Episode Two: Leaping forward, looking back.
"Like a prize winning flower, our great nation blooms under expert care and a measured application of resources. If only the needs of the nation were so simple as water and dirt."
To Prime Minister Kantarō Suzuki, the weight of the last three years felt heavier than the last thirty. "China eyes our border with equal parts hunger and suspicion. France has fallen to Germany. The Italians are fighting in the streets of London. How have we come to this?"
Puzzled though some were that nationalist Fumimaro Konoe's term was cut short and that Militarist Naval minister Mitsumasa Yonai was passed over for the position, the nation initially backed the aged former naval officer. As the Emperor's aide, they believed, Suzuki must have shown himself worthy—away from the public eye. His grace period lasted less than four months. Increases in taxes were expected, and people on the home island were prepared, but the Koreans were furious to see a rise in taxes and a cut to services. Then came the Rikusentai.
From the north, Rikusentai reserves (Marines) and Koheitai engineers marched over the mountains from Manchukuo, from the south landed thousands more. The amphibious troops stormed the beeches South of Chonju, pouring out from the sea in a wave of tan uniforms and glinting steel bayonets. General Yamashita's forces swept inland and secured the beech before pushing inland and establishing a base-camp.
Prime Minister Suzuki and Naval Chief of Staff Hiroyasu Fushimi watched aboard Yamamoto's flagship, the heavy cruiser Chokai.
The combined arms exercise, a demonstration to appease the hard-liners, was a military success, but it was a Pyrrhic victory.
As the months turned into a year, the Rikusentai presence grew to nearly forty thousand. The new taxes paid for more factories, more resources, more jobs—all of them on the home islands. These troops were the only visible representation of the extra taxes placed on the Korean Peninsula. The reformers took notice of the dissent in Korea and began organizing. The military leadership grew more vocal in its warning about China. The army was kept busy fortifying the border and conducting drills in Formosa, but the navy began to act on its own.
The fleet stationed off Korea continued to sail toward China, probing the edge of their territory, trying to provoke a response that would lead to their desired war. Suzuki, a former admiral, used every ounce of his influence over subordinate commanders and naval staff to reign in the Navy. By September of 37', the navy ceased it's passive-aggressive maneuvering and docked at Cheju. With the fleet begrudgingly sequestered and the completion of the northern fortification immanent, Suzuki feared the emergence of a new, great enemy— an idle military.
Below is the Defensive line as it stands later in the game (date blacked out because im not quite there yet in the narrative)
quite a few idle troops there, and 100K more in the two staging areas in the south (Korea and Formosa)
As he pondered the necessary peaceful solution that would simultaneously allow diplomacy to continue and placate the military, circumstances changed for the worst. Work stoppages in Korea and by sympathetic reformers created industrial, commercial, and military material shortages overnight. The economy ground to a half. People took to the streets and revenues plummeted. In less than a month, the government would be unable to pay its three hundred thousand active duty troops and three million reservists.