Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide

Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide 1 -
Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide 1 -

Japan Overview Guide

You want to play Japan but don’t know what you’re doing. You are in the right place to learn how Japan can industrialize.

I won’t ramble on as I did with the EU4 guide, which was very in-depth. You start with very little. Your economy is barely maintained, and you grow tobacco because of this. While I don’t know if Japan ever grew tobacco, it’s just like the ability to grow cotton before emerging from isolation. It’s just more absurdity in Victoria 3 that we’ll ignore.

So, we begin with the Shogunate () landowners). We also have the Samurai in power. The Shogunate has about 50% clout, and the Samurai around 9-10%. This is quite daunting, but we’ll get rid of them soon enough. To achieve some Japanese unique flavor, our primary goal will be to trigger the Honorable Restoration’ journal entries. It requires the shogunate to be out of power and to have less than 20% clout for 10 years.

Yes, you can play for 10 years, lasting 100 years. It doesn’t reset if you mess it up, but the timer will pause instead. Once the Meiji Restoration is activated, or as it is more commonly known, the Shogun relinquishes all his responsibilities, and you get your first taste of the Meiji Restoration. Your country finally becomes Japan, adopting its iconic red color, a new flag, and moving the capital from Edo (Tokyo). You also get three events related to the Restoration. These include the evolution and removal of Bakufu traits) by the Samurai, the closure of Sakoku (and the urbanization of Japan. These items will still be available for most runs. But if you have been a keen beaver, Sakoku may be over. In that case, the journal entry (and its reward) will disappear into thin air. This unlocks the ability to form Japan and adopt State Shinto as the official religion. This modernizes Buddhist Monks, eliminating another annoying trait.

The final reward for completing the Restoration? You get claims in Korea. That’s it. Enjoy the remaining 30-40 years of the game.

Opening Construction

Victoria 3 may look like a rich economic simulation. However, once you crack that code, you’ll see that the game is far from reality. This code is how to understand the game’s economy loop. Every building in the game creates something from another. You need something dependent on what the first building produces. Most of the time, this need comes from pops who consume goods and services so that you, as the country, can make some money.

An even more concrete example is this: Your logging camp makes wood that fuels you tooling workshop. The tools allow for increased productivity in the log camp, which allows for more wood production. You can then expand an iron mine to allow you to upgrade your workshop to create iron tools for more tools. This never-ending loop continues until you become bored and then you can quit.

This is especially true for Japan, where the following formula is my preferred opening move.

Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide - Opening Construction - 9A76FC7

Japan’s first construction began with nine, with five being the base and four coming from two other construction centers. This is obviously not feasible so I build a similar number of construction and timber camps. Then, I end up with a single tooling workshop, and an iron mine. This allows me the ability to build a substantial amount of construction early on while still making money from consumption taxes and budgetary discretion. These expenses are offset by early consumption taxes for luxury clothing, tea, tobacco, liquor, or services. You might be tempted not to use clothes or grain, but these tax your lower strata far more than taxing vices.

You might also be curious why I build in Shikoku. This is because Shikoku has the easiest chance of recovering from a long-standing problem that every state (save Ryukyu) Japan has: Insufficient Taxation Capacity. This is a powerful modifier to each state’s tax income, but it’s actually not as bad as you might think. This is because, at game start you are really just taxing peasants for most of the time. There isn’t much industry.

This leads me to my next point regarding Japan. Early-game Government Administrations (Barracks), Naval Bases, and Government Administrations are all noob traps. With some exceptions, it’s best to pretend they don’t exist in an early Japan. These buildings are expensive to run and we want our economy to grow, not be weighed down by bureaucratic costs. Look at how much it costs to run a single GA building: approximately 800 dollars per week. Barracks or Naval Bases will employ pops but they’ll also steal your income through their wages and military products.

This rule of thumb does not apply to first-time builders in Shikoku. Because you’re so close at the threshold for tax inefficiency, I personally like 2 more GA buildings to be built here, just to achieve favorable taxation for future industries we’ll build here.

