[Historical Inspirations] 2017/04/20 – Japan & Its Historical Approach to Food

Sune here! I guess I should use a different tagline for this Mail Call since it really deals mostly with real life history.

Today’s update is in response to someone who thinks I am treating Japan badly. The question, when translated, is “How can Japan has a national motivation of securing food when Japan has been a prosperous and capable country in real life?”

Japanese cuisine is typically characterized by its simplicity. This was a historical matter as well as a cultural one. Japan is not a resource rich country. Its cuisine reflects that as a result of both economic and cultural realities. Japanese food economics historically has relied heavily on rice and lesser grains as a staple and seafood as a heavy supplement. Oils, red meats, fats and such are much rarer in Japanese cuisine than its neighbors.

For that matter, most of Japanese land is poor and not suitable for farming. If I tell you people used to fight for the right to eat white rice you might be shocked, but when we have a unit used historically to measure wealth (koku) that is literally an approximation of how much rice a person needs to survive for a year it shows just how important things are.

There is more to the historical precedent.

Historically Imperial Japan recognizes the necessity of living space in the context of food security. While no such term was formally coined like Nazi Germany the concept was the same. The bigger reason is all in the details. The Imperial Japanese Army saw that Germany was reliant on outside resources and became alarmed because when Germany was starved of those resources it was defeated. Virtually all of Japan’s raw materials had to be imported. In order to make Japan self-sufficient so Japan cannot be defeated Japan must create its own empire.

Evicting millions of Chinese farmers from Manchuria to make room for Japanese colonists to produce food for the homeland is one example. Japan being very interested in creating colonies for itself is another. Japanese farms being inefficient and incapable of producing food that allows for sustained national expansion is yet another. Economic interests is yet another.

Japanese reliance on its colonies for producing rice went from about 5% of its overall rice crop in the 1910s to about 20% in less than twenty years. Poor management of domestic policies did not result in an increase of wealth to the Japanese poor and farming classes. While we were starving the subhumans in Asia (Morgane has said that it was a rude word but I am just stating what the Army thought of the non-Japanese in the colonies at the time to emphasize how brutal the times were) a decrease in prices of rice (due to greater imports) resulted in massive poverty. Farmers could not sell their rice at the old prices due to cheaper imports and were forced to buy food. In many cases the cost to produce rice in the Japanese homeland was more than what the farmer would receive on the marketplace. In order to survive and pay rent they must take loans in which many times were very high in interest.

I had the opportunity to look at some not-destroyed records of the time. By 1931 when we were invading Manchuria farmer debt accounted for one THIRD of Japan’s gross national product.

At the time in 1930 documented deaths in newborns and other infants due to malnutrition and starvation was approximately five hundred thousand. About one of every ten child will not live to see his or her first birthday. Two hundred thousand elementary school aged children were attending class without anything to eat for lunch. People were eating tree bark and fertilizer (because of fish bits) and tens of thousands families were literally selling their daughters into sexual slavery just so they could survive.

Japan had problems and food was one of its biggest. I would not say that the militarists and ultranationalists “fooled” the Japanese people by “exploiting” this undercurrent of anger and directed it outward. There is no fooling anyone there. This was a concern significant to the population and most people eagerly went along with it. Japan was not lacking in political diversity or ideology at this time. The people just did not want to do things differently. Especially not when the military actively promoted self-interest and made the lives of those siding with it much better.

Some English-speaking KanColle fans have this idea somehow that everything was wonderful during the pre-war years. I can only say with certainty that parts of Japan was doing very wonderfully. For all of its technological advancements Imperial Japan is an excellent case study for systematically poor management and national policy making.

I tell you this not to embarrass my country and my ancestors. It is simply what it is. In order for Japan to move forward in this world or in our world it is necessary for us to look at history and understand what happened.

Anyway I will not bore you with more details of the rural reform plans or Manchuria or even indigenous Japanese policies that help inspire many angles of Pacific’s Japan. I will simply say that in real life, there is a book, 餓死(うえじに)した英霊たち, showing that more than half of the Japanese military losses were due primarily to hunger and starvation.

Pacific’s Japan knows this and tries to learn from this. Its strategy of trying to obtain living space and to improve its domestic industries has not changed from the defeated empire. From a purely thematic perspective my emphasis for Japan is practicality above all else. Much like real life history the Japanese government is still ran by the old Imperialists in Pacific. The old fears are also still there, but unlike the Empire Japan now has no colonies to extract food from.

