Return to Japan 2303AD Index

1. WW3 and Iwabuchi: 2000 to 2021

1-1 Immediate Issues

When WW3 happened, Japan had already been a food-importing nation for many years. The Japanese food self-sufficiency ratio was only 42% (calorie basis) in 1995 and its cereal self-sufficiency ratio only 30%, and with the disappearance of overseas suppliers Japan faced starvation. Fortunately, Japanese had over two years of national rice reserves, which carried them through the toughest years and gave national agriculture a chance to get up and running full-scale.

The national economy was turned to national survival, and to fuel the economy there was an urgent need for raw materials (for industry) and food (for people and livestock). There were a number of methods available to the Japanese to obtain these necessities, but the well-established trading firms moved to supply them effectively and efficiently. In many cases, although international communications were spotty or missing entirely, the local resources of the Japanese trading firm were still available to it, just waiting to be contacted by the head office again. It took very little time for Japanese medical assistance and emergency goods of all kinds to be made available throughout the Pacific Rim, transported by seagoing vessels of all kinds. The international money exchange system was, of course, in a shambles, and barter was back with a vengeance. This suited the trading firms just fine, because it gave them something to put in the freighters for the trip home, and another commission to collect.

Japan faced a variety of health issues as well. While its relatively isolated island status provided some protection against epidemics (for example, rabies seems to have been eradicated on the Japanese islands as of the late 20th century), new visitors, merchant ships and illegal immigrants were likely disease vectors. Coupled with the lower general health of the population due to poor nutrition and intermittent or missing essential services (notably heat and tap water supply, but in any case mostly due to electricity shortages), a variety of diseases became significant social problems. Tuberculosis, for example, which had been reduced to a very low level following WW2, once again became rampant, and while medicines to treat it existed, for many years both medicine and medical personnel were in short supply. The hardest hit were, of course, the very young and the very. Japan had a high percentage of the very old, and as a result its population dropped sharply but the majority of the loss was from relatively non-productive population groups. Medical resources were allocated to children with priority.

1-2 Iwabuchi Gengoro
Lived 1965-2021, Prime Minister of Japan 2002-2021

Iwabuchi Gengoro was the eldest son of a salesman working at a mid-size electrical equipment manufacturer in Osaka, Japan, and had a remarkably average childhood. He graduated Osaka University in 1987 with a BA in Marketing, and was promptly hired as an assistant by Fukuda Seitaro, a City Councilman and old friend of the family. He worked under Fukuda for several years, and upon Fukuda's death in 1991 decided to run for City Councilman himself. Thanks to the political connections he had made, and his own smooth-talking style, he won with a majority. As City Councilman, he quickly won over the people of Osaka with a firm policy stressing a return to the values that made Japan an economic superpower after World War II: hard work and personal sacrifice toward a meaningful goal. He defined the goal in this case as building a new Osaka as the leading metropolis in Japan, to be beautiful, economically and technically productive and safe.

He was largely successful in his efforts to make local government more responsive to the residents, although he made little headway in achieving his stated goals.

In 1998 he ran for the office of representative to the National Diet, and again was successful, representing Osaka in national policy-making. He trumpeted the same virtues, and the same objectives, but this time on the national level. Here as well he achieved a modest degree of success, primarily through his inborn ability to convince and win over people. Notably, he accepted no political donations from corporations of any type, relying instead on donations from private citizens who agreed with his stance. The Twilight War, needless to say, changed his plans rather dramatically.

Actual damage from the TW was surprisingly small on the national level. American military bases in Okinawa, Sasebo and Yokosuka were destroyed with tactical nuclear weapons, and air bases in Iwakuni and Misawa were attacked with conventional weapons, but none of these areas were especially involved in either agricultural or industrial production. Relatively clean nuclear devices meant that the land could be reclaimed within a few years.

The national government and corporate Japan, however, suffered enormous damage. First, Japanese food supplies were seriously short. Second, there was a real fear of continued attacks or even invasions by Russia, China and bandit groups. Third, industry no longer had any raw material imports, markets to export to, or Japanese citizens with money to waste on luxuries. And fourth, the Japanese government proved entirely too top-heavy and inflexible to deal with the problems effectively.

With a network of support based on his personal strengths and shared beliefs, rather than corporate donation, he was able to maintain a strong position in the Diet, and indeed emerged from the War with even more political power than before. He felt that the nation needed his help to recover, and began pulling strings to maneuver himself into the Prime Minister's office.