That’s the initial build. This will become a complete build in the first few games. In the second year, you’ll be adding construction to meet the demands of your market. If you did the job right, you will make money as your build is completed. You’ll need to change all buildings to use (tools, such as rice, wheat, pastures, logging camps, etc.), and increase the demand accordingly. Your treasury should reach its maximum around 8-10years in the future. At that point, you can switch all 8 construction centers to iron-frame construction. While this will hurt your economy in the short term, it will double your construction output once the increased demand for the iron mines is satisfied. You will also want to ensure that the railway’s technology is ready so that you can build steel mills and motor industries to construct railways. This will allow you to transport your people and solve your infrastructure problems.

After you have completed the Academia technology, you will want to start five universities. It’s expensive to operate, but it’s worth the early investment. Technically, you could build 15 units to meet your innovation cap immediately, but that would seriously harm your economy. You can also use production methods to make up the difference. Pick one of the tech options after you’ve finished the Academia journal entries. The throughput bonus will only result is 1500 total innovations over 5 years if you have 5 universities rather than 1650 from the tech option. I’d love to hear about any math you come up with.

A side note: It is essential to maximize your ports in Shikoku. Before railways come online, this early infrastructure will help you avoid market access penalties.

Also, it would be best if you tried to specialize in your Japan-based states. This is important because you want Japan to modernize. I came up with the following breakdown after much trial-and error, including realizing it doesn’t matter very much. This helps consolidate your Economy of Scale/throughput Bonuses, which are capped at 50% for 51 levels after two additional techs (() beginning at 20 for 21) levels. However, the Shipyards of Shikoku are the exception to the rule. As long as you stack your industry somewhere, it doesn’t matter where it goes.

Hokkaido – Power Plants, Electric Industry and Wheat (. These are your only sources of wheat fields. They also provide the only non-trade source for wine in Japan).

Tohoku: Arms and munitions; Livestock.

Kanto: Universities and Art Academies. Silk.

Kansai – Groceries and Textiles, Rice.

Chubu: Glass, Fertilizer and Tea

Ryukyu – War Machines and anything else you want. I grew Tobacco here for them to have something to do.

Chugoku: Paper, Furniture; Dye.

Kyushu: Steel and Engines, Dye.

Shikoku – Tools and Shipyards; Dyes (Shikoku’s unique trait gives +10 Naval Base Levels and +10% Shipyard Throughput).

This is how it was for Japan. It doesn’t matter if you keep all the industries in the same state, expanding railroads as necessary. Your pops can move freely between states once you allow migration. But that shouldn’t be a problem given your 31m inhabitants.

Japan Isolationist Colonizing

I know what you are thinking: Why is Japan not starting with Sakhalin or Hokkaido fully controlled? You might be surprised to learn that I have no idea. It’s foolish, and that’s before I even start to explore colonizing AI. As a consolation prize, you have claims to Sakhalin that can be pressed if Russia (colonizes it before anyone else). Hokkaido doesn’t have such a claim.

Paradoxically, Japan can rush colonization, despite the historical nonsense. This is because all remaining lands on the planet that have not yet been colonized are divided between those who do not have malaria, those who have malaria, or those with severe malaria. For the law to be passed, the technology needed for Colonization is only required in the provinces without malaria. Quinine is required for those with malaria. We only want Colonization for Japan’s purposes.

Hokkaido’s complete control is Japan’s ultimate goal. Hokkaido will see a gold rush in the following decades, with 8 gold mines. The (you get directly from these fields,) of 500 per each, won’t seem very impressive until they deplete. However, once these fields are depleted, you can build the more lucrative upgrade gold mines with technological improvements that scale. Hokkaido now supports your treasury directly by growing wine and minting income for all of Japan. Pretty sweet gig, right? It’s made more precious by Hokkaido’s 36 coals, 36 lead, 33 lead, and 32 sulfur mines. It also supports 54 wheat farmers, so don’t sleep on it.

Sakhalin is also a great place to grab a state early, but it’s still not the end of the world if Russia takes this state. Sakhalin is home to 32 coal mines and 45 iron mines. However, Sakhalin can’t raise livestock. It can, however support some fish, lumber, or whaling stations.

