Spoiler Puns : Tennoheika Banzai: A warcry infamously associated with WWII Japanese soldiers prior to a charge. Teinei: A term that translates as "politeness" but also includes concepts such as excellence, service, attention to detail. Pacificism: a worldview that war is almost always unacceptable except where to advance the cause of peace. Has nothing to do with dominating the Pacific Ocean. *** 1902. We are blessed in that the world has been relatively peaceful. The Empire of Japan is prosperous, technologically advanced, and militarily secure. Of course, I said “relatively” peaceful. In 1895, the British saw weakness in our people, demanding tribute for peace; we refused to be humiliated and declared war. We threw everything we could muster at their port of Shanghai. We seized the territory with minimal losses and sank some of their smaller vessels, but made peace just as a large British fleet passed Taiwan. The war lasted nearly a year, the British stubbornly refusing to come to the table as their Prime Minister talked of imminent victory. We were able to arrange a lucrative peace, paying the British a small sum to transfer all their rights in Shanghai to us. Regardless, the peace talks were backed by a bluff that Japan had far more naval and land power that could be used to sink the British fleet before advancing on Hong Kong. In truth, all that was left to defend Chousen (Korea), Taiwan and the Home Islands was a group of poorly-trained militia. Perhaps the British saw through our bluff in their demand for some mild concessions for peace (they maybe just thought Shanghai would not be worth the effort to retake), but regardless, I am quite grateful the war did not continue. 1896-1899 were also uneventful years. The Empire built up its economic base, hosted the Olympics, and overall became prosperous despite its minimal “colonial” territory compared to other powers. Then of course, there was Nicky. Ohhh Nicky. Tsar Nicholas surrounded himself with sycophants who stroked his ego and his belief that he had a great destiny. This led him into a war with Austria-Hungary and Germany in late 1896. Prior to this time, he had demanded we pay a tribute of 70 gold. As a peace-loving people, we granted this. As a peace-loving people, we also donated approximately 2000 gold to the Germans and Habsurgs over the course of the war. Our efforts paid off: while Austria regularly lost some of its eastern territory to Russia, by the war’s end, the Austrians had reclaimed all their lost territory, as German forces annexed some of Poland and all of the Baltics. Of course, Nicky’s ego never quite sufficiently deflated despite his loss to his German cousin Willy. Perhaps he reasoned with a little more effort they could have won. Perhaps he was tipped off to our massive bankrolling of his enemies. Regardless, with his Western ambitions foiled, Nicholas decided to go after us. When we politely requested that his naval forces stop sailing around Japanese territory without a formal treaty, he declared war on us, January 1900. I don’t mean to belittle another human’s intellect but… that was not his best choice either. While we are adamantly peaceful, the war with the British had taught us that we could not rely on other states’ good nature, and so we had begun building up our military. Our fleets first reduced Vladivostok’s defenses to rubble, then Port Arthur’s. Our artillery left much to be desired, but they sufficiently wore down Mukden’s defenses that we also pushed the Russians out of Manchuria. A peace-loving people, some of the Emperor’s advisers suggested we make peace immediately, perhaps even arrange a deal for Russia to maintain some rights in Manchuria as a gesture of goodwill. But in his heavenly wisdom, our sovereign noted that Nicholas II could not be trusted with barely any change to the status quo. As the finest scholar of our Westernization program, the Emperor quoted the great classical philosopher Aristotle, “we make war so that we may live in peace.” Those in favor of continuing the war noted that if peace was signed, the Russian Cossack hordes would still be able to mass at the border and invade Manchuria before we knew what hit us. The decision was made: Japanese forces would push deep into Russian territory, securing adequate buffer to guarantee a lasting peace. And so a lasting peace we achieved. For good measure, we also ensured the Russians would never again threaten us in the Pacific. While some pushed for complete annexation of the Kamchatka peninsula for its valuable Diamonds, the Emperor insisted that we were lovers of peace and should embrace our new, natural frontiers. Besides, a Russian exclave would guarantee good relations as Nicky would need to develop trade routes between it and Russia proper. As we struggled to survive, we were not alone in this regard. The French attacked Belgium, with Luxemburg and the Netherlands rushing to its defense. But the effort was fruitless, for France overran Belgium and Luxemburg, while also seizing the Belgian Congo and Guiana. Our minimal donations 600 gold did little to aid the Lowland cause. Alas, our old friends in London were not keen on France becoming a dominant colonial power, and cited some archaic treaty with Belgium as a reason to intervene. The world veers towards war as Japan focuses on a lasting peace. We have yielded to British and American demands for tribute with this goal in mind. *** In between grad studies I have revisited some of my classic games and mods to keep myself sane during the COVID-19 era. I have decided to record some of my gameplay because I am a writer by nature and I love AARs. I have played Japan before in AoI (I can't seem to find the AoI 5 files, ah well), but I am trying something different this time. With this variant: 1. We love peace. I cannot initiate war. This includes failed spy actions, submarine bugs, sneak attacks, the works. I also cannot join ongoing wars via alliance - I must get a participant to declare war on me. 1a. Should war break out, we are obligated to accept a peace agreement so long as we have a naturally-defensible border, e.g. we no longer border them or the border is highly-impassable due to terrain. 1b. Troops may be positioned in proximity to other states' borders. We have no way of guaranteeing they will actually be used. 2. Plausible deniability. We are not initiating if war is declared on us by alliances, refused extortions, or demands they leave my territory. They are being aggressive, not us. 2b. Similarly, VP locations can be left unmanned to lure rivals in; if they declare war when I request they leave, they are taking advantage of my weakness. 3. We are anti-imperialist! Really! Formal military alliances and mutual protection pacts may be made, but ONLY with powers that do not control colonial territory. 3a. Grants, loans, and ROPs do not count as alliances. 3b. Because the Austro-Hungarian Empire is permanently allied with Germany, they are also excluded despite lacking colonial territory. Japan’s empire shall be acquired “accidentally.” We just happen to have the military forces on hand to secure our future!