His chance came in 2002, when food riots broke out in Nagoya and national troops fired into the crowd, killing dozens and wounding close to a hundred. In the forefront of the rioters were a number of South American laborers and their families, stranded in Japan after coming to work at manufacturing plants in the region. The foreign community was furious, and the riots increased rapidly in intensity, finally falling quiet about two weeks later after massive damage to the city and hundreds of casualties. The Diet was in an uproar, and the resignation of the Prime Minister was demanded. His successor was, of course, Iwabuchi.

In 2003, he declared a state of emergency (one had never been officially declared, for some reason...) and suspended a variety of constitutional rights and privileges. Police forces in Japan have always been operated by the national government, so they did not have to be transferred to government control, but the entire police organization was put under the control of the military.

Iwabuchi had a position based on nationalism, racial purity and the manifest destiny of Japan in Asia and the Pacific, if not the world. He began to put his plans into effect almost immediately, the first step being to round up all foreign nationals in the Nagoya area and put them into "protective communities" located on islands in the Inland Sea for "their own protection." Most Japanese agreed with his program, especially after his news censorship program began full-scale operation for "national security."

The armed forces were assigned a new mission to defend Japan against all possible threats, and were authorized to use "forward defense" (a euphemistic way of saying they were authorized to attack into other nations). Corporate Japan was told that they had a patriotic duty to obtain raw materials for the nation (and themselves), with government funds and even military protection made available. This was accomplished not by nationalizing the merchant fleets, but rather by leasing them, crews included, for the duration of the emergency.

With a large merchant fleet and almost-untouched production facilities, Japan was able to turn raw materials from Asian-Pacific sources (mostly the Philippines and SE Asia) into goods required by Japan, and also for trade back to those locales for more materials. Japanese production technology was utilized to the fullest extent, churning out an endless flood of goods to help rebuild Asia and the Pacific before the other nations could recover sufficiently from WW3 to offer any resistance. Japan emerged as a new economic superpower in the 21st century in a matter of years.

The Japanese hunger for raw materials also led it to participate in the occupation of the Saudi oil fields in 2010, together with France, Great Britain, Bavaria and Egypt. In return for a wide range of munitions and several relatively high-tech marine units, Japan was assured of a continuing supply of Saudi petroleum and gas.

Iwabuchi continued to re-install traditional Confucian virtues into Japanese society, expand and strengthen the "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" and promote the ideals of racial purity until 2021, when he died in a bizarre traffic accident. It is suspected that it was an assassination, but nothing was ever proven.

Iwabuchi Gengoro remains a towering historical figure, revered by many and despised by an equal number. He is, in a very real sense, the father of Japan in the world of 2300AD.

1-3 The Development of the Japanese Military (2000-2021)

For the decade or two immediately after the War there were, to say the least, a lot of problems. Not perhaps so much military as police in nature, but nonetheless the world was in shambles and looting and piracy became widespread as hungry people everywhere lost touch with the rules of civilization.

For the early years, the Japanese determination NOT to have an aggressive military remained, and the force was defensive. "The best defense is a good offense" was talked about, and even put into effect once or twice, but territorial gain was not, at least for the first few decades, possible socially.

Even so, the Japanese military saw itself as inheriting the role of the US as a peacemaker in the Pacific, and ran around sticking its nose in all sorts of places, often at the behest of corporate power. It rapidly developed major military capability, but without the political motivation to utilize it aggressively.

The Japanese Navy faced a totally different set of strategic and tactical problems than it had in the 20th century. There were, at that time, no other powers in the region capable of fielding capital ships, which left Japan with a clear lead in firepower, but Japan lacked the petroleum necessary to fuel the ships it did have. Further, the lack of major powers and capital ships only meant that Japan faced a host of small, nimble attackers in (usually) littoral waters rather than in deep water. Tactically, Japan was on the defensive, with the clear-cut goal of defending the merchant fleets bringing precious foods and raw materials to Japan, and transporting semi-finished and finished products and immigrants out. Unlike the battles of WW2, they were not fighting to protect their freighters from being sunk by the forces of an opposing nation, but rather to protect them from a never-ending horde of multi-national and supra-national pirates.

