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4. New Frontiers (2211-2302)

With a closed and rigid society in the Japanese home islands, the merchants faced a difficult situation. They had achieved economic success for centuries by dealing with foreign people and cultures, providing advanced Japanese technology in return for a variety of materials, products and information. In this process, naturally, many of them picked up non-Japanese lifestyles and attitudes, and over the years people who had difficulty fitting into the restrained Japanese society naturally turned to the merchant world - it served as sort of a safety valve for society. The energy, independence and self-motivation of these traders was what made Japanese merchants supreme in the Asian-Pacific region, but at the same time these people were, in a sense, outcasts from their own society.

While there was no association or council guiding their activities as such, individual merchants and corporations recognized they needed more room to grow, and felt stifled by Japan's reborn "closed-door policy." As indicated by developments like the initial survey of Beta Hydri (later to become Daikoku) in 2205 and the government-backed colonization effort there beginning the following year, corporate Japan began to move out of the Solar system. One of the first was the mining colony of Kouki on Delta Pavonis, of course, but this was abandoned as a failure in 2207. The establishment of the successful Shungen outpost on Davout in 2211 is generally taken as the turning point, and from about that time most Japanese corporations expanded dramatically into Known Space. While few took the plunge and founded their own colonies, fearing a failure similar to Delta Pavonis, offices and local manufacturing facilities sprang up on many planets.

Japanese society reacted favorably to these exploits by their merchant "outcasts," and there was a sudden explosion of interest in space travel, other worlds, aliens, and even other cultures on earth. While Japan still had little interest in welcoming foreigners to the homeland, they traveled to the colonies in droves, bringing Japanese technology, money and business acumen to the starlanes as well.

Relations with Brazil had cooled since about 2150, and in the 1st Rio Plata War Brazil turned primarily to France for military assistance, not Japan (although Japanese industry continued major activity in Brazil). This was not a deliberate policy move on Japan's part, but rather a natural development of its increasingly isolationist culture in the late 22nd century. With the rebirth of interest in the outside world again, Japan made overtures to Brazil, but by now faced stiff political resistance from a well-established French presence - economic, cultural and military. Brazil, quite naturally, played France and Japan off against each other in search of the best possible deals.


Kaitel

Part of the new approach to international society was the birth of the scientific community in the Gilberts. Japan had always had research stations in Micronesia, but the new and expanded facility was quite a bit more due to a unique combination of political, societal, technical and commercial pressures. Japanese industry, commerce and the mass media wanted a new frontier, and two would be even better: space was one obvious choice, but the other was to finally develop a whole community on the ocean floor. This represented a major step from the short-term structures used in sea bed mining and similar ventures, and had the potential to not only open up the seas to large-scale development but also promised massive new supplies of materials -- and markets.

Kaiterra was originated as a national project by the Japanese government, with the full involvement of a number of leading universities and corporations: the University of Tokyo, University of the Ryukyus, Sumitomi Engineering and Hidachi. The name "Kaitel" is actually a contraction of kai (the Japanese word for ocean) plus Terra. When it was founded, it was named "kaitera," but for some reason the Japanese romanized version evolved into Kaitel, and while the official name has not changed it is rarely used anymore. Project management was handled by the Seabed Resources Agency (newly promoted from a Bureau for the event) of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Located within the 200-mile territorial limit, officially the land was leased, and subsequent tax income has made it very unlikely that local government would do anything to disturb its "golden egg."

Construction started in 2214, and the first permanent residency began in 2221, seven years later. In 2221 resident population was about 1400 people, but as sea bed production facilities for energy and goods came online, the city and the population grew rapidly. Both Sumitomi and Hidachi relocated their undersea development centers to Kaitel, dragging with them a host of personnel dependents and affiliated support companies that boosted population once again.

By about 2225 locally-designed and manufactured undersea transport systems were in service, and the sea bed mining operations in the Micronesia region were centralized in Kaitel. The two universities which had been involved in the project since its earliest stages amalgamated their research institutions there to create the Marine Research Institute (MaRIn, pronounced "marine"). Rapidly recognized as one of the centers for marine research in the Pacific Ocean, if not the world, it attracted a large number of researchers and related institutions, achieving a synergistic effect which yielded major breakthroughs in many related fields.