And so Japan placed all of its hopes on three things. Scientific advancement. National patriotism. Time. Like Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan did the first two things and waited for an opportunity. It would soon get one.

When the U.S. Pacific Fleet was nearly eradicated in a skirmish (covered up as a nuclear detonation + weapons system malfunction) against the Abyssal Fleet in a foolish show of force, Japan saw its chance. Here was the perfect chance to realign and revitalize itself nationally and militarily. The resurgent Soviet Union, a growing Chinese threat, and the weakened American presence in East Asia all pointed to an opportunity of the once in a lifetime type for Japan to make it great (?) again.

The opportunity died with the Hyuuga Incident.

[Mail Call]2017/04/19 – On international collaboration

Again, this mail call is more of a “group” of question types that’s been raised up during discussion. Specifically, the nature of the cold war and how the world alters.

“If the US and the USSR cooperates more does it mean there’s no cold war?”

Not really. Countries have different interests, and the US and the USSR will still be going head to head on certain matters that will result in tensions and will result in conflict. In order to maintain a reasonable degree of believability we can’t just have the USSR and the US and everyone else hold hands and suddenly be friends. While that’s what I’d like to see happen, it’s going to take decades of continued work to get to that point, and some of the more cynical folks would point to say, our relationship with France or the UK and say that there’s no such thing as friendships between countries.

However, how the two countries compete. How they choose to interact. That, I think is worth exploring. Let me show you an example.

This proposal, raised by Eisenhower in 1955, is commonly known as the Open Skies doctrine, though I’ve heard that the concept is really termed “mutual aerial observation.” The proposal to the Soviets was pretty simple. You give us your maps, we give you ours, and we each allow unlimited observational flights over each other’s territory. We’ll tell each other where our military bases are so we can check on each other in case there are arms build-ups and the like.

In real life, the Soviets rejected this. Khrushchev denounced the idea, calling it little more than “U.S. espionage.” Latter media (not only Russian media, American media as well) has criticized Eisenhower’s intent, critiquing that he probably knew the Soviets would never have agreed to such an idea and wanted to use it to embarrass the Soviet Union so that the US could maintain the moral high ground by appearing to be more pro-peace.

Studying Eisenhower’s biography, however, and I think this is an important perspective to keep in mind. Frequently, I believe US policy is not entirely dictated by the realities of realpolitik. Rather, much of the policies set forth do depend heavily on the individual in question. There’s a particular brand of idealism found in the ideas presented by many U.S. presidents, possibly due to historical tradition or cultural values, and I think Eisenhower is no exception. I’m not saying that he doesn’t see the reason in presenting the US as the country calling for peace. Leaders of countries are frequently far more capable than we give them credit for. What I am saying that Eisenhower’s military experience gave him a lot of personal reasons to not want to see a “nuclear Pearl Harbor” or for us to get into an arms race.

A trip to the Eisenhower library or even the website’ll tell you a lot about his personality and there’s plenty of quotes online that you can look at to see if you reach similar conclusions.

So, what happens in Pacific, then?

Of course the Soviets shoot the idea down! At the time, it simply wouldn’t be realistic enough for the Soviets to agree to something as drastic as this.

However, given the overall trajectory of this particular world’s historical development, the rejection wasn’t as blunt. Khrushchev might have thought for a moment and said nothing, and the Soviet delegate hurriedly called the meeting to a close without commenting on it terribly much.

Or maybe that there were talks to begin about what the details may be, and because the US and the Soviets couldn’t agree on anything, the talks never went through.

Now you see why I find Pacific fun. There are several things I’d like to see happen, and one of the ways to do this is through careful arrangements of historical events. Ultimately, it’s up to the reader to decide if the path we took is believable. 🙂

See you next time.


[Mail Call]2017/04/17 – 1941 & Aviation

This actually came from an email asking me about what the significance of mentioning CXAM radar is in the first book.

“Seems like a bit of interesting trivia.”

Honestly? Yeah. It was a tidbit of trivia that I thought was thematically appropriate. 1941 was the year where our prototyping and experimentation with radar really took off. Contrary to what our impressions might be, we weren’t really caught flat-footed (that much) by the Japanese attack. The navy has always considered (and at the time knew we were probably behind) technological advancements to be critical, and has been busy at work testing new equipment pretty much since war broke out in Europe.