Colonization is what I make my priority for every game. This is because Russia does not always colonize Sakhalin and Hokkaido. Also, even if Russia does colonize Sakhalin, it’s not the end of the universe. Because you usually have time for Hokkaido to be colonized before Russia can.

From there, all that’s left of this world is your comical oyster. You can opt for the quinine stuff, (, which requires universities be built. This will boost you effective innovation stat,), and disable the colonization institute once you’re done. Your game’s AI may decide which options you want. However, Oceania is often very achievable for Japan and South America. I was able to get into Kenya (East coast Africa, decentralized power) and continue expanding into the interior. It was wonderful. There is also Papua New Guinea. However, the AI tends not to colonize all of it. Despite the 99% penalty on colonization speed, they’re persistent and annoying.

Japan’s speed is what makes them such a successful colonizer. Their starting population of a 31million ranks 6 in the entire world. This gives them a maximum colony growth rate of 2% per daily. The maximum colony growth speed is 2% per day if you create a second one. This is still a great deal. You can easily grab large swathes uncontested by the South American colonizers, who are so slow at this task. Or, even contested, at the modest cost of 20k lives (, 99% which will be attrition death).

This opener requires a little luck, as Russia often likes to colonize in your vicinity. One person suggested that improving relations with Russia would increase their chance of moving away. However, I have not found this to be true in my experience.

The other part of luck is also your parties and radicals. The idea of colonization is not popular. You’ll likely gain some 1 million radicals from the passing of the law. This is what happens if you ignore all opposition and push for a liberal utopia. But you can always go back to no colonialism to be content with what you have. Your interest groups will begin to relax once you have finished with all your laws. They will realize how good life is.

Convoys will be your last reason to colonize. Japan is severely limited in the number ports that you can build. It doesn’t matter how many railways you can build in a particular state, your tech-based limit is limited to just 4-7 ports. This will give you anywhere between 12-24k convoys with the last tech) but you’ll still need many more.

Oceania helps with this. Every coast province will have the same port threshold, 4 at game begin. Given how few countries there are in Japan and how many Oceania states are uncolonized it becomes very clear that Japan should be able to take the islands.

Overthrowing Shogunate & the Meiji Restoration

This will likely be the source for most players’ frustrations when they attempt Japan for the first time if they are new. It was for me. But once I understood the economic loop, it was easy to overthrow the shogunate. As you can see, they start with a commanding 45% clout.

Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide - Overthrowing the Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration - 43FF3C0

As you can see they get a lot of bonuses. But this clout is only a paper tiger since there aren’t many classes in Japan besides the peasantry and samurai. As the country industrializes, other groups will start to take over the power base. This first happens when the samurai are lost in the background. Our goal is to displace the shogunate by empowering other interest groups and decreasing its power. Industrialization accomplishes both. But what about laws?

You can see that the five laws boost the influence of the shogunate. We will want to eliminate all five laws except the Monarchy booster. This will require us to pass Professional Army, National Guards, Dedicated Polic Force, and Abolished Serfdom. These laws will obviously upset the Shogunate in some manner, but that’s okay. This is because although the (shogunate and others) may not agree with a proposed law change like Professional Army, it doesn’t matter if their opposition doesn’t lead to a revolution.

It’s this, the revolution, that I want me to emphasize. It is possible to overthrow a shogunate without fighting a costly revolution. This is because, even though they may be unhappy with the law passed (, such as the move to Dedicated Police from Local Police), this unhappiness will pass quickly. It will fade as you pass more laws. However, if you get too ambitious in your legislative game, they will quit your government, destroying your legitimacy and making you too dangerous to live with.

This is clearly not ideal. This is not ideal.

And that’s all. If colonialism is your choice, you should be aware that once you have passed it you will likely be a millionaire in no time. But radicals can be a nuisance, and Hokkaido’s wealth more than makes up the shortfall in their happiness.

EDIT: Since 1.0.4, the first hotfix, you cannot ignore political movements whose radicalism exceeds 50. This will pause the Meiji Restoration Timer as the revolution counter will now display at 50 (, and be capped at). Paradox may or might not change this for Japan. Still, an interim solution would be either to spread out the mass dissatisfaction of your populace with your modernization efforts, OR to kill them all through revolution.

