In the summer of 2104, Japan invaded China with the goal of restoring free trade. As China was divided between Warlords, the Japanese initially faced no organized resistance. Later on, the Warlord Sun Ce became the leader of the anti-Japanese resistance and led a Chinese Army of 200,000 men against the Imperial Japanese Army. However, superior Japanese firepower and numerical superiority did not allow Sun Ce to withstand the Japanese invasion and his forces were defeated. He himself committed suicide in winter 2104 after being trapped by Japanese Marines.
Although by the end of the winter of 2104 military operations subsided, the invasion is considered by most scholars to have ended in spring 2105, with the Japanese conquest of Tianjin and the end of further offensive operations in Eastern China. The conquest of much of Eastern China set the stage for the Chinese theater of the Pacific War.
Invasion of China
In summer 2104, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China in what it claimed was a peacekeeping mission to end anarchy and warlordism and restore "free trade". The operation immediately came under international scrutiny as its methodology resembled military conquest rather than humanitarian aid, and the United Arab Republic denounced what it claimed was an opportunistic land grab.
Japanese soldiers landed in the ports of Zhejiang and in Taiwan and faced little resistance from the peasant armies of the Warlords. The Japanese Air Force bombarded several military bases and economic and communication centers in Taiwan, where more than 900 tons of bombs were thrown.
In a location known just as the Crane village in Taiwan, more than 300 Chinese soldiers and irregulars fortified and faced in house to house urban combat 5,000 Japanese soldiers. The casualties were huge, as more than 32 Japanese soldiers died and 120 were injured. The commander of the forces was reluctant to use artillery or call the air force, in fear of civilian casualties, as many villagers had not left their homes. However, after many days of brutal combat, victory for Japan was secured.
Offensive in Jiangsu
In autumn 2104, Toyotomi Hideyioshi was appointed Marshall and took command of Japanese forces in China, which were made up by the Army Groups VI, VIII and IX of the Imperial Japanese Army. The Japanese army in China was reorganized as the Imperial Mainland Japanese Army and it's Army Groups were renamed Army Groups I, II and III.
Toyotomi Hideyioshi begun a military operation in Jiangsu, with the goal of gradually securing all of the East China coastline and defeating the Chinese Warlord Sun Ce, who commanded an army of 200,000 men, mostly untrained and badly equipped conscripted peasants, and who was in control of Jiangsu and Shandong.
The offensive was made up of an armored thrust spearheaded by 6 armored brigades. The offensive was supported by the Imperial Japanese Navy and Air Force, who bombarded military HQs and economic and communication centers in all of Jiangsu.
Offensive in Shandong
In winter 2104, a new great offensive begun in Coastal China. This time Five Army Groups (Army Groups I, II, III, VII and IX) of the Imperial Japanese Mainland Army (IJMA), supported by one Army Group of the Imperial Japanese Army (Army Group V), twelve Marine Corps, twenty Armored Brigades, six Battleships and three Carriers carrying over thirty Fighters and twenty Bombers begun the largest yet Japanese offensive in China, with the goal of defeating Sun Ce once and for all.
The operation begun with a two weeks long bombardment of Sun Ce's forces and economic and military centers. Then, in only three weeks, the Japanese army managed to takeover Shandong. Sun Ce himself was trapped by Japanese marines and committed suicide.
With the fall of Shandong, the Imperial Japanese Mainland Army begun preparations for a new offensive. The Japanese Navy bombarded Hebei with cruise missiles as a preparation for a campaign against warlord Cao Qing, who had declared himself Emperor in Beijing. However, Tianjin was captured only in spring 2105, because Japan was more focused on it's intervention in Vietnam and operations in China subsided.
Although the Japanese invasion of China was militarily a very successful operation that brought under Japanese control most of the East China coastline, it was politically damaging, for it undermined the international face of Japan and allowed the enemies of Japan to accuse it of imperialism.
Nevertheless, the cheap Chinese labor in the newly conquered areas fueled the Japanese economy while the military victories of Japan brought confidence to the nation and consolidated Takeshi Ruchang's political power; the victories in China were considered to be a result of his reforms in the army and his strong will. So, the pro-war factions of Japan dominated the political scene and Takeshi Ruchang could steadily transform Japan from a Constitutional Monarchy to a Fascist Dictatorship.
Also, the Japanese army gained much useful experience, which it would put into practice during the Pacific War. Lastly, the Japanese expansion into China worried the People's Republic of Sichuan and set the stage of the Chinese theater of the Pacific War. As part of this antagonism, Japanese forces in China gradually grew to almost 2,000,000 men.