Radar was one of these things. The CXAM radar detail that I found interesting was through looking at reports of Yorktown, Feb-Apr 1941, where the commander mentioned that after five months of operational experience with the thing they now can reliably track aircraft within 100 miles of the carrier. His recommendation was that CVs should be equipped with proper facilities for tracking radar targets, and proposed that friendlies be equipped with something that would allow the CVs to identify them electronically. At the time, though, radar was pretty cumbersome, and there were several logistical hurdles.

Basically, about four months later in July, we got some ASV radars from the Brits and put them on some PBYs to test out. American identification equipment started getting installed as early as September of 1941, and by 17th of December the Naval Research Labs ironed out the oversized antenna matter by getting a new antenna set-up to do both transmission and reception.

It would take the navy another year to get radar of all types distributed and set-up across the fleet, but I’d say by 1943 things were pretty much looking up.

[Mail Call] 2017/04/15 – CV Girl Design Notes

Today’s mail call isn’t really answering a question, but again, it’s more like smoothing out some “loose ends.” I honestly feel like I’ve answered this thing before, but, well, you know me at this point. x)

Specifically, of course, I now talk about matters pertaining to shipgirl equipment. With 80 (yes, eighty) characters in Pacific, I think it’s time to look back and consolidate the designs we have. Specifically, I’d like to address a few common comments pertaining to the shipgirls themselves.

Since the upcoming featured book is on Midway, I’ll start with the CV girls instead. Let me clear up a few misconceptions.

First, are CV girls defenseless without their air groups? Yes and no. Certainly they’re at a greater disadvantage (being able to strike from hundreds of miles away is a big bonus), but they wouldn’t be particularly worse if we’re getting into melee range (defined here as basically what you see in the KanColle anime, where shipgirls are shooting at the Abyssals in a ‘cinematic’ fashion). That being said, as I’ve hammered the point again and again, you don’t need to shoot an Abyssal at a range where they’re considerably more dangerous if you can do so at a much safer distance. There is absolutely zero reason here for STEC to want to risk the lives of their shipgirls – no matter how badly some shipgirls might want to fight.

Secondly, how are planes launched in Pacific? I’ve seen people actually argue it both ways – launching magical planes out bow-and-arrow style or using the actual carrier “deck” to do so.

The answer here is that it’s both. A typical sortie order would mean that the CV girl configures her gear and let her fairies do the work inside. Remember that in Pacific, the fairy air-groups are more or less toy-sized until they launch, where they undergo a rapid transformation into their “full” size counterparts.

Now, what happens if a CV girl shoots a plane out directly from her personal weapon? The effect would be largely analogous to throwing it. Simply put, the plane itself might come out a bit rougher in shape, but the extraordinary acceleration (or the process of shooting itself) basically improves the plane’s initial acceleration and speed. Naturally, then, it means that it’ll reach its combat altitude/speeds faster as a result. STEC isn’t sure of the precise mechanism, but a popular theory is basically that the shipgirl’s providing a bit of her own (immense) powers into the planes themselves.

(Sune’s asked before about what happens if they shoot a plane at an Abyssal. The answer? A very big BOOM – it’s not all different from a fairy plane crashing into an Abyssal. STEC’s not particularly clear on this aspect from a doctrinal perspective, and you’ll have commanders telling shipgirls to recover as many planes as they can to bring home for repairs or some that basically tells them to go ahead and blow the bastards up (we’ve got spares)

“So, okay, if it’s better than launching with a deck then why do they still need the flight deck? Why not just make every single launch “manual”?”

Well, for starters, “better” is relative. The direct trade-off here is combat speed versus materiel attrition. It would be very difficult to launch a proper formation, and the chances of the fairy plane blowing up during the process isn’t insubstantial.

Secondly, this particular method of launching planes is not very “stealthy.” The Abyssals can “sense” to a much better degree the shipgirl’s activity if she manually launches her planes. The NKT might not care (and in fact, might encourage it as evidence of adherence to traditionalism), but STEC’s own doctrine of engagement naturally frowns on anything that might be breaking the shipgirl’s concealment.

So, this brings us to the next point. Just exactly what does fairies do? We know so far from things like OCEAN that they build and maintain equipment. However, what do they do?

The answer to that is that they literally crew the shipgirl’s equipment. Again, the manual versus automatic analogy comes in. Enterprise can, with a little bit of effort, “materialize” her planes, load them with the proper munitions, fuel them up, launch. She can activate her radar equipment to search and pinpoint for Abyssals on her own. She can communicate with Mike & the base in real time. She can “steer” her mobile unit on her own. She can recover her planes. She can relay the information from her planes to her allies in the region. Indeed, at any given moment a shipgirl could be doing any number of these things.