This growing concentration of Japanese capital, brainpower and industry finally led, in 2228, to the establishment of "port of call" for Japanese submarines at Kaitel. This was gradually expanded, and officially upgraded to a base in 2241.


The Miyazaki Incident and the Dissolution of the Japanese Army

The Philippines remained a major source of trouble for the Japanese, with constant small-scale combat and terrorism posing a continuing load on peace-keeping forces there. With the construction of the catapult in Pilipinas, that nation grew rapidly more wealthy and industrialized that the other nations in the former Philippines, and while this meant the it began the leader for the region in economic, military and technological areas it also meant increased resentment of their success by its smaller "have-not" neighbors.

Over the 23rd century the government of Pilipinas made active efforts to help its neighbors economically and technologically, providing funds, equipment, training and other forms of aid, and indeed a number of the other nations merged functionally, although not politically, with Pilipinas as a result, ending much of the turmoil in the region. The primarily Islamic nations to the south, however, we drawn more to the strongly Islamic culture of Indonesia than the amalgam of Filipino, Spanish, American and Japanese cultures that had evolved in Pilipinas. Many groups in Palawan in particular were extremely resentful at being "forced" to remain in the same political grouping as the rest of the Philippines, and a member of the Federation, and coupled with its history as an aggressive society led to a never-ending succession of terrorist groups and incidents.

Simultaneous with these continuing problems in the Philippines, there were also problems within Japan itself, caused in part by the strong shift to traditional Confucian values and the increasing emphasis on the group. The Japanese Army had been gradually evolving into a "supergroup," replacing the families and friends of officers and enlisted men with a wholly Army society that effectively isolated them from Japanese society at large. This was not a deliberate plan, but rather evolved slowly with the rest of society over a period of generations, and in fact very similar developments were taking place among the large corporate groups (keiretsu).

A group of top officers in the Army, together with top management in the Sagawa Heavy Industries group which supplied much of their armament, decided to implement their own view of the Greater East Asian Coprosperity Sphere as envisioned centuries before by Iwabuchi Gengoro. The first step was to amalgamate the Philippines entirely under Imperial rule, doing away with local governments there and coincidentally making it easier for Sagawa Heavy Industries to access the extensive chrome and copper deposits there.

Over a period of about three years, from 2253 to 2256, the plan was developed and preparations made. Terrorists from Palawan were bought in by well-coached professionals, and trained at Army facilities to assassinate the president of Pilipinas to "restore the sovereignty of Palawan," while Army officers throughout Japan were reassigned to ensure that trustworthy people would be in key positions at the right time, ready to make sure that the nation - and especially the media - interpreted the planned events correctly.

The president of Pilipinas was invited to preside at the opening ceremonies (on April 15, 2256) for a magnificent resort facility opened on the sunny Miyazaki coast, which happened to have been constructed by a subsidiary of Sagawa Heavy Industries. She arrived on April 10, along with a small detachment of the Presidential Guard. At the request of the Foreign Ministry, Japanese Army units in the region were asked to assist in assuring her safety, and quietly moved to isolate the resort while readying their response to the upcoming assassination.

The Army plan was to react to the assassination of the Pilipinas president rapidly, killing the assassins in an effort to protect her. A carefully-prepared biowar capsule sequence would then be found in her room, with documentation laying out how the individual virus capsules would be dropped at key locations throughout Japan during her vacation there, and predicting a fatality rate on the Japanese isles of "between 38 and 46%." The reaction to such an act of bioterrorism could be easily directed toward the conquest of the Philippines: something that the Japanese Army was confident it could handle easily enough.

Unknown to the Japanese Army, however, Pilipinas president Ramona Magadap had made arrangements to meet with Emperor Sora to discuss a number of matters concerning the Federation and the Philippines, and the top-secret meeting was only known to a very few people. Sora arrived at the hotel, unannounced and incognito, on the morning of April 14, and was immediately recognized by the waiting Palawan terrorists, who gleefully added another target to their hit list. Apparently it never occurred to them to notify their mysterious supporters of who had arrived.

