After a period of isolation caused by the humiliating defeat at the hands of Chinese communists, the Japanese have finally begun to open up to the world once more. Under the rule of Emperor Akihito, the coals have been stoked, and the Japanese people are ready to follow the Emperor wherever he leads them.
As China threw itself into chaos, the Japanese war machine stirred to life. Moving in from their Korean territory, and with massive support from their families back home, Japanese soldiers made quick work of the warlords of Northern China. Through many individual incursions fired in quick succession, all of Manchuria was eventually added to Japan's collection of mainland holdings. After a brief wait, Japan began it's move South, taking Beijing in another series of short-lived battles against unorganized and unprepared Chinese soldiers and civilians. With the North firmly under Japanese control, Hirohito granted the title of Emperor of Munchukoko to Puyi, a claimant to the Qing throne.
With continued support back home, and nothing standing in their way, Japan continued int's incursion along the Chinese coast, taking everything from Tianjin to Nanjing before finally slowing to a halt. Despite the desire of both the Emperor and his people for a continued conquest, resources were running low, and it was deemed best to firm Japanese grip on the territories they held rather than continue their push with no guarantee of being able to sustain themselves.
All while these incursions into China were going on, Unit 731 operated in the background, performing inhumane experiments on an unknown number of individuals from all across Japans empire for many years, all while their secrets were kept even from Japanese citizens, and many Japanese soldiers. Even those tasked with defending the compound which Unit 731 worked out of knew little of what all was going on inside.
Within Japan itself, peace found a home, while many true Japanese citizens enjoyed comfortable lives, completely unaffected by their war to the West. Even parents felt their children were safe with how easy many of the battles in China were.
However, as always, peace was not allowed to last.
Having been able to hold their footing for so long, it was generally thought that China had just given up their will to fight against Japan, and many Japanese soldiers even joked about the idea of China fighting back. Support for and confidence in Japanese troops was through the roof, and the idea of further occupation of China was once again a discussion. What the Empire and those that made the decisions back at home didn't know, though, was that the ministers that had been appointed to the Chinese coastal holdings were not actually gathering any intelligence in China, and instead were simply stating out of confidence and arrogance that Japanese troops could handle whatever China had to offer.
So when the Chinese finally struck back against Japan, nobody was prepared, and many Japanese soldiers lost their lives, while the rest were forced to retreat again and again until Japan was finally forces completely out of the Chinese coast. Following the defeat and exposure of unit 731, as well as the destruction of the Japanese Naval Base in Dalain, Japan was forced to abandon Puyi to his own people, resulting once more in the destruction of a Qing Empire. Holding firm in Korea, and ensuring the safety of Taiwan, the Japanese government threw all plans for China out the window, and focused solely on defending against a possible Chinese retaliation, as well as against small rebels that formed in the wake of the humiliating loss of nearly all Chinese territory.
At this point, morale in Japan sunk to an all time low. The people were angry at the government for allowing their family members to die so easily, the government was angry at the military for failing to withstand the Chinese, and the military was angry with the civilians for not being able to support them better. Meanwhile, group after group of rebels were appearing in Indonesia, Korea, New Guinea and Taiwan following the release of the information on Unit 731, and what they were doing to the civilians of said territories.
For years, Japan was reduced to infighting, unable to really support, yet alone begin rebuilding it's military. Between nationalist rebels in Indonesia and Papua New Gunea, civilian mobs in Taiwan and Communist rebels in Korea, the Japanese military shrunk and shrunk until it seemed like the Empire would collapse from the inside. However, with the installation of a new general in the Southern Islands, the rebels were able to be outmaneuvered, and eventually crushed.
Directly following the restoration of order to the South, however, was the Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Severely out manned, Japan barely put up a fight before evacuating what troops it could from Taiwan. Meanwhile in Korea, the Chinese-backed Communist rebels were able to take the Northern portion of the country under their control, and would hold it without problem until Hirohito agreed to the Tokyo Treaty which, along with the return of Taiwan to China, saw an independent North Korean state established.
The year following, Japan returned to isolation. With all of it's rebellions over, and peace with China in the foreseeable future, Japan was able to finally lick it's wounds, and begin it's path to recovery. After just two more deaths.
In 1974, Emperor Hirohito died of a heart attack caused by extreme stress, and severe emotional distraught caused by the death of his first grandson following an assassination attempt on his own life. The Prince Akihito was the only person to hear the last words of his father, which he has not divulged to anybody.
In May of 1975, Akihito officially ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne, and immediately put a law into place disallowing Communism within the Empire. Any who were found were immediately imprisoned, with a handful in Korea put to death for it, out of fear of the Empire's last mainland holding rebelling and joining it's Northern counterpart. This, of course, sparked another small rebellion which the Emperor was immediately scolded for publicly.However, it was exactly what Akihito wanted. A justifiable reason to quickly remove dissidents from the Empire, and secure it's future stability. Using both superior tactics and new technology, Japan was able to quickly remove the rebels, accepting a surrender from those who remained.
With all internal threats dealt with for the time being, Akihito was able to have the nation truly focus on rebuilding. Infrastructure in both the mainland and overseas territories was greatly improved, technology was caught up to be more modernized, and the military overall was greatly improved, with both equipment and training.
Having regained the footing it lost to China years ago, Japan now has finished recovering, and is ready to make it's mark on the world stage once again. Looking to the West, Japan has seen the same dislike of China and communists that it's people feel, leading it to begin the steps out of isolation, and towards finding friends with the enemies of it's enemy.