The U.S. sure did a lot of time-consuming island hopping to get to Japan's mainland, but Russia is right next to Japan on the west. Setting up a front next to Japan in Russia would have been very difficult to impossible early in the war, and Russia absolutely did not want an eastern front while fighting Germany, but what about in 1943, 44, and certainly 45? Russia had a nonaggression pact with Japan, but they could have broken it anytime they wanted (as they did in 1945). Did the U.S. or other allies even try to get Russia to let them set up across from Japan?

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    Given the fact that the Soviets were loath to have individual American planes land in Russia, the chance that they would have allowed the build-up of the 50 or so American divisions on Soviet soil that would have been required to invade Japan is extremely remote. The idea would have been dead on arrival. Apr 15 '21 at 22:41
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    Good question, but did Vladivostok or surrounding ports actually have the capacity to send that many people quick enough to mainland Japan? Could they have done it without tipping off the enemy? Presumably it would have taken at least as many soldiers as landed on D-day... maybe more.
    – Ne Mo
    Apr 15 '21 at 22:51
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    It would have been difficult for the US to get anything to Vladivostok. Any sea route there comes within 150 miles or so of the Japanese mainland, and Siberia isn't exactly known for it's roads. Given the difficulties the US had with much smaller island invasions, I can't see it pulling off an invasion of Japan pre-D-day. Apr 15 '21 at 23:23
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    Take a good look at this map in the shoes of an American Naval commander in 1943 trying to get a fleet to Vladivostok. Apr 15 '21 at 23:25
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    The USSR considered the US - and all the other capitalist nations - to be ideological enemies, just enemies they could use in order to defeat the Germans. (AFAIK, they really didn't care about Japan, since the Japanese weren't attacking them.) Indeed, if the US had wrapped up the war against Japan much earlier, it would have had more resources to use in the European theater, which might have interferred with the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 16 '21 at 0:17

There are several reasons

  • Up until late June/July of 1944 Germans still occupied large parts of Soviet territory like Belarus, parts of Ukraine and Baltic republics. Only after Bagration (started on June 22/23) and Lvov–Sandomierz (started in July, ended in August) we could say that main part of USSR was liberated, although some German pockets like Courland remained until the end of war.

  • In addition to this, Soviets really faced manpower shortages late in the war. So much that they had to conscript 17 year old boys, but also various "elements" from recently liberated territories. There were many Ukrainians, Belarus, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians ... not really willingly fighting in the Red Army, some of them actually working for Germans previously. But they simply switched sides and have gone with the flow, better to be a Red Army solider than face NKVD and SMERSH back home. Of course, Soviet officers understood that very well, but they had no other choices, so they were also going with the flow as long as they were advancing and German defeat was nearing. Soviets also armed Poles (who traditionally hated Russians and Moscow) and Bulgarians and Romanians (recently switched sides) just to keep war momentum going forward. Finland also got away relatively easily because Soviets did not want to waste time and resources. All of this is important, because simply saying, until Germany was defeated, Soviets could not afford war with Japan. In fact, USSR promised on Yalta to attack Japan 3 months after the end of war in Europe.

  • Another thing to consider was could US and UK afford those 50 divisions ? Obviously, not without either stripping their forces in Europe (not in USSR interest) or from other places in Pacific which would slow down offensives there. Of course, stationing US divisions on Soviet soil would breach neutrality. Japan would have no other choice than to try to prevent this, both on sea and on land. Kwantung Army was gradually weakened during the war, now the process would be reversed. Like it or not, they would have to attack Soviet forces in Far East which were also gradually weakened during the war. Logistics would also play its part. Soviets didn't have enough food even for themselves, Japanese would do their best to block Vladivostok etc ... Overall, buildup would be slow and comparatively ineffective compared to actual historical campaign of island hopping.

  • Ideological differences would also come to effect. Soviets generally mistrusted Western Allies and same could be said in vice versa (especially British). Soviets reluctantly agreed to shuttle bombing, but 50 divisions would be too much, especially in the Far East. There was no way to ensure these divisions would leave in the end of the war, and Far East intervention from Civil War could repeat itself. Of course, exposing population to capitalism of US/UK forces would also be detrimental to Soviet power - workers and peasants could learn about much better living conditions in capitalist countries.

  • Finally, when Germany collapsed, as mentioned before, Soviet Union did not need those 50 divisions. As promised, they did attack Japan exactly 3 months after end of war in Europe. Soviet invasion of Manchuria crushed Japanese forces with relative ease. Atomic bombings did force Japan to surrender, but in alternate scenario without them, this new front in Manchuria and Korea would simply be too much for Japanese. US and UK of course knew that, and it could be even said that Soviet attack was some kind of backup plan in case that atomic bombs do not achieve desired result.

  • Doesn't really address the question, at least as I understood it. It's not asking about the USSR committing forces against Japan, but about allowing the US to base forces in Siberia - something that wouldn't have required any Soviet resources. Also consider that the only reason the Soviets entered the "war" against Japan (after it was defeated) was so they could grab some Japanese territory.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 16 '21 at 16:52
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    @jamesqf, I think it does. There is the point about the Soviets not wanting a two-front war (and who could promise that it would stay an US-Japanese fray), about the Soviets wanting a second front against Germany, and about lingering distrust from Western interventions in the Civil War. Any one of them ight be wrong, but if true they are answers.
    – o.m.
    Apr 16 '21 at 17:20
  • @jamesqf It would definitely require Soviet resources :) Read point no 3. Also, Soviets did promise to go to war against Japan 3 months after the end of war in Europe in Yalta conference. Their motives could be discussed, but formally US and UK requested this from USSR.
    – rs.29
    Apr 16 '21 at 19:47
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    @jamesqf Try to actually read my answer :) I said they would have to strip either forces in Europe or island hopping forces in Pacific. Soviets didn't promise anything voluntarily, they were under OBLIGATION to join war against Japan 3 months after end of war in Europe. US and UK demanded that. Soviets fulfilled that obligation. Read about Yalta conference if you doubt.
    – rs.29
    Apr 18 '21 at 8:06
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    @jamesqf So why are you complaining ? Either you go trough Siberia or you go trough the islands, cannot go both ways. Please, read my answer again ;) As for Soviet obligations, they did care for that, and did care about their image abroad. International politics is much more complicated than you think. As a rule, USSR was reluctant to portray them self as a party breaking international laws (unlike US which did that often). In fact, USSR always cultivated image of lawful country.
    – rs.29
    Apr 18 '21 at 17:16

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