Which is why she have her fairies to do that stuff for her. In that sense, a shipgirl isn’t simply an elite infantry or special operator, nor is she really equivalent to a single “ship.” The amount of firepower and supporting elements a single shipgirl brings to the battlefield is closer to something like a taskforce. Think about it. The US navy basically defines a task force as a collection of ships, oftentimes of varying elements and from different divisions, coming together to achieve some tangible battlefield objective. Think about what can each shipgirl do, and think if this analogy makes sense.

Now, when multiple shipgirls come together for a single mission, you can quickly see why some sort of combat information center-equivalent (or, basically, Mike’s job) becomes necessary. While a shipgirl could probably serve as field “commander,” it makes everyone’s lives easier if there is an additional head keeping an eye out on all the new developments that could detail.

This is especially pertinent to CV girls, because they are in essence coordinating multiple air wings in addition to all the other things that they’re supposed to be doing. Simply relegating, say, the feeding of coordinates to Avalon to someone in Avalon rather than herself (or even her flight controlling fairy department) would reduce combat stress tremendously.

“Wait, fairy planes can land on Avalon?”

Yes. In fact, that’s part of why Avalon is useful. Think of it as a literal Midway but is capable of moving about. STEC is working on mid-sortie resupply logistics that enables a CV girl to stay out longer.

“Hold on, so, if the fairy planes are toy-sized why must a CV girl only carry that amount where she could carry “historically?” What’s preventing Mike from ordering Enterprise to carry a literal bucket of F4Fs with her in case she runs out of planes?”

Nothing! It’s just a really bad idea for a few reasons. One, you’d start to burn out fairies if they have to work that much harder. Two, a literal bucket of F4Fs would draw Abyssals like moths to a flame. For some reason STEC doesn’t quite understand, fairy equipment (and fairies) outside of a shipgirl’s equipment (and Avalon) radiates fairy “energy” on an almost exponential level based on how many of them are around. It’s for this reason, too, that STEC doesn’t sortie out all of its shipgirls at a time. Three. A shipgirl already carries a pretty significant portion of “spare part” or equivalents as part of their standard sortie package. If a battle has turned out in such a way that a CV girl’s lost most of her air group against the Abyssals, you have to seriously ask would it be to the mission’s success if she just throw out another bunch?

Believe me, STEC’s tried to figure out ways to improve the sortie efficiency of their shipgirls. If it was safe to do they’d have done it by now. As it stands so far only one of the girls have an additional mechanism for carrying more planes “safely” into battle, and that’s, well, a literal belt of F4U. You’ll meet her in the next book.

“What’s with the actual flight deck being worn on their arms then?”

Ah, I remember that I started to answer this before and decided to call it a night. xD

In short, that’s a configuration meant for fighting humanoid Abyssals or anti-shipgirl Abyssals. We already established that shipgirls have “shields” or “forcefield” equivalents where even direct strikes from the Abyssals themselves can be shrugged off. That is literally a case where they can point the deck towards an opponent and it’ll make a bigger barrier.

Just because STEC frowns upon melee range engagements doesn’t mean the girls aren’t trained to fight at close range. Shipgirl “melee” combat for the CV girls leverage a few things, many of which do involve the flexible nature of their equipment. Remember that in Pacific shipgirl equipment transforms. That flight deck “shield” that they carry can all unfold into a pavise if a CV girl needs a bit more defense as opposed to faster recovery of her planes.

[Mail Call] 2017/04/15 - Shipgirl Equipment

In this case, you can see, it’s literally a simple ring attached to her arm. The other components of the gear has already retracted/receded/miniaturized.

Remember, from an out of the universe perspective, we prefer to have a largely minimalist design to our shipgirl’s weaponry. Just because the appearance is minimalist doesn’t mean the stuff isn’t there in-universe.

Silent Service’ll give you a pretty good look at just how intricate even the subgirl’s gear are. In the future, we’ll post more detailed plans of what the different “modules” of a shipgirl’s gear might look like. For now, though, we’ll probably drop Yorktown or one of her friends online next week.

Yeah, I think now that we’ve gotten our results back from Boston (positive) AND now that I have translator-volunteers, the English’ll come out at the same time as the other languages. The updates that we do are considerably more regular in English at any rate anyways, so it’ll be a fun change.