The first shot at the president, from a high-powered rifle, was stopped by a member of the Lion Guard who happened to catch a faint reflection from the glass scope lens (the barrel, of course, had been blacked). With president and Emperor in close discussion it was impossible to tell who the target was, and the Lion Guard once again made the correct - although instantly fatal - decision. When the window shattered, however, two groups of highly-trained soldiers snapped into action: the Lion Guard, dedicated to the protection of the Emperor, and the Presidential Guard, intended primarily to protect the Pilipinas president from terrorists. Neither of them had any idea what was going on, or who the target was, but they worked out a cooperative stance that enabled them to protect both targets from possible threats, while at the same time watching each other.

Lion Guard vans turned out to be well-equipped with assault rifles and even two tripod-mounted crew-served plasma weapons, which were quickly moved into the hotel building. The Presidential Guard was provided with heavier weaponry than the pistols they had been restricted to in Japan. Barricades of furniture were erected. A determined assault by the Palawan assassins, equipped with assault rifles and grenades, failed dismally in the face of well-trained troops, and the Japanese Army units rushing to "protect the president" got there too late to kill the assassins themselves.

They did get there in time to discover just who had been in the room with the president, however, and that knowledge alone was enough to shock several of them into revealing a glimpse of the plot.

Throughout Japan, on a carefully-prepared timetable, Japanese Army units moved to take control of key military and information distribution facilities, claiming a possible biowar emergency. Unfortunately, the biowar capsules were still outside the hotel, unable to enter due to the defensive barricades erected. The Pilipinas president was clearly innocent, especially since the Emperor himself could vouch for her actions.

It took weeks to clean up the mess, with Army units put under arrest by marines, naval units, and even police. In the face of the Emperor's wrath, there was no attempt at resistance, although a large number of officers were found dead in their homes, apparently suicides.

Later in 2256, the Emperor met with the board of directors of Sagawa Heavy Industries, and in a uniquely Japanese solution, recommended that the corporate group establish a colony on Joi as a top-priority effort. He also suggested that since the colony was of such crucial importance to Sagawa, the entire top management of the corporation would no doubt feel it necessary to travel to Joi to oversee the work. He told them not to worry, however, because he would personally send a large group of ex-Army officers and enlisted men to protect them from all possible dangers, and he expressed his confidence that they would successfully make Joi a place to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Needless to say, they all agreed with his suggestions, and as he foretold, they indeed lived the rest of their lives building the colony on Joi.

The Sagawa group was reduced to a bottom-rung corporate group as a result, stripped of most of its assets by the need to supply the colonization effort.

The Japanese Army, meanwhile, was also dismembered, although it took until 2261 to complete the process. <pending>


Extrasolar Colonization

The other frontier was, of course, the stars. The Japan Space Colonization Agency, under the Ministry of Extra-Solar Affairs, coordinated the effort, and provided official recommendations (which were rarely ignored, although not always correct) for corporate interstellar development.

Supported by a public interest in colonization, which made it possible to spend tax income on the program, new colonies were established at Syuhlahm (Zeta Tucanae), where Japan negotiated for a small settlement off the Chyuantii coast (2254), and then the Tosashimizu colony on Joi (61 Ursae Majoris) in 2257, although the Joi colony was funded and staffed heavily by the Sagawa Heavy Industries group. While the Syuhlahm colony was quite small and was in fact primarily an observation post to keep an eye on Manchurian developments there, the Tosashimizu colony was a well-planned, well-funded project that Japan publicly positioned as a matter of national pride after the disaster at Cold Mountain.