Why Read When Only a Few Words Can Trick You?

This is a list I intended to be super compact when I first wrote it. However, I realized that it wasn’t as compact and gave up. Here’s my day one routine when I play Japan. Be aware that certain interest group leader traits and Russia’s colonialism RNG might delay some of these law-specific steps. However, if executed correctly, this shouldn’t lead any revolutions.

Day 1

Establish consumption taxes for services, tea, coffee, tea, chinaware and luxury clothing. Optionally, reduce military spending by a single level.

Two Kanto whaling stations must be removed. They produce oil that is not worth it, and there is a 30% mortality rate. The timed journal entry that you had on Day 1 asking you to raise it to level 3 and to hire an admiral will be deleted if you delete them before you unpause. The rewards include a -2% chance of dying in a few decades or 25% throughput on an area you have little demand for. You can delete the journal entry and rebuild them when there is oil demand (and workplace safety institution at -100%).

Go to Buildings Side Menu. Change production from Urban Center to Market Stalls and Free Churches. This will increase the services available and decrease the number clergymen. You can leave them in if your goal is to create a more historical Japan that has religion as the central point. However, this method only fires some clergymen. It also reduces their (which is quite high for Japan’s start). Change to Secular Administration if you do the same thing for Government Administration.

Go to Rural tab. Change Wheat Farms into Vineyards and Rice Farms into Fig Orchards. Change your Fishing Wagons to Fishing Trawlers. Go to the Development tab. Change Ports to Cargo Ports.

In Shikoku, queue up 6x construction centres, followed by 6x log camps, 1x tooling shop, and 1x mine. You can also change the tooling workshop to use iron-pig-iron tools. This is the foundation of your game.

Colonization: Hokkaido, Sakhalin and Hokkaido are the priorities. Oceania comes in third. However, you are free to be ambitious as much as you wish. If you are not satisfied, South America will provide you with some gold that you can use. If colonization is something you are not interested in, then Academia (will be your second tech).

You can use the Authority that remains after the consumption taxes to support the Intelligentsia or suppress the Buddhist Monks. You can also choose to do either of these and take advantage of the -15% law-enactment time. It’s your choice.

Regardless, the opening law strategy for every game will include the same four options, State Religion (Professional Army), National Guard (National Guard), or Dedicated Policing Force. These options may not be compatible, depending on your RNG. Make sure you check who supports Colonization Law before making any decisions. The bottom line is that if you choose the wrong combination laws that piss off shogunate or the peasantry (Colonization radicalizes their government from day 1. If passed), they will start a revolution. Professional Army is my preferred choice. It makes the peasantry more happy, strengthens your army, and often the only support group, the Samurai/Armed Forces is in power on Day 1.

After Day 1

Once your tooling workshops have been uploaded, go back to Buildings Side Menu to change Wheat and Rice Farms into tools. Do the same with Livestock Ranches (Butchering Tools,), and Logging Camps(Saw Millse17Y.

You will balance your economy by building things that meet demand. Depending on your luck, you might have something passed by now. You will make Colonization research your priority, regardless of how you do it. You can drop the law if you’ve just rolled the checkpoint and move on to Colonization. This is doubly true if Russia has colonized Sakhalin. I personally would restart if they get Hokkaido. However, that’s up for you.

Colonization (and Academia) are your priorities. You want to build 5 universities, preferably in one state. The 50% throughput bonus will be applied when the event is over. If that’s what your goal is, be sure to set them to secular. Romanticism will be your second or even third technology. This will allow you to access the lifesaving Agrarianism Economy Law. Because the Traditionalist Economy is a terrible place, you won’t want to stay any longer.

By 1846 (Or Earlier)

Once you have your universities established and your basic production economy in place, you’ll need to balance between researching production technologies (, such as railroads, fertilizers and so forth), and society technologies that allow you to access new laws (, or concepts). Never ignore the possibility of a 0% bill. Just move on to something else.

