Hearts of Iron IV - The Empire of Japan

Hearts of Iron IV is a grand strategy video game developed by Paradox Interactive, based around the Second World War. In the game the player can take control of any nation around the world which existed during a set time period, with the choice between the years 1936 and 1939. You can then play through the game, re-enacting historical events of the time period, or changing the course of history.

Above: One of the promotional images used for the game.

In Hearts of Iron IV, one of the major powers at the beginning of the game is the Empire of Japan. Japan was one of the key nations during the second world war, having begun a full scale invasion of China in 1937 and later being responsible for the United States entry to the conflict in 1941. In the game it starts with one of the largest militaries of the time, with a large army, even larger navy and reasonably sized air forces, all of which we will go into detail about later. Its industry is not the largest, but it is certainly a force to be reckoned with. In the resource department, there is an ample amount of metals, but lacks sufficient rubber and oil. This will be one of the decisive factors in driving the expansion of the Japanese player, as it did historically.

Above: Artwork added to the game along with the DLC Waking The Tiger, the DLC which focused on Asia, adding national focus trees to the Chinese nations, as well as expanding the Japanese focus tree.

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History of the Empire of the Rising Sun
From its foundation during the Meiji restoration in 1868, the Empire had only grown in size and power. The Nation's rapid industrial and military expansion led to Japan's status as one of the few great powers of Asia being secured in the early 20th century. It didn't take long for Japan's leaders to turn their eyes to their neighbours, most weakened or controlled by Western powers. Japan soon fought China in the First Sino-Japanese war, then emerging onto the world in 1905 when it beat Russia during the Russo-Japanese war. Japan continued to expand its empire in the Pacfic during the First World war, but the war to end all wars did not live up to its infamous name. The Mukden incident in 1931 saw the Empire's occupation of Manchuria, and set the stage for what would become the Second Sino-Japanese war.
National focus tree
National focus trees are essential parts of Hearts of Iron IV. They are what gives the game its unique play style, allowing the player (And the AI) to direct the development of their nation in their chosen way. In the base game, only the major nations possess national focus trees, with the exeption of Poland. Each country has a focus tree, representing a number of progression paths (branches) available to that nation. Join us now, as we investigate the Japanese focus tree in greater detail.
Japan in the game
Japan was one of the few nations to have a focus tree for Hearts of Iron IV's initial release in 2016, being one of the major powers during the Second World war. It also has a critical role in the game, with the AI invading China in 1937 following the historical path of its focus tree, and generally taking on the Western Powers in the Pacific a few years later. But with a player in control, the Empire can become very swiftly one of the most powerful nations in the game!
Start date - 1 January 1936
This start date is described in the game as follows: "Dark times are coming. In Europe, Hitler has consolidated his power and his attention is now increasingly drawn beyond Germany's borders. Mussolini's Italy continues to embark on daring military adventures, while the Empire of Japan stands poised to attack China in Asia. Almost twenty years have passed since the Great War, and the world has yet again been doused in gasoline. A single spark may be all it takes."
Start date - 14 August 1939
This start date is described in the game as follows: "In the last few years the world has seen some new wars break out in Europe and Asia. Spain is now governed by nationalists and Japan has fought both the Soviet Union and China for territory, the latter being a more successful battle for Japan. The new non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Germany may be bad news for the rest of Europe."
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