To assure better control of extrasolar colonies after Cold Mountain, the Emperor himself assumed responsibility for observing and guiding development efforts. While the "suggestions" of the Emperor lacked any legal authority, they were normally interpreted as direct orders. Fortunately, the Imperial family had, for thousands of years, been practicing the arts of compromise and interaction, making it possible (usually) to resolve problems while saving face for all involved. This policy was further aided by the provision, in 2274, for the appointment of a viceroy to speak with Imperial authority. While normally viceroys are members of the Imperial family, there is no stricture forbidding the appointment of anyone, and in fact in 2302 Fleet Admiral Nakajima Matsuo was appointed viceroy, in preparation for any possible interaction with the Kafer as ambassador plenipotentiary.


The Chinas

China was also exhibiting considerable change during this period, as the three Chinas had largely completed their rebuilding, and now had relatively stable economic bases to plan future growth from. Partially in response to this fact, and partially to provide more rapid access between Japan and the mainland, the Korea-Japan Tunnel was constructed over a 20-year period starting in 2260 (see Plan A here for details). From the mid-23rd century a number of relatively small-scale military actions occurred, involving one or more of the Chinas, gradually escalating into the Canton-Indonesian War (2264 to 2268). As detailed elsewhere, this was essentially a battle for control of Indochina, and resulted in Canton gaining control of the bulk of the peninsula, with the exception of long, thin extension to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore held by Indonesia.

The Canton-Indonesian War was only the beginning, though, as Manchuria grew increasingly upset with Canton's imperialistic success in Indochina. Manchuria turned its eyes toward central Asia, and in 2282 launched a major military effort to conquer the Central Asian Republic, which was defended by a hasty coalition of Russia, France and Bavaria. While the European powers enjoy a technical advantage, the Manchurians enjoyed a massive advantage in manpower, and were careful to avoid engagements where advanced weaponry could overcome their well-trained and massive army. The war ended in 2287 with the entry of Japan into the war on the European side, breaking a stalemate which was slowly leaning in the favor of Manchuria, and the old borders were restored under a Franco-Russian-Japanese peace-keeping force.

While the history books claim that Japan provided "advanced satellite surveillance systems" that turned the tide, a look at the orbital situation of the time reveals that a large number of nations had spacecraft or satellites over the CAR and Manchuria during the period. Likewise, surveillance systems of even a century earlier were easily capable of detecting the vast majority of Manchuria's relatively low-tech army.

Japan wanted to maintain the status quo in China, and at the same time was bound to cooperate with the French effort through a variety of treaty considerations. Naval warfare off the coast of Japan, though, was something to be avoided at all costs. The Japanese rapid-deployment forces and Pilipinas Army were dispatched to the CAR front via the FER and Russia, with armor and air assets, while the Navy was conspicuous in its inactivity. The French-led coalition was furious with the Japanese for refusing to initiate military action in the China Sea, but Japan was adamant, and in typical fashion agreed with Manchurian leaders to declare the China Sea a non-combat (but not non-military) zone. Even so, however, the Japanese suffered severe casualties in the CAR in this phase of the war, along with other coalition forces.

In fact, Japan made a more meaningful but less apparent contribution to the CAR defense, consisting of three main elements: (1) the Japanese had an extensive intelligence network already in place in Manchuria (and indeed all of the Chinas), originally developed by commercial firms but later penetrated and used by the Japanese military. This network provided critical information to the European coalition which was invaluable in destroying essential supplies, taking advantage of weak points and avoiding surprise thrusts by the Manchurians. (2) Japan mobilized its naval forces and the highly-skilled ground forces of Pilipinas, in obvious preparation for an amphibious landing somewhere on the Manchurian coast, which would avoid conflict with the "non-combat" status of the China Sea. This not only threatened Manchuria with the loss of its access to the sea, it presented the possibility of a two-front war. (3) The Japanese launched a large-scale military exercise for its newly-formed 1st Orbital Insertion Force, from the Nisshou Orbital Command Center. The exercise involved air and sea units of the Japanese Navy, infantry and armor units of the Pilipinas Army and the insertion force itself, which transported several thousand Japanese rapid-deployment troops, with their equipment, from orbit to the slopes of Mt. Aso in the face of stiff opposition by Russian troops... the message was not lost on the Manchurians, and while it took another year or so of military and political maneuvering before the stage was set, the war was finally ended.


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