Your treasury will be full or nearing it by 1846. In order to make the dramatic shift into Iron-Frame Buildings, you will need to set up Construction Centers. As mentioned, if you have built 6 buildings, you will be in a healthy surplus. This deficit can be reduced by increasing the production of iron mines and tooling workshops on Shikoku, as well as adding ports to meet infrastructure requirements.

As you can see, or sooner, there are likely to be no laws left. You can reform the government to eliminate the samurai, and also include the intelligentsia. These guys support a range of forward-thinking changes, such as changing the distribution of power within the country to Landed Voting. This one should be your priority. It has a good chance of passing because of themed events that offer near-guaranteed successes. Parties will start to form based on the Society technologies once this law is passed. As more parties form and separate from one another, the shogunate will lose power. After a few decades, they’ll be able easily to be removed from government. They’ll still likely be powerful, but now they are vulnerable to suppression effects. This can trigger an event sequence dedicated to suppressing measures.

After voting, however our main law priorities will be to pass every law possible. However, three major laws stand apart: Agrarianism and Per-Capita taxation.

Agrarianism saves lives, as the waning Aristocrats are now able to contribute funds to our nonexistent investment fund. Per-Capita Taxation, however, is a far cry from the horrendous Land-Based taxation. For free trade, we need access to global markets so we can export sugar and import fine Asian goods such as tea, luxury furniture, and chinaware. This can help you boost your economy depending on the evolution of your markets. In one game, I shipped nearly 4000 units worth (pounds.) of tea to British Market. There is only one limitation to this game: the number of ports and convoys that you can build. You can be wild.


If you have a little luck and good economic judgement, your economy should be able to recover after implementing some laws through Agrarianism/Per-Capita Taxation. Although this will take a hit when you enact Free Trade legislation, you can make it more profitable by looking at other options, such as Tea. Once these laws are passed, you can work on any other laws that have not been passed yet. You will be able to keep busy for a few more decades.

The last law-related income boosts you will receive are from Proportional Taxation, Laissez-Faire and Interventionism. This is because your country has a large number of healthy capitalists, who are eager to contribute to your investment funds, allowing you and your family to grow steadily. Capitalists contribute the most to your investment funds when you pass Laissez-Faire.

As your income increases, you can upgrade to Steel-Frame Buildings. Or just expand and modernize armies and naval forces. You should also be aware of your inefficient taxation penalty.

Once you trigger Meiji Restoration and complete all its objectives you’ll be rewarded by some dying gasps and claims on Korea.

A brief aside on why industrialization works

I was confused when I first learned about the economy. I would have thought that building A would require 100 tools, but if I could build enough to produce 100 tools, both would be profitable. This is an annoyingly common misconception and defies the conventional wisdom. This is because the game requires you to create a higher demand level, somewhere between 5-10%. It doesn’t matter if you achieve equilibrium between demand and supply. You also need to make sure that some demand is not met. It’s complicated and I don’t understand why it works, however it works.

Another reason why industrialization is so effective at removing the incumbent landowners, (Shogunate faction) is for a fairly obscure reason. Yes, building anything does have the effect of generating more people who join interest groups not named Peasants. But what’s really behind this dramatic shift in power?

Let’s take a quick look at this:

Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide - A Brief Aside on Why Industrializing Works - 59F691A

In my new Japan game, I’ve created an iron mine for you to see how it looks by default. Look at the Merchant Guilds as the starting owner of the building. While you will have some flexibility later in game as to how you customize this particular setting, in the early game we don’t really care about any of it. We care more about getting out this default level as fast as possible in order to get to the capitalists.

We can see in the image that ownership changes with every industry upgrade. You won’t see these changes if you upgrade production methods. It happens. You won’t see many opportunities for the aristocrats in power. This is why they are so rapidly declining. There’s literally no room for them to thrive in the industrialized future.

So building and expanding your business with cutting-edge production methods will greatly increase the potential capitalist pops to play a role in society’s future.


Written by Giant Enemy Crab

Here we come to an end for Victoria 3 Japan Overview & DLC Guide hope you enjoy it. If you think we forget something to include or we should make an update to the post let us know via comment, and we will fix it asap! Thanks and have a great day!

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