangoon and
the Burma Road.

The Allies might delay Operation CRUSADER to make more
stuff available in the Far East.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
Dimensional Traveler
2017-07-09 00:55:09 UTC
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Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Rob
With a starting point on the western and southern
Thai borders the conquest of Burma can be quicker
and Japan, which still had offensive steam through
may, could keep going.
OTL the Japanese began the invasion of Burma from
western Thailand, on 20 January 1942. This was six
weeks after the start of the Pacific War. Thai
resistance to Japan had ended within 24 hours of the
first Japanese moves; it is not clear what delayed
Japan's invasion of Burma.
There was some necessary delay for Japanese forces to
deploy on the border with Burma, but not six weeks.
One supposes Japan's moves into Malaya and Burma would
be facilitated if Japan could deploy its forces along
the land borders before initiating hostilities. For
instance, if Japan established air bases in the Kra
Isthmus, that would put Singapore and the Strait of
Malacca under Japanese air control immediately. Japan
could even deploy warships to the west coast of the
Isthmus, giving them a naval presence in the Andaman
Sea at the start.
However, this move by Japan would certainly lead to
changes in strategy and deployment by the Allies. The
Allies might try to redeploy and reinforce the
additionally threatened areas. But the Far East was at
that time a lower priority area, and the additional
assets required weren't available without robbing
other sectors.
So the Allies might conclude that Singapore was
indefensible, and _reduce_ forces there to a minimum.
(OTOH the Allies deployed thousands of troops to Hong
Kong for a defense which was obviously futile.)
Another point is that this action would make the
Japanese intent to attack obvious and not subject to
deterrence. Churchill and Roosevelt did not want a
Pacific War, as it would be a huge diversion from the
on-going war effort against Germany. They believed
that the firm stand exemplified by the oil embargo
would deter Japan and avoid a Pacific War.
If (as of October) Allied leaders could see that the
Japanese attack was certain, then much would change.
The Pacific and Far East would become a higher
priority. Burma would be reinforced. Possibly Chinese
forces would be invited to help protect Rangoon and
the Burma Road.
IOTL the Chinese were asked to deploy some forces to help protect the
Burma Road after Dec 1941. Chiang Kai-shek resisted doing so as he was
more interested in preserving his forces to fight the communists and
other Chinese factions after the war with Japan was over. When he was
finally coerced into deploying some forces, they basically did nothing
useful. I don't think they ever even engaged the Japanese and soon
marched back into China.
Post by Rich Rostrom
The Allies might delay Operation CRUSADER to make more
stuff available in the Far East.
--
Inquiring minds want to know while minds with a self-preservation
instinct are running screaming.
Rob
2017-07-09 02:33:28 UTC
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Post by Dimensional Traveler
IOTL the Chinese were asked to deploy some forces to help protect the
Burma Road after Dec 1941. Chiang Kai-shek resisted doing so as he was
more interested in preserving his forces to fight the communists and
other Chinese factions after the war with Japan was over. When he was
finally coerced into deploying some forces, they basically did nothing
useful. I don't think they ever even engaged the Japanese and soon
marched back into China.
This is nonsense. Chiang offered troops to support the defense of Burma from December, the British authorities dilly-dallied about accepting the support until late in the campaign in 1942. Chiang was less enthusiastic joining into what was becoming a lost cause by the time the British were calling for help and lots of it.

By the same token that the Chinese did nothing useful in the defense of Burma, neither did the British. Both armies got run out. Some Chinese forces did retreat to China, but other forces were deeply committed into Burma that they actually retreated to India.

The British and Chinese took a long time to find their groove, but by late 1944 both armies were doing much better and making progress in Burma.
Rich Rostrom
2017-07-09 19:43:06 UTC
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When [Chiang] was finally coerced into deploying
some [Chinese] forces, they basically did nothing
useful. I don't think they ever even engaged the
Japanese and soon marched back into China.
The Chinese forces in Burma were extensively engaged
with the Japanese during the retreat from Rangoon.
This is mentioned at several points in Field Marshal
Slim's memoir.
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The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
Rich Rostrom
2017-06-09 21:12:14 UTC
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Post by Rob
Finally, if the Japanese occupy Thailand in early
September, there is no war but rather continued
buildups on all sides, concurrent with diplomacy,
and then war starts on December 7-8 as in OTL, how
are the early campaigns and the peak territorial
extent of the Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere
effected.
Obviously the threat to Malaya becomes far more acute.
Japan can deploy its forces in southern Thailand for
a methodical and well-prepared advance. Japan could
station aircraft in Thailand, hundreds of km closer
to Singapore than Indochina, and even place warships on
Thailand's west coast (on the Andaman Sea), effectively
closing the Strait of Malacca.

The British _might_ decide that Malaya was now untenable.
--
The real Velvet Revolution - and the would-be hijacker.

http://originalvelvetrevolution.com
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