The Japanese government, under Iwabuchi, made the decision to bite the economic bullet early. It recognized that without a massive and continuing infusion of food and materials, Japanese industry and even society could not continue unchanged, and chose military expenditures (with accompanying inflation) over slow economic starvation. While new ships were being planned and built to counter these threats, freighters were armed with a host of weapons, and provided with organic infantry defenses. Other nations were also provided active aid to assist them in rebuilding rapidly to the point where piracy could be eliminated, and in fact the Japanese were a key contributor to the development and stabilization of the Indonesian state after the War, specifically to eliminate severe piracy along the route to the oilfields of Saudi Arabia. In particular, Japanese tankers bringing Saudi petroleum to Japan (and transporting supplies back after Japanese forces occupied Saudi Arabia in 2008), were subject to a variety of pirate attacks between about 2003 and 2025.

The new ships marked a major change from the monsters of post-WW2 America. They were designed to address a number of key factors, including the lack of an opposing capital fleet, the need for speed and high fuel efficiency, the need to operate in relatively shallow coastal waters, and the need to operate effectively against other small craft. Drawing on a wealth of military technology that had been under development with the United States prior to the Twilight War, Japan developed in two major directions. First, deep-water vessels were "over/under" type vessels combining hydrofoil and catamaran technologies, of a type already in service as the "Techno Super Liners" of Japan. (A model of an over/under vessel, showing the submerged drive system, can be seen here.)

Second, vessels for coastal defense and other missions in littoral waters made full use of hydrofoil technologies, and conventional drive systems located at the stern. Hydrofoils were already in widespread use around the world in 2000.

The JSDF also had considerable land and air assets, separate from the marine assets. As Japan started with no overseas possessions and minimal penetration by enemy forces into Japanese land, these forces were eventually subsumed into the Navy, and for all intents and purposes the JSDF became the Japanese Navy. By 2008, when Japanese troops occupied Saudi Arabia, there were no independent army or air arms within the JSDF, although the official name of the organization was still the Japan Self-Defense Force.

1-4 Changes in Japanese Society

Iwabuchi Gengoro laid the foundation of modern Japan, and while fortunately much of his racism is no longer present in Japanese society or policy, many of his ideals can be still be found in the Japanese today. He believed in corporations working with government to better the nation, but he also believed that each person (or corporation, or government) should stand on his or her own two feet, and was fundamentally opposed to government support of corporate interests, or corporate donations to politicians or government. He was against formal lobbying, but welcomed opinions, position papers and discussions to help resolve perceived problems. Some examples of his philosophy include (1) the merchant fleet issue: instead of merely nationalizing it, he leased the ships and crews for the duration of the emergency, and (2) in return for extensive government controls on production, resources and consumption, he gave corporate Japan a voice in setting government policy, through the creation of an executive council for METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), with authority to set METI budgets and targets, although their decisions were subject to veto by the Diet.

He was a strong supporter of the return to traditional Confucian ethics, coupled with (albeit to a lesser extent) a return to the samurai ethic. This has resulted in the respect for elders and the willingness to sacrifice self frequently found in the Japanese, although the Confucian ethic of woman subservient to man has (fortunately) vanished entirely, with gender equality achieved in essentially all sectors of society.

His racism, while it still has its proponents in Japan, has fortunately been reduced to a better unconscious belief that the Japanese are somehow better than everybody else. While there are numerous exceptions, it is undeniable that the Japanese tend to cluster in ethnic groups, and discourage free interchange with other groups. Tourists, for example, are tolerated but not actually welcomed to Japan.

In the aftermath of the War, Japan was faced with a variety of major social issues, for example (1) all the energy-efficient private homes the middle class had built were useless without electricity, and generally had no other heating source, (2) without petroleum, the transportation network ground to a halt, making the cities largely uninhabitable until alternate transport systems could be developed, (3) without food imports, even though national rice stocks were sufficient for several years, food shortages did exist and continue. One immediate result of these developments was a sudden flow of population from the urban centers to the farmlands, reversing the population flows since WW2. The outlying agricultural districts, naturally, were not thrilled with thousands of invaders, and lacked the infrastructure to efficiently care fore them. The national government stepped in, and in a very short time Japan had once again become a nation of farmers. Blue- and white-collar workers discovered muscles they never had, but starvation was averted and the nation was able to turn its attention to other issues.

The massive upheavals of the era, however, had their effect on society as a whole. The population recognized the need to form collective groups for survival.

Next section

All content subject to the Copyright Notice.

These web pages developed and maintained by Terry A. Kuchta
This page created 15 May 2008 and last revised on 26 May 2008.
All material on this web-page is copyright © 2001-2017 by Edward Lipsett unless otherwise noted.
E-